About two years ago I was devastated to find out that a good friend of mine had come out as Presbyterian. What made this particular testimony especially gut wrenching however, was the fact that he’d made the journey from Church of Christ to Baptist alongside me, and rather than stop where I did, kept going.
“How could you do this?” I asked him.
“What do you mean? I became convinced after studying the Bible that the Reformed have the most Biblical system, that’s all. I’m the same guy I ever was.”
“But you just admitted it’s a system. The people in it are more interested in their system than they are the Bible. They love theology, become wrapped up in theology, and leave behind the plain teaching of the Scriptures.”
He laughed at me.
“Okay fine, maybe I came on too strong there. How about this, how about you give me the number one reason for leaving Baptist theology behind.”
“Just one? I preached a whole sermon series on it after all.”
“I know. I listened to your sermons, and the only thing you seemed to be saying in all of it was that children of believers are in a different position before God than children of non-believers.”
“That’s right.” He said brightly. “That’s why Paul commands children in Ephesians for example to obey their parents—they’re part of the church. The human family is organically connected. We’re like branches on a tree.”
“That’s totally unsatisfactory for the size of the change you made,” I countered. “And I find it very unconvincing.”
“Well if you’re so certain, then you prove your side to me. Establish the Baptist view from scratch using only the Bible.”
He’d thrown down the gauntlet, and I was determined to answer. I knew exactly what to do too; I’d go to the covenants and show how they point toward the new covenant, when Christ ushers in a completely new paradigm and dispensation. I’d show how the Old Testament was full of physical and earthly people, concerned about physical and earthly things, whereas in the New Testament the people of God were concerned with spiritual and heavenly things. All I needed to do was show him how Christ makes a splash in the New Testament, and not the old. Piece of cake. So I read, and researched, and dug in, and fought and struggled, and by the end I had to conclude that I was wrong. Jesus isn’t only in the New Testament, He’s absolutely everywhere in the old too. And after that I was forced to conclude two things:
- God’s purpose in creation was to reveal Himself to creation. Or in other words, to get glory for Himself.
- The covenants which form the backbone of the Biblical narrative are given to us reveal Christ.
This idea instantly made sense of a number of other things that I hadn’t understood very well before, and proved to be a powerful tool for understanding the flow of Scripture. Which is why this blog series is going to expound on who Christ is in the covenants. Noah learned He’d be a savior. Abraham learned He’d be a king. Moses learned He’d be a prophet. Israel learned He’d be a priest. The book of Hebrews is written to show us how Christ is the better promised mediator, priest, prophet, and the missing piece of redemptive history. And by the end of this series I hope to convince you that the covenants in the Bible are not given so that we could have a stronger faith (although they have that effect), better self-actualization, or higher self-esteem, but so that we could know God.
With that said then, let’s begin with the first covenant: The Covenant Before Creation