Resolution regarding covenants, Hebrews 9:15

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Burke Devlin

Puritan Board Freshman
Hebrews 9:15: “For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”

The new covenant mediator’s death provides redemption for sins and possession of eternal inheritance for all those whom God calls, both old covenant and new.

Does not this verse unequivocally settle the issue of whether the old and new covenants are two administrations of the same covenant of grace? Whatever other difficulties of interpretation may arise in relation to the continuity and discontinuity of the old and new covenants, must they not all ultimately resolve upon this simple premise?
 
I think it demonstrates that the Old and New are not of the same substance.

The sacrifice of Christ is a function of the New Covenant, so that even those who committed transgressions under the Old Covenant can be saved.

In other words, the New Covenant sacrifice of Christ is applied retroactively to those who were sinners under the Old Covenant. It nowhere says that the Old Covenant had the power to save anyone under it. It is all of the New Covenant. Therefore the Old Covenant is not the same in substance with the New.

I think @brandonadams is able to articulate this point much better than I am.

Off topic: I love the Dark Shadows reference you have going on.
 
Wouldn’t you say that even a retroactive (redemptive historical) perspective must rest upon a theologically prospective foundation?
Priority must be given to God‘s plan over its outworking in history.

“Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made.” Galatians 3:19

WCF 8.6 Although the work of redemption was not actually wrought by Christ till after his incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefits thereof were communicated unto the elect, in all ages successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices, wherein he was revealed, and signified to be the seed of the woman which should bruise the serpent's head; and the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world; being yesterday and today the same, and forever.
 
Ok...???

The Second London Baptist Confession says virtually the same thing.

2 LBCF 8.6 said:
6. Although the price of redemption was not actually paid by Christ till after his incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefit thereof were communicated to the elect in all ages, successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices wherein he was revealed, and signified to be the seed which should bruise the serpent's head; and the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, being the same yesterday, and today and for ever.

This does not prove that the Old Covenant was an administration of the Covenant of Grace. It merely means that the grace of the New Covenant was distributed to the saints under the Old Covenant just as under the New.
 
Well if we are going by the "quote the confessions" method...
III. Man by his fall having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second,(e) commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein He freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved,(f) and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto life His Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.(g)

(e) Gal. 3:21; Rom. 8:3; Rom. 3:20, 21; Gen. 3:15; Isa. 42:6.
(f) Mark 16:15, 16; John 3:16; Rom. 10:6, 9; Gal. 3:11.
(g) Ezek. 36:26, 27; John 6:44, 45.

IV. This covenant of grace is frequently set forth in Scripture by the name of a Testament, in reference to the death of Jesus Christ the Testator, and to the everlasting inheritance, with all things belonging to it, therein bequeathed.(h)

(h) Heb. 9:15, 16, 17; Heb. 7:22; Luke 22:20; I Cor. 11:25.

V. This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the gospel: (i) under the law, it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all fore-signifying Christ to come: (k) which were, for that time, sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah,(l) by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation; and is called, the Old Testament.(m)

(i) II Cor. 3:6, 7, 8, 9.
(k) Heb. 8, 9, 10 chapters; Rom. 4:11; Col. 2:11, 12; I Cor. 5:7.
(l) I Cor. 10:1, 2, 3, 4; Heb. 11:13; John 8:56.
(m) Gal. 3:7, 8, 9, 14.

VI. Under the gospel, when Christ, the substance,(n) was exhibited, the ordinances in which this covenant is dispensed are the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper: (o) which, though fewer in number, and administered with more simplicity, and less outward glory; yet, in them, it is held forth in more fulness, evidence, and spiritual efficacy,(p) to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles;(q) and is called the New Testament.(r) There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations.(s)

(n) Col. 2:17.
(o) Matt. 28:19, 20; I Cor. 11:23, 24, 25.
(p) Heb. 12:22 to 28; Jer. 31:33, 34.
(q) Matt. 28:19; Eph. 2:15, 16, 17, 18, 19.
(r) Luke 22:20.
(s) Gal. 3:14, 16; Rom 3:21, 22, 23, 30; Ps. 32:1
 
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Sincerely, why do you find it important that the old covenant was not an administration of the covenant of grace? The Mosaic covenant could not be an administration of the covenant of works because the covenant of works makes no provision, typological or effectual, to deal with transgressions. Grace may be administered differently under Moses but it’s still grace.
 
I think it demonstrates that the Old and New are not of the same substance.

The sacrifice of Christ is a function of the New Covenant, so that even those who committed transgressions under the Old Covenant can be saved.

In other words, the New Covenant sacrifice of Christ is applied retroactively to those who were sinners under the Old Covenant. It nowhere says that the Old Covenant had the power to save anyone under it. It is all of the New Covenant. Therefore the Old Covenant is not the same in substance with the New.

I think @brandonadams is able to articulate this point much better than I am.

Off topic: I love the Dark Shadows reference you have going on.
So Abraham beleived God, and after a few millenia it was accounted to him for righteousness? When David wrote that blessed is the man to whom is freely pardoned, all the iniquity he has done, whose sin is covered, was he writing about himself or not?
 
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Ok...???

The Second London Baptist Confession says virtually the same thing.



This does not prove that the Old Covenant was an administration of the Covenant of Grace. It merely means that the grace of the New Covenant was distributed to the saints under the Old Covenant just as under the New.
Wut? Changing the word from administered to distributed doesn't change the underlying reality.
 
So Abraham beleived God, and after a few millenia it was accounted to him for righteousness? When David wrote that blessed is the man to whom is freely pardoned, all the iniquity he has done, shose sin is covered, was he writing about himself or not?

What are you talking about?

Was Abraham saved? What was the basis of Abraham's salvation?

... why do you find it important that the old covenant was not an administration of the covenant of grace?

I find it important that true things be held up as true and false things be held out as false.

It's not important to me that the thing be one thing over another, it's important to me that the thing be what the thing is and not be what the thing is not.

If the OC is not an Administration of the CoG, then it's not, regardless of how you or I feel about it.
 
Wut? Changing the word from administered to distributed doesn't change the underlying reality.

I wasn't trying to "change the underlying reality". Don't make too much of the fact that I said "distributed" instead of "administered". I hate using the same word over and over. It was a rhetorical decision, not a theological distinction.

In essence, the question is not, "did the OC in some way administer grace". We both agree that in some way it did.

The question is really, "what grace did the OC administer"? Did the OC administer the grace of the OC or did it administer the grace of the NT?

I say it administered the grace of the NT.
 
I wasn't trying to "change the underlying reality". Don't make too much of the fact that I said "distributed" instead of "administered". I hate using the same word over and over. It was a rhetorical decision, not a theological distinction.

In essence, the question is not, "did the OC in some way administer grace". We both agree that in some way it did.

The question is really, "what grace did the OC administer"? Did the OC administer the grace of the OC or did it administer the grace of the NT?

I say it administered the grace of the NT.
Well, no. The question is not whether it administered the grace of the OC or the NC, as though they were different graces. What would that even mean. It’s the same grace administered differently, not a different grace. The idea that OC grace is different from NC grace is incoherent.
 
I’d like to see where in the Bible the Gen. 3:15 promise is referred to as a covenant.
Is Christ not the one who fulfills the promise of Genesis 3:15? Doesn't he do this by way of the covenant in his blood? Did not this promise come into greater and greater clarity with the covenants of the Old Testament, which Christ fulfills?
 
Pascal Denault gives a useful and succinct outline of the 1689 view of these matters.

From the Covenant of Works to the Covenant of Grace
Thank you for sharing this. I read through it and found the same glaring issues I knew of before. There is a real problem of grace being present in the OT in any real substantive way. Hebrews 11 says that Jesus Christ is the substance of faith for OT saints (same as the NT). If that's the case, then Jesus Christ is the substance of the Covenant of Grace.

EDIT: There is also an issue of where OT saints were present before the time of Christ after their deaths. Is it a limbus patrum situation?
 
Well, no. The question is not whether it administered the grace of the OC or the NC, as though they were different graces. What would that even mean. It’s the same grace administered differently, not a different grace. The idea that OC grace is different from NC grace is incoherent.

You've not understood my point. Whatever grace was administered in the time of the OT was the same grace that was administered in the time of the NT.

What i the basis of this grace? Is the basis of this grace found in the substance of the OT (spoiler alert: no, it's not) or is it found in the substance of the NT? (Yes, yes it is).
 
Saying the OC is substantively different from the NC is like saying adding 9 five times is substantively different than 9x5. Even in terms of “steps” they are not substantively different. My 2nd grade daughter is learning addition. She’s adding 9+9+9+9+9 to equal 45. When she moves to multiplication, she will learn 9x5=45. That isn’t a substantial difference. They are the same in essence/substance though one step precedes the other
 
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You've not understood my point. Whatever grace was administered in the time of the OT was the same grace that was administered in the time of the NT.

What i the basis of this grace? Is the basis of this grace found in the substance of the OT (spoiler alert: no, it's not) or is it found in the substance of the NT? (Yes, yes it is).
You said “what grace” as though the grace were different. That’s on you. Now if you want to clarify, that’s fine. I’ve got a lot of respect for you. You seem to provide some clarification here, though I disagree. Yes, the substance absolutely was revealed in the OT, if we aren’t dispensational. It’s how Abraham has the gospel preached beforehand to him. The same gospel that was the root and foundation of the OC.

What was the substance of the grace in the OT? How is it different than the substance of the NC?

Perhaps, more fundamentally, what do you mean by substance?
 
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Is Christ not the one who fulfills the promise of Genesis 3:15? Doesn't he do this by way of the covenant in his blood? Did not this promise come into greater and greater clarity with the covenants of the Old Testament, which Christ fulfills?
None of what you said requires a covenant to be instituted in Gen. 3:15. Covenants contain promises but not all promises are covenants of course.
 
Heb 9:14KJV How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Heb 9:15KJV And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.​

When you say, Sean, this redemption is “applied retroactively”, are you meaning that in the present time of the OT sinners then didn’t experience the benefits of this redemption, i.e., forgiveness of sin, a clear conscience before God, and communion with Him?

Re: “It nowhere says that the Old Covenant had the power to save anyone under it”

Can we disallow Christ from actively mediating / bestowing justification by faith upon Old Covenant believers? In other words, was not the eternal Christ (pre-incarnate) granting full salvation to those who believed the promises of God despite their not having yet been fulfilled in the New Covenant?

Was not this full salvation given to Abraham in Genesis 15:6KJV, “And he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness.” Or David, as is written of him in Rom 4:5,6,7,8, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (Cf. Psa 32:1,2)

This is strange to me, Sean, speaking as though Christ were not present as the very Substance of the Old Covenant, His promises yet unfulfilled as potent as when they were later fulfilled! He was as fully the God of the Old Covenant as He is now the God of the New Covenant.

The administration of the covenant of grace differed from the Old to the New, yet Christ was then “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psa 46:1), even as He is now. Is not “applied retroactively” a confusing addition to the simplicity and profundity of this matter?
 
I think it demonstrates that the Old and New are not of the same substance.
The Second London Baptist Confession says virtually the same thing.


This does not prove that the Old Covenant was an administration of the Covenant of Grace. It merely means that the grace of the New Covenant was distributed to the saints under the Old Covenant just as under the New.
I never realized how different the SLBC and the WCF were on Chapter 7. The WCF clearly states at the end that "There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations." (7.6) whereas the SLBC is much briefer (3 sections instead of 6) and lacks any such statement.

It does seem to make sense, though, given how the 2 view the continuation of covenants differently and how this affects their theology in areas such as baptism.
 
None of what you said requires a covenant to be instituted in Gen. 3:15. Covenants contain promises but not all promises are covenants of course.

Correct me if I am wrong, but this seems to be closer to Zaspel/Wells modern day than Keach/Coxe et al in 1689.
 
I never realized how different the SLBC and the WCF were on Chapter 7. The WCF clearly states at the end that "There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations." (7.6) whereas the SLBC is much briefer (3 sections instead of 6) and lacks any such statement.

Not only that, but per mr. Cornell's view,
It nowhere says that the Old Covenant had the power to save anyone under it.

!!
 
It is really difficult to parse the arguments made here. So many nebulous use of terms as I read it. So many "What do you mean by that?" even from posters I think I agree with.

Can any interlocutor involved here stick to the text and the main topic the timing factor regarding OT saints?

If I can refer back to the original text:

"Hebrews 9:15: “For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”

I am having a hard time seeing how anyone on either side can claim victory from this text alone. Each side seems to need more Biblical proof-texts for their position - whether that position is grace retroactively applied or grace applied from the Fall onward.

But that doesn't mean anyone is wrong. I am not the sharpest cheese in the fridge by any stretch.
 
It is really difficult to parse the arguments made here. So many nebulous use of terms as I read it. So many "What do you mean by that?" even from posters I think I agree with.

Can any interlocutor involved here stick to the text and the main topic the timing factor regarding OT saints?

If I can refer back to the original text:

"Hebrews 9:15: “For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”

I am having a hard time seeing how anyone on either side can claim victory from this text alone. Each side seems to need more Biblical proof-texts for their position - whether that position is grace retroactively applied or grace applied from the Fall onward.

But that doesn't mean anyone is wrong. I am not the sharpest cheese in the fridge by any stretch.
While I wouldn't go so far as to say this text decides the question, I would say it buttresses the argument that the essence/substance of the OC is the same as the NC. There is a proleptic element to the OC, certainly. Yet, the prolepsis itself is demonstrative of the shared substance. The OC saints, through the types and shadows, were looking forward to and laying hold of the same thing we are now in hindsight.

I am a little confused, however, what issue you have with the asking of clarifying questions. At some point, when we realize that perhaps terms used need defining in order to get to the heart of the matter, we ought to do so so that we can "parse out the arguments" in a more productive fashion.
 
I am a little confused, however, what issue you have with the asking of clarifying questions.

Your confusion is - no doubt - due to the fact that I took no issue with asking clarifying questions but rather, the lack of clarifying terms before being asked and after being asked.
 
Your confusion is - no doubt - due to the fact that I took no issue with asking clarifying questions but rather, the lack of clarifying terms before being asked and after being asked.
Gotcha. Thank you for clarifying .

Personally, I often forget my definitions and someone else's aren't often the same and it isn't until discussion is under the way that my somewhat slow brain's light bulb kicks in and says "oops, we need to define our terms."
 
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