New Covenant Theology vs. Covenant Theology Part 1

Enjoy the following discussion where Josh Sommer and I discuss the differences between New Covenant Theology and the Baptistic version of Covenant Theology. I appreciate this brother’s ability to act like a Christian in spite of our strong disagreements in certain areas of our theology. Be sure to check out the solid content on his YouTube channel and subscribe.

11 Comments
  1. Robert 3 months ago

    Dustin , I enjoyed “New Covenant Theology vs. Covenant Theology Part 1” but don’t seem to be able to find the podcast for Part 2. Where you a were going to discuss the Sabbath. I was born and raised an SDA, educated in their educational system from Grade 1 to Masters Degree. I have, I believe dealt with the Sabbath issue, but was hoping to see and hear your conversation where you and Josh Sumner deal with this issue. Where can I find it if it exists??

    Robert Sands

    • Author
      Dustin Segers 3 months ago

      Hi Robert,

      Thanks for your kind words. We haven’t been able to get together to do it yet due to schedule conflicts.

      Blessings in Christ,

      Dustin

  2. A.N. Obody 4 months ago

    Dustin, you said: “The New Covenant is a better covenant with better promises and hence make the Law as a way of righteousness obsolete. Isn’t that the point of Hebrews? No, the point of Hebrews is “DON’T GO BACK TO THE TEMPLE SYSTEM! THE GREATER AND FINAL SACRIFICE HAS COME!””

    Doesn’t Christ’s sacrifice show that salvation is no longer through the keeping of the law (or that the Law as a way of righteousness is obsolete as you said) and that the temple system is no longer needed? So in essence, YES (where you said NO), the point of Hebrews is (to use your phrase) “DON’T GO BACK TO THE TEMPLE SYSTEM! THE GREATER AND FINAL SACRIFICE HAS COME!”, I.e., Christ’s active and passive obedience is for our salvation and justification and we don’t need to work for eternal life. As a show of love and faith, and because God’s Law is good, we obey out of a joy and desire to please Him (not meritoriously but because we love Him and want to do what’s best for our lives and faith) so that we may walk closely with our God and avoid those things that are contrary to God’s law and character. If there is no longer a need for the law, how do I know how to love God and my neighbor?

  3. Author
    Dustin Segers 4 months ago

    Hi Sasha,

    You asked a lot of questions that are essentially asking the same thing, which is this:

    //The bottom line: what is at stake? The eternal/unchangeable character of God (as a source of the law… Can it be abolished?)…//

    The answer is unequivocally NO!

    New Covenant Theologians believe in transcovenantal law; i.e., law that is unchanging and binding upon all people from Adam till the New Heavens and the New Earth. This would include 9 of the 10 commands (4th commandment excepted), and we believe that the essence of all law was given to us by Christ himself in Matthew 22:37-40, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength…..and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On those two commands hang all the law and the prophets.” In that passage, the Lord Jesus himself specifically tells you that the “moral law of God” is to love God and love neighbor, not the 10 commandments. The 10 commandments were the summary of the Old Covenant law, not the essence of all law (Exodus 34:27-28) and the Sabbath command was the sign of the Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 31:13). Since the Old Covenant has been abolished (Eph. 2:14-15) and rendered obsolete (Hebrews 8:13) by the coming of the New Covenant, the sign that signified that covenant is also abolished and fulfilled in Christ (Col. 2:16-17; Romans 14:4-5; Galatians 4:8-10).

    Has the law changed? Yes, because “[f]or when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also.” (Hebrews 7:12)

    It is true that (1) there are unchanging laws; i.e., transcovenantal laws, and (2) that God’s laws are based on God’s eternal, unchanging character. But that doesn’t necessitate that his laws don’t change. Hebrews 7:12 specifically states that it did in order to fit his theological agenda, not ours.

    Blessings in Christ,

    Dustin

    • Author
      Dustin Segers 4 months ago

      If I said that that way, then I said it sloppily and I apologize.

      You asked, //Doesn’t Christ’s sacrifice show that salvation is no longer through the keeping of the law (or that the Law as a way of righteousness is obsolete as you said) and that the temple system is no longer needed?//

      Salvation has never been through law-keeping (see Gen. 15:6). Again, I apologize if I intimated this.

      I agree that there is a need for law keeping under the new covenant, but the question is, which law? Paul says we aren’t under the Mosaic Law anymore, but are under Christ’s law:

      “To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.” 1 Corinthians 9:20-21

      Blessings in Christ,

      Dustin

    • Sasha 4 months ago

      Dear Dustin,

      Thank you for answering the major question (of the transcovenantal law as a reflection of the eternal character of God). It’s great to find an agreement at this point.

      The question that follows is: throughout all of the human history, for those who were condemned by a specific revelation (commandments revealed to Adam, Noah, Abram, Israel…) of the transcendent law, are we to speak of the law or a covenant that was abolished later?

      I understand that a covenant can be annulled once one of the members breaks it (that is for any conditional covenant), but to annul a law (at least the bases for a particular expression of it) is it not to annul the eternal sentence for those who are undergoing punishment (e.g. Sodom)?

      Should we not speak of the principles behind every commandment given (existence of which Matthew 22:37-40 proves)? That is why I would disagree that the 4th commandment (at least it’s principle) is done away with. The principle I see behind it: you must not work for that which God has worked out for you; Jesus worked to the point of death to redeem you from the bondage of sin and death and you must not work to deserve it (“… take my yoke…”); anyone who works for his own salvation must die (eternal death in hell); believe that God’s provision is sufficient (I.e. bread that came down from heaven) for your survival (“I am the bread that came down from heaven…”)!

      That is why I can not understand the strict language of annulling (abolishing) of the law. I am not a theonomist, but there is no other way to explain the usfulness and applicability (in it’s principle) of the entire Scriptures for our day including the promise of Christ that:
      Matthew 5:18
      For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

      I see great legal importance of this verse: the sentence of every condemned must not be erased, for the punishment to be just. That sencltence is based in God’s law. Of course you can say that “it was accomplished on the cross, so there is no old law anymore”; but would not this mean the release all of the imprisoned previously? All the prisoners of the law must legally be set free — their punishment can not be eternal if the law is not eternal!

      Sincerely,
      Sasha from Belarus

      • Author
        Dustin Segers 4 months ago

        Hello again Sasha,

        You asked,

        //…throughout all of the human history, for those who were condemned by a specific revelation (commandments revealed to Adam, Noah, Abram, Israel…) of the transcendent law, are we to speak of the law or a covenant that was abolished later?//

        The transcendent law. However, there were people that were condemned for a law that wasn’t in force earlier and was abolished later, namely, picking up sticks on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-36).

        Further, you asked,

        //..but to annul a law (at least the bases for a particular expression of it) is it not to annul the eternal sentence for those who are undergoing punishment (e.g. Sodom)?//

        No, because whatever law people are under in any particular era is applicable to them. If they break it it is sin and deserving of condemnation. Moreover, as I’ve already noted, Hebrews 7:12 says that there has been a change *of law*. In other words, God’s law has changed.

        //That is why I would disagree that the 4th commandment (at least it’s principle) is done away with.//

        Romans 14:4-5, Galatians 4:8-10, and Colossians 2:16-17 specifically state that we are not obligated to keep any holy days under the New Covenant. Paul couldn’t have been any clearer.

        //That is why I can not understand the strict language of annulling (abolishing) of the law.//

        The Holy Spirit inspired Scripture itself uses that kind of language. I think it’s best that we stick with what the Spirit has said and not superimpose our theological systems on the text to make it say what we want to fit our presupposed system: “by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace…” Ephesians 2:15

        //’For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Matthew 5:18//

        You didn’t quote all of the relevant verses. This is very common with Covenant Theologians,

        17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

        When was the “law and the prophets” (i.e., the Old Covenant) accomplished? The “law and the prophets” is a Hebraism referring to the entirety of the Old Covenant and it’s associated law; i.e., the Mosaic Law. According to Ephesians 2:14-16, this was “accomplished” *at the cross*,

        For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.

        The “law” mentioned in Matthew 5:17-18 can’t still be binding *as a unit* until the New Heavens and the New Earth because Jesus refers to the entirety of the Mosaic Law (i.e., “the law and the prophets”), not just the decalogue.

        Thus, those charged for Sabbath breaking are condemned still, as they sinned and their sin against God has an eternal effect, though the law itself is no longer binding since the greater Sabbath has arrived in a man, Christ Jesus.

  4. Sasha 4 months ago

    Hello. I have some serious troubles wrapping my mind arround NCT in legal sense:
    A.
    1. Where there ever people who were cut off from the people of God for disobedience to the law of Moses?
    2. Now that the law of Moses is “abolished”, are such people no longer cut off?

    B.
    1. Did Jesus die to redeem even those who broke the law of Moses, yet believed in God who justifies the ungodly?
    2. Now that the law of Moses is “abolished”, are not both (those who believed and those who did not) are free from the condemnation of the law of Moses?
    3. Thus must not God release from the place of torment reech young ruller since the law of Moses that condemned him is no longer active?

    C.
    1. Since many laws were given before Moses (law of marriage, murder of a bearer of God’s image…) yet we’re repeated by both Moses and Jesus, is it not obvious that all three repeatitions testify of the law eternal, which flows from the very charachter of God?
    2. If the law that flows out of the charachter of God is reflected in all three (before, diruing, and after Moses), is it not the eternal law of God?
    3. If eternal law of God exists, then shouldn’t we see all expressions of His law throughout the Scriptures and never say that what is eternal was “abolished”?
    4. Is is not the sacrifice of Christ that redeemed all believers from the condemnation of eternal/unchanging law of God (expressed in different ways throughout the Scriptures), all those who were before, during and after Moses?
    5. The lamb slayed before the foundation of the world… for breaking of what law? Of different laws for different times or for breaking of the unchanging law flowing from the unchanging nature of God?

    D.
    1. The eternality of Hell (lake of fire), is it not the counterpart of the eternality of the law of God?
    2. Are not NCT adherents equivicate frequently between that which is eternal (law of God) and that which is sometimes (not allways) limited in time — God’s covenants?
    3. Are we not the offspring of Abraham by faith? (Gal 3:6-9)
    4. Is the covenant of Abraham over? (It did have a starting point, but is it over?)
    5. If it is not, than the laws and statutes (Genesis 26:5
    because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.) which he obeyed, do they go on (not abolished)?

    The bottom line: what is at stake? The eternal/unchangeable character of God (as a source of the law… Can it be abolished?), the list of laws for breaking of which Christ has suffered, eternality (before, during, after Moses) of application of satisfaction of the law in sacrifice of Christ, proper application of the laws of Moses to our time (if they are a reflection — culturally and historically appropriated — of eternal law, which is in turn a reflection of eternal character of God).

    IMHO, every single law of Moses when stripped of it’s cultural and historical dressing, can be traced back to the eternal law in it’s principal (flown from eternal character of God). Thus to simply say “it is abolished” would be trowing out the baby with the bath water. Yes it is difficult to discover the principal, but if we do, then entire Scripture (including the laws of Moses) continues revealing to us the eternal character of God, giving us guidance (through eternal law), pointing out our sin (through the eternal law of God found even in Moses laws), and keep all men accountable starting from Adam to one law written on our hearts as we are made in the image of God from the very beginning.

    Sincerely,
    Sasha from Belarus

  5. Stephen Anderson 4 months ago

    Question: If the Law is abolished, what are unbelievers accountable to?

  6. Stephen Anderson 4 months ago

    There is a huge difference between abolishment and obsolescence. The New Testament never abolished the moral Law but affirms the moral Law. The New Covenant is a better covenant with better promises and hence make the Law as a way of righteousness obsolete. Isn’t that the point of Hebrews?
    Also “love your enemies” is not being taken in context. The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus reaffirming the Law. I submit “love your enemies” is a reference to Lev. 19:17,18 and within the context of God’s covenant people. Hence “love your enemies” is consistent “with having a perfect hatred for those who hate God. (Psa 139:22). NCT is the abolition of most of the Word of God.
    Now, if we accept the NCT position of positive reaffirmation, is bestiality permissible? Or pedophilia?
    No Covenant theologian brings the entirety of the Law into the New Covenant, but the moral Law.

    • Author
      Dustin Segers 4 months ago

      Hi Steven,

      Thanks for your questions. You first asked,

      //Question: If the Law is abolished, what are unbelievers accountable to?//

      Law qua law isn’t abolished, the Old Covenant Mosaic Law *as a unit* is abolished. Unbelievers are accountable to the knowledge of God in creation (Romans 1:19-21), conscience (Rom. 2:14-15), and if confronted with the gospel, they are accountable for their rejection of Christ and his teachings (Rom. 3:21-4:25).

      You stated,
      //There is a huge difference between abolishment and obsolescence.//

      The NT teaches that the “law of commandments contained in ordinances” (Eph 2:15) was abolished and the Covenant that is tied up with that law is functionally obsolete (Hebrews 8:13). We are no longer under Mosaic Law. NCT adherent believe that 9 of the 10 commandments are carried over into the New Covenant Law of Christ (excepting the Sabbath) and that transcovenantal law has existed since Adam and Eve fell.

      You went on to note, //The New Testament never abolished the moral Law but affirms the moral Law.//

      Where does the NT state that the 10 commandments are carried over into the New Covenant *as a unit* or “rule of life” for the New Covenant believer to follow? Jesus and his disciples followed the Old Covenant Mosaic law. That was the law that he and the disciples were obligated to obey until the Old Covenant was rendered null and void by his work on the cross (again, Ephesians 2:14-17; Hebrews 8:13; Hebrews 10). We agree that the NT affirms *moral law*, but nowhere does the New Testament teach that the 10 commandments *as a unit* are binding upon New Covenant believers.

      //The New Covenant is a better covenant with better promises and hence make the Law as a way of righteousness obsolete. Isn’t that the point of Hebrews?//

      No, the point of Hebrews is “DON’T GO BACK TO THE TEMPLE SYSTEM! THE GREATER AND FINAL SACRIFICE HAS COME!” Hebrews 7:12 states clearly that “there has been a change *of law* because of the new priesthood.

      //Also “love your enemies” is not being taken in context. The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus reaffirming the Law. I submit “love your enemies” is a reference to Lev. 19:17,18 and within the context of God’s covenant people.//

      Was the parable of the good Samaritan where the “half-breed” (Luke 10) showed love to his Jewish enemy strictly in reference to “God’s covenant people?”

      //Hence “love your enemies” is consistent “with having a perfect hatred for those who hate God. (Psa 139:22). NCT is the abolition of most of the Word of God.//

      I could argue the same for CT. After all you’re abolishing all 601 civil and ceremonial laws of the Mosaic Law. I guess then by your logic you’re abolishing most of the law of God too since that gets rid of 601 other Mosaic commandments.

      //Now, if we accept the NCT position of positive reaffirmation, is bestiality permissible? Or pedophilia?//

      No, because Jesus reaffirmed the original standard of marriage from the garden of Eden, which was one *man* & one *woman* for life (Matt 19/Mark 10). The only exceptions to this would be divorce for unrepentant adultery or abandonment (1 Cor. 7).

      //No Covenant theologian brings the entirety of the Law into the New Covenant, but the moral Law.//

      I’ve never argued otherwise.

      With all due respect brother, you need to read some books on NCT. It is obvious from your concerns and questions that you are unfamiliar with what we actually teach. Thomas Schriener’s “40 Questions about Christians and Biblical Law” would be a good place to start.

      https://www.amazon.com/Questions-About-Christians-Biblical-Answers/dp/0825438918

      God bless,

      Dustin Segers

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