The Nature of the New Covenant and Its Progressive Fulfillment in History, Final Post

Pratt summarizes the covenantal expectation: “We can have confidence that when Christ returns in glory, everyone in the new creation after Christ’s return will have the law of God written on his or her heart. We will all love and delight in his ways, just as Christ already does (2 Cor. 3:16-18; 1 Thess. 3:11-13). In this sense, we expect Jeremiah’s prophecy to find complete fulfillment when Christ returns.” ((Pratt, Richard. Infant Baptism in the New Covenant.)) Over and over the writers of the New Testament emphasize the progressive nature of the New Covenant. ((I realize I have stressed this point various times already; nevertheless I do this because there is an abundance of evidence in the New Covenant.))

There is yet another way to prove this point concerning the progressive nature of the New Covenant beyond the shadow of a doubt. Consider the latter words of Jeremiah’s prophecy: “And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord.” Verse 34 declares that teaching will no longer be necessary since all will know the Law of God from the least to the greatest, thus indicating that teaching is no longer of any value. If one is to hold the position that the New Covenant is fulfilled completely and composed solely of “believing Christians,” then the text teaches that today we are no longer in need of teachers. This would be inconsistent with Paul’s instructions that teachers are ordained by God to equip the saints (I Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11). Though I John 2:27 tells us that the Spirit is our teacher and we have no need for another, the reader is not to assume that this refers to didactic training. Rather, it is clear that the Spirit teaches us by His anointing. This is something that no human teacher can offer, but Scripture clearly conceives of a role for human teachers even under the New Covenant until its eventual consummation.

A few final observations will suffice. First, Jeremiah’s prophecy speaks of a future day when the Kingdom of God will come. This New Covenant inaugurated in the days of our Lord brought with it many responsibilities for the people of God. Since the law has been internalized, man is without excuse; (Romans 1) ((There is no denial that in the Older Covenant man was without excuse. The difference is that in the New Covenant, man comes in contact with the eternal revelation of God, Jesus Christ.)) since the New Covenant brings about great knowledge of God to the nations, the peoples are also without excuse. Secondly, the New Covenant brings greater curses. In light of the greater blessings of the New Covenant (the gift of the Spirit in its fullness, etc.), covenantal disobedience will be punished more severely than in the Older Covenant. When there is great knowledge, the denial of the gospel will increase the curses in the New Covenant (Matthew 10:15). The pattern is clear: when there are greater blessings, there are greater curses. Thirdly, the promises of the New Covenant are for a new humanity under Christ. A new creation of Jews and Gentiles inherit the blessings of the land promised to Abraham (Romans 4:13). As Andrew Dearman notes: “ God’s promises hold out a future in which his people will be redeemed and constituted as a transformed community with Christ as the head.” ((Dearman, pg. 292.)) Finally, the New Covenant is a generational covenant. Jeremiah’s promise is to all who are in covenant with God; in the words of Genesis 17:7, the promise is to you and to your seed (I Corinthians 7:14).

The New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah was a source of great encouragement for the people of Israel living under great duress. Though it did not comfort them regarding their immediate status, it secured to them the promise that amidst their disloyalty, God is faithful to a thousand generation to those who love him and keep his commandments. His promises will not fail and He will be a Father to His chosen people.

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About Uri Brito

I am the Pastor of Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola, Fl.
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