Who Owes Me Three Dollars?

February 19, 2007

Christian Mind Paper Part XI

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 12:05 am

Sacramentology

This area is perhaps the clearest place where the lens of the covenant affords a powerful look into systematic theology. David VanDrunen states that both sacraments of the church are overtly covenantal rituals.1 The covenant of redemption itself was ratified by a bloody event. “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.(Rev 13:8). That certainly sets a precedent for the ratification of the covenants that occur between God and man in history. In addition, the covenantal impetus demands a proper sorting out of the continuities and the discontinuities between the Old and New dispensations of the covenants. It is the covenant of grace for which God provided sacramental rites. The sacrament of initiation to the covenant, and the sacrament of the meal are both fundamental to the covenant of grace. The original publication under the Abrahamic administration and the re-publication under the administration of his seed, the Lord Jesus Christ then spell clearly what the covenantal continuities are with respect to the sacraments.

Most significantly for a discussion of the sacraments in the light of the covenants is the role that is played by the Lord’s Supper. Consider Revelation 22:13-14: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.”2 A covenantal view gives the following interpretation of these verses: The tree of life as a representation of the consummated eternal life held out to Adam on condition of his perfect obedience to the covenant of works is now offered to believers in Christ due to Christ’s perfect obedience. Furthermore, Jesus Christ as the First and Last is telling us that the tree of life which was there at the very beginning and now makes another appearance at the end of the great drama of history is none other than Himself. So Jesus we see is the Lord as well as the Servant of the covenant.

Now consider John 6:48-54

I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

In view of these passages, we see how the sacrament of the Lord’s supper is a sign and a seal of the life of Christ offered just as the tree of life was offered to Adam as a consummation reward for perfect obedience.

Conclusion

I have defended the assertion that covenant theology is a suitable if not an indispensable lens for doing systematic theology. Of course, this paper does not deeply flesh out any area specifically but I believe it does demonstrate that the covenants are a fruitful architectural framework that delivers on its promise. The lens of the covenants is therefore properly placed in the hands of pastors who need to proclaim, explain and apply the Scriptures for their congregations on a weekly basis. Those who are elders in the church and who are charged with teaching people will find that the covenants provide a safe way through the many difficulties that teachers of Scripture are sure to encounter. But most importantly for the believer who is neither pastor nor elder, but who finds the Bible simply too large or too inaccessible but sincerely wants to pick it up each day., the covenant concept will prove to be a reliable ally.

1David VanDrunen,“A System of Theology? The Centrality of Covenant,” in The Pattern of Sound Doctrine (ed. David VanDrunen:Phillipsburg:P&R Publishing, 2004), 218.

2See Stephen Goranson, “The Text of Revelation 22:14.” New Test. Studies 43 (1997):154-157. Goranson defends the primary alternate reading as “Blessed are those who do his commandments.” This alternate is traceable to the similarities between plunontej– “those who wash” and poiountej “those who do” along with stolaj – “robes” and entolaj– “laws”. Interestingly, both readings point to the imputed righteousness of Christ in my view.

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9 Comments »

  1. Great to see you accept wordpress as your personal blog server. Remember, wordpress is not a religion, it is a relationship 🙂

    Comment by Albino Hayford — February 20, 2007 @ 6:18 am

  2. But I have had more problems so far with wordpress than with blogspot. There are some things you can do easily in blogspot such as colorized text that are really hard to do in wordpress.

    I also have been unable to upload photos. Attribute that to not being all that much of a geek.

    Comment by Bruce S. — February 20, 2007 @ 10:31 am

  3. So put photos and pretty colors on Blogspot.

    Seek comments here though, because posting comments on Blogspot is a PAIN.

    Comment by Echo_ohcE — February 20, 2007 @ 11:38 am

  4. Give the people what they want!

    Comment by Echo_ohcE — February 20, 2007 @ 11:39 am

  5. I’m not going back to blogspot for photos. I just have to learn how to do it in wordpress. As for colored text, it can be done but you have to edit the html yourself and insert tags manually.

    Comment by ineedsheetmusic — February 19, 2007 @ 10:40 pm

  6. Boy is wordpress goofy. I fixed the error of timestamping comments and notice above the sequence is messed up. My comment about editing raw html is now placed before all the other comments that actually preceded it.

    Comment by ineedsheetmusic — February 19, 2007 @ 10:41 pm

  7. And also take note of the screwed up font sizes in the actual content of these posts regarding the covenant. Attribute that to wordpress’ goofiness as well.

    Comment by ineedsheetmusic — February 19, 2007 @ 10:43 pm

  8. And also take note of the screwed up font sizes in the actual content of these posts regarding the covenant. Attribute that to wordpress’ goofiness as well.

    I would recommend, when copying and pasting into wordpress, a sterilizing stop in notepad. Just paste into Notepad (losing all extraneous formatting or whatever), ctrl-A, ctrl-C, and then paste in WordPress.

    I agree with you, colored text is a no-brainer that should be a standard WP functionality, as the only way to do it is to hand-jam the HTML.

    I’ve started experimenting with a blogging client; local editing software that posts your stuff when you’re ready. At least that way the editor can keep up with your keystrokes (but the only one I’ve tried so far didn’t have blockquoting as a standard feature!)

    Comment by RubeRad — February 20, 2007 @ 8:24 am

  9. Ha! My comment scooted “back in time” — probably because you just finally found the time-zone offset!

    Comment by RubeRad — February 20, 2007 @ 8:25 am


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