Not a School but a Covenant

vosGod’s self-revelation to us was not made for a primarily intellectual purpose. It is not to be overlooked, of course, that the truly pious mind may through an intellectual contemplation of the divine perfections glorify God. This would be just as truly religious as the intensest occupation of the will in the service of God. But it would not be the full-orbed religion at which, as a whole, revelation aims. It is true, the Gospel teaches that to know God is life eternal. But the concept of ‘knowledge’ here is not to be understood in its Hellenic sense, but in the Shemitic sense. According to the former, ‘to know’ means to mirror the reality of a thing in one’s consciousness. The Shemitic and Biblical idea is to have the reality of something practically interwoven with the inner experience of life. Hence ‘to know’ can stand in the Biblical idiom for ‘to love’, ‘to single out in love.’ Because God desires to be known after this fashion, He has caused His revelation to take place in the milieu of the historical life of a people. The circle of revelation is not a school, but a ‘covenant’. – Geerhardus Vos

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15 thoughts on “Not a School but a Covenant

  1. And indeed the Covenant/covenants are first “Irsael’s”, and we Gentile Christians do NOT supersede or supplant them, but “that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy”…(Rom. 15: 8-9, etc.) Note, 2 Cor. 3: 13-16! Right now, National Israel sits in a judicial blindness (Rom. 11: 11-15 ; 26-29). But God will fulfill His promises and purposes to National Israel! (Noting also Isaiah chapters 55-66) And quite literally and in “spirit and truth”! Zech 14!

    “That at the time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” (Eph. 2: 12) This verse, is part of Paul’s dispensation and stewardship…”of the grace of God which was given me for you.” (Eph. 3: 2-3 / Rom. 15: 8-9, etc.)… for the Gentiles!

    • Ethnic Israel ceased to be when the Temple was destroyed for the national, covenantal agreement was based on the physical Temple, sacrifices, etc. All of that has been put away. They were types and shadows.

      • Disagree mate, no “supersessionalism” or full preterisim in proper Biblical Hermeneutics! This is in fact one of the great causes especially of the centuries of Christendom that lead to anti-Semitism! See, Matt. 23: 39 / Rom. 11: 13-29, etc. Paul puts a real “crater” in this anti-Modern and National Israel position! And as I have written, this too was the great weakness of the hermeneutics of the Reformers, (save a few men), (1 Cor. 10: 23). Again, in the end, the Land and People of Israel, as the great Gentile Apostasy, of course with THE Antichrist, and all the enemies of Israel will die before the hand and purpose of the Lord… At/in the Day of the Lord! (Ezekiel 38-39 / Zech. 14: 1-5) But it will be a Great Tribulation, such as never seen before! (Matt. 24: 21-22)

        So now your following the full hermeneutics of NT Wright and Company? Ugh!

      • Until glory we’ll disagree Fr. Robert. haha

        “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;”

        Ethnic Israel and the church are one.

  2. Yes, “YOUR” position is held by lots of those in Christendom, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodoxy, and many liberal Protestants like NT Wright and Co.! I will follow some of the 19th to 20th century “Biblicists” myself! Note, I was born almost in the middle there, (1949). And I will no doubt die in this 21st century, if the Lord continues to delay His Coming? But God alone knows how close we are to the Lord’s “Parousia”! But I have surely found this great promise a real “Eschatological” reality & preserve! Come Lord Jesus! And I love the Jewish people and the Holy Land, “Israel”! If you have not been there yet? You are surely missing a real blessing!

    • Father Robert, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodoxy and many liberal Protestants like Wright and Co. use the title “Father.”

      Does that invalid your ministerial title? Of course not. 🙂

      • That’s a very poor analogy, but in reality much of Reformational, at least on eschatolgical hermeneutics, is still close to Catholicism, and the High Church approach! Again, not good, and surely not a more “biblical” approach on the subject. If we miss the Jewish Covenant/covenants, we will really miss the great eschatolgical end and grand finale, at least biblically & theologically, and yes I am quite Premillennial! (I hope a balance of both the historical & the dispensational! Indeed unashamed as such! 😉 ) And don’t forget I have been on your side years back now (1992 and before). And I feel I have been regenerate since the late 60’s or early 70’s? But GOD alone knows the day and hour!

        Btw, I mostly use the term “Father” as a hospital chaplain, some people just like the title in that place and atmosphere. But when asked and pressed I say it is really a “pastoral” name, more than some so-called “title”. Noting 1 Cor. 4: 15! Btw also, I have written a blog post on this subject in the past. Certainly as an Anglican so-called priest, this is more of the essence of the biblical “presbyter”. I am NOT a Roman Catholic “priest”!

      • I would also level the challenge to you and all the so-called “covenant” folks, to read Charles Ryrie’s now classic book: Dispensationalism (Revised & Expanded, 1995, 2007, Moody Publishers).

        “No one, whether friend or foe of dispensationalism, can avoid consideration of this important work.” (Bibliotheca Sacra)

        I have also recommended the Revised edition of Robert Mounce’s NICT, The Book of Revelation, (Eerdmans, 1997). Just a solid general Pre-Mill commentary! Of course nothing is infallible here, but the Text of Revelation itself!

      • Hi Father Robert, I own a copies of Dispensational Today by Ryrie and Mounce’s Commentary on Revelation. Ryrie’s work is important because it clearly demonstrates how Dispensationalism is fluid, always changing… It’s like comparing Vatican I to Vatican II. The difference is often subtle but those differences between Larkin and Scofield, Ryrie and Progressive Dispensationalism shows a movement toward covenantalism and away from the false division of the church and Israel as found in classic Dispensationalism.

        Peace,

        jm

      • Yes, all true Judeo-Christian theology must be fluid and somewhat open to change, in “spirit and truth” … always “reforming”! May we not die on the “Letter” of the Word! But find God’s Word ever “Living”! Myself, I see this surely in the Progressive place and nature of Dispensationalism… Progressive Revelation! WE will each see our Bema-Seat before the Lord! 🙂

      • If you mean “corrected by biblical covenantalism” when you use the term “fluid,” yes!

      • It is also a “false” idea to think that “covenantalism” is somehow apart from proper dispensation, economy and promise and God’s purpose! It was always to the Jew first, and then to the Gentile! (Rom. 1:16) We Gentiles do NOT supersede or supplant National Israel! (Rom. 11: 28-29). The mystery of Israel’s salvation includes their judicial blindness now! (2 Cor. 3: 12-16)

      • Hi Father Robert,

        It is not one group of people replacing another for God has one people. It is one covenant replacing another.

        supersede:
        to take the place of

        “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” (Heb. 8:13)

        superseded & superseding:
        a to cause to be set aside
        b to force out of use as inferior

        “But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.” (Heb 8:6)

        The shadows and types of the old Mosaic covenant that was tied to national Israel has been replaced…not by a people, but by a new and better covenant! Amen.

        2 to take the place or position of
        3 to displace in favor of another

        “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.” (Heb 8:7)

        “Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.” (Heb 9:1-2)

        “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.” (Heb 10:1)

        Yours in the Lord,

        j

      • @J: Well we would both agree basically on the Old and New Covenant. But not on what are the “commonwealth of Israel,…[and] “the covenants of the promise” (Eph. 2: 12), which are surely Gentile! “All God’s blessings are contained in Christ, all the civil rights are related to the nation of Israel, and all good things are promised in God’s covenants. … God is in Christ; He rules and moves in the commonwealth of Israel; and bestows His blessings according to His covenants.” The Millennial Kingdom is still ahead of us! (This quick, I am off for dinner! 🙂

      • One of my old Posts…

        Romans 9:1-11:36, God’s Righteousness to Israel and to the Gentiles, ESV Study Bible
        October 22, 2011

        Rom. 9:1-11:36 God’s Righteousness to Israel and to the Gentiles. Paul has made it clear that God’s saving promises have been fulfilled for the Gentiles. Indeed, the church of Jesus Christ enjoys the spiritual blessings promised to Israel: the gift of the Spirit (8:9); adoption as God’s children (8:14-17, 30) ; election (8:33) ; and the promise of never being severed from God’s love (8:35-39). Paul now asks in chs. 9-11 whether the promises to the Jews remain unfulfilled, how can Gentile Christians be sure that he will fulfill the great promises that conclude ch. 8? Paul answers that God is faithful to his saving promises to Israel (9:6) and that he will ultimately save his people (11:26). Note chapter 9:1-11:36, ESV Study Bible.

        The Covenants of Grace and Glory, have been given to the Gentiles, and thus making a Gentile Church. But the “Covenants & Glory” first belong to national Israel or the Jews. (Rom. 9:3-4-5) But not every Jew of course will be saved, but “a remnant, chosen by grace.” (Rom. 11: 5) But also today a remnant of Jews believe in Christ because of God’s electing grace, (Rom. 9:27-29). And yet, just before the Lord comes again or as He comes, HE, will again save a remnant right in the land itself, (Rom. 11: 26-29 /Matt. 24:31/ Zech. 14:3-4). This will be the remnant from national Israel!

        *As Cranfield put it, “These three chapters (Rom. 9-11) emphatically forbid us to speak of the church as having once and for all taken the place of the Jewish people.” W.D. Davies added, “Paul never calls the church the New Israel or the Jewish people the Old Israel.”

        Now for supper! 😉

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