Jun 8, 2009

Resurrection and the Covenant

Another thing the resurrection teaches us is how God normally operates. Not that raising people from the dead is a common occurrence, -- what I'm speaking of is how God ordinarily works in redemptive history to accomplish His will or the common patterns of God's working that we can discern from the scriptures.

The bodily resurrection of Jesus teaches us that God doesn't abandon a work previously started. This is clear in the Psalms where God promises not to abandon His servant to the grave or "let your Holy One see corruption" (see Psalms 16:10) (and Act 2:27). And it is also seen in His promise to all believers to finish the work He has begun in us (see Phl 1:6). Our God starting a work and then seeing it through to completion should not come as a surprise to us because this is the pattern of God throughout all of scripture. God does not change. When He makes a promise, the promise will be kept. When He says He will do something, we can be sure that it will be done.

In the context of the Biblical Covenant(s) this is important because of the tendency we have to separate the Old Covenant (OC) from the New Covenant (NC) in such a way as to make it seem that the OC and NC are not vitally and organically connected to one another. We treat the OC and NC as Plan A and Plan B respectively.

The question is: "To what extent are the OC and NC connected"? The resurrection of Jesus teaches us that they are so connected that they are really ......... the same covenant. They are really both Plan A. Jesus didn't do away with the OC, He took it up in Himself, fulfilled it and made it what it was always intended to be. The OC died, was buried, and then was resurrected and transformed(as the NC) with Jesus. In Christ, the OC was was made perfect.

Jesus alludes to this when He says "Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them" (Mat 5:17). We (Christians) are fond of quoting this verse, but I'm convinced we don't grasp what Jesus is really saying, because after quoting it we go on with life as if the OC scripture has nothing to teach us about how to live our lives before a Holy God. And we conceive of OC and NC saints as not being vitally connected to the same body of Christ. We teach, preach and live as if the OC has been abolished. 

In maintaining this false dichotomy between the OC/NC and OC saints/NC saints, modern pastors/preachers/teachers have short-changed the Church by only teaching us one-third of our identity. We are not "New Testament Christians" only, we are the Biblical people of God whose story begins in Genesis and ends in Revelation. For the Church to understand who She is we must tear down the wall that we have built between the OC and NC. We must learn to think "Biblically" by seeing all of scripture as one continuous story of God's love for and redemption of His people.

To be sure there is much mystery involved here. There are certainly many differences in the Covenant now that Christ has appeared and the NC has been inaugurated. Our Father continues to work in us, transforming us from glory to glory. Because of the resurrection, you can have hope that "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phl 1:6).

Wade B.

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