From the study

I wanted to share a thought I had from the study in preparation for my sermon this Sunday. [Sidenote: One of my best friends has a blog called “From the Study” which is really helpful for pastors and seminarians training to pastor and preach to read and check out.] The verse I was meditating on was Jeremiah 31:34 which says, “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. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” So here’s the thought on the distinction between the new covenant and old covenant that should’ve been understood by those originally hearing/reading Jeremiah’s prophecy:

I found it interesting that as I’ve done a BibleWorks search on forgive/forgiving with sin/transgression/iniquity that there is no blanket statement like the one in the new covenant stated in Jeremiah 31:34 in the old covenant (Exodus-Deuteronomy). There are some statements on God forgiving sins of particular incidents, but no promise of forgiveness of all their sins with the tone of finality and wholeness found here. It is found in descriptions of God’s character [e.g. Exodus 34:7-8] but not declared to the people. After this new covenant declaration it seems to be declared a few more times in Jeremiah and then over and over again in the New Testament. This seems to be one of the distinctive points of the new covenant from the old covenant (the one given at Sinai), God will forgive the sins of his people, finally and wholly, in a way that while still living on earth before glorification they can know him in a way that not old covenant saints could.

Any thoughts?

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About pjtibayan

I love Jesus Christ and live to share life and share Jesus together with First Southern Baptist Church of Bellflower primarily to Southeast Los Angeles County.
This entry was posted in Biblical Theology, questions pondered. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to From the study

  1. Alex Hong says:

    Hi Kuya from the Philippines! I know how to get to your website from simply searching for Don Carson! I read a couple books from Carson like Call to Spiritual Reforation and the Cross and Christian Ministry! Its awesome to download Carson from your site. I hope you are growing in grace out there..I ll pray for your preaching and growth over there!

  2. P.J.

    What about Psalm 32:1-2; Psalm 51:1; Psalm 103:3; Micah 7:18; Isaiah 43:25?

    Nick

  3. pjtibayan says:

    Nick,

    The Psalms of David were noted in my study though not on the post (specifically the Psalms 32 and 103). Micah and Isaiah are looking forward to new covenant realities. Isaiah 43:26-27 refer to God sending them into exile first. The return from exile is tied to the new covenant over against the Israelite (Mosaic) covenant. Micah’s statement is coming after the judgment of the nation, so it is also referring, I think, to forgiveness tied to the new covenant over against the old covenant. If you see anything wrong with those thoughts please push back. Those are initial thoughts as I quickly looked at the texts.

    In Christ,
    PJ

  4. Rick Zaman says:

    PJ,

    I have two thoughts in response that I would like to hear you on.
    First, when I was initially reading, I immediately thought of Exodus 34, which you then later mentioned. So, I did not understand what distinction you were making. My thought was, “What significance would the declaration of God’s character have if they did not think it could or would apply to them?” Do you mean that the hope present in God’s declaration in Exodus is only fully realized (declared) until the explanation of the New Covenant?
    Second, what significance do the statements of atonement have under the Law in Leviticus (cf. Lev. 4, 5, 14, 16, etc.)?
    Hope you are well. You still in DC?

    For Christ,
    Rick Z

  5. PJ,

    I think I agree with Rick’s assessment. It may be helpful to think of the remnant of Old Covenant Israel as living under the New Covenant realities. If you are wondering how this is possible you simply need to remember two things. First, Jesus is the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world. This makes the application of what He would accomplish in time effective in the hearts of Old Covenant believers. Second, It is important to note the words of Hebrews 9:15, “And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” This verse basically tells us that the Old Covenant remnant had their transgressions forgiven by the death of Jesus, which worked retrospectively. This is why we can read the promises in the Old Testament in the spiritual, Christocentric way they were intended then and now. Another important fact to note is that when Galatians and Hebrews speak of the Old Covenant, or the first covenant, they are never speaking of everything in the Old Testament, they are speaking about the Mosaic Covenant with its types and shadows that needed to be fulfilled. This is crucial to a Reformed understanding of Scripture. All of the Israelites did not have the law written on their hearts, but David says he did. How is this possible. Because he was trusting in the Christ to come. This is also the point of Hebrews 11 saying that Moses esteemed the reproach of Christ greater treasures than the riches of Egypt. Also Jesus said that Abraham saw His day and rejoiced to see it. Abraham, according to Paul in Galatians, was justified. That would naturally include the forgiveness of all his sins, would it not?

  6. PJ Tibayan says:

    Rick,

    Response to thought 1 – Yes God declared in that great Exodus 34 passage his character as gracious and forgiving. My point is that in the Old Covenant (Mosaic Covenant), the declaration of forgiveness with a tone of finality and completion is never given. That’s what I’ve noticed. I’m just asking the questions (and guessing an answer) why that is. God is the same God, whether making the old or new covenant promises and thus we are not surprised that he declares himself to be gracious (because he is!).

    Response to thought 2 – The significance of the statements in Leviticus 4, 5, 14, 16 are that they point to Christ’s sacrifice. They point to the need for atonement and they are the object of faith (albeit a shadow) through which the sinner believes God’s promise for forgiveness. The difference between these and the New Covenant promises is that they don’t have that tone of finality and forgiveness of all sin. The Leviticus statements are different in that they are responsive to particular sins and when done it is not finished but must be done again and again as continuing sin will require it. The new covenant declarations have that tone of finality to the forgiveness.

    Maybe I’m way out there. Thanks for trying to reel me in if I am. I need this sharpening, but if you see something hugely wrong with these sentiments, then I must have a blind spot and need help. I’ll be heading back to California this Sunday or Monday (from Queens, NY).

  7. pjtibayan says:

    Nick said: It may be helpful to think of the remnant of Old Covenant Israel as living under the New Covenant realities. If you are wondering how this is possible you simply need to remember two things. First, Jesus is the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world. This makes the application of what He would accomplish in time effective in the hearts of Old Covenant believers. Second, It is important to note the words of Hebrews 9:15, “And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” This verse basically tells us that the Old Covenant remnant had their transgressions forgiven by the death of Jesus, which worked retrospectively.

    My response: I think it is a mistake to say that the remnant of Old Covenant (henceforth “OC”) Israel was living under the New Covenant (henceforth “NC”) realities. The remnant still had the mediatorial system that is abolished in the NC. They did not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit the way NC believers do. They did not have the “instruction” (Torah) written on their hearts (I don’t know where David says he did unless you mean Psalm 119:11, which I don’t think is the same thing). There is a difference between the covenants, though there are huge continuities as well.

    Nick said: Another important fact to note is that when Galatians and Hebrews speak of the Old Covenant, or the first covenant, they are never speaking of everything in the Old Testament, they are speaking about the Mosaic Covenant with its types and shadows that needed to be fulfilled.

    My response: I agree with this fact. And that is my point. I’m not saying the NC replaces all of the Old Testament (for one thing, the NC is announced in the Old Testament!) but the OC that you say that Galatians and Hebrews speaks of. In my initial post, I was saying that I found it peculiar that the OC (not the whole canonical Old Testament) had no blanket statements of forgiveness with the tone of finality and wholeness that the NC declaration made.

    Nick said: Abraham, according to Paul in Galatians, was justified. That would naturally include the forgiveness of all his sins, would it not?

    My response: Absolutely! Amen and amen! Justification and forgiveness are inextricably tied! That’s Paul’s point in Romans 4. I praise God for the teaching and reality of justification by faith alone taught in the Old Testament. But this teaching of justification is not declared in the OC (again, I’m not saying the 39 books of the OT) but given before the OC was given (the Abrahamic Covenant and life of Abraham precedes the inauguration of the OC).

    My study of Jeremiah 31 was in preparation for a sermon and I was trying to note the contrasts God was making between the NC and OC, not the NC to all of what is written in the Old Testament.

    Thanks brother for the questions and comments. It is sharpening and helpful. I’m preaching this sermon again this Sunday and so I’m grateful for the edifying and challenging thoughts.

    In Christ,
    PJ

  8. PJ,

    These are good things to be wrestling with. A few years ago I really spent a great deal of time trying to figure this out and am not sure I will completely understand the unity of the Testaments and the discontinuity of them. Keep up the good work. BTW, I was an intern at Tenth Presbyterian Church last year and met a young guy who goes to your church. He told me how good the internship there at Capitol Hill seemed to be. Praise God for giving you such an experience.

    Will you please tell Mark Dever that I really appreciated his talk at Together for the Gospel this year? I thought it was right on!

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