The New Testament is called the new covenant in Hebrews 8:6-13 (indeed the word "testament" is the same word as "covenant"). According to Hebrews 8 the new covenant replaces the old.
From this many conclude that there is some essential difference between the old and new - that they are different covenants. The Baptists come to this conclusion in their defense of believer's baptism (the covenant sealed by circumcision is not the same as the covenant sealed by baptism). The futurists come to the same conclusion in defense of their belief that there is still a special earthly future for Israel (one covenant promise for them, another for us).
We believe that the new covenant replaces the old only as a newer and fuller revelation of the one everlasting covenant of God. The differences are only differences of administration. Hebrew 8 itself makes this clear. Notice:
(1) Verse 10 uses the ordinary covenant formula (thy God, my people) to show that the new covenant is not essentially different from the old. At that most important point they are the same.
(2) The reference to the law confirms this. In the new covenant the law is not removed, but rewritten on different tables - the fleshly tables of the heart (II Cor. 3:3). Law and covenant still go together. In fact, the giving of the law (though differently written) is the "giving" of the covenant, both in Deut. 4:13 and here in verse 10.
(3) Also, in both, according to verse 11, the essential thing is knowing the Lord, though there is a difference in how we do know Him. Verse 11, we believe, speaks of the NT as a time of realization and fulfillment. It is a time, therefore, in which God's people know Him directly and not anymore through the "teaching" of priests and Levites (cf. Mal. 2:5-7).
The new covenant, then, is not something completely different, but new in the same way that the heavens and earth shall be new when Christ comes again. The heavens and earth are not annihilated, but renewed.
The passing of the old covenant does not, therefore, bring in an entirely new covenant, but the last revelation of that one covenant in which God is the God of His people and takes them to be His own. It is the last and fullest revelation of the covenant through the coming of the things promised, rather than through pictures and types.
That new covenant is "better" and more glorious because it brings us Christ instead of the types of Christ. Only the final consummation of the covenant shall be more glorious.
- Volume: 8
- Issue: 26
Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: November 1979
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002; Emeritus October 15, 2017Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/
Address13823 Clear Lake Rd.
State or ProvinceWA