5 - Frameworks

Frameworks for Understanding the Scriptures

There are five common ways of relating together the Old and New Testaments:

  1. Reformed Covenant Theology: The N.C. is an administration of the Old (infant baptism)
  2. Dispensationalism: History is divided into seven dispensations. The O.C. is now abrogated (or suspended) (beleivers’ baptism)
  3. New-Covenant Theology (beleivers’ baptism): The relationship between the O.C. and the N.C. is not flat, but typological. (beleivers’ baptism) The movement is
    • promise → fulfullment
    • shadow → reality
    • type → antitype
    • flesh → spirit
    • external written code → Jesus Christ (indwelling)
  4. No coherent framework: free to apply texts with no regard to historical epoch (most untrained evangelicals/charismatics)
  5. Modern-critical: no relationship between the Old and the New is necessary



Updated 2009-10-12 (build:16) by Andrew Fountain

Comparison between Dispensations & Covenants

Dispensational Reformed (paedobaptist) New Covenant
1. Innocence A. Covenant of Works Period of probation
2. Conscience B. Covenant of Grace
     (initiated with Eve)
1. Anti-diluvian administration
and then
full Mosaic
All are
the N.C.
to Eve
3. Government 2. Noahic administration
4. Promise 3. Abrahamic administration
5. Law 4. Mosaic administration
    (+Davidic covenant)
6a. Grace (Spirit) 5. New covenant:
Apostolic administration
O.C. fulfilled in N.C.
by the replacing of all
types with anti-types
and shadows with clarity
in Jesus Christ

(radical new beginning at Pentecost)
<return of Christ>
(differences of views re millennium)

6b. Church age (Word)

<completion of canon marks break>
6. New covenant:
Post-Apostolic administration
<return of Christ>
7. Kingdom
7. Christ's millennial administration
<return of Christ>


  • For the Paedobaptist, circumcision and baptism are parallel ceremonies in two administrations. Both are for believers and their children.
  • For the New Covenant, circumcision is a type, and therefore can only be fulfilled in an antitype (a new heart), not another symbol.
  • For the Paedobaptist, Israel and the Church are parallel names for the people of God in two administrations. Both are made up of believers and unbelievers, and should extend to the whole nation, including children. Force is appropriate.
  • For the New Covenant, Israel is a type of the church. The ideal local expression of a church is made up only of believers. We do not fight with the sword, but with spiritual weapons.

Comparison between Signs of the Covenants

  Noahic Abrahamic Mosiac New
sign/seal rainbow circumcision Sabbath the Spirit who regenerates / circumcises our hearts

—>Sabbath fulfilled by rest in Christ

feast     passover Lord’s supper
Image of death to life Saved from flood life from Sarah's "dead" body "Baptism" in Red Sea Baptism
inheritance all the earth & animals
(old creation)
land + nation
(types of the new creation)
promised land 1 Pet 1:4 an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven
not needed
(already realized)
nation -> a son
land -> burial plot
Sabbath was a foretaste of rest in Canaan,
+ physical blessing in wilderness: Manna, clothes not wear out, treasures from Egypt
The Spirit

The New Covenant

Terry Virgo: “Many many people in churches have not had a revelation of [the new covenant] to their hearts... Many have a mixture of Old covenant and New Covenant” (9-1:00,3:07)

I want to do three things in this presentation

  1. Describe what a covenant is
  2. Talk about the Old Covenant
  3. Explain the New Covenant

1. What is a covenant?

  • a relationship (usually friendship or family), not a legal contract.
    • today we have legal contracts, enforced by putting our signature on the bottom (e.g. story of DirectBuy)
    • the only things in our society which are like covenants are marriages and adoptions
    • even they are not quite the same as a covenant
  • Abram & the smoking torch Follow along in Genesis 15
    • Before we read this passage, it might seem strange to you, but this was the common way of doing things when you made a covenant.
    • [enact role-play by cutting up transparencies]
    • Pictures of animals used in the Genesis 15 covenant
    • Note that this was a special covenant with Moses, not what we call the Old Covenant or the New Covenant
    • read passage
    • why does only God go between the pieces (not dependent on Abraham)
  • so this is what a covenant is:
    • very serious affair: life and death
    • not just a legal agreement, but brings two people into a relationship

2 The Old Covenant

  • God made a covenant with the whole nation of Israel in Old Testament times
  • He gave them a lot of laws and commandments
    • If they kept them, then he would give them
      • financial blessing
      • health and long life
      • lots of children
    • If then broke them then
      • He would punish them
      • He would take away all the good things
      • Ultimately the nation would be destroyed
  • It was all based on their performance
  • It was mostly external
    • (this is an oversimplification because mixed in with these laws were promises of a new covenant)
  • What does it mean to be living under the Old Covenant?
    • They related to God as an authority figure
      • who would judge them if they failed
      • The Jews would never call God “Abba” (daddy)
    • Blessings and cursings: Deut 27, 28, 29, 30 (e.g. 28:1-2 & 28:15)
    • in fact, it was impossible for them to completely keep all the laws
    • God was actually very patient with them
    • but in the end the whole nation rebelled against God and all the curses came upon them

3 The New Covenant

A. God’s law written on our hearts

  • In Galatians Paul tells us that no matter how many laws you make, it can’t change the heart.
    • Just imagine that the government passed a law that everyone must love each other—no more hate!
  • But the Holy Spirit produces fruit in our lives: [Gal 5:22-23]
    • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
  • However, it is not just that we have a new heart, the old one has been removed
    • we have had a heart-transplant—we don’t have to carry on with our old lifestyle
      • [role-play]
    • we are free to serve Christ
    • Recently I saw a trapped butterfly, under a piece of glass on our deck.
      • If you throw a caterpillar up in the air and say “fly! fly!”, it won’t work
      • but a butterfly naturally flies (unless it is trapped, and there are things that can ensnare us but that is another subject)
  • relationship to the law
    • Moses brought the 10 commandments
    • Some teach that Jesus just gave us some more commands to add on to Moses, but that is a total misunderstanding
    • The replacement for the law is not a new law, but a person, Jesus himself!!!!
    • He says “follow me”, do what I do, think how I think, love others like I love others
    • Goes far beyond a written list of rules
    • Can we do it ?
      • Not in our own strength, but Jesus is actually living in us through the Spirit.
      • We are united with him
      • he has defeated the power of sin and he is living within us
    • e.g. girl who was recently saved. Her family started hostile, but stopped being antagonistic within days when they saw her change of life, and eventually were saved.
      • It wasn’t that she now had more laws to obey!!

B. We will belong to him and he will belong to us

  • The essence of the New Covenant:
    • brought into God’s family
    • we were enemies, in rebellion. Now we are brought into his family
    • He is “ours”, in a sense he belongs to us as a possession, and we belong to him
    • This is like love language, isn’t it:
      • “I am my beloved’s and my beloved’s mine” [SongSol 6:3]
    • secure!!!
  • Three pictures or aspects of this relationship in the New Testament:
    1. Servants (Paul calls himself a “bondslave of Jesus Christ”)
    2. Children / Father (Adopted as “sons”)
      • Jesus taught us to call the father “Abba”
      • The Spirit puts that cry into us [Rom 8:1]
    3. Bride / Bridegroom
    • A marriage is probably the closest thing we have today to a covenant (we don’t usually do the parts with the blood)
      • Our wedding rings are the seals (get Anne to hold her hand up)
      • What do they symbolize (all that is mine is yours)
      • What is the seal of the New Covenant? (The Spirit e.g. Eph. 4:30)
        • That is why it is so important that we experience being filled in a tangible way
  • How do we live?
    • lovers outperform servants

C. We can all hear God for ourselves and don’t need to be totally dependent on “priests”

  • God still gives teachers to his people, but they are to be listened to with discernment
  • Since we have the Spirit, we can discern truth from error
  • The Bible is our primary authority, but we can all read it for ourselves!
  • In O.T. times if someone wanted to know God’s will, they had to go to a prophet,
    • but in the New Covenant, Jesus says “my sheep hear my voice”

D. Our sins are all forgiven

  • In the Old Covenant you could never be sure that you had kept even the most basic laws
  • You could spend your life worried and anxious about whether God would accept you.
  • But many Christians today live lives full of
    • condemnation
    • guilt
    • anxiety over their failings
    • feelings of being inadequate and failing God all the time
    • A sense that God is angry with them and is judging them
  • The covenant God made with Abraham was a picture of the New Covenant in that it was unconditional
    • A free gift
    • We don’t have to do anything to earn it -> It was received by faith
  • But God says: “I will forgive their wickedness, and their sins I will remember no more.”
    • Don’t you get it? God is not counting your sins!!!!
    • If you mess up today, he will have chosen to forget it tomorrow!
      • (That doesn’t mean their are not consequences—if you get drunk and crash your car, you may find the police remember it.)
      • (Also, God is committed to helping us get out of sinful lifestyle, but he will not ultimately count it against us)
      • Once I was taking a course and just about to go into the exam when I added up my marks and realized I had already passed!
        • What a relief! I didn’t even need to take the exam!
        • You can imagine how it took the pressure off!
        • We have already passed—Jesus has earned us a 100% grade
    • Terry Virgo was preaching this once and a man at the back of the church interrupted him and shouted out:
    • “That is the most scandalous thing I have ever heard!”
    • “Then you very nearly understand it, Sir”
    • People are offended by this teaching (and were when the Apostle Paul taught it), saying it will lead us into more sin...
      • If it were not for the new heart and the relationship then it would!
      • But the New Covenant is a package
        • If someone does use it as an excuse for sinning freely, then they probably don’t actually have the new heart
  • Summary: if you are a member of the New Covenant:
    1. You have a new heart, that like a butterfly wants to soar
    2. You are God’s beloved and he is your beloved. You are secure in the relationship
    3. You relate to God directly, not through priests
    4. You are totally forgiven and God is never judging you or condemning you
  • We need to respond to this message!
    • Maybe you are feeling condemned and a failure and want to enter into these truths more.
      • “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus...” [Rom 8:1]

Updated 2009-10-12 (build:16) by Andrew Fountain

Genesis 15

  1. After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram! I am your shield and the one who will reward you in great abundance.”
  2. But Abram said, “O Sovereign Lord, what will you give me since I continue to be childless, and my heir is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3Abram added, “Since you have not given me a descendant, then look, one born in my house will be my heir!”
  1. But look, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but instead a son who comes from your own body will be your heir.” 5He took him outside and said, “Gaze into the sky and count the stars—if you are able to count them!” Then he said to him, “So will your descendants be.”
  1. Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted his response of faith as righteousness.
  2. The Lord said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” 8But Abram said, “O Sovereign Lord, by what can I know that I am to possess it?
  1. The Lord said to him, “Take for me a heifer, a goat, and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” 10So Abram took all these for him and then cut them in two and placed each half opposite the other, but he did not cut the birds in half. 11When birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
  1. When the sun went down, Abram fell sound asleep. Then great terror overwhelmed him. 13Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign country. They will be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years. 14But I will execute judgment on the nation that they will serve. Afterward they will come out with many possessions. 15But as for you, you will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16In the fourth generation your descendants will return here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its limit.”
  1. When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking firepot with a flaming torch passed between the animal parts. 18That day the Lord made a covenant with Abram: “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates River— 19the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.”

adapted from NET Bible

Updated 2009-10-12 (build:15) by Andrew Fountain

Animals used in the Genesis 15 covenant






Updated 2009-10-12 (build:15) by Andrew Fountain

Hebrews 8:6-13

  1. But now Jesus has obtained a superior ministry, since the covenant that he mediates is also better and is based on better promises.
  2. For if that first covenant had been faultless, no one would have looked for a second one.
  3. But showing its fault, God says to them,
    “Look, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will complete a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.
  4. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their fathers, on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not continue in my covenant and I had no regard for them, says the Lord.
  5. For this is the covenant that I will establish with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord.
    A. God’s law written on our hearts I will put my laws in their minds and I will inscribe them on their hearts.
    B. We will belong to him and he will belong to us And I will be their God and they will be my people.
    C. No need for priests between us and God 11. And there will be no need at all for each one to teach his countryman or each one to teach his brother saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ since they will all know me, from the least to the greatest.
    D. Our sins are all forgiven 12. For I will be merciful toward their evil deeds, and their sins I will remember no longer.”
  1. When he speaks of a new covenant, he makes the first obsolete. Now what is growing obsolete and aging is about to disappear.

quote from Jer 31:31-34

(Based on NET Bible)

Updated 2009-10-12 (build:15) by Andrew Fountain

Hermeneutical Frameworks 2

Overarching Theme of the Bible

  1. Covenant Theology: Redemption
    • Advantages:
      1. Takes Luke 24:27 seriously “he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself”
      2. Provides unity for whole Bible
    • Problems:
      1. Cannot do a good job in explaining Wisdom literature, esp Song of Solomon
      2. Man centered?
  2. Dispensationalism: The glory of God
    • Advantages:
      1. God centered
      2. Encompasses Wisdom literature
    • Problems:
      1. Too general
      2. Does not take Luke 24:27 seriously
      3. Does not provide a strong unity
  3. Suggested Principle: The Revelation of God in Jesus Christ
    • Advantages:
      1. God is primarily glorified in redemption, so includes the advantages of Covenant Theology
      2. Takes the Christ-centred nature of Luke 24:27 seriously
      3. Takes seriously other Christ-centered passages such as Col 1:15-20; John 1:1-18 which refer to the old creation
      4. God centered
      5. Encompasses Wisdom literature

Exegetical Principles of Dispensationalism

  • Pay careful attention to the dispensation DISCONTINUITY
  • Interpret literally unless the context demands metaphor
  • Theology cannot be derived from narrative (e.g. we are not to expect the miraculous events of Acts today)
  • Each dispensation (except the last) ends in failure. (Another argument for cessationism)

Exegetical Principles of Covenant Theology

  • Determine whether to interpret literally or spiritually according to how well each would fit within the system
  • God always deals with people in terms of covenants
  • Each administration of the covenant has parallels which can be inferred from other administrations
  • building up to final victory

Exegetical Principles of New Covenant Theology

  • Discontinuity of Covenants & Continuity of way of salvation
  • The superiority of Christ over Moses
  • Look carefully at how N.T. authors applied the type/fulfillment motif

Examples of issues that are answered differently depending on your view of covenants

  1. Distinction between priest and people in O.T. (including clothing)
  2. Praise and worship (cf. regulative principle)
    • music (+instruments, Psalms only?)
    • litergy or freedom in worship
    • leadership in worship (front led or participatory)
  3. Who is the covenant with? Children? whole families? individuals?
  4. Role of the Spirit in our times
    • gifts
    • the nature of the kingdom
  5. Wealth
  • Valuable resource: John S. Feinberg, Continuity and Discontinuity—Perspectives on the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, (Weschester, IL: Crossway, 1988)
    • contains history of “Overarching Theme”
    • The danger of using the wrong controls on our exegesis
    • Training a church to discern

Updated 2009-10-11 (build:10) by Andrew Fountain

Assignment 3 - The Message

Due date: upload to loveintruth.com by the start of Friday’s class

Please add this assignment onto the end of the other two assignments, so all three are in one document. Then I can see all your work together.

Part 3: The Message

3.1 Statement of the basic steps of reasoning within the passage

In brief point form, list the steps of reasoning the author uses to accomplish his purpose. (Do not do the same as in step 3.3)

3.2 Which covenant period is the passage under?

  • e.g. pre-Abraham / Abraham / Moses (Law) / N.T. before Pentecost / New Covenant

3.3 Verse by verse explanation/interpretation

For each verse in your passage, write a brief explanation. Sometimes you may prefer to take a couple of verses together. If a verse is particularly important, then write more about it. To help you understand the meaning, you may wish to:

  • Use Biblical Theology (e.g. compare with parallel passages)
  • Use Systematic Theology (e.g. similar or contrasting teachings in Scripture)
  • Point out any quotations of the Old Testament in the New
  • Discuss alternative interpretations and give your preferred interpretation

3.4 Conclusions regarding the teachings of the passage

Summarize one or two central points that the author is making. These must be points that the author is setting out to make, (not teachings that you might be able to infer from the passage but are really derived from another part of Scripture).

Updated 2009-10-11 (build:14) by Andrew Fountain

Assignment 4 - The Response

Due date: upload to loveintruth.com by the end of Friday

Part 4: Response

4.1 The Response Required from the Original Hearers and Required Today

In order to answer this you must understand the kind of people to whom the book was written. Given all you have studied up till now—the purpose of the book, the purpose of this passage and the arguments and points that have been made, what response would the author have wanted to have seen in the original hearers?

If you were to preach from these verses, or teach them in a cell group, or explain them to another person, how would you apply them? Be as specific as you can with examples of how this might apply today. Is the primary application to believers or unbelievers?

4.2 Personal Response

How should I respond to these verses now? If we never ask ourselves this question then we are doing a terrible thing—treating God’s Word as a textbook, or an object to be examined. We are not like some scientist examining God’s Word, but the Word is examining us. We should not approach it to judge and dissect it—but to let the Word judge and dissect us. So this final step is the climax and end point of exegesis: discovering and interpreting the message that God is communicating to ME, and obeying this message. Try and be as specific as you can here. (Your paper will not be shown to anyone else.) This should be answered in the first person (“God is saying to me...”).

Updated 2009-10-12 (build:15) by Andrew Fountain