Posted tagged ‘Kevin Deyoung’

The New Covenant is Not Identical with the Abrahamic Covenant

August 17, 2012

The Abrahamic covenant came before the old covenant, and therefore the Abrahamic covenant is NOT the new covenant. Abraham had two sons.

If circumcision was for Abraham a seal of the promise to Abraham thatAbraham would have children and own a lot of land, then we cannot saythat circumcision is ONLY a seal of righteousness that he had by faith. The circumcision is a sign of more than one thing. But

paedobaptists tend to read the Old Testament as if the Arahamic
covenant and the new covenant were the same, and thus reduce the
Abrahamic covenant to being only about the righteousness earned by

In addition, the Romans 4:11 text says that circumcision was a sign to Abraham that he Abraham had the righteousness. The circumcision is a sign that Christ will bring in the righteousness, but not a sign to
anybody else that they have or are promised the righteousness.

Israel is a type fulfilled by Christ, not by a mixed body of justified and non-justified folks we call “the church”. Circumcision is a type of the forensic “cutting off” from legal identity in Adam by means of Christ’s death. Christ’s death is our death, and that death is not water, not regeneration, not “covenant membership” in a conditional (full gospel) probation.

It’s not water that fulfills the type of circumcision, because it’s Christ’s death to the law imputed to the elect which is the ultimate thing signified by circumcision. Christ did not become cleansed or regenerated, but His blood was shed to satisfy justice, and that’s the central truth to which circumcision speaks.

But this does not mean that paedobaptists should ignore the other preliminary things signified by circumcision. We don’t have to agree with Hodge that there were two different Abrahamic covenants to agree that circumcision had more than one significance.

So when Deyoung writes “And if this spiritual sign—a seal of the
righteousness that comes by faith—was administered to Abraham and his
infant sons, then we cannot say that the thing signified must always
be present before the sign is administered.”, we have to say 1. in the case of Abraham, the righteousness signified had already been imputed to Abraham before circumcision. and 2. there is more than one thing signified but Deyoung has ignored that and now only focuses on the righteousness. 3. and even in regard to the righteousness which is signified, there is an ambiguity in which paedobaptists have their
cake and eat it also.

On the one hand, they tell us we can’t know who is justified, and so the sign is not about an infallible knowledge that this infant will be justified. But agreeing with that, why not then give the sign to everybody? But then, on the other hand, the confessions teach that there is a promise to the children of those who are Christians. And here there is more ambiguity, since first we can’t infallibly know which parents are justified, and second, there is no promise to Christians that they will even have children, and third, What exactly is this promise to the children of those who are Christians?

There is no promise that specific children will be justified. So at
most, what you have is some idea that they are “in the covenant” and
thus subject perhaps to “covenant curses”. But again, how are these
infants different from any other infants, since all infants are born
guilty in Adam and all need that righteousness, and none of them is
promised that righteousness, and they can only know they have it if
God gives them faith in the gospel?

To summarize, dispensationalists can’t really see the newness of the
new covenant, because they can’t let go of the idea that the Abrahamic covenant promised land unconditionally to ethnic Israel. And paedobaptists can’t really see the newness of the new covenant,
because they can’t let go of the genealogical principle of Abraham
having a seed which would be fulfilled in Christ.

Despite that fulfillment, paedobaptists still think there is a genealogical principle at work in the new covenant. They think the Abrahamic covenant is no different from the new covenant, and that the new covenant is no different from the Abrahamic covenant. This is why they can’t really read what Colossians 2:11-13 say, so they assume that water baptism is the fulfillment of the sign of circumcision.