Liam Goligher on covenant theology (part 2)


These notes were taken in the context of a lecture and are not a full transcript nor are they verbatim. Some ideas may be misrepresented by me.

Liam Goligher – Session 2

Book recommendation – Michael Horton, Covenant Theology

Genesis 15

Covenant relationship established with Adam formally (words used, promises made, warnings given and duties given). Adam disobeyed and so became a covenant breaker. Adam’s sin catastrophic for himself; he hides from God, is no longer intimate with God, but also for the cosmos, as the world is thrown out of kilter.

Gen 3 – The promise: your offspring will bruise his head, is also a declaration of war against Satan. The promise is unconditional, “he will”. Most covenants are made mutually between two parties, i.e. marriage and war treaties. But some covenants are unconditional gifts or grants, i.e birthday presents to children or their inheritance. The former has legal conditions but the latter is simply a sign of friendship or affection.

Natural theology – built into our humanity and conscience is a works based mentality. Do this and live, don’t to that our be cursed. But the gospel is not instinctive, gospel is not natural, it must be announced by God through his prophets as news. The gospel always comes from outside of us. The first statement of the gospel is found in Gen 3: “He will strike….”

The godly are distinguished from the ungodly by being worshipping people who call on the name of the Lord. In Noah’s day, as ours, God upholds the world and its life even in the face of great wickedness.

Abraham comes onto the scene and from now on all God’s plans for salvation from now on will be inextricably linked with Abraham. Unconditional election, as God selects this one nomadic man to be the source of salvation. Numbers and significance, blessing to the world (5 times in three verses), I will make your name great.

Based on grace through faith. Abraham was an idol worshipper, imperfect, weak, often a failure as a man, unbelieving or at least inconsistent in his belief, sinful. Yet, God comes to him in a vision and chooses him. God gives Abram a new name, “father of many”.

The initiative is God’s and the instrument of belonging is belief in God, through which Abraham is counted righteous.

Chapter 17:7 – the covenant is for Abraham and his offspring. Families not individuals – counter individualism. The new covenant cannot be less generous than the old covenant. It is for men and women. For Jews and Gentiles. For believers and their families. There is no explicit statement in the New Testament which suggests that the covenant is only for individual believers.

God announces, establishes and inaugurates the covenant, taking on himself the obligation to fulfil the promises to bless, multiply, name and give. Gen15:12-18.

John 15 “vine and branches” is in the context of John 12 when Jesus turns his back on Israel and has nothing more to say to them. He is the true vine, the head of the new Israel, the church. There will be those in him in a covenantal sense, but not a saving sense, who will not be there by faith and will be taken out and burned.

God never seeks to comfort his people by saying to his people “remember the covenant I made with Moses” he will say “remember the covenant I made with Abraham.” “Your Father Abraham rejoiced to see my day.”

Romans 4. Comes through faith are sons of Abraham.

Covenant with Abraham was unchangeable and immutable.

Hebrews 6:13-18

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