Liam Goligher on covenant theology (part 3)


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 3

Jeremiah 31

In eleven years in ministry in England, never been to a conference with such warmth and welcome and sense of confidence and fellowship.

Skipping Moses, in spite of his significance, and David. I’ll give you headings but not the explanation.

The law of Moses was never given as an alternative way to salvation. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt. Rescue and grace.

Externalising of the nature of God in the expression of the law. The distinction between the law and the arrival of Jesus is the arrival of Jesus, who fulfills the law. The Mosaic law is broken almost immediately but built into the law of Israel is the sacrificial system, in other words it is a law for sinners. Expensive and valuable animals are a symbol of the enormity of the cost of sin, the debt to God, the seriousness of sin and its weightiness. Propitiation and sacrifice is recognised in the law and is fulfilled in Christ.

A pattern of life given by the redeemer to the redeemed that they might live for his pleasure.

In the book of Psalms we are introduced to the righteous man and the King. How does the righteous man show his love and trust to the King, he delights in the law. Jesus said “if you love me, if you delight in me, you’ll keep my commandments.”

New Covenant in Christ. What is Old about the New Covenant? Lots has been written about what is new but is everything new?

Baptists stress the discontinuity between old and new. Radical reformers and the origins of baptistic theology. What carries forward. Intimate presence of God with his people, grace and law, promises in Old come to fruition in the New. You are a people for his treasured possession. The relationship between God and his people does not change in the New, it is the same sort of relationship, with the same grace and the same law of Moses, the promise hasn’t changed.

The covenant with Israel was the good and gracious covenant, but the problem was sin. The covenant was broken before it was ratified. God reissued the covenant but it was broken immediately again. Did Israel ever worship Yahwah alone? No! They never exclusively worshipped him. It was always God + idols.

Jeremiah puts his finger on the problem. They broke the covenant, consistently and thoroughly, such that they lost the land. The prophets become covenant attorneys (solicitors) who foretell the break up of the marriage between Yahweh and his bride. They lost the land and blessings and we are no more able to keep the conditions of the covenant. The fracture of Israel was sign of judgement.

Jeremiah 31
The coming of the Lord Jesus brings unity and healing of the nations, not breaking down their distinctions, but reconciling them to God in all their diversity, national, gender and economic.

The heart of his people is changed. God penetrates to the deepest faculty, the heart, of people’s hearts. His law is written on the heart, internalised, no longer external, along with the promise of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s task is to change the heart. Means of grace are corporate and public, the word of the gospel, the sacraments, but its effects are internal.

The new covenant brings complete and utter forgiveness. Jer 31 – forgive them their sins and remember their transgressions no more. The sin problem will finally no longer be the problem. Looking forward to the new creation, sin will no longer be the problem.

Writer the Hebrews highlights that the problem was not with the law but with God’s people. His people can’t keep the law. The Holy Spirit is given so that I might start to overcome sin, kill sin, so that I might live for God.

This is my blood of the covenant for the forgiveness of the sins of many.

In the New Covenant,the great things that comes before our senses, is the eternal forgiveness by faith in Christ as we take hold of Christ by faith.

Everything will be holy to the Lord. To the horsegate (Jer 32)

In the fulness of time, this work of God would be done, and it is the work of God, it is monergistic, I will forgive, I will be their God, I will write my law, I will send my Spirit, I will….

As God builds up the composite picture of the servant of the Lord, he gives him a name “Israel who will save Israel” he will rescue Israel from her sin and backsliding. In Matthew’s gospel we are immediately introduced to Israel.

The New Testament doesn’t really begin until the Last Supper. The gospels to that point are the end of the Old Testament, the label is too soon in our bibles.

Jesus is the light of the world. He is what Israel had failed to be. In the end he is back a garden, facing the same battle as Adam, wrestling with Satan, the final conflict is taking place and the great Adam obeys where Adam disobeys and Jesus obeys were we disobey. Jesus is the victor the triumphant Saviour. Today you will be with me in paradise.

And we are caught up in this great victory and are taken to the garden city, a renovated universe, as we reflect on the glories of this great salvation, plotted in the mind og God before the creation of the world that we might share the love that Father and Son shared before the creation of the world.

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