I'm sorry to have been so long in coming back on this topic, but I've been having trouble with my eyes and too much computer work does them no good. However, being now recovered, there are a few points I'd like to make.

Joe said:-

'Steve, I agree the text [Jer 31:34]says everyone in the New Covenant knows Him, but presently many do not.'

This, I think, is the difference between our hermeneutics; as far as I'm concerned, if someone doesn't know the Lord, he's not in the New Covenant. I take Joe's point about the 'fulness' of the Covenant not yet having arrived, but the text does not say, 'They will all know Me perfectly'. It says that everyone in the New Covenant knows the Lord. Can there be such a thing as a Christian who doesn't know the Lord? Surely not! What is the New Birth or Baptism in The Holy Spirit but the Lord giving us new, spiritual life through which we come to know Him? That we come to know Him better as time goes on, through Bible study and church ministry, I fully agree, but every Christian knows the Lord.

In the Old (Mosaic) Covenant, Jewish male babies were brought in by circumcision, but most of them did not know the Lord. God's laws were something external to them, written on stones rather than on their hearts (cf. Jer 31:34). That is why, '"They broke [My Covenant] though I was a Father to them," says the Lord' (v32). The great difference between the two Covenants is that everyone in the NC knows the Lord, not at some point in the future, but right here and now! They have the law written on their hearts and their sins forgiven (v34). Otherwise the New Birth is just an abstract theory (cf. 1John 2:27b).

Joe went on to say,

'Everyone in the visible church (both saved and lost) still need to be separated, wheat and tares in His Church- (Matt 13:24-30).'

This seems to me to be an error. Matt 13:24-30 is the Parable of the tares. Matt 13:36-7. '...And His disciples came to Him saying, "Explain to us the parable of the tares in the field." He answered and said to them: "....The field is the world"'. The field is not the Church. The Church is the bride of Christ and Paul wrote, 'For I am jealous for you (the Corinthian church) with a godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ' (2Cor 11:2).

The 'visible/invisible' concept of the New Covenant Church is not biblical. To be sure, despite our best efforts, unsaved people will come into the Church (Jude 4); 'Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows those who are His"' (2Tim 2:19). The Lord's reference to unsaved people trying to enter His Church is found in the Parable of the Wedding Feast in Matt 22:11-13. Note that the King did not find half the guests without wedding garments, but only one. The Church is to use every means to keep the Lord's Church as pure as possible. We are to baptize only those who make a credible profession of faith, and we are to expel those whose conduct clearly belies their profession (1Cor 5:13; 1Tim 1:20). This is done in the hope that those who have fallen away will be restored (2Cor 2:6), but this is not always the case (2Tim 4:14).

With reference to 1John 2:27, Joe wrote,

'So you do not have a Pastor that teaches you. Why did the Apostle Paul ever preach a single sermon? .....The Theological phrase for this is ,'the now, but not yet'.

This is just silly! 1John 2:27 is both linguistically and contextually placed firmly in the present tense. Even Presbyterian commentators admit this. Kistemaker wrote:-

"You do not need anyone to teach you" These words a reminiscent of Jeremiah's prophecy [Jer 31:34]. Is John intimating that the annointing with the Holy Spirit makes instruction in biblical knowledge superfluous? Of course not!..... Effective preaching.....Sunday School....and daily reading of the Scriptures- all this is necessary for the spiritual growth of the Christian. Then what is John saying? The believers have no need of deceivers who try to teach false doctrine They have the gift of the Holy Spirit who leads them into all truth (John 16:13).
"His annointing teaches you about all things" That is the Spirit of Christ will teach the believer everything (John 14:26) and will guide him in distinguishing truth from error. All believers receive the Holy Spirit and all of them are equally equipped to oppose those teachers who proclaim the lie instead of the truth.
This text teachers the fundamental equality of all believers. That is, believers do not have to consult learned professors of theology before they can accept God's truth; in the sight of God, clergy and laity are the same; the Holy Spirit is the teacher of every believer, without distinction. Within the church, believers are able to learn from each other as each is a partaker of the annointing of the Spirit.' (S. Kistemaker: NTC Commentary on 1John)

Joe went on to say:-

'Steve, you still do not know who is in the New Covenant, so you are stuck with no baptisms at all.'

Not at all! As the Lord instructed us, we baptize disciples (Matt 28:19). Not all of these will prove to be 'disciples indeed' (John 8:31), but 'the Lord knows those that are His'. The seal of the New Covenant is Spirit Baptism (Eph 1:13-14) not water baptism, and Spirit baptism is dispensed by the Lord alone. I repeat, the fact that we cannot guarantee a pure Church does not mean that we should not strive for one.

Blessings to all,

Last edited by grace2U; Tue May 04, 2004 6:06 AM.

Itinerant Preacher & Bible Teacher in Merrie England.
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