New times of apostasy

     It would have seemed folly a few generations ago for a confessing Reformed Evangelical to ask such a question without earning the undoubtable and rather shocked answer, ‘No’. But we are living in new times of apostasy and sadly, the righteousness of God as displayed in all the Scriptures and even the presence of Christ in all the Scriptures has been greatly challenged by a new para-Christian movement which has revived the Marcion heresy of the second century. To refresh our memories and inform those who have never heard of Marcion, he was born in Synope, thought to be the Synop of present day Turkey, and visited Rome around 144 A.D. spreading dualistic teaching concerning a wrathful God of severe justice in Old Testament times and a God of loving mercy in the New Testament age. His New Testament, however, bore little relation to the real New Testament as all references to the Jews were obliterate from it. In all, Marcion erased, or some say never knew, some 28 books of the Bible. His reason was that all these were Jewish writings which had nothing to do with the God of love. Marcion’s angry and wrathful Old Testament God created the world and enchained his Jewish creatures under an enslaving law but the loving God of the New Testament put all things right for those willing to ignore ‘Jewish’ shackles. To these, he gave a secret wisdom which only initiated Marcionites could understand.

Marcionism in Nazi Germany

     Hitler was most fascinated by this anti-Jewish creed and made it the basis of his new commandments for his Deutsche Christen. The main thrust of this movement was to demonstrate that the righteousness of the Old Testament God was greatly inferior to that of the New. So the Nazis did away with the ‘Jewish’ Old Testament. Marcion always quoted ‘Scripture’ to prove his case but this was a stunted and greatly reduced Scripture. Actually what Marcion said became ‘Scripture’ to his followers, not the original Scripture itself. Sadly, a very large percent of the Protestant churches in Germany raised Hitler to the level of a Marcion from 1933 to the abrupt end of his thousand year ‘Reich’ in 1945.

Modern followers of Marcion

     Today, the NCT following in Marcion’s footsteps, argue that the God of the Old Testament had a lower view of righteousness than the New Testament God. The Creator of the world demanded less stringent laws than those commanded by the loving God who, by some unknown fiat, took over after the first advent of Christ. As we shall see this is one of the puzzles of NCT Bible criticism as they believe that Jews, in spite of their wrathful God, ought to have been punished more severely because they were Jews but those who are in Christ under New Testament law, according to other NCT propagandists are not obliged to keep any law at all. What is sauce for the goose is obviously to them not sauce for the gander.

     Nevertheless, the present confused NCT appeals with one voice to the New Testament for its sole authority, accepting only this as their fundamental source of doctrine quite ignoring the fact that the New Testament took its authority from the Old Testament via such passages as Isaiah 46:18-25, which reads concerning those who would live righteously:

‘For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.

Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a God that cannot save. Tell ye and bring them near who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.’

The gospel of Isaiah

     It is enlightening to see how often Christ and the New Testament Matthew attached great importance to the fact that Isaiah testified to Our Saviour in Chapters Three and Four and Luke in Chapter Four showed how Christ began his ministry by preaching from Isaiah and saying, ‘This day is the Scripture fulfilled in your ears. (v.21)’. Our passage from Isaiah 46, moved by the Holy Spirit, sums up what the Old Testament had taught since time began and it will be the voice of God for unbelievers and believers alike in all ages to come. As in verse 18 of this chapter we notice that Jesus in Mark 12:29 refers to the first great truth ‘I am the Lord and there is none else’. When Paul spoke in the Spirit after being stoned in Acts 14:15, he referred to the fact of God’s creation as in Isaiah 46: v. 18. Romans 14:11 and Phil 2:10, repeat Isaiah 46:23 here in declaring, ‘For it is written, every knee shall bow to me and every tongue shall confess to God’.

     We note, too, how Christ echoes this Old Testament gospel preaching in calling on man to exercise his responsibilities, emphasizing his accountability before God as in Mark 12:36. Romans 10:4-5 clearly puts the law and Isaiah’s prophesy in their correct, Pan-Biblical context, but the NCT interpret ‘Christ is the end of the Law’ as ‘Christ ends the Law’. But ‘telos’, a noun, not a transitive verb, refers to the One who consummates the Law and perfectly discharges it. He is the One the Law points to as its Covenant-Keeper on behalf of man. We read here that Christ is the end stage in the proclamation of the Law, not the eraser of the whole. Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever and was always the Law-Giver and Law-Keeper. He kept the Law to the full, which is also what ‘telos’ here means.

     The truth of verse 22 concerning the gospel reaching the ends of the earth is echoed throughout the Old Testament and both Isaiah and Jeremiah (16:19) relate this to the world-wide evangelism of the Gentiles. Paul and Barnabas took the Old Testament preaching as their authority under Christ to tell the Gentiles: ‘For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.’[1. Jer 13:44-49.] Thus this is a pan-Biblical truth revealed to the Old Testament generations and believed by them.

     Randy Seiver goes his own way In These Last Days by declaring in his very lengthy Appendix on page 164:

‘We must assiduously avoid the notion that the writers of the Old Testament Scriptures possessed the same level of understanding concerning their predictions that we enjoy’.

     Honestly, I feel they understood what they were saying better than these latter day scoffers of Old Testament truths. Since when has salvation to do with levels of understanding? Did not these Old Testament preachers lay out the truth with the eye of faith? Even Seiver’s following notion that the Old Testament did not understand the deity of Christ as their minds were allegedly ‘not fully enlightened’ is questionable as the Old Testament saints believed in the Lord their Shepherd which NCT people always claim is the height of spiritual understanding. When Abraham believed Christ, it was with the eye of faith, not an undeveloped understanding that he exercised. Marcion believed knowledge was of things seen and came very near to a Gnostic understanding of revelation. The Christion believes that faith given knowledge is of things unseen[2. Heb 11:1.] and this is sufficient evidence for the requirements of salvation. God never expects us to put understanding before faith.

     Seiver argues that now we have ‘full blown’ evidence because Christ has come. This might suit some at first glance but Seiver, we trust, as any other child of God today and in Old Testament times, lives by God-given hope and faith, not head-knowledge through actually seeing things. Even ‘full blown evidence’ will not lead a soul to Christ without God’s grace. Is not Seiver as dependent as all Christians are on the whole of Scripture for the revelation of faith and thus hope? Cut out Old Testament revelation from the New Testament and there would be little New Testament left. This is what Marcion did.

     Years of seeking to witness to the NCT fellowship has convinced me that they, too, have a shrunken New Testament in their hands because almost every time I show them where its gospel speaks of repentance and confession of sin, they tell me that the reference is to the Mosaic Law and therefore to Jews has no value for the Gentile Church. Take away all Old Testament theological and historical doctrinal teaching from the New Testament and we are left with Marcion’s minimised Christianity where grace is not needed as the Law is abolished.

The NCT misunderstand God’s eternal nature

     One major weakness of the NCT is that they have no doctrine of the continual involvement of God in creation from His eternal stance. This was made clear to me by the repeated attacks on this most Biblical doctrine by Peter Ditzel which I have taken up in a series of answers to his ‘six points’ on my web site. This is why the NCT are so antagonistic against John Gill who saw the Father, as the Scriptures outline, working in the Covenant with His Son from eternity. God was always in Christ reconciling the World to Himself. This is effective in the past, present and future in our time world. The fact that Old Testament looked forward in faith to the Work of Christ is no different from our position looking backwards in faith to the Work of Christ as both parties live by faith which is the substance of things hoped for. Indeed, the New Testament lays great importance on stressing that the Old Testament saints first believed and New Testament saints were given grace to join them. The Old Testament believers are not post-mortum grafted into the Church but we are grafted into the old stock of Old Testament believers (mainly Jews) for an everlasting life together.

That the just shall live by faith is as old as creation

     In Isaiah 46 God describes himself as a just God who demands that His people be just, too. The Old Testament abounds with references of being justified by faith (made just by faith) as Habakkuk 2:4 clearly states but the NCT tells us that the justness of the OT was different to that of the NT, it had a lower ethical and moral content and was merely law-justice. However, here the Old Testament talks about ‘by faith’, not ‘by law’. It speaks of mercy and grace and not about law merits. The NCT always trips over its legalism and their supposed ‘higher forms of justice’. So when Romans 1:16 f.: Hebrews 10:38-39; and Galatians 3:11 refer to the testimonies of faith which the prophets gave, the NCT claim that they have put in something ‘new’ here that was not in the original and they will only accept such ‘new’ interpretations of the Old Testament when it is quoted in the New Testament. Happily, the New Testament writers interpreted this pan-Biblical truth in a pan-Biblical exegetical manner. Paul tells us in Romans 1:16-17:

‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.’

     Here Paul is clearly teaching that the saving gospel of Christ leading to salvation was known by the Old Testament saints just in the same way as it is revealed to us New Testament saints. Whether then or now, as always, the just shall live by faith. Not by two different ideas of being just, nor by two different ideas of faith but through the ‘righteousness of God revealed through us from faith to faith’. The NCT takes our gaze from the Old Testament sources and says we must look at their ‘New Covenant Testament’ which is not compatible with the New Testament writings. But the New Testament itself tells us clearly to look back at the Old from whence their gospel message originates and tells us we must ‘consider it’.[3. See II Tim 2:7 to end of Chapter Three; I Sam. 12:24; Job 34:27; Hebrews 10: 24 and 12:3 in the context from Chapter 10 on and passim, especially in the Psalms.] Christ builds our faith on the testimony of the Old Testament believers’ faith which is our one and only joint faith.

     The above mentioned truth concerning ‘from faith to faith’ is illustrated by the Book of Hebrews from the end of Chapter 10 to the beginning of Chapter 12 where the author traces the history of the just who live by faith throughout the Old Testament into the New where both Jews and Gentiles are taught the patience of hope in such words as ‘For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come and will not tarry’. All who are in Christ cherish this eschatological hope together.

     Like Isaiah and Paul, the author of the Book of Hebrews goes back to creation and moves from thence on to show how faith begot faith. Paul in Galatians Three goes back long before there was such a person as a Jew, to Abraham to show all the just who have lived since he lived, including those of the Jews, have lived by faith

God put things right in the Old Testament which were not in vain for the New

     In Isaiah’s gospel text, we see that God defines His just character by ‘declaring things that are right’ and not declaring such things in vain because He always makes things right. I take this as being a comprehensible message which was given to Isaiah’s hearers to take home and ponder in their hearts until God graciously gave them faith to believe. Certainly the world did not have to wait seven hundred years after the original hearers before this was received by faith in their hearts. This is because God told the Old Testament peoples and tells us today that we can become just and be enabled to act righteously when we turn to Him. This is a world-wide gospel promise which has been given to all ages from the foundation of the world and which lasts for eternity. Without believing this gospel, there is no justification and no righteousness, but a just cause to be ashamed as Isaiah preached 700 years before Christ. We see the outworking of this even some twelve hundred years before when God had secured the Covenant with Abraham and was about to punish sinful Sodom. Abraham was afraid that God would punish the righteous with the unrighteous in Sodom, to which God answered ‘Shall not the judge of all the world do right?’(act justly, mercifully and righteously), indicating that God would spare Sodom if there was but one righteous person in it. Isaiah 45 points out what this saying means, emphasizing the intricate connection between being just and being righteous. Indeed, in the Biblical languages, whether Hebrew or Greek, to be made just is the same as to be made righteous. The terms are synonymous. All the standards raised in the New Testament are based on this righteousness which is God’s righteousness witnessed by Abraham, Moses, David and the prophets in the Old Testament as the New Testament writers were quick to point out and preach themselves.

Two different canons of conduct

     But what does the NCT say to all this? In his Christ is Lord and Lawgiver Over the Church, Reisinger asks:

‘If the Sermon on the Mount and New Covenant Epistles do indeed teach a higher and more spiritual standard of holy living than the Law of Moses, do we not effectively, in the very name of holiness, lower the actual standard of holiness under which a Christian is to live when we send him back to Moses to learn ethics and morality.’[4. Page 16.]

     After posing this theoretical question Reisinger answers it by demanding even higher laws for Christians than were given by Moses. It is no wonder with this legalistic background that Reisinger denies the Covenant of Grace by which all who are saved are saved, whether they believed God in the Old Testament or the New. Reisinger always speaks of faith and grace in law terms. He will insist that law and grace have ‘different canons of conduct during a given period’.[5. But I say Unto You p. 4.]  What he means here is very unclear as he has hitherto argued that law and grace indicate two different ‘codes of conduct’ between the Testaments but here he is speaking of ‘a given period’ which must mean within the same period. But which ‘given period’ does he mean? Furthermore, since when is saving grace a ‘code of conduct’? Grace is not law yet Reisinger uses the terms confusingly in his commentary as when he speaks of ‘ever-renewed grace’ it is invariably in terms of his New Law’ which has no statutes.[6. NCT people are always speaking about Christ’s commandments and commands but they do not list them in any form appertaining to faith in Christ. They leave us mostly to guess at what they might mean. This is because they are not at one amongst themselves concerning what the New Law is. They have thrown out the so-called ‘old law’ and now leave us with a vacuum where both law and grace are not adequately defined, not to mention preached. Apparently they believe that if we are Christians, we know what this New Law is without us without them having to tell us about it. They tell me it should be written in my heart. I ask them what is written in their hearts and the conversation ends, often very rudely from the NCT side.]

The wrong track

     Here Reisinger is on the completely wrong track. He is arguing that Moses Law is not Christ’s Law and is not continued in it, so we must choose either the one or the other. Surely Christ came to fulfil the Law He gave to Moses and on which Christ built His Messianic work. Moses from the start was interested in receiving a law from God which was in keeping with the Abrahamic Covenant[7. Exodus 32:13 and passim in Exodus. It is also passim in Deuteronomy, but especially chapters 9-10.] and he did receive it and there was no other Covenant and no other Law to be fulfilled. Christ did not die under a ‘New Law’. Formerly NCT followers argued that it was not until after Christ’s death and resurrection that the NCT law was inaugurated without being spelt out and recorded, but now most NCT people base the inauguration of their New Law on the Sermon on the Mount before Christ’s death so that He could die under His New Law. For Reisinger ‘New Covenant’ is the same as ‘New Law’. I admit honestly that I could never find any Biblical sense in this argument at all.

Is Reisinger recommending a special NCT New Testament

     Here we must ask what Reisinger means by saying that his New Law is contained in ‘the Sermon on the Mount and the New Covenant Epistles’? Is this cut-down Bible the NCT’s New Marcionite Testament? It seems to be the case as the NCT ignores the over-all gospel in this sermon of mountain top experimental religion and practical divinity and merely emphasises the New Law they find in it which NCT commentators find is higher in moral and ethical law than the laws and ethics of God in the Old Testament. Needless to say, there are no special ‘NCT epistles’ in our New Testament but the Covenant of Grace for all people in all times is emphasized in all the books of the New Testament as it is in the Old. I trust I am not thrusting my head too far out when I say that there is not a book in the New Testament where the Old Testament is left out.

     This is where the mock-up religion of the NCT shows its greatest weakness. The NCT reject all those parts of salvation and Covenant promises which they claim are ‘Jewish’. So it is no surprise that they reject most of the Bible. Like Marcion, their anti-Jewish stance influences even their interpretation of what their ‘New Covenant’ is. Reisinger seems to boil the major part of the Old Testament, which were the only Scriptures our New Testament writers had to start with, down to ‘ethics and morality’ and where the Law of the Torah is mentioned in the New Testament, the NCT say that this is to do with Jewish religion and not Christianity. Thus, the NCT scissors use the same matrix to cut out as the Marcionites for their pattern of belief. Reisinger’s religion of ‘ethics’, ‘morality’ and ‘law’ rid of its Old Testament background is, whatever it otherwise might be, not New Testament Christianity.

Reisinger’s negative examples of what he feels is wrong in the Old Testament Law are fanciful and speculative

     Reisinger’s one-track examples used to discredit God’s righteousness such as speculating about what evil a married couple might get up to even though there is no shadow of a sign that this is the case even in his actual example is, in plain language, ‘weird’.[8. See pages 16 (bottom)-17.] When describing sin, Reisinger shows a most fertile negative imagination. He concentrates morbidly on what lawlessness might happen to a couple under pastoral care instead of what God has provided for them. Why does he not tell us of the joys of married life and the picture it gives of Christ’s love for His Bride? Is not marriage a holy thing and needs to be so described as such? But Reisinger continues this kind of negative moralizing in his book But I say Unto You. . No sinner must repent for what he might do wrong but for what he does wrong. This has nothing to do with a ‘two-tiered’ system of ‘morality and holiness’ which Reisinger accuses non-NCT-ites of using. Reisinger has hardly any ‘tiers’ to stand on at all as he rejects the Old and gives us but a ghostly description of what he feels is the New.

     The outcome of all Reisinger’s ‘ethics’ is that he scolds Moses and therefore Moses’ God for not making their Law more stringent. But he is merely emphasizing the Law part of the Old Testament which he continually misinterprets and not the Grace part with which law is always merged. Erasmus is supposed to have coined the phrase ‘In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king’ but in Reisinger’s case it is non-applicable because, though Reisinger is blind to half of the Bible, our Sovereign God has all-seeing eyes that give us two Testaments through which we see His saving wisdom in its full splendor.

Reisinger accuses Covenant Theology preachers of lowering New Covenant standards

     The fact that Reisinger rejects the idea of a Covenant of Grace in the Old Testament leads him to say that what he calls preachers of ‘classical covenant theology’ (which he nowhere describes correctly) are ‘responsible for greatly lowering the standard of Biblical holiness which was given to us by the new Lawgiver’ (Reisinger’s italics). This is only because Reisinger has lowered the standards of Biblical righteousness himself by separating the two essential components of God’s Covenant with His Son on behalf of man, that is law and grace mingled. Moses did not make this mistake and he followed his Lord in not making it.

     All this false exegesis leads Reisinger to conclude on page 18 of his book on the New Law, that:

‘There are two different canons of conduct even as there are two distinctly different covenants – and in both cases the one replaces the other.’

Was Christ not a Jew?

     Apart from the Nine Commandments the NCT culls from the entire Torah, I have yet to hear of anything more to the New Law which Reisinger would put in. All I know is that the NCT seems to believe that their insiders have this ‘secret wisdom’ but we are told by such as Peter Ditzel that NCT converts are not obliged to follow it. So, Reisinger puts the Jews under a supposed law that only kills and puts Christians under a new supposed law which is not even binding though it brings life. Indeed, one cannot help inferring from NCT exegesis that salvation is for Gentiles only, though Christ was a Jew. We are back to suspicions aroused by Marcion. He taught that Christ was a Gentile, the son of a Roman soldier stationed in Jerusalem. Thus Christ was a true Aryan and not a Jew!

Randy Seiver on a law which makes no one perfect

     Randy Siever, approaches the Old Testament Covenant in his In These Last Days by emphasising through a number of chapters that law cannot make one perfect. Siever is obviously referring to the entire history of salvation in the Old Testament which, of course, was never so narrowly laid out by its great writers that one might think that one could become perfect by law obedience. Surely it was common knowledge in the Old Testament that the Law made no one perfect but God was gracious to the imperfect? However, Seiver is right in thinking that many have looked to work-righteousness for perfection in Old Testament times as also today. I held for a number of years a Bible-Study in Oberhausen with a group of devoted elderly people who knew their Bibles well. After some months, one lady, who had often visited my family and stayed to dinner often so we counted her as a friend and fellow believer, stopped attending. Some weeks afterwards, I met her in the town and told her that we all missed her. She was rather short with me and told me that she was dissatisfied with my leading of the Bible-Study. I asked her why and she replied that I obviously denied that she would go to Heaven. So I asked how she could think such a thing. She answered that I did not believe that if a person tried hard to be good all her life, God would give her Heaven as her due reward. ‘I believe He will’, she said and walked off before I could explain how Christ was the only way to Heaven. Seiver was thus right in showing us that the law makes no one perfect. He was wrong in thinking this was the Old Testament gospel.

The NCT at sixes and sevens on accountability before their New Law

     All the writers of the Old Testament knew and taught that Law without God’s graceful use of it could not make anyone perfect. This is solid gospel theology so the Old Testament cannot be avoided by any supposedly Christian organisation on the sole ground that they alone teach this gospel truth. It is found throughout the Old Testament. But Seiver, as an aid to perfection, states that:

‘Christ is now the law-giver for His people. We must hear and obey Him. He alone is the Lord of His Church. We who have heard Jesus, the greater law-giver, have a greater responsibility than did Israel under the law (Old Covenant)’[9. In These Last Days, p. 37.]

     This is an unfair comparison because Seiver likens the position of non-equals, that is unbelieving Jews under the law, with believing Gentiles which, I presume, he believes are saved by grace. However he should compare equals with equals that is Old Testament believers such as Abraham with New Testament believers. Christ was always the Law-Giver of the Covenant of Grace in which ‘Law’ and ‘Grace’ were essential parts. Seiver seems to be saying that ‘Law’ was wrong for the Jews but is right for the Gentiles as he puts them under a New Law demanding new obedience. Here NCT people are at sixes and sevens. Seiver demands obedience to a New Law, Ditzel says God demands nothing of the kind.

     Ditzel’s position is strongly ambivalent. He entitles a recent article in his website for 27th Jan. 2017 ‘Law is not for the righteous’ but he insists that Christ has given the righteous a New Law in such articles as ‘Must We Obey a New Law’ on the same website dated 1st Jan. 2017. He believes that keeping his New Law is the natural life of the Christian but breaking this New Law will not affect his salvation. Thus he feels that his New Law is a better one than the Old Law. Again, this is one of the false comparisons which NCT leaders often unthinkingly draw when comparing the Testaments. Naturally, laws always bring with them responsibilities and commitments so even the NCT should be careful in boasting of their liberty under their never-spelt-out New Law. Ditzel emphasises that he is not under a New Law but in it. I suppose He means He is under his New Law in Christ. Ditzel’s main thrust here has no basis in fact. True, any New Law cannot lead to salvation as Ditzel emphasises and by binding ourselves to any law we can hardly hope for salvation. But this was the situation of the Old Testament believers. The Law did not automatically kill them as our NCT friends suggest but grace saved very many of them. So why do people who profess that the law kills and law is not for the righteous put believers under a New Law Covenant when the original Covenant of Grace worked so well?

     I did hope that that Seiver would clear up the matter somewhat as Ditzel left me wondering what on earth he was getting at. However, without explaining what New Laws Christ has given of which the Old Testament knew nothing, Seiver speaks of the absolute novelty of his New Law, stating that it can be ‘internalised’, and gives as his ‘proof-text’:

‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws (Ezek 36:26-27.

     This gospel verse, of course, which was given to the Old Testament saints does not speak of a New Law at all but of a new heart and new spirit needed in understanding the Old Testament revelation in Old Testament times. That this new heart and new spirit can only be given by God was the very gospel which God spread in Old Testament times. This was their New (always fresh and refreshing) Covenant which the OT saints openly declared in their preaching. I take it that Seiver demands a new heart and a new spirit for his NCT recipients of his New Law, so why teach that God in the Old Testament was inactive in these matters of salvation? The difference is, of course, that the Old Testament saints were there enjoying God’s privileges three thousand years and more before the NCT was invented. Only with this new heart and new spirit can God’s decrees and God’s laws be properly understood and followed at any time. This was as true for the Old Testament as it is true for the New. There is not a word here in Ezekiel about New Laws and New Covenant that the Old Testament peoples had not already heard and many acted on. Indeed we find that Old Testament saints were preaching these truths and pioneering the way of faith in asking for a new heart and spirit and we know many received them. The ‘better’ Covenant is not one of a New Law but the reception of God’s Grace which was always part of the Covenant of Grace in all ages.

Seiver comes near to declaring his New Law.

     One of the many examples of Seiver’s cut-down gospel for a cut-down clientele is found on page 144 which my eye caught before reading the context. The passage seemed to stand out for my attention. Seiver says: ‘We must exhort them (who?) to hear Him[10. Seiver’s italics.] in all that He has said and obey Him in all that He has commanded, both personally and through His apostles in the New Testament Scriptures’.

     I turned to the context of this page wondering whether Seiver was speaking about hitherto unrepentant sinners. He was not but he was referring to Christ’s sheep and to their Christian duty. This he describes completely in law terms saying that ‘New Covenant believers must rely on the Scriptures of the New Covenant as our final standard of conduct’. However, he adds that ‘A continued emphasis on the covenant of Sinai will effectively keep sinners (regenerate and unregenerate) at a distance from God’ and continues to write of the moral responsibility, duty and accountability of those following the New Law. These laws of moral duties in the New Covenant, Seiver tells us, are in no ‘way inferior to the Ten Commandments’. Yet he warns his NCT friends not to think that ‘because Jesus has silenced the Law, we may now do as we please contrary to the revealed will of God’.

     Then, instead of telling us the wonderful news of Christ’s great salvation planned in eternity and carried out through time, Seiver mentions undefined moral responsibilities that were ‘not inferior to the Ten Commandments’ as the New Law. Even when Seiver cites those triumphant words in Hebrews 2:2-3 which urge us not to neglect so great a salvation, he sums this full gospel appeal up by saying NCT people have a ‘heightened responsibility’ due to ‘ far higher standard of behaviour’ than the ‘ceremonial purity’ of the pre-New Testament age. So Seiver, after spending over 150 pages on explaining his New Covenant Theology, has totally missed the message of the Old Testament from Geneses to Malachi and most of the New Testament testimony, too. Indeed, Seiver is really affirming here mistakenly that all the Old Testament saints named in the New Testament as our forebears in the faith had only a ‘ceremonial’ righteousness. He can never explain what New Testament righteousness is because he has not found it in the Old Testament and all his New Law statements are airy-fairy because he dwells merely on a Law he never defines and when he describes Grace, it is merely in terms of moral development. It is good that we seldom hear of the NCT preaching the gospel to sinners as they have obviously no gospel to give them.

Back to my title

     To return to my title ‘Has the God of Moses, Abraham, David and the Prophets a Different Righteousness to the God of the New Testament?’ It would appear that the NCT to whom this question is directed, cannot answer this question with a clear ‘No’. They would deny that two different Gods are depicted in the Testaments but would have to confess that their God depicted in the Old Testament was very different from their New Law God and asked for lower standards of law. The NCT affirm strongly that there are two different standards of righteousness, one for the Old Testament Jews and one for New Testament believers. The position of the Jews in the New Testament is never really outlined, apart from the idea that they belonged to a past which Christ has ‘silenced’. However, this goes for sinners in general who are also never really defined, nor is their present position after the Law which condemned them made clear as that law, according to the NCT has been ‘silenced’. The question remains unanswered: What hope does the NT give fallen man?

     The NCT should they continue as be a professing Christian organisation, have a good deal of exegetical work to do, both in God’s use of the Law within His Covenant with Christ and also the sinner’s plight. They must also open their eyes to the fact that Christ is found in all the Scriptures and all the Scriptures testify to Him. The Church is not composed of post Old Testament Gentiles following a New Law but all those who have been justified by Christ’s faith in all times. In denying this the NCT has thus no gospel for sinners and no gospel for saints.