Some years ago, I had a very stormy debate with Randy Seivers concerning his writings on the NCT and my response to them. Gradually, the storm died down and we started to discuss things amiably and calmly. I asked Randy to give me a detailed list of what he believed for my consideration which I believe he did and I started to work on it. Then came a long period of illness which removed me from active service and I had to sell off my large library with a view of going with my dear wife into what we call here a Senior Residence’. However both of us have emerged from our troubles (mostly due to old age, bad sight and painful limbs) after a long ‘Sabbath Rest’ and I started to look into the web to see if I could find any traces of Randy. I found at once an article termed ‘A Review of NCT Teaching’ and thought this might be the list Randy had sent me of which I have now no trace as I lost my computer and hard disks. I was surprised to discover that Randy was not reviewing his NCT beliefs but presenting a review of a book, without mentioning the title, that apparently was from my pen. In this work by Tom Wells and Fred Zaspel named New Covenant Theology, I limited my comments to the book and not to the whole scope of NCT teaching which I find is continually changing. This is not a bad thing in itself at all and I think a number of changes have been for the better but also a number for the worse. I trust that the NCT will keep on reforming their position.

     However Randy presents what he call my review as evidence showing ‘how prodigiously those who rail against New Covenant Theology can misrepresent our position’ by misrepresenting not only mine but that of the New Focus editor. If Randy had kindly reproduced my review in full as I had written it, readers would have been able to decide for themselves if I had ‘railed’ and misrepresented the NCT position. I missed, for instance my mentioning of Well’s criticism of Paul where he claims he was wrong in his handling of Timothy’s faith. It is also in his letter to Timothy that Paul outlines how the Mosaic Law is positive in the hands of Christians and negative in the hands of unbelievers relating to Paul’s Covenant teaching continued from the Old Testament. This is denied by the NCT. This strengthened my conviction concerning their Marcionite practice of cutting out Scripture if it is built on Old Testament truths.

     On the same blog-site Randy gives asks ten questions which he partly answers himself but opens up for others to answer, indicating that he is offering an over-view of NCT thinking concerning what they believe and do not believe. I shall quote these ten questions in full and comment on them all so as not to reap the complaint that I misrepresent them. I will endeavor not to be found accusable of ‘railing’. Here are then Randy’s 10 questions that really do demand an answer:

1. Do the Scriptures describe the 10 Commandments as a covenant, namely, the national covenant God made with Israel? (Exo. 34:28).

     Answer: In the Bible words translated as ‘covenant’ have many meanings from a mere command to the Covenant of Grace, Peace and Mercy made between the Father and the Son on behalf of fallen man. I take the two terms in Exodus 34 which, Seiver ought to have quoted for clarity’s sake, to be a common example of Hebrew parallelism where a term is expressed in synonyms for emphasis. It is also a common device in Hebrew poetry and official documents. As the Scriptures make clear, and I believe Randy accepts this whole-heartedly, the Ten Commandments are only a fraction of God’s revelation within the Covenant of Grace.

     What Randy means by the term ‘National covenant’ I do not know as Israel was not yet a nation and had not yet reached by very many years the Promise Land where after a further long time the nation of Israel was grounded but ended after a few decades. The teaching of the everlasting Covenant with Abraham was, however, well-known at the time even by the surrounding nations and in Moses dealings with God concerning the Sinai revelations, Moses insisted that he could only understand his part in extending the Covenant within that already signed sealed and delivered by God to his Fathers as Deuteronomy and Exodus make clear. This was a Covenant promised to all nations. At this time, we note that the Children of Israel who were already a mixed nation, had to be told by foreigners what the Abrahamic Covenant really meant and that a Scepter in Israel would be raised up and a Star out of Jacob. Indeed, it appeared at times that those people who eventually merged into Israel from outside such as the countries Baalim (and his donkey) represented knew more of the Messiah than the forgetful Jews. God’s Covenant of Grace was international and pan-Biblical from the start. Indeed when the descendants of Joseph and his brethren left Egypt, they took many with them who were not of the tribes and gathered thousands on their long march. The Covenant has always been missionary-minded. Job was most likely pre-Moses but he knew that his Redeemer was alive and at work. Indeed the Messianic faith of the Old Testament saints was pre-Israelite.

     That the Ten Commandments should sum up the total teaching on righteousness and for some the only rule of conduct for Christians is an idea quite foreign to the Bible. Those who separate Law from Grace in either Testament are spitting the Scriptures down the middle.

2. To what does the Apostle Paul refer when he writes about the “ministry of death engraven in stones” (2 Cor. 3:7)?

     A: Here Paul in context is continuing his advice to fellow believers in linking up with his Old Testament Fathers in condemning those who do not follow the spirit of the law but only the letter. These have thus, as the OT saints pointed out on whose testimony Paul builds, not a heart of faith but one of stone thinking merely in terms of laws chiseled in stone without due application to God’s revelations of grace. Stony hearts robbed Moses of his glory and title of being God’s friend and deny Christ’s title of being the Covenant Author and keeper of the covenant of Grace, Mercy and Peace of which the Law was a natural part. This was made with all the Old Testament saints before and after Moses and continues today. Paul, however, was quick to point out in his epistles (see 1 Tim 1:8) that the law was good when used lawfully as an agent of grace, but condemning in the hands of stony hearts. So here, it is clear that Paul is saying that the misuse of the law leads to condemnation. There is no indication in Scripture that this has ceased.

     The NCT would have us believe that the vail (letter of the law in stone for stony hearts over Jewish unbelievers’ faces) was abolished at some uncertain time during the life of Christ but Paul firmly affirms that this vail is still on all unbelievers. When Christ enters sinners’ hearts, the vail is removed. It is not abolished for them as it becomes a good thing to them in the Hands of Christ. (v. 13-14). When David said he loved God’s commandments, it was God’s grace in them he was referring to and not the bare letter of them. Naturally, therefore David meant far more than the Ten Commandments when loving God’s Covenant. He was expressing his love for God Himself. A study of the Covenant with the law included in David’s faith ought to be compulsory reading for the NCT. Loving the law means loving God in Christ the Lawmaker and Keeper.

3. Does he seem to suggest that the new covenant of which he is a minister is inferior or superior to that ministry of death written in stones?

     A: A strange question and obviously Seiver is striving to influence the answer within the NCT’s narrow view of Biblical law as being merely a letter law. There is no mention of a new Covenant in the New Testament here but of the Old Testament which was Paul’s Scripture. The pan-Old Testament Covenant of Grace was renewed and extended because of strong opposition from unbelieving parties all through the Old Testament period. The apostolic preaching in the New Testament continues this task. All talk of a renewed, refreshed, new (see meaning of ‘new’ in both Biblical languages) and the way Jeremiah refers to the Covenant being renewed in the OT refer to the fact that unbelieving Jews rejected the balance of Law and Grace within the Covenant. This is why the Covenant was renewed not only then but in all the preaching of the Prophets. The NCT misunderstands prophesy as being riddles solved hundreds of years after their revelation. Prophesy was preaching forth to a people who were to build their faith on it. The Covenant was not renewed in Christ but established in Christ for all ages. It is interesting to note that the NCT people profess to accept only doctrines mentioned in the NT but their whole interpretation of their new covenant is based on a misunderstanding of Jeremiah and all the other OT authors concerning the covenant. In other words, they are embedded in the wrong understanding of the law, making the same mistake as they claim the Jews made as an alleged ‘nation’.

4. What does Paul say is happening to that ministry of death/national covenant made with Israel?

     A: Again, a strange question as the Covenant of Grace was not made with a nation but was established outside of Judaism hundreds of years before the nation of Israel came into being. It was always revealed to chosen individuals. Even that part of the Covenant which we call the Ten Commandments was first revealed to the individual Moses. This Covenant was widely known in the Near East as the witness of Job and many others show but enlarged and explained as the need arose. The Covenant made with Abraham was broadcast far and wide long before and much further than the much later Jewish temporary State.

     The law is a ministry of death for unbelievers but our job is to rescue unbelievers from such a death through our Christian witness. The law in the hands of Christ has brought us life.

5. Is the covenant God made with Israel identical with the Old Testament Scriptures? If the two are not identical (and they are not) is it not possible to live under a New Covenant without denying the value and validity of the Old Testament Scriptures?

     A: No, otherwise the Old Testament saints would not have spent their lives striving to win unbelievers for it. Also ‘No’ because the Covenant revealed in the Old Testament continues in the New. This situation has not changed in New Testament times. God’s Covenant of Grace is with His Son to choose out a People for Himself. Thus it embraces all believers, not Jews or Gentiles nor unbelievers but all who have been granted faith by our Messiah Lord.

     There is no new, different Covenant of Grace but an ever-new one. Luke begins his Epistle by affirming the continuation of the Covenant as did Abraham, Job, Moses, David and all the prophets up to Malachi before him. Malachi’s teaching is continued in the next book Mathew who establishes this teaching in the OT. Mark, Luke, and John also start with the OT and show how it is continued in the New. There is no discontinuation between the Testaments. Those who teach so deny the value and validity of the whole of Scripture.

6. Where is the passage in the New Testament Scriptures that gives the slightest indication that the New Covenant believer is to look to the Ten Commandments as his standard of sanctification?

     It would be helpful in proving your contention if only the Apostle had written, “He who loves his fellowman WILL FULFILL the law (Rom. 8:13). The problem is he didn’t. He wrote, “He who loves. . .HAS FULFILLED THE LAW.” The New Testament Scriptures do a superb job of defining for us what it is like to love our fellowman, thus preventing us from turning love into lust and licentiousness.

     Again, this question has a faulty basis. Those few who taught that the Ten Commandments are the sole rule of life for the Christian are now either in the NCT or near to it. Look, for instance, at those once almost fanatically engaged in defending this erroneous doctrine in the BOT, Founders Journal, Reformation Today and other Neonomian bodies. The NCT has sadly come to believe that all binding law as law is abolished but they have a non-binding ‘New Law’ which they never spell out. They say this is for NCT believers only so what is the fate of sinners if there is no law to condemn them?

     Praise God, Christ has fulfilled the law so that it has become good in the hands of Christians who have Christ’s faith in their hearts but it is still a stumbling block for unrepentant and unbelieving sinners.

7. If a person believes New Covenant believers are under the law of Christ and that Christ’s law expresses the same eternal, and immutable righteous standard as that reflected in the 10 Commandments, he can’t really be considered as being against law (antinomian) can he?

     A: This question is so unclearly expressed that I can only make a reasoned guess at what Randy is hoping we might understand. One cannot reject the Ten Commandments as being the sole pattern for the moral conduct of Christians (what a strange idea, anyway!) and then say ‘Christ’s law says the same thing.’ Is Seiver thinking only of NCT people here or all Christians, or all sinners? Besides, what does Seiver mean by ‘the Law of Christ’ and who here is accusing whom of Antinomianism?

8. Is the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life sufficiently effective to accomplish the work of sanctification according to the New Testament standard?

     A: I believe so, but would not add the word ‘standard’ as does Seiver as he believes that the NT has new moral and ethical standards, rules, regulations and commandments which the OT did not have. Laws do not save us but Grace. This is law-bound thinking, not New Testament thinking.

9. If the Sabbath observance is the sign of the covenant God made with Israel (see-Exodus 31:17), would it not be temporally coextensive with the covenant of which it was the sign? In other words, would not the Sabbath observance endure only as long as the covenant endured? Now, if that covenant has become antiquated by the establishment of the new and everlasting covenant, and the New Testament Scriptures provide abundant evidence that it has now been thus replaced, would it not make sense that God’s new covenant people are not now under the sign of a covenant that does not belong to them?

     A: This is unhelpful reasoning as it compares ifs with ifs. Let us be concrete. As the Day of Rest was a sign of the fact that God rested on the Seventh Day, it always has that function. Surely this is what Exodus 31:17 is teaching. However, the Sabbath here depicted is not the Covenant of Grace but a sign to say that God made Heaven and Earth in six days and on the seventh God rested and was refreshed. What has Seiver against such signs? Seiver is of course frightened that we would expect the NCT to say ‘Go though and do likewise’ as the NCT has rejected that part of the Covenant which they call ‘Old Testament Law’. However, is this not a piece of Biblical common sense with God acting as our Divine Instructor? What is wrong with keeping a day of rest once in a week? Why ban it? The NCT makes such a palaver about the Sabbath as if the common-sense Sabbath were an idol. The NCT would forbid it but they say they rest on the Lord’s Day. O.K. They rest one day in seven, though they find the idea antiquated. What is the difference? Though they tell us that the Lord’s Day is different from God’s Day of Rest after creation, their evidence is unconvincing. Here Seiver is splitting God into parts. Who was it who was active in creating the world according to John 1? It was God in Christ. The fact that God’ rested in His triune function or Creation on the seventh Day was also Jesus’ rest. It was the first Lord’s Day. So, too, the re-creation of man after the Fall is the work of the Holy Trinity and we merge both Days into one because the refer to a rest after an accomplished creation and re-creation. Forgetting the OT commandments of God, the NCT claim they keep the Lord’s Day out of choice. I would say that this act is a command of God and we obey it because we are in Christ and follow Him whether referring to His actions in the Old Testament or the New. However, the NCT tells us that they are bound by no law. Then why do they keep the Sabbath, albeit in their new interpretation of the new everlasting law in Christ shown in keeping the Lord’s Day? The obvious answer must be that they find it practical. So did believing Jews regarding the everlasting sign of the Sabbath rest. The difference is that the NCT has cut off the history of salvation from creation until today which has led to most of their errors.

     Anyway, how does the NTC know that their Lord’s Day was actually the Day of Christ’s resurrection? At least three different calendars were in operation at the time and the six day week was in competition with the seven day week. Is it not legalistic and perhaps superstitious to pin down one day in the week in our celebration of the Lord’s resurrection when it might have been a Saturday, Sunday, Monday or Tuesday? This is the same with Christmas, Easter, Witsuntide etc. No, we do it out of utility thinking and convention and because we cannot forget these pillars of our Christian heritage. They are there with a purpose ‘Lest we forget’. Even today we are undecided whether we should call Sunday the last day of the week or the first. In our fishing club’s hut our service calendar ends the week on a Sunday. Monday starts it. In our home the calendars start the week with a Sunday. In Biblical times it was far more confusing.

10. Are today’s believers under the old covenant or the new covenant? If under the old covenant, why does the Apostle Paul write that he is a minister of the new covenant (2 Cor. 3:6). If the covenant Paul is talking about is the ministry of death/condemnation written on tablets of stone, the 10 commandments, what does that tell us about the believer’s relationship to the 10 commandments?

     A: We are under the one Covenant of Grace as all believers past, present and future. 2 Cor. 3:6 refers to the state of the ministers of the Covenant of Grace in New Testament times. As in the Old Testament where believers looked forward to Christ in spirit not merely in letters, so Paul tells NT ministers that they should also live by the spirit and not by the letter. They are ministers of the ever new covenant as was Jeremiah. The former (spirit) is life, the latter (letter) is death. Here, Paul demonstrates the continuity of the renewed Covenant as believed in the Old Testament. Seiver should have put this verse before expounding the following verses (q. 2 f.) to his NCT satisfaction and expounded the whole together as it explains itself rather than giving us his end interpretation in the earlier questions and then forcing it back onto the beginning in his tenth and final question so that we are liable to misunderstand the whole of Paul’s meaning.

I am open to discussion on these points and I know I have not even covered the ground to my own satisfaction but I wish to show Brother Randy how fragile others might view his position. I have at last found Randy’s e-mail again and written to him and have received a delightful reply and a long list of further points he would like to take up with me. The work goes on!