Close this search box.

My Promise / Fulfillment Theology

One of the reasons I cannot hold to Classical Covenant Theology, and much more prefer New Covenant Theology or what I call Promise / Fulfillment Theology is that I cannot buy into the idea of “covenant children” within the New covenant since the Bible is clear to me that only regenerate believers are included in the New Covenant (Yes I am a Baptist).  Though I highly respect some great Christian teachers who espouse the idea of “covenant children,” it (in my humble opinion – IMHO) is derived from theological preunderstandings and presuppositions rather than from proper exegesis. It may come from a desire to see those (all or some) who die in infancy saved.  The only thing I can say concerning the salvation of infants who die in infancy is that they are in the hands of a loving and just God.  My personal hope is that all infants who die will be saved, but that is a opinion level belief. The one thing that I know is that God always does what is right, good, and just regardless if we understand it.  

In my humble opinion (and I am also working this out as well), many today need to reconsider biblically (as I continually strive to do every time to open the bible to study in testing my preunderstandings and theological values) the presupposition that particular physical promises and particular spiritual promises must be exclusively interpreted to be for physical Israel today when the covenant was ultimately made with Christ (the seed of Abraham) and those in Christ (both Old and New Testament saints – Jew and Gentile) and not ultimately with a physical people according to Galatians 3:16.  It may be that we are studying Scripture at a myopic or atomistic level where we cannot see the forest but are only looking at blades of grass. Individuals scriptures must be put in their cannonical contexts (of the entire Bible as a unified true story and history) if we are to understand the plan of God, God’s plan of salvation, and Biblical theology.   I believe that many today suffer by not having a Christ-centered theology but divide the focus of the Bible – God’s revelation to man – between different referents to his promises and commands. 1 Corinthians 1:20 says: “For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him.  That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God.”  In Christ all the promises are fully, ultimately and finally fulfilled.  When Christians don’t believe the scriptural revelation on this they end up not living under the preeminence of Christ.  

We must remember that Physical Israel as a whole (the unbelieving people of God) did share in privileges (as Abraham’s seed is used to indicate different peoples in Scripture since it doesn’t always have a unequivocal meaning) of the covenant as God was unfolding his plan of redemption to the entire world, but they (physical Israel as a whole) never possessed the covenant by faith (of course there has always been a remnant of Israel who did posses the covenant by faith). Since God has made both Jew and Gentile one new man (Ephesians 2:15) and one Olive tree (Romans 11:24), there is only one people of God, “True Israel” (actually Jesus is the “True Israel” and all those in Christ by faith become part of “True Israel”) or “Spiritual Israel” (of which Christians are a part of by adoption).  The New Covenant is the fulfillment of the promises of the Abrahamaic Covenant (which for example even Abraham understood concerning the land in Hebrews 11:8-16).  I personally believe that because of the unity of God’s plan of Salvation, God will visit the physical Jewish people again with his grace of salvation (in the Gospel of Jesus Christ) in opening up their harden hearts so as to draw them into the Olive tree once again at end of the present age by faith in Christ (Romans 11) and not by any other means of atonement.  There is no other Gospel or hope for either Jew or Gentile than salvation through Christ.  No other sacrifice is needed, no other temple is needed, no other head is needed, no other rescue is needed. Jesus Christ is the true king, true priest, true prophet, true temple, true man … Christ is our all and all!.      

Just as God has already initially fulfilled all his promises to physical Israel (Joshua 21:43-45) – realizing that God’s promises (prophecies in the broadest sense of the term) typically have multiple horizons of fulfillment which is occurs not only later in time but is of greater in significance both theologically and historically -, he will continue to work out his one plan of redemption toward all peoples including physical Israel.  Any modern-day Jew who claims to believe the Old Testament and yet rejects Christ Jesus as Lord and God rejects the Old Testament also (and will never understand it apart from pointing to Christ).  This is consistent with the dual authorship of Scripture that gives rise to the hermeneutical rule that says that “Previous revelation must always be interpreted by later revelation due to the progressive nature of the Revelation of God in the Bible.”  Thus the best commentary on the Old Testament is the New Testament.  Or as I hear someone say.  “the” New Testament is the footnotes to the Old Testament.”  Today, a Christian should insist (in all forms of proclamation and speaking the word) that the Old Testament proclaims Christ, as the Messiah, the King, the Prophet, the Priest in all that it reveals as Jesus did on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:27).  All scripture in the Old Testament (and the New Testament) point to Christ and His Gospel when interpreted correctly as Christian Scriptures.  This truth is also compatible with Premillennialism, Amillennialism, Postmillennialism, and Multi-chronistic Millennialism – so it is not position driven.  This is exciting in that I have greater and greater confidence to preach the gospel in every sermon (not just attaching it on the end) through expositions of the whole counsel of God’s word (Old Testament and New Testament).  (see New Testament use of the Old Testament – Test your view).
Spiritual and physical promises of the Abrahamic covenant are for the unified people of God (Jew and Gentile).  I don’t hold to replacement theology – nor do I believe that anyone does, as the church today is always made up of both Jews and Gentiles and represent the complete people of God today. While I do believe that Romans 11 applies to physical Israel and there will be a revival of physical Jews to faith in Christ, there has always been only one way of salvation and that is by grace through faith in the Messiah – Jesus Christ.  The only way anyone was ever a true offspring of Abraham was and is by faith alone.  The church is not Gentile in character, but is comprised of all peoples (Jew and Gentile) of the world.  No one has replace anybody, but the people of God (the church) has expanded to include all peoples of the earth.    In fact the term “Replacement Theology” is a pejorative term created by some Classical Dispensationalists of which I could pejoratively call their belief “gap and hole theology”or “anti-exegetical theology”  since they admittedly get contused about how to make their system work (separating Israel and the Church in the fulfillment of both spiritual and physical prophecies) (admitting that it is full of holes), and when they cannot explain a eschatological text they declare: “there is a gap.”  But would that promote good dialog?  I think not!  When you are saying what someone else holds to, please say what that person really says and don’t put words in their mouths.  Sure, you can say “This is what I think a person who hold to a particular position SHOULD say even if it doesn’t.  Let us not fall short of complete honesty and violate a basic rule of engagement between those that hold to different theological positions: Always express the other view the way people who hold it express it and only then say what’s wrong with that.“  For instance “Person B” should say that “Person A” denies that the church has replaced Israel in God’s plan, but I (Person B) think their (Person A’s) theology implies that.”  Okay.  “Person A” may  say: “I disagree, but I can respect that.  Let me help you understand my position more correct.”  Person A would have no right to protest that even though Person A would argue against Person B.  Good, Godly and helpful dialog then is possible in this instance and maybe each (Person A and Person B) will come to a new position (or positions) because of this kind of helpful engagement.   When are evangelicals going to stop the uncharitable and even unChristian habit of setting up straw men out of others’ theologies and then chopping them or burning them down as if they had really scored a point or two?  Well enough – let me get down off my soapbox and continue. 
A couple of years ago I coined a term called Expansion Theology” (and I found out later that others use it too) that helped me define and label the Biblical reality that Gentiles now have been included in the commonwealth of Israel as full heirs to all the promises that God made to Abraham.  One example of this would be the New Testament’s re-evaluation of the temple and the city of Jerusalem by Jesus Christ. Jesus was critical of the Jews who felt devoted to the temple of God without recognizing the Lord of the temple. He was “greater than the temple” and greater than the Solomon” the builder of the temple (Matt 12:6, 42). Moreover “by forgiving the paralytic his sins, he implicitly set up a challenge to the temple as the unique place for the assurance of sin forgiven” (Mark 2:1-12). The tension between Jesus and the temple is heightened by Jesus’ statement: “Destroy this temple and I will raise it up” (John 2:19). In light of the resurrection (v. 22) John was convinced that Jesus himself, in his own body was a new ‘temple.’  The physical Temple has been eclipsed  by the advent of a new Temple – namely Jesus.  
I can sum a Christ-Centered, Grammatical, Historical, Literal hermeneutic and Biblical Theology up by quoting the last sentence of Article 1 on the Bible in the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message which I affirm: All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.
see also

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top