The New Way Of The Spirit

Moe Bergeron, Publisher CMC
Or do you not know, brothers —for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. (Romans 7:1-6 ESV)

Paul’s Analogy

In Romans 7:1-6 the apostle Paul uses the analogy of a Jew who was covenanted through marriage to the Law of Moses. Once the Jew’s spouse (the Law) has died the marriage covenant has come to an end. The widowed Jew is then free to enter into a new marriage covenant.
Paul goes on to explain that we have also died, through the body of Christ to the Law, so that “you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.”
Mark this well. The departed spouse was specifically, “that Law,” and the new spouse is specifically, “Him who was raised from the dead.”
Paul takes great care to not say the second marriage is to “the Law of Christ.” He could have said that but he did not say that. Why didn’t he? I believe it is simply because the union we have with the risen Christ cannot be reduced to the language of “law.” 
The union the saints of God enjoy is one of a wife to her beloved. It is a union rooted in the “newness of the Spirit and not the oldness of the letter.”

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17 ESV)

The Christian’s union to Jesus Christ cannot be compared to mere law keeping. That would not do justice. Jesus Christ is the Word of God who was made flesh thus He transcends words printed on paper or etched in stone. As important are the words on the printed page they are limited. The can only draw a word picture. There is a day coming when God’s saints will see their Husband face to face.

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3 ESV)

This new relationship, is truly a wedded union, of two hearts forever joined in marriage. Their hearts are bound together in love. The Bride’s desire is to please her husband. Within this blessed union the indicative and the imperative are joined together and given expression.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. (John 15:4 ESV)

Partakers of Christ

Charles Haddon Spurgeon put it so sweetly.

Every true child of God is one with Christ. This union is set forth in Scripture by several images, to which we will just refer, but upon none of which can we just now enlarge.
We are one with Christ and partakers of him as the stone is cemented to the foundation. It is built upon it, rests upon it, and, together with the foundation, goes to make up the structure. So we are built into Christ by coherence and adhesion, joined to him, and made a spiritual house for the habitation of God by the Holy Ghost.
We are made partakers with Christ by a union in which we lean and depend upon him. This union is further set forth by the vine and the branches. The branches are participators with the stem, the sap of the stem is for the branches. It treasures it up only to distribute it to them. It has no sap for itself alone, all its store of sap is for the branch. In like manner we are vitally one with Christ, and the grace that is in him is for us. It was given to him that he might distribute it to all his people.
Furthermore, it is as the union of the husband with the wife, they are participators the one with the other. All that belongs to the husband the wife enjoys and shares with him. Meanwhile she shares himself, nay, he is all her own. Thus it is with Christ. We are married unto him—betrothed unto him for ever in righteousness and in judgment, and all that he has is ours, and he himself is ours.
All his heart belongs to each one of us. And then, too, as the members of the body are one with the head, as they derive their guidance, their happiness, their existence from the head, so are we made partakers of Christ. Oh, matchless participation! It is “a great mystery” saith the apostle; and, indeed, such a mystery it is as they only know who experience it. Even they cannot understand it fully; far less can they hope to set it forth so that carnal minds shall comprehend its spiritual meaning.
The day cometh when we shall be partakers of Christ to the highest and uttermost degree that symbols can suggest, prophecy forestal, faith anticipate, or actual accomplishment bring to pass; for, albeit, though of all that our Lord Jesus Christ is in heaven we have a reversionary interest to-day by faith, we shall have a share in it by actual participation ere long.[1]

Passages to Consider

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22-24 ESV)

His appearance is like Lebanon,
choice as the cedars.
His mouth is most sweet,
and he is altogether desirable.
This is my beloved and this is my friend,
O daughters of Jerusalem.
(Song of Songs 5:15-16 ESV)

“My beloved is mine, and I am his…”
(Song of Songs 2:16 ESV)

 [1] “A Persuasive to Steadfastness”: Delivered on Thursday Evening, February 29th, 1872

NCT, as it now stands, will not survive as a viable theological system

Read Disclaimer
The opinion expressed is that of the publisher and not necessarily the view of other CMC contributors.
 
Explanation. Since the 1980’s I have pursued within New Covenant Theology (NCT) circles a more perfect understanding of the teaching of God’s word pertaining to the New Covenant. Little has changed since 2012 when I first put my thoughts together with regards to the future of New Covenant Theology. It is now 2015 and I remain a skeptic for the following frustrating reasons:

  • There is no common agreement within NCT as to how to apply God’s word and for that reason there is no agreement on the newness/nature of the new covenant itself.
  • There is no common agreement as to what constitutes the Law of Christ
    • Some struggle with the application of commands derived from the Old Testament scriptures (ie., What commands remain applicable from the Old Testament in the New Covenant?)
    • Others see all of the Decalogue binding (albeit in a non-covenantal sense), with the exception of a no longer binding Sabbath command.
    • Some see only New Testament commands as binding.
    • Some seek to replace Reformed Theology’s “rule of life” and “third use of the Law” with a new code derived from the New Testament scriptures.
    • There is little to no agreement as to what constitutes the content of the law written upon the heart.
  • There is no common ground with respect to typology and eschatological fulfillment.
  • There is no common agreement with regards to future things (eschatology).
    • Some believe there is no special future relationship for saved Jews within a Millennial kingdom under the rule of Messiah.
    • Others believe all of the saved in the New Covenant are true Jews who share a common inheritance with saved Gentiles and not one without the other. (This group believes in “one people of God” made up of saved Jews and Gentiles joined together in Christ.)
    • Yet, others do not hold to a specific view of future things.
    • While others, espouse a Preterist or partial-Preterist view.
  • There is little agreement as to the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
    • As unbelievable as this is, little to no consideration is given to the nuts and bolts of the new covenant of the Spirit and the Holy Spirit’s relationship to the promise made to Abraham (Gal 3:14; 2Corinthians 3).
    • There remains a lack of emphasis on the role of the Spirit of God in sanctification, both positional and progressive.
    • Obedience is rightfully emphasized while enablement by the Spirit to obey is neglected.
    • Some advocates of NCT hold to Cessationism while others to Continuationism.
    • Perhaps most tragic is how some deny the importance and necessity of the indwelling Spirit by flattening the old and new covenants.
    • There is little to no agreement with regards to the differences between regeneration (new birth) and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
    • Few advocates understand the “Letter / Spirit” contrast as defined Paul in 2 Corinthians 3 and Romans 7:1-6. A right understanding of the way of the Spirit is an essential for agreement.But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. (Romans 7:6 ESV)
  • Though almost all advocates of NCT are Baptist in name not all are congregationalist with regards to church polity.
    • Some hold to the strong pastor model while others insist more or less upon eldership rule and the equality of elders.
    • Others insist on a “hire and fire” model of professional ministry. (This statement is not to be construed as  opposition to compensation for those who teach.)

Going forward it remains my intention to gain by God’s grace a greater and more perfect understanding of the New Covenant. A mature theology of the New Covenant is most desirable. That much has not changed. If the last 30 years have shown me anything it is this. New Covenant Theology (NCT) has a long way to go if it is to go beyond the law and grace controversy that gave NCT its birth among the Reformed & Sovereign Grace Baptists in the last half of the last century. There remains much to think about and prayerfully consider.
The above is to be considered a work in progress. I have not composed the above with the intent to divide.
Revisions will be published as needed.
In His love,
Moe Bergeron
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About our publisher: At the present time Moe serves on the pastoral team of Sovereign Grace Fellowship located in Boscawen, New Hampshire. For fourteen years he served as pastor for Sovereign Grace Fellowship in Salem, NH.  He has also enjoyed speaking engagements at numerous churches and conference venues in the North East United States and the Virgin Islands. As a Christian Internet pioneer he established the original online sermon library for Dr. John Piper.