What is New Covenant Theology?
New Covenant Theology is simply a biblical, systematic presentation of the old gospel. The New Covenant was prophesied by Jeremiah (Jer. 31:31-34), proclaimed by Christ (Luke 22:20), and preached by the apostles (I Cor. 11:25; 2 Cor. 3; Gal. 4:21-31; Heb. 7 – 10). Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism are deviations from the gospel. Covenant Theology was invented by Ulrich Zwingli in the sixteenth century to try to justify infant baptism. Dispensationalism was conceived by J. N. Darby and systematized by C. I Scofield, and is a deviation from the gospel. There are many sincere and godly Christians who hold to these deviations, but in this matter they have been led astray.
New Covenant Theology simply presents what Christ and the Apostles taught, namely that Christ is the fulfilment of all the Old Testament prophecies, and the New Covenant which the Lord proclaimed is quite distinct from and replaces the Old Covenant made with Israel through Moses.
When Jesus challenged the rich young ruler about the old covenant law, the latter was able to claim that he had kept all the commandments. But when Christ challenged him to forsake all and follow him, he would not (Matt. 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-22).
Christ’s standard is much higher than that of the old covenant.
The Lord could have said to the young man, “Good! You have kept the old covenant law, but my standards are higher. Your righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 5:20). It is not just adultery that is wrong, but also lust. It is not only murder that is forbidden but hatred. Moses allowed divorce for any reason, but I say that the only valid reason is sexual immorality. The old covenant said that you should love your neighbour and hate your enemy, but my command is that you must love your enemy also. There are other commands that I shall give you which are not in the Mosaic covenant. You must obey these also.” Yes, Jesus could have said that, but he summarized it all by saying, in effect, “Surrender all to me and follow me.”
The Mosaic Law was good, but Christ’s law is higher. We are not now under the old covenant law (see Galatians and many New Testament passages) but we are ‘in-lawed’ to Christ (I Cor. 9:21). But there is a huge difference. The old covenant law said, “Do this and you will live.” The new covenant says, “Live (be born again) and you will be able to do this.” (John 3:1-7; Romans 8:1-11).