by Jerry Shugart
Spiritual Blessings Under Israel's New Diatheke
Progressive Dispensationalist Craig A. Blaising wrote that "It is indisputable that the New Testament views the new covenant predicted by Jeremiah and Ezekiel as established in the death of Jesus Christ with some of the promised blessings now being granted to Jews and Gentiles who are believers in Jesus. These are not blessings which are 'like' those predicted by Jeremiah and Ezekiel. They are 'the very same' blessings which those prophets predicted. For the new covenant which is presently in effect through Jesus Christ is not one which is 'like' that predicted by Jeremiah and Ezekiel, but is 'that very same' covenant which they prophesised which is in effect today" [emphasis added] (Blaising & Bock, Progressive Dispensationalism, 202).
According to Blaising the promised blessings which believers now receive are "the very same blessings" found in the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. However, we will see that the blessings which will come upon the nation of Israel when the New Covenant will be fulfilled are "corporate" in nature.
The Spiritual Regeneration of Israel is "Corporate" in Nature
Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum understands that the future "national regeneration" of Israel is tied to the New Diatheke and it is in regard to a "total national regeneration":
"The basis of Israel's final regeneration is the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34...The result of the New Covenant will be a total national regeneration of Israel...That Israel was to undergo a national regeneration is not confined to the words of the New Covenant alone. The truths of the New Covenant are greatly elaborated by various prophets" [emphasis added] (Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Israel in the Messianic Kingdom; http://www.ldolphin.org/otpremill.html).
Homer A. Kent, Jr., writes that "the essence of the new covenant is spiritual regeneration, enjoyed now by Christian believers and prophesied for national Israel at the second coming of Christ" (Homer A. Kent, Jr., "The New Covenant and the Church," Grace Theological Journal, 6:2, Fall, 1985, 290).
Kent realizes that the spiritual regeneration for Israel is "corporate" in nature while today regeneration is in regard to "individuals." Therefore, common sense dictates that no one today is sharing this corporate spiritual blessing which is promised to Israel. So the Progressive Dispensationalists are in error when they assert that today's spiritual blessings are the same ones spoken of in the prophecies about israel's New Diatheke.
Forgiveness of Sins Under Israel's New Diatheke is "Corporate" in Nature
Bruce Ware understands that the "forgiveness of sins" under Israel's New Diatheke is corporate in nature, writing that "Israel still awaits a future action of God whereby he will bring 'all Israel' (Rom. 11:26), or the nation of Israel as a whole, under the provision of forgiveness of sins and Spirit-indwelling..." [emphasis added] (Bruce Ware, "The New Covenant and the People(s) of God," in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, 96).
J. Bruce Compton also sees the same truth which Ware expressed:
"The promised deliverance encompasses the nation as a whole...the term 'Israel' refers to national, ethnic Israel, and the expression 'all Israel' refers to the nation as a whole...Paul's point is that just as a remnant is presently experiencing salvation, so one day 'all Israel' will be saved...the nation's sins being forgiven in his citation of Isaiah 27:9 in 11:27b, 'When I take away their sins'" [emphasis added] (J. Bruce Compton, "Dispensationalism, the Church, and the New Covenant," Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal [Fall, 2003], 27).
The forgiveness of sins for "individual" Israelites was not dependent in any sense on the fulfillment of Israel's New Diatheke. We can see that "individual" Jews had their sins forgiven before that diatheke was inaugurated at the Cross. The Lord Jesus said the following to a woman who anointed His feet with oil:
"And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace" (Lk.7:48-50).
Roy E. Beachman writes: "If Israelites under the 'old' covenant could place their faith in God and experience the same spiritual blessings as predicted under the 'new' covenant, what is 'new' about the new covenant? These spiritual benefits do not come into 'existence' with the enactment of the new covenant. Rather, these spiritual benefits find 'universal application' with the enactment of the new covenant. These blessings will not be the experience of 'some' Israelites, as they were under the old covenant. These blessings will be the experience of 'all' Israelites under the new covenant...under the new covenant, the 'universality' of Israel's salvation is 'new,' not salvation itself" [emphasis added] (Dispensational Understanding of the New Covenant, 116).
With this in view we can understand that the "forgiveness of sins" under Israel's New Diatheke is corporate in nature and therefore it is not the same spiritual blessing enjoyed by the "individual" believer today.
George Eldon Ladd supports this idea when he wrote that "in the Old Testament the eschatological salvation is always pictured in terms of the national, theocratic fate of the people of Israel" [emphasis added] (Ladd, The Last Things [Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1978], 8).
These facts clearly contradict Bruce Ware's assertion here concerning the preliminary fulfillment of Israel's New Diatheke:
"The preliminary nature of the new covenant's fulfillment can be seen in two ways. First, only the spiritual aspects of new-covenant promises are now inaugurated in this age; the territorial and political aspects, though part of God's new-covenant promise, await future fulfillment. The fulfillment of God's new covenant thus should not now be viewed as an all-or-nothing affair. Rather, it is best seen as partially fulfilled now (spiritual aspects of forgiveness and the indwelling Spirit for all covenant participants) and later to be realized in its completeness (when all Israel is saved and restored to its land)" (Blaising & Bock, Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, 94-95).
In regard to the spiritual aspects under the new covenant Charles Ryrie wrote that "even progressives have to admit that certain of those blessings can only be partially realized today. For instance, the promise
of the new covenant 'to remove the heart of rebellion' and give us 'hearts fully compliant' is not fulfilled today in the experience of believers. The progressives' need to qualify the fulfillment as being 'not fully
free' from resistance to God's will and is not at all similiar to the promise of the new covenant (to remove rebellion)" (Ryrie, Dispensationalism [Chicago: Moody Press, 1995], 170-171).