Issue No. 45 15 - 21 Nov 2010
Chapel Notes By Rev David Burke

The New Covenant

Rev David Burke, Senior Minister of Orchard Road Presbyterian Church, was our chapel speaker on Nov 10. Having ministered in Singapore for the past 11 years, David combined his pastoral experience with scripture wisdom in bringing us a word from Jeremiah’s prophecy of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31.31-40).

While the gospel ministry may hold challenges for us today (and many of us have complained at some point!), the time in which we serve is one that the prophet Jeremiah could only dream about. We live in the era of the New Covenant.

What was broken? Jeremiah’s time saw the tragic consequences that resulted from Israel’s unfaithfulness to the Old Covenant. Perhaps one of the best ways to understand covenant is through the metaphor used in Jeremiah itself: the marriage agreement. Israel had been an unfaithful bride at every turn. And so, the promised land would no longer be their possession, they were going be thrown out of it into Egypt and Babylon. The people would no longer prosper, they would perish in the famine and carnage of war. The temple (the symbol of the presence of God) would no longer stand in their midst, it would be razed to the ground. Jeremiah’s call in all this was to proclaim the bleak message, “It’s too late.”

Who was going to fix it? But while it was given to Jeremiah to announce the depths of judgment, so also was it his task to proclaim the heights of promised salvation. Israel’s breaking of the covenant was a big problem, which required a big solution, one that came from God himself. This solution would be no patch-up job, not a new edition of the old, but the formation of a completely new relationship, at God’s own initiative (“I will ...” in 31.4, 8, 9, 13-14, 23-24, 25, 27-28). And Jeremiah was to announce this New Covenant (v. 31).

What does this New Covenant look like? It involves the restoration of what was meant to be (“again ...” in 31.4-6). So complete is this restoration that God will call the unfaithful, whoring wife “virgin Israel” (v. 4)! We can trace some specifics of this restoration:

  • “I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (31.33). This is the basic covenant promise of God, stretching from Exod 19 to the end of the NT at Rev 21.3.
  • There will be an inward knowledge of God (31.33). The OT Law was written on tablets of stone, and God’s people were to internalize the Law and obey. The problem was the people’s hardened hearts. But in the new era God will put the Law in their minds and write it on their hearts (see also 2 Cor 3.3,6; John 14:26; 1 Cor 2:7-16 on the role of the Holy Spirit in enabling the grasp of God’s revelation). One consequence of this is that we will know God in the fullest, personal, relational sense (v. 34).
  • There will be forgiveness of sin (31.34b). The remarkable thing here is that God himself (the innocent party in the breach of the covenant) will be the one who pays the price to redeem the guilty party (v. 11).
  • There will be a city that endures, where what was profane will be sacred (vv. 38-40). Jeremiah’s message is inextricably linked to Jerusalem. Just as he announces terrible judgment on city, so now his proclaiming of the New Covenant includes its restoration. In the NT, we learn that the fulfilment lies not in any earthly city, but in the heavenly one, prepared and waiting to descend at the time of consummation (Heb 13.14; Rev 21-22).

Why will God do all this? Why does a husband take back his straying wife? Because of love (31.3: “I have loved you with an everlasting love”). The whole Bible is a remarkable love story, and all this arises from the character of God who loves and makes / keeps promises, and who shows great mercy.

When will this happen? This New Covenant is the great new deal from God. But when will it happen? The markers in vv1, 27, 31, 38 (“those days”) indicate a distinct future era. It most certainly did not happen in the return from Babylon in 538 BC, because that return only involved Judah, and it was a miserable half-hearted return with little evidence that God’s promises were being fulfilled. The NT authors believed that the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus was the inauguration of the return from exile. It will finally be here in fullest form when Jesus returns. That will be unbelievably glorious, for we get a sense that the OT prophets (just like John in Revelation) were straining the bounds of language and imagery to sketch a picture of how good the restoration will be.

For now, the knowledge that we are living in the era of the New Covenant gives us firstly a sense of privilege (Jeremiah could only look forward dimly to what we have); and secondly a sense of increased responsibility, for we are to take up the challenge of being God’s treasured possession for the sake of the whole world, declaring his praises and his purpose of salvation for all who would return.

Student News  

The BGST family extends its deepest condolences to Mr Justin Zhou (Grad Dip CS Student) and family, on the home-going of his grandmother on Nov 10, 2010.
Please pray for Justin and the family in this time of bereavement.

Faculty News  

Dr. Satterthwaite will continue his series of Sunday Sermons (4 Sundays in November) at Bethesda Frankel Estate Church on “Psalms of Darkness, Psalms of Light”, (Psalms 39, 88, 118 and 150).

Dr Ng Peh Cheng will be leading the Visiting Evaluation Team (Asia Theological Association) to accredit a seminary in Bangkok, Thailand (November, 16-19). She appreciates prayer for safety, wisdom to lead and make good decisions.

Dr Edwin Tay will be preaching at Bethesda (Katong) Church on 21 November 2010 at the 8.30am service.
The text is Hebrews 11:1-7.

News Bits
Closure for Public Holiday
BGST will be closed on 17 Nov 2010 as it is Hari Raya Haji. Business will resume on 18 Nov 2010.
Courses Commencing in Term 3 & 4, 2010-2011

Applied Theology
The Christian Mind (AT361, 1.5cr);(Group Tutorial)
Jan 11, 18, 25, Feb 1;
(Tue 7.30-9.30pm)
Lecturer: Dr David Wong / Tutor: Dr Lai Pak Wah
Venue: Telok Ayer CMC, 235 Telok Ayer Street

Discerning God’s Will: Biblical Principles of Christian Decision-making (AT353, 1.5cr);
Feb 21, 28, Mar 14, 21, 28;
(Mon 7.15-9.45pm)
Lecturer: Dr Tan Soo-Inn
Venue: Zion Bishan BP Church, 4 Bishan St 13

Biblical Languages
*New Testament Greek II (BG112, 3cr);
Jan 6, 13, 20, 27, Feb 10, 17, 24, Mar 3, 17, 24, 31, Apr 7, 14, 21, 28, May 5;
(Thu 7.30-9.15pm)
Lecturer: Mr Quek Tze-Ming (PhD candidate, Uni of Cambridge)
Venue: Union Industrial Building

*Biblical Hebrew Exegesis II (BH212, 3cr);
Jan 10, 17, 24, 31, Feb 7, 14, 28, Mar 14, 21, 28, Apr 4, 11; (Mon 7.30-9.45pm)
Lecturer: Dr Philip Satterthwaite
Venue: Union Industrial Building

Biblical Studies
New Testament Foundations II (NT102, 3cr);
Jan 14, 21, 28, Feb 11, 18, 25, Mar 18, 25, Apr 1, 8;
(Fri 7.15-9.45pm)
Lecturer: Dr Oh Boon Leong
Venue: Union Industrial Building

Old Testament Foundations II (OT102, 3cr);
Feb 10, 17, 24, Mar 3, 24, Apr 7, 21, 28, May 5, 12, 19, 26;
(Thu 7.30-9.45pm)
Lecturer: Dr Philip Satterthwaite
Venue: Zion Bishan BP Church, 4 Bishan St 13
Reading Revelation Ethically: the last word on Empire, Economics, Ecology (NT364, 3cr);
Mar 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, Apr 5, 12, 19, 26, May 3;
(Tue 7.15-9.45pm)
Lecturer: Mr Quek Tze-Ming (PhD candidate, Uni of Cambridge)
Venue: Telok Ayer CMC, 235 Telok Ayer Street

Interpreting Ezekiel (OT367, 1.5cr);(Group Tutorial)
Mar  4, 11, 18, 25;
(Fri 7.30-9.30pm)
Lecturer: Dr Daniel Block
Tutor: Mr Andrew Lee (PhD candidate, Uni of Gloucester)
Venue: Prinsep St Presbyterian Church, 77 Prinsep Street 

Spirituality for Christian Formation (ECF503, 3cr);
Jan 5, 12, 19, 26, Feb 9, 16, 23, Mar 2, 9, 23;
(Wed 7.15-9.45pm)
Lecturer: Mr Chong Ser Choon
Venue: Prinsep St Presbyterian Church, 77 Prinsep Street

*Research Methods & Ministry: Qualitative (ECF520, 3cr);
Jan 11, 18, 25, Feb 1, 8, 15, 22, Mar 1, 8, 15;
(Tue 7.15-9.45pm)
Lecturer: Dr Chen Ai Yen
Venue: Union Industrial Building

Educational Planning & Management (ECF510, 3cr);
Mar 17, 24, 31, Apr 7, 14, 21, 28, May 5, 12, 19;
(Thu 7.15-9.45pm)
Lecturer: Dr Ng Peh Cheng
Venue: Zion Bishan BP Church, 4 Bishan St 13

Counselling & Applied Theology
*The Counsellor’s Skills: Developing Micro-Skills in Counselling (CO213, 3cr); 
Feb 9, 16, 23, Mar 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, Apr 6, 13;
(Wed  7.15-9.45pm)
Lecturer: Mr Yam Keng Mun
Venue: Prinsep St Presbyterian Church, 77 Prinsep Street

Contemporary Issues Facing Counsellors Today
(CO240, 1.5cr);
Mar 28, Apr 4, 11, 18, 25; (Mon 7.15-9.45pm)
Lecturer: Dr Danny Goh
Venue: Zion Bishan BP Church, 4 Bishan St 13

Counselling & Community (CO240, 1.5cr);
Jun 11(Sat 10am-12pm, 12.45pm-3pm),
Jun 21, 22, 23; (7.20pm-10.10pm)
Lecturer: Dr Rod Wilson;
Venue: Union Industrial Building  

Introduction to Church History II: Six-Continent Christianities (CH102, 3cr);
Mar 15, 22, 29, Apr 5, 12, 19, 26, May 3, 10, 24;
(Tue 7.15-9.45pm)
Lecturer: Dr Lai Pak Wah
Venue: Union Industrial Building

Marketplace ministries
Liberating the Laity: Empowering the Whole People of God for Service in the Church & World (MM251, 3cr); (Group Tutorial)
Jan 13, 27, Feb 10, 24, Mar 3; (Thu 7.15-9.45pm)
Lecturer: Prof Paul Stevens / Tutor: Dr Ng Peh Cheng;
Venue: Zion Bishan BP Church, 4 Bishan St 13
Globalization & Postmodernity: A Christian Response (MM258, 3cr); 
Feb 9, 16, 23, Mar 2, 9, 16, 23, 30;  (Wed 7.15-10.15pm)
Lecturer: Mr Ben Pwee
Venue: Union Industrial Building

Theology of Work (MM261, 3cr)
May 23, 25, 27, 30, 31, June 2; 7.15-10.15pm, 
June 4 (Sat 10am - 1pm, 2pm - 5pm)
Lecturers: Prof Paul Stevens & Mr Clive Lim (DMin.candidate, Gordon-Conwell Theo. Sem.)
Venue: Union Industrial Building

Mission & evangelism
Christianity Comes to Asia (ME325, 1.5cr); (Group Tutorial)
Feb 8, 15, 22, Mar 1; (Tue 7.30-9.30pm)
Lecturer: Dr Bobby Sng / Tutor: Dr Lai Pak Wah
Venue: Telok Ayer CMC, 235 Telok Ayer Street

Introduction to Evangelism & World Mission
(ME101, 3cr); Mar 5 &12 (Sat 10am - 1pm, 2 - 5pm), 
Mar  4, 7, 10, 11; 7.15-10.15pm
Lecturer: Dr Tan Kang San
Venue: Union Industrial Building

Theological STUDIES
The Christian Faith (TS101, 3cr);
Jan 10, 17, 24, 31, Feb 7, 14, 21, 28, Mar 14, 21;
(Mon 7.15-9.45pm)
Lecturer: Dr Edwin Tay
Venue: Zion Bishan BP Church, 4 Bishan St 13

Teaching the Westminster Confession of Faith
(TS216, 3cr);(Group Tutorial)
Mar 25, Apr 1, 8, 15, 29, May 6, 13, 20; (Fri 7.15-9.45pm)
Lecturer: Dr Douglas Milne / Tutor: Dr Edwin Tay;
Venue: Prinsep St Presbyterian Church, 77 Prinsep Street

The Christian Spirit (TS251, 3cr); (Group Tutorial)
Apr 5, 12, 19, 26, May 3, 10, 24, 31; (Tue 7.30-9.30pm)
Lecturer: Prof James Houston / Tutor: Mr John Chong Ser Choon;
Venue: Telok Ayer CMC, 235 Telok Ayer Stree

For more information on courses for 2011 visit our website: http://bgst.edu.sg/courses-and-events
37 Jalan Pemimpin, #06-05 Block B, Union Industrial Building S(577177).
Tel: 6227-6815 Fax: 6255-3686 Email: bgst@pacific.net.sg
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