Sunday, December 30, 2012

When faith is works

So I was listening to EWTN Catholic Radio, where they have their former protestants on who confess that Protestantism is wrong, usually ex-Calvinists ministers, and the person this time was a formerly Jewish woman who turned Protestant, who turned Catholic.
When she was a Protestant on anti-depressants and struggled with thoughts of suicide, and told herself that if she had faith, true faith, she could overcome immediately. "Faith is that thing that lets us grab our boot straps and pull ourselves up."
Of course I wonder what church is telling her this, (some word of faith group?) but if you listen closely to what she is saying, it's actually really horrible. She's saying that faith is works, just a super, turbo charged version of works. Faith allows you to do what no other force, or version of works allows you to do, it's works double plus. Grab those bootstaps and pull sister, faith is the thing that can move mountains, nothing can stop it!
But for her, this faith wasn't t working, she was still needing her anti-depressants, so she quit being a protestant, and became a Catholic- because the Catholics properly understood how faith and works relate. That is perhaps the worst reason to convert I have ever heard.

Try again Catholics.

Oh and on the call in radio show, the last call was this: Dear Father Bragente, why does Saint Anna have her head as a holy relic in one city, and her body in another? Isn't that macabre? His answer: Oh we do that all the time, it's a great way to be close to the saints, it's just a useful tool. Everyone does that anyway, there are dozens of saints that have been cut up and their organs are on display all over the world to visit in different places. In modern times we tour their corpses around for intercessory purposes. Heck, even the early Christians worshiped in the catacombs so they could be close to the martyrs.

Try again, again; and this time try harder.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Conspicuous Absense of Covenant

The churches of Christ taught be a valuable Biblical tool (believe it or not) when they taught me about Musical Instruments in the NT. Their argument is that the complete absence of any kind of mention of musical instruments in the NT while having a humongous amount of evidence of OT use is striking. Their observation is keen.
The counter-argument for someone propounding the Covenant of Works is that just because the word Covenant is not found in the garden does not necessarily mean there was no covenant. I agree. However, the conspicuous absence of both the word and it's concept is another matter entirely.There are over 300 instances of Covenant it in the Bible, but none in the garden account. While God could have dropped that word anywhere, He waits until after the fall to trot it out. Let's look at the big covenant instances now to show you what I mean.

The Covenant with Noah
Here is the first time, (Gen 9:9, 11) "And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your seed after you... Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth." I'll mention how to understand this in a second, for now lets continue on.

The Covenant with Abraham
The next time comes at Genesis 15:18 with Abraham "On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: "To your seed I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates" Abraham then becomes disobedient and causes God to wait, but once he is faithful again God speaks the rest, "And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your seed after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your seed after you." (Genesis 17:7), which of course is talking about Christ (Galatians 3:16) "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ."
That passage in Galatians changes everything, because it bonds Covenant to Christ. And if God did indeed want to do that, to make those two items connected in our mind, then He must wait until after the fall to introduce the idea of a Redeemer and Savior. Which fits, which is why He waits until post fall to use the word Covenant. Is this not what Isaiah prophesied about when talking about Christ? "I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people" (Isaiah 42:6)

That would mean we are not to understand the Noah passage by drawing it backwards to Adam, but forward to Christ. God was telling Noah that he would send someone to prevent the earth from being destroyed. He would restrain future wickedness and keep it from getting to that point again. He would send someone in righteousness to preserve a people for Himself.

The Covenant at Sinai
The next instance of Covenant comes from Sinai, mediated by God's servant Moses. (Exodus 34:27; Deut 4:13) Here God gives His people a priesthood for the cleansing of sins (the blood of the Covenant), an ark of the Covenant to encase the promise in, and Tablets to remind them (Exodus 24:7-8; Deut 9:9). As a sign God gives them the Sabbath rest (Ex 31:13). The thrust of this one is obedience to God, principally seen in keeping the rules.
It's to this covenant that the writers of the NT appeal, Galatians and Hebrews in particular, and their point is it's all about Christ. Christ the Son is contrasted with Moses the servant, (Heb 3:2-6). Christ is the Sabbath rest (Heb 3:10-4:13), the new and better high priest offering sacrifice on behalf of the people, (4:14-5:7, 7) who was obedient to God (Heb 5:8-9). He Himself was the new and better ark of the covenant, the new and better tabernacle, the new and better offering. Everything that Sinai was pointing toward, He was. His shed blood was that new Covenant pointed to in Jeremiah, (1 Cor 11:25) as He said (Luke 22:20).
Even the rules themselves, while promising eternal life, were really the signposts pointing them on to Christ. The Jews did not understand this aspect of Sinai, they didn't see Him in it because they were blind (2 cor 3:15, Rom 11:7), they sought to establish their own righteousness (Romans 10:3-4), instead of seeing that the Covenant rules at Sinai really were given to show them Christ. For what does Paul say? (Gal 3:19, 22-24) "What purpose then [does] the law [serve]? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; [and it was] appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator... But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor [to bring us] to Christ, that we might be justified by faith."
In sum, the Covenant at Sinai it builds on the other promises/Covenants already given to the saints. It does not supplant the promises, it increases it. Each successive covenant teach us more and more about Christ.

The Covenant to David
(2 Samuel 7:14, Jeremiah 33:21) "I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of me"
This is pointing us on to Christ again, even though we make a stop over at Solomon as a partial fulfillment. I don't think much needs to be said here since it's so obvious, so let's go on.

The New Covenant
The new covenant is Christ. Jeremiah 31:31-33, 38) "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah--  "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day [that] I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. "But this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 'And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me." And as Hebrews teaches us this is the promise of eternal life, that if we believe in Christ He will save us. He is going to once and for all mend all the damage done in Eden, He will save His people, adopt them, regenerate them, and be with them forever. This promise is fulfilled by, in, and through Christ Jesus.

Therefore
Adam couldn't have received a covenant before the fall because there was no place, no need, no room for Christ to come. Covenant means Christ. If Adam receives a covenant then it's the promise given in Genesis 3:15 "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed; He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel."
It cannot be in the charge Adam was given to watch over Eden, because it wasn't in Eden.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Covenant that Poisioned Christ

Romans 11:6 - "And if by grace, then [it is] no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if [it is] of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work."
If the Covenant of Works was given to Adam upon his creation, as part of who he is and what he is to do, then it's inherent to his make up and his relationship to God. That is to say, Adam is by nature a slave, interacting with God and earning favor on the basis of his own works. That's what Adam is. Rules are to him what water is to fish, it's his medium, his support, it permeates and defines him.
So then, being created in law, under law, and indwelt by moral law, Adam is tasked with nothing less than the keeping of the law, of,  'do not eat lest you die' which may be rephrased to 'keep the law and you will live.'

But that's astonishing! If Adam is created in God's image, then God too is a being of rules, and He forms relationships on the basis of them- for what is true of Adam must be true of God. Rules must be not just in His nature, but His nature. Since rule keeping is necessary for Adam to become established and loved, (this is why the probationary period is so critical) Christ too is a dearly beloved son because He keeps the law and obeys the Fathers will. Jesus is loved by God because He volunteers to go do God's will, but it's really only after he comes to Earth and completes the mission that He is well and truly loved best.

Now if this is right, that works are not just the agreement Adam is under but his nature, and he was created in the image of God, and so God is under/in works by nature, then we are left with only one conclusion: all of God's dealings with both creation and Himself are on the basis of works, rules, and laws.
And this is precisely what the consistent theologians are telling us in the Covenant of Redemption, which is a covenant between the persons of the trinity. Salvation is carried out because of a pre-existing agreement. Salvation is not motivated by family, or sonship, or love, but on a kind of contract basis.
This is also proven by the work and incarnation of Christ Himself - He came to Earth as a man to keep the rules during a probationary period in order to merit the goodie bag of salvation. Salvation is all of works, just Christ's works. Works are the real engine and grace is redefined to 'the portion of works that we receive.'
But this also has some unpleasant further consequences not fully considered: creation cannot be an act of grace but an act of necessity, for God is compelled by the rules to create Adam, in order to give Himself maximal glory.*
Redemption is absolutely necessary for God to have vessels of mercy to show His goodness upon, while vessels of wrath have been prepared to pour His fury on.
Heaven is a place where we get to keep the rules for all eternity, because that's what we are by nature, rule keepers.
Hell is the place for people who didn't do a good enough job keeping the rules.

But if Romans is right then this is utterly ruinous for grace, for if God is all works then God can not be of or for grace- it is already all of works. The pestilence once poured on Adam cannot be stopped from going upstream and polluting Christ also. The covenant of works acts like an acid, eating away at grace until all that's left is a kind of empty Phariseesim watched over by a cold, legalistic, small deity. The story of the Bible is no longer that of sonship lost, a father who pursues, a sonship regained, but a man submitting a form to a bureaucracy, receiving a stamp "INCOMPLETE", another man swapping out a better form, and receiving a new stamp "COMPLETE."
That's not the Bible.
Therefore there can't be a Covenant of Works.

*I know that under the standard idea God was under no compunction to create, but once He did certain things were necessary, therefore creation itself is foremost a gracious act. Redemption is likewise argued on the basis of grace. But this can only be true if the covenant of works is wrong. If it is true that Adam was a being of works, and was made in God's image, then God is likewise a being of works. God must act in accordance with the rules He's under because that's who He is. Consider it: if it is by works then there is simply no room left for grace. If it is of grace then this system must fall- Adam cannot be a slave creature under such a covenant.

Assumptions in the Covenant of Works

The covenant of works today showed itself to me to be the type of Biblical explanation that does not lead back into the Bible for more depth and insight, but into specious speculation. Wild, crazy, speculations. Like this notion of the probationary period.
I quote:
"The excommunication from the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:22-24) confirms the probationary nature of the covenant of works." - R. Scott Clark
And this gem:
"In the third place, as a responsible being, as a moral agent, as one who was endowed with free will, Adam had necessarily to be placed on probation, submitted to a real test of his fealty unto God, before he was confirmed, or given an abiding standing in his creature perfec­tions." -A. W. Pink
Not long ago I thought this was an interesting explanation for the Eden set up. Now I think it's best described in two words: rank speculation. It's nowhere mentioned in the text, it cannot be deduced from any verse, and it doesn't really hold up under any rational scrutiny.
Why does Adams fall indicate a probationary period? Why did Adam have to necessarily be placed on probation? How does it make any sense to say that Adam had to be confirmed before he was given a relationship with God? In fact the opposite is true, pre-fall Adam walked with God, and talked with Him, and enjoyed His company in the cool of the evening.

This unfounded idea of 'probationary period' sounds remarkably like the Gap Theory to me, which scoffield, rotten theologian that he was, popularized. Look what A. W. Pink has to say that idea, (commenting on Genesis 1:2
"And the earth became without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." Some fearful catastrophe must have occurred. Sin had dared to raise its horrid head against God, and with sin came death and all its attendant evils. The fair handiwork of the Creator was blasted. That which at first was so fair was now marred, and what was very good became very evil. The light was quenched, and the earth was submerged beneath the waters of judgment. That which was perfect in the beginning became a ruin, and darkness abode upon the face of the deep. Profoundly mysterious is this, and unspeakably tragic. A greater contrast than what is presented in the first two verses of Genesis 1 can hardly be conceived. Yet there it is: the primitive earth, created by God "in the beginning," had become a ruin."
The Gap Theory states that because the Hebrew word for was is better translated as became. God created the world one time, Satan fell and made the earth void and without form, then God did it over again. 100% pure grade speculation. Fortunately for us this fad has mostly gone away, being that it's completely made up it has not endured the test of time.
I'm hoping "probationary period" which is built on just as much speculation, does the same.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Covenant of Sonship

The case was settled in my mind that Adam had a Covenant of Works with God, until I more carefully considered what works are in an unfallen state. They are grace. I wrote that here. But I still held to the notion that God covenanted with Adam, as indicated by Hosea 6:7, Scripture said it, that settled it, Adam had a covenant with God.  But what was a covenant?

An agreement between two parties, pledging faithfulness, entered into for the purpose of drawing closer together in mutual love. Like marriage. It must be added that usually, and by usually I mean almost always, the two parties are estranged or hostile and need a mediator.
Given this broad definition of a covenant and the iron clad evidence from Hosea it's not inconceivable that Adam had a covenant with God. We read:
Genesis 1:28-29, 2:6 "Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."And God said, "See, I have given you every herb [that] yields seed which [is] on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food... Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
But upon careful examination this notion of covenant doesn't hold up as a good explanation for this text. It feels stretched, imported, out of place.
It seems more sensible just to say God created Adam as a son, in His own image, and told him the creation was his to rule and manage, then instructs him not to eat the forbidden fruit lest he die. But that's not a covenant. Adam didn't pledge anything, there was no other party, there was no agreement, no Biblical language indicating they cut any kind of agreement. They were already a family, in harmony, in a relationship, walking and talking together about how things were. The theologians will offer the rejoinder: that's why it's a unilateral covenant, a Suzerain-Vassal style covenant. There are not two parties because it's not that kind of covenant.
However, that reduces Adam to a kind of slave, to someone who is not already the expression of God's goodness. It doesn't fit at all. The more simple and straightforward answer is that God gave His son Adam the rules as boundary markers on their relationship - be back before 11PM, no tree of knowledge, have a good time. The laws are not some legal vassal obligation structure as much as they are guardrails on the cliff saying 'Danger, do not cross!' They are necessary to form the line of permissible and impermissible, delightful to God and despicable, but they stand on the periphery to the issue. Suzerain vassal treaties compel the weaker party, while Adam lived and moved already on the basis of love. The central issue is sonship, and love, and relationship. Adam had all those things in abundance. To the Christian the rules are a necessary structure to knowing and enjoying God, to loving and experiencing His goodness, but they are not the end of the matter but the means. The end is Christ, the means is the law.

But if there is no covenant with Adam then what to do about Hosea? Could the covenant in mind there be the protoevangel? No because how would Adam have disobeyed that? It's either Genesis 1:28 or bust.
But if it's bust then how do we manage that passage? I think the KJV has the right answer. "But like men they transgressed the covenant; There they dealt treacherously with Me."
The simpler explanation is that men are by their nature faithless, treacherous, covenant breakers. Abraham didn't listen to God. Jacob told God "If you bless me then." Moses did not honor God as holy and could not enter the promised land. David committed adultery. Solomon took wives and turned his back on God.
There was and is not a man that didn't disobey, that didn't transgress. That does what is right, what is Good. There are none. The people in Hosea's day did not obey because that's what men are. That's why it took God coming down in the flesh, in humanity, because men are faithless even to their own fathers who love them deeply and desire the best for them, and it takes a supernatural act to put the machinery right.

The main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things. The Genesis narrative is really not complete enough to give me a firm basis for seeing Adam as a covenant breaker because I'm not seeing him as in a covenant sense. That may indeed constrain all covenants in the Bible to being redemptive covenants, and it may also mean that the argument of God upholding a covenant with Moses that He made with Adam still needs to be dealt with. It may also mean that I'm wrong about this, and the text of Genesis will bear up under the weight of the term 'covenant.'
I'll have to think it over still. But it seems more likely at this point that the theologians impulse to mash all the stories into the idea of 'covenant' comes from the necessity of the Covenant of Works, and once that is let go as obsolete, the notion of 'covenant with Adam' starts to wither.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lifecycle of a theologian

Oedipus gave the answer to the Sphinx's question "what goes on four legs in the morning, two in the day, three in the evening" as man. A theologian is like this.
In the beginning they are Armininan, still of self, trusting, full of wonder and delight, without knowledge and understanding. They are like children, nice, and sweet, and still selfish, and still need to mature but still pleasant to be around.
Then, with some growth they become teenagers, err, Calvinists. Full of knowledge, puffed up with it in fact, but still lacking knowledge. There is no longer a wonder as they know all the answers. If you have one word to describe them it's rotten. Teenagers are just rotten. Particularly if they never grow up.
But with a little more maturity comes something much closer to perfection, knowledge with wisdom. It is now that the theologian comes nearly full circle, and sees his dependence, and limit, and regains that childlike awe and wonder of God's doctrines.
Calvinism is a great stepping stone, but a terrible stopping point.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

On the Covenant of Creation

As you know I have been thinking over the notion of a covenant of works, or as I say now, a covenant of Sonship. I was also preparing for the next class I'm going to teach on Malachi 2 when I read this astonishing synthesis passage: (From v10) "Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously with one another By profaning the covenant of the fathers?"
Now this isn't going to be any big revelation to anyone but me I suspect, but I realized today that the difference from Creator to Father is only a matter of what you have created, and why. Both are the act of giving life from nothing.
When I build things at work, I am their creator because they have come from my vision and imagination, but when I created my son, I acted not just as a creator, but as something so much more, as a father. (Yes, I know strictly speaking I didn't create him, God did, but you understand that insofar as it's possible, I created him.)

To Father is to create.
How did I miss this?
Fatherhood is to create with a particular emphasis on love and devotion, on relationship and intimacy. It's to uniquely pour yourself out and get yourself back. It's not just hammering and chiseling a block of wood with care, but it's to shape and tool the very heart of a future man.

Therefore to call God Father is not merely to call Him the one who takes care of us and loves us, and has a relationship with us, but it is to call Him the Mighty One, the Creator, the Maker and Upholder.
Israel was created to know and love God, to be the true son, just as Adam was, but they didn't want this, and neither did Adam. And because they gave up that intimacy God couldn't be a Father to them, though He wanted to be, because they refused to honor, love, and obey Him. They insisted on keeping Him at arms length, which meant simply creator. It's only when Jesus comes on the stage of human history that we see Him restoring the idea of Fatherhood to God. Essentially our understanding of God grows outward from mere creator to Father.
It's so much more glorious.

Which makes me think that man as the crowning achievement of creation must be understood as being fathered.
Adam wasn't created by God, he was Fathered by Him. Which means it wasn't a covenant of creation God made with Adam, it was a covenant of sonship.
Which makes me think that my model of "covenant of Sonship failed/ covenant of sonship restored" replacing the Covenant of Works/ Covenant of Grace is a pretty good guess.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Thoughts on Complementarianism II

Jesus is the head, and the bride, the church is in the submissive role, the same applies to marriage, the wife is the one who submits, and the husband is the one who directs.
It came up in a discussion today why women find it so natural to be so outgoing, in-tune, compassionate, other-focused, whatever you want to call it, while men are, well, not.
I think the answer has something to do with how men are by nature focused and determined. They dig in on a single task to the exclusion of all things, until that task is accomplished. Having a vision means some things have to fall by the way side.
Women are the opposite, they are less determined, generally, and much more open about minor course correction. Men are likely to roll right over a target and not be concerned about it, women are likely to correct and compensate appropriately.
Now which should be the head, or the primary decision maker in the relationship? The guy, because he has a long term, stable vision he's going to be more willing and able to sacrifice for. If you have a woman to help him navigate the near term stuff while he keeps his eye on the prize you have a great set up, but if you have the woman driving the boat always concerned about the near term, always reacting, and the long term vision takes a back seat, you have bad long term consequences.
In general that is.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Replacing the CoW


I have come to the conclusion that the Covenant of Works has to go. Instead of being systematic here I'll start with what kicked off my decision to leave the CoW behind, and work may way upward to a larger picture of what I think takes it's place.
This is a picture of my son helping me wash the car. If you want to be technical it's a picture of him and I working.


That, that right there is works in the NT. That's what God has in mind. A better word is grace. Understanding God as Father transforms works from a master/slave, Lord/vassal into something else entirely. You can't call it works, because it's a joy.
This is the only way to understand what Christ did. John 5:19 "So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise."This isn't Jesus meriting salvation because He is fulfilling an eternal promise, this is Him doing what His Father does because that's who He is, and what a Son does. My son didn't wash the car because I told him that after we finish we can go out for ice cream, he washed it because that's what love does, and I took him out not because he earned it, but because that's what I like to do.
The same relationship Christ had in this is our portion (John 20:17), as it says in 1 John 5:3 "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome."  
His commands, our obedience, is not a work, it's a relationship.
And that is my problem with the CoW: it would have you believe that this passage in John means the same thing as what Israel was told at Sinai; but what it really means is that obeying His commands is a partnership with Him, a delightful, joyous, magnificent experience. Works are the physical, outworking of a grace that so cannot be contained that it shoots out of your body. Works are the outward expression of the inward joy.
The CoW at worst takes this smile off of God the Father. At best it obfuscates it. Dead wrong.

Once I settled in my mind that this model is unsuitable to understanding the NT, I concluded that it had to be junked. Now with this in mind I went back and tried to make sense of the holes that were left. And here is what I think: there are two covenants, both have elements of works, both are built on, and sustained by grace.

The Old Covenant - A covenant of service, slavery, sorrow, marked by failure and human faithlessness. It's requirements must be met or there will be punishment. Grace is seen in it by God giving second chances, and third chances, and fourth and fifth chances, perhaps summed up by the word tolerance. Works are the commands that must be performed, which mainly amounts to sorrow for sins, sacrifices for wrong doing. It's signs are reminders of God's faithfulness, and reminders to be faithful, circumcision, Sabbath resting. Punishment is meted out. Adam stands as the perfect representative of this covenant because of his complete failure and betrayal of God. One word to describe it: do. Do or else, but man does not, man is only capable of failure.

The New Covenant - A covenant of Sonship of deep and abiding love, marked by an unbreakable salvation and faithfulness. It's requirements have already been met by Jesus. Grace is seen by exchanging His righteousness for ours and keeping us forever as His own treasured possession. Works are the delight of the sons and daughters as they play together with God. It's sign is baptism, a reminder that we have died to keeping the rules, as they have been kept. Fatherly discipline is meted out of love. Christ stands as the perfect representative of this covenant because of His complete and total success in keeping it, and being God's true, obedient Son. One word to describe it: done.

This model elegantly explains what Paul was talking about in the purpose of the law, to bring us to Christ. It's why he would say that Sinai is slavery, just like Hagar. It's purpose was to point us to Christ, to the one who would be the true Son we were meant to be. (Gal 3:22-23)
It tells us that Adam had absolutely everything he needed in the garden, but lost it, and that the story of the Bible is God restoring it. From son, to slave, to son again.
It explains, so much better than Federalism, why Christ sits as the second Adam, because of His sonship, not because He was going to fulfill a covenant of works righteousness requirements.
It explains why the Old Covenant is called, the Old Covenant, and why it's passing away as obsolete. (Heb 8:13)
It explains why Jesus said "No longer do I call you servants." (John 15:15a)
It explains why there are both works and grace in both covenants.
It exalts Christ Himself, placing Him at the center of the covenants structure, rather than abstracts like law and grace.

Just for good measure let's throw down a table. 
 

Old Covenant
New Covenant
A Covenant of
Slavery
Sonship
Marked by
Failure, sorrow, faithlessness
Completion, Joy, loyalty
Works
Do it or else face the wrath
Washing the car together
Grace
You get another chance
All is forgiven
Person
Adam
Christ
Sign
Circumcision
Baptism
Summary
Do
Done

Yes, the whispers of the New Covenant blow through the times of the Old Covenant, particularly in Jeremiah 31, in this way I think the traditional understanding of the CoW and CoG makes a good point.
But ultimately the CoW falls apart, or upon examination, gives way to the notion not of works, but of relationship, of sonship. Which fits the Biblical data so much better.
One could argue that this looks a lot like the covenant of works, and the covenant of Grace, and I'm giving them a slightly different bend, and retooling their names. But I'm not, this is the Covenant of Sonship Broken, and the Covenant of Sonship Restored. And that seems to me to be the message of the Bible.