When was the church born? When did it start? Here’s two well-known voices:
His [the Holy Spirit] coming to fill the assembled disciples at Pentecost establishes the church of the New Covenant. Clowney, The Church, 28.
On this point we cannot agree with those Premillenarians who, under the influence of a divisive dispensationalism, claim that the Church is exclusively a New Testament institution, which did not come into existence until the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost… Berkhof, 571.
If the church began in some sense at Pentecost (Clowney), then how can Covenant Theologians (CT) affirm that the OT believers were in the church?
If the church began in the OT (Berkhof), then what was the point of Pentecost? Was it merely a helpful add-on to their faith, but really not essential? If it was essential, then how can we explain that the OT believers did not have it?
I recognize that CT will argue that the church existed as believers in Israel during the OT, but the point still remains: if you press for an OT church, the worth of Pentecost is downplayed to some degree. If you flatten the distinctions between the two sections of Scripture, then the most obvious distinction–the coming and permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit–is also ironed out. To exalt the meaning of the Spirit’s coming in Acts 2 is to speak of distinction from the OT, and that is a very difficult shibboleth for many CT’s.
Is this a possible explanation for why Robert Reymond in his otherwise very helpful Systematic Theology devotes a mere 4 pages out of 1,093 to the third member of the Godhead?