covenant of grace

What is the content of the Covenant of Grace? What is the main promise of God? The main of promise God makes with elect sinners in Christ is that God will become our God. What is eternal life after all? Eternal life is found in communion with God, who is the fountain of life. God’s promise that He will be our God is the ultimate promise and blessing that we can ever enjoy.

And this promise, which includes all other promises of spiritual blessings in application of the work of redemption of Lord by the Holy Spirit, will be finally realized in new heaven and new earth.

Revelation 21:3 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” (ESV)

  • Gen 17:7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. (ESV)
    • the promise of justification, including the adoption of children, and a claim to life eternal
    • the promise of the Spirit of God for the application of the work of redemption and of all the blessings of salvation
    • the promise of final glorification in a life that never ends
    • all these promises are essentially included in the unifying promise that God will be God to us and our offspring
  • Our response
    • Covenant relationship with God is often described as relationship between a bridegroom and a bride or a father and his children.
    • life of faith and repentance in response to God’s gracious promise

 

  • The characteristics of the covenant of grace
    • It is a gracious covenant
    • It is a trinitarian covenant
    • It is an eternal and therefore unbreakable covenant
    • It is a particular and not a universal covenant
    • It is essentially the same in all dispensations, though its form of administration changes
  • Administration of the covenant of grace
    • The Old Testament
      • The first revelation of covenant of grace in Gen 3:15
      • The covenant with Noah
        • Also called the covenant of grace
        • Necessary for the preserving of humanity, who might become beneficiary of the covenant of grace later
        • saving grace is built on common grace
      • The covenant with Abraham
        • circumcision as a seal of the covenant
        • man must respond to the promises of God by faith
          • Abraham was justified by his faith apart from any works of the law
        • temporal and earthly blessings that point to spiritual, heavenly, and eternal blessings
      • The Mosaic covenant (Sinaitic covenant)
        • the covenant became a truly national covenant
          • Israel became a theocratic nation where church and state are not separate
        • Function of law
          • pedagogical: to increase consciousness of sin and longing for Savior
          • theocratic standing and promise of blessings
        • Three kinds of law
          • the civil law
            • Application of the moral law to the civic and social life of people in a theocratic nation
          • the moral law
            • God’s holy and righteous standard of perfect obedience
            • Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience (keeping the moral law in our place)
          • the ceremonial law
            • types and symbols that foreshadowed Jesus Christ
            • perfectly fulfilled in atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ
        • Even in the Mosaic covenant, gospel was preached in symbols and types. Law was there to show inablilty to keep it whereas symbols and types of the ceremonial law signified to Jesus Christ who would wasy away their sins by being atoning sacrifice himself.
      • The Davidic covenant
    • The New Testament
      • Often times, we see the Old Testament dispensation and and the New Testament as essentially contrasting to each other. However, it is important to note that the covenant of grace revealed in the New Testament is nothing but fulfillment of all prophecies, types, and symbols. It is essentially the same covenant of grace administered differently now that anti-type Jesus Christ has come.
      • The revelation of God’s grace reached its climax as Jesus Christ incarnated and tabernacled among us. The Holy Spirit is poured out upon the Church, and out of the fulness of the grace of God in Christ enriches believers with spiritual and eternal blessings.
      • From Genesis 3:15 to Revelation 22:21, the covenant of grace is being revealed historically. God did not reveal at once all the nature and contents of the covenant of grace. Instead, God administered the same covenant of grace and revealed it gradually in history. Now is when the covenant of grace is being administered by the preaching of the Word, and the sacraments of Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper.
        • “Under the gospel, when Christ, the substance, was exhibited, the ordinances in which this covenant is dispensed are the preaching of the Word and the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper: which, though fewer in number, and administered with more simplicity, and less outward glory, yet, in them, it is held forth in more fulness, evidence, and spiritual efficacy, to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles; and is called the new testament. There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations.” (WCF 7:6)

Chapter 7 of the Westminster Confession of Faith deals with covenant theology and Chapter 8 deals with Christology, the doctrine of the person and the work of Jesus Christ. Then chapter 9-18 seem to deal with Soteriology, the doctrine of the application of the work of redemption accomplished by Christ.

This division of systematic theology seems only natural because of logical order. God the Father had to originate and make plan of salvation before anything happens. And according to the covenant of redemption, Jesus Christ took upon himself human nature and dwelt among us, fulfilling all the work that God the Father had given him. After his ascension, He sent the promised Holy Spirit to us so that we can really enjoy personally and subjectively what he has accomplished historically and objectively.

Advertisements