An understanding of the Bible in terms of God’s covenants with man.
The Bible’s own system of organization, structuring both unity and diversity
Usually contrasted with Dispensational Theology.
Differ especially in terms of the relevance of the OT to Christians, and the relationship of OT Israel to NT Church.
Relates God’s promises and commands to us in terms of the covenants.
The Bible’s way of sealing our assurance of salvation blessing (Heb. 6:17-20).
“A covenant is a bond in blood sovereignly administered” – O. Palmer Robertson
Covenant as a Bond:
Parity covenants (mutual compacts) in the Bible: Genesis 21:27, “So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two men made a covenant.”
God’s covenants with man are not mutual compacts.
Legal, relational, or both? The example of marriage.
Covenant as pact or oath-bond.
James Boice: covenant as “a solemn promise confirmed by an oath or sign.”
Covenant as a bond in blood:
Issues of life and death (Gen. 2:16-17; Gen. 15:17).
Promises of blessing; obligations of obedience.
Cutting a covenant.
Eternal life the ultimate covenant blessing.
Death the penalty for breaking God’s covenant: Heb. 9:22: “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Mt. 14:24: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.”
Covenant as sovereignly administered:
Not negotiated contracts: imposed by the sovereign King.
Many covenants are bi-lateral in their functioning, but they are all unilateral in initiative.
Covenant-making as a function of Lordship.
To be in covenant with God is to benefit from the covenant (or federal) representation and headship of another.
Through covenant theology, the Bible teaches not merely what is our obligation to God, but more centrally what God has done for our salvation, and how sinners are reconciled by God to Himself.
To be in saving covenant with God is to be the recipient of God’s oath-bound promises.
God has not only given his promises, but he has sovereignly bound himself with a covenant oath. Hebrews 6:17-19 tells us that God bound himself not to ensure his own faithfulness – which is hardly needed – but so that “we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.”
To be in covenant with God is to have received obligations from God as His people.
“He has now reconciled [you] in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel” (Col. 1:22-23).
To be in saving covenant with God is to enter an eternal relationship of love with God in Christ.
“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go” (Gen. 28:15).
“Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27).
“As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you” (Isa. 62:5).
Abrahamic** Mosaic Davidic
Eternal Kingdom N/A
Eternal Life Faith
Death to God
Death Exile/Death N/A
Tree of Life Rainbow
*Covenant of Works ** Covenant of Grace Inaugurated
***Covenant of Grace Fulfilled
God’s Way of Reconciling Sinners to Himself
“I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15).
“And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and
clothed them.” (Gen. 3:21).
As Inaugurated in God’s Covenant with Abraham:
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessings… and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:2-3).
As Fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ:
“This cup that is our for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Lk. 22:20).
God’s Covenant with Abraham Covenant of Grace Inaugurated
“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘God from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will m ake of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:1-3).
The Mosaic Covenant
Nation Covenant for the preservation of Israel and the Holy Seed
“Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary” (Gal. 3:19)
Israelite nation established on works principle; salvation offered on grace principle
“For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith” (Rom.
“Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:20-21).”
The Davidic Covenant
“When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Sam. 7:12-13).”
Reason for New Covenant: Failure of Old Covenant
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel
and the house of Judah…” (Jer. 31:31).
“For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord” (Heb.
Promise #1: Forgiveness
“For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer. 31:34).
OT sacrifices not able to atone for sin (Heb. 10:1-4); Christ’s blood sufficient (Mt. 26:28).
Promise #2: Inward Transformation
“I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts” (Jer. 31:33).
Promise #3: Knowledge of God
“No longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord” (Jer. 31:34).
Whatwasformerlytrueoftheprophets(Num.11:29;Acts2:16-18),priests(Heb.10:19-22),andkings(Rom. 8:14, 17) is now true of all Christians.
God’s eternal covenant aim is accomplished: “I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jer. 31:33).
Why we baptize covenant children (not just infants):
Continuity between circumcision and baptism (Col. 2:11-12).
“I will be your God and the God of your children after you” (Gen. 17:7; Ex. 19:5, 6; Dt. 7:6, 14:2; Jer. 31:33).
“For the promise is for you and for your children” (Acts 2:39).
“Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised” (Gen. 17:12-13).
Principle of Covenant Representation
Jesus’ command to bring little children
“‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there” (Mt. 19:14).
Children of believers accountable as covenant members (Eph. 6:1, Col. 3:20- 21).
Children of believers are holy (1 Cor. 7:14).
Household baptisms in the NT (Acts 16:15, 33-34; 1 Cor. 1:16)
The covenant community should contrast starkly with the surrounding world.
The covenant community is a community of the Spirit.
The church is a community of wondrous diversity.
The covenant community is built by the Word and prayer.
The covenant community is led by Spirit-empowered men.
The covenant community is composed of fully responsible members.
Caring for one another sacrificially
Encouraging one another spiritually
Carrying the gospel message to the world
Eagerly and generously supporting the work