God to the Rescue Part II: Covenant of Grace

Posted: November 16, 2008 in Uncategorized

For those of you just joining us, we are in the midst of reading through Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology and this weekend we cover the covenant of grace. 

Now, it all started with a covenant of works (Gen. 1-3), in which, God and man had a relationship whereby man would remain right in God’s site if he (Adam) and she (Eve) were obedient to God.  If they would’ve trusted God and been obedient then they (and their kiddies) would have lived in the very presence of God in the Garden of Eden where all was right with the world.  All they had to do was “trust and obey”.  They didn’t. Thanks Grandma! Thanks Grandpa! 

In all fairness, none of us would have done any better.

So, God instituted a covenant of grace and the Biblical story from Genesis 3 onward tells the story of this great covenant.  The parties to this covenant (or contract, if you will) are God and humankind.  “But in this case Christ fulfills a special role as ‘mediator’ (Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24) in which he fulfills the conditions of the covenant for us and thereby reconciles us to God.”  In other words, Jesus died the death we deserve to die and then stands in our places at judgment so that we are judged by his perfect life rather than our own (2 Cor. 5:21).  Can I get an Amen?!?

To paraphrase Dr. Grudem, The only condition (or requirement) of participation in the covenant is faith (or belief in- trust in-, loyalty to) Jesus the liberating King (Rom. 1:17; 5:1; et al.)  This requirement of faith in the work of King Jesus was also the condition of obtaining the blessings of the covenant in the Old Testament, “as Paul clearly demonstrates through the examples of Abraham and David (Rom. 4:1-15).  They, like other Old Testament believers, were saved by looking forward to the work of the Messiah who was to come and putting faith in him.”  More on that later.

Professor Grudem goes on to state, “But while the condition of beginning the covenant of grace is always faith in Christ’s work alone, the condition of continuing in that covenant is said to be obedience to God’s commands.” Now, Dr. Grudem is not saying that we earn anything by feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, etc. for even these good deeds are enabled by the Holy Spirit working within us.  It is a sign that we have been saved.  It is a natural product of the gift of faith (and faith is a gift…see Ephesians 2).  Still don’t believe me? Take a look at Hebrews 13:20-21; James 2:17 and 1 John 2:4-6 for starters. 

In the Old Testament, the outward sign of covenant membership (i.e., one of the parties to the agreement between God and humankind) was circumcision to begin with and obedience to the law for the rest of your life but in the new covenant, the outward signs are baptism, the Lord’s Supper and spirit enabled obedience with a heck of a lot of grace when we screw up (and we do).

Awesome stuff.

Okay, yours truly is hitting the road this week as part of his day job, so posts will be few and far between until Monday, Nov. 24 when we hit the Doctrines of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Until then, grace and peace!


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