What is “The Covenant of Grace”?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Bro. Ruben, Mar 11, 2006.

  1. Bro. Ruben

    Bro. Ruben
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    This was the explanation given me:

    Covenant of Grace - this may be defined as that gracious agreement between God and the offending sinner, in which God promises salvation through faith in Christ, and the sinner accepts this by faith, promising a life of faith and obedience (John 1:12-13; 3:16; Rom. 10:9-10).

    If this is true, my question is, are baptism and the Lord’s Supper the signs (or seal) of the Covenant of Grace?

    I believe that covenants (e.g., Adamic, Abrahamic, Noahic, Sainaitic, etc., ) had their own signs (seals).

    Please, I need your help my beloved brethren. Your replies will be truly appreciated; I’m completing my studies and preparations on how to effectively present to my relatives that salvation is by grace thru faith alone.

    Thank you very much. God bless.
     
  2. Calvibaptist

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    The phrase "Covenant of Grace" comes from Covenant Theology. According to the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 7:3 -

    "Man, by his Fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace: wherein he freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto life, his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe."

    So, your definition is basically correct. Those in Covenant Theology do indeed determine that Baptism and the Lord's Supper are signs of the Covenant of Grace during the New Covenant. They believe that there were different signs under the Old Covenant (circumcision being the primary one).

    I tend to agree with them, but come to a different conclusion than they do based on the signs. They say that the signs are to be applied to infants of believers (the elect) because the promise is made to the elect that their children are elect as well. They would first of all point to the OT verses that indicate that the Abrahamic Covenant to which we have been grafted in, is made with him and his see. They would also use Acts 2:39 - "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."

    I disagree with this view. I believe that baptism is a sign of the New Covenant just like circumcision was a sign of the Old Covenant. How did one become part of the Old Covenant? He was born a physical son of Abraham. How does one become a part of the New Covenant? He is born a spiritual son of Abraham (regeneration - new birth). The only way we know who has been regenerated is if they exercise faith. Hence, believer's baptism.

    I also believe that the Lord's Supper is a sign of the New Covenant in the same way that the feasts of Israel were signs of the Mosaic (Old) Covenant. Who was allowed to participate in the feasts of Israel? Only those who were of Israel. Who should be allowed to partake of the Lord's Supper? Only those who are the Lord's.

    One gets into the New Covenant through faith because of the grace of God. That is the only way. I don't know if this is what you were looking for, but I hope it helps.
     
  3. pinoybaptist

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    Bro. Ruben:

    I am sorry that no one but Cavibaptist seemed to reply to your inquiry.
    It seems there are a lot of interesting things being discussed by the ladies and gentlemen of this board.

    The above explanation has many defects in that the long and short of this explanation is that man has something to do with his salvation, and the salvation in Christ is simply a promised, possible salvation.
    I submit to yu that man has no part at all in the
    Covenant of Grace which is a covenant between the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, agreeing between themselves to redeem a definite number of fallen sinners from the race of Adam, for the glory of God.
    Faith in Christ is the result, and not the cause of, a regenerate heart, and so is Godly repentance.
    Here is one LINK that may be of help to your research, and here is ANOTHER LINK.

    Notice that these are both Reformed Theology sites. I do not agree wih everything they say, but, it's a better starting point than most.
    I would suggest you read them very carefully and then make your own study of the Scriptures.
     
  4. Bro. Ruben

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    Calvibaptist & Pinoybaptist:

    Thank you for the wonderful insights you have provided. Calvibaptist, your explanations are what I'm looking for; I just want to confirm if Baptism & the Lord's Supper are indeed a sign of the Covenant of Grace.

    Anyways, I'm still digesting all these truths.

    Thanks.
     
  5. Calvibaptist

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    I am sorry if this was the understanding from my post. I simply quoted what the Westminster Confession says about the Covenant of Grace. If you notice, the Confession says that God makes man willing and able to believe. You are right that it is no way is a covenant that man adds to. It is something wholely of God, as is salvation.
     
  6. Me4Him

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    Circumcision was a sign between God/Israel, the Holy Ghost is the sign between Jesus/church.

    Ge 17:10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.

    Eph 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
     
  7. OldRegular

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    The Covenant of Grace

    The doctrine of the sovereignty of God in Salvation is clearly expressed in the Covenant of Grace. This Covenant, an eternal covenant, is best understood as a covenant in which the three Divine Persons in the Godhead co-operate in man’s salvation [Psalms 2:8; 40: 6-8; 59:3; Isaiah 49: 3-12; John 17:6; Hebrews 13:20; Titus 1:2] and is summarized as follows:

    1. It is God the Father who foreknew and chose a people to be His own before the foundation of the world [Ephesians 1:4].

    2. It is God the Son who agrees to humble Himself, take upon Himself the form of man, and die on the cross to pay the penalty for the sins of those whom the Father has chosen to salvation so that none are lost [John 17; Philippians 2:6-10].

    3. It is God the Holy Spirit who agrees to apply the work of the Son to those chosen by God the Father and who regenerates and effectually calls those whom God the Father has chosen unto salvation [John 6: 37, 44; Ephesians 2:1-10].

    We must not think that this Covenant of Grace was preceded by a proposal of terms by one person of the Triune Godhead followed by deliberation prior to acceptance or rejection of the proposal by the other persons of the Triune Godhead. God is One and the nature of the Godhead is such that perfect harmony, in fact, unity of thought must exist within the Triune Godhead.

    Holy Scripture is the story of the outworking of the Covenant of Grace in time and history. Though there is one Covenant of Grace [and many subsidiary covenants] there have been two primary administrations of the Covenant, one before the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ and one after His death and resurrection. The first administration as recorded in the Old Testament dealt in types and shadows of things to come [Colossians 2:17, Hebrews 8:5 and 10:1]; the second administration, as recorded in the New Testament, presents the spiritual reality of that which was promised. This second administration was instituted by the death of Jesus Christ [Hebrews 7:14-28] and is the fulfillment of the Old Testament promise of a New Covenant [Jeremiah 31:31-33, Hebrews 8:6-13]. The elect of God have, since the fall of Adam, received the blessings of the Covenant solely through the Grace of God.

    The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1677 [Lumpkin, page 259], which was not signed until 1689 and is sometimes referred to by that date, defines the Covenant of Grace as follows:

    “The distance between God and the creature is so great that, although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto Him as their Creator, yet they could never have attained the reward of life but by some voluntary condescension on God’s part [Luke 17:7-10; Job 35:7,8] which He hath been pleased to express, by way of Covenant.

    Moreover man, having brought himself under the curse of the law by his fall [Genesis 2:17; Galatians 3:10; Romans 3:20, 21], it pleased the Lord to make a Covenant of Grace wherein He freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved [Romans 8:3; Mark 16:15, 16; John 3:16]; and promising to give unto all those that they ordained unto eternal life, His Holy Spirit to make them willing and able to believe [Ezekiel 36:26, 27; John 6:44, 45; Psalm 110:3].

    This Covenant is revealed in the Gospel; first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation by the seed of woman [Genesis 3:15], and afterwards by further steps until the full discovery thereof was completed in the New Testament [Hebrews 1:1]; and it is founded in that eternal Covenant transaction [2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2] that was between the Father and the Son about the redemption of the elect; and it is alone by the grace of this Covenant that all of the posterity of fallen Adam that ever were saved [Hebrews 11:6, 13; Romans 4:1, 2; Acts 4:12; John 8: 56] did obtain life and a blessed immortality; man being utterly uncapable of acceptance with God upon those terms on which Adam stood in his state of innocency.”


    J. L. Dagg [a prominent Southern Baptist of the 19th century] in his Manual of Theology [pages 253-257] expands on the above discussion, as follows:

    “On a former occasion, it was shown that the Scriptures use the term covenant with great latitude of meaning. The propriety of its use in the present case, cannot well be questioned. We have three divine persons, who are parties in this covenant; and the doctrine of God’s unity cannot exclude the notion of a covenant, without, at the same time, excluding the distinction of persons in the Godhead. We are not to imagine, as included in this covenant transaction, a proposal of terms by one party, and a deliberation, followed with an acceptance or rejection of them, by the other parties. These things occur, in the making of human covenants, because of the imperfection of the parties. In condescension to our weakness, the Scriptures use language taken from the affairs of men. They speak as if a formal proposal had been made, at the creation of man, addressed by one of the parties to the others: Let us make man; but this is in accommodation to our modes of conception. An agreement and co-operation of the divine persons, in the creation of man, is what is taught in this passage. This agreement and co-operation extend to all the works of God; Who worketh all things after the counsel of his will. [Ephesians 1:11] The idea of counsel in all these works, accords with that of consultation. which is presented in the account of man’s creation. In every work of God, the divine persons must either agree or disagree. As they alike possess infinite wisdom, disagreement among them is impossible. The salvation of men is a work of God, in which the divine persons concur. It is performed according to an eternal purpose; and in this purpose, as well as in the work, the divine persons concur; and this concurrence is their eternal covenant. The purpose of the one God, is the covenant of the Trinity.

    In the work of salvation, the divine persons co-operate in different offices; and these are so clearly revealed, as to render the personal distinction in the Godhead more manifest, than it is in any other of God's works. Beyond doubt, these official relations are severally held, by the perfect agreement of all; and, speaking after the manner of men, the adjustment of these relations, and the assignment of the several parts in the work are the grand stipulations of the eternal covenant.

    That the covenant is eternal, may be argued from the eternity, unchangeableness, and omniscience of the parties, and from the declarations of Scripture which directly or indirectly relate to it: Through the blood of the everlasting covenant [Hebrews 13:20]; His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus [Ephesians 3:11]; In hope of eternal life promised the world began. [Titus 1:2]; Grace given in Christ Jesus before the world began. [2 Timothy 1:9]

    Although God's purpose is one, we are obliged, according to our modes of conception, to view it, and speak of it, as consisting of various parts. So, the eternal covenant is one; but it is revealed to us in a manner adapted to our conceptions and to our spiritual benefit. The work of redemption by Christ is presented in the Gospel as the great object of our faith; and the stipulation for the accomplishment of this work, is the prominent point exhibited in the revelation which is made to us respecting the covenant of grace. The agreement between the Father and the Son is conspicuously brought to view, in various parts of the sacred volume: Thine they were, and thou gavest them me. [John 17: 6] Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.[Psalm 2: 8] Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire. Then said I, Lo, I come, in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O God; [Psalm 40: 6-18] and in Isaiah, Chapter 49, the stipulations between the Father and the Son are presented, almost as if they had been copied from an original record of the transaction.

    According to the covenant arrangement, the Son appeared in human nature, in the form of a, servant; and, after obeying unto death, was exalted by the Father to supreme dominion. The Holy Spirit also is revealed as acting in a subordinate office, being sent by the Father and by the Son. The Father alone is not presented as acting in a subordinate office; but appears as sustaining the full authority of the Godhead, sending the Son, giving him a people to be redeemed, prescribing the terms, accepting the service, rewarding and glorifying the Son, and sending the Holy Spirit. In all this the Father appears as the representative of the Godhead, in its authority and majesty. The Son also sustains a representative character. The promise of eternal life was made, before the world began, to the people of God, in him as their representative. The reconciliation between God and men is provided for by the covenant engagement between the Father and the Son; the Father acting as the representative of the Godhead, and the Son as the representative and surety of his people. The Holy Spirit concurs in this arrangement, and takes his part in the work, in harmony with the other persons of the Godhead. His peculiar office is necessary to complete the plan, and to reward the obedience of the Son by the salvation of his redeemed people. The promises of the Father to the Son include the gift of the Holy Spirit; and, therefore, the sending of the Spirit is attributed to the Son; [John 16:7] and sometimes to the Father at the petition of the Son.[John 14:16]

    In this order of operation, inferiority of nature is not implied, in the subordination of office to which the Son and the Spirit voluntarily consent. The fulness of the Godhead dwells in each of the divine persons, and renders the fulfillment of the covenant infallibly sure, in all its stipulations. The Holy Spirit, in the execution of his office, dwells in believers; but he brings with him the fulness of the Godhead, so that God is in them, and they are the temple of God, and filled with the fulness of God. The Son or Word, in the execution of his office, becomes the man Jesus Christ; but the fulness of the Godhead dwells in him; so that, in his deepest humiliation he is God manifest in the flesh, God over all, blessed for ever.

    The order of operation in this mysterious and wonderful economy, can be learned from divine revelation only. Here we should study it with simple faith, relying on the testimony of God. In the representation of it here exhibited, we may discover that the blessings of grace, proceeding from God, appear to originate in the Father, “of whom are all things,” to be conferred through the Son, “by whom are all things,” and by the Spirit, who is the immediate agent in bestowing them, the last in the order of operation. The approach to God, in acts of devotion, is in the reverse order. The Spirit makes intercession in the saints, moving them, as a spirit of supplication, and assisting their infirmities, when they know not what to pray for. Their prayers are offered through Christ, as the medium of approach; and the Father, as the highest representative of the Godhead, is the ultimate object of the worship. Through him [Christ] we have access by one Spirit to the Father.[Ephesians 2: 18] The Spirit moves us to honor the Son and the Father: and for this purpose takes of the things of Christ and shows them to us, that we may believe in him, and through him approach the Father. In this work he acts for the whole Godhead, and therefore his drawing is ascribed to the Father: No man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him.[John 6: 44] When we come to Jesus Christ, the whole Godhead meets us again in the person of the Mediator: for God is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.[2 Corinthians 5: 19] And when we address the Father, as the ultimate object of our worship, the whole Godhead is there, and receives our adorations. In the covenant of grace, the triune God is so presented to the view of the believer, that he may worship without distraction of thought: with full confidence of acceptance, and with a clear perception that God is to him all and in all. In the retirement of the closet, the devotional man addresses God as present in the secret place, and holds communion with him, as a friend near at hand. When he comes forth into the busy world, he sees God all around him, in the heavens, and in the earth; and holds converse with him in this different manifestation of himself. When he lifts his thoughts to the high and holy place where God’s throne is, and prays, Our Father which art in heaven, his mind is directed to the highest and most glorious manifestation of the Deity. In all this he suffers no distraction of thought. The same omnipresent One is addressed, whether conceived to be in the closet, or in the world, or in the highest heavens. With equal freedom from distraction we may worship the Infinite One, whether we approach him as the Holy Spirit, operating on the heart; or as the Son, the Mediator between God and men; or as the Father, representing the full authority and majesty of the Godhead. We worship God, and God alone, whether our devotions are directed to the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit; for the divine essence, undivided and indivisible, belongs to each of the three persons.

    To guard against mistake, it should be observed, that the covenant which we have been considering is not identical with the new covenant of which Paul speaks in the epistle to the Hebrews. The latter is made, according to the prophecy which he quotes, with the house of Israel and the house of Judah;[Hebrews 8: 8] whereas the covenant of which we have treated, is not made with man. There is, however, a close connection between them. In the eternal covenant, promises are made to the Son, as the representative of his people: in the new covenant, these promises are made to them personally, and, in part, fulfilled to them. The promises are made to them: I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:[Hebrews 8: 10] and they are, in part, fulfilled I will put my law in their minds, and write it in their hearts.
     
  8. Calvibaptist

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    Circumcision was a sign between God/Israel, the Holy Ghost is the sign between Jesus/church.

    Ge 17:10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.

    Eph 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
    </font>[/QUOTE]Technically, and this is scary, I agree with you. The HS is a sign of the Covenant given to us by God. And the work of the Spirit is the fruit of the Spirit, which is the visible aspect of that sign.

    But, more technically, the HS is a seal, which references God's work of perseverance in the soul of a believer. It does not refer to an outward visible sign. Those signs are baptism and the Lord's Supper.
     
  9. Bro. Ruben

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    My understanding is that first, there is the Eternal Covenant as stated in Heb. 13:20, "May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep" (NIV).

    Then, the Covenant of Grace under which we had many other covenants such as the Adamic, Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic (or Sinaitic), Davidic, The New Covenant, and this last one also called “Covenant of Grace” where the offended God offers a way of salvation to offending sinners. And verses John 1:12-13, and 3:16 are used as a reference.

    Some say there is only one original Covenant, i.e., the Eternal Covenant and from that comes the Covenant of Grace and others. Others claim there are several covenants and not only one.

    Can you kindly share your views on this?

    Thanks.
     

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