A Transcript Of The Video Study
In our previous study, I pointed out that the leading message of the Bible revolves around the idea of a covenant. There are two perpetual covenants under which members of the human race are in relationship with and accountable to God—the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace. These are the two covenants introduced by God to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, and they have remained the only two covenants under which members of the human race have been in relationship to God throughout the course of history. However, there are a number of other covenants mentioned in the Bible, which raises the question—of what significance are those covenants and how do they differ from the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace? Allow me to increase the size of the timeline, in order that I might more easily highlight some of these other covenants.
Among the more prominent covenants recorded in the book of Genesis are the covenants God made with Noah around the year 2350 BC, and with Abraham around the year 1920 BC, and with Isaac and Jacob between the years 1850-1740 BC. Now, these covenants were distinct and separate from the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace, however, there were elements in them which pointed to the Covenants of Works and Grace.
For instance, the covenant God made with Noah, recorded in Genesis chapter 9, was on behalf of the entire human race, that God would not again destroy the earth by a worldwide flood. Technically speaking, this has nothing to do with either the Covenant of Works or the Covenant of Grace. However, since members of the human race are in relationship to God under the Covenants of Works or Grace, so both of these covenants are indirectly connected with the covenant God made with Noah. For if God does not destroy the human race, then of course the human race remains in relationship to Him under the Covenant of Works or the Covenant of Grace.
Again, take the covenant God made with Abraham, recorded in Genesis chapter 12. This was on behalf of the Jewish people, that God would make the Jewish race a great nation. From this standpoint, the covenant God made with Abraham has nothing to do with the Covenants of Works or Grace. However, the Abrahamic Covenant included the promise that the blessings of God unto salvation would be extended to all of God’s elect people, both Jews and Gentiles. From this standpoint, the covenant God made with Abraham pointed to the Covenant of Grace, for as Abraham was freely justified by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, so all of God’s elect people throughout the ages would likewise be freely justified by the same redeeming grace. Henceforth, while the Abrahamic Covenant had an immediate application for the Jewish people as a nation, yet it also had a spiritual connotation pointing to God’s elect people according to the Covenant of Grace.
Once more, we read in Genesis chapter 17 of God making a covenant with Isaac, and again, in Genesis chapter 35 of God making a covenant with Jacob. These covenants were one and the same with that which God had made with Abraham—God simply renewed the Abrahamic Covenant with his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob. Again, these covenants had a direct application for the Jewish people as a nation, but also a spiritual connotation for God’s elect people according to the Covenant of Grace.
Now, there are some who will tell you that the Abrahamic Covenant is the most important covenant recorded in the Word of God. They believe the entire biblical revelation rests upon the Abrahamic Covenant. This, however, is not true. Whereas the Abrahamic Covenant is certainly a prominent feature in the unfolding revelation of God’s grace throughout the course of history, yet it is not the main attraction or the central covenant upon which the biblical revelation revolves. I say again, there are only two perpetual covenants which run throughout the course of history and they alone are the main attraction and central covenants upon which the biblical revelation revolves. There is the Covenant of Works, under which all unregenerate sinners are accountable to God, and there is the Covenant of Grace, under which all regenerate sinners are accountable to God.
What then is the significance of the Abrahamic Covenant? Well, there is a twofold significance.
First, the Abrahamic Covenant is the initial promise given by God to the Jewish people that He would bless them as a race by making them a great nation. Remember, the Jewish race began with the birth of Abraham around the year 2000 BC. Under the Abrahamic Covenant, the promise was given by God to Abraham that He would make the Jewish people a great nation. This He did in the year 1491 BC, under the leadership of Moses. And of course, the nation continued until the year AD 70, when God’s purpose for the nation came to an end.
Second, the Abrahamic Covenant included the renewed promise given by God to His elect people that He would save them from their sins. I say it was the renewed promise, because God had been giving this promise to His people 2,000 years before the Abrahamic Covenant, beginning with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. It was in the garden of Eden that God first revealed the promise of salvation according to the Covenant of Grace to Adam and Eve, shortly after they transgressed the heart law and violated the Covenant of Works. Thereafter, God revealed the promise of salvation according to the Covenant of Grace to each and every person numbered among His elect people. This promise was given to people such as Abel, Seth, Enos, Enoch and Noah. And so, it pleased the Lord to include the promise of salvation according to the Covenant of Grace in the covenant He made with Abraham.
My dear friends, what I have been attempting to explain is aligned with the teachings of the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 4. Using these onscreen notes as a backdrop, I wish to read for you the teachings of Paul from that chapter:
“What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: and the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (as it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”
And so, my dear friends, I hope you can see this is really a very simple matter. There is no need to feel overwhelmed by the number of covenants mentioned in the Bible. I suspect that is probably the leading cause why many of you are intimidated by this subject of Bible covenants. You feel overwhelmed by the number of different covenants mentioned in the scriptures, and the whole subject is therefore quite intimidating to you. Well, there is no need to feel overwhelmed or intimidated. As I have been showing you, there have only ever been two perpetual covenants under which members of the human race are accountable to God—the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace. All unregenerate sinners have been and are accountable to God under the authority of the Covenant of Works, and all regenerate sinners have been and are accountable to God under the authority of the Covenant of Grace. These are the two covenants which have continual and permanent relevance and application throughout the course of history. These are the two covenants which are in operation today. You are either in relationship to God under the authority of the Covenant of Works, and therefore dead in trespasses and sins, or you are in relationship with God under the authority of the Covenant of Grace, and therefore made alive unto God through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. That is what I hope you will reflect upon until we meet again for our next study.
Jared Smith served twenty years as pastor of a Strict and Particular Baptist church in Kensington (London, England). He now serves as an Evangelist in the Philippines, preaching the gospel, organizing churches and training gospel preachers.