The Covenants

The Covenants are specifically said to belong to Israel; although we, of course, enter into the blessings.

I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. (Romans 9:1-5)

Paul pointed out Israel’s relationship with the plans and purposes of God. In essence, he said that Israel stood at the centre of God’s plans and we—the Gentiles—were blessed through Israel’s Messiah and received blessings that really belonged to Israel. In addition, Paul stated in Romans 9 that the covenants belonged to Israel; they were Israel’s possession because they were made between Israel and God.

Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:11-13)

In this verse, Paul spoke to the Christians at Ephesus who came to faith in Christ. Paul stated that these Gentiles were once aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise. There is a system of theology called Covenant Theology, which recently originated in the 18th century. Some people joke that they were not made in heaven, but in Holland, for most of the Covenant Theology arose from Dutch Theology. Covenant Theology describes the theology of God on the basis of three Covenants:

1. The first Covenant: Theologians say that there is a Covenant of Redemption between the persons of the Trinity in Eternity. The Father made a covenant with the Son so that the Father would be the source of redemption and the Son would be the means of securing it. The Holy Spirit would apply it to the hearts of those who were chosen by God.

2. There is a second Covenant—a Covenant of Works—which was their way of describing Adam’s relationship with God in the Garden of Eden. He was placed in the Garden, innocent and free from sin. He was given one command: he could eat of all the trees in the Garden except the fruit of the tree in the middle of the Garden. God told him, “…the day [you eat] thereof [you] will surely die”. So, according to the Covenant Theologians, Adam had a work relationship with God.

3. There is also a third Covenant: the Covenant of Grace. The Theologians said that God made the Covenant of Grace after considering that man would sin. This promised that if the sinner believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, then the Godhead would give him grace and salvation.

Clearly, Covenant Theology was built around the Covenant of Redemption between the persons of the Trinity, the Covenant of Works involving Adam in the Garden of Eden, and the Covenant of Grace involving the sinner who would be saved by grace. These three Covenants are not stated as such in the Bible, for they are theological terms. However, this does not invalidate them.

After all, the Trinity is not a Biblical term, but it describes something that we see in the Bible. However, the Covenants set by the Covenant Theologians do not tell the whole story. The basis of Covenant Theology ultimately comes down to whether the Israel of the Old Testament is to be equated with the Church of the New Testament. The Covenant Theologians erroneously believed that all Israel’s promises were to be fulfilled in the Church today, and that the promises specifically given to Abraham. However, the Bible clearly distinguishes the nation of Israel from the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, the latter being composed of all who believe in Him—whether Jews or Gentiles.

Categories: Theology

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