God is a God of Covenant



God is a God of Covenant


When the word covenant comes to mind, what do you think of?

What does the term covenant mean?

Berith; ‘To cut’

H1285  בְּרִית   briyṯ 287x

n.f. [root of: 451, 1253, 1357]. covenant, treaty, compact, agreement, an association between two parties with various responsibilities, benefits, and penalties; “to cut a covenant” is “make a covenant,” a figure of the act of ceremonially cutting an animal into two parts, with an implication of serious consequences for not fulfilling the covenant.

1285. בְּרִית briyth, ber-eeth´; from 1262 (in the sense of cutting (like 1254)); a compact (because made by passing between pieces of flesh):—confederacy, (con-)feder(-ate), covenant, league.

Robert Shaw writes:

“A covenant is generally defined to be an agreement between two parties, on certain terms. In every covenant there must be two parties, and consequently two parts” ”a conditionary and a promissory; the one to be performed by the one party, and the other to be fulfilled by the other party. If either of the parties be fallible, a penalty is often added; but this is not essential to a covenant.”

As an example, Let’s look at Gen 15:

Gen. 15:6   Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.

Gen. 15:7   He also said to him, “I am Yahweh who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.”

Gen. 15:8   But he said, “Lord GOD, how can I know that I will possess it?”

Gen. 15:9   He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old cow, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”

Gen. 15:10   So he brought all these to Him, split them down the middle, and laid the pieces opposite each other, but he did not cut up the birds. 11 Birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.  12 As the sun was setting, a deep sleep fell on Abram, and suddenly great terror and darkness descended on him.

Gen. 15:13   Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know this for certain: Your offspring will be foreigners in a land that does not belong to them; they will be enslaved and oppressed 400 years. 14 However, I will judge the nation they serve, and afterward they will go out with many possessions. 15 But you will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a ripe old age. 16 In the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

Gen. 15:17   When the sun had set and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch appeared and passed between the divided animals.  18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “I give this land to your offspring, from the brook of Egypt to the Euphrates River: 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites,  20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaim,  21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.”

Calvin writes:

“Again a new vision was added, to confirm his faith in the oracle. At first, Abram was horror-struck with the thick darkness; now, in the midst of a smoking furnace, he sees a burning lamp. Many suppose that a sacrifice was consumed with this fire; but I rather interpret it as a symbol of future deliverance, which would well agree with the fact itself. For there are two things contrary to each other in appearance; the obscurity of smoke, and the shining of a lamp. Hence Abram knew that light would, at length, emerge out of darkness”

Matthew Henry writes:

“1. The smoking furnace signified the affliction of his seed in Egypt. They were there in the iron furnace (Deut. iv. 20), the furnace of affliction (Isa. xlviii. 10), labouring in the very fire.

2. The burning lamp denotes comfort in this affliction; and this God showed to Abram, at the same time that he showed him the smoking furnace. (1.) Light denotes deliverance out of the furnace; their salvation was as a lamp that burneth, Isa. lxii. 1.”

I only mention these references to give you a better idea of what the term ‘covenant’ and the Hebrew word, berith, mean.

O. Palmer Robertson writes:

“A covenant is a bond-in-blood sovereignly administered.”

Heb. 6:13   For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, 14 saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” 15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.  16 For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute.  17 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath,  18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.

Heb. 6:19   This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Do you feel the gravity of covenant? God swearing against His own character.

What covenants are abrogated today? Will God ever flood the Earth again with rain? The covenants of God are eternal, just like Himself. None are abrogated. Hence, how is it when God promises:

2 And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.”  3 Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying:  4 “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations.  5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.  6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you.  7 And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.”,

…..that we doubt? Is it sinful to doubt God?

May it never be said that God lies or that it is he who was unfaithful. May it be that we believe God! May it be that when we look at our children, even in the cradle that we say, praise the Lord, the Lord has given me a child of God. Let us look on our child as one of the elect. God is faithful, we are of ‘little faith’. Let us presume, after all, was it not God who said……

It is important to note that in any covenant, it is essentially unilateral; It is God who covenants. No covenant is left in the hands of the creature to guarantee success-that would be silly! God is faithful whereas men are not.  Herman Bavinck writes:

“Actually, in the covenant of grace, that is, in the gospel, which is the proclamation of the covenant of grace, there are no demands and no conditions. For God gives what He demands; Christ has finished all and has merited regeneration, faith and conversion for us; and the Holy Spirit applies them. But the covenant of grace does assume the form of a demand and a condition, to acknowledge man in his rational and moral nature, also to deal with him, although fallen, as created after God’s image, in order that also upon this highest plane, . . . he may be rendered responsible and inexcusable and enable him, consciously and freely, to enter into the covenant and break with sin. The covenant of grace is; therefore, surely unilateral, it proceeds from God; He has planned and established it. He maintains and realizes it; it is a work of God Triune and completed, finished among the three Persons mutually. But it is designed to: become bilateral, to be assumed and kept by man, consciously, and freewillingly, in the power of God. This is the will of God, which is revealed so clearly and beautifully in the covenant, that the work of grace may reflect itself in the human consciousness, and stimulate the will of man unto greater activity. The covenant of grace does not slay man, and it does not deal with him as a stock and block; but it lifts him up in his entirety, with all his faculties and powers, according to soul and body; for time and eternity; it completely encircles him, does not destroy his strength but deprives him of his impotence, does not destroy his will but liberates it from sin; does not deaden his consciousness but delivers it from the darkness; it recreates the entire man and causes him, renewed by grace, to love God and dedicate himself unto Him, freely and independently (zelfstandiglijk), with all his soul and spirit and body. The covenant of grace declares that God’s honour and praise is realized not at the cost of but unto the benefit of man, and that God’s glory celebrates its triumph in the recreation of the entire,man, in his enlightened consciousness and restored freedom.”

The best way to understand this is along the lines of Turretin’s compound and divided senses: In the compound, all covenants are unilateral; in the divided sense, they are not. Men do have a part and bring responsibility to the carpet. If they fail, they are cut off, i.e. they abandon the covenant. Well, you might say, “Scott, men do not fail-it is God who keeps His people!”. Yes, this is true. However, remember that the elect will never fall away; the church is local and made up of elect and non elect. Both parties are covenanting. One internall and the other externally. The ones that are covenanted externally will fall away from the visible church, showing their reprobation. This is the divided sense I speak of. The elect are in the compound, the non elect members in the divided.

So, what covenants do we have?

The Westminster Confession nicely summarizes the covenants:

Chapter VII

Of God’s Covenant with Man

I. 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 any fruition of Him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God’s part, which He has been pleased to express by way of covenant.[1]

II. The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works,[2] wherein life was promised to Adam; and in him to his posterity,[3] upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.[4]

III. Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second,[5] commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein He freely offers unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved,[6] and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life His Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.[7]

IV. This covenant of grace is frequently set forth in scripture by the name of a testament, in reference to the death of Jesus Christ the Testator, and to the everlasting inheritance, with all things belonging to it, therein bequeathed.[8]

V. This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the Gospel:[9] under the law it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come;[10] which were, for that time, sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah,[11] by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation; and is called the Old Testament.[12]

VI. Under the Gospel, when Christ, the substance,[13] was exhibited, the ordinances in which this covenant is dispensed are the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper:[14] which, though fewer in number, and administered with more simplicity, and less outward glory, yet, in them, it is held forth in more fullness, evidence, and spiritual efficacy,[15] to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles;[16] and is called the New Testament.[17] There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations.[18]

So, what we have is:

1)  The Covenant of Redemption

2)  The Covenant of Works

3)  The Covenant of Grace

It is important to note that the WCF and its divines use the terms ‘New Covenant’ and ‘Covenant of Grace’ interchangeably.

Quest. 92 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism:

What is a sacrament?

Ans. 92. A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ, wherein, by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the new covenant, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.(1)

Q. 162 of the Westminster Larger Catechism:

What is a sacrament?

A. A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ in his church, to signify, seal, and exhibit unto those that are within the covenant of grace, the benefits of his mediation; to strengthen and increase their faith, and all other graces; to oblige them to obedience; to testify and cherish their love and communion one with another; and to distinguish them from those that are without.

To be technically correct, there are just two covenants between God and men, that being the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. The covenant of redemption was between the Godhead.

R.C. Sproul writes:

“Systematic theology has traditionally divided God’s plan of redemption into two main covenants: the covenant of works (or, the covenant of creation) and the covenant of grace.”

The covenant of works is sometimes referred to as the covenant of creation or the Adamic covenant. It has no administrations or sub-covenants.

The covenant of grace has administrations; it is important to understand this principle when you are speaking of the other various covenants. For instance, when the scriptures speak of the law that kills, is it speaking of the 10 commandments or the law under the covenant of works? Generally, it is speaking of the covenant of works. No one is able to keep the law and thus it brings death. The 10 commandments, i.e. the Mosaic covenant, fall under the covenant of grace. Lets look at the administrations of the covenant of grace.

a) The Abrahamic Covenant

b) The Noahic Covenant

c) The Mosaic Covenant

d) The Davidic Covenant

e) *New Covenant-consummated at Calvary

Lets talk a bit about when these covenants began.

The covenant of redemption happened outside of time, before anything was created. God is not a creature; he has always been.

The covenant of works began in the garden as soon as Adam was created. Keep in mind that since the law is a direct expression of Gods character, i.e. His Holy attributes, it like Himself has always been. But until Adam, there was not a practical need to enforce them.

The covenant of grace was cut in Genesis 3, better known as the protoevangelion:

Gen. 3:14   Then the LORD God said to the serpent:

Because you have done this,

you are cursed more than any livestock

and more than any wild animal.

You will move on your belly

and eat dust all the days of your life.a

15 I will put hostility between you and the woman,

and between your •seed and her seed.

He will strike your head,

and you will strike his heel.

This is the first example of the gospel message. It is administered as a curse to the serpent. Think about that for a moment. Is the gospel ever a curse? Yes. To the reprobate is a curse. It is justifying God’s treatment of them for rejecting His command to believe and be saved.

Acts 16:31 And they said, x“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you yand your household.”

The reprobate are filling up their cup of condemnation for that day of the Lord:

There are cups; the cup Christ took; the one He prayed to the Father to take from Him, yet it was the Fathers will that He continue. There is the cup of goodness in the Lords supper for Christ’s people and the cup spoken of in the Old Testament:

Psalm 23:5 “My cup overflows with blessings.”
Psa. 116:13 “I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.”

And then the fearful cup:

Rev. 14:9   And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone uworships the beast and its image and receives va mark on his forehead or on his hand,  10 he also will drink wthe wine of God’s wrath, xpoured full strength into the cup of his anger, and yhe will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.  11 And zthe smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and athey have no rest, day or night, these uworshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

From an unknown author:

“But the emblem is not without its pointed and solemn bearing upon the present condition and the future destiny of the unconverted. There is a cup of condemnation, as there is of salvation; and if the one- overflowing and free to all who will accept the proffered gift- is unbelievingly neglected and scornfully refused, this must inevitably be followed by the other- the awful contents of which the lost soul will drink drop by drop to all eternity! “For the Lord holds a cup in his hand; it is full of foaming wine mixed with spices. He pours the wine out in judgment, and all the wicked must drink it, draining it to the dregs.” Psalm 75:8. Again, “Upon the wicked He shall reign snares, fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.” Unconverted reader! are you resolved- deliberately and wilfully resolved- to drink this cup- to endure the undying worm, the unquenchable fire, the wrath of God forever, rather than forego ‘the pleasures of sin for a season’? Oh the folly! Oh the madness of your choice! The Savior- before long to be the Judge- has drawn aside the awful curtain- as He only could- of the lost in hell, and bids you look within, repent, and escape! “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments…. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame!”

Oh, by the solemnities of a hopeless, perhaps, a sudden death- by the torments of a certain and eternal hell- and by the ingredients of that ‘cup of fire and brimstone’ and wrath, which you must drink forever and ever- be persuaded to break off your sins by righteousness- repent before God- believe in the Lord Jesus Christ- and be forever saved! “Who is a God like You, that pardons iniquity, and passes by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retains not His anger forever, because he delights in mercy.”

So, having said all of this, you are either under the condemnation of one covenant or the grace of another. You cannot be under condemnation and grace at the same time. This does not mean you are not under the law-you are. You are now no longer justified by any personal work you may do (not that that could save you anyways-Adam ruined that), but you are saved by a personal work-one that only Christ was able to fulfill. So, you are saved by works, Christ’s work. Obviously obtained only through faith in Him.

Heb. 7:22 by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.

Heb. 8:6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.

Heb. 12:24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

Nathan Pitchford writes:
“What then was it about this new covenant that set it so drastically apart from the Covenant of Works preceding it? Only this, it reiterated the Covenant of Works with one added proviso: God himself would unilaterally provide a federal head who would certainly fulfill its terms. The Serpent had managed to tempt Adam to break the terms of the Covenant, but now God, at his own expense, would send a Seed to represent his people, and overturn the initial victory of the Serpent. This, of course, would involve the suffering of the coming federal head, the second Adam who would represent the whole people – for the Serpent would bruise his heel. Nevertheless, he would win an eternal victory and destroy the Serpent forever”.

Luther writes:
“Before Adam’s fall it was not necessary for him to have Christ, because he was righteous and without sin, just as the angels have no need of Christ. If Adam had not fallen, it would not have been necessary for Christ to become our Redeemer. …The argument is true that eternal life is in the given to him who keeps the law without Christ, because whoever keeps the law is righteous.  Adam would have entered into the kingdom of heaven without Christ, if he had not fallen. …The conclusion is that Adam alone kept the commandments of God before the Fall, but after the Fall and no one has truly been found who has fulfilled the law   (Disputatio de iustificatione, 1536; Luther’s Works, 26.185, 187)”

Belgic Confession (1561) Art. 14: The Creation and Fall of Man, And His Incapacity to Perform What is Truly Good.

“We believe that God created man out of the dust of the earth, and made and formed him after his own image and likeness, good, righteous, and holy, capable in all things to will agreeably to the will of God. But being in honor, he understood it not, neither knew his excellency, but willfully subjected himself to sin and consequently to death and the curse, giving ear to the words of the devil. For the commandment of life, which he had received, he transgressed; and by sin separated himself from God, who was his true life; having corrupted his whole nature; whereby he made himself liable to corporal and spiritual death. And being thus become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all his ways, he has lost all his gifts which he had received from God, and retained only small remains thereof, which, however, are sufficient to leave man without excuse; for all the light which is in us is changed unto darkness, as the Scriptures teach us, saying: The light shines in darkness, and the darkness did not apprehended it; where St. John calls men darkness.”

Zacharias Ursinus (1534-83)

“What does the divine law teach? The sort of covenant which God began with man, in creation; by which man should have carried himself in serving God; and what God would require from him after beginning with him a new covenant of grace; that is, how and for what [end] man was created by God; and to what state he might be restored; and by which covenant one who has been reconciled to God ought to arrange his life (Larger Catechism [1561] Q. 10)”

John Ball (1585-1640).

“The Covenant of Works, wherein God covenanted with man to give him eternal life upon condition of perfect obedience in his own person. The Covenant of Grace, which God made with man promising eternal life upon condition of believing…This Covenant [of works] God made with man without a Mediator for there needed no no middle person to bring man into favor and friendship with God, because man did bear the image of God, and had not offended: nor to procure acceptance to man’s service because it was pure and spotless. God did love man being made after his Image and promised to accept of his obedience performed freely, willingly, entirely, according to his Commandment. (A Treatise of the Covenant of Grace. London, 1645, 8,9).”

Turretin explains it nicely:

Nor can it be objected here that faith was required also in the first covenant and works are not excluded in the second (as was said before). They stand in a far different relation. For in the first covenant. faith was required as a work and a part of the inherent righteousness to which life was promised. But in the second, it is demanded-not as a work on account of which life is given, but as a mere instrument apprehending the righteousness of Christ (on account of which alone salvation is granted to us). In the one, faith was a theological virtue from the strength of nature, terminating on God, the Creator; in the other, faith is an evangelical condition after the manner of supernatural grace, terminating on God, the Redeemer. As to works, they were required in the first as an antecedent condition by way of a cause for acquiring life; but in the second, they are only the subsequent condition as the fruit and effect of the life already acquired. In the l first, they ought to precede the act of justification; in the second, they follow it (Institutes of Elenctic Theology; 12.4.7).” *My emphasis added

Ezekiel Hopkins says:

“And thus may we understand that antithesis, “The law was given by Moses; that is, the ceremonial, shady law: ” but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ,” John 17;    that is, a clearer and more full manifestation of grace, and the very substance and truth of those things which were before typified and adumbrated.

These are the two differences between the law and the gospel; in both which, the gospel takes place upon the abrogation of the law: gospel grace hath abrogated the law as a covenant and gospel dispensations have abrogated legal ceremonies. Their agreement is, likewise, twofold.

[1.] If we take the moral law as it is the directive rule of our obedience, so there is a perfect harmony and accord between it and the gospel.

For the duties of the moral law are as strictly required from believers since Christ’s coming, as they were before: yea, as strictly as ever they were from Adam in innocence; though not upon the same terms from us, as from him. The gospel is, in this respect, so far from weakening the law, that it doth rather much strengthen and confirm it. What saith our Saviour? I am not “come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, Matt. v. 17 : And the apostle? ” Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid! yea, we establish the law,” Rom. iii. 31. The gospel receives the law into its protection and patronage so that, to the obliging power, which it had before from the authority of God the great Sovereign of the world, enacting it; hereby is added the farther sanction of Christ the Mediator, ratifying and confirming it. who likewise gives us of his Spirit, whereby we are enabled to act in conformity to the law, and to fulfill its commands. The law is, therefore, now taken within the pale of the gospel, and incorporated into it: so that it is no longer law and gospel; but, rather, an evangelical and gospel law. [2.] If, by law, we mean the legal administrations of ceremonies and sacrifices, types and figures, used under the Mosaical discipline ; and if, by gospel, we mean the grace exhibited by it of pardon, justification, &c. so neither is there any opposition or repugnance between them, but a most perfect accord and agreement.”

The Larger Catechism is helpful:

“Q. 20. What was the providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created?
A. The providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created, was the placing him in paradise, appointing him to dress it, giving him liberty to eat of the fruit of the earth; putting the creatures under his dominion, and ordaining marriage for his help; affording him communion with himself; instituting the Sabbath; entering into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience, of which the tree of life was a pledge; and forbidding to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death.

Q. 21. Did man continue in that estate wherein God at first created him?
A. Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, through the temptation of Satan, transgressed the commandment of God in eating the forbidden fruit; and thereby fell from the estate of innocency wherein they were created.

Q. 30. Doth God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
A. God doth not leave all men to perish in the estate of sin and misery, into which they fell by the breach of the first covenant, commonly called the covenant of works; but of his mere love and mercy delivereth his elect out of it, and bringeth them into an estate of salvation by the second covenant, commonly called the covenant of grace.

Q. 31. With whom was the covenant of grace made?
A. The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed.

The Sum of Saving Knowledge (1647).

“Head 1b) God originally made everything from nothing, perfect. He made our first parents, Adam and Eve, the root of mankind, both upright and able to keep the law written in their hearts. This law they were naturally bound to obey upon penalty of death. God was not bound to reward their service, till he entered into a covenant or contract with them, and their posterity in them. He promised to give them eternal life, upon condition of perfect personal obedience. If they failed they would die. This is the covenant of works.

Head 2 b II. The sum of the covenant of redemption is this: God having freely chosen unto life a certain number of lost mankind, for the glory of his rich grace, did give them, before the world began, unto God the Son, appointed Redeemer, that, upon condition he would humble himself so far as to assume the human nature, of a soul and a body, unto personal union with his divine nature, and submit himself to the law, as surety for them, and satisfy justice for them, by giving obedience in their name, even unto the suffering of the cursed death of the cross, he should ransom and redeem them all from sin and death, and purchase unto them righteousness and eternal life, with all saving graces leading thereunto, to be effectually, by means of his own appointment, applied in due time to every one of them. This condition the Son of God (who is Jesus Christ our Lord) did accept before the world began, and in the fulness of time came into the world, was born of the Virgin Mary, subjected himself to the law, and completely paid the ransom on the cross: But by virtue of the foresaid bargain, made before the world began, he is in all ages, since the fall of Adam, still upon the work of applying actually the purchased benefits unto the elect; and that he doth by way of entertaining a covenant of free grace and reconciliation with them, through faith in himself; by which covenant, he makes over to every believer a right and interest to himself, and to all his blessings.”

John Ball writes on the C of G:

“The Covenant of Grace is that free and gracious Covenant which God of his mere mercy in Jesus Christ made with man a miserable and wretched sinner, promising unto him pardon of sin and eternal happiness, if he will return from his iniquity, embrace mercy reached forth, by faith unfeigned, and walk before God in sincere, faithful and willing obedience, as becomes such a creature lifted up unto such enjoyment, and partaker of such precious promises. This covenant is opposite to the former in kind, so that at one and the same time, man cannot be under the Covenant of works and the Covenant of grace. For he cannot hope to be justified by his perfect and exact obedience, that acknowledging himself to be a miserable and lost sinner, does expect pardon of the free mercy of God in Jesus Christ embraced by faith. (A Treatise of the Covenant of Grace. London, 1645, 14-15).

An excerpt from ‘The Marrow of Modern Divinity’ by Edward Fisher:

“Truly, as it is the covenant of works, you are wholly and altogether delivered and set free from it; you are dead to it, and it is dead to you; and if it be dead to you, then it can do you neither good nor hurt; and if you be dead to it, you can expect neither good nor hurt from it. Consider, man, I pray you, that, as I said before, you are now under another covenant, viz: the covenant of grace; and you cannot be under two covenants at once, neither wholly nor partly;”

R. C. Sproul writes:

“The covenant of redemption is worked out in history through God’s covenant of grace.”

To the credo who reads this paper:

If we know that, since Adam, regenerate men have had circumcised hearts, are saved in the same fashions, by justification by faith alone, and in that God commanded a sign to be placed on believers children, since covenants are perpetual, how is it that you discredit the command-since God changes not.

Dan. 9:4 And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments,

Deut. 7:9 “Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;

1 Kings 8:23 and he said: “LORD God of Israel, there is no God in heaven above or on earth below like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts.

I pray that this paper is profitable to your soul.


James Fisher in his catechism explains a few important distinctions between the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace:

“Q. 23. If both covenants, of grace and works, were exhibited on Mount Sinai, were not the Israelites, in that case, under both these covenants at one and the same time?

A. They could not be under both covenants in the same respects, at the same time; and therefore they must be considered either as believers or unbelievers, both as to their outward church state and inward soul frame.

Q. 24. In what respects were the believing Israelites, in the Sinaitic transaction, under both covenants?

A. They were internally and really under the covenant of grace, as all believers are, Rom. 6:14, and only externally, under the above awful display of the covenant of works, as it was subordinate and subservient to that of grace, in pointing out the necessity of the Surety-righteousness, Gal. 3:24.

Q. 25. In what respects were unbelievers among them, under these two covenants of works and grace?

A. They were only externally, and by profession, in respect of their visible church state, under the covenant of grace, Rom. 9:4; but internally, and really, in respect of the state of their souls, before the Lord, they were under the covenant of works, chap. 4:14, 15.”