Covenant of Redemption

Discussion in 'Covenant Theology' started by G, Oct 15, 2019.

  1. Only 2 distinct covenants

  2. Only 3 distinct covenants (1 in eternity, 2 in time)

  3. More than 3

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  1. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    Good Evening,

    A follow-up from an old post of mine here:

    Trying to dig back down into my understanding of CT, specifically relating to how many distinct covenants do we see in scripture (2 or 3). This short article summarizes my current understanding and how CT was first presented to me:

    Any help, have I erred?

    Does the article describe the Bi-covenantal or Tri-covenantal view?
  2. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator Staff Member

    Yes :)
    Did you not check the clock. It is afternoon not evening :) My computer says 2.50 pm Wed 16 Oct. My laptop has covenanted to tell me the correct time :)
  3. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    Really trying to hold back my Sméagol meme!:rant:
  4. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator Staff Member

    I will be serious now :) I have to rush to a training course so will be brief. Carl Bogue's book on Jonathan Edward's covenant theology is very helpful on the relationship between the covenant of grace and the covenant of redemption. Here is a helpful summary of his thesis
  5. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    Currently working through Brakel. I think A’ Brakel saw 3 distinct covenants.:detective:
  6. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    Did you agree or disagree with the linked monergism article?
  7. JennyGeddes

    JennyGeddes Puritan Board Freshman

    Can girls vote on this poll?


    Because I did.
  8. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    I hold that there are only two covenants: the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. My main issue with the three covenant model is not so much the three covenants per se, though I am not convinced that there are adequate biblical grounds for three distinct covenants, but the potential for the difference between the covenant of redemption and the covenant of grace to be exploited in order to accommodate the view that the non-elect are properly in the covenant of grace.
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  9. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    This is hard, as we seem to have Covenant of Works before Fall, one of Old and New, and the New one is really New, as the CoG is NC, but also Grace and Law in OC both operating.
  10. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    Sharing for information purposes only. This might be a helpful (1 hr. ) intro video to the topic at hand. It was once shared with me by a fellow PBer:detective:

    I also found the video very edifying. Though I do not conclude the same way.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2019
  11. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    -From John Brown of Haddington's Questions and Answers:

    Q. By what means doth God deliver the elect?
    A. By the covenant of grace, Zech. 9:11

    Q. Might not the broken covenant of works have been renewed?
    A. No; it was a covenant of friendship, and could never reconcile enemies.

    Q. How is the covenant by which sinful men are delivered, called?
    A. The covenant of grace, of promise, peace, of reconciliation, or redemption, and the second or new covenant.

    Q. Why is it called the covenant of grace?
    A. Because free grace moved God to make it; and all the blessings theoreof are freely bestowed upon unworthy sinners.

    Q. How is God's free grace manifested in this covenant?
    A. Im his freely providing and furnishing his own Son to be our Mediator, accepting his righteousness in our stead, and sending the Spirit to apply his purchase to us.

    Q. Why is it called a covenant of promise?
    A. Because it is dispensed to us in free promises.

    Q. Why is it called a covenant of peace?
    A. Because it brings about peace and reconciliation between God and rebellious sinners, 2 Cor. 5:19

    Q. Why is it called a covenant of redemption?
    A. Because thereby lost and enslaved sinners are brought back, and delivered from their bondage, Zech. 9:11

    Q. Is the covenant of grace, and that of redemption, one and the same covenant?
    A. Yes; the scripture mentions only two covenants that regards man's eternal state, of which the covenant of works is one, and therefore the covenant of grace must be the other: and the blood of Christ is in scripture called the blood of the covenant, but never of the covenants, Gal. 4:24, 30.

    Q. How do you further prove that what some call the covenant of grace made with believers, and distinct from the covenant of redemption, is no proper covenant?
    A. Because it hath no proper condition, faith being as much promised as any other blessing, Psalm 110:3

    Q. Why is the covenant of grace called the second and new covenant?
    A. Because, though it was first made, it was last executed, and is everlasting, 2 Sam. 23:5

    Q. How many things are in general considered with respect to the covenant of grace?
    A. Two; the making, and the administration of it.

    Q. Is the making of it the same which some divines call the covenant of redemption?
    A. Yes, Psalm 89:3

    Q. Is the administration of it, which some call the covenant of grace, made with believers?
    A. Yes.

    Q. Why was the covenant of grace made from all eternity?
    A. Because of God's eternal and infinite love to elect sinners, Jer. 31:3, 1 John 4:9, 10, 16, 19

    Q. Who are the parties in the covenant of grace?
    A. God and Christ, Psalm 89:3, Zech. 6:13

    Q. Whether did God, essentially considered, or the person of the Father, make this covenant with Christ?
    A. God essentially considered in the person of the Father.

    Q. How prove you that the covenant of grace was made with Christ?
    A. The scripture affirms it; and he is called the covenant himself, Psalm 89:3, Isaiah 42:6

    Q. What is the condition of the covenant of grace?
    A. Christ's Surety-righteousness, Dan. 9:24, Rom. 5:19

    Q. How prove you that Christ fulfilled the whole condition of the covenant of grace?
    A. He was holy, harmless; became obedient unto death; and gave himself to be a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour unto God.

    Q. How do you prove Christ's righteousness to be the only proper condition of the covenant of grace?
    A. Because it is the only pleadable ground of the believer's title to eternal life, Rom. 5:21 and 6:23

    Q. Is not faith the proper condition of this covenant?
    A. No; for it can no way answer the demands of the broken law; and it is a blessing promised in the covenant of grace, Gal. 3:17, Phil. 1:29

    Q. Were then these godly divines in an error, who called faith the condition of the covenant of grace?
    A. No; for they only meant, that it was the instrument by which we are personally interested in that covenant, and receive the blessings of it, Acts 16:310

    (Taken from Questions and Answers on the Shorter Catechism, John Brown of Haddington, Reformation Heritage Books, 2006, PB, pp.87-98)

    -From Fisher's Catechism:

    Q. 50. Is what is called by some divines, the covenant of redemption, a distinct covenant from the covenant of grace?
    A. Although Christ alone engaged from eternity to pay the price of our redemption, on which account the covenant is wholly of free grace to us; yet there is no warrant from scripture, to suppose a covenant of redemption distinct from the covenant of grace.

    Q. 51. How many covenants are there for life and happiness to man in scripture reckoning?
    A. They are but two in number: of which the covenant of works is one, and consequently the covenant of grace must be the other.

    Q. 52. How do you prove from scripture, that there are only two covenants, of which the covenant of works is one?
    A. From Gal. 4:24, where it is said -- "These are the two covenants, the one from mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage."

    Q. 53. How does it appear that the one from Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, is the covenant of works?
    A. Because the generating of bond children, excluded from the inheritance, Gal. 4:30, is a distinguishing character of the covenant of works, which cannot agree to the covenant of grace under any dispensation of it.

    Q. 54. Was then the covenant at Mount Sinai a covenant of works?
    A. The covenant of works was only repeated at Mount Sinai, together with the covenant of grace; to show to all Israel, that the clearing of both the principal and penalty of the covenant of works was laid on Christ, as the condition of the covenant of grace.

    Q. 55. Does the scripture make mention of the blood of any more than one covenant?
    A. The scripture makes mention of the blood of the Covenant, in the singular number four several times, namely, Ex. 24:8; Zech. 9:1; Heb. 10:29 and 13:20; but nowhere speaks of the blood of the covenants, in the plural number.

    Q. 56. What is the native consequence of the scripture's mentioning the blood of the covenant, in the singular number, and not the blood of the covenants in the plural number?
    A. The consequence is, that the covenant, the blood of which the scripture mentions, and upon which our salvation depends, is but ONE covenant, and not TWO.

    Q. 57. What is the received doctrine in our standards upon this head?

    A. Our standards make no distinction between a covenant of redemption, and a covenant of grace.

    Q. 58. Is the covenant of grace conditional, or absolutely free?

    A. It was strictly conditional to the Surety, Isa. 49:3, but is absolutely free to the sinner, Jer. 31:33,34.

    Q. 59. What is the proper condition of the covenant of grace?

    A. It is Christ, as representative and surety, his fulfilling all righteousness, owing to God by his spiritual seed, in virtue of the broken covenant of works, Matt. 3:15.

    (Taken from Fisher's Catechism, Q. 20 of the Shorter Catechism, )
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  12. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    The inability to distinguish between "condition" in a proper sense and in an improper sense causes so much confusion. This explanation from John Brown of Haddington helpfully solves the conundrum.
  13. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    I know the history of the Sum of Saving Knowledge by David Dickson and James Durham (which is an unofficial traditional part of the Scottish Westminster Standards as far as the publishing of them, first appended in 1650, not long after its drafting), but what is the history of the covenant of redemption prior to that in theologians? Below, the Sum:
    "... 2. The remedy provided in Jesus Christ for the elect by the covenant of Grace.

    "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help." Hos 13.9

    2a) Albeit man, having brought himself into this woeful condition, is neither able to help himself, nor willing to be helped by God out of it, but rather inclined to lie still, insensible of it, till he perish; yet God, for the glory of his rich grace, has revealed in his word a way to save sinners, that is, by faith in Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, by virtue of, and according to the tenor of the covenant of redemption, made and agreed upon between God the Father and God the Son, in council of the Trinity, before the world began.

    2b) The sum of the covenant of redemption is this: God having freely chosen to life a certain number of lost mankind, for the glory of his rich grace, did give them, before the world began, to 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, to 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 to the suffering of the cursed death of the cross, he should ransom and redeem them all from sin and death, and purchase to them righteousness and eternal life, with all saving graces leading there to, 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 of the elect; and that he does 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.

    2c) For the accomplishment of this covenant of redemption, and making the elect partakers of the benefits of it in the covenant of grace, Christ Jesus was clad with the threefold office of Prophet, Priest, and King: made a Prophet, to reveal all saving knowledge to his people, and persuade them to believe and obey the same; made a Priest, to offer up himself a sacrifice once for them all, and to intercede continually with the Father, for making their persons and services acceptable to him; and made a King, to subdue them to himself, to feed and rule them by his own appointed ordinances, and to defend them from their enemies.

    3. The outward means appointed to make the elect partakers of this covenant, and all the rest that are called, to be inexcusable.

    "Many are called." Matt. 22.14

    3a) The outward means and ordinances, for making men partakers of the covenant of grace, are so wisely dispensed, as that the elect shall be infallibly converted and saved by them; and the reprobate, among whom they are, not to be justly damned: The means are especially these four:

    3a1) The word of God 3a2) The ordinances 3a3) Church 3a4) Prayer

    In the word of God preached by sent messengers, the Lord makes offer of grace to all sinners, upon condition of faith in Jesus Christ; and whoever does confess their sin, accept Christ's offering, and submit themselves to his ordinances, he will have them received into the honour and privileges of the covenant of grace. By the ordinances, God will have the covenant sealed for confirming the bargain on the foresaid condition. By the Church, he will have them hedged in, and helped forward to the keeping of the covenant. And by prayer, he will have his own glorious grace, promised in the covenant, to be daily drawn forth, acknowledged, and employed. All these means are followed either really, or in profession only, according to the quality of the covenanters, as they are true or counterfeit believers.

    3b) The covenant of grace, set down in the Old Testament before Christ came, and in the New since he came, is one and the same in substance, albeit different in outward administration: For the covenant in the Old Testament, being sealed with the ordinances of circumcision and the paschal lamb, did set forth Christ's death to come, and the benefits purchased by it, under the shadow of bloody sacrifices, and various ceremonies: but since Christ came, the covenant being sealed by the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's supper, does clearly hold forth Christ already crucified before our eyes, victorious over death and the grave, and gloriously ruling heaven and earth, for the good of his own people. 4. The blessings which are effectually conveyed by these means to the Lord's elect, or chosen ones.

    "Many are called, but few are chosen." Matt 12.14.

    4a) By those outward ordinances, as our Lord makes the reprobate inexcusable, so, by the power of his Spirit, he applies to the elect, effectually, all saving graces purchased to them in the covenant of redemption, and makes a change in their persons. In particular," etc.
  14. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    Chris (@NaphtaliPress) beat me to posting the Sum of Saving Knowledge.
  15. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    I remember reading somewhere that the puritans would talk of three covenants, making the covenant of redemption a distinct covenant. You'll find this in Vincent's exposition of the Shorter Catechism, for example. Later generations (such as the Scottish divines of the 18th century like Brown and Fisher) tended to reject that three-covenant distinction in favour of just two covenants. The reason given was that in the 17th Century antinomianism was a more immediate threat to the church and the three-covenant view allowed for a condition on our part to be included in the scheme (i.e. faith). In the 18th Century legalism was a more immediate threat and so the emphasis on a condition met by us was seen as problematic.

    I can easily follow that overview but I do think, theologically and biblically, the later view (two covenants) is also the correct understanding. Making the covenant of redemption a distinct covenant does not seem to fit with Scripture's description of the covenants by which God deals with Man.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2019
  16. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    Don't we trinitarians need everything in 3's?:stirpot:

    BTW the video above actually follows the historical outline you give.
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  17. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    Just to clarify: I think the historical overview makes sense. But I also think it's theologically correct to hold to the two-covenant view. Just in case it seemed like I wasn't in agreement with that historical explanation.
  18. Chad Hutson

    Chad Hutson Puritan Board Freshman

    Whether we call it the Covenant of Redemption or Eternal Counsel of Redemption matters little to me, as long as we recognize that what happens in history was decreed in eternity. In a sea of dispensationalists, I am pleased any time I can have someone agree with me that salvation is an eternal matter (past and future). Or even that the church of Christ didn't come about as a result of God's knee-jerk reaction against the Jews' rejection of Christ as Messiah!
    For me, Isaiah 53:10-12 seems to use covenant language to describe Christ's atoning death, although I am not dogmatic about it.
  19. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator Staff Member

    I agreed with it. I especially appreciated how he brought in the work of the Spirit in the Covenant of Redemption. Some have emphasised the work of the Father and Son, but we must remember the Spirit plays an important role too. That Jonathan Edwards article I mentioned was also helpful here too.
  20. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    I recommend reading through Matthew Winzer's contributions to this thread for a defence to the two-covenant model.
  21. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Through my own private study, I came to embrace the two-covenant model. Recently, however, it has come to my attention that many of the men for whom I have the highest regard embrace the three-covenant model, and some of them have challenged me directly on this subject. This has caused me to reevaluate my understanding.

    Currently, I'm happy to suspend my judgment until I've studied the three-covenant view more fully. The two-covenant view still seems most plausible to me, but I'm open-minded.
  22. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    Have you come across Rutherford's A TREATISE Of the COVENANT OF GRACE? He argues fairly extensively for the CoR. I've not read the whole thing yet, though I'm hoping to.

    Charles Hodge also makes some compelling arguments for it in his ST.
  23. RJ Spencer

    RJ Spencer Puritan Board Freshman

    I believe O Palmer Robertson supports the three covenant view, but at the same time he defines a Covenant as "a bond in Blood sovereignly administered". How can the Covenant of Redemption be considered a covenant by this definition? Surely, the moment that the blood for the covenant was shed it became the covenant of Grace...
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  24. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    I do not have his book The Christ of the Covenants immediately to hand, but does he not question the covenant of works in that book? The CoW would appear to be incongruous with his definition of a covenant (unless I am missing something).
  25. RJ Spencer

    RJ Spencer Puritan Board Freshman

    It has been quite some time since I read it. I'm nearly certain that he supports the three covenant model. But I have a friend on FB that suggests that the reason for creating a woman from Adam's rib was to have blood for the covenant.
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  26. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    Is his name James Jordan? ;)
  27. RJ Spencer

    RJ Spencer Puritan Board Freshman

    Is that an FV position?
    I would like to possibly start a new thread on Federal Vision. It doesn't seem like it's been brought up here in a while. Maybe cover Norman Shepherd a little too.
  28. Goodcheer68

    Goodcheer68 Puritan Board Freshman

    He calls the COW the Covenant of Creation.

    "By the very act of creating man in his own likeness and image, God established a unique relationship between himself and creation. In addition to this sovereign creation-act, God spoke to man, thus determining precisely the role of man in creation. Through this creating/speaking relationship, God established sovereignly a life-and-death bond. This original bond between God and man may be called the covenant of creation."

    Robertson, O. Palmer. The Christ of the Covenants (p. 76). P&R Publishing. Kindle Edition.
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  29. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    I have a PDF of the Rutherford work. I haven't read it yet, but it's definitely a priority.
  30. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritanboard Colporteur

    The Puritan divine, Thomas Ridgeley, has a lengthy section titled, "Distinctions as to the Covenant of Redemption and the Covenant of Grace" in his Body of Divinity. I would be happy to share it if any are interested. Spoiler: "Yet I would rather choose to call them two great branches of the same covenant; one of which respects what Christ was to do and suffer, and the glory which he was to be afterwards possessed of; and the other, of which more immediately, respects that salvation which was to be treasured up in him, and applied by him to his elect. I cannot but think, therefore, that what is contained in this Answer, that the covenant of grace was made with Christ as the Head, and, in him, with the elect as his seed, is a very unexceptionable explanation of this doctrine."

    Ridgley, T. (1855). A Body of Divinity (Vol. 1, p. 448). New York: Robert Carter & Brothers.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2019
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