The Covenant of Redemption
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”- John 6:37
In our study of Romans 9, we saw that the failure of many first-century Jews to receive Jesus as their Messiah prompted some to question whether God’s covenant promise to Israel had failed (v. 6). Paul’s answer is that the Lord’s purpose in election means that He never promised to save every member of the visible covenant community of Israel. The whole discussion raises issues related to God’s covenantal dealings with His people, and so we should spend some time looking at the broader Scriptural teaching on the divine covenants. Dr. R.C. Sproul will assist us as we make use of his teaching series The Promise Keeper.
Few themes are as prominent in the Bible as covenant. We find covenantal terms and concepts throughout Scripture. Even the divisions of our Bibles are significant, for the word testament means “covenant.” The Old Testament records our Creator’s dealings with old covenant Israel, and the New Testament tells us about His work in and through His new covenant people. Yet despite the importance of covenantal concepts in the Bible, it remains difficult to capture in English the full meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words translated as “covenant” (berith and diatheke, respectively). For our purposes, we will define covenant as an agreement two parties make, in the context of a relationship, to fulfill obligations to one another. Our society is based on covenants such as business contracts, marriages, and others.
Human beings make covenants with one another, and the Lord makes covenants with His creation, so there are similarities between human-human covenants and divine-human covenants. But there are also significant differences. God is never required to make a covenant with us, and unlike human beings who often break the covenants they make, the Lord never violates His covenant promises. As the Rock, God of faithfulness, and Strong Tower (Deut. 32:4; Prov. 18:10), He always upholds His covenant oaths.
The Lord makes covenants with human beings, but there is also a covenant made among the members of the Godhead: the covenant of redemption. Under the terms of this covenant, the Father, in conjunction with the Son and the Holy Spirit, plans salvation and sends the Son to redeem His people. The Son, in conjunction with the Father and the Holy Spirit, agrees to make atonement for the elect (John 10:17-18). The Holy Spirit, in conjunction with the Father and the Son, commits to applying Christ’s work to us, saving us forever (Eph. 1:13-14).
The covenant of redemption tells us that salvation is from start to finish the work of the triune God. Creation, fall, redemption, and consummation were planned from eternity past, and the Lord committed Himself to working out in time the fullness of His salvation. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work in complete harmony, and are never at odds with one another. Thus, we can be confident that if we are the Lord’s, He will keep us forever.
Passages for Further Study