Monday, April 16, 2012

The Covenantal Nature of Christianity (Part 3)


3. God cannot be properly understood unless He is viewed within a covenantal frame.

God, as Creator, purposes to have a covenant people. When we ask why this is so, the best we can answer is that such a desire for covenantal fellowship corresponds to the relationship of mutual love and honor between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit within the one undivided essense of the Godhead.

I have already spent a great deal of time in previous posts treating the Covenant of Redemption between the Father and the Son, which is presupposed by the Covenant of Grace btween God and the Elect. In an article on Covenant Theology (which is the inspiration for many of the ideas in these posts), J. I. Packer demostrates how the Covenant of Redemption clarifies three important truths. He writes:

"1. The love of the Father and the Son, with the Holy Spirit, to lost sinners is shared unanimous love. The tritheistic fantasy of a loving Son placating an unloving Father and commandeering an apathetic Holy Spirit in order to save us is a distressing nonsense.

"2. As our salvation derives from God's free and gracious initiative and is carried through, from first to last, according to God's eternal plan by God's own sovereign power, so its ultimate purpose is to exalt and glorify the Father and Son together. The man-centered distortion that pictures God as saving us more for our sake that for His is also a distressing nonsense.

"3. Jesus Christ is the focal figure, the proper center of our faithful attention, throughout the redemptive economy. He, as mediator of the covenant of grace and of the grace of that covenant, is truly an object of divine predestination as are we whom He saves."

The Westminster Larger Catechism asks: With whom was the covevant of grace made? The prescribed answer is: The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed (Q.31).

Standard Reformed statements about salvation almost always go like this: The Father elects, the Son atones for the elect, and the Spirit applies the Son's work to the elect. Unless we view God in this covevantal framework, best illustrated to us in Scripture in the Covenant of Redemption (being a covenant between Persons of the Godhead), we will never understand the reality of God properly. Those who act as if the doctrine of the Trinity is merely a piece of speculation, albeit helpful, know not whereof they speak. One either worships God as One divine essense subsisting in Three Persons, or he is an idolater. Covenant theology best explains and demonstrates the truth of God's nature.

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