Tuesday, January 4, 2011

An Analysis of the Covenant of Redemption 1

In analyzing the Covenant of Redemption, we will consider five things:

I. The parties in this covenant

II. The persons concerning whom, and for whose benefit, this covenant has been made

III. The reality of this covenant transaction

IV. The Father's work, which we divide into (A) the commands and conditions of this covenant, (B) the promises related to the fulfillment of these conditions, and (C) the confirmation of these promises by oath and sacraments.

V. The Son's work, which we will divide into (A) His acceptance of the conditions and the promises, (B) His fulfillment of the conditions, and (C) His demand based on these confirmed promises.

I. The Parties of the Covenant of Redemption

First of all we have to consider the covenanting parties. They are God the Father on one side and the Lord Jesus Christ on the other. It will probably be easier to comprehend this matter if we primarily consider the execution of this covenant rather than the decree that it proceeds from, maintaining that the manner in which the Lord executes it in this time state is consistent with the manner in which He has eternally decreed it. Nevertheless we treat this covenant as one of God's intrinsic works, because Scripture repeatedly presents it that way. Concerning Christ it is stated that He “was foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Pet 1:20). The elect are chosen in Him (Eph 1:4), and grace has been given them “in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Tim 1:9). Everything Christ encountered in this world happened to Him according to the eternal decree, foreknowledge, and determinate counsel of God (cf. Ps 2:7; Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23).

By virtue of this eternal covenant there has been an eternal relationship between the Son and His suretyship (Heb. 5:6 - "You are a priest forever..."). He demonstrated this already in His government of the Old Testament church immediately after the fall, prior to His incarnation.

This raises a question: Since the Father and the Son are one in essence and thus have one will and one objective, how can there possibly be a covenant transaction between the two, because such a transaction would require the mutual involvement of two wills? Aren't we separating the Persons of the Godhead too much? To this I reply that as far as Personhood is concerned the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father. From this consideration the one divine will can be viewed from a twofold perspective. It is the Father’s will to redeem by the agency of the second Person as Surety, and it is the will of the Son to redeem by His own agency as Surety.

This is as good a place as any to note also that another proof for this doctrine can be seen in the fact of the oneness of essence which obtains with the Three Person of the Trinity. There is no conflict or absence of peace between them. So what need would there be for a "counsel of peace" between the Father and the Son? Christ Himself said, "I and the Father are one." But if, as Hebrews 5:6 says, Christ has eternally occupied the role of priest, then He has eternally had the office of Surety for the elect, even before they were created. It is in view of the redemption that would be accomplished in time that Christ and the Father mutually covenanted with each other.

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