Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An Analysis of the Covenant of Redemption 6

Christ's use of the Sacraments

In closing out the post regarding the Father's work on His part of the Covenant, we noted that God sealed the promises by sacraments. One might wonder what relation this has to the subject at hand. But one need merely recall that sacraments are a sign and seal of covenants to understand the relevance of this issue.

This presents us with a dilemma: How did Christ make use of the sacraments since they were instituted to seal the benefits of the covenant to those who are partakers of its benefits on the basis of Christ's work? It may be objected by some that since He was perfect and sinless, He had no need of the sacraments.

There is no doubt that Christ partook of the sacraments of circumcision and baptism. It is not quite clear whether He partook of the Lord's table. But in solving the above dilemma we should consider:

(1) Both the sinless as well as sinners may make use of the sacraments. Before the fall the Tree of Life was a sacrament for Adam. We know this because a sacrament, a) repeatedly and vividly brings to mind what has been promised; b) repeatedly reconfirms the certainty of the promises; c) provides a foretaste of what is signified by it; and d) rekindles the approbation of the conditions of the covenant as well as the person’s pledge to fulfill them. There is no reason why a sinless person could not partake of all this. Since Adam could use the sacrament this way, there is no reason to think that the Lord Jesus was unable to.

(2) The sacraments, being the seals of the covenant, sealed to Christ all the promises of the covenant of redemption. For believers, the sacraments seal the covenant of grace in Christ. For Christ they sealed the covenant of redemption, assuring Him that He would merit all the benefits for Himself and His children. It was thus sealed to Christ that His sacrifice was pleasing, His satisfaction was efficacious in removing the sins of the elect, and His perfect righteousness was efficacious to acquire for them eternal life.

(3) Jesus came and perfectly accomplished this indeed. “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil 2:6-8). Hence He could say, “I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do” (John 17:4), and “It is finished” (John 19:30).

(4) Having fulfilled the conditions, Christ demanded the fulfillment of the promises both for Himself and the elect. For Himself, He says, "I have glorified Thee on the earth: and now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was” (John 17:245). On behalf of the elect, He says, "Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me” (John 17:24).

In summary, we need simply to see that Christ used the sacraments as seals of the Covenant of Redemption. The Holy Spirit uses the sacrament to seal to us the Covenant of Grace.

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