Anyway, we begin Chapter 11 of Authentic Christianity today: The Covenant of God. It covers questions 30-35 of the Larger Catechism.
Dr. Morecraft begins first by noting three ways of looking at the world:
First, the evolutionary approach reads it as if it were merely a record of the evolution of man’s beliefs about God, from polytheism, to a primitive monotheism, to a consistent monotheism, to a complicated trinitarianism. According to this view, the Bible is not a book from God about God, it is a book by man about man’s evolution in religion, and therefore it is of no divine authority. (689)
Second, the dispensational approach to reading the Bible does not allow for unity and continuity between the Old Testament and the New Testament, nor does it allow for unity in the history of redemption in the Bible. It divides the Bible and history into various dispensations or periods of testing during which times God deals with people in different ways. The dispensation in which one lives determines what sections of the Bible are authoritative to that person. (689)
Third, the covenantal approach to the Bible sees in the Bible the unifying message and framework of God’s covenant with His people in Christ, as the basis of unity and continuity in the Christian life and mission in this world.
The covenantal worldview recognizes that all the relationships of life between God and human beings are based on covenants. (690)
This covenantal worldview, growing out of the Bible and the 16th century Protestant Reformation, was the moral, social and political foundation of American society. “Federalism [covenantalism] was the social and political air breathed by the leaders of the American Revolution and by Madison and his colleagues at the Constitutional Convention. From them, federalism formed the
basis of the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution of the United States of America.”4. McCoy and Baker, Fountainhead of Federalism, 28. (690-691)
Covenantalism permeated the social life of early America—family, church, state, commerce. It gave shape to the society that later became the United States of America. The basic elements of that worldview include the following:
(1) All human beings are created in covenant with God and are subject to His divine moral order, as either covenant keepers or covenant breakers.
(2) The individual, home, church and state are all to enforce God’s moral order, being in covenant with Him.
(3) In human communities particular persons become representative of an entire social group—fathers represent their children, elders their churches, elected officials the citizens.
(4) Because human beings are prone to covenant breaking, the civil government must have checks and balances and separation of powers. (691)
What are some of the basic elements of a covenantal hermeneutic of the Bible? First, the covenant of God defines the basis for the unity of the Bible’s message and framework, and for unity of our individual life histories with the history of the Old Testament and New Testament. Second, this doctrine of the covenant is THE
distinctive feature of Christianity, which distinguishes it from all other religions: the voluntary and merciful condescension of God to save human beings from evil. (692)
The covenant is called PROMISE, because it is of God and not of man. (693)
The covenant is called GOSPEL because its promises are fulfilled in the life and work of Jesus Christ. (694)
The covenant is called an OATH to represent its permanence, unchangeableness and eternity. (694)
First, it proceeds from God’s grace. It is not based on human merit, bargaining with God, or human achievement. It originates in the undeserved favor and mercy of God. (694-695)
Second, everything in the covenant is gratuitous, even the demands placed on all who have received God’s grace. (695)
Third, God established the covenant of grace with us in Christ to glorify Himself and His saving grace: “in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). (695)
The author of the covenant is God, influenced t0 make it by His mere goodness and good pleasure alone. All glory in this covenant goes to Him, for He was not impelled to make it by anything outside of him, neither the merit nor the misery of man. (696)
In the covenant, God promises to be our God in Christ and demands that we should be His people through faith, repentance and obedience....God’s promise to His
people—“I will be your God”—is the focus of the patriarchs (Gen.17:7, 8), Israel’s faith under Moses’ leadership (Ex. 20:2; 29:45; Deut. 5:2,3), Israel’s faith in Babylon (Jer. 24:7; 30:22; Ezek. 11:20), Israel’s faith after Babylon (Zech. 13:9), believers’ faith in the New Testament (2 Cor. 6:6; Heb. 8:10), and of life in heaven (Rev. 21:3). (696)
First, when God tells us He is our God, He is promising us RECONCILIATION AND COMMUNION WITH HIMSELF IN EVERYTHING HE IS. (696)
What does it mean to say He gives Himself to His people in Christ? He gives Himself to us in two ways.
 All His perfections are to be ours effectively and practically because their beneficial effects flow to us.
 God is ours personally in that each person in the Trinity gives Himself for the accomplishing of our eternal salvation. God the Father elects us, God the Son redeems us, and God the Holy Spirit sanctifies us. God is for us in all His persons and His perfections. (697)
Second, when God tells us that He is our God, He is promising us COMMUNION WITH HIMSELF IN EVERYTHING HE HAS. (697)
Third, when God declares that He is our God, He is promising us complete CONFORMITY TO HIMSELF....This is not to imply that we are deified, but that we
are being sanctified more and more into the true and pure image of God. (698)
Fourth, when God promises to be our God, He is promising us AN ETERNITY OF GOOD THINGS. (699)
In addition to promises, God’s covenant contains demands on His chosen people who are recipients of His gracious promise: “I will be their God, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE” (Jer. 31:33, emphasis added). Just as the first phrase sums up all God’s promises, so the second phrase sums up all that God demands of us. (699)
The two principal demands of the covenant on us are FAITH AND REPENTANCE. Faith embraces the promises and repentance fulfills the commands....Although these two duties are commanded by God as works due from man, still they are
also promised to him as his gifts: “I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes” (Ezek. 36:27). In the Covenant, God gives us the very things He demands of us. (700)
One word exists that defines the basis for the unity of the Bible’s message and framework, and for the unity of the individual life histories of Christians with the history of the Bible: COVENANT—a bond of eternal friendship between God and His people in Christ. (700-701)
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament have an over-arching structure
and theme: “the promise” (Gen. 17:7; Rom. 1:2; Gal. 3:14). The administration
of that promise has a rich and varied development through a series of interrelated Biblical “covenants,” each building upon and advancing the previous ones to present us with one vast, panorama of promises and demands in the Scripture, which we call: the Covenant of Grace. (701)
First, God’s covenant gives the Bible A UNIFYING FRAMEWORK. An obvious unity exists between the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:1–3; 17), the Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 19–24), and the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7). This unity is evident in (1)
The history and experience of God’s people from Abraham to David, and (2) The development of the covenants genealogically, in the line of continued generations. (702)
God’s covenant arrangements run in a genealogical line as is evident from the “seed” concept (Gen. 15:18; Ex. 20:5, 6; Deut. 5:2, 3; 7:9; 2 Sam. 7:12) .... Deuteronomy 7:9 shows us that covenant promises extend to one thousand generations, not only reminding us that this is an eternal covenant, but also that it involves a continuous succession of generations. (703)
Two important principles must be kept in mind at this point. (1) The “grafting” principle (Gen. 17:12, 13)....By “ingrafting,” the Gentile became an Israelite in the full sense of the word....(2) The “pruning” principle (Rom. 9:13; Mal. 1:2, 3; Gen. 25:23). This must also be included in identifying “Israel” (Rom. 9:6). (703)
An obvious unity also exists between the Old Testament covenants and the New Covenant in Christ. The New Covenant may be understood in no other way than as the realization and fulfillment of the projections and promises of the Old Testament covenants. (703)
Second, God’s covenant gives the Bible A UNIFYING MESSAGE. A common theme underlies the entire Biblical revelation, a singular covenant “promise” of union and communion with God and His people in Christ. (704)
This heart promise of God’s covenants has been called the “Immanuel-principle,” because the name, “Immanuel,” means “God with us.”...Therefore, in Christ and the
New Covenant He established, all the Old Testament covenants unite into one. (704)
This unity of all the Old Testament covenants and the New Covenant is many-sided. (704)
All Biblical covenants also have the SAME PRINCIPLES, OPERATING POWER and FOUNDATION. (705)
Although the Larger Catechism does not mention this covenant, made between the Persons of the Trinity in eternity, (since it deals only with the covenants of works and of grace, made in history), it intimates such a covenant when it informs us that “the covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed” (WLC Q. 31)....The covenant of grace which God makes with the elect in Christ in history is rooted in the covenant of redemption which God made with Christ in eternity, so that the two can be said to be one covenant of grace, just as the root and the trunk of a tree comprise one tree. (705-706)
The foundation of our salvation is the eternal covenant between the Persons of the Trinity, which is called the covenant of redemption....When we study the Bible we see that God not only planned to save sinners by the gospel, but also that His plan to save had the nature of a covenant in the Godhead....The love of God the Father, the grace of God the Son, and the fellowship of God the Holy Spirit are founded for the elect upon the covenant of redemption in the triune God in eternity. (706)
Before the creation of the universe, in the eternity of the Trinity, God the Father determined to give God the Son to be the Head and Redeemer of the elect, God the Son determined to present Himself as the Surety of the elect, and God the Holy Spirit determined to reveal the Son and His salvation to the elect....From this covenant of redemption in the Trinity in eternity flows the covenant of grace in history, which is our salvation. (707)
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament refer to this covenant. (709)
The next section is entitled "The Father's Part in the Covenant of Redemption". Lord willing, that will be where I pick up next week.