Bible · Biblical Doctrines · Christ · Doctrines of the Bible · God

A Covenant of Redemption

“And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Rev. 2:8-9).

In considering the biblical and historical narrative of Adam and Eve, attention is drawn to the descent they had to make into moral, mental, and spiritual darkness. Theologians call this downward descent, The Fall, which is a good description. It speaks of suddenly going from a height of glory to a very low position and condition. But what were the steps that led to The Fall?

The first step was taken when Eve talked to Satan. Perhaps she did not know who Satan was, but perhaps she did. After all, Eve had been told to stay away from the tree called The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Of course, Eve’s knowledge of evil was surrounded in innocence. She had yet to experience the act of disobedience, or to know the shame and guilt associated with sin. By opening herself to the thoughts of Satan, however innocent the moment began, Eve positioned herself to take the next step, which was to seriously consider eating the forbidden fruit.

It seemed practical to at least consider what evil might be, because inquiring minds want to know.

Only later, upon mature reflection, would Eve realize the serpent had first cast doubt upon the goodness of God by asking with sarcasm, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” The implication was that God was withholding something from Adam and Eve that would give them great personal pleasure.

Only later would Eve realize that after casting doubt on the goodness of God, the serpent had openly denied the word of the Lord by asserting, “Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.“

There was a certain logical outcome to the thoughts of the serpent, if they were believed, and in the essence of her soul Eve crossed from believing in God, to disbelieving the word of God. Eve stopped believing that God is good. She no longer believed God was holy. She no longer believed God was a God of righteous wrath.    With her new set of beliefs, Eve could persuade herself that her self-interests were better served on the side of the serpent, than on the side of God.

Eve was ready to take the next step in a downward direction. From being passive in the process of evil, Eve became an active participate.

“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Gen. 3:6).

In a terrible moment of total commitment to evil, Eve united the totality of her being with that which was contrary to the known will of the Lord. Then, she actively sought out Adam to join her.

Only too late would the deception of the serpent be realized. Only too late would the consequences

of their actions be comprehended? Only too late would their helpless at moral reformation be realized. Only too late would they realize they should have feared God more, for the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

Concerning the fear of God, let the word go forth that there is a terror to be associated with the knowledge of God. Men should be in awe of God, to be sure. Men should have a holy respect for God. But Christians, in particular, should know the terror of the Lord as well. “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences” (2 Cor. 5:11).

In Genesis 31:42, God’s formal name is, “Fear.” “Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely thou hadst sent me away now empty. God hath seen mine affliction and the labour of my hands, and rebuked thee yesternight.”

By eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve demonstrated they did not fear God. Because they did not fear God, death came to Adam and Eve.

They died spiritually. A life of spiritual fellowship with God was immediately severed. They also died physically. A decaying process set in that continues to the present hour, so that it can still be said, “It is appointed unto men once to die.”

Adam and Eve would have died an eternal death had the Lord God not set forth His eternal plan of salvation, called by Reformed theologians, the Covenant of Redemption. “Basically, a covenant is an agreement between two parties to fulfill obligations made one to another” (R. C. Sproul).

The concept of covenant in society is well established. Our form of government has been called a “social contract” that involves the consent of the governed. Marriage is a contract between a man and a woman with obligations for each person. Business contracts, called Industrial Contracts, are often in the news as labor and management resolve differences.

Then, there is the Covenant of Redemption. This covenant was made between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit from eternity past regarding the plan of salvation. The Father planned redemption, the Son executed the plan of the Father, and the Holy Spirit implements what the Father has planned and the Son has executed.

Father. ” For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)

Son. “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32).

Holy Spirit. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).

As the Covenant of Redemption is revealed to mankind, it takes the form in a Covenant of Works made with Adam, and his descendants, in the Garden of Eden. Created in innocence, Adam was to be confirmed in righteousness by obedience to the known will of God. If Adam obeyed God, he would live.

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:16).

Adam, as a Federal Representative of all humanity failed to keep the Covenant of Works and so plunged himself, and humanity, into the depths of human despair. Adam’s act of disobedience is known as The Fall. Adam’s sin brought shame and death.

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Rom. 5:12).

The Covenant of Works has never been rescinded. Jesus came to fulfill the Law.

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17).

By fulfilling the Law, Christ became a perfect Saviour and Substitute to bear the pain and penalty of those who have not kept the Law.

“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

By fulfilling the Law, by becoming a Substitute for sinners, the righteousness of Christ can be, and is, imputed to those who are the heirs of salvation.

“Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:23-25).

There is another reason why the Covenant of Works is still in force, and that is, this Covenant becomes the basis of condemnation for all who reject Jesus Christ as personal Saviour. The Bible declares that no man can be justified by the works of the law.

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Gal. 2:16).

Nevertheless, individuals do not believe this, and sincerely think they can be saved by their own good works. Multitudes of non-religious people, and religious people in Judaism, Catholicism, Hinduism, and certain groups within Protestantism, demand that they be judged according to their good works.

One day God will allow that to happen.

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:12-15).

Any person who is relying on their ability to keep a Covenant of Works and earn or deserve salvation based on their own merits will be judged on that basis. But their names will not be found in the Book of Life.

” For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

Then, there is the Covenant of Grace. If all of humanity has been marred by The Fall, if no one within humanity can be saved by keeping a Covenant of Works, how is a person to be redeemed? Is there no hope? Is there no balm in Gilead? There is hope, and it is found in the Covenant of Grace. In matchless grace the love of God found a way to satisfy the justice of God so that the grace of God could be made manifest.

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

Every man, woman, and child, can be saved, not by the works of the law, not by trying to keep a Covenant of Works, but by faith alone, in Christ alone, through grace alone. The condition of the Covenant of Grace is met when a sinner bows before Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, and places their trust in the Son of God. The promise is given. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31). “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).

Every person must abandon all hope of entering into heaven through their works. Souls are saved by the mercy and grace of our great God through faith in His dear Son, Jesus Christ, the Lord.

While God did not have to make a covenant with Adam and his prodigy, He did, and our hearts should bow in humility and thanksgiving for God’s graciousness.

The first sign of hope that God would be gracious to Adam and his prodigy, who are covenant breakers, is found in the Garden of Eden. This is called the protoevangelium, or the first mention of the gospel. God promised a Saviour.

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15).

Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of this promise given to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Because of His good work, Christ, as the new Adam, the last Adam, accomplished what the first Adam could not accomplish.

“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19).

While the Covenant of Grace is distinguished from the Covenant of Works, the two are not divorced but united in the Person and work of Jesus Christ so that in the end, the Covenant of Works is established.

Every soul that is saved is saved by the alien righteousness of Another, Jesus Christ, who perfectly kept the Covenant of Works, in order to bring many souls to salvation.

All of the benefits of the Covenant of Works are received because of God, due to the Covenant of Grace, because in eternity past, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit united together to formulate the Covenant of Redemption. To God be the glory!

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