A Simple Explanation of the Covenant of Grace
Explaining the meaning of a covenant is not always easy for Christians. The person receiving the explanation must have some sense of the jargon used and also some sense of the biblical account of Yahweh dealing with sinners.
First, the overarching theme within the big picture of covenant meaning is the salvation of God. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself and His works. The reader learns that God is the creator and sustainer of all He has made; and all that God has made is designed to bring Him glory. In this, He is the Author of salvation (Heb 12:2).
Nothing decreed by God in eternity has failed to achieve His purposes. This includes both the judgment of reprobate sinners and the salvation of His chosen people (Mt 1:21; Rom 11:5; Titus 3:5; 1 Pet 2:9).
Second, a key element that must manifest for one to be saved by God, from just eternal punishment, is faith in the Word of God (Eph 2:8–9). Adam and Eve failed to trust God’s commandment issued to them as His promise (Gen 3). Their disobedience was a lack of faith in the goodness of God toward them. They also misjudged His holiness, which cannot be co-mingled with sinful un-holiness. Their disenfranchisement from relationship with God was unbelief manifested by disobedience.
Sin leads to death and death to judgment (Rom 3:23; 6:23; Heb 9:27). Sinners are guilty and justice demands punishment. The Bible reveals the correct punishment for those who have offended the infinite majesty of God. Hell and the lake of fire are the eternal home for unrepentant unbelievers, who refuse to glorify God for so great a salvation (Mt 25:41, 46; Jude 7; Rev 20:14–15). Instead, these glorify God for so perfect a justice, executed in His just punishment of them…forever.
The Bible reveals that man has no will nor ability to remedy his plight of sin, death, and the second death (lake of fire). He is both helpless and hopeless without God’s merciful intervention (Rom 9:15–16; Eph 2:12). It is God’s free will and gracious choice to save some but not all people. Many are called, but few are chosen (Mt 20:28; Mk 10:45).
The covenant of grace is the revelation of God’s terms of agreement for salvation to be efficacious. Sinners must have the God-provided substitute sacrifice in order to have their debt of sin paid-in-full (an unfathomable amount). God’s elect, redeemed people have been redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb of God (Heb 9:12; 1 Pet 1:19) — a worthy substitute sacrifice, who takes away the sin of His people from all over the world and across history (Jn 3:16). Only with the shedding of Jesus’ blood, under the terms of the covenant (Mt 26:28), are His people’s sins forgiven (Eph 1:7).
The term “grace” means that God works on behalf of His adopted children, to secure their eternal salvation in accord with His eternal covenant. There was grace before the foundation of the world, as God predestined His elect people to become His own possession (Titus 2:14; 1 Pet 2:9). God’s motive was love for them (Eph 1:4–5). There was also grace at the cross of Jesus Christ, as the eternal Son of God took on flesh (Jn 1:14), was crucified as the perfect substitute, and atoned for all the sins of His people (Lev 16; Mt 1:21). He suffered and died for His beloved church and in their stead (1 Pet 2:24). His motive was love (Rom 5:8).
Grace continues as the Holy Spirit applies the blood of redemption to God’s elect children. He is called, “the Spirit of adoption” (Rom 8:15, 23), who takes up permanent residence in those He causes to be born again of God (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3). The Spirit of Christ is the token of God’s pledged love for His beloved bride, His church (2 Cor 1:22; 5:5). God has poured out His love within our hearts (Rom 5:5). See what love the Father has for us (1 Jn 3:1)?
The covenant of grace, represented by Christ Jesus, is the surety of our salvation (Heb 7:22). In it, God has promised to secure His people, by His chosen means and with an eternally happy-ever-after (Rev 21–22). Yahweh, the God of the covenant, has provided everything and executed everything so that His eternal purposes would be fulfilled in Christ Jesus (Eph 3:11), the faithful covenant keeper representing both God and man. Jesus is our great High Priest and the only Mediator of God’s 100% successful covenant (1 Tim 2:5; Heb 4:14; 9:11). He has performed all our works for us (Is 26:12), accomplishing everything that concerns us (Ps 57:2; 138:8).
False teachers abound to thwart reprobate unbelievers into thinking they must will and do something to produce a successful salvation under the covenant of works. In this, they are persuaded to add to the finished work of God the Father (election), the finished work of Christ in redemption, and the effectual and permanent work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration, sanctification, and glorification. Deceived people are subtly enticed to play the role of God, in somehow and some way being a party to salvation. In truth, Christians are heirs of salvation, co-heirs with Christ, with our inheritance reserved for us in heaven (Rom 8:17; 1 Pet 1:4). Heirs never choose what they get from the will and testament. They are merely beneficiaries of what has been bequeathed.
My dear reader, do you understand that grace excludes you from doing anything, in order to be saved for eternity from the consequences of your sin? If you are trusting in yourself, to exercise your will or to make your choice about letting Jesus save you, then you have become the judge of Jesus Christ — His Person and works. Be warned about the pervasive extent to which this insidious deception has been embraced by so many in Christ’s visible church.
In the covenant of grace, there is no one who is elect, who has been redeemed, who will be lost for eternity. God’s love never fails (1 Cor 13:8). Jesus has promised to lose none of His own (Jn 10:28–29), and His Spirit assures us that He will never leave nor forsake the Israel of God, Christ’s church (Is 49:6; Mt 16:18; Gal 6:16). Here is our sure salvation, sealed by God’s oath and covenant that cannot fail because He is all-wise, all-powerful, and utterly gracious toward those He has chosen to love and to bring into union with Himself (Col 1:13; 1 Jn 4:13).
Rejoice! Give thanks! Unless you do not believe the Word of God, regarding His covenant of grace…in which case you are not a beneficiary of it.
Spokane Valley, Washington
November 25, 2022