Center for Biblical Theology and Eschatology

New Covenant of Grace Theology

by Daniel Harris


After reading through several essays about the three primary views on the covenants of the scriptures, I felt left out. I did not mind having little to do with dispensationalism, for this view is far from what I believe the Bible teaches. At first I was beginning to like Covenant Theology, for the idea of categorizing the Covenants into two groups made sense. Then I was upset to find out that they would believe that the Mosaic Covenant was a Covenant of Grace. So sense I had rejected this option also, there only seemed to be one other option available to me: New Covenant Theology. Yet the proponents of this view are quick to stab at Covenant Theology's "two Covenant" message as being anti-scriptural. Hence they've left me out. (Not that I need to be identified with one of these groups.) My understanding of what the scriptures teach puts me half way between Covenant Theology and New Covenant Theology. Since I have not seen a group that is half way between these two groups which might have already labeled their belief with one of those "catchy names", I am to come up with my on name for it. Hence, New Covenant of Grace Theology. (If it has already been named, somebody please let me know, so I can evaluate what another has written).

Let me first say that this is no new doctrine ( for there are no new doctrines). I simply like some of the doctrines of the one group, and some of the doctrines of the other group. Rather this is a combination of the doctrines of one group with the doctrines of another group, with the rejection of certain of the doctrines of both groups.

Hence, New Covenant of Grace Theology is as follows:

New Covenant of Grace Theology


The belief that the covenants that God has made with man can be classified into two primary categories: Covenants of Works, and Covenants of Grace. These can also be looked at as extra-historical revelations of a singular Covenant of Works, and of a singular Covenant of Grace.

This belief differs from New Covenant Theology in a way in which it is similar to Covenant Theology. The similarity with Covenant Theology is that both agree that we can group the covenants that God has made with man into two primary categories: Covenants of Works, and Covenants of Grace. Yet, it also differs from Covenant Theology in a way in which it is similar to New Covenant Theology. The similarity with New Covenant Theology is that both agree that the Mosaic Covenant is a Covenant of Works, and also that the New Testament believer is not subject to the Old Testament Law.

Why study the covenants?

By studying and comparing the covenants, we may get a better knowledge of our covenanting God, and of the covenant-breaking sinner.

As we study through the covenants, we firstly see that God is Holy. He is set apart from humanity. He is not like us. He is a keeper of His Word. He will not violate His covenants. As a Holy God, he requires holiness from his creation. Unholy man is unfit for the presence of the Holy One. Hence the covenants were established to show our unholiness, to provide the means of sanctification, and to guide us in our progressive sanctification (i.e., becoming more like the Holy One). Secondly, we see God as a True God. He cannot lie. He will keep his covenants. We can rest on his Word. How unlike mankind. Thirdly, we see God as a just God. He requires retribution for violating his covenants. The penalty of sin is death. Holy Justice demands vindication, whether that be individually, by the death of the guilty, or vicariously, through the death of Christ.

Fourthly, we see God as a merciful, compassionate God, who pities the sinner, and understands the need of fallen humanity for a Saviour. Fifthly, we see God as a gracious, loving God, who out of unconditional, unmerited, sacrificial love for the sinner, provided the ultimate sacrifice, through the death of his own Son. We see the love of Christ, who gave himself for us. "Amazing Love!, how can it be, that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?"

Sixthly, we see the horrible, reprobate mind of the sinner, who volitionally rebelled against his Creator; and has disdained the Law of God; who has taken pleasure in his perverseness, and has mocked, and rejected the love of God.

By studying the covenants we come to a better understanding of who God is, and of who we are. May this study bring us to a place of greater repentance, and of an overwhelming desire to love and obey God, because of what He has done for us.

Two Types of Covenants

In the first part of this essay the author will detail three Covenants of works: The Edenic Covenant, the Fulfilled Covenant, and the Mosaic Covenant. The author will also detail five Covenants of Grace: The Adamic Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant, the Restoration Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant. The author will also show how each of these eight Covenants can be catagorize into one of two primary covenants: The Covenant of Works, and the Covenant of Grace.

A Covenant of Works

The Covenant of Eden was the first covenant that God made with man. This covenant was made with Adam, the first man. This covenant was given to him in two sections: First in Genesis 1:26-30, second in Genesis 2:15-17.

This was the Law of God as it was revealed to Adam:

1. Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth. 1:28

2. Subdue the earth 1:28

3. Have dominion over every living thing. 1:26, 28

4. Dress and keep the Garden. 2:15

5. Of every tree thou mayest freely eat. 2:16, also 1:29

6. Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it. 2:17

Through this covenant Adam was to remain the image-bearer (or, "reflection") of God. Being in the image of God, man was to reflect at least two aspects of God:

1. As does God, Adam was to maintain dominion over every living thing. 1:26. I.e., God

rules, likewise, Adam rules.

2. As is God, Adam was to remain Holy, without blemish, a pure reflection of God.

If man kept the terms of this covenant, he would continue to live. If man violated the terms of this covenant, he would die, 2:17.

The condition of man who entered into this covenant: Innocent 2:25 ( not ashamed ).

Through eating of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil, man violated the complete revealed Law of God:

1. Be fruitful and multiply. This command to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth was given to man immediately after God declared that man was the image-bearer of God. Hence Adam was to reproduce image-bearers of God. Adam's offspring would not be image-bearers of God (1 Corinthians 15:49). In not reproducing godly image-bearers, Adam violated the Law of God.

2. Subdue the earth. Adam was to bring the earth into subjection to himself. In obeying the serpent, Adam became subject to the earth rather than bringing it under subjection, Hence Adam violated the Law of God.

3. Have dominion over every living thing. In obeying the serpent Adam did not exercise dominion over the serpent, rather the serpent ( the Devil ) took dominion over him. In this Adam violated the Law of God.

4. Dress and keep the Garden. Rather than keeping the garden, Adam defiled this pure environment with sin. Again, Adam violated the Law of God.

5. Of every tree thou mayest freely eat. Herein is the sin of omission: In choosing to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam chose to not eat of that which was good for him, in obedience to God. By omission Adam violated the Law of God.

6. Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it. Adam was willingly disobedient to the command of God. Alas he violated the Law of God.

This covenant was not only a covenant made strictly with Adam and Eve. This was a covenant made between God and all of mankind. Were this not so, then we could not be held responsible for violating this covenant. But we are held responsible for violating this covenant. (Romans 5:18,19; I Corinthians 15:22) Hence we must conclude that the Edenic Covenant is a continual covenant.

A covenant of works is again seen in Exodus 19:5, where God says, "If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my Covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me." Then three days later, God gives to man this covenant, starting with the "ten commandments" in Chapter 20.

This covenant was made between God and the nation of Israel. If they remained obedient to the Law given in this Covenant, they would possess the land of Canaan. (Deuteronomy 28:1-14). If they violated the Covenant, they would perish. (Deuteronomy 28:15-68). In other words they must keep the whole law of God to remain a peculiar people and keep the land which God promised them.. In failing to do so, they would lose their inheritance and die.

This covenant was foreshadowed by God to Abraham .

Before going further into describing this covenant, it is important for the reader to note that Abraham did not just receive one covenant from God. Rather he received two distinctly different covenants.

One of the covenant promises mentioned to Abraham in scripture (Genesis 12:6-7) did not include Abraham! The promise made to Abraham here is that God would give his seed the land. It does not include Abraham, nor does it say how long his seed would have the land. (Henceforth I will refer to this covenant as The Fulfilled Covenant) This promise is repeated in Genesis 15:18-21. Again in these verses Abraham is not the recipient of this promise, nor is there mentioned how long his seed would have the land. This promise is repeated again in Genesis 24:7. Just as before, the promise is not for Abraham, nor do we see how long his seed would have possession of the land.

A second covenant promise mentioned to Abraham in the scripture, however, did include Abraham in the promise. (Genesis 12:1-3; 13:15-17). (This I will refer to as The Abrahamic- Covenant) This covenant promise is made to both Abraham and to his seed. The continuity of the possession of the land of promise is eternal. This covenant is further developed in Genesis 17. (See also 26:1-5; 28:12-15, confirm with Isaac, and Jacob)

Notice the following differences between the two covenant promises:

To Abram's seed (The Fulfilled Covenant) To Abram and his seed (The Abrahamic Covenant)

1. The Fulfilled Covenant Did not include Abram in promise. The Abrahamic Covenant Included Abram in promise


2. The Fulfilled Covenant No guarantee of continuity. The Abrahamic Covenant Eternal possession.

3. The Fulfilled Covenant Conditional in its continued blessing. By sin they lost their possession(Deuteronomy 8:18-20) The Abrahamic Covenant Unconditional in its eternal blessing


4. The Fulfilled Covenant Completely fulfilled. (Joshua 21:43-45; Nehemiah 9:7-8.) The Abrahamic Covenant Yet to be fulfilled, though currently being fulfilled. (More about this in Abrahanic Covenant below.)

5. The Fulfilled Covenant This promise was for national Israel. The Abrahamic Covenant This promise includes all who believe on Christ (Galatians 3:7,29)

6. The Fulfilled Covenant This was a covenant that Israel must work to maintain, hence a covenant of Works The Abrahamic Covenant This covenant is maintained by the Grace. God; hence a covenant Grace.

The covenant given to Israel at Sinai was a covenant of works. The Hebrew nation had to keep the Law of God to continually possess the land of promise. The author of Hebrews teaches that this covenant had a major fault. If it were faultless there would be no need of a new covenant (Hebrews 8:6-9) The major fault of this covenant is that no one kept it.

No one has been saved by keeping this covenant (Galatians 5:4), because all have sinned (Romans 3:23). This covenant was reiterated in the book of Deuteronomy chapters 5-29.

A Covenant of Grace

The Adamic Covenant, was the second covenant that God made with mankind. Genesis 3:14-21. In this covenant God pronounced judgement for failure to keep the first covenant. Judgement for the serpent. Judgement for Eve, and Judgement for Adam. Also in this covenant God begins to reveal the means of salvation from the curse of sin. Hence, although this is a covenant of judgement, it is also a covenant of Grace.

The first judgement promised by this covenant is upon the serpent. There is a physical judgement and a spiritual judgement in view here. The physical judgement was for the animal. This animal who apparently had legs and did walk would be cursed to crawl upon its belly. The spiritual curse here was not on the animal, but on the one who had entered the animal, the devil. Satan is the serpent (Revelation 12:9); he is the deceiver. The judgement pronounced on him is that he would have his head bruised (Romans 16:20). His doom is sure (Revelation 20:10).

The second judgement is pronounced upon the woman. She would have pain in child birth, and be ruled over by fallen man.

The third judgement is upon the man, and extends to all of mankind. He was to be expelled from the garden, the place where he had intimate fellowship with God. He would be made to labor against the earth to survive, and in the end, he would not survive; for he will die. That death is not just a physical death, but is an eternal spiritual death, separated from the love and care of God to spend eternity in Hell. This is just.

If this were the end of the Adamic Covenant then God would be justified, righteous judgement would have been satisfied. Yet God is merciful! He has provided a means of escape from this dreadful doom. Here we see that this covenant of justice is also a glorious Covenant of Grace. When God sought out Adam, as His Voice walked through the garden, it was a Voice of Grace: "Adam, where art thou?" God did not ask this question for Himself, that He might learn of Adam's situation. God knew where Adam was. Rather, Adam needed to know where Adam was. This was a requirement for his salvation. This is a requirement for the repentance of any man. We must first know what we have done; how that our sin has grieved God; how that sin has separated us from the presence of God. Notice the question is, "Where art thou?" Adam had departed from the presence of God. He had separated himself from God. God was here showing Adam that Adam had left God, and that God was seeking him. Adam was not seeking God. Adam was hiding himself from God. The same is true with any sinner. We are not actively seeking God (Romans 3:11) Rather we are actively hiding our sins. Yet God is merciful. He seeks us out. He shows to us our condition. He brings us to repentance. He offers to us restored fellowship. "Adam, where art thou?"; "Sinner, where art thou?" He offers to us restored fellowship, if we would see our terrible condition, and turn in repentance to Him.

For Adam to be saved, he must first face the sin that he has committed. Then, second, he must see the penalty for his sins. Then, third, he must here of God's offer of salvation. So, first God has Adam face up to the sin that he is trying to hide (verse 10, 11). Second, God shows to him the penalty of his sin (verses 14-19). Then, third, God reveals the means of Salvation, that would come through the seed of the woman (verse 15).

Here in the Adamic covenant we begin to see God's salvation plan unfold. Not much is revealed at this time. God only revealed at this point that the deceiver would be destroyed, and that the seed of the woman would be wounded in the process. As a symbol of what would occur God killed an animal to clothe Adam. Something had to be sacrificed to cover his nakedness. ( What a wonderful picture of what was done to cover our nakedness. Christ, the Lamb of God was sacrificed that we may be clothed in Christ's righteousness.). Hence, Adam would have known that the seed of the woman would provide the means of salvation.

This was a covenant of Grace. God would provide the means of salvation. Certainly Adam taught this to his children. His children new that there must be a sacrifice for sin (4:1-5). Through faith (Hebrews 11:4) Adam and his offsprings could have their sins paid for.

Certainly the Covenant God made with Abraham and his seed, (Genesis 12:1-3; 13:15-17; Genesis 17) the Abrahamic Covenant, was a covenant of Grace. This covenant is somewhat described above.

Some important things to notice about this covenant are:

1. This was an eternal covenant with an eternal inheritance (Genesis 13:15; 17:7,8)

2. This covenant was unconditional in its fulfilment.

3. The people of the covenant must be circumcised. Physical circumcision, however, was not the requirement for salvation. Rather spiritual circumcision is what was necessary. (Deuteronomy 30:6)

4. This covenant was a covenant of faith (Galatians 3:6-9) and includes all who believe on Christ for salvation. (Galatians 3:13-14,29; Romans 11:16-17and 26)

5. This covenant is made with a chosen people (1 Peter 2:9). Abraham did not seek God out to covenant with Him. Rather God sought him. (Genesis 12:1-2). We did not seek God - He chose us (John 15:16; 6:44).

6. When God called Abraham, Abraham had to separate himself from his kindred.(Genesis 12:1). God calls us out from among our "kindred" (2 Corinthians 6:17)

7. This covenant has not been completely fulfilled. It is being fulfilled as people are added to the body of Christ, and become "joint heirs" to the promised inheritance. It will be completely fulfilled after the return of Christ, in the New Jerusalem.

The next great covenant of Grace is the Covenant of Restoration of Deuteronomy 30. In the previous chapters of Deuteronomy, Moses reiterated the Mosaic Covenant to the people. In chapters 28 and 29, he listed the blessings for obedience to the covenant, and the curses for disobedience to the covenant. In chapter 30, knowing that Israel would violate the Covenant, he presents another promise (i.e., Covenant) to them.

In this covenant, of chapter 30, God promised to gather his people from among the nations where among they had been scattered (vs. 3-4), and bring them into the land promised to their fathers (verse 5).

Circumcision is a requirement of this covenant; not physical circumcision, but spiritual circumcision (verse 6). God would circumcise their hearts (verse 6). (Notice in this covenant, God would circumcise their hearts, whereas in the Mosaic covenant [Deuteronomy 10:16] they were required to circumcise their own hearts. Hence, in this covenant, God does the work, whereas in the Mosaic covenant, man was required to do the work. No man has ever circumcised his own heart. Salvation is completely the work of God.).

Was this covenant made only for national Israel? It is true that this covenant was presented to national Israel, and that through it, Israel did have hope for salvation, even though they had failed again and again to obey the terms of the Mosaic Covenant. However, the Restoration Covenant promise is the promise given to Abraham (verse 20). Therefore we must conclude that this Covenant is an extension of the Abrahamic Covenant. The New Testament Church is heir to the Abrahamic Covenant (Galatians 3:29). Consider the syllogism: If this covenant is an extension of the Abrahamic Covenant, and if the Abrahamic Covenant includes the New Testament Church, then this covenant also applies to the New Testament Church.

This is the message that God gives not only to the nation of Israel, but also to the whole world. "But now [God] commandeth all men everywhere to repent." (Acts 17:30). God knew that Israel would rebel against the covenant of works (Mosaic Law), and would be subject to death. He knew that they were a rebellious, stiff-necked people. Just the same, God knows that we, his Church would all fall into sin (Proverbs 24:16). God is a God of compassion. Hence He provided a covenant of compassion (Deuteronomy 30:3). God is merciful to us.

Herein is the application of this covenant. If we, who have sinned miserably in the sight of God, are convicted of our sins, and repent, i.e., turn away from them, and put our trust in the Christ of the Covenant, then God promises to "turn thy captivity" (verse 3), i.e., forgive us of our sins. (2 Chronicles 7:14, which verse applies to both God's Old Testament people and His New Testament people).

Verses 11 through 20 of this chapter apply to everything that Moses said to the people in that day (verse 11). Hence it applies both to the Mosaic Covenant of the preceding chapters and the Restoration Covenant of chapter 30. If the people violated the Mosaic Covenant, they had no excuse, they were warned (verses 11-14). If the people did not turn from there sins, as they were instructed in the Restoration Covenant, they had no excuse, they were warned. Verses 15 thru 20 also apply to both: if you keep either of these two covenants, you will have life, and dwell in the promised land. If you turn away from these two covenants, you will perish.

The next great Covenant of Grace is the Davidic Covenant. ( 2 Samuel 7; 1 Chronicles 17). The background to this covenant is that David wanted to build God a house. David had a house, thus He thought, God should have a house. God says that David would not build Him an house, because he had shed much blood (1 Chronicles 22:8) . But his seed would. This covenant that David's seed would build a house had a literal, and a spiritual fulfilment. The literal fulfilment was through David's son, Solomon. (1 Kings 5:5; 8:18-20; 1 Chronicles 22:10). The spiritual fulfilment would be through David's son, Jesus Christ (Luke 1:31-33).

This covenant that God made with his people Israel had the following promises:

1. God would plant his people, Israel, and they shall no more be moved.(2 Sam 7:10; 1 Chron. 17:9)

2. Nor shall they be afflicted.

3. The seed of David would build a house for God. (2 Sam 7:13; 1 Chron. 17:12)

4. The throne of his kingdom shall be forever

5. Israel would be the people of God eternally (2 Sam 7:24; 1 Chron. 17:22)

Before we can understand what all this promise is teaching, we must understand who is the Israel that God has in view here. Our dispensational brothers teach that this can refer only to national Israel, the immediate people whom David was the king over. However one must allow the Bible to be its own dictionary, and define its own terms. The term Israel could have three different meanings: First,. National Israel, the literal offspring of Jacob. Second, Jesus Christ is also referred to as Israel ( Isaiah 49:3; Hosea 11:1, ref. Matt 2:15). Third, Israel could also refer to all who believe on Christ. We are the seed of Abraham and heirs according to the promise (Galations 3:29; Romans 2:28-29).

To determine to whom this promise is made, we must ask ourselves, can each of these promises apply to the suggested definition of Israel. So the first question is, Can these promises apply to national Israel (from the context of the entire scriptures)? Will national Israel be established forever, and will they be the people of God eternally? Jesus answered that question. Matthew 21:18-19. Jesus came up to a fig tree which was in leaf, but did not have any figs. He curses the fig tree. "Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward, forever" The fig tree is none other than national Israel (Hosea 9:10; Joel 1:7). Never again would the nation of Israel bear fruit! As a whole they have become apostate, and will remain that way. They will again be in leaf (Matthew 24:32-33, fulfilled, A.D. 1948), but will never bear fruit. This is the word of Christ.

This promise probably would not refer to Christ Himself, because He was never moved in the first place. One would have to have previously been moved to be no more moved. Although this promise could refer to the "body of Christ" (Ephesians 5:30).

Could this promise refer to all who believe on Christ? Are we not planted by God? (Psalm 1:3) Shall we be no more moved? (Psalm 62:6; Ephesians 4:14) Shall we at sometime no longer be afflicted? (Revelation 21:4) Shall we be the people of God eternally? (Revelation 21:6-7). Truly this covenant can refer to all who believe on Christ for salvation.

This is a covenant for all who have put their trust in Christ for salvation!! We have been planted in a firm Foundation (our Lord Jesus Christ), we shall not be moved!! The day will come when we will no more be afflicted, no more persecuted, suffer no more tribulation. This is our hope! We can rely on this promise from God to David!

Jesus Christ is the seed of David who would build the house (John 2:19-21). He is the Temple (John 2:21). Since we are His body (Ephesians 5:30), we too are the Temple ( 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19). Christ, the seed of David, would build the house thru which we can have fellowship with God.

This is truly a Covenant of Grace! Imagine that God would identify himself with such sinners as we? That he would make us his people? And would dwell with us forever? Amazing Grace.

The next great Covenant of Grace is the New Covenant. Jeremiah 31:31-34. This covenant had the following promises:

1. This covenant was for the house of Israel, and the house of Judah.(vs31)

2. It would not be like the covenant God made with their fathers when He brought them out of Egypt, which covenant they broke.(vs32)

3. God would put his Law on their inward parts, and write it on their hearts (vs33)

4. God would be their God, and they would be His people (vs33)

5. They shall all know God (vs34)

6. God will forgive and forget their iniquity (vs34).

To whom is this covenant given? Lest we should have any doubt, or lest we should make up our own interpretation of this covenant, God defines this covenant more fully for us in Hebrews 8:7 - 10:39. This covenant was given to all who "are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all"(Hebrew 10:10,14), all them who look for his appearing (Hebrews 9:28).

This is Jews and Gentiles alike. Old Testament believers, and New Testament believers, all of whom have salvation through the Blood of Jesus Christ. No one can be saved by any other method, than through this covenant, not by the blood of bulls or of goats (Hebrews 10:4,11), but by the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:19). Anyone who teaches that there is salvation apart from that of the New Covenant is a heretic!!! ( Scofield was a heretic, see section on Answering the Critics below.)

Therefore, letting the Bible be its own interpreter, the house of Israel, and the house of Judah, must refer to all who have salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ, both Jews and Gentiles, old testament and new testament believers, from Abel to the last person who will be born again. This is the Israel of God.

This New Covenant would not be like the old covenant (the Mosaic Covenant). Rather this one would be different in the following ways:

1. This covenant would be written in the minds, and on the heart of those who believe. The unconverted Hebrews did not have the law of God in their hearts, nor did they meditate on the Law. But those who have been converted have a love for the Law of God. It is hidden within their hearts (Psalm 119:11). God's Law is their delight, and they meditate on it (Psalm 1:2). The people of the New Covenant (the covenant of the converted) desire to be obedient to their Master. True, they still have a wretched body that lusts after sin, but in their spirits they love God's Law (Romans 7:15-25).

2. The people of the Covenant would be God's people, and God would be their God.(vs33) Unlike unconverted Israel, the people of the New Covenant would have a personal, loving relationship with their God. They would not give themselves to the gods of this world as did Israel. They would serve their Master: though now imperfectly: in their flesh they serve the flesh, in their spirits they serve God. There is a battle within them. But the day will come that they will completely serve their God, in body, mind, and spirit. O Happy Day!! To this we look forward, to know that some day we will serve our God completely.

3. The people of the New Covenant would be a forgiven people (vs34). Unlike the Mosaic Covenant, in which there is no forgiveness for sin (because it was a Covenant of Works), in the New Covenant (which is a Covenant of Grace) God would forgive his people.

4. The Old Covenant had many mere symbols that prefigured the realities of the New Covenant (Hebrew 9:1-14)

5. The Old Covenant was conditional in its blessings. "If ye will obey.."(Exodus 19:5). The New Covenant is unconditional it its blessings "I will.." (Jeremiah 31:33-34). The blessings of the New Covenant are not dependent on our works, but on God's word.

What a gracious God we have, that He would choose to identify himself with rebellious people. That He would forgive our iniquities, and remember our sins no more. That He would send His only Son to die for those who would not of themselves love Him, for those who would mock Him, and turn their backs on Him, and serve other gods. Yet He is faithful. He will pardon. He will draw His elect to Him (John 6:44; Psalm 65:4), and will become their God, and they will be grateful, and will come to love Him. We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). This is the essence of the covenant.

In Conclusion:

All of the covenants that God made with man are for His glory. God will be glorified in His justice. God will be glorified in His Grace. God will be glorified in that He is the keeper of His Covenants. There is no shadow of turning in Him. Sola Deo Gloria!

In essence, there are but two types of covenant. Those which are of works, and those which are of Grace.

The covenants of works all have the following in common:

1.They emphasize the Law of God, and require man's strict adherence to it.

2.All of mankind, save for Jesus Christ, God in flesh, have broken the covenants, and for so doing, must face the wrath of God. Jesus Christ was the only one to keep the covenants.

3.None of the covenants of works provide for the salvation of mankind. Hence, no man can be save by keeping the Law of these covenants.

4.They glorify God as being a Just God.

The Covenants of Grace all have the following in common:

1.They emphasize the grace of God, and require man's faith in nothing else other than the grace of God.

2. The blessings of these covenants are not dependent on our righteousness, but are dependent on the Promise of God, who cannot lie.

3.The penalty of sin must be paid, and can only be paid for through the blood of Jesus Christ, God's spotless Lamb.

4.They glorify God as being merciful, and forgiving.

Looking at these covenants in the order that they were presented to man shows a progressive revelation about them:

The progressive revelation through the covenants of works:

1. In the Edenic Covenant there is a minimal amount revealed. Adam was given by God only six laws (See Edenic Covenant above) and it is revealed that Adam would surely die if he violated the covenant.

2. In the Fulfilled Covenant that God gave to Abraham, God reveals the blessings of obedience.

3. In the Mosaic Covenant God presents the Law of God to Israel in detail.

The progressive revelation through the covenants of Grace:

1. In the Adamic Covenant God reveals that the offspring of the woman would crush the serpents head. God also teaches that there must be a sacrifice for sin.

2. In the Abrahamic Covenant God reveals the unconditional blessings that He will give to His people through the seed of Abraham

3. In the Restoration Covenant God shows that He will forgive the sins of the people who turn to Him from their wicked paths in repentance. He will restore to them the Land of Promise.

4. In the Davidic Covenant God reveals that salvation would come through the offspring of David, and that the throne of the seed of David would be eternal, and that Israel would be His eternal people.

5. In the New Covenant God reveals that salvation is only through the shed blood of Christ, and that God would maintain a personal relationship to His people who would love His Law.

In essence, the author would not deem it wrong to consider there being only one Covenant of Works with plural revelations, and only one Covenant of Grace with plural revelations. The author believes this to be an acceptable teaching because these covenants seem to be extra-historically interwoven throughout the scriptures: Consider that all humanity has violated all of the covenants of works. ( "As in Adam, all die,"[This is a singular death]. Hence through original sin, we have violated all of the covenants of works ) Then consider that the cross of Christ is at the center of all of the Covenants of Grace. ( "so in Christ shall all be made alive."[This is a singular salvation] Hence the death of Christ penetrates throughout all of the Covenants of Grace, because he has secured these covenants through His death) This is the extra-historic scarlet thread that connects the complete revelation of God.

Answering the Critics.

The above analysis of the covenants is in no wise exhaustive. However the author believes the information presented can be completely supported from the scriptures. The categorizing of the Covenants however comes from the mind of the author. Certainly one can categorize the covenants differently, as long as he has holds to the commonality of the covenants, and does not force a covenant to teach something it does not teach. For example if someone tried to categorize the Davidic Covenant as a covenant of works, he would probably would have little scriptural support for such a categorization. Certainly, the Covenant Theologian has mis-categorized the Mosaic Covenant. (More about this later).

Many would argue that such categorizations as the author's is contrary to the singularity of these covenant presentations, and therefore there is no scriptural basis for so doing. To this the author must reply that there is no scriptural instructions for categorizing, or not categorizing the covenants. Anyone can categorize the covenants, as long as their categorizing holds to what the covenants are teaching. The author in no wise believes that this is the only way these covenants can be categorized.

Further, some would say that it is wrong to teach that their appears to be an extra-historic connection between the covenants that binds them into one covenant of Works, and one covenant of Grace, because the Bible does not specifically say that. To this the author answers by pointing to the doctrine of the Trinity (which if any does not accept, he is not a Christian) which is not specifically stated in scripture as, "there is but One God, with three persons" but rather it is implied because the Father is God, the Son is God, The Holy Spirit is God, yet there is but One God.

Many would also argue that the authors interpretation of the covenants given to Israel as being applicable to New Testament Gentiles is contrary to the teachings of the scriptures. To this the author responds that such interpretation is validated by the scriptures. Interpreting Israel as being all of the people of God, whether Jew or Gentile, is not a private interpretation. Rather such is the scriptural definition of the Israel of God. Consider the following verses: Romans 2:26-29;9:6-8;11:17-24; Galatians 3:26-29.

Certainly there are many differing doctrines that Theologians hold concerning the interpretation of the covenants. This will always be true as long as man is imperfect. The author of the above article in no wise believes that he has arrived. No man is infallible. The author would quickly abandon his view, if shown from the scriptures errors in his doctrine. It is our task as believers to study the scriptures (). Through faithfully studying the scriptures many people have come to many differing views of what they teach. God is the reveler of truth, and He has not chosen to reveal everything to anyone.

There are some differences in doctrine that are of minimal importance as to what ones interpretation of them are. For example, whether or not Mary had more children after giving birth to Jesus, is a doctrine that is not worth wasting time debating. Certainly one can be totally surrendered to God and believe one way or the other. Such beliefs are not worth separating over.

However, there are some doctrines that are critical to the believer and such doctrines must be held at all cost. For example, the doctrine of the Deity of Christ. Certainly if one teaches contrary to the Deity of Christ, he is a heretic, and we should separate ourselves from such. (2 John 7-11).

Certainly one cannot separate from another who is pre-millennial because he is a-millennial. One who would stand in opposition to a brother for holding a different view of the millennium is a sower of discord among the brethren. Certainly both individuals can be totally surrendered to God, and not agree on such issue.

It is profitable, however to understand why one believes what he believes, and to look at what others believe and learn from it, whether to change his beliefs or to strengthen his own beliefs. In so doing, we can avoid private interpretation. There are no new doctrines! If someone believes that he has come up with some new doctrine from scripture that no one else has ever discovered, we should immediately see a red flag. Such doctrine likely came from one's private interpretation. Certainly all interpretations of scripture should come from the word of God, and not be based on what his church or his educators believed.

With this in mind, let us consider the following sections:

What about Dispensationalism?

At this point, let's take a quick look as dispensationalism and see if this interpretation of the covenants is scripturally sound. The author will look briefly at progressive dispensationalism, and pure dispensationalism.

Progressive Dispensationalism has become a very common teaching among many fundamentalist. They believe that history is divided into typically seven eras, that they refer to as dispensations. These commonly are called:

1. Innocence - The Garden of Eden.

2. Conscience, or Antediluvian - from the fall to the flood.

3. Human government - from the flood to the calling of Abraham.

4. Promise - from the calling of Abraham to Mt Sinai

5. Law - From the giving of the Law to the Cross

6. Grace, or the Church Age - From the cross, til the return of Christ

7. Kingdom - From the return of Christ to the battle of Gog and Magog.

They believe that God dealt, or will deal, differently with His people in each of these dispensations (In other words, there is a different set of Laws for each dispensation). They commonly teach that there is little to no Old Testament prophesies of the New Testament Church. They separate Old Testament Israel, and the New Testament Church into being two separate peoples of God. They do not distinguish between the covenants given to Abraham. They also believe that the Abrahamic Covenant will be fulfilled in the coming Kingdom Age and that the New Covenant will also be fulfilled in the Kingdom age. Many (but not all) of them teach a pre-tribulation rapture of the Church.

As to whether or not there will be a future Golden Age before the White Throne judgement, the author will not spend time on in this study. In this study be it known that the author does not agree with such doctrine. The author takes a spiritual approach to the interpretation of Revelation chapter 20, and believes that this era is equivalent to the Church Age.

As for dividing history into separate time periods, there is no problem in so doing. To say that God's deals differently with people in these different time era's is partially agreed. Certainly a New Testament believer is not to sacrifice burnt offerings, nor did an Old Testament believer need to be baptized. But it must be noted that Salvation has always been through faith in Christ, whether that was looking forward to the first advent of Christ, the redeemer, or looking back at the completed work of Christ.

As for separating Old Testament Israel and the New Testament Church into two separate peoples of God, let us see what the scriptures say about this issue:

Romans 11:17-24: Thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree (Grafted into the same tree!!!)

Galatians 3:26-29: For ye are all the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus...there is neither Jew nor Greek...for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ then ye are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Heirs of the Abrahamic covenant)

Romans 2:26-29: Therefore, if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the Law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?...for he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward...But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart.

Romans 9:6-8: ...they are not all Israel who are of Israel: neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children...they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God:but the children of the promise are counted for the seed...

Revelation 21:12-14: "And names written on the gates, which are the names of the twelve tribes...and the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles" (Both Israel, and the church are seen in the New Jerusalem.)

Clearly the scriptures teach that there is but one people of God, which includes all of His Elect.

As for the timing of the giving of the New Covenant, Hebrews 10:9-10, makes it clear that the covenant was in effect while the writer of Hebrews wrote, and in verses 22-23, he encourages the believers to act on that covenant. One of the ordinances of the new covenant is the Lord's supper. In 1 Corinthians 11:25-26, Jesus says, "this is the new testament in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as ye...drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till He come." Those who partake of the Lord's supper demonstrate that they are heirs to the New Covenant.

Some will say that the church is part heirs of the new covenant, and that Israel must also be heirs to the New Covenant (some go as far as to say that there are two New Covenants!!). They will say this because Jeremiah 31 says that this covenant is made with the house of Israel and of Judah. (Remember Romans 2:26-29, and Romans 9:6-8). If we look at the house of Israel, as did Paul, as being the olive tree of Romans 11:17-24, we can more clearly see who are the heirs to the New Covenant. It is made up of those Jews who were not broken off the olive tree, and the Gentiles who were grafted in. This is the house of Israel.

Pure dispensationalist differ from progressive dispensationalist in that not only do they teach that God deals with his people in different dispensations in different ways, but they go further and say that God has a different method of salvation for each dispensation.

Pure dispensationalist have crossed the line from having acceptable differences to being heretics. One example of a pure dispensationalist was C.. I. Scofield. Quoting from the footnotes to John 1:17 of his reference Bible of 1909:

""As a dispensation, grace begins with the death and resurrection of Christ....The point of testing is no longer legal obedience as the condition of salvation, but acceptance or rejection of Christ, with good works as a fruit of salvation"

Is that clear enough? In this he is saying, that in the dispensation that preceded the dispensation of Grace,(i.e. the Dispensation of the Law), that men were saved by works!!! This is heresy. Such teachings should be openly challenge and marked as heresy, and we should separate ourselves from brotherly fellowship with those who teach such doctrines. This teaching belittles the Grace of God.

*****Just as a side note: The new Scofield Bible (1967 edition) was modified by progressive dispensationalist. They change this note to read:

"The purpose of each dispensation, then, is to place man under a specific rule of conduct, but such stewardship is not a condition of salvation. In every past dispensation unregenerate man has failed, and he has failed in this present dispensation and will in the future. But salvation has been and will continue to be available to him by God's grace through faith"***********

Concerning Covenant Theology

Is the Mosaic Covenant a covenant of Grace?

One way in which the author would disagree with Covenant Theology is with their interpretation of the Mosaic Covenant as being a further revelation of the Covenant of Grace.

The author will not spend much time repeating what has already been said in the section on the Mosaic Covenant. Exodus 19:5 makes it pretty clear that this covenant was a covenant of works. The covenant was the law of God (beginning in chapter 20). The blessing of the covenant was conditional on their obedience. A curse would be upon them for incomplete obedience (Deut 27:26). None can be saved by keeping the Law (Galations 5:4). Old Testament Israelites were not saved by keeping, or attempting to keep the law of God. Rather they were saved by faith in the covenant promise of God to Abraham. The law was given to them to show them their need of a Saviour (Galatians 3:24).

Remember, this covenant, according to Jeremiah 31:32, would not be like unto the New Covenant; how, then, can we say they are both revelations of the same covenant?

How can one say that the Decalogue (Ten Commandments), being representative of the Mosaic Law is that Law written on the hearts of those under the New Covenant?

Does not 2 Corinthians 3:1-11 teach that that which is written upon stone has been done away? If it has been done away, then how can we say that it is still alive in the New Covenant?

Is there any scriptural reasoning for infant Baptism?

Another way in which this author would disagree with most "Covenant Theologians" is in the common doctrine of infant baptism (and in baptism by any means other than Immersion.)

Many Covenant Theologians believe that because the New Testament Church is essentially the New Testament equivalent of Old Testament Israel; and that since infants of Israel were to be circumcised to be identified as a part of a covenant family, then it must follow that New Testament believers should have their children baptized to likewise identify them as being a part of a covenant family.

Some even cross the line into heresy and teach that an infant is redeemed through baptism until they have reached the "Age of Accountability." - The author of this article does not use the term heresy lightly. The idea that an infant is preserved through its baptism would be a doctrine of salvation by works. Then when the child has reached its "Age of Accountability" he must loose his salvation, and would need to be saved again. Either the child is saved, or is not saved, but being baptized has no effect on whether a child is saved. God can as easily save a new born (or an unborn) as He can an adult. The doctrine of an "Age of Accountability" is not found in the scriptures anywhere. Rather the exact opposite is true. (Psalm 51:5; 58:3)

Although it is true that both circumcision and baptism are symbols of salvation, (and that neither are/were requisites for salvation), it does not follow that we should apply baptism in the same method as was applied circumcision. Firstly, circumcision was only to be applied on the male infants. If we were to follow the same methodology for baptism as for circumcision, then we should only baptize male infants, and never baptize the females. (This is certainly not taught in scripture.) Secondly, baptism is an ordinance for believers. Old Testament Israelites were circumcised whether or not they were truly converted. No instance is recorded in scripture where one was baptized without first professing faith in Christ. Nor ever is there an instance recorded in scripture of an infant being baptized.

The doctrine of infant baptism is not supported in scripture, nor can one conclude that it is without approaching the Bible with a pre-conceived idea.

What is the Law of God for the New Testament Believers?

Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, "Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the prophets: I am come not to destroy but to fulfill...one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."

The Law of God is still the Law of God. It is still in effect, and people will still be condemned to hell for not keeping the law completely.

The good news is that Jesus Christ came to fulfill the Law. For those who put their faith in Him, he has fulfilled the Law!! Paul in his epistle to the Galatians makes it clear that those who are justified by faith in Christ have been freed from the Law. (Galatians 2:15-21; 5:1-4.)

Christ has fulfilled the obligations of the law. He has done away with all of the ceremonial requirements. We are no longer bound to it! We are at liberty (Galatians 5:1)!

The law was given as a "school master" to show us our need for Christ. When we have Christ, we are no longer under this "school master" (Galatians 3:24-25).

Yet, we are not lawless. The principles of the Law still remain. They are written upon the heart of the believer (Hebrews 10:16). We are under the Law to Christ (1 Corinthians 9:21, Galatians 6:2), that is the law of liberty (James 1:22-25), which is love (Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 6:13-14).

The converted believer is to live separated unto God, as a holy, sanctified vessel. The command of God is, "Be ye holy, for I am Holy." (1 Peter 1:16). "Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." (2 Timothy 2:19). "If a man, therefore, purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work." (2 Timothy 2:21).

The true believer should have within him an overwhelming desire to be obedient to his Master. Having an understanding of what Christ has done for him, should bring the child of God into a increasing desire to give himself for Christ.

Certainly the author agrees with the New Covenant Theologian on this point.

Questions for the New Covenant Theologian.

Why does the New Covenant Theologian choose to reject the Covenant Theologians for the two-covenant doctrine? Is this an important difference between the two views? (Other than the mis-classification of the Mosaic Covenant)

Why does the New Covenant Theologian refuse to recognize the redeemed of Old Testament Israel as being a part of the Church? Does not Stephen refer to the congregation of Israel as the "church in the wilderness"(Acts 7:38). Incidentally, the word translated "church" throughout the New Testament would better be translated "assembly" or "called out ones". This word is used in the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Old Testament) to refer to the Congregation of Israel. When Jesus said, "Upon this rock, I will build my church (or "assembly" or "called out ones")," He used the future tense, not because the church was future, but because His death (i.e., the means of building the church) was future. There is but one people of God (Galatians 3:28), that is the Church (or,"assembly" or "called out") of Jesus Christ.

New Covenant of Grace Theology Applied.

New Covenant of Grace Theology is a Biblical world view which complements the Biblical teachings of Calvinistic Theology. This section of the essay will develop how this covenant teaching relates to the Eternal Decree and Reformed Eschatology.

The Eternal Decree is the doctrine that before the foundation of the world, God had not only foreseen the unfolding of time in His creation, but more, that He ordained it to the praise of His Glory. He ordained the means of salvation through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, God in flesh. He, also, by His sovereign will, and for His own good pleasure, ordained whom He would save (the elect) and whom He would not save (the reprobate) to their respective ends.

The doctrine of the Eternal Decree is the logical conclusion of both the doctrines of the Omnipotence of God, and the Omniscience of God: If God is omni-potent (i.e., all-powerful) so that none can resist His will, and at the same time omni-scient (i.e., all knowledge) so as He has always known and hence will never attain to more knowledge, then we must logically conclude that from eternity past He has sovereignly ordained all which has been known, or is to be known. Hence, from eternity past, God has decreed (by means of His sovereign will) the eternal future. Such is incomprehensible to the finite mind of man.

The end of the Eternal Decree is that God has been, is, and will be glorified through Himself, and through all which He has created, or will create.

The covenants which God has made with mankind, are product of the eternal decree.

The covenants of works, (which are revelations of the same covenant truth) were ordained of God to make known the blessings of obedience, and the penalty of disobedience. The laws of the covenants were ordained to show the inability of man to faithfully keep the covenant, thus condemning man to the judgement which he deserves.

The purpose of the covenant(s) of works is ultimately to glorify God. God is glorified in that He is the only One who has kept His covenant (Jesus Christ was completely obedient to this covenant). God will be glorified through the judgement of all who keep not His covenant.

The covenant of grace was ordained of God to provide the means necessary to provide for the salvation of covenant-breakers. God, from all eternity, decree who would be saved through this covenant (the elect), and how He would provide for their salvation.

The purpose of the covenant of grace is ultimately to glorify God. God is glorified in that He is the provider of this covenant. He is a gracious and merciful God. He is a sacrificial, loving God, Who spared not His only Son to be a sacrifice for those whom He loved.

The Covenant of Grace

Copyright 2001, by Daniel E. Harris

(to be sung to the tune of "I Will Praise Him")


Fallen Adam, Look to Jesus!

For your sins He bled and died

Praise the Name of Christ our Saviour!

A New Covenant His blood supplied.


All the trees of Eden's Garden

have much fruit to satisfy.

But the tree of Good and Evil,

Eat of it and you will die.

This the Covenant of Eden;

By God's word it was secure.

Here God tested His creation:

would man choose to remain pure?

Man was placed in Eden's Garden

God would test his loyalty.

Adam fell to sin's temptation,

Endless death his fate would be.

A new covenant was needed:

one to save this fallen race,

one to offer man's redemption;

This the Covenant of Grace.

(Sing Chorus).

Christ would be the substitution:

He's the Lamb slain for us all.

He would take our sins upon Him,

and by death fulfill the Law.

This the Covenant of Mercy,

This the promise given men-

Repent now and trust in Jesus;

He will cleanse you from your sin.

(Sing chorus)


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