The Everlasting Covenant
The covenant of grace is the most profound of all principles. It lies at the foundation of everything God has done on behalf of his people. It is the motive force behind our salvation. And yet, as profound and as fundamental as this principle is, the Bible
presents it in such simple language that there is no reason any person should have any trouble at all in understanding it.
We have pointed out several times that this covenant is a binding agreement between the Father and the Son- -- hat it is literally a contract between them to perform all the provisions of the covenant. Now you may have trouble reading contracts. At one time or another you may have tried to read one of your insurance policies, and with all the legal language, and with the special provisions and exceptions, you wound up about as confused as you were before you started. I spent twenty-four years in the insurance business, and if I learned anything about insurance, I learned that
those companies do not really care whether you understand those policies or not. But whether you understand legal language or not, there is no reason that you should have any trouble understanding the provisions of this covenant. The provisions are clearly spelled out in the Bible.
Not only does the Bible tell us everything we need to know about this covenant, it literally allows us to listen in as the Father and the Son --- in eternity past --- agreed on all the provisions of the covenant.
The Bible is written in a different manner than any other book that has ever been written. For the most part, the Bible simply records the acts and the speeches of its characters without a lot of comment. It simply records what they said and what they did. Taken purely for its literary style, the Bible provides a kind of record that is THE NEXT BEST THING TO BEING THERE. The way the Bible is written, simply recording the acts and words of its characters, puts the reader in a position as if he was standing off to the side listening and watching what was going on. Reading the
Bible in this manner --- almost feeling as if we were there --- leaves us feeling as if we are acquainted with the characters we read about. The language of the Bible is so free and natural, and characters are so true to life, that the speeches and the scenes of the Bible literally come to life.
Not only are the history portions of the Bible written in this manner, but when the Bible talks about the covenant of grace, in the very same manner, it allows to listen to the Father as he speaks to the Son, and allows us to listen to the Son as he replies to the Father So far as words and revelation can do it, the Bible transports the reader all the way back to eternity past and allows us to listen in on the very covenant of grace itself. Think about that. In the verses that we will examine in just a few moments we will be literally listen in on this covenant, this "counsel of
peace" (Zech. 6:13 If that does not excite you, it ought to --- to think that poor mortals can listen in on the very making of the covenant of grace --- to think that we can listen as God the Father and God the Son devise all that is necessary to be done to bring about the salvation of the entire family of God.
We need to point out one thing more, before launch on this very interesting, and very uplifting study We pointed out earlier that a covenant is simply another name for a contract, and it is in the nature of contract that we put them in writing. It is not always necessary that a contract be put in writing. We can make a verbal contract, before witnesses, and seal it with a handshake and that agreement can be legally binding. God certainly did not need for this covenant to be put in writing order to bind him to do as he had promised to do. God the Father and God the Son both knew
exactly what they had agreed to; they are faithful to their word, and there was no possibility that either of them would forget, or that either of them would ignore any part of the agreement BUT GOD HAS PUT THIS COVENANT IN WRITING FOR OUR BENEFIT.
While God knows everything that is in the agreement, you and I did not --- not until God revealed It was for our benefit that God put this agreement in writing. It was not put in writing in order to bind him to the agreement; it was put in writing in order to inform us of the benefits that are ours because of it. We are not parties to the covenant, but we are the beneficiaries of it, and because we are the beneficiaries of it, God has revealed it to us.
God has given us the written record of this everlasting covenant in the Bible, but he has not given all of the record in any one place. He has given us bits and pieces scattered all through the Bible. In some places, such as the eighty-
ninth Psalm, he gives us very long sections of it. In other places he gives us very brief portions. That is the Bible pattern. Isaiah said that the pattern is "precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line, HERE A LITTLE, AND THERE A LITTLE," (Isa. 28:10).
Let me point out that when we read the verses we will be examining during the next few pages, WE WILL LITERALLY BE READING FROM THE DOCUMENT ITSELF. I must say it again: if that does not excite you, it ought to. These are the very words of God. These are the actual words of the promise that God made to his Son, and the
actual promise the Son made to his Father. God has preserved those very words for our benefit. This is the ACTUAL TRANSCRIPT of that "counsel of peace," that took place between the Father and the Son in eternity past.
One more thing before we start: let me ask you, if you are reading a contract, what are the two words that you will likely find most often in that contract? The two words most often found in contracts are the words "will" and "shall," are they not? "The party of the first part agrees that he WILL do thus and so," and "the party of the second part agrees that he WILL do thus and so." Those are the most common expressions in contracts, and it is no different in this covenant, this binding agreement
between the Father and his Son with regard to the salvation of his people.
When you are reading your Bible, if you come across the words "will" or "shall," especially as it relates to what God has promised to do, it is very possible that you have found an excerpt from the covenant of grace. You are reading directly from the record. THE WILL'S AND SHALL'S OF GOD are some of the most exciting and the most reassuring passages in the Bible. If God has promised that he will do something, you can be sure that he will do it.
The very first thing the Bible tells us about the covenant of grace is in the second Psalm. The Father said to the Son, "Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession," (Psa. 2:8). Notice the word "shall;" we are reading directly from the document, from the written record of this covenant. Before God ever created the universe, the Father promised to give a people to his Son Paul talked about the same thing in his letter to the Hebrews. "And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the
children which God hath given me,' Heb. 2:13. The very first provision of the covenant was that the Father promised to give a people to his Son. John 6:39, "And this is the Father's will which hath sent me that OF ALL WHICH HE HATH GIVEN ME I should lose nothing, but raise it up again at the last day."
When I was just a boy I heard a man talking about his efforts at "soul-winning." He allowed that when he stood before God in eternity, he hoped that he could carry along at least one hundred people, whom he had "led to the Lord." He hoped that on that grand day he would be able to present those people to the Lord and say, "Lord, here are all these people I have led to you." Well, I knew there was something wrong with that. First off, to me it sounded a lot like bragging. I did not know that verse in Hebrew was in the Bible, but I knew that the man's project just did not sound
right. Do you see, it is not the job of poor mortal man to present the Lord with a people. That is too important a job to leave to sinful men. It would be the height of folly for God to leave anything so important as the eternal destiny of untold millions of poor sinners the hands of other sinners. God took care of that in eternity past, and he took care of it in such a manner that not one of those whom the Father gave to the Son can ever be lost.
The Father promised to give the Son a people, and the Son promised to redeem them from their sins, to pay their sin debt, and to secure them a home in heaven. God is a righteous and holy God. He will not approve of sin, and he will not allow sin to stand in his presence. There is no way that any sinner could ever live with God in heaven, unless his sins had been removed, unless he could stand before God justified from his sins.
Isa. 53:10,11, "Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou SHALT make his soul an offering for sin, he SHALL see his seed, he SHALL prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord SHALL prosper in his hand. He SHALL see of the travail of his soul, and SHALL be satisfied: by his knowledge SHALL my righteous servant justify many for he SHALL bear their iniquities." Again notice the repeated use of the word "shall." We are reading to you directly from the document, from the written record of that agreement between the Father and his Son. I hope that I
do not bother anyone by my excitement over this matter, but it is the most exciting thought in the world to me to think that, not only has God made this firm and binding agreement with his Son on behalf of his people, but that he has put it all in writing for our benefit, and that he has given us ACCESS TO THE VERY DOCUMENT itself, if we are only willing to read our Bibles and to search it out.
The shall's of this text tell us what the Son has promised to do --- what he has bound himself to do --- on behalf of his people. Apart from the grace of God every one of us is helpless to justify himself before God. Apart from his grace every last one of us would suffer the wrath of God in all eternity. We had no power to help ourselves, and in spite of our helplessness, and of the fact that none of us deserved any good thing from God, the Son of God stepped forward and agreed to do everything necessary to remove our sin, and to secure us a home in eternal heaven.
Notice first that God has promised to "make his soul an offering for sin." II Cor. 5:21, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." God imputed our sin the his Son, charged our sin against his Son, in order that he might impute his righteousness to us. He carried our sin to the cross, and there on the cross he suffered the penalty that was rightly due us. on the cross the Lord suffered the penalty that was due us, in order that we might enjoy the blessedness that belonged to him. In eternity past he promised
to do it; on the cross he did what he promised to do, and when he had accomplished all he had promised to do he cried out, "It is finished," (John 19:30), and "he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. Isaiah went on to say, "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied." Every attribute of God satisfied in the salvation of his people. God did not sacrifice justice in order to be merciful. God's love is satisfied, because every one he loved is redeemed and atoned for by the suffering and death of his Son. His mercy and his grace are satisfied, because every subject of grace, every
subject of mercy is redeemed; every one of them will be with him in eternal heaven. And his justice is satisfied, because he has borne our sins; every sin has been paid for and removed by his suffering and death.
Another quote from this covenant is found Matthew chapter one. "And she SHALL bring forth a son and thou SHALT call his name JESUS: for he SHALL save his people from their sins," Matt. 1:21. I never will forget the first time that verse caught my attention. For years I had heard about God's efforts to save sinners. I had heard how he needed help if he was going to save sinners, that he was doing the best he could, but without more assistance, that untold millions of those whom he wanted ever so much to save were going to surely die eternally. That was a disturbing prospect, to
say the least, to think that God was doing the best he could, and was still failing in the effort.
And then one day I read this verse, and it sounded like nothing I had ever heard before. It rang out with such confidence, such absolute certainty, that God was going to do exactly what he intended to do. It said in no uncertain terms "He shall save his people from their sins." There were no if's. no and's, no but's, no conditions of any kind. It was a clear and simple statement of fact. He came into this world with a work to do, and that work was to "save his people from their sins," and this verse said that he was going to do what he came to do.
I had always heard that the sinner had to be saved in order to become one of his people. But this verse indicated that they were already his people, and that because they were his people, he came to save them. At that time I had never heard of the covenant of grace. I had never heard that, before the foundation of the world, God gave a people to his Son, and I had never heard that before God ever created the universe he had already determined to do all things necessary to save those very people whom he had given to his Son. I had never heard about the everlasting and
unchangeable love God has for his people, and I had no idea that his love for his people was so firm and unshakable that nothing could cause him to cease to love them, or to allow them to suffer eternally. Jer. 31:3, "The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with AN EVERLASTING LOVE: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee."