The Covenant of Grace
Rev. Angus Stewart
In keeping with the biblical and Reformed doctrines
of Calvinism, we believe that the covenant of grace is a covenant of
sovereign, particular and irresistible grace rooted in eternal,
unconditional election in Jesus Christ, for "election is the fountain
of every saving good, from which proceed faith, holiness, and the
other gifts of salvation, and finally eternal life itself, as its
fruits and effects" (Canons of Dordt I:9; Eph. 1:4). The Triune
God "confirmed the new covenant" by "the most precious death of his
Son" for "all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to
salvation and given him by the Father" (Canons II:8; John
10:14-15, 26). As Westminster Larger Catechism Answer 31
states, "The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam
and in him with all the elect as his seed" (cf. Gal. 3:16, 29).
God's covenant grace, covenant promise, covenant salvation and
covenant blessings are most fully treated in the Scriptures in Romans
9:6-24, that great passage on sovereign, unconditional, double
predestination, consisting of eternal election and reprobation, in the
covenant line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the covenant nation of
Israel. "So then," the apostle concludes, salvation—covenant
salvation—is not of him that willeth [i.e., man's alleged free will],
nor of him that runneth [i.e., man's strenuous efforts and works], but
of God that sheweth mercy" (Rom. 9:16; cf. Rom. 4:16; Eph. 2:8-9).
The covenant formula identifies the covenant with Jehovah's being our
God (to save, succour, glorify and dwell with us forever) and our
being His people (to trust, walk and dwell with Him in blessedness and
peace). Jehovah portrays His covenant with us as His tabernacling with
us and as the relationships of husband to wife and of father to son.
Abraham, the father of all believers (Rom. 4:11-18), with whom God
magnified His covenant (Gen. 15; 17; Gal. 3), is called God's "friend"
(II Chron. 20:7; Isa. 41:8; James 2:23). Thus God's covenant is
wonderful union, communion and fellowship with Him in Jesus Christ by
the Holy Spirit, so that by grace we believe in Him, repent of our
sins, love Him, worship Him and do good works and keep His
commandments from the heart and out of gratitude (Isa. 55:3-5; Jer.
31:31-34; 32:40; Eze. 36:25-28).
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