Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Keeping God’s Covenant


Keeping God’s Covenant
by Herman Hanko and David J. Engelsma
British Reformed Fellowship, 2006
Pp. vi + 95 (paperback)
(Reviewed by Ronald L. Cammenga in the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal, November 2006)

This small volume is an excellent introduction to the doctrine of the covenant. The six chapters of the book were originally six lectures presented at the 2004 British Reformed Fellowship (BRF) Biennial Family Conference at High Leigh, Hertfordshire, England. Convinced of the value of the speeches, the BRF has now published them in the hope that they will be of benefit to a wider audience.

"The Covenant We Are Called to Keep," "Keeping God’s Covenant in Marriage," and "Keeping God’s Covenant & the Exercise of Discipline" are the three chapters authored by David Engelsma. "Keeping God’s Covenant in the Church," "Keeping God’s Covenant in the Home," and "Keeping God’s Covenant & the Antithetical Life" are the three chapters authored by Herman Hanko. In the first chapter, Engelsma lays the groundwork for the keeping of the covenant with which the rest of the book is concerned. In that chapter he deals with the nature of the covenant. He sets forth the essence of the covenant as a "unique relationship of intimate fellowship in mutual love" (p. 3). He repudiates the notion that the covenant is to be conceived as a "… bargain struck between businessmen, dependent upon stipulated conditions, for the purpose of the advantage of them both" (p. 3). He defends this warm covenant conception from Scripture and, building on the nature of the covenant, concludes with a treatment of what is involved in broad lines in keeping the covenant. In harmony with the nature of the covenant, he argues that "Keeping the covenant is not a work of man upon which the covenant depends, or that cooperates with God’s work, to make the covenant promise effectual, or to bring the covenant to perfection" (p. 9). Rather, keeping the covenant is the thankful, holy life of the redeemed sinner. "Love for God in the heart and obedience to all the commandments are not a work of the sinner upon which the covenant depends. Rather, they are the gift of God to the elect church and her members in His great work of making His covenant with them. Obedience to the law is not a condition unto the covenant, but a privilege and blessing of the covenant" (p. 9).

The rest of the book is a vigorous defense of the calling of the members of the covenant within the covenant. With great care, the believer’s part in the covenant is set forth, so that virtually every area of his life is viewed from the perspective of the covenant and is set forth in terms of keeping the covenant. The implications for keeping the covenant in our life in the church, the covenant community, are set forth in chapter 2. What is involved in keeping God’s covenant in marriage and the home, the two great earthly types of the covenant, are explained in chapters 3 and 4. In chapter 5 the calling of covenant parents in the discipline of their children is the focus. That our children are covenant children is not a disparagement to discipline, but the motivation to discipline. As members of the covenant, the children and young people must receive the discipline of their covenant parents. The last chapter deals with the antithetical calling of the members of the covenant. As the friends of God they are called to live over against all that is contrary to God. This is the negative aspect of keeping the covenant.

Keeping God’s Covenant is an excellent primer on the doctrine of the covenant and a good resource for those who are in the process of becoming acquainted with covenant theology. For younger students and new converts to the Reformed faith the book will be especially helpful.

The book is published by the British Reformed Fellowship. We commend them for this publication and encourage them in future publications. Any who are interested in more information about the BRF, in particular their biennial family conferences and the other literature that they make available, will do well to go to their website: