The Staunch Calvinist

"Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God." - Jonathan Edwards

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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 7: Of God's Covenant - Commentary

...p;keywords=the+distinctiveness"Pascal Denault - The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology: A Comparison Between Seventeenth-Century Particular Baptist and Paedobaptist Federalism.
  • Richard Barcellos – Recovering a Covenantal Heritage: Essays in Baptist Covenant Theology.
  • A. W. Pink - The DIVINE COVENANTS (see my review).
  • Recovering a Covenantal Heritage: Essays in Baptist Covenant Theology.
  • Phillip D. R. Griffiths - Covenant Theology: A Reformed Baptist Perspective.
  • Douglas Van Dorn - Covenant Theology: A Reformed Baptist Primer.
  • Brandon Adams and his 1689 Federalism website.
  • Samuel & Micah Renihan.
  • Jeffrey D. Johnson - The Fatal Flaw (see my review) and the Kingdom of God.
  • I don't pretend to have an answer to every question or have all the details worked out, but Lord willing, I will change this post if I become persuaded of some things that I think are necessary to mention. It is a subject that has fascinated me and it's a subject I want to learn more about. In this chapter, I will try to lay out all the major covenants of the Bible and see how they are fulfilled or still await fulfillment in Christ and His people. The covenants that I would like to deal with are the following:

    • The Covenant of Redemption [§2] [go]
    • The Covenant of Grace [§3] [go]
    • The Covenant of Works [§1] [go]
    • The Covenant with Noah (Noahic Covenant) [§3] [go]
    • The Covenant with Abraham (Abrahamic Covenant) [§3] [go]
    • The Covenant with Israel through Moses (Mosaic Covenant) [§3] [go]
    • The Covenant with David (Davidic Covenant) [§3] [go]
    • The Covenant with the Church (New Covenant) [§3] [go]

    What Is A Covenant?

    Before going into the covenants let us define what a covenant actually is. A covenant may simply be defined as: A commitment with divine sanctions. To add more input it may be said this way:

    In the general sense, a covenant is simply a binding agreement or compact between two or more parties; in legal terms, it is a formal sealed agreement or contract.[3]

    Simply said, a covenant is the way that God communicates with man. It must be noted that the covenants made by God are made up by God - what I mean is, God doesn't ask people's opinion about what they think of the covenant, blessings, and curses. It is something imposed by God. It is a sovereign covenantal arrangement. This is seen in Nehemiah Coxe's definition of Covenant:

    “A declaration of his sovereign pleasure concerning the benefits he will bestow on them, the communion they will have with him, and the way and means by which this will be enjoyed by them.”[4]

    Walter Chantry defines a covenant as “a sovereignly given arrangement by which man may be blessed.”[5] A. W. Pink defines it as:

    Briefly stated, any covenant is a mutual agreement entered into by two or more parties, whereby they stand solemnly bound to each other to perform the conditions contracted for.[6]

    The Covenant of Works

    We begin our study of the covenants with the Covenant of Works because that is the way our Confession starts this chapter. Some may be searching for the word Covenant of Works in paragraph 1 or the whole chapter. You won't find it. But that does not mean that the concept of the Covenant of Works is not here.

    A few reasons may be given as to why the Confession does not use the phrase "covenant of works" in this chapter, while the sister confessions do. First of all, if we compare the title of the chapter, in the Westminster and Savo...


    Quotes from A. W. Pink's The Divine Covenants

    ...

    This is my organized citations from A. W. Pink's The DIVINE COVENANTS. The whole book is available online and that is how I collected these citations and corrected some typos and other minor errors.

    It has been argued by Brandon Adams that the major theses of Pink was consistent with 1689 Federalism, which teaches that only the New Covenant is the Covenant of Grace. All the other OT covenants were not “administrations” of the Covenant of Grace. You will not find in this work the model of “one covenant, multiple administrations” that is associated with Westminster Federalism. Rather, you will find that all of the OT covenants “adumbrated” the “everlasting covenant of grace”, were subservient to the divine purpose of mercy and grace and contained gracious promises.

    There are some statements which could be interpreted in favor of Westminster Federalism, which I have also included under the heading “Westminster Sounding Statements". But in reading these we must keep in mind the main theses of the work and how Pink uses certain words, for example, “administration.” I do believe that a fair interpretation can be given to these statements without doing violence to the meaning of Pink, but I'll leave that task to the interested reader.

    One difficult statement for me to interpret has to do with the idea of “renewal.” For example:

    Just as the various Messianic prophecies, given by God at different times and at wide intervals, were suited to the local occasions when they were first made, so it was in the different renewals of His covenant of grace. Each of those renewals—unto Abraham, Moses, David and so forth—adumbrated some special feature of the everlasting covenant into which God had entered with the Mediator; but the immediate circumstances of each of those favored men molded, or gave form to, each particular feature of the eternal agreement which was severally shadowed forth unto them.[1]

    What does Pink mean by “renewal”? It seems to be “adumbrating” (an old word which he uses a lot meaning “disclose, foreshadow”) features from the Covenant of Grace. This is confirmed when we look to the chapters on those covenants which he mentions in the above citations. These covenants are subordinate to the ultimate “everlasting covenant of grace” and reveal it, but they are distinguished. The idea of “renewal” being a further adumbration of the Covenant of Grace is also confirmed in another quote:

    They were all of them revelations of God’s gracious purpose, exhibited at first in an obscure form, but unfolding according to an obvious law of progress: each renewal adding something to what was previously known, so that the path of the just was as the shining light, which shone more and more unto the perfect day, when the shadows were displaced by the substance itself.[1]

    ...