The Covenants of Promise
Ephesians 2:12–22 NRSV - Remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ . . . that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace . . . So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.
A biblical conviction regarding “The Covenant” bears fruit in right worship, a godly family, and a hopeful kingdom outlook “The Covenant” is foundationally the union of love within the Triune God. God’s covenant character is revealed in the conditions of promise and obligation in the unfolding story of redemptive history. Thus the “eternal covenant” (Heb. 13:20) manifests the nature of the Covenant Lord (Yahweh). This one redemptive Oath guiding cosmic history (Eph. 3:10-11) has been administered through the biblical “covenants of promise” (Eph. 2:12): Adamic, Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and supremely and finally declared in the New Covenant and fulfilled through the One Mediator, Jesus. Three important interrelated truths about biblical covenants of promise must be grasped to see the Triune God as He is and live in that light.
1) We must Apprehend the Signs & Seals of The Covenant. These are the worship-actions of our faith and constitute the visible oaths by which we are to live (baptism & communion). We are growing “into a holy temple . . . a dwelling place for God” (Eph. 2:20-22). Implication: Covenant Renewal Worship.
2) We must Accept that Descendants are included in The Covenant. In every administration of the covenants of promise, the central promise is that He will be “God to you and your descendants” (Gen. 17:7, Dt. 7:9, 30:6, 1Chr. 16:15, Ps. 103:17, 105:8). This is essential since redemption includes the fallen sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. Just as in Israel we are “no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19). And just as with Noah, Abraham and Moses, this includes our children Implication: Covenant Baptism and Communion.
3) We must Anticipate the Future Promise of Inheritance of The Covenant. All biblical covenants include a sense of dominion and a virtually explicit promise of the kingdom transformation of the world in the new covenant era. Through the covenants of promise God purposed to bestow the lost inheritance of Adam on His new humanity (in Christ, the last Adam). Through Christ the covenant purpose is to “create in himself one new humanity” (Eph. 2:15). Implication: Covenant Hopefulness in History.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more