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Chafer: Covenants


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Notes from Chafer's 52 Bible Doctrines, as used at LTCi Siliguri.

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Chafer: Covenants

  1. 1. The Covenants
  2. 2. “A covenant is an unchangeable,divinely imposed legal agreementbetween God and man thatstipulates the conditions of theirrelationship” Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology p.515Agreement - 2 partiesDivinely imposed - no negotiationUnchangeable - can besuperseded or replaced but notchanged
  3. 3. “A divine covenant is a binding contractsovereignly established by God...there are 2parties but no mutual agreement...divinecovenants are a one way matter: God himselftotally makes the promise and sets theterms...they may or may not carry a humanobligation. God may obligate himself to fulfillall the terms (in which case it cannot fail...inother cases there is an obligation that man isrequired to fulfill...divine covenants alwayscontain some form of blessing” J. Rodman Williams
  4. 4. God’s plan is revealed in the Bibleand centres around promises orcovenants he has made. There areat least 8 of them all of which givea slightly different rendering ofGod’s plan and purpose in theworld. Most come in divinedeclaration.Scholars suggest three theologicalcovenants relating to the salvationof man.Theologians suggest God’s centralpurpose is to save the elect - andhistory is the outworking of thisplan of salvation
  5. 5. A. The theological covenants1. Covenant of works with Adam- if Adam obeyed God he wouldbe secure in his spiritual stateand would have eternal life.This is inferred [deduce orconclude from evidence andreasoning rather than fromexplicit statements] from Gen2:17 and is rejected by many onthe basis of lack of evidence.It is not called a covenant in theBible
  6. 6. 2. A covenant of redemption, between God theFather and the Son in regard to salvation ofman in eternity past.The Son undertook to provide the redemption forsalvation and the Father agreed to accept hissacrifice.This seems clear in scripture revealing an eternalplan of salvation from God - Eph 1:4, 11
  7. 7. even as he chose us in him before thefoundation of the world, that we should be holyand blameless before him...In him we haveobtained an inheritance, having beenpredestined according to the purpose of himwho works all things according to the counsel ofhis will...This is still only inferred by the above scriptures.
  8. 8. 3. To approach the eternalpurpose of God in salvationas a covenant of graceChrist is the mediator of thecovenant on behalf of thosewho put their trust in himwho have to put their faithin him for the conditions tobe met.This emphasises thegracious character of God insalvation.Once again this is onlyinferred.
  9. 9. There is a problem in makingsalvation the primary focalpoint of human history.What of God’s plan for Israel,the church, the nations?A better idea is that God isconcerned with revealing hisglory through all that hedoes. Chafer states that the 8covenants reveal the essentialpurposes of God in humanhistory and include salvation.
  10. 10. Covenant theologiansmakingThere is a problem inemphasise the 3 ideasfocalsalvation the primary wepoint of human history.have just dealt with.People God’s plan for Israel,What of emphasisingthe church, the nations?biblical covenants areA better idea is that God iscalled dispensationalistsconcerned with revealing hisbecause these covenantsglory through all that hereveal the differing ages 8does. Chafer states that theof humanreveal the essentialcovenants historyrevealed in the humanpurposes of God indispensationshistory and include salvation.
  11. 11. B. The Biblical CovenantsThese are either conditional (God acts in responseto action by the one addressed - God guaranteeshis part as long as man fulfills his) or unconditional- may include human contingencies [a future eventor circumstance that is possible but cannot bepredicted with certainty] but declares a certainpurpose of God which will ultimately be fulfilledOnly Edenic and Mosaic covenants are conditional.
  12. 12. 1. Edenic Covenant1.Edenic covenant made byGod with man Gen 1:26-32,2:16-17 - conditional,life,death, blessing cursewere dependent upon Adam’sfaithfulness. Adam hadresponsibilities. Adam andEve failed and the penaltyensued.Immediate spiritual death,later physical death. Theiractions plunged all humanityinto the same pattern.
  13. 13. 2. Adamic Covenant2. Adamic covenant made withman after the fall Gen 3:16-19 -unconditional from God declaringmans lot as the result of sin.No appeal, no humanresponsibility.Important features of human lifefrom now on: satan is cursed,promise of a redeemer (Gen3:15), woman’s place withconception, suffering, pain, andunder mans headship, man willhave a life of work, sorrow anddeath.
  14. 14. 2. Adamic CovenantTo a large extent mancontinues under this Adamiccovenant.This is the dispensation ofconscience.
  15. 15. 3. Noahic Covenant3. The Noahic covenant (Noah and his sons) -Gen 9:1-18 - unconditional, introduced a newprinciple of human government as a curb of sin,God would never again destroy the earth withwater. Men were responsible to replenish theearth and govern themselves. Capital punishmentwas instituted.
  16. 16. 3. Noahic CovenantAnimals began to fear mankind as man could eatthem, and seasons came upon the earth. Shemsline will bring the Messiah.This is the dispensation of human governance.
  17. 17. 4. Abrahamic Covenant4. The Abrahamic covenant- Gen 12:1-4, 13:14-17,15:1-7, 17:1-8 - 3 lines ofprofound promise are given,a. Abraham would haveprosperity, blessing and agreat nameb. A great nation, Israel,would emerge, including the12 tribes who were promisedthe land
  18. 18. 4. Abrahamic Covenantc. Through Abraham theentire world would beblessed - fulfilled throughIsrael (esp.prophets)revealing God, then throughJesus Christ.
  19. 19. Unconditional - ifIsrael chose to livein this they gotblessed, if not, theywent into exile etc.Relies on God notman - it will/didhappen - includingbirth, death andresurrection of JesusChrist.
  20. 20. Unconditional - ifIsrael chose to livein this they gotblessed, if not, theywent into exile etc.Relies on God notman - it will/didhappen - includingbirth, death andresurrection of JesusChrist.
  21. 21. 5. Mosaic Covenant5. The Mosaic Covenant -through Moses to Israel - Ex20:1-31:18 - Moses given law togovern God’s relation to Israel -600+ commandments relatingto;a. Express will of God - thecommandments Ex 20:1-26b. Judgements for social andcivic life - Ex 21:1-24:11c. Ordinances of God - Ex24:12-31:18
  22. 22. 5. Mosaic CovenantConditional - if Israel obeyedGod would bless and vice versa,temporary terminating at thecross, a few elements of gracebut essentially a covenant ofworks.
  23. 23. 6. Palestinian Covenant6. The Palestinian covenant -Dt 31:1-10, Israel will possessthe land promised to them -unconditional and secure yetwith conditional elements foreach generationGen 12:7 etc. - yet time inEgypt, wilderness, exile etc.
  24. 24. 6. Palestinian CovenantThere is a final promise ofrestoration and life in the landfor Israel - Ezek 39:25-29,Amos9:14-15Israel will be fully returnedafter the return of Jesus Christ- so ultimately this isunconditional, God will fulfillit.
  25. 25. 7. Davidic- Covenant7. The Davidic covenant2 Sam 7:14-16, 1 Chron17:3-15 - unconditionalpromise of an unendingroyal line and kingdomforever - God will break inand discipline David’s sonsif he wants to but thecovenant cannot bebroken.Guarantees Israel aneverlasting throne, kingand kingdom. The line iscompleted in Jesus Christ.
  26. 26. 7. Davidic- Covenant7. The Davidic covenantThis assures the millennial2 Sam 7:14-16, 1 Chronrule of Christ with David17:3-15 - unconditional(resurrected) reigningpromise of an unendingunder Christ as a prince ofroyal line and kingdomthe house of Israel - Jerforever - God will break in23:5-6, Ezek 34:23-24,and discipline David’s sons37:24if he wants to but thecovenant cannot beis anThe David kingdombroken. one with an earthlyearthlythrone, it is the key toGuarantees Israel anGod’s propheticeverlasting throne, kingprogramme yet to beand kingdom. The line isfulfilledcompleted in Jesus Christ.
  27. 27. 8. New Covenant8. The new covenant prophesiedin the OT will have its primaryfulfillment in the millennialkingdom - Jer 31:31-33 - a newcovenant with the house of Israel,Judah.
  28. 28. 8. New Covenant33-34 But this is the covenant that Iwill make with the house of Israelafter those days, declares the LORD:I will put my law within them, and Iwill write it on their hearts. And Iwill be their God, and they shall bemy people. And no longer shall eachone teach his neighbor and each hisbrother, saying, Know the LORD, forthey shall all know me, from theleast of them to the greatest,declares the LORD. For I will forgivetheir iniquity, and I will remembertheir sin no more."
  29. 29. Chafer states, “This passageanticipates the circumstancesof the millennial kingdomwhere Christ is to bereigning, all will know thefacts about Jesus Christ. Itwill not be necessary toevangelize...for all will knowthe facts about Jesus Christ.It will be a period in whichGod will forgive Israel’s sinand bless them abundantly”Obviously this is not beingfulfilled in this day.
  30. 30. The NT relates the churchto the new covenant - sosome believe the churchfulfills the promise toIsrael, Israel and thechurch become the samewith all promises nowspiritualised.
  31. 31. Chafer says another optionis, “Others who recogniseIsrael’s future restorationand the millennial kingdomconsider the NT referencesto be an application of thegeneral truths of thefuture covenant with Israelto the church or todistinguish two covenants(one for Israel and onethrough Jesus Christproviding grace now forthe church).”
  32. 32. The new covenant is all basedon the ground of the blood ofJesus, and that God promiseshe willa. Save, preserve andpresent in heaven all whohave believed in JesusChrist - believing is theground for admission (notpart of the covenant) - so thecovenant is made with thesaved, not unsaved - Godthen promises to keep themand present them in glory.
  33. 33. This is all unconditional -mans actions might bringdiscipline but God willkeep his covenantpromise. (Jn 5:24, 6:37)It does involve absolutecontrol by God - butChafer states so did Noahand Abraham’s covenants
  34. 34. So it is a manifestation ofGod’s sovereignty andpower yet there is someexercise of human will -God both controls (Jn 6:44,Phil 2:13) and appeals to(Jn 5:40, 7:17, Rom 12:1,1Jn 1:9), the will of man.God is sovereign - yet thereis latitude in his allowingmen their own will - thismeans there is no fatalismor dethroning of God.
  35. 35. b. The future salvationof Israel is promised inthe new covenant - Isa27:9, Ezek 37:23, Rom11:26-27Accomplished on theground of the shed bloodof Jesus Christ - throughwhich a nation or anindividual can be savedby God. Matt 13:44 -Israel is the treasure hidin the field (world)
  36. 36. b. The future salvation of Israel is promised in the new covenant - IsaTo summarise covenants; 27:9, Ezek 37:23, RomGod is sovereign in 11:26-27unconditional covenants - Accomplishedhe hasand whatever on the ground of the shed bloodundertaken will happen. of Jesus Christ - throughMan has failed andan which a nation or theoutworkingcanthe saved individual of becovenants is conditional by God. Matt 13:44 - Israel is the treasure hid in the field (world)
  37. 37. To summarise covenants;God is sovereign inunconditional covenants -and whatever he hasundertaken will happen.Man has failed and theoutworking of thecovenants is conditional