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A SIMPLE OVERVIEW OF COVENANT THEOLOGY

Copyright Information
Contents for the Print Version
Preface
ONE | introduction
TWO | the covenant of redemption
THREE | the covenant of works
FOUR | THE COVENANT OF GRACE from the fall of adam to abraham
FIVE | THE COVENANT OF GRACE from moses to david
SIX | THE COVENANT OF GRACE from jeremiah to the new covenant in Christ
SEVEN | THE COVENANT OF GRACE Jesus and the children and the book of acts
EIGHT | the book of acts continued and children in the covenant of grace
NINE | apostasy in the covenant and the conclusion
index of scripture

A SIMPLE OVERVIEW OF COVENANT THEOLOGY

www.puritanpublications.com

A SIMPLE OVERVIEW OF COVENANT THEOLOGY


Copyright 2005 by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon
Published by Puritan Publications
A ministry of A Puritans Mind, Inc.
4101 Coral Tree Circle #214
Coconut Creek, FL 33073
www.puritanpublications.com
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a
retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical,
photocopy, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher,
except as provided by USA copyright law.
Layout & cover design: Matthew Steven Black
First Printing, 2005
Manufactured in the United States of America
ISBN: 0-9765336-6-9
Library of Congress Control Number: 2005901947

For my wife, Therese,


a covenantal wife and helpmeet.

contents

preface ......................................................................................................... 9
ONE | introduction ................................................................................13
TWO | the covenant of redemption ................................................. 19
THREE | the covenant of works ....................................................... 29
FOUR | the covenant of grace
from the fall of adam to abraham ............................................................... 39
FIVE | the covenant of grace
from moses to david .................................................................................... 55
SIX | the covenant of grace
from jeremiah to the new covenant in Christ .............................................. 65
SEVEN | the covenant of grace
Jesus and the children and the book of acts ..................................................81

CONTENTS

EIGHT | the book of acts continued


and children in the covenant of grace ............................................ 103
NINE | apostasy in the covenant and the conclusion ................ 119
index of scripture .................................................................................. 121

preface

ovenant Theology systematizes the biblical information concerning the manner in which God saves sinners through Jesus
Christ. It places the Bible into a covenantal framework that makes
biblical sense. The Bible speaks of salvation in terms of covenant.
God is a covenant God who saves His people through covenants. The
three main theological covenants of the Bible are the Covenant of Redemption, the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace. These
are theological terms that are packed with biblical information dealing with the way God saves sinners. When someone asks, How
does God save people? the answer lies within the framework of Covenant Theology. So, it is the intention of this work to unpack those
terms and make the information in them accessible to the reader in a
clear, accurate and biblically helpful manner.
Those new to the Christian faith or to systematizing theological ideas sometimes have a hard time collating, into a useful form, all
the theological information found in the Bible. When dealing with
the issues surrounding the orthodox views in Covenant Theology,
many people feel overwhelmed with the amount of information necessary to understand the system. From the perspective of assimilating all the biblical references alone, this can be a daunting task to the
Christian who is new to studying theology. The scope of this immense topic begins with Genesis and ends in Revelation. Those new
to this study will find themselves inundated with a mountain of material as well as numerous connections between biblical references
across the spectrum of Scripture. Paul exhorted Timothy to rightly
divide the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Being able to handle
this Word, to rightly divide it and set in its context the divisions of

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PREFACE

the covenants, is literally a lifetime project. How, then, do those new


to the study of Covenant Theology begin?
There is much available in the realm of academics in terms of
understanding Covenant Theology. There are a number of scholarly
books and journals that deal responsibly with the topic. These current books and journals have perpetuated the long line and succession of Covenant Theology as it has been continued and refined by
Covenant theologians in the Reformed faith. Obviously, one must
have the availability of such works and books, and they are often
found at seminary libraries. Among the great works of history on
Covenant Theology one might include Irenaeus, Augustine, Tyndale,
Calvin, Luther and the Westminster Puritans. Among the best
works, if not the best, are the Dutch formulations, epitomized in
Herman Witsius work, The Economy of the Covenants Between God and
Man. But though such academic and scholarly works abound, there
are almost none available in simplistic form for those who need an introduction to Covenant Theology. Few actually cover the important aspects of the system, and those that attempt to give a broad overview
are too one-dimensional, never reaching deep enough into the system
to be of great worth to the reader. Others mistakenly redefine Covenant Theology and its ideas surrounding covenant incorrectly. In a
day when Covenant Theology is under attack (when the Gospel is under attack), there needs to be a clearly delineated line between Covenant Theology that honors the Bible and false misrepresentations
that are not biblically helpful. That is why this short book was written. It is a restatement of classic Covenant Theology in simple form
for those who need an introduction to the topic.
This book is a very simplistic overview of Covenant Theology. It
demonstrates the biblical progression of theology in how God expresses salvation through what is called covenants. It is not meant
to be intricately exegetical or weighed down with long theological arguments of exegesis. The reader should note that solid, historical,
Reformed exegetical work has previously come to these conclusions,
but, when introductory matters are written to a subject, those more
advanced arguments come later and are intended for the purpose of
deeper study. Most people who have read a good Reformed Syste-

A SIMPLE OVERVIEW OF COVENANT THEOLOGY

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matic Theology book or who are advanced enough to have read Herman Witsius book The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man, or
even a biblical theology book such as John Owens or Geerhardus
Vos Biblical Theology, will find this book merely a refresher. It is not
the purpose of this book to reproduce what Witsius, Owen or any
other writer has already written in great exegetical detail. This book
should not weigh the reader down, but rather lift him up to understand the major themes set forth in the system of Covenant Theology,
in contrast to trends today that are twisting and misrepresenting Covenant Theology in a shadow of Christian language. With all this in
mind, this is a basic, simple overview of Covenant Theology written
in dialogue form to make it easier for the reader to grasp the presented theology.
Dialogues are very easy to follow. Many of the old Puritan
works, such as the Plainmans Pathway to Heaven by Arthur Dent, were
written that way, and the public found them easy to follow and entertaining at the same time. They aid the reader in thinking through
an idea instead of merely explaining an idea and allowing the reader
to think it through themselves. In the dialogue of this book, we have
two main characters: Professor Horatio Jacobs, a man who has a
Doctorate in Theology, and one of his students, Thomas Farnsworth.
Thomas is having a hard time digesting Covenant Theology since he
had never been introduced to it prior to the Professors lectures. He
is a bit befuddled by the ideas presented and needs some basic clarification between what he used to think about theology and what he is
currently learning. The dialogue is divided into a number of chapters
covering an Introduction, the Covenant of Redemption, the Covenant of
Works, and the Covenant of Grace with some practical applications at the
end.
The ideas provided here surround the need to understand
what covenants are, who enacts and initiates the covenants, who is
involved in the covenants, and what their responsibilities are as covenant children. This book will answer questions surrounding the
number of covenants seen in the Bible and how covenant concepts
merge in and through biblical revelation, fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ, the Savior.

ONE | introduction

homas Farnsworth is having a tough day. He has been introduced to some hard theological concepts in school and needs a
bit of help to clear his mind of some of the difficulties he is encountering. After much thought and personal wrestling with certain issues he heard while in theology class, he wanders reluctantly into
Professor Horatio Jacobs study for some extra help. He is looking for
answers about this new system of thought he has been introduced to
called Covenant Theology. Thomas knocks on the Professors door and
then walks into his office.
Thomas: Professor, Im sorry to disturb you but I was wondering if we
could talk.
Professor Jacobs: My dear man, come in, come in; make yourself comfortable. Sit down.
[The old man turns his chair towards the door and motions with his
hand for Thomas to pull up the chair across from his cluttered desk.
He adjusts his wire-rimmed glasses as Thomas sits down across from
him. Thomas is very self-conscious of his inadequacies. He takes in a
big breath, which includes the delightful smell of the many old books
adorning the study, and then says]
Thomas: Professor, I was wondering if you could give me an overview
of Covenant Theology. I know that is a lot to ask but I have listened
to you in class and I dont think all the pieces are fitting together as I
would like them to. I mean, I have been reading lots about it and I

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ONE | INTRODUCTION

would like to understand clearly where Im failing to see how Covenant Theology works biblically. Im just not getting it.
[Professor Jacobs leans back in his oak chair, strokes his beard and
replies calmly]
Professor Jacobs: Great minds have wrestled with this topic for many
centuries. Dont be discouraged at your attempt to understand it all.
Though the ploughboy can read the Bible, the scholar and theologian
also read it. Much of its information takes time to digest and incorporate into ones theological outlook. However, I think I can accommodate your request, and we can take a tour de force of some of the
best theology the Bible has to offer and what God has revealed to His
children for their well being.
Thomas: Thats a relief. If left on my own, I dont think Id be able to
work all this out.
Professor Jacobs: By way of introduction, I will say this: Covenant
Theology itself is generally to be identified with the Reformed Tradition. Though other branches of the Protestant Church have dealt
with the covenants in their treatment of biblical concepts, it has been
Reformed theologians who organized their theology around the covenants. It is unique to them. Other systems of thought ultimately
become self-defeating attempts, and try, to the best of their ability, to
copy aspects of the system, but that just ends up confusing people
because numerous pieces are lost. Many through the centuries of
church history have attempted to take on the name Reformed but,
unfortunately, they were mistaken in their attempts. For instance,
there was a theologian by the name of Peter Van Mastrichta German
theologian who, during the rise of Puritanism, wrote a wonderful little book on regeneration.
Thomas: What was it called?

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Professor Jacobs: It is entitled Regeneration. It was a part of his overall


systemic work on the Bible. But recently some publishers have put it
into print. Let me read you a short quote from it, just so you are sure
that Im not trying to be biased or one sided with what I believe Covenant Theology teaches and what Reformation theology is all
about. Here, on page fifty-one, he asserts: The Reformed unanimously
hold that there is no physical regenerating efficacy in baptism, but
only a moral efficacy which consists in its being a sign and a seal of
regeneration; that they also hold that the grace of regeneration is not
confined to any sacrament, and yet believe that baptism is not a mere
naked, useless sign, but a more efficacious sealing of the covenant of
grace in regeneration to those who receive it agreeably to its institution, and also to elect infants of believers. It is interesting to note that
many people would like to call themselves Covenant theologians, but
unless, as Van Mastricht has said, they hold to the fundamentals, like
infant inclusion in the Covenant of Grace, they cannot claim the title.
As a matter of fact, have you heard of Jonathan Edwards?
Thomas: Of course! Who hasnt?
Professor Jacobs: What do you think of Edwards?
Thomas: I would say, probably with most others, that he was one of
the greatest theologians ever.
Professor Jacobs: It is important to remember that the best of men are
still men, but, yes, I would say he was a pretty bright theologian and
preacher myself. Edwards said that Van Mastrichts work on theology was the greatest work written outside the Bible. It is interesting
to note that Edwards agreed with Van Mastricht, as did Cotton
Mather in colonial America. They agreed that being Reformed means
something specific and Covenant Theology is the label that we give the
thought process of Reformed thinkers because it best suits the Bibles
information about how God saves sinners through Jesus Christ. So
you see, for the past four hundred years the Reformed theologians
following the Reformation and the Puritans have taken up a certain

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ONE | INTRODUCTION

camp in Christendom, and their theology pervades Christendom. Im


happy to say that most of the greatest theologians that have ever lived
have been in that camp and they have all adhered to the basic tenants
of Reformed Theology.
Thomas: Ill have to think about that, Professor. I would never have
thought, as Van Mastricht said, that infant baptism was unique to a
Reformed perspective.
Professor Jacobs: Well, according to Van Mastricht and Edwards, and
quite a few others, it is. However, and dont miss this point, infant
baptism is really just the last five minutes to a five hour conversation
on Covenant Theology. When you find people trying to figure out
why Reformed thinkers believe in infant baptism, you always find
them beginning in the New Testament and working backward, never
really putting together all the necessary pieces. Infant baptism, overall, is never where one would begin. Infant baptism is simply the sign
of the Covenant of Grace, but there is so much more to be said about
the Covenant of Grace that it is better to understand how covenants
work before one dives into trying to understand the sacraments of
the various covenants. You cannot put the cart before the horse. Instead, you have to think slowly through the Old Testament into the
New Testament. God did not begin the Bible with the Gospel of
John. He began the Bible with the Genesis account for a very good
reason. Without first understanding the Old Testament, one will
never understand the intricacies that the New Testament writers are
explaining because they are explainingwhat? Tell me, Thomas,
what are the New Testament writers doing in their writing?
Thomas: Well, I would guess they are explaining the Messiah.
Professor Jacobs: Which Messiah?
Thomas: Im not sure I understand what you mean? There is only one
Messiah.

A SIMPLE OVERVIEW OF COVENANT THEOLOGY

17

Professor Jacobs: How do you know?


Thomas: Well, the Bible tells me that Christ is the only Savior.
Professor Jacobs: Well, wait just a minute. You went from the New
Testament tells me to the Bible tells me. So Ill ask you again, what
are the New Testament writers doing in writing the New Testament?
Thomas: I see what you are asking. The New Testament writers are
explaining the Old Testament in terms of fulfillment.
Professor Jacobs: Exactly. Without understanding the Old Testament,
how will you understand the New Testament? Oftentimes you find
people wanting to evangelize by handing out Bibles containing portions of the Gospel of John alone. Thats not where God began. God
began with creation, holiness, justice, the covenant with Adam, and
other theological ideas that are exceedingly important, like the Law
of God.
Thomas: I see what you are saying. People are trying to figure out Covenant Theology but they are going about it in a wrong way.
Professor Jacobs: No, people are trying to figure out why Reformed
theologians baptize babies and they are starting in the wrong spot altogether. Maybe sometime I will ask you to do a paper for me on tracing the history of Reformed Thought. You would find men like Iranaeus, Augustine, Wycliffe, Savanarola, Huss, Tyndale, Luther,
Zwingli, Calvin, Capito, Bucer, the Westminster Divines, and many
others right up and through Puritanism that adhered to these basic
principles of Covenant Theology. But for now, as we begin to think
about what the Reformed faith teaches, we need to understand the
term covenant.

TWO | the covenant of redemption


Thomas: Okay, I think I am following you so far. Covenant is a
tough idea that I have not yet wrapped my arms around. Please professor, go easy on me. This is all so new to me. Can you go slowly?!
Professor Jacobs: Certainly my young friend. I will try to make this a
simple overview of Covenant Theology to touch on the largest and most
important themes of the Reformed system of biblical doctrine. Keep
in mind that we will have to make a few stops along the way to pause
and deal with a couple of important issues that need attention. The
best place to begin, though, is before the creation of the world. Shall
we? You have your Bible, dont you?
Thomas: Certainly.
Professor Jacobs: Turn with me to Psalm 110:4. How does it read?
Thomas: It says, The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art
a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
Professor Jacobs: Now tell me, when did this take place?
Thomas: Well, this seems to be the conversation between God the
Father and God the Son, before the world began.
Professor Jacobs: Very good! Why do you think that?

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TWO | THE COVENANT OF REDEMPTION

Thomas: Because it is like God is talking to God, and I recall in your


lecture that you said it was the Father and the Son.
Professor Jacobs: Well, its good that you are listening in class, but I
want you to work out why you think passages say what they mean.
Dont just regurgitate what Im saying. What else strikes you about
this passage?
Thomas: I think the fact that God is talking in this way is different. I
mean, it is God talking to God, so to speak. The Father is talking to
the Son, and I think the reference to Melchizedek is important. I
know the book of Hebrews quotes this often.
Professor Jacobs: You are quite right. The book of Hebrews bases the
entire validity of the priesthood of Jesus Christ on this very text. The
writer quotes it in his letter more than any other passage in the Old
Testament. But what about the idea of priesthood? Why is that
important at this time?
Thomas: Im not sure what you mean. Why did you stress at this
time?
Professor Jacobs: Well, you must remember that this is before the
foundation of the world. This is before creation itself. God is dealing
with the problem of sin in eternity past. Do you think that is an important note?
Thomas: Very much so. I hadnt thought of it that way.
Professor Jacobs: Yes, this is very important. God the Father and God
the Son make a covenant here. But before we really ratify that, lets
define covenant, okay? How would you define this?
Thomas: Im not sure, actually. I guess a pact between two people?
Would that be right?

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Professor Jacobs: You are on the right track. Even the Childrens Catechism defines it as an agreement between two people. But that is a bit
too basic. The Westminster Confession defines it as lifepromisedupon
condition of perfect and personal obedience. We should remember
that the covenant is a legal and binding agreement between two parties, and it carries with it the idea of curses, blessings, and the spilling
of blood. The Old Testament word and the New Testament word
agree, but careful exegetes know where variations occur with some
New Testament words like covenant and testament. The book of
Hebrews is a tricky book where one must keenly distinguish between these two concepts. So, lets look at the idea of covenant.
Covenants are literally cut between God and men. That is the basic
idea of the Hebrew word to cut a covenant. God sovereignly initiates and contracts such an agreement, and men must obey all that
God stipulates in it. In our passage at hand, though, we find this covenant being ratified by an oath, the reality that sin is a fact that will
one day be present, and ultimately surrounding the work of Jesus
Christ as the Great High Priest for our sin. In this particular pact or
agreement, we have God, the God-man Jesus Christ, and the sacrifice
He will give on the crossall the necessary aspects needed to set a
covenant in motion. Jesus is the priest in the order of Melchizedek.
He is the ageless one, the mysterious priest whose priesthood is
never ending. As the Priest, Jesus continually makes intercession on
behalf of His people. A priest offers sacrifices and intercession. This
is what Christ has sworn to the Father. Can you tell me what is important about the idea of sin in this passage?
Thomas: Well, if this is before the foundation of the world, before anyone had sinned, God is already providing a manner of redemption
before creation, before sin even happens.
Professor Jacobs: That is correct. Some theologians like to refer to passages like this as the Covenant of Redemption. Others like to use biblical
terms and prefer the Counsel of Peace. One is theological; the other is a
real biblical phrase. Both, though, mean the same thing.

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Thomas: I understand that this refers to peace, or rather that it will


ultimately refer to peace when Jesus dies on the cross and provides
reconciliation, but where in the Bible do these theologians get the
idea or term Counsel of Peace?
Professor Jacobs: In Zechariah 6:13 we find this verse, Even he shall
build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall
sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne:
and the Counsel of Peace shall be between them both. Now we find
Zechariah prophesying about the coming of the Branch, the Messiah,
and we find that the conversation here, the one implied concerning
this Counsel of Peace, is between the Branch who takes His place as a
priest on His throne and God, or the LORD as the passage states.
Some theologians simply like to stick with, or prefer to use, biblical
language. That is why they like the Counsel of Peace. Im indifferent. I use the word Trinity, but will also say, Father, Son and Holy
Spirit. One is a biblical term and the other is not. In other words, if
I were to teach someone the doctrine of the Trinity, I wouldnt have
them grab their concordance to find Trinity in the Bible. The concept of the Trinity is in the Bible, but the word is not. In this passage
by Zechariah, God is providing the sole manner to redeem men before
the foundation of the world. He does this by divine oath. This is an
exceedingly important topicsomething you should not miss. By
oath, the Son is consigned to covenant with the Father. He is to be a
priest. He is to be the sacrifice for all sin and the Priest who will continually intercede for those for whom He dies. In this way, the Son is
ratified by the oath to make the Counsel of Peace effectual. He now
must obey. If He does not obey, the oath is broken and a curse would
result. Hebrews 6:16-17 explains this quite well for us when the writer says, For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God, determining to
show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of
His counsel, confirmed it by an oath. Did you ever think about Jesus
being under a covenant based on this? That He was bound by oath?
Thomas: Not really. This is somewhat new to me.

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Professor Jacobs: Lets consider three passages concerning Jesus obedience to make the picture of the Covenant of Redemption and His
obedience complete. Luke 22:42 says, nevertheless not my will,
but thine, be done. Jesus was determined to do the Fathers will
that which bound Him to service. John 4:34 states, Jesus saith unto
them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his
work. God has given Jesus work to do as the Mediator of the covenant. He is determined, again, to finish that work. John 6:38 is a favorite of mine. Jesus says, For I came down from heaven, not to do
mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. Jesus is going to do
the will of the Father and complete the covenant righteousness he is
bound to by oath by the Father. This was before the foundation of
the world. Oftentimes, Christians think that what God accomplished through Jesus was for us. In some respects this is true, but
it is not the ultimate intention of God. Gods purpose and ultimate
goal is His own glory, as well as mirroring that glory in a bride given
to His Son. To do this, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit covenant together to accomplish this goal. The Son willingly undertakes
the role of suffering servant and is obligated to that role. The Father,
in turn, supplies the needs of the Son in His mission. Then the Holy
Spirit empowers Christ to fulfill that which He sets out to accomplish. Does this make sense to you now? It is a legal agreement that
must be fulfilled based on Gods oath and character together with
Christs work.
Thomas: That makes sense, but you and I seemed to agree that a covenant is a contracted agreement between two parties. In this Covenant of Redemption, as you say, there is the Father, the Son and the
Holy Spirit. How does that fit?
Professor Jacobs: It is important to remember that the Father and Son
are in a pact or agreement, and that the mode by which the Father
fulfills His end of the bargain, by providing Christ with the necessary
tools to complete His task, is through the agent of the Holy Spirit.
For example, the Bible says, but a body You have prepared for Me.

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(Hebrews 10:5) This is the Son giving glory to the Father for giving
Him a body, and referencing the incarnation of Christ, when the Son
inhabited human flesh. But I ask you: How did the Father accomplish that?
Thomas: Through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Professor Jacobs: Exactly. Where do you find that happening?
Thomas: In Luke 1:35, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the
power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to
be born will be called holythe Son of God.
Professor Jacobs: Do you see how that works between the members of
the Trinity then? In that sense, the Covenant of Redemption is intertrinitarian. This is not a relationship they have, as if covenantal relationship is part of their essence or being. Rather, it is a legal agreement to effect their purpose of glorification. Relationally, we speak
of the Trinity as three persons in one essence or substance. The Trinity in covenant with one another is their action based on a legal decree.
Thomas: I understand. But Im confused, now, about election here.
Doesnt God elect from the foundation of the world? I know that
doctrine already and I believe it. How is election different than the
Counsel of Peace or Covenant of Redemption?
Professor Jacobs: You would be surprised at the number of people who
think that election and reprobation begin with what is called the Covenant of Grace, and not the Covenant of Redemption. All of our
election passages, Romans 9 and Ephesians 1, for instance, are bound
up in this Counsel of Peace, or this oath consigned to the Son. When
the Son willingly becomes incarnate so that He may redeem His
bridesomething He is going to have and desires to have as a love gift
from His FatherHe performs what is bound up in the oath. That is
where election takes placein the Covenant of Redemption. While it

A SIMPLE OVERVIEW OF COVENANT THEOLOGY

25

is applied in the Covenant of Grace, it is decreed in the covenant between the Father and the Son, and it is effectual for man with the application of the work of the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Thomas: Is this like a decree?
Professor Jacobs: Yes, this is like a decree. God has sworn and will not
relent of this swearing. The Son is forever a priest, and will redeem
His people. That is why I like the term Covenant of Redemption. Now,
I also want you to notice that we have a reference to the priestly
work here in the Psalm we read. It involves sin and intercession and
it also implies that Jesus must fulfill this work, or else the oath is seen
as false.
Thomas: What do you mean by false?
Professor Jacobs: What would have happened if Jesus Christ had given
in to the first temptation of the devil in the wilderness?
Thomas: I would imagine He would have sinned.
Professor Jacobs: What is the bigger picture?
Thomas: He would not have been the Savior. Oh, I see where you are
going. If He is not the Savior, then Psalm 110:4 is nonsense.
Professor Jacobs: In a manner of speaking, yes. If Christ hadnt fulfilled
the office of Priest, no one would have been redeemed, and the oath
made with Him would have rendered Him cursed. He also would
not have seen the travail of his soul. We know that Jesus Christ did
complete the will of God and upheld His side of the covenant oath. If
He would have rebelled, sinned, or failed, He would have broken the
covenant with the Father. If Jesus had not fulfilled His side, or in the
same way the Father had not fulfilled His side, the covenant would
have been broken. It is true that the covenant is a pact or an agreement between two parties, but it is also important to see the possi-

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TWO | THE COVENANT OF REDEMPTION

bility of failure as much as the need for success when you deal with
any covenant to understand it correctly.
Thomas: Explain this more to me. What do you mean by curses and
blessings?
Professor Jacobs: Every covenant made in the Bible carries with it
curses and blessings. If those in covenant fulfill the agreement they
make with one another, then they are blessed. God will bless the covenant He makes. But if they do not obey, they will be cursed for
breaking the covenant. Even between the Father and the Son, if the
Son disobeys, or decides that He does not want to fulfill His side of
the bargain, then He breaks covenant with the Father and sins
against the Father, and cursing is the result. He must win the Fathers affection, or the Fathers reward, in order to uphold the covenant. If He does, He earns the reward and the covenant is fulfilled.
The Father is pleased and He blesses the Son. As we know, the Son
did succeed in His mission and God blessed Him. Is there a passage
that you can think of that describes this blessing?
Thomas: Yes. Philippians 2:9-11, Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that
at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of
those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue
should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Does that fit?
Professor Jacobs: Yes, that certainly fits. If the Father did not fulfill His
end of the bargain or did not provide Christ with a body, for instance,
He would have broken the agreement with the Son, and that would
have been disastrous as well. But we know that God is incapable of
error. His work is based on His decree and His oath. Remember Hebrews says that Gods Word in working out this Covenant of Redemption is by oath. Hebrews 6:17 says, Thus God, determining to
show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of
His counsel, confirmed it by an oath. And that oath brings us right

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27

back to Psalm 110. Do you think you have a basic grasp of this first
covenantal theme?
Thomas: I think so. If I get confused later, I will let you know.

THREE | the covenant of works


Professor Jacobs: Okay then. Now that we have a basic understanding
of the Covenant of Redemption, lets look at creation and Adam in
the garden. When God created the heavens and the earth, he made
man and placed them, male and female, in the garden. Agreed?
Thomas: Of course.
Professor Jacobs: God gave them all the trees of the garden to eat for
food except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Correct?
Thomas: Yes, it says so in Genesis 2.
Professor Jacobs: This tree was a sacrament of the covenant that
God placed on Adam and that Adam was to uphold faithfully. Lets
briefly talk about sacraments for a second.
Thomas: Yes, please do. I have never heard of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil being called a sacrament.
Professor Jacobs: What is a sacrament? Can you tell me?
Thomas: With the tree in the mix, Im not sure.
Professor Jacobs: Well, let me define it this way: A sacrament is a visible proclamation of the covenant. Now, when I say of the covenant
that depends on which of the covenants we talk aboutwhether it be
the Covenant of Works or the Covenant of Grace in the Mosaic Law

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THREE | THE COVENANT OF WORKS

or the fulfilled Covenant of Grace in the New Testament. Sacraments


represent visible proclamations of the covenants they are in. Does
that make sense?
Thomas: I think so.
Professor Jacobs: Is it confusing?
Thomas: I still dont see how the tree works as a sacrament.
Professor Jacobs: Sacraments are used for our consideration or meditation on a truth they represent. Think of it this wayeach day Adam
would have seen the sacrament with his eyes and would have remembered the promises given to him, as well as the threats. Sacraments point us to the covenant we are dealing with.
Thomas: Thats much clearer.
Professor Jacobs: This period of time in the garden is often called the
probationary period. Why do you think theologians have designated it this way?
Thomas: Im not sure. Was Adam on probation? Usually that is when
someone does something bad and then has to be watched afterwards
to make sure he doesnt do it againlike a criminal released from prison.
Professor Jacobs: I understand what you mean, but you must remember
that the word probation does not have to connect with a past
crime. It can simply be seen as one being under a test. Do you
think Adam was tested in the garden?
Thomas: I believe that God gave him a command not to eat of the tree
and that Adam was supposed to abstain from it. I suppose that could
be a test. Yes, okay, I see; Im sure it was a test.

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31

Professor Jacobs: There is a bit more to that test than just eating the
fruit of the tree. Adam was a priest of sorts in the garden or
sanctuary of God. Not only was he to uphold his agreement with
God, but he was also to protect his wife from harm. And you know
what happenedAdam failed the test.
Thomas: Yes, and he took the whole human race with him when he fell
from paradise.
Professor Jacobs: Im glad you have your theology straight on that. Yes,
when Adam fell, everyone fell with him. He was the representative
for all mankind, appointed by God for the test. Ok, then, was this a
covenant?
Thomas: Im not sure.
Professor Jacobs: The text in Genesis 2:15-17 says, And the LORD God
took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to
keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every
tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou
eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. What do we see here? We see a
command; we see a stipulation; we see consequences; but do we see a
covenant?
Thomas: Im still not sure.
Professor Jacobs: Its good to be undecided at this point. We want to
be sure we understand what we believe. Let me jump ahead for a
moment and assume it is a covenant. We will prove it in a moment.
Reformed Theologians call this probation time the Covenant of
Works. Some like to call it a Covenant of Life, but that designation
seems to be wholly unfounded. Those who call it a Covenant of Life
believe Adam never had to work or merit anything in the garden
for the reward. However, such a view does not do justice to the
meaning of covenant all through the Bible or to what God did to

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THREE | THE COVENANT OF WORKS

Adam in placing him in a covenant of works. Personally, Im quite


comfortable with the terminology Covenant of Works, as have been
most Reformed theologians and teachers throughout church history.
The reason they designate it works is because if Adam works righteously then he will retain his place in the garden and will be able to
eat of the Tree of Lifehe will earn eternal life by works. If he does not
work righteously by obeying the command of God, then he will die
and will be cursed. Obedience to the Law is exceedingly pivotal in
both Adams state of innocence and our righteousness in Christ.
Adam will surely die if he transgresses the command. The command
holds in it blessings and curses, or stipulations, which Adam either
obeys or disobeys. It is unfortunate that he disobeyed, as the whole
world is thrown into sin. So whenever we think about earning
eternal life, we think about the command of God to Adam in the garden which instructed him to Do this and live. Lets pause a second
and talk about the Law for a moment. What is the Law?
Thomas: The Law is the commandments given by God.
Professor Jacobs: Why does God give commands?
Thomas: He wants us to act in a certain way.
Professor Jacobs: Excellent! That is exactly right. What way does He
want us to act?
Thomas: Righteously?
Professor Jacobs: Yes. Righteously would be a good word to useor
holy. What does it mean to be holy or righteous?
Thomas: It means that you never do anything wrong.
Professor Jacobs: Why did you say never?
Thomas: Well, I was thinking about being perfectly holylike God.

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33

Professor Jacobs: You are quite a theologian! Yes, that is right. Following the Law means that one is conforming to the character of Gods
holiness. You are holy when you act like God acts. Does that make
sense?
Thomas: Of course it does. I think thats basic.
Professor Jacobs: Adam did not act in a holy manner when tempted by
Satan. He allowed his wife to eat of the fruit and then ate of that fruit
himself. He transgressed the law of Do this and live and Did what
He wanted to do, instead. Adam transgressed the covenant, did not
work righteously, and fell. He was no longer holy, but completely
defiled. He did not merit eternal life, so instead he squandered it. If
he would have merited the reward of Do this and live, God would
have blessed him because God is a God who rewards those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6 says, He is a rewarder of those who
diligently seek Him. The whole point of the blessing was to merit
eternal life. If Adam were to have worked righteously before God,
then he would have earned a reward before Him. The law was meant
to first bring life. In Romans 7:10, Paul says that the law which was
to bring life, I found to bring death. In the beginning, the law, or the
reflection of the character of God, was something God instituted to
bring life. If someone followed the law perfectly, it would earn them
life. If they did not earn life and they broke the covenant with God,
then they earned death. For the wages of sin is death, which is
Romans 6:23. Life and death are given to Adam in the words Do this
and live. Which will Adam choose? Unfortunately, he chose death.
And so God cursed him, as well as the woman and the serpent, in
Genesis 3. Can you see glimmers of covenant binding here? Things
pertaining to obedience, stipulations, reward, blessings, curses, etc.?
Thomas: I think so.
Professor Jacobs: Lets make that think so into I know so, shall we?
Turn to Hosea 6:7. Read the text.

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THREE | THE COVENANT OF WORKS

Thomas: But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they
dealt faithlessly with me. It seems that Adam was in a covenant
with God. Okay, Im sure of it.
Professor Jacobs: Though there are some technical nuances in that verse
that take some time to translate accurately, Reformed theologians
believe this to be speaking about the parallel of the Law from Moses
at Sinai and the Law with Adam in the garden. Others believe the
word for Adam should be translated mankind. But God has not
made a covenant with mankind in general in any redemptive manner. So it is better, and most agree, that the word should be Adam.
In both cases, there was a covenant concerning the Law, and, in both
cases, they transgressed the covenant. Adam and the Israelites both
transgressed the covenant God made with them. Are you with me so
far?
Thomas: It all seems pretty straight forward, so far.
Professor Jacobs: Okay, then, let me ask you: Who was in covenant
with God in the garden?
Thomas: Adam and Eve.
Professor Jacobs: Are you sure?
Thomas: Ah, reasonably sure?
Professor Jacobs: Help me understand federal headship then.
Thomas: I havent a clue.
Professor Jacobs: Thats right, Im sorry, Im being too technical there.
We are supposed to be simplistic. Ill ask it this way: Who did
Adam represent in the garden?

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35

Thomas: All humanity.


Professor Jacobs: Were we represented in the garden at that time?
Thomas: Yes, I just said that Adam is our representative. Is that the
same as being a federal head?
Professor Jacobs: Yes, it is, but my question revolves around those in
covenant with God at the time of the transgression. You said earlier
that everyone is fallen in Adam, correct?
Thomas: Yes I did, in not so many words.
Professor Jacobs: Then would it be plausible to say that the entire human race, in Adam, was in probation in the garden? Would it be
plausible to say that Adams transgression is reckoned to our account, and that we, like him, have transgressed the covenant? And on
top of all that, we are fallen as a result?
Thomas: That is basic theology, I think.
Professor Jacobs: Yes, that is basic. But I want to be sure you are getting my point.
Thomas: Im not getting it. Where are you going with this?
Professor Jacobs: Let me ask you something. In Adam, are we believers
or unbelievers?
Thomas: I never thought about that. I was conceived as a lost person.
Im a sinner until regenerated. I would have to say that at the fall everyone in Adam, as seeds, were unbelievers. They could not have believed, yet, because they had no capacity to believethey were not
even born yet!

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THREE | THE COVENANT OF WORKS

Professor Jacobs: In a broader scope then, were unbelievers and believers part of the Covenant of Works?
Thomas: Yes. [Thinking] Yes, I would have to say yes. Men are all
under the curse of Adams fall.
Professor Jacobs: You look unsure.
Thomas: No, Im sure, now that I think it through. Adam represented
the whole world, and the whole world was in Adam when he transgressed. So the whole world, in Adam, was in covenant with God, so
to speak; but this is simply the same thing as if they were there anyway.
Professor Jacobs: Yes, and the point is just that. They were there,
represented in covenant through Adam, both Adam and the whole
world. True?
Thomas: Yes, I believe thats true. The Bible tells us that all through
the book of Romans. Men are fallen, all men, and so all men were
represented by Adam in the garden. We now call people unbelievers
because we know Adam fell, but all people, Adam and all those after
him, were represented by him in the garden. I believe that.
Professor Jacobs: So I want you to remember that believers and unbelievers are in covenant with God, in a Covenant of Works. Both
Adam, at the time he was a believer until he sinned, and all unbelievers, the whole world, were in probation before God in covenant.
Whatever Adam did, that would be imputed to us, whether for blessing or curse. We know that the whole world lies in the wicked one.
All are born wicked. All are unbelievers. Adam represented them all,
and the whole world was involved in the Covenant of Works before
God in the garden. Okay so far? Romans 3:23, For all have sinned
and fall short of the glory of God.

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37

Thomas: Yes. I will remember that point as well. Its important,


though I do not see the whole picture yet. I had not thought that
through before. Its an eye opener to think that the whole world was
in covenant with God in Adam.

FOUR | THE COVENANT OF GRACE


from the fall of adam to abraham
Professor Jacobs: Ok, now that we have the Covenant of Works down,
what is the next covenant we find in the Bible?
Thomas: I would say Genesis 3:15.
Professor Jacobs: Bravo! I would have thought you would jump to
Noah. We will get to Noah in a moment. What about Genesis 3:15?
Thomas: It is the promise of the gospel to come. The seed of the woman, thats Jesus, will crush the head of the serpent, thats the devil, but
He will die to accomplish that, and thats the bruising of His heel.
Jesus Christ will die as a sacrifice for those sinners the Father has
given to Him.
Professor Jacobs: Well done. What covenant is this?
Thomas: Im not sure that it says anything about a covenant.
Professor Jacobs: It does not use the term covenant, no. But later on I
want you to refer back to this passage and think through what covenant this is speaking about. Just keep in mind that here, in this passage, we have two separate lines of peoplethose of the woman and
those of the serpent.
Thomas: Can I guess now?

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FROM THE FALL OF ADAM TO ABRAHAM

Professor Jacobs: No. Save it for later. No guessing. We want to stand


on the Bible. So lets move on to Noah. Read for me Genesis 9:12-17.
Thomas: Okay, then. The text reads, And God said: This is the sign
of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living
creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow
in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me
and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the
rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant
which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the
waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh
that is on the earth. And God said to Noah, This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on
the earth.
Professor Jacobs: We know the storymen are wicked and wickedness
is growing as a result of the fall of Adam. The earth is filled with violence. God then destroys the earth by a flood and saves Noah, his
family, and the animals on the ark from the destruction. The ark rests
after a period of time, and Noah comes out. God then speaks to him
and makes a covenant withwell, who does God make this covenant
with?
Thomas: Noah.
Professor Jacobs: No. Look at the text again.
Thomas: Oops. All flesh and Noah.
Professor Jacobs: Correct. What is the sign of the covenant here?
Thomas: The rainbow.

A SIMPLE OVERVIEW OF COVENANT THEOLOGY

41

Professor Jacobs: Can you see the rainbow outside even today after a
rain?
Thomas: Yes, of course. Oh, I see where you are going. God again has
made a covenant with both Noah, a believer, and the entire world,
including the unbelievers.
Professor Jacobs: Lets be more specific. With the Covenant with
Adam as well as the one with Noah, are both believers and unbelievers in covenant with God?
Thomas: How could anyone argue with that so far? Yes, they are.
Professor Jacobs: Well then, can we say, so far, that unregenerate
people can be in covenant with God?
Thomas: Yes. Its a bit tricky to grasp because of my previous doctrinal ideas, but my preconceived notions say that will change once we
hit Israel and then the New Testament.
Professor Jacobs: Im very aware of that. Lets take one step at a time.
You are jumping ahead a bit.
Thomas: Sorry, Im just thinking out loud.
Professor Jacobs: Is Noahs covenant redemptive?
Thomas: Im not sure what you mean? Do you mean: Does the covenant with Noah save anyone?
Professor Jacobs: Yes, exactly. Does it?
Thomas: Hmmm. God makes a covenant with Noah and all
flesh[thinking]I suppose not. At least not directly. But it is also
not the same covenant God made with Adam.

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FROM THE FALL OF ADAM TO ABRAHAM

Professor Jacobs: You are supposing?


Thomas: Ahokay, no, it is not redemptive. It doesnt save anyone in
particular.
Professor Jacobs: What exactly, then, did that stage in covenant progression do?
Thomas: Well, God made a covenant that promises He will not destroy the earth again and the sign for that is the rainbow. Obviously
this is not redemptive in a strict sense because a rainbow does not
save unbelievers, nor are they saved in this covenant. It seems to be a
covenant of protection with the earth.
Professor Jacobs: You are on the right track. The covenant here with
Noah and all flesh is setting Gods indiscriminate providence over
all the earth. It is stabilizing the earth so that God has a fixed arena
in which to work out his Covenant of Redemption in time. Paradise,
the Garden of Eden, was initially that environment. But after the fall
God had to stabilize the earth. Otherwise, if God became as angry as
He did and enacted a flood every time the earth filled up with sin,
God would be destroying the earth by water every few seconds and
the covenant progression would never get off the ground, so to speak.
Man would be damned. Rather, it sets the stage for redemption to
take place. Only in that sense can it be called redemptive, but it is a
stretch to formally deem the whole covenant redemptive. Do you see
the importance of laying a good foundation in the Noahic Covenant?
Thomas: Yes, this is much clearer to me.
Professor Jacobs: So far we have seen the Covenant of Redemption with
the Sona covenant with an irrevocable oath on behalf of the Father
to gather a bride for the Son; we have seen the Covenant of Works
with Adam; and now we are dealing with a third covenant that houses a progressive unfolding of covenantalism within it. We call this

A SIMPLE OVERVIEW OF COVENANT THEOLOGY

43

the Covenant of Grace. In the Covenant of Grace (which is really the


Covenant of Redemption bursting onto the scene of time and readying the world for the Son of God to come to fulfill His work), we have
a number of administrations to deal with. One is the fulfillment of
the Covenant of Grace as foretold in Genesis 3:15, and then the next is
the covenant with Noah. We will go back, as I said, to Genesis 3:15 in
a minute. But we need to get the foundation of the Covenant of
Grace down first, before we really understand some of those other
more obscure texts. Lets move on to the covenant with Abraham.
This is a pivotal point in biblical revelation and redemption in demonstrating the centrality of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of Gods
plan. Before we learn about the fulfillment of the plan, we have to get
the plan straight in our mind. Read for me the first seven verses of
Genesis 17.
Thomas: When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, I am Almighty God; walk before Me
and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you,
and will multiply you exceedingly. Then Abram fell on his face, and
God talked with him, saying: As for Me, behold, My covenant is
with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall
your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I
have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly
fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from
you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your
descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.
Professor Jacobs: What is the covenant here? What is the main focus of
this covenant?
Thomas: Land, seed, and blessing.
Professor Jacobs: No. Try again.

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FROM THE FALL OF ADAM TO ABRAHAM

Thomas: No? [Thinking] Ah, that God will be a God to him and his
people.
Professor Jacobs: Correct. Land, seed and blessing are subsequent acts
of blessing. Do you know who John Calvin is?
Thomas: Yes, of course.
Professor Jacobs: Calvin said that Abraham would have been more stupid than a block of wood to think the covenant only concerned land,
seed, and blessing. The promise here is that God would be a God to
Abraham and his descendants. Abraham was, of course, looking for a city
made without hands, as Hebrews tells us. He wasnt looking for real
estate on earth, although being blessed by gaining a promised land
was a nice thing. He was looking for a fuller communion with God.
Land can be nice, and blessing can result, but the covenant promise is
about obtaining salvation. What was the sign of this promise?
Thomas: Circumcision.
Professor Jacobs: Where do you find that?
Thomas: Also in Genesis 17, verses 10-12, it says, This is My covenant
which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants
after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you
shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a
sign of the covenant between Me and you. He who is eight days old
among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations,
he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant.
Professor Jacobs: So what was circumcision a sign of?
Thomas: I just said, the covenant.

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45

Professor Jacobs: Im just keeping you in step with a flow of thought.


What is circumcision a symbol of?
Thomas: Professor, I just said, the covenant!
Professor Jacobs: No, circumcision is a sign of the covenant, but what
does it symbolize?
Thomas: Oh. Umm. It symbolizes that someone is part of Israel and
the community of Israel.
Professor Jacobs: No. We are not talking about a national identity here.
Nor are we talking about the abuse of circumcision, something Paul
will deal with in Galatians and Romans. With Abraham and his
offspring, circumcision is a sign of the covenant, but it is also a symbol for something. What is it a symbol of?
Thomas: I would have to say Im unsure.
Professor Jacobs: Read for me Deuteronomy 10:16 and Jeremiah 4:4.
Those two passages will help us here.
Thomas: Deuteronomy says, Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your
heart, and be stiff-necked no longer. Jeremiah says, Circumcise
yourselves to the LORD, And take away the foreskins of your hearts,
You men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Lest My fury come
forth like fire, And burn so that no one can quench it, Because of the
evil of your doings. Wow. I never thought about this. So what the
text says is that circumcision is a symbol of a circumcised heart.
Professor Jacobs: What theological word do we use for the circumcision made without hands?
Thomas: Regeneration.

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FROM THE FALL OF ADAM TO ABRAHAM

Professor Jacobs: So, circumcision is a sign of the Covenant of Promise


and it symbolizes regeneration. It is a bloody act that demonstrates
the regenerate lifethe tearing away of the flesh is the tearing away of
the sinful nature. It is a wonderful picture of both justification and
sanctification.
Thomas: Im confused.
Professor Jacobs: How?
Thomas: If circumcision is a sign of a promise of redemption and is a
gracious act of God to give to Abraham as part of the covenant, and
it is a symbol of regeneration, why would God tell Abraham to circumcise Isaac, an 8-day-old baby, and his entire house? That does not
seem to make sense to me. I thought the ordinance of circumcision
was just national identity. Not that it represented spiritual ideas surrounding grace! This is blowing my theological circuits!
Professor Jacobs: Well, in some theological circles some tend to think
that the Covenant of Grace and salvation, or election, are the same
thing. In other words, Dispensationalists believe that those in the
Covenant of Grace have to be saved to be in covenant with God. They
do not recognize an external aspect to the covenant which we call the
visible church. This is a fundamental error in their theology. But lets
not go there yet. Im just looking to get the facts straight. So far we
have seen that the Covenant of Works, the administration of the Covenant of Grace with Noah, and the administration of the Covenant
of Grace with Abraham included unbelievers. Those who may be unregenerate and those who are regenerate have been in these covenants so far with Adam, Noah, and Abraham. There is a difference,
and I think you see it, between the eternal Covenant of Redemption
and the covenants seen on earth (those that are temporary).
Thomas: Yes, I do. In the Covenant of Redemption there is just the
Mediator and all those the Mediator saves. That seems to be where
election belongs. In the earthly covenants, the Covenant of Redemp-

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47

tion breaking into time and readying the world, as you said, for the
coming Messiah, the covenants have an internal and external aspect
to them. They have believers and unbelievers in them.
Professor Jacobs: Very good. Well said. Now I want to dwell a moment on Abraham. When Abraham circumcised Isaac, did Abraham
believe Gods promise was upon his chosen seed?
Thomas: I have no reason to believe otherwise. Now that I look at the
text, I have to say yes.
Professor Jacobs: Im glad. You would be right in saying yes. Was
Isaac in covenant with God?
Thomas: Again, I would have to say yes. The sign and symbol of the
covenant was placed upon him, and Abraham, no doubt whatsoever,
believed Gods blessing was upon his son by Gods direct promise to
bless him and his seed forever.
Professor Jacobs: We know that the seed is spiritual; it refers to Christ, ultimately. But practically speaking there are lots of children to
come down the line of covenant before the ultimate blessing of Christ is seen. Seth, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, etc., to
name a few. Circumcision is a spiritual act in response to the promise of God that is given externally. It is given on the basis of the faith
of the parent. The parent believes Gods promise and raises their
children in the fear and admonition of the Lord based on those promises.
Thomas: Does that mean all the children of believers are, in fact, saved?
Professor Jacobs: Not really. It is unfortunate that people like Ishmael,
who was circumcised and part of the covenant administration with
Abraham, turned out to be unregenerate and wicked. From Gods
point of view and His decree, the children may not be saved. From
Gods precept, the parent believes Gods promises for their child and

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FROM THE FALL OF ADAM TO ABRAHAM

teaches them the Word of God so that they may one day have a professing faith.
Thomas: This is confusing to me. Why would Gods decree differ from
His precepts in the Word of God?
Professor Jacobs: Let me give you a simple example. Do men kill?
Thomas: Yes.
Professor Jacobs: Does God command them that they not kill?
Thomas: Of course Thou shalt not kill.
Professor Jacobs: Does God decree that men kill?
Thomas: I see your point. Gods precepts do not necessarily connect
with the eternal counsel of His decree.
Professor Jacobs: Do you live within the counsel of Gods decree? Are
you privy to that information?
Thomas: No, I live here on earth among men.
Professor Jacobs: Well, then, men are obliged to listen to the Word of
God, not necessarily to wonder about the decrees of God. Gods decrees, to some extent, can be seen after the fact, and in His Word He
gives us some insight into those decrees. There are very few exceptions to this, but one is rather interesting. God told Abraham that
Ishmael would ultimately be cast outa reprobate. Even so, Abraham
still circumcised the child according to the command. Why did he do
this?
Thomas: It seems to be defeating the purpose if God told him Ishmael
was reprobate and then told him to circumcise him. Why would he
do this? I dont know.

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49

Professor Jacobs: Abraham obeyed Gods precepts for setting the sign of
the covenant on Ishmael because we know he wanted to obey God.
But the sign invokes blessing or cursing. Although Abraham, through
Gods direction, knew the child would ultimately be cast away, he
still placed the sign on him. Why? God would ultimately invoke the
covenant curses upon Ishmael.
Thomas: I think I understand. Parents include their children in the
covenant because they believe Gods promises. They give them the
sign of circumcision, as did Abraham, to follow Gods command.
They simply believe Gods promises that are set forth in His Word.
In this case, though, God told Abraham that Ishmael was cast out, so
the covenant sign brings a curse instead of a blessing. What a tragic
fate for Ishmael as a covenant breaker!
Professor Jacobs: Yes, quite tragic. That is why we see Abraham pleading for a blessing on his son. God does bless Ishmael as a great
prince over a numerous people, but it will be a curse to him as far as
eternity goes. However, that is a special instance. God sees the covenant sign as powerful. He either blesses through it or curses
through it. So what about the promises of God? Did the Hittites,
Jebusites, or Amalekites receive such promises for themselves and
their children?
Thomas: No, not at all.
Professor Jacobs: If we know clearly in our minds that the Covenant of
Redemption houses all the ideas surrounding predestination, election, and the like, then the temporary expression of that covenant in
time, through the Covenant of Grace, is not difficult to figure out. We
can easily see that unregenerate people have always been included in
those covenants. Now it would be quite wrong to say that Psalm
110:4, the passage about the Covenant of Redemption, includes the
unregenerate. That is the eternal predestination and election of God
in Christ; by oath Jesus is consigned to take a bride. Jesus will have

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FROM THE FALL OF ADAM TO ABRAHAM

His bride. But the external outworking of that covenant seen in time
through biblical history is simply the manner of basic covenantal
promises until Jesus fulfills everything in His life, death, resurrection,
ascension and present intercession. God makes temporary covenants
with people on earth based on stipulations. If they obey, they are
blessed. If they disobey, they are cursed. If they are believers, they
are blessed. If they are unbelievers, they are cursed. Why are they
cursed? Because they are sanctioned with the covenant imprecations
associated with disobedience. For instance, did Isaac have children?
Thomas: You know he did. Jacob and Esau.
Professor Jacobs: Did he circumcise them?
Thomas: Of course. He wanted Gods promises to bless them, so he
circumcised them both.
Professor Jacobs: Like Abraham did to Isaac at 8 days old, Isaac also
circumcised his children. Did Isaac believe they were in the Abrahamic administration of the covenant with God?
Thomas: I cannot see how he could not have thought that. He would
have trusted Gods promise to be a God to him and his children, so he
would have given them the covenant sign.
Professor Jacobs: We have a problem then.
Thomas: I see it.
Professor Jacobs: Tell me.
Thomas: Esau.
Professor Jacobs: Yes. Esau. Esau is one of the great monkeywrenches for Dispensational ideas surrounding salvation. We know
from Romans 9:13 and from Hebrews 12:17 that Esau was a reprobate.

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He was lost. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he was
still lost. His repentance was not from a regenerate heart, but he was
given the sign of the covenant, inducted into the covenant by way of
circumcision, and bore in his own flesh the symbol of regeneration. Why
in the world would God have Isaac give an unregenerate baby the
sign of salvation and regeneration? There is a theological idea running rampart in churches today called Dispensationalism. It breaks
up the covenant ideas into different dispensations where God acts
differently rather than cohesively through His Covenant of Grace.
Most commonly the Old Testament and the New Testament are
treated as two major dispensations, thus implying that God worked
differently in one than in the other. They believe that Jesus Christs
coming in the New Testament radically changes the plan that God
was working through in the Old Testament. Esau, for Dispensational
theology, is a real problem. He is not a believer, but he was given the
covenant sign. Dispensationalists believe that the covenant sign
should only be given to those who are saved since the inception of the
New Testament.
Thomas: So this kind of thinking holds that in the Old Testament God
worked in one manner and then changed His plan to be more exclusive in the New Testament.
Professor Jacobs: Yes, that is the basic premise of Dispensational Theologydiscontinuity between the covenants. That is why Dispensationalists try to discover why we baptize babies by appealing only
to the New Testament. According to what we have seen of Gods
unfolding plan, Esaus circumcision makes no sense whatsoever for a
Dispensationalist. But we cannot get around the text. The promise is
what it is, the covenant is what it is, and Esau was circumcised. Even
though Esau was not a believer, God told Isaac, who was told by Abraham, to circumcise and place the sign of regeneration on his 8-dayold infant. So what did Isaac do? Isaac believed God, as Abraham
believed God.
Thomas: How do we know they were really circumcised?

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FROM THE FALL OF ADAM TO ABRAHAM

Professor Jacobs: Read Genesis 17:14.


Thomas: And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised
in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his
people; he has broken My covenant. I see. This is quite explicit.
Abraham certainly would have instructed Isaac in this. Im sure the
lineage of Abraham remained circumcised because of the promise.
But that still does not account for the change that will occur in the
New Covenant. This will all be a moot point at that time.
Professor Jacobs: We shall see. Dont hang your hat on your Dispensational ideas just yet.
Thomas: Wait just a minute, Professor. I think I have you in a conundrum.
Professor Jacobs: Shoot.
Thomas: Ishmael seems to be a problem.
Professor Jacobs: Why?
Thomas: Abraham circumcised Ishmael when he was 13. Then God
told him to cast him and Hagar out. Doesnt that make this whole
idea about being in covenant with God as an unregenerate person
somewhat foiled?
Professor Jacobs: Not at all. Whether we talk about Ishmael or Esau,
the idea is not foiled at all. Whether God told them to circumcise
their eight-day-old or thirteen-year-old son, they did it because they
believed Gods promises and the covenant He made with them. We
have a much more detailed biblical record that Esau was in fact reprobate, and you have seen that Esau was in covenant. Ishmael was
in covenant as well, and neither he nor Esau received a spiritual blessing. Both of them were cast out of covenant relationship with God

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because, ultimately, they could not keep the covenant with God
faithfullythey were not regenerated. They did not have a regenerate
heart. They received the imprecation of the covenant instead of the
blessing. They received malediction not benediction. There is no
problem with all of this if you understand that covenant acts surround blessing or cursing based on obedience.
Thomas: I think Im still confused.
Professor Jacobs: Lets see if I can clear this up for you. Jonathan Edwards said that we are to hate whatever God hates. If God were to
reveal to us the eternal destination of men in the world, we would
have a responsibility to either love them or hate them as God does.
But God does not reveal that information to us. Reprobate men are
not born with an R on their foreheads so that we know Gods mind.
Abraham, in like manner, was given a special revelation that we, as
normal covenant parents, do not have. God spoke to him and told
him to get rid of Ishmael after he was obedient in giving the child the
sign of the covenant, and after he believed God. But it is interesting,
isnt it, that God did not tell Abraham not to circumcise him? God allowed Abraham, commanded Abraham, to circumcise the boy even
though later on God would have him cast out. Little did Abraham
know Ishmaels line would cause havoc for the Israelites even into
our present day in Palestine. Did I answer your question adequately?
Thomas: Yes. Quite. It is very clear now.

FIVE | THE COVENANT OF GRACE


from moses to david
Professor Jacobs: Lets summarize and move on. So far all of the temporary covenants include the unregenerate. The sign of the covenant in
the Old Testament is circumcision. It is a sign of the promise of salvation. It is also a symbol of regeneration. It is given to 8-day-old
children who have no faith. This seems strange, but in keeping with
the manner of the temporary covenant and the promises of God, it is
perfectly clear. The covenant brings either curses or blessing depending upon what one does with it. If Jacob is granted true regeneration,
he will keep covenant with God. If Esau is not granted regeneration,
he will break the covenantand it will be the worse for him. I think
you seem to be getting this so far, so lets go on to the Mosaic Covenant. What changed here? Did the promise of God to Abraham
change when the Mosaic covenant came?
Thomas: Im not sure. My Dispensational Theology tells me yes but I
do not think it is right because of where we have just been theologically.
Professor Jacobs: What about Genesis 3:15?
Thomas: What about it? I thought we were talking about Moses?
Professor Jacobs: We are, but lets jump back, as I said we would, for a
moment. Do you see the seed promise there in Genesis 3:15?

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FROM MOSES TO DAVID

Thomas: Yes. It says, And I will put enmity Between you and the
woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your
head, And you shall bruise His heel.
Professor Jacobs: Do you see that it was given a full flavor in the promise made to the seed of Abraham?
Thomas: Yes. God gave Abraham promises that He would be his reward and that He would bless him and his covenant children.
Professor Jacobs: Remember, we call this covenant that begins in Genesis 3:15 the Covenant of Grace. In contrast to the old covenant of
works, it is the new covenant. We will get to that terminology in a
moment. What is the covenant administration made with Moses
called? Does it annul this previous covenant? Does it annul Genesis
3:15 as promised to Abraham and fulfilled in Christ?
Thomas: Im not sure. I admit, Im confused.
Professor Jacobs: There are some who believe that the Mosaic Law is a
further revelation of the Covenant of Works. Others believe that
Moses and Israel, by receiving the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20,
were receiving a new way of obedience. But neither does full justice
to the biblical idea. Can you imagine Moses dying and standing in
front of God? He says to God, God, you should let me into heaven
because I worked for it. Would fallen Moses have said such a thing?
Thomas: I cant see him saying that. That would be salvation by
works. But if that is true, why is the Law given, or re-given? I
thought Adam was trying to earn salvation? Cant people work for
their salvation? Oh, wait. The fall renders men incapable of salvation
in that way. They are already imperfect being wicked and so they
could never perfectly reflect the Law of God.
Professor Jacobs: Remember, every covenant in time surrounds Do
this and live. However, the Mosaic Covenant held a bit more than

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just a few commands within it. It had a whole civil, ceremonial, and
moral brigade of commands. Lets use the analogy of a building to
help sort this out. Question: Is the Law something that had previously been around? Was Exodus 20 the first time people sinned,
when they held the stone tablets?
Thomas: No. Cain killed Abel. Moses even killed the Egyptian. Sodom was filled with homosexual behavior. Certainly sin existed.
God had destroyed the world by flood on account of sin and He was
angry with them because they were wicked as Genesis 6:5 says. Sin
was present even when there was no law.
Professor Jacobs: What does the Law do then?
Thomas: It brings us into an intimate understanding of our sin. It
points it out.
Professor Jacobs: Well said. In the Old Testament administrations of
the Covenant of Grace, the Law was a tutor to point to a need for
Christ. Was it important to keep the Mosaic Law in order to be justified?
Thomas: How can the works of the Law justify anyone? Thats impossible. Thats works. That goes back to Moses making a ridiculous
statement at the judgment seat. He could never have worked enough
to get inhe was already fallen.
Professor Jacobs: The reason the full expression of the Law was given
was to help in the construction of the building of salvation. Think of
salvation and the promise given to Abraham as a building. We set
the foundation with creation. Adam falls, people sin, and God cleans
up the mess with a flood. He promises not to destroy the earth again
like that and so cleans off the foundation, which is stabilizing the
earth, or the Noahic administration of the Covenant of Grace. He
begins building with the promise made to Abraham concerning salvation, that is the Abrahamic administration with a full exposition of

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the Covenant of Grace. From that point onward we see the building
being constructed and built up into a huge tower. Now, in building
any large skyscraper, workers need to use scaffolding to continue
building each story upwards. Think of it in everyday life. A building
is built, but without scaffolding or cranes only one story would ever
be built. The scaffolding helps to build up the building higher and
higher until the capstone is set in place. The ceremonial and judicial
Mosaic Law, the whole sacrificial system, is the scaffolding of the
building, not the building itself. In time, when the fullness of the
building is seen and the Messiah comes to ratify the Covenant of Redemption in the Covenant of Grace, He is the capstone to the whole
thing, and the scaffolding is no longer needed. Have you ever seen a
completed building that kept the scaffolding?
Thomas: No, I have never seen that.
Professor Jacobs: The moral law, which was from the beginning, never
leaves. It is foundational to the building and the work of the Messiah. The moral law can even be summarized in the commands given
in the garden. Obey me. Be like Meholy. Do this and live.
That is the point of Gods law. It demonstrates the duty of men in
relation to the nature of God. The law of God is the perfect reflection
of His nature and His will and it binds all rational creatures to perfect
conformity in character and conduct. But wicked men are sinners
and cannot keep the law. The Messiah must come and keep the law
for us. Now let me ask you: With whom did God make this Mosaic
Covenant? Just Moses?
Thomas: No, all of Israel.
Professor Jacobs: Is it interesting to you that the whole nation of Israel,
delivered from bondage in Egypt and miraculously preserved through
the Red Sea (baptized there), is in covenant with God?
Thomas: Not really. The Bible says so.

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Professor Jacobs: Think through this now: Egypt is typified as bondage


or sin, if you will. Israel is released from bondage and baptized in the
Red Seathe beginning of the spiritual rest they should now have in
God. The Mosaic administration of the Covenant of Grace is made
with the whole nation, regenerate and unregenerate. Even little
children were baptized in the Red Sea. Therefore little children,
even babies, are in covenant with God in the nation. Even women,
who were not formally circumcised, were baptized in the Red Sea.
Paul is clear on this in 1 Corinthians 10:2 where he says that they
were all baptized into Moses in the Red Sea, into the Mosaic administration. They were baptized into the current mediator of covenant
progression. The question then remains, will they keep covenant
with God? Or will they then break the covenant made on Sinai?
Thomas: They break it. The point about the Red Sea is important. I
know Paul says this in Corinthians. I see there the relationship between the Israelites baptism and ours. It seems to be very clear in
Pauls statement, that they were baptized into Moses in the cloud
and in the sea. That included children as well. In fact, it included all
the people in the covenant. I will have to rethink this text again later.
But go on.
Professor Jacobs: So far, in all our temporary covenants, we have regenerate and unregenerate people; saved and lost, believers and unbelievers, in covenant with God. Now here is a big question: Did the
Mosaic Covenant annul the Abrahamic covenant?
Thomas: No. Paul says it didnt in Galatians 3.
Professor Jacobs: Good man! That is correct. The Mosaic Covenant
does not annul the promise just because the scaffolding of the building will ultimately be done away with. The ceremonial and judicial
Mosaic Law is not eternally binding. As Paul tells us in Galatians, the
Law is simply a tutor, or scaffolding, to be done away with later
when Christ, the capstone, comes. So, we should remember that if
the members of the covenant obey, they are blessed; if they disobey

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they are cursed. And, oh, how Israel disobeyed! That is why, so often,
you see God saying He loves Israel on the one hand, and then says He
is cutting them off two verses later. Stipulations require obedience.
If they are not obedient, then imprecations result, cursing results.
And we know that over and over again, in the history of Israel, the
people were exiled for their wickedness. Only a remnant was saved.
They went through a lot of hardship because of sin.
Thomas: Let me see if I have this straight. The Bible tells us that the
Mosaic Law is scaffolding, equipment to help build the building. But
after the building is finished, the scaffolding does not remain. I mean,
I have never seen a building that kept the scaffolding. It is always
taken away when the project is completed. So even though the Ten
Commandments are eternal, and they have always been around, they
were structured until the time of Jesus by the sundry laws of the
Mosaic Covenant. Then Jesus, by His perfect obedience, keeps the
law perfectly, offers Himself as a ransom, and fulfills the Law as a result of keeping the agreement in the Covenant of Redemption to redeem a people for Himself, which included all the Old Testament
saints, as well. Is that right?
Professor Jacobs: Well said. Christ fulfills the Law and the necessity to
keep the Law for justification, and we now have the fulfilled Abrahamic promise seen in the freeness of the gospel. But we are not done
yet. You must understand that the Mosaic Covenant is also a reemphasis of the Covenant of Works. It is still a continuation of the
Covenant of Grace, building up the building, but it also houses the
reality of the Law present in the Covenant of Works that through the
Law comes life, if you obey it perfectly. Yet we know all people are
slaves to sin. Moses would have been a fool to teach Israel that salvation came solely by works. Nowhere in the Mosaic administration of
the Covenant of Grace do we find that God required them to solely
work in order to be justified. Their obedience as a covenant people,
already assuming some of them were regenerate, required their sanctificationsomething they always messed up because of their sinful
nature that hated to please God.

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Thomas: So God did not revert back into some kind of Covenant of
Works?
Professor Jacobs: No, but the Covenant of Works was again more fully
expressed alongside the gracious character of God in the Covenant of
Grace. It is almost as if God brought the Covenant of Works along
side the Covenant of Grace for a time until the Mediator would come
to do away with trying to uphold the Law solely by works. Moses
would never be able to say to God that God should allow him into
heaven because he kept the Law. Moses relied as much on grace and
the promises to Abraham as Abraham did. 1 Peter 2:9 paraphrases
what God said to Moses and Israel on Sinai. Read that for me.
Thomas: But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy
nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of
Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. I always enjoy that verse, but now I see how it echoes the terms used in
the Old Testament. We should also remember the words of Moses in
Deuteronomy to show the continuation, and not the annulling of this
covenant with Israel. He said, The Lord made this covenant not
with our fathers but with us, even us who are all here alive this day.
The solemn assembly on Sinai marked the first great gathering of the
people of God.
Professor Jacobs: John Owen, the great English Puritan theologian, saw
the Mosaic Covenant as a re-emergence backward to the Covenant of
Works, but still in the progression of the Covenant of Grace. Maybe
you could think of it like a man with a heavy lead coat on. Yes, it will
protect him from the wind, but it is a burden to wear. Listen, we still
have a ways to go to really grasp all this. We have barely made it out
of the Pentateuch. Lets move on to David. What about David? Who
was represented in the Davidic Covenant?
Thomas: Israel.

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FROM MOSES TO DAVID

Professor Jacobs: Correct. Why is the Davidic Covenant important?


Thomas: I guess it has to do with the monarchy.
Professor Jacobs: Yes, David being king is important, but why does God
make a covenant with David?
Thomas: Well, Joshua, JudgesI guess it has something to do with
land?
Professor Jacobs: Somewhat, but not exactly. David is the turning
point in biblical revelation for Covenant Theology in terms of rest.
The Israelites, after being baptized in the Red Sea, came to the land of
rest and observed the Sabbath rest the very next day. Rest is important. It typifies heaven. In heaven we will have perfect rest. At the
time of David, the wild west days of the judges had finally ended, and
Saul was deadthat reprobate king who disobeyed God repeatedly
without true repentance. The nation had taken over the landwell,
almost taken it overand desired its rest, a subsequent earthly shadow and effect of the Abrahamic promise. The land was not fully
conquered and later they paid for that disobedient mistake. But David represents the desire for rest. When David wanted to build the
temple, even though God would not let him, that demonstrated a
cease to the Israelites sojourning, so to speak. 1 Chronicles 23:25
says, For David said, The LORD God of Israel hath given rest unto
his people, that they may dwell in Jerusalem for ever. It is the covenant administration of rest, kingship, and kingdom which typifies the
kingdom to comethe spiritual reigning of the Messiah. Romans
14:17 says, For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Thomas: I can see that. That seems very clear. And it seems they continued to uphold the Law and the covenant sign of circumcision, and
looked forward to the promises fulfilled in the Messiah to come.

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Professor Jacobs: True enough! So far, then, in all earthly covenants we


have unbelievers and believers in covenant before God, and God is
progressively moving His remnant through the salvation process until the time of the Messiah to come.

SIX | THE COVENANT OF GRACE


from jeremiah to the new covenant in
Christ
Professor Jacobs: Okay, then, lets move on to a wonderful passage
about salvation. I say wonderful, yet it is often twisted by Dispensational Theology to create a change in the way God saves, arguing for a
covenant change in the New Testament. Shall we read Jeremiah
31:31-34?
Thomas: Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will
make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of
Judahnot according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in
the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of
Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to
them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with
the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law
in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God,
and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his
neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for
they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,
says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will
remember no more. I love this passage.
Professor Jacobs: Explain it for me then.
Thomas: Well, Jeremiah is prophesying that the New Covenant to
come is going to be different than the Old Covenant in that it is in the

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CHRIST

heart. The Old Covenant was not in the heart. This is the writers
point in Hebrews 8. Those in the New Testament church will be
saved and regenerate. New Testament writers presume a regenerate
membership in the church when they write to the church. Regenerate people are the only ones in the New Covenant. Jesus will radically bring about a new way of dealing with men. There will be no
more need to teach the Law because God will teach it to men and
write it on their hearts. Pentecost shows us this when the Spirit
comes and now dwells in men.
Professor Jacobs: Slow down there! Lets deal with Jeremiah first before we hit the New Testament. Lets evaluate your answer. It is true
that Jeremiah is talking about a covenant, but is it a new covenant?
Thomas: That is what my Bible says. New. Its right there in black
and white. New!
Professor Jacobs: I understand that, but you should always take time to
do a word study or two and be sure of your syntax and grammar.
Even though we are talking simplistically about the covenant, we
should address the word new here. This is a little deeper than how
we have been talking and may be a bit technical for you. The Hebrew
word is not just the simple new but also holds in it the idea of renew or refresh. The word for new is an adjective that is used fifty-three times in the Old Testament. It comes from the verb form of
the word. That verb form is its root and its basic meaning. When we
trace the verb through the Old Testament, it is used to mean renew
or repair. For example, you can see this in Isaiah 61:4; 2 Chronicles
24:4, 12; Psalm 51:10-12; Lamentations 5:21; 1 Samuel 11:14; 2 Chronicles 15:8; Job 10:17; Psalm 104:30; Psalm 103:5; and in other places. The
idea around the word itself as an adjective means taking something
already existing and renewing iteither repairing it to a previous
state or taking something that already was and making it better. As
both a noun and adjective, this word refers to things new in this sense
and to things restored. Now some like to think that this word is exclusively meant as brand new, but this does injustice to its use in

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the Old Testament. They will quote verses like Exodus 1:8, Now
there arose up a new king over Egypt, or Isaiah 43:19, I will do a new
thing. These surely seem like new is brand new, dont they?
Thomas: Yes, but Im afraid you are going to tell me otherwise
Professor Jacobs: Well, yes, actually, there is more to it than just quoting a verse or two. For example, without going into great detail, is
the station of kingship new or not? Is having a new king something
brand new or a renewal of the class of kingship? How does the Hebrew mind think about this? How does the rest of Scripture demonstrate this?
Thomas: I would have to concede that a new king does not make the
class of kingness new, although a new king is a good element of fulfillment to kingship.
Professor Jacobs: Exactly. What about Isaiah 43:19? How would you
explain new things that God does?
Thomas: Well, in thinking about this, I have to ask, if God does new
things, or if He is eternally immutable? It seems we have a theological
conundrum. How would you reconcile the eternal immutability of
God with Him doing new things? I mean, after the act of creation
and containment of creation, does He change from doing old things to
doing new things?
Professor Jacobs: The answer to that is both yes and no. For God, the
answer is no. He never does new things. It is not like He had a
plan, made a mistake, and then decided to do something new. But,
in our eyes, the realities surrounding the fulfillment of anything God
does makes it new to us. For instance, if I have an old car, say a 1979
Ford Fairmont, and then I buy a new car, that car is a brand new car
in relation to the junk car Im giving to the junkyard. Both are cars,
but if I take the old Fairmont and mint it out then the old car becomes new. It is not really new but renewed. Yet, when I sit in it,

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it surely is a new car to me. It puts a smile on my face to drive it. For
all intents and purposes in my mind, in comparison to that old hunk
of junk, this minted car is new.
Thomas: I understand the point, but is that how the word is usually
used in the Old Testament?
Professor Jacobs: Think of this: The Lord's mercies are completely new
every morning, but also renewed every morning (Lamentations 3:23).
Job desired that His glory was fresh in him (Job 29:20). This does not
mean new but renewed. Gods glory cannot be new, as in brand new,
since it always is. A survey of the Old Testament will show that such
a renewing in Hebrew is considered as new, though its cognate is
old and simply refreshed. It is almost never used as new, as in
brand new, even when God says He does new things or new
kings are put on thrones. There is more to the Hebrew mind and
language than thinking one dimensionally about words.
Thomas: Okay, Im with you so far. I dont like it, because it changes
my theology, but Im with you.
Professor Jacobs: Lets consider the context of Jeremiah 31. Chapters
30-33 each have an overall structure that uses a repetition of Behold
many times. This structures the Restoration ideas surrounding
Israel and Judah. They were in exile and God promises to bring
them out of exile and renew the covenant He had with them. He is
not going to renew it like the covenant he made with Moseswith
burdensome laws, so to speak. Rather, He will fulfill it in Christ.
The context of Jeremiah is comparing Abraham's covenant with the
Mosaic Law, the tablets of stone, and the promises of the Lord to Abraham, of which we know Christ is the fulfillment. Abrahams covenant is not new. It is refreshed, renewed, fulfilled, completed, etc., in
Christ (which ultimately points to the use of this passage in Hebrews
8). We see this when we recognize that we are dealing with the same
God, the same law, the same people (the elect), the same fallen status
of people (in sin), the same status of God (gracious and longsuffering,

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but also judicious), the same status of justification (by faith alone),
the same stipulation (blood covers sin), the same provision of the stipulation (Christ), and the same reward (peace with God and everlasting life), as one of my colleagues stated. What is really new? The
answer is not a whole lot, in that sense of the word! What do you
think?
Thomas: I would have said that regeneration is the new thingthe law
written on the heart, but that does not seem to fit well.
Professor Jacobs: The greater context does not limit Jeremiah 31 to just
regenerate people. The restoration ideas do not limit the passage to
merely an internal aspect of the covenant. If that were really true,
then things like the Lords Supper and baptism, outward and external sacraments in the New Covenant, would not be necessary. But
Jeremiah 31 is not simply speaking about something internalit is
much bigger than that. It includes Israels children and the fulfillment of all the promises to Abraham. Context! Context! Context!
Jeremiah 30:20 says, Their children also shall be as before, And their
congregation shall be established before Me; And I will punish all
who oppress them. And Jeremiah 31:17, right before the passage we
started with, says this, There is hope in your future, says the LORD,
That your children shall come back to their own border. Listen to
what Jeremiah 32:18 says, You show loving-kindness to thousands,
and repay the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children
after themthe Great, the Mighty God, whose name is the LORD of
hosts. And we should not forget Jeremiah 32:39 which says, just a
chapter after but in the same context, then I will give them one heart
and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and
their children after them. If it is really just about a regenerate church
membership, then why mention the good of the children? Oftentimes Jeremiah 31:31ff is ripped from its context and misread.
Thomas: That certainly does make the passage different. Now we are
talking about a renewed covenant or a refreshed covenant. Wow!
That makes a lot of difference.

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CHRIST

Professor Jacobs: What covenant is in contrast with the renewed or


refreshed covenant in this passage? Is it Abrahams?
Thomas: No. Its the Mosaic covenant. Oh my! I just made things
click! The covenant here is a renewing, or refreshing, of the Abrahamic promise over the scaffolding of the Mosaic Covenant. Is that
right?
Professor Jacobs: That is correct. The covenant made with the house of
Israel and the house of Judah, the one that the Messiah will bring in,
is going to be the Abrahamic Covenant fulfilled.
Thomas: I see this very clearly. The Old Covenant of Sinai, all those
ceremonial laws, is now finished in the Messiah. But Im a bit confused. What about writing the Law on the heart?
Professor Jacobs: It is clear that the contrast is one of regeneration. But
may I ask: Was Abraham regenerate?
Thomas: Im not sure. My Dispensationalism hinders me from answering that clearly.
[Professor Jacobs chuckles.]
Professor Jacobs: Is Paul foolish to use Abraham as the father of our
faith?
Thomas: Of course not. Okay, then, I would have to say, yes, Abraham
was regenerate.
Professor Jacobs: Was he saved by grace through faith?
Thomas: Yes.
Professor Jacobs: Did he have the Spirit indwelling him as you and I do?

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Thomas: I want to say yes because men cannot be born again without the Spirit, but, again, my Dispensationalism hinders me from
that. Didnt Pentecost give us a new Dispensation of the Spirit?
Professor Jacobs: In an external scope, yes it did. But in regeneration,
absolutely not. Those who believe that Pentecost marked a change in
the way the Spirit works in the heart are very mistaken. Think about
Jesus in John 3 with Nicodemas. What did he say to Nicodemas in
verse 10? He said that Nicodemas was Israels teacher and yet he did
not understand what it meant to be born again. He was rebuking
him because Nicodemas should have understood the Old Testament idea
of being regenerated. So let me ask again: Was Abraham filled with the
Spirit and regenerate?
Thomas: I would have to say yes. Otherwise I change the manner in
which people go to heaven and I suppose that is classic Dispensationalism.
Professor Jacobs: If that is the case, what makes this renewed covenant
in Jeremiah 31 different?
Thomas: I guess I might have been reading something more into the
passage that wasnt there.
Professor Jacobs: I think so, too. It is a common mistake to believe that
the New Covenant initiates regeneration of the heart.
Thomas: But what about Hebrews 8? It quotes this at length surrounding the ministry of Jesus as High Priest forever. Is Hebrews
wrong?
Professor Jacobs: What is wrong is the interpretation of Jeremiah 31
that you bring to Hebrews 8. Hebrews 8 quotes the whole passage
we just read in Jeremiah. But what if you misunderstand Jeremiah 31?
Will you ever understand Hebrews 8?

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Thomas: No, I suppose not.


Professor Jacobs: That is simple Bible hermeneutics. Ok, so now we see
this is a renewed covenant. The scaffolding of the Mosaic Covenant is
gone, and the writing is on the heart. But this is not new; it is the renewed covenant of Abraham, and that is an important point. Tell me:
What else is different about this renewed covenant?
Thomas: Well, it says no one will teach his neighbor saying, know the
Lord for they shall all know me from the least to the greatest. Isnt
this regeneration? But it cant be since it is the renewed covenant of
Abraham, fulfilled in Christ. I always thought this meant that those
in the New Testament church would be regenerate. That is why our
church only baptizes people on profession of faith.
Professor Jacobs: Slow down again. Take one thing at a time. Yes, you
are right. It cannot be talking about regeneration and just regeneration. Abraham, as you said, was regenerate and that happened before
this promise. So Jeremiahs new or renewed covenant is not just
talking about regeneration alone. Lets ask this question: Do we have
teachers today?
Thomas: You are a teacher. So yes, we have teachers today.
Professor Jacobs: But the text says we will not have any more teachers
in this renewed covenant. No one will teach one another saying
Thomas: But we have teachers today. Are you saying the New Covenant is not now?
Professor Jacobs: No.
Thomas: Then what exactly are you saying? This is confusing me!

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Professor Jacobs: Well, the New Covenant, or the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant, is a now and not yet covenant. In the Old Testament the Abrahamic Covenant was awaiting its fulfillment. But
Abraham was saved. It was a now and not yet covenant. It was
now and not yet in promise. Jeremiah, though, is quite plain and
we need to take the text as it stands. In the New Covenant there will
be no more teachers. The verb teach one another is literally they
teach one another. It is in the third person: No one will teach his
neighbor. In the fulfillment of the New Covenant, the renewed covenant of Abraham, there will be no more teachers. So, might I ask:
When will everyone, from the least in the kingdom to the greatest in
the kingdom, know the Lord? And remember, this is a time when
there are no more teachers.
Thomas: I would have to say in heaven. Only in heaven will everyone
know the Lord completely, and in heaven there will be no teachers.
Professor Jacobs: Is this making sense to you yet?
Thomas: A little. Explain it, please.
Professor Jacobs: The renewed covenant made with the house of Israel
and Judah is the Abrahamic covenant fulfilled in Christ. It is set in
contrast to the ceremonial and judicial laws given at Sinai because
the blood of bulls and goats do not really save. Jesus Christ inaugurates the coming of this new kingdom and renewed covenant. In
doing so, the New Covenant is now for us, since we are saved; but it
is also not yet, in that in heaven all people will know the Lord from
the least to the greatest. There are teachers now teaching the church
in this new covenant, but there will be no teachers then. There are
saved people now, just as in the Old Testament, but the knowing is
complete only in heaven. No church, anywhere, is made up of all regenerate people, nor is any without teachers or pastors. Many people
think that the New Testament church is supposed to be made up of
only regenerate members. That is why Dispensational churches only
want to baptize regenerate people, those who simply make a profes-

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sion of faith, and leave the children out. Although, in reality, they
have no proof in any way of ensuring the person is saved, but they
will baptize them anyway. But Jeremiah is not talking about excluding or including people in this way. In the time of Abraham, even
people like Esau were included in the covenant, and the New Covenant is not a consummation of the Covenant of Grace with a completely regenerate membership until we get to heaven. Only then will
we have no more teachers. If you do not understand this point, please
let me know. We cannot move forward without understanding this.
Thomas: I think I understand, but that revamps my theology again.
You are saying that the covenant is a renewed covenant in contrast to
the scaffolding idea of the sacrificial system and the Mosaic Law for
Israel. Abraham was saved. He was regenerate and had the Spirit.
There is no way I can see that he could not have the Spirit if he was
saved. And as you said, Paul would be crazy for using Abraham as
the father of our faith if this reality was not true. So, in the New Covenant people are saved, but it seems to be pointing to the full inauguration of the kingdom in Christ. But even when that fullness
comes, it is not complete because the company of heaven is not complete. I see. Jeremiah 31 has some eschatological overtones to its fulfillment. We definitely have a now aspect of itbeing saved and
regenerate, but we still need to get to heaven to experience the fullness of the now and not yet prophecy of Jeremiah 31. We are certainly experiencing salvation now, and I know Im saved, but Im
also being saved and will be saved and then glorified. There is still a
not yet part to come. Is this right?
Professor Jacobs: Quite right, my young theologian. The law is written
on the hearts of all men. That is why they have consciences now.
The Spirit convicts them of sin. Yet, they cannot act in good conscience because they are defiled from within. So the Spirit changes
them and their heart is made new; they are born again, no matter in
what age the Spirit does this, and a new creation results. But even
then, the sinful nature pulls them down and tries to entice them to
sin. Only in heaven will we enjoy the ability to please God perfectly.

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Jeremiah is showing that the tablets of stone, the Law, are no match
for the regenerated heart. And how glorious will the community of
believers be when the whole community, from the least to the greatest, is made whole and without sin! So now, what do you do when
you bring this different idea to Hebrews 8?
Thomas: Im not sure. I will have to rethink how the book of Hebrews
works in the New Testament, especially in terms of covenant. I
know Jesus is the mediator of a better covenant, so does that argue
different altogether? Jeremiah seems to say no way. But how then
can we square Hebrews 8 and the idea of better? I have heard some
say it is a different substance. Its better than before.
Professor Jacobs: The same word used for better in Hebrews 8 is used
a number of times in the New Testament. For instance, it is used in 1
Corinthians 7:9, it is better to marry than to burn. Now when
someone gets married, are they different? Or is there a sense of fulfillment?
Thomas: Well, is burning in lust for a woman fixed by being married?
Professor Jacobs: No, it is not. But it does give the burning a suitable
context in which to work out the sin in a manner of overcoming it.
Does that make sense?
Thomas: Yes it does, and I will have to go back and rethink Hebrews 8.
Professor Jacobs: Here is an important point that I want you to see
from Jeremiah 31. After saying all that we have said, we should see
that Jeremiah 31, while dealing with a temporary covenant here on
earth, does not exclude the unregenerate from being in the covenant. In
Abrahams day, in his covenant with God, Isaac was in the covenant,
as well as Jacob and Esau. Does this make sense?

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Thomas: Yes, I have to admit it does. Since I see that Jeremiah 31 does
not exclude the unregenerate from the now of covenant life, Im getting the bigger picture of the way the covenant works by blessings
and curses. Like when Paul tells us that we should examine ourselves
to see whether or not we fail the test, and all the other warning passages in the New Testament written to professing believers. But let
me ask this: Are we sure that the new covenant is the renewed
covenant of Jeremiah 31 and Abraham? Is there New Testament evidence for this?
Professor Jacobs: Lets find out. Read for me Luke 1:72-73. Here we
find Zechariah looking for the promise to be completed. What does
he say about Jesus birth?
Thomas: To perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham. It looks like Zechariah was a good theologian. He understood
that the promise, the promises made to Abraham, were about the fulfillment of Abrahams covenant. Jesus fulfills that.
Professor Jacobs: Was Zechariah a priest?
Thomas: Yes.
Professor Jacobs: He knew his theology, as you said?
Thomas: Yes.
Professor Jacobs: Lets choose another personsomeone who may not
have had all his or her theology down pat. Lets read Luke 1:54-55.
Thomas: Mary is saying this: He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham
and to his seed forever. So Mary seems to understand this as well.
And she was probably a teenager at this time.

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Professor Jacobs: Do you see that Mary is rejoicing in the promise made
to Israel, and that Jesus is the fulfillment of Abrahams promise?
Thomas: Yes.
Professor Jacobs: Tell me, in the covenant with Abraham, were unregenerate men in covenant with God?
Thomas: Yes, every circumcised child was in covenant with God.
Blessing or cursing would result based on their works. If they were
regenerate, they would be working in the power of the Spirit. If they
were like Esau, they were lost and unregeneratecursed for being a
covenant breaker.
Professor Jacobs: Does Mary or Zachariah think this covenant has changed
or that it is fulfilled?
Thomas: Well, Im not sure yet. I would say fulfilled, though.
Professor Jacobs: Why?
Thomas: Well, they wouldnt have referenced Abraham if that were
the case. Nor would the apostle Paul have used Abraham as our father of faith in Romans 4, if that were the case.
Professor Jacobs: True. Let me then ask: When Paul writes against circumcision, the sign of the covenant and symbol of regeneration, is he
saying that the covenant sign of the promise made to Abraham is annulled?
Thomas: Im not sure. It seems that way.
Professor Jacobs: Lets use Galatians since it is so straightforward. Let
me preface and say that most of the time those with Dispensational
Theology believe that Paul is eradicating circumcision altogether.
But this is not the case. He is fighting against the abuse of circumci-

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sion, not circumcision itself. Dispensational Theology shatters when


we come to understand the reality behind covenant continuity in this
way. Read for us Galatians 3:8-11.
Thomas: And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the
Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, In you all the nations shall be blessed. So then those who are of
faith are blessed with believing Abraham. For as many as are of the
works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the
book of the law, to do them. But that no one is justified by the law in
the sight of God is evident, for the just shall live by faith. So are you
saying that those who would circumcise their children to be justified or
chosen as the elect of God were abusing the covenant sign of regeneration
that God gave to Abraham?
Professor Jacobs: Paul is saying it, not me. Im just parroting it. Even in
Galatians 4, Paul makes the contrast between those trying to earn
righteousness by keeping the Law and those who live by faith. But
just because unrighteous men desire to work for their salvation does
not mean that saved Jews should stop circumcising their children. As
a matter of fact, circumcision kept right on going for quite some time
after Christs ascension, and the apostles continued this and even
sanctioned it, as we will see. Now here is the point of saying such a
shocking statement: If we have something in the New Testament
that shows the apostles sanctioned the inclusion of infants and children in the covenant, then that would pull the lynch-pin on Dispensational thought forever, even though all weve said so far should cause
none to doubt that Dispensational Theology does not hold up to
scrutiny. Also, if we have some way of showing how the New Testament church continued the practice of infant inclusion in the covenant, then we will clearly see how the covenant continued and was
fulfilled in Christ, but held the same continuity of the Abrahamic Covenant given so many thousands of years before Jesus. Infant baptism
is not important at this point at all, but infant inclusion in the covenant is very important because the Old Testament covenant with Ab-

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raham is built in this way. If the New Covenant is the continuation


and fulfillment of you and your seed, then we need to be sure our
theology fits Covenant Theology altogether, not just parts of it. In
other words, the issue is about whether or not we believe what God
actually said about including the children, or not. If we believe, then
we have the same faith Abraham had. If we do not believe, then
something is dramatically wrong with our understanding of the Bible
and the promises of God.
Thomas: If you can show me this in the New Testament, I would be
forced to give up all my Dispensationalism and not just what I have
given up already in understanding the covenants so far. All of it will
have to go. I will need a reformulation of my thinking from square
one.
Professor Jacobs: Im attempting to show you how the covenant works.
God expresses the Covenant of Redemption in time by the Covenant
of Grace. The Covenant of Grace came as a result of the fall and
Adams disobedience in the Covenant of Works. Adam blew it, as we
discussed. God enacted the promise in settling the earth with Noah,
then He gave the official promise to Abraham with a covenant sign
that was to be administered to his children, and now it is full bloom.
The question revolves around whether or not the inclusion of children should continue in the covenant. Are children still included in
the covenant, or did the Covenant of Abraham change in its fulfillment
in the Messiah? The question among most inquirers is, Where do I
find infant baptism in the New Testament? But they are missing the
point altogether. If we do a study on the Trinity, as we said, we
would not start by checking our concordance for the word Trinity.
Neither would we begin a study on infant baptism by looking up that
phrase. The question should be, Are infants still included in the covenant in the New Testament, and is there apostolic sanction to administer the sign of the covenant to those infants? It really comes
down to understanding the manner in which God has continually
saved. Do you understand the contention so far?

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Thomas: I think so.


Professor Jacobs: Good. In Jesus Christ, the Mediator of the Covenant
of Gracethe Elect Servant of the Covenant of Redemptiondies on
the cross to fulfill the Law and everything that wicked men cannot
accomplish. The Gospel is the continued good news. It was first given in Genesis 3:15, continued through to Abraham in Genesis 17, to
Moses and the Law, to David and the typological rest of the Old Testament, and to Jeremiah and the fulfillment of the New Covenant
seen in Jeremiah 30-34. Jesus Christ is the Chief Cornerstone of the
whole work. He is the Son who has come to inaugurate the Covenant
of Grace, based on the Covenant of Redemption because of the failure
of Adam in the Covenant of Works. He is the Savior and the fulfillment of all of Gods promises.
Thomas: I see this clearly now.
Professor Jacobs: Now we will move on to the fulfillment of the Covenant of Grace in Christ.

SEVEN | THE COVENANT OF GRACE


Jesus and the children and the book of
acts
Professor Jacobs: Ok then, lets look at the New Testament and find out
whether we have any language whatsoever that continues to be covenantal. We are looking, now, at the New Testament to see whether
or not we find covenantal language as with Abraham, or if we find
individualistic language as Dispensational Theology would have us
believe. We want to know if God changes His plan in the New Testament or continues His plan. Lets look at Mark 10:13-14.
Thomas: It says, And they brought young children to him, that he
should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought
them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto
them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not:
for of such is the kingdom of God. I have heard this a thousand
times. What does this have to do with baptism and the covenant
sign?
Professor Jacobs: Now you are getting flustered. Im not interested, at
this point, in talking about baptism. That will come later, much later. What we want to find out is if people in Jesus day and the early
church were clinging onto covenantal ideas, whether Jesus agreed with
those ideas, and whether the apostles sanctioned infant inclusion.
This would show that the covenant has not essentially changed, but
only in scope and fulfillment. No one I know believes sacrificing
goats and bulls could save men. To say such things would be to ut-

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terly abolish the work of Jesus. Those in the Old Testament are saved
in the same way as the New Testamentby faith. The question is:
How much did the covenant change by being fulfilled? Has it been so
changed as to become completely individualistic, or is Jesus still concerned with families and children? Did the New Testament lose its
Jewishness?
Thomas: I know Jesus came to save the lost house of Israel. And Jesus
was Jewish. So I cannot see how the New Testament could lose its
Jewish flavor in that way.
Professor Jacobs: You are not completely grasping the point. If the covenant changes to become Westernized through our 21st century
mindset, we will really not understand the flow of biblical thought
through the New Testament. We have become very individualistic in
our society and have lost the sense and importance of family. This
idea is often lost when we read the text. Use the passage. What did
the mothers do with the infants and very small children?
Thomas: My Bible says children, not infants.
Professor Jacobs: The Greek word refers to both infants and very small
children. These are tiny children, helpless and in need of complete
care.
Thomas: Okay, I didnt know that. Well, the verse says that the mothers brought the children, or infants, but the disciples rebuked them.
Then Jesus wanted them to come, and He blessed them.
Professor Jacobs: You are missing something.
Thomas: What? I cant see it.
Professor Jacobs: Look harder.
Thomas: Are you saying He baptized them?

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[The Professor shakes his head.]


Professor Jacobs: No, Thomas. You are missing it completely this time.
Let me explain. The children are brought to Jesus. The disciples rebuke them but Jesus wants them. They do not come on their own.
They are brought to Jesus and offered up to Him to be blessed. The
first thing to notice is that Jesus wanted the children in order to bless
them. He is angry that the disciples are hindering the children, the infants, from
being blessed. Now I ask: To whom does the kingdom of heaven belong?
Thomas: Oh, I see. Jesus says the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as
these. Mothers are giving their children to be blessed by a Jewish rabbi who claims to be inaugurating the kingdom and covenant of Abraham. They desire that their children be included, and Jesus accepts
the children.
Professor Jacobs: Is there any sign of allegory here in this text?
Thomas: Yes. Jesus says in the next verse that adult believers must
come in the same way that children come. I guess this means helpless. Or better yet, without anything they have done.
Professor Jacobs: Now you have it. Get this: It is not that the children
are merely used as an illustration. Jesus is emphatic and the Greek
text is unmistakable. Children are included in this new kingdom He
is inaugurating, and He desires to bless them. It would take far too
long to go through what the Old Testament says about the blessing of
children. There are over one thousand eight hundred verses referring
to children there, but the blessed children are always part of the covenant body. Jesus has no problem whatsoever accepting these children on behalf of their mothers. The kingdom is theirs. They belong to
it, and they own it. How does a child without a profession of faith own
the privileges of a spiritual kingdom?

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Thomas: That is amazing to me. That is certainly not very individualistic by any means. It seems Jesus is clear here about covenant inclusion of infants and children. Otherwise, I could not see the Savior
engaged in an exercise of futility in blessing these children and going
to the length He did to allow them to come. He would be wasting
His time if real covenant blessings were not in view, and He would
never have said that the kingdom belongs to them if He did not really mean that.
Professor Jacobs: There are some other passages in the Gospels, but
time is getting away from us. Lets take up Acts and see if covenant
language appears there as well. It is a history of the early Christian
church. Keep in mind that we are trying to find out how Covenant
Theology works and if the New Testament demonstrates the continued work of God from the beginning, but fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
Does the book of Acts reflect the manner in which God fulfills the
Abrahamic promisefulfilled in the perfect sacrifice of Jesus? Are
children still included in the covenant? Thats part of our goal at this
point because it helps determine the continuity of the Reformed system of thought. Dispensational Theology says, No, they are not, and
Covenant Theology, or Reformed Theology, says, Yes, they are. It
has always been that way and there is no New Testament statement
to say otherwise.
Thomas: What passage do you want to look at?
Professor Jacobs: Acts 2.
Thomas: I thought so.
Professor Jacobs: I know you are familiar with the passage, but lets
read some sections of it. Start with Acts 2:8-12.
Thomas: And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in
which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phry-

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gia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene,
visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs
we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of
God. So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another,
Whatever could this mean? How does this apply?
Professor Jacobs: These men, from all over the land, were hearing the
glory of God in their own language. What does that tell you?
Thomas: It was miraculous?
Professor Jacobs: Yes, of course it was miraculous. But what was said
about the languages, the land, and the scope of those people from
their homelands?
Thomas: They were from all over; all over that country as well as other
countries.
Professor Jacobs: Of course. They were Jews, scattered abroad because
of exile, and since they had been captured and reprogrammed by the
Roman oppression they all had their own language from different
areas. This was called Hellenization. Remember, the people of Israel
had been scattered all over. Here, together, we see the forming of
Gods people being brought back into the fold. As you had said, Jesus
came for the lost house of Israel. Remember the covenant in Jeremiah
31?
Thomas: Yes, the house of Israel and Judah
Professor Jacobs: How do you know?
Thomas: That is what the text says. Men of Israel
Professor Jacobs: Read another passage; Acts 2:16-21.

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Thomas: But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 'And it
shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out My
Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your
young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And
on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in
heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon
into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the
LORD. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of
the LORD Shall be saved.
Professor Jacobs: Do you see any darkened sun here or moon turning
into blood? Any smoke?
Thomas: No. I dont think the passage means that at all.
Professor Jacobs: But this prophecy is being fulfilled, correct?
Thomas: Yes.
Professor Jacobs: Prophetic passages can be tricky. Many Dispensationalists dont believe Peter here when he says this (Joels prophecy) is
being fulfilled right now . That is because of some problems they
have in making the millennial reign of Christ work out the way they
like in Revelation. But Peter is clear and what Peter is quoting in the
book of Joel is really important at this point. I think we should turn
to Joel to see what Joel actually says. Read Joel 2:28-32.
Thomas: And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My
Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your
old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. And
also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My
Spirit in those days. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in
the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be
turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of

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the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved. For in
Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the
LORD has said, Among the remnant whom the LORD calls.
Professor Jacobs: What is different?
Thomas: Peter does not quote the last part of verse 32. He leaves it off.
Why?
Professor Jacobs: You will see. Let me ask another question first. Who
is this prophecy about? Gentiles?
Thomas: It says in Joel 2:27, in context, Then you shall know that I
am in the midst of Israel: I am the LORD your God And there is no
other. My people shall never be put to shame. So I guess this applies
to Israel then, right?
Professor Jacobs: Correct. But more than that, it is talking about all of
Israelall of those in Gods providential and salvific care. The prophecy is concerning Israel, though, and that cannot be contested. Peter
is preaching to Jews. He quotes the fulfilled passage. Now might I
ask: Does this passage ring with covenant ideas or individualistic
ideas? Are we talking about family, here, or individual people?
Thomas: It says sons and daughters.
Professor Jacobs: Is there anything about menservants and the like?
Thomas: Yes, menservants and maidservantseven old men and young
men. It sounds like everyone in the household is covered here.
Professor Jacobs: Ok so far. Lets see what else Peter says. He goes on,
in verses 25-28, to quote Davids psalm about Jesus when He is entombed. He will not see corruption; He did not see corruption; and
Jesus was raised from the dead. To whom does he direct this?

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Thomas: It says in Acts 2:36, Therefore let all the house of Israel know
assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both
Lord and Christ. I would have to say it is directed to Israel.
Professor Jacobs: Why should the house of Israel know this? Wouldnt
you think at this point that Peter would at least have his theology
straight and think that individuals should be addressed, not Israel? It
certainly does seem to have a covenantal nature to it, doesnt it?
Thomas: Yes it does, but in a moment that will change.
Professor Jacobs: How so?
Thomas: In verses 37-38 it says this, Now when they heard this, they
were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles,
Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ
for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. See, Peter says they have to repent and then be baptized! The
covenant seems to change. It is now individual.
Professor Jacobs: Do you think Abraham needed to believe in the promises as an adult?
Thomas: Im not sure what you mean?
Professor Jacobs: Its a rather simple question. Did Abraham have to
believe, as an adult, in the promises of God?
Thomas: Yes.
Professor Jacobs: After he believed, did he tell Isaac that he needed to
believe as well?

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Thomas: I would imagine so if Abraham was to teach his children the


right way before God.
Professor Jacobs: Did he circumcise Isaac before or after he explained
that?
Thomas: Hmm. I see your point. Abraham believed. Isaac was circumcised and then later believed. You are saying that adults who are
pricked in this way, seeing they are already adults, should repent and
be baptized. And I would imagine you are going to say that the children are included in the covenant at this time as well, right? Are you
going to say that they, like Isaac and Jacob, could have been included
as children?
Professor Jacobs: No.
Thomas: No? You are not saying that?
Professor Jacobs: No, Peter is saying that through the inspiration of the
Holy Spirit. Read the next verse.
Thomas: For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all
who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.
Professor Jacobs: Is this covenantal language or not?
Thomas: It is, very much so.
Professor Jacobs: What is Peter saying here?
Thomas: He is including the believer, and their children in the covenant. The promise is actually for them. But wait! It also says, and
to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call. Isnt
that everyone else who will be saved? How could Peter be talking
covenantally? I mean, yes, everyone saved is in the covenant, but I
think your argument just died because those who are far off are also

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the unsaved Gentiles who will come into the fold later. Or even both
Jews and Gentiles who will come later. What do you say to that?
Professor Jacobs: You argue well, but the Bible does not support your
argument. Answer this: Does Peter believe that the Gentiles are included in the covenant at this point in time?
Thomas: Of course. He would not have said all those afar off if he
wasnt thinking of the Gentilesall those God would save at a later
time. This could include all the elect for all the futureand that could
mean you and me.
Professor Jacobs: You are absolutely wrong. Peter is no more thinking
about Gentiles here than he is thinking about eating a pork sandwich. It is often the case that Dispensationalists believe Peter, and
the other apostles, fully understood the inclusion of the Gentiles in
the covenant at the time described in the book of Acts. This is not
the case, and so your argument is faulty.
Thomas: Why?
Professor Jacobs: Read for me the verse that Joel quoted but Peter left
out in our earlier passage.
Thomas: For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the LORD has said, Among the remnant whom the LORD
calls. Oh my! Peter does actually quote this, but it is later in his
message. He leaves the phrase whom the Lord calls off until he
clinches his argument with it about Jesus being raised from the
dead. In other words, it looks as though he is filling in the blanks to
Joels prophecy and adds a bit more commentary on what happened
with Christs work as the Mediator. He makes things more clearly
seen by doing this in his finely interlaced sermon. Then he says as
many as the Lord will call. I never saw that.

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Professor Jacobs: Most dont. They simply assume it is referring to Gentiles. Lets see if I can set this straight for you. Peters sermon centers
on the gospel of Christ being the fulfillment of grace to Israel. He
quotes the first section of Joel, explains his points, and then quotes
the last part of the last verse of Joel to conclude his message, or at least
what we have of the message that the Holy Spirit deemed important
for all time. His whole sermon flows very nicely together. He specifically and intentionally left off that last part of the verse until it was
time for the clincher to come. The climax is not repent and be baptized. The climax is the next verse that holds the whole passage together. It is a reformulation of the Abrahamic promise and the
prophecy fulfillment of Israel that is found in Joel and all wrapped up
into a neat little verse. So what does this tell us?
Thomas: Peter was thinking about the Jews, not the Gentiles. The
prophecy of Joel is for the Jews. This is hard to accept. My Dispensationalism doesnt like this.
Professor Jacobs: I know, but stick with it. It will pan out in the end.
Since Peter is speaking to the Jews, and he is not thinking about the
Gentiles at this point, what really clinches it for us by demonstrating
that Peter did not think the Gentiles were yet involved?
Thomas: Im not sure.
Professor Jacobs: Well, when did Peter actually have a personal lesson
about Gentile inclusion in the covenant by God?
Thomas: Ah, yes, Acts 10 and Cornelius. Peter learns that what God
has now called clean, he should not call unclean. That makes sense
now. But couldnt Peter have been helped by the Holy Spirit in that
Acts 2 passage? Couldnt the Holy Spirit be saying those whom the
Lord calls as Gentiles? Cant the Spirit override Peter to define this
verse as referring to Gentiles?

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Professor Jacobs: No. The reason is twofold. First: Joels prophecy is


to Jews. So we must remember that good hermeneutics is bent on
keeping things in context. Secondly: The Holy Spirit does not turn
men into robots. He does not overpower their minds and simply use
them as a pen and piece of paper. Everything Peter preached and said
in Acts 2, he understood. Otherwise we would fall into the heresy of
the dictation theory. That is where the Holy Spirit simply dictated information to the writers and apostles of the New Testament and
overrode their minds and wills. Its not orthodox at all, and the
Scriptures never teach that.
Thomas: I see. So Peter preaches to Jews and it is smothered in covenant language. Children are referenced, and as many as the Lord
calls is referring to Jews. What Jews?
Professor Jacobs: Jews not present. Peter is preaching to the scattered
people of God. God is calling the remnant back as Joel prophesied
His chosen people. Later, Gentiles are seen as those grafted in. Gentiles, according to Romans 11, are grafted into the same trunk from
which the Jewish branches were broken. It is quite clear that Paul, in
finishing those pristine passages about election, is demonstrating the
nature of the covenant in chapter 11. Maybe we should briefly read
that to ensure that you understand that the Jews and Gentiles will
make up Israel. Read Romans 11:17-21.
Thomas: And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being
a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became
a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast
against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not
support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then,
Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in. Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not
be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches,
He may not spare you either. It seems some of those branches
grafted into the covenant can also be broken off as well. The Jews
who did not believe were broken off. This seems very clear to me

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now. Yes, I also see that the Gentiles have been grafted in. They are
part of the trunk, now. But they can also be broken off. Why is that?
I thought election is ordained? Can people fall away?
Professor Jacobs: No, people cannot fall away, but they can break the
covenant and show themselves to be apostate like Esau. They can
transgress and break the covenant and then the curses follow. They
can break the external character of the visible church in the Covenant
of Grace, but never the Covenant of Redemption. People who break covenant and fall away for good were never really converted to begin
with. Those who are truly saved, can never truly fall away. From the
smile on your face I think you are with me. Summarize, then, Acts 2
for me.
Thomas: Peter preaches to Jews about Jesus and His death and resurrection. He quotes all of the prophecy of Joel, the fulfillment of the
Jews Pentecost (but in two parts, filling in some information about
what the Old Testament says about Jesus through David), and some
commentary about what Jesus accomplished. Then he gives a call to
repent and be saved. He then demonstrates that the covenant promise is for those who repent, their children, and all the Jews afar off
that God will draw infor all the lost sheep of Israel. Do I have it?
Professor Jacobs: Yes, that is a simple summary. So far we have seen
that covenant language, including the children, is still the norm. So
far we have had no individualism overshadowing the covenant promises. What about households? Do we find any talk about households
in Acts, or are we only dealing with individuals?
Thomas: I know where this is going. Yes, there are households. And,
yes, the whole household is baptized, but you cant tell me for sure
that children are in those houses. The text does not say that.
Professor Jacobs: Quite right. Simply because the word household is
used is not necessarily an argument for infant baptism. However, the
argument runs both ways. There could have been children and they

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could have been baptized. but that is not what Im after. I want to
know if we are dealing with individuals or households? Is there
covenant language here in families or individual people? Which is
it?
Thomas: Obviously it is households. We are not seeing much by the
way of simply evangelizing the individual and leaving it at that. Lydia, the jailor, Corneliusall of them were group efforts.
Professor Jacobs: No, No! All of them were household efforts, and all of
them represent covenant language. At this point we do not care about
arguing over infants and baptism. We are looking for whole households
baptized. That is what we find. We find covenant language not dispensational language. We do not find Luke, the precise historian,
saying that each individual member of a house believed, repented, and
was baptized. We see Luke using the covenant language given to
Abraham. Correct?
Thomas: How can I disagree?
Professor Jacobs: You cant. Lets go on. I could talk about the household formula in Greek, but that is too technical for our discussion at
this time. We could also check the early church and see their reactions concerning infant inclusion in the covenant and household
baptism going back to Jewish proselyte baptism. It is even mentioned by Irenaeus in the second century, but I think we will skip
those men for now. You can do some of that research later. The text
is more important at this point. Read Acts 16:30-34. We need to
note something very important about the jailor passage. Lets look
there.
Thomas: And he brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to
be saved? So they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will
be saved, you and your household. Then they spoke the word of the
Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the
same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he

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and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them
into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household. I do not see anything special
here. Will it jump out at me?
Professor Jacobs: Not in English. In Greek there is an important twist.
Here is a literal translation: And he took them the same hour of the
night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and
all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food
before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he
had believed in God. Now this is a bit different. He believed, and they
all rejoiced because he believed. The household is not said to have
believed. They are rejoicing for him. But his whole house is baptized.
The Greek is very helpful here. So we see that the administration of
the covenant sign of baptism is given to the whole house, even
though only he believed. The covenant is still enacted in the same
way, and the unregenerate can still be part of the external visible
church in the Covenant of Grace or the Covenant of Abraham fulfilled in Christ. What happens is that covenant stipulations are now
placed upon them and their response to those stipulations will bring
blessing or curse. We are not trying to create works righteousness.
We know only the regenerate will truly be able to keep the covenant
stipulations because of Christ. But the confusion lies in the fact that
the Dispensationalists mix up the Covenant of Grace with the Covenant of Redemption. They throw away the Covenant of Redemption
and then are left with all sorts of problems theologically because they
do not define things very well.
Thomas: I see the force of the passage. But dont you think Dispensationalists are right in throwing away the Covenant of Redemption?
Even your own Westminster Confession of Faith does not use the term at
all!
Professor Jacobs: Wait! You brought up a very good point about the
Westminster Confession. I want to comment on that very briefly. If you
remember what Im about to say, then the Confession, as a whole, will

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make better sense to you. You must remember that the Westminster
Confession of Faith is a brief account of systematic theology, a summary.
It certainly does not include everything to be said about every doctrine. It is a basic overview that people should be familiar with, but
they must understand that the framers of the Confession wrote extensively on the Covenant of Redemption in their further writings. I
mean, the Confession is only about thirty pages. How much can you
say about one doctrine, fully, in thirty pages? Take our conversation,
for example. We have covered about three-fourths of what I want to
say, and I would imagine that a transcript of our own dialogue would
be longer than the whole Confession by far! Lets keep things in perspective.
Thomas: Okay, I understand.
Professor Jacobs: I also want you to remember what the Larger Catechism
says in question 166: Baptism is not to be administered to any that
are out of the visible church, and so strangers from the covenant of
promise, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him,
but infants descending from parents, either both, or but one of them,
professing faith in Christ, and obedience to him, are in that respect within the covenant, and to be baptized. If this is true, why did they make
an enormous blunder in the Confession itself and say in chapter 7 paragraph 3, Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by
that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly
called the Covenant of Grace; wherein He freely offereth unto sinners
life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in Him, that
they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life his Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and
able to believe. I know what happenedthey were all sick that day
and made this immense blunder. In one place they say men need
faith, but in another they say infants are included in the covenant.
Have they lost their minds?

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Thomas: I would have said yes, but from our conversation Im sure
you are going to say no. There is simply a need to explain how all
this works, I guess.
Professor Jacobs: Precisely. And many in The Assembly did this all
through their writings. They did not immediately become foolish or
careless, as some Dispensationalists believe, and contradict themselves, but rather they set forth a simple outline of systematic theology and did not explain every jot and tittle. Though they did not formally call it the Covenant of Redemption, they did take time to explain this Covenant of Redemption in the Decrees of God. They said
in chapter 3 paragraph 5, Those of mankind that are predestinated
unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according
to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and
good pleasure of His will, hath chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting
glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of
faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other
thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto:
and all to the praise of His glorious grace. And in chapter 8 paragraph 1 they continue, It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to
choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, His only begotten Son, to be the
Mediator between God and man; the Prophet, Priest, and King, the
Head and Savior of His church, the Heir of all things, and Judge of the
world: unto whom He did from all eternity give a people, to be His
seed, and to be by Him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified,
and glorified. Isnt this what we have been talking about concerning
the Covenant of Redemption? Of course! They simply took time to
separate the concepts into various sections, but did not altogether
forget it. They just didnt formally name it. And if people do not understand how the covenants work, they will always make this blunder in understanding the Confession.
Thomas: I see.
Professor Jacobs: Also, you have to remember that the work, The Sum of
Saving Knowledge, which is a commentary on the practical application

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of the Confession, explains in detail the Covenant of Redemption. And


guess who put that together? Those same theologians. It reads: Albeit man, having brought himself into this woeful condition, be neither able to help himself, nor willing to be helped by God out of it,
but rather inclined to lie still, insensible of it, till he perish; yet God,
for the glory of his rich grace, hath revealed in his word a way to save
sinners, to wit, by faith in Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, by
virtue of, and according to the tenor of the covenant of redemption,
made and agreed upon, between God the Father and God the Son, in
the counsel of the Trinity, before the world began. In other words,
the benefits of salvation owe their base in the Covenant of Redemption enacted before time began. The Sum of Saving Knowledge, in the
second main head of doctrine of its doctrine, continues to explain
how this Covenant of Redemption works. It says, The sum of the
covenant of redemption, is this: God having freely chosen unto life, a
certain number of lost mankind, for the glory of his rich grace, did
give them, before the world began, unto God the Son, appointed Redeemer, that, upon condition he would humble himself so far as to
assume the human nature of a soul and a body, unto personal union
with his divine nature, and submit himself to the law, as surety for
them, and satisfy justice for them, by giving obedience in their name,
even unto the suffering of the cursed death of the cross, he should
ransom and redeem them all from sin and death, and purchase unto
them righteousness and eternal life, with all saving graces leading
thereunto, to be effectually, by means of his own appointment, applied in due time to every one of them. This condition the Son of God
(who is Jesus Christ our Lord) did accept before the world began,
and in the fullness of time came into the world, was born of the Virgin Mary, subjected himself to the law, and completely paid the ransom on the cross: But by virtue of the foresaid bargain, made before
the world began, he is in all ages, since the fall of Adam, still upon the
work of applying actually the purchased benefits unto the elect : and
that he doth by way of entertaining a covenant of free grace and reconciliation with them, through faith in himself; by which covenant,
he makes over to every believer a right and interest to himself, and to
all his blessings.

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Thomas: I understand. But in mentioning infants in the Confession, I


have some problems.
Professor Jacobs: Like what?
Students: Females.
Professor Jacobs: In what way?
Thomas: Females were not circumcised. Are you going to contend
that they are baptized?
Professor Jacobs: Again, forget baptism for a moment. Youre jumping
ahead because we have not established that children should be baptized at all yet. But I think an important aspect of the Old Testament
covenant has eluded you and we should take it up now. Females
were circumcised.
Thomas: Thats the first thing youve said that I completely disagree
with and now I know you have lost your mind. I know, in certain
medical ways, that women can be circumcised of sorts, but nowhere in the Old Testament does God command that women are to
be circumcised.
Professor Jacobs: Youre wrong to a certain degree.
Thomas: You better have a good answer for this one.
Professor Jacobs: Read Exodus 12:48 for me.
Thomas: Exodus 12:48? Okay, And when a stranger dwells with you
and wants to keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a
native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it.

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Professor Jacobs: Who is not allowed to eat the Passover?


Thomas: No uncircumcised person.
Professor Jacobs: How then, could females eat of it if no uncircumcised
person was to eat of it; no one with a foreskin?
Thomas: I dont know.
Professor Jacobs: The male is circumcised on the foreskin. It is cut.
Covenants, as we said, are cut. When God made a covenant with Abraham He passed through the animal parts and ratified the cutting of
the covenant. He passed through the blood of the covenant. Males are
cut and the sign of the covenant is in their flesh. But females pass
through the midst of the covenant every time procreation takes place.
In the Old Testament there is an object lesson to be found. The female seed passes through the male procreative organ, right in the
middle of the circumcision made in blood. A covenant, then, is cut
every time a child of covenant promise is conceived. The reality of it
is ratified on her. One of the lessons God has for us here is that females are virtually circumcised by passing through the covenant sign, and
the males are both virtually and actually circumcised to continue the
sign in their own flesh. Now this does not point to the fact that females are only circumcised this wayrather it further points to the
reality that they are circumcised because of the federal headship of
their father. They pass through the fathers procreate organ, and they
are daughters of their father, the covenant head of their family. They
have a representative in him before God in that way. Adam was the
federal head of all men. Christ is the federal head of all His elect. Fathers are the federal head of their families. Does that help?
Thomas: Yes, that was good.
Professor Jacobs: You might also be reminded of the women on the ark
with Noah being saved by water, as well as the Israelite women and
children baptized in the Red Sea. Also, proselyte baptism which was

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mentioned vigorously by Maimonides, a historical 12th century Jewish


scholar, was done on all children and all women. And shall we indulge our time in all the Old Testament ideas surrounding washings?
No, Hebrews tells us to move on from baptisms in that regard. You
can research that for yourself. Lets move on from here to the New
Testament idea of children in the Covenant of Grace.

EIGHT | the book of acts continued


and children in the covenant of grace
Professor Jacobs: We need to see something concrete that shows infants included in the covenant in the New Testament, as well as
apostolic sanction for that. We have set the basis of the New Testament tone for the covenant, or rather Jesus and Peter did that for us.
We saw the Jews being evangelized with the covenant belonging to
them and we saw their children given the promise as well. We saw
whole households being baptizedvery covenantal. And we saw the
Gentiles included in the covenant. Luke is a very precise historian.
His words, descriptions, language, styleall of these are very precise.
In Acts 15 there is a point to be made that we need to look at. It is
critical. We will then look at Acts 21. There, again, Luke is very careful to record things precisely. And remember, all of this covenant
language of Lukes is key. We are not seeing anywhere in Acts some
kind of Dispensational individualistic idea floating around. Everything revolves around covenant. Read for me Acts 15:1-31. I know it
is long, but it is very important.
Thomas: And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses,
you cannot be saved.
2 Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and
dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and
elders, about this question.

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3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through
Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and
they caused great joy to all the brethren.
4 And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the
church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things
that God had done with them.
5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying,
It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the
law of Moses.
6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.
7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to
them: Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God
chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word
of the gospel and believe.
8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them
the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us,
9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their
hearts by faith.
10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the
neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to
bear?
11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we
shall be saved in the same manner as they.
12 Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and
Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked
through them among the Gentiles.
13 And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, Men
and brethren, listen to me:
14 Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to
take out of them a people for His name.
15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:
16 'After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David,
which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up;

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17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the LORD, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the LORD who does all these
things.'
18 Known to God from eternity are all His works.
19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among
the Gentiles who are turning to God,
20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by
idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.
21 For Moses has had throughout many generations those who
preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.
22 Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to
send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and
Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren.
23 They wrote this letter by them: The apostles, the elders, and the
brethren, To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria,
and Cilicia: Greetings.
24 Since we have heard that some who went out from us have
troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, You must be
circumcised and keep the lawto whom we gave no such commandment
25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send
chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus
Christ.
27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the
same things by word of mouth.
28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you
no greater burden than these necessary things:
29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from
things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves
from these, you will do well. Farewell.
30 So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they
had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter.
31 When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement.

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Professor Jacobs: What is going on here? What is the setting?


Thomas: Some false teachers are saying that you have to work in order
to be saved and the apostles rebuke them.
Professor Jacobs: Not at all. You missed it totally. What do verses 1-2
say in describing these men who are causing trouble?
Thomas: They are certain men from Judea who came to teach the
brethren.
Professor Jacobs: Who are these men? Does it say false teachers?
Thomas: No. It doesnt say false teachers Im not sure who they are
then. Wait, in verse 5 it says, But some of the sect of the Pharisees
who believed rose up, saying, It is necessary to circumcise them, and
to command them to keep the Law of Moses.
Professor Jacobs: So are these men believers or not?
Thomas: It seems they are believers.
Professor Jacobs: Are believers lost?
Thomas: No.
Professor Jacobs: Keep that in mind. What are these brothers saying?
Remember, they are of the sect of the Pharisees. They are keepers of
the covenant of God and strongly desire to keep the national identity
of Israel. What were they teaching?
Thomas: The text says, It is necessary to circumcise them, and to
command them to keep the law of Moses.

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Professor Jacobs: I suppose the next verse reads, And Paul stood up to
these men condemning their works righteousness and settled the
whole matter by writing the epistle to the Galatians right in front of
them and giving it to them. Is that right?
Thomas: No. Not at all. It says they debated a good while, but they
did not come to any solid decision. This makes little sense to me.
Paul condemns circumcision in Galatians. Oh, wait, he condemns the
abuse of circumcision in Galatiansthose who think all they need to
do is circumcise themselves and their children to be saved and part of
the covenant. I see. That is not the same as saying that it is necessary for them to do this since they have always done this as a covenant sign before God.
Professor Jacobs: You are catching on. So what happened then?
Thomas: Paul and Barnabas went back to Jerusalem to settle the matter with the church.
Professor Jacobs: You mean to tell me that Paul the apostle, Mr. Romans and Mr. Galatians himself, is not settled on the issue of circumcision and the law of Moses at this time?
Thomas: Apparently not.
Professor Jacobs: Why not?
Thomas: It seems they were not sure what to do with Gentiles whom
God was saving.
Professor Jacobs: Let me get this straightafter all this time, all the way
into Acts 15, they still are not sure what to do with circumcision, the
law and Gentiles?
Thomas: I guess not.

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Professor Jacobs: Im teasing you a little. But my questions are valid.


The issues were not settled as Dispensational Theology would like us
to believe. Should Gentiles continue to do what Christian Jews are still
doing? Should they be circumcised and follow the law of Moses?
Now it is important on the Law side to understand that this included
certain aspects of the ceremonial law, but not the sacrificial system.
We read in the letter that the apostles sent to Ephesus that there are
some things the Gentiles should do: not eat bloody meat, etc. Well
get to that in a moment. But what about circumcision? Why would
the brethren want Gentiles to begin something that every Dispensational knows right off the batcircumcision is unnecessary! Everybody knows that, right? Why were Paul and Barnabas not settled?
Why was the early church not settled? Why was there a dispute at all?
Thomas: Tell me, the suspense is killing me.
Professor Jacobs: First, the issue was in fact not settled. The text shows us
this plainly. Second, how do you get a Gentile into a Jewish church?
You circumcise them and baptize them of course, according to Christian Jews. The Gentiles had been baptized, a sign of the Covenant of
Grace in the New Testament, but the Jewish faction of the Pharisees,
those who were believers, would have been very disturbed at the lack
of Jewish identity the Gentiles had. They needed to have the covenant
sign placed on them, not just the symbol of washing with water. Even
rabbinic sources tell us that Old Testament Israel baptized proselytes. So baptism was not something new. Yes, baptism is a symbol
of washing instead of a circumcision rite concerned with bloodletting
and skin tearing. But these brethren wanted the bloody cutting as
well as baptism. If the mark was not in your flesh, how could you be
said to be a true Jewish Christian? The Pharisees, who were brethren, were saying, We have been doing this with our children for two
thousand years! Are you REALLY going to tell us that the covenant
sign for us, and our children, is abolished? So what did Paul and
Barnabas do? They went back to the church and discussed the matter. That should cause every Dispensationalist to have a heart attack
and send them into extreme shock.

A S I M P L E O V E R V I E W O F C O V E N A N T T H E O L O G Y 109

Thomas: So explain the rest, please.


Professor Jacobs: The church had a synod. The elders came together
and contemplated whether or not to have the Gentiles take up circumcision and certain aspects of the ceremonial law of Moses. A decision was made to simply accept them without circumcision. They
saw this as a burden too heavy for the Jews, much less for the Gentiles. So they wrote a letter back to Ephesus and told the Gentiles
they simply needed to heed four things: that you abstain from things
offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual
immorality. Why did they choose these? Why not the growing of
long sideburns or something else? These have immediate implications for social interaction between Jews and Gentiles. Gentiles would
make life much easier for the Jewish believer if he did not eat a bloody
steak or a pork sandwich while sitting at the same table with his
Jewish brother. This dietary list may be a complete reference to idol
worship or it may be what the Jews would detest about meat sacrificed to idols. Paul goes to great lengths in Romans and Colossians to
help weak and strong brothers with this issue later on. But see here,
the Gentiles are included. Yet, in order to be socially acceptable, they
should bear with the weaker brethren on these issues. They should
acquiesce to two thousand years of Abrahamic promise and covenant
identity while it is being phased out. Patience is a virtue, as we say.
Thomas: I never thought through all this that way before.
Professor Jacobs: It is something you have to think through to grasp.
But, remember, we have been talking a while. So, to sum up, Acts 15
demonstrates that the apostles did not abolish circumcision for believing
Jews. They simply did not burden Gentiles with the same covenant sign.
They allowed them to keep their baptism as their initiation rite.
They did not need to circumcise their children; their baptism was
enough.

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Thomas: It seems you have a very good case for infant inclusion simply
based on circumcision. I certainly see how this works for Gentiles.
But why are Gentile children baptized? What is the warrant?
Professor Jacobs: Well, we know that infants are included in the covenant. We have no New Testament scripture to the contrary. Dispensationalists have to demonstrate that there is no covenant language in
the New Testament that parallels the Old Covenant, in their way of
thinking, for this to be in error. But a simple cursory reading of the
New Testament destroys dispensational thought. The New Testament is filled with the same covenantal language of the Old Testament. And they also have to show that infants, by Christ or apostolic
sanction, are not included in the covenant. One scripture would do
it. You see, most Dispensational theologians believe that they can run
through the New Testament with their concordance under their arm
and hope to find the phrase infant baptism there. They are missing
the point completely when they attempt to understand the covenant
in this way. They should be looking up words like Abraham, family,
household, circumcision, Jews, children, branch, generation, and a
host of other topics they never get around to. They simply need to
understand the Old Testament, their Bibles, better. Even the many
books written by good Baptist brothers seem to fail miserably when
dealing with the covenant in this way. They fail to realize that the
burden of proof is on them, not on the Reformed theologian.
Thomas: Im not sure what you mean? Why is the burden on them?
Professor Jacobs: They say that Covenant Theology is further reformed and
refined by taking infants out of the picture. They say that those who
believe in infant baptism should show an example of infant baptism
in the New Testament. They believe that since infants are not expressly mentioned in this way, that the burden of proof is on us, and
that we are arguing from silence.

A S I M P L E O V E R V I E W O F C O V E N A N T T H E O L O G Y 111

Thomas: I can see how Covenant Theology is not arguing from silence
anymore. Covenant Theology has a host of texts proving infant inclusion in the covenant. The evidence for this is overwhelming.
Professor Jacobs: But here is the thingDispensationalists believe that
Covenant theologians argue from inference and that Dispensational
Theology and credo-baptism are argued from didactic teaching.
Thomas: What is credo-baptism? Ive not heard of that.
Professor Jacobs: Credo-baptism makes the covenant sign rely on a profession of faithor a creed, a statement someone gives to acknowledge their salvation.
Thomas: I see. So are you telling me that you are deducing your position based on gathered texts or examples?
Professor Jacobs: Let me answer that this way: Tell me, can you think
of a text in the New Testament that says, when a man or woman
comes to faith we are to baptize them in the name of the Father, Son
and Holy Ghost? Or is there a verse that says how men incorrectly
administer the covenant sign to people in the church?
Thomas: No, there are no didactic verses that way in either case. We
gather up all the examples we have and deduct a position from there.
Ahand I see your point. That is what you are doing as well; actually,
let me rephrase that. You have the entire Bible behind you where we
only have a few instances in the New Testament of credo-baptism.
Its not that you deny that adults should enter the Covenant of Grace
by profession, like Abraham, but you do not deny their children entrance into the same covenant or the visible church body. And you
have many examples of infant inclusion throughout the Bible.
Professor Jacobs: Quite correct. Dispensationalists are as much implicit arguers as anyone. It is just that they argue from the New Testament backwards, and, if you do that, you will usually wind up dis-

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pensational. If you argue from the covenants forward, from the line of
revealed truth in the progression in the one Covenant of Grace, then
all this is clearly seen. And God at no time has said that children are
excluded from the covenant in the New Testament. We have seen, so
far, quite the opposite. Covenantal language abounds. And Dispensationalists cannot show the one verse that disproves our theological
stance, because it does not exist. Another important thought to keep
in mind is philosophy.
Thomas: Why so?
Professor Jacobs: Credo-baptists rest on induction, not deduction. Deduction is where we have solid evidence, have gathered it all, and
make a thesis as a result of our work. Induction is always a philosophical fallacy because it is never a means to be true. For instance,
what I mean is this: Credo-baptists gather texts. They believe they
have them all. They then inductively deduce that those who profess
faith, and them alone, are those who should be baptized. But this is
inductive thinking because they have left out most of their Bible in
the process of this thinking. Say Im studying field mice. I check
nine thousand nine hundred ninety-nine field mice in a field and find
they are all brown with beady brown eyes. I then make an inductive
conclusion that field mice are brown with beady brown eyes. But, in
all my diligent work, I missed the three white field mice with beady
pink eyes. Im incorrect in my conclusion because I did not have all
my facts. This is the heart of the Credo argument. It is a philosophical fallacy. People must learn how to reason and think before they
can understand propositional truth running through the whole Bible.
Thomas: I see.
Professor Jacobs: You should also remember that the best Baptistic
writers: Gill, Bunyan, Howell, Jewett, Shirreff, Spurgeon, Pink, and
the like, all say that there must be a positive institution by Jesus Christ
or the apostles in the New Testament in order for New Testament
worship to be valid.

A S I M P L E O V E R V I E W O F C O V E N A N T T H E O L O G Y 113

Thomas: So, that is why they throw away infant baptism. They dont
have a scripture that says baptize infants in the New Testament.
Professor Jacobs: Worse than that, they actually ignore this same philosophy in other areas. For instance, they allow women to eat at the
Lords Supper. Where is the positive institution for that?
Thomas: What do you mean? Doesnt the New Testament mention
women partaking of the Lords Supper?
Professor Jacobs: Not at all. Jesus ate the Lords Supper with the disciples, and all of them were men. Paul mentions men in 1 Corinthians
11:28. It says, But let a man examine himself It says nothing about
women when taking the bread and the cup. Men! Will the Baptists
not allow their women to partake because they do not have an explicit
example of allowing them to partake? Their inductive logic gets them
into trouble in this way.
Thomas: I see the problem. I understand that inductive reasoning fails
if we do not think through what we are saying or not saying.
Professor Jacobs: Okay, then. We see, now, that the Covenant of Grace
includes both believers and unbelievers. This alone demonstrates
that there must be a continuation of the outward sign given to Abraham by promise. The Jews were both circumcised and baptized, and
the Gentiles were baptized. We know that both circumcision and
baptism are covenant signs and that both refer to regeneration; one as
a sign of the shadows of the Abrahamic covenant and the other as the
covenant which has been fulfilled. One was bloody and one washed
them clean. Colossians 2:11-12 says, In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the
body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried
with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him
through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
Paul links baptism and circumcision as being in tune with regenera-

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tion. They are the same. They are signs of the covenant. They are
signs of the Abrahamic covenant. They are signs of the promise of
God.
Thomas: So is the identity of circumcision still valid?
Professor Jacobs: Lets look at Acts 21 to see. Read Acts 21:18-26.
Thomas: On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all
the elders were present. When he had greeted them, he told in detail
those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his
ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they
said to him, You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are
who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law; but they have
been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among
the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. What then?
The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have
come. Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have
taken a vow. Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that
those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law. But
concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided
that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep
themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. Then Paul took the men, and the
next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an
offering should be made for each one of them.
Professor Jacobs: What is the setting here?
Thomas: It seems Paul is giving a report of his work among the Gentiles and the apostles rejoice at this. But Im unsure about what
James says next.

A S I M P L E O V E R V I E W O F C O V E N A N T T H E O L O G Y 115

Professor Jacobs: What news did James give Paul?


Thomas: He said that many believing Jews were saying that Paul was
saying, they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. In other words, these Jewish brethren seemed to
be mad at Paul because they believed Paul had said this.
Professor Jacobs: What was James response? Did he agree that Paul
said this or not?
Thomas: No, James tells Paul that he needs to appease these men and
show them that he did not say that.
Professor Jacobs: To be clear, what is James instructing Paul to do in
order to appease the Jewish believers?
Thomas: Well, these Jewish believers think Paul has said that they
should not circumcise their children and that they should not keep
the ceremonial Law. I know James could not mean that they are taking away the moral law. That would be heresy. Everyone needs to
keep the Law, or at least trust in Christ to keep it for them, ultimately. But again, I think we are back into the Jewish identity problems.
Professor Jacobs: If that is the case, does Paul rebuke James, or stand up
to James, because he is sanctioning circumcision?
Thomas: No, he does not. My Dispensationalism is about gone at this
point. I believe I understand what is going on here. We have an
apostolic sanction by both James and Paul to show the Jewish believers that Paul never said, or implied for that matter, that they should
not continue to circumcise their children. James gives Paul a ceremonial task to accomplish in order to show these brothers that he
said no such thing. By doing this, he will prove to the Christian Jews
that the apostles still want them to circumcise their children. The
apostle Paul, whom we all know and love in Galatians and Romans,

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does not appear here. He is not condemning circumcision. That


means we ought to rethink Romans and Galatians and be sure we
understand that he is speaking about works righteousness as an abuse of
the Law. Like when a New Testament Christian has their son or
daughter baptized and thinks that by baptism, or even by birth alone,
that grace is necessarily given to the child. That is salvation by
works. This means that Paul agrees with James. It also must mean
that Romans and Galatians, as you said and we agreed earlier, are
dealing with the abuse of the sign of the covenant. So Paul is going to
ratify the fact that Jewish Christians should still circumcise their
children; in other words, they are in the external aspect of the Covenant of Grace even in the New Testament just like the Old Testament.
Professor Jacobs: James chapters 1 and 2 also help here a little. In James
1:1 we find James addressing his letter to the Jews, or the Jewish
Churchthe far off ones of Peters Sermon in Acts 2. To the twelve
tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. In James 2:2 he says,
For if there should come into your assembly Now we know he is
writing to Jews. In 2:2 the word assembly means synagogue. It is
very apparent that Jewish Christians met in synagogues. From Acts
21 we see that Jewish Christians are still applying the covenant sign
to their children as they had been for two thousand years. Nothing in
the New Testament stops them from this. Ultimately this will phase
out with the generations that come after since baptism fulfills the
covenant sign and Jesus Christ is our perfect circumcision by His
work on the crossthe bloody sacrifice for sin. But here, at this time,
when a Jewish family joins a church and has a child, they circumcise
the male and baptize the males and females as Jewish custom would
have dictated in this refreshed covenant. But what about the Gentiles? We know Acts 15 does not lay the burden on Gentiles to perform Jewish rites of circumcision. When a Gentile convert wants to
join a Jewish Christian church, a synagogue as James says, what do
they do when they have children? We know children are included in
the covenant. How does a Gentile include their children in the covenant? They would baptize them. The Jewish church would have to

A S I M P L E O V E R V I E W O F C O V E N A N T T H E O L O G Y 117

accept this as sanctioned by the apostles just as they would have


done with circumcision in Acts 15 and 21. We often have strange
Westernized ideas about the church in those days. Paul went to the
synagogues to teach. Churches were established in synagogues. The
church was a Jewish church with Gentile converts in that church. Is
this clear?
Thomas: No, Professor, it is crystal clear.

NINE | apostasy in the covenant and


the conclusion
Professor Jacobs: Do you understand the basic structure and nature of
the covenant?
Thomas: Yes.
Professor Jacobs: What about the children? Are you content with the
inclusion of children in the covenant?
Thomas: Its been that way for two thousand years. I had always
thought the apparent silence on baptism was an argument against
it, but I was not dealing with all the texts correctly. Rather, the silence is an argument against Dispensationalism because there would
have been such an uproar, like in Acts 21, if the apostles were ridding
the Jews of their covenant sign and the inclusion of children in the
covenant. This seems very clear to me now. The silence alone shows
that Dispensationalists are quite wrong.
Professor Jacobs: What about 1 Corinthians 7? Do you see any application there?
Thomas: Yes, but explain this to me so I have it clear.
Professor Jacobs: In the Old Testament, in Ezra 10, the men came back
from exile and took foreign wives and had children. Ezra made them
put away their foreign wives because the children were not part of
the covenant community. They were unclean. But in Corinthians,

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C O N C L U SI O N

Paul applies that to the half-Christian household. If two unbelievers


are married and one is converted, there would be ceremonial problems with them having interaction with the children. This probably
gives us a clue that these people may be Jewish, or Paul is simply foreseeing Jewish customary problems ingrained in Jewish believers,
since they would be, according to Old Testament ceremonial law,
unclean. But Paul says that although the unbelieving wife sanctifies
the husband, that does not make him clean, only interrelationally acceptable. The children, though, are clean. They are made holy. How
and why? Is it because the presence of the wife is special? No, not
at alljust as Abrahams presence before Isaac wasnt special. There
was nothing special there at all. Isaac is clean because he is circumcised. He has the covenant sign. What is the covenant sign for the
Gentile believer?
Thomas: Baptism.
Professor Jacobs: They are clean because they are baptized. The believing spouse sanctifies, or sets apart, the children by covenant sign.
She gives her babies to Jesus and the kingdom. That is what makes
them cleanthe washing of water on the childs face. Baptism is by
the faith of the parents for Gentile children, as circumcision was for
Jews and still is for Jewish Christians at this time. It is the accepted
covenant sign for Gentile believers. Have you got it?
Thomas: I think so.
Professor Jacobs: Then practically apply it. Where do you find someone in the covenant in the New Testament, and then apostatized?
Thomas: Thats simple. Hebrews 10. The letter to the Hebrews is a
letter of the covenant. In chapters 1-9 the writer sets Christ as the
final mediator and priest. In chapter 6 he touches on those who can
appear to look as though saved, but they are not. In chapter 10 we
have the covenant breaker and the apostasy.

A S I M P L E O V E R V I E W O F C O V E N A N T T H E O L O G Y 121

Professor Jacobs: Read this for me.


Thomas: The writer talks about the Mosaic Law and those put to
death under it. Judgment was severe at that time. The Covenant of
Grace enacts a more severe punishment as seen in verses 29-31. Of
how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought
worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the
blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing,
and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. And again, The LORD
will judge His people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the
living God. I totally see this now. This person has profaned the
blood of the covenant. Lets say he is a Gentile. He has been baptized
upon profession, or has been baptized as an infant. It really makes no
difference for the argument. Later in his Christian walk he apostatizes. He treats the blood of the covenant, which sanctifies him, as an
unholy thing. He tramples it and rejects it as Esau did. His condemnation is more severe because the sacrament carries in it blessing and
curse. So he is in the Covenant of Grace, but then rejects it, as Esau,
Korah, and others did. They are the worse for it because God is
vengeful on those who do not keep covenant with Him, especially in
such full light of the gospel.
Professor Jacobs: I see you have the basic idea. But remember the future as well; Jesus Christ will return one day in brilliant glory. When
this happens the not yet of the coming kingdom will come upon us.
All will be fulfilled. All will know the Lord. Pastors and teachers
will be done away with and we will know Him face to face. On our
hearts the fullness of the Law will be written, and we will do His will
in heaven in all perfection. We will live in perfect harmony and complete love with one another, and we will praise the Redeemer for His
work in the Covenant of Redemption. What will our song be? He
has redeemed us by His blood At that time our rest will be made
complete in Him, and Him alone. We will be satisfied in the Covenant
of Redemption, the fulfillment of the Fathers promise to give the Son
of God His bride.

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CONCLUSION

Thomas: All this seems to make sense. The New Testament is filled
with apostasy verses and verses directed to children as well. Even
in Ephesians, when Paul is writing to the saints, he directs his attention to the children. I have so many things to rethink and think
through. I have taken up enough of your time, Professor. Let me go
reconstruct my theology a bit and do some work on my own.
Professor Jacobs: Be sure to do that. Remember, we have demonstrated
that Covenant Theology is not akin to Dispensational Theology
though they may both use the same Bible. Covenant Theology centers on Jesus Christ and the work He accomplished in meriting eternal life for His people. It is this foundational truth that leads us to
understand many of the cardinal doctrines of orthodox Christianity:
regeneration, justification, imputation, and the like. Where Adam
failed to earn life, Jesus earns it and gives life more abundantly. We
have seen that they are very different and very distinct. Dispensationalists and Covenant theologians think differently and attempt to
explain biblical revelation very differently. We have looked at some
verses, but this was only meant to be a sketchy overview of the progression of the covenant and those included in that covenant. Selfstudy is always needful. Until tomorrow!
Thomas: Bye, professor!
[The door swings closed, and Thomas walks briskly across the college campus to his dorm, where he is ready to jump into studying all
these theological points more closely. The Professor sits back in his
oak chair, rests his hands behind his head, and takes a much needed
nap.]
finis

index of scripture
OLD TESTAMENT
GENESIS
2:1ff
2:15-17
3:1ff
3:15
6:5
9:12-17
17:1ff
17:14

29
31
33
39, 43, 55, 56, 80
57
40
43
52

EXODUS
12:48
20:1ff

99
56, 57

DEUTERONOMY
10:16

45

1 SAMUEL
11:14

66
62

2 CHRONICLES
15:8
24:4
24:12

JOB

10:17
29:20

PSALM
51:10-12
103:5

66
66
66
66
68

JEREMIAH

4:4
30:20
31:17
31:31ff

31:31-34
32:18
32:39

LAMENTATIONS

3:23
5:21

HOSEA
JOEL

2:27
2:28-32

67
66
45
69
69
65, 66, 68, 69, 71,
74, 76, 85
65
69
69
68
66
33
87
86

ZECHARIAH
6:13

22

NEW TESTAMENT
MARK

66
66

66
19, 25, 50

ISAIAH
43:19
61:4

6:7

1 CHRONICLES
23:25

104:30
110:4

10:13-14

81

124 I N D E X O F S C R I P T U R E
LUKE
1:35
1:54-55
1:72-73
22:42

24
76
76
23

JOHN
3:10
4:34
6:38

ACTS

2:8-12
2:16-21
2:36
15:1-31
16:30-34
21:18-26

ROMANS

3:23
4:1ff
6:23
7:10
11:17-21
14:17

GALATIANS

3:8-11

59
113
78

PHILIPPIANS
71
23
23

2:9-11

84
85
88
103
94
114
36
77
33
33
92
62

26

COLOSSIANS
2:11-12

113

2 TIMOTHY
2:15

HEBREWS
6:17
8:1ff
10:5
10:29-31
11:6

26
66, 68, 71, 75
24
121
33

JAMES
1:1
2:2

116
116

1 PETER

1 CORINTHIANS
7:9

10:2
11:28

75

2:9

61

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