To some the Bible is an atomistic and fragmented book, remaining beyond comprehension. To others the Bible is the Book which spells out God’s plan for His people and His creation from beginning to end. This is the domain of Covenant Theology.
Covenant Theology is the hermeneutic that interprets Scripture in terms of God’s everlasting covenant. God, Adam, and Christ (as the new Adam) are the main role-players in this covenant drama. Everything else, creation, garden, land, the devil, angels, demons, you, me and everyone else are simply bit actors in the unfolding of this cosmic drama.
To be sure have some larger roles to play (such as Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David et al), than others (such as you, me, the still-born child), but all are included in God’s plan. However, when it comes to human beings, either Adam is your covenant representative, i.e., your Federal Head, or Jesus Christ is.
Therefore, you are either a covenant breaker in Adam or you are a covenant keeper in Christ. The former is bound for Hell because of his/her own sins, i.e., their covenant breaking, and the latter is bound for heaven on earth solely because of God’s grace, i.e., Christ’s covenant keeping and His paying the penalty they each owe to God’s justice for their sins. Sin is the breaking of the (covenant) law as stipulated by the Ten Commandments which are a summary of God’s Moral Law.
The everlasting covenant begins and ends with God. The outworking of the covenant is from the very first moment of creation of the heavens and the earth to the (re)creation of the (same) heavens and earth.
In the following we shall briefly consider the everlasting covenant a) as it was formed in eternity past in the Godhead, b) as it was with Adam when he broke it, c) as it was kept by Jesus Christ, d) as it will be after the resurrection on the last day.
The Apostle Paul says to the Corinthians, ‘I determined not to know anything among you except Christ and Him crucified’ 1 Corinthians 2:2. To know anything about Christ and His crucifixion one has to learn who Christ is and what His crucifixion means.
Is Christ just some man, perhaps even a good man, who was nailed to a cross some two thousand years ago? Who is Christ and why did He die the way He did? The short answer to these and such like questions is that Christ is God and Man in one divine Person forever, and His human death on the cross was to reconcile His people to God. In a word Christ and His crucifixion is all about God’s everlasting covenant.
Christ and the blood He poured out on the cross is His people’s bond with God, their covenant bond. As a king’s letter bears the stamp of the king’s seal in wax, so Christ blood seals the everlasting covenant everlastingly.
Christ’s crucifixion seals space, time, and matter! Thus Christ envelops all creation. Or, to put it another way, all creation is inside the envelope that is Christ. ‘In Him all things consist’ Colossians 1:20. Therefore Christ is His people’s covenant (Isaiah 42:6; 49:8). In a word Christ Himself is the covenant.
What do we mean by covenant? If we keep Christ as our focus we see that covenant is a conditional promise. Thus Christ interprets the covenant in ‘Covenant Theology’ for us. In Covenant Theology the Father promised the Son certain things upon condition that the Son fulfil every condition of the covenant perfectly. Jesus Christ has perfectly fulfilled all the conditions of the everlasting covenant to date. Therefore to be enveloped by Christ – to be clothed in His righteousness and indwelt by his Spirit – is to be inside the King’s blood-sealed letter delivered to the household of God.
To really know Christ and Him crucified one has to understand the everlasting covenant as revealed in Scripture. Christ is the middle Person in the Father, the Word, and the Spirit triunity of the Godhead. It wasn’t the Father or the Spirit who became flesh. It was the Word or Son of God who, while ever retaining His divinity, became a Man.
God, who is a plurality of Persons, is one, and as such, is in covenant within and with Himself. The Father loves the Son and the Spirit, as do the Son and the Spirit love the Father and each Other. Thus each Person in the triune Godhead loves God and His neighbour as Himself.
God’s everlasting covenant (or conditional promise) is that should any Person in the Godhead stop loving God and His neighbour as Himself within the ontological Trinity, God should no longer be God – for then He would have broken the everlasting covenant.
God is eternal, having no beginning or end. Therefore perhaps it is a bit of a misnomer to speak of the everlasting covenant being formed in the Godhead. To form something suggests that the thing formed had a beginning. But God is eternal, without beginning or end. Therefore the everlasting covenant includes everything that the eternal God has in mind, such as creation, its planned execution to bring it into existence, its upkeep and redemption, and its final consummation.
It is this everlasting covenant within the Godhead that God extends in Christ to include His creation while incorporating His people.