Covenant of Redemption

Brian J. Lee
Thursday, July 5th 2007
Jul/Aug 2000

While it is common to associate redemption exclusively with grace, this oversimplification fails to account for the essential role that works play in our redemption-the works of Christ. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous" (Rom. 5:19). God's redemptive plan answers Adam's disobedience (in the works-oriented covenant of creation) with the Last Adam's perfect obedience (in the similarly works-oriented covenant of Redemption). In this sense, the works principle underlies all biblical covenants. Much confusion results from the failure to recognize this fact.

The eternal agreement between the Father and Son to save sinners (Eph. 1:4, 3:11) takes the form of a covenant, with divinely sanctioned commitments and promised blessings. Thus, the Father gives the Son a commandment to obey (John 10:18), and Christ accomplished the work given him to do (John 17:4), fulfilling all righteousness (Matt. 3:15). Christ covenants not only to actively obey God's law but also to bear man's impending curse. As a result of his obedience, Christ receives blessings, expressed in explicitly covenantal language: "My Father has covenanted unto me a kingdom." (1)

Discerning a works covenant within the Godhead's eternal plan to save is far from idle speculation. It is absolutely necessary to properly understand Christ as our substitute, one who stands in our place "under the Law" (Gal. 4:4) and fulfills what is required of us in its entirety. This idea of a substitute is most clearly expressed in Paul's description of the first and last Adams (Rom. 5, 1 Cor. 15), which supports the parallel works nature of these two covenants of Creation and Redemption.

1 [ Back ] This is a justifiable, if somewhat unusual, rendering of Luke 22:29-30. The more typical English rendering, "The Lord has appointed me a kingdom," obscures the fact that the root of the verb "appointed" (diatithemi) is shared with the Greek noun for "covenant" (diatheke). This translation is all the more warranted by the fact that the context for this teaching is the establishment of the Lord's Supper, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood" (Luke 22:20).
Thursday, July 5th 2007

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