The Gospel in Covenant Life
Grace Covenant Church lives out the gospel through the biblical pattern of covenant life with God through Jesus Christ. The biblical pattern of covenant life is explained as follows…
God created Adam and Eve in covenant with himself (Genesis 1-2; Hosea 6:7). He made them in his own image for that very purpose, so that he could have a relationship with them in union and communion in the binding of mutual love and faithfulness.
Covenant life with God has two sides, promise and obligation. Adam and Eve enjoyed all the blessings and privileges of covenant life as a sovereign gift of divine grace – including the promise of eternal life. These blessings and privileges were to be received and enjoyed in faith through love and faithfulness to God. Adam and Eve were obligated, in covenant life, to live by every word which proceeded from the mouth of God.
Adam could not earn the right to life by his own works, but could forfeit the promise of life by faithlessness and disobedience. The Lord warned him not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge lest he surely die. The tree was teaching Adam to be the Lord’s covenant partner reflecting the glory of his Creator in every area of his life. In this way of image bearing, men and women have unique responsibilities in imaging God (Genesis 1-3; Ephesians 5:22-33; 1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:8-3:15; etc.). The Tree of Knowledge would serve to reveal the full scope of what it meant to be the image of God.
Instead of living by faith, Adam chose to die by unbelief and disobedience. The choice not only had consequences for Adam personally and all his descendents, but also had the result of the whole creation in dissolution and decay.
The gospel communicated throughout the Bible is that the LORD God was not going to allow his purpose in creating the human race and the world to be frustrated with sin. God overcomes the destructive power of sin and guarantees new birth and recreation through the promised messiah (Genesis 3:15).
The Lord begins this renewal project through people like Noah and eventually through the family of Abraham and the descendants of Jacob, later renamed “Israel.”
The great redemptive act in the Old Testament is the saving of the Lord’s chosen people, his treasured possession (Exodus 19:5; see NT connection in 1 Peter 2:9), from slavery in Egypt. Love and faithfulness are the ties that bind the sovereign Lord to his people. With God’s saving grace on display for his people in Egypt, he gives them a sign of new life through the parting of the Red Sea. A sign that if they followed their leader (Moses – prefigure to Christ) they would pass through judgment and have their sins washed away. The New Testament calls this event a baptism of which all of Israel received (1 Corinthians 10:1-3). At Mt. Sinai, the Lord commanded his people to respond to this gospel with love and faithfulness in order to enter and enjoy the Promised Land. Ultimately the recreated human race in righteousness and holiness would expand from Israel to include Gentiles (all other nations of the world) to fulfill the promise given to Abraham that he would be a father of a multitude of nations (Genesis 17:4; Matthew 28:18-20).
The Old Testament shows us that Israel never fully answered to her calling but rebelled against the Lord until his patience was exhausted and he sent his people into exile. But God remained faithful to his promises and sent his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to do for his people what the law given at Sinai in and of itself could not do. The law showed the way of forgiveness by substitutionary atonement, but it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin (Hebrews 10:4). The law taught God’s people how to live but could not give them life from the deadness in trespasses and sin. What the law could not do, Jesus accomplished by his death and resurrection. He forgave the sins of his people by taking death, the penalty of sin, on himself; and he restored them to life, recreating them in righteousness and holiness so that they could be the holy people that he intended to have from the beginning of creation.
In this way the people of God can now undertake the cultural task of ruling over this world, using its resources for their own good and for the glory of God. This is the basic task assigned to them from the beginning. Through Jesus Christ and through faith in him they fulfill God’s will for their lives and ultimately inherit the promise of eternal life (Genesis 1:28-30).