My God, the covenant of Thy love
Abides for ever sure;
And in its matchless grace I feel
My happiness secure.
Philip Doddridge, 1775
Covenant theology is a concept nearly foreign to many American Christians today. We are covenant illiterate, and it is unfortunate to be honest. While theologians can certainly get into the bottomless pit of debate on Covenant Theology, there is an ocean of joy to be had in just a basic understanding of that blessed covenant of grace. Covenants are simply the mode in which God relates to man. Our ancestors in the faith wrote entire hymns on the subject of the New Covenant, as you can see from the Doddridge selection above. For many modern Christians, their spiritual lives would be immensely enriched from simply nibbling on some covenant theology crumbs from those who came before us.
Covenants are not a matter for ivory tower debates, but they are a scriptural matter and Scripture matters to every true believer. In talking about priesthood, Hebrews 7v22 states, “This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.” And Hebrews 8v6, “But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.” And Hebrews 9v15, “Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them form the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” And finally Hebrews 10v14-17, “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord; I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,’ then he adds, ‘I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.’”
Charles Spurgeon summarizes the basics for us quite simply, “The covenant of works was, ‘Do this and live, O man!’ But the covenant of grace is, ‘Do this, O Christ, and thou shalt live, O man!’ The difference of the covenant rests here. The one was made with man, the other with Christ; the one was a conditional covenant, conditional on Adam’s standing, the other is a conditional covenant with Christ, but as perfectly unconditional with us. There are no conditions whatever in the covenant of grace, or if there be conditions, the covenant gives them. The covenant gives faith, gives repentance, gives good works, gives salvation, as a purely gratuitous unconditional act; nor does our continuance in that covenant depend in the least degree on ourselves. The covenant was made by God with Christ, signed, sealed, and ratified, in all things ordered well.”
To be in the Covenant of Grace is to be secure in the love of God; it is to be tied to Christ; unchanging, unfading, never failing. Is this grace not a thing to sing songs about? Is it not a place where we find our happiness secure?