All through the Bible, the covenant and the gospel appear together. Though the idea of covenant existed before the nation of Israel (for example, the Noahic covenant), and though the covenant promise was made before the nation of Israel existed, it was expressed prominently through God’s interaction with His people, starting with their fathers, the patriarchs.
And even from the start, the central truth of the covenant was the gospel: salvation by faith alone.
Read Genesis 12:1-3, Genesis 15:5-18, and Romans 4:1-5. What was the covenant promise made to Abram (later Abraham), and how is the gospel revealed in that covenant promise?
Abraham believed God, believed in God’s promises to him, and thus he was justified before God. This declaration, however, was not cheap grace: Abraham sought to uphold his end of the covenant by obedience, such as seen in Genesis 22, at Mount Moriah. All this, even though “his faith is accounted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5). That’s why centuries later, Paul would use Abraham as the exemplar of what it means to live by the covenant promises God had made with His people.
This theme echoes throughout the Bible. Paul brought it up another time in Galatians 3:6, where he again quotes Genesis 15:6, about Abraham’s faith being “accounted … to him for righteousness,” and refers back to the promise first made to Abram about all nations being blessed in his seed ( Galatians 3.8-9). The covenant promises are made to all, Jew and Gentile, who “are of faith” (Galatians 3:7) and thus, who are justified by faith without the deeds of the law — however much they are obligated, because of the covenant, to obey the law.
Even when Jeremiah talks about the new covenant, he does so in the context of the law: “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” (Jeremiah 31:33), reflecting language that goes back to the book of Leviticus, “I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people” (Leviticus 26:12).
|How does the covenantal idea of the law and the gospel together fit so perfectly with the Three Angels’ Messages of Revelation 14, God’s final warning message to the world?|