I. The Covenant of Redemption

There is no confusion over what God planned, for we see it presented to us in Scripture.

The Father Covenanted

He would send his Son to secure the salvation of many. He said, “I’ll choose, give, prepare, raise, and enthrone.” Together they called, chose, delegated, selected, predestinated, decided, appointed.

Matthew 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

John 6:38-39 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.

Romans 9:11-18 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad– in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls– she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

Ephesians 1:4-5 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love; he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will–

Ephesians 3:10-11 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Titus 1:1-2 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness- a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.

Hebrews 13:20-21 May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Charles Hodge: Promises Made to the Son …

  • That He would prepare Him a body, fit up a tabernacle for Him, formed as was the body of Adam by the immediate agency of God, uncontaminated and without spot or blemish.
  • That He would give the Spirit to Him without measure, that his whole human nature should be replenished with grace and strength, and so adorned with the beauty of holiness that He should be altogether lovely.
  • That He would be ever at his right hand to support and comfort Him is the darkest hours of his conflict with the powers of darkness, and that He would ultimately bruise Satan under his feet
  • That He would deliver Him from the power of death, and exalt Him to his own right hand in heaven; and that all power in heaven and earth should be committed to Him.
  • That He, as the Theanthropos and head of the Church, should have the Holy Spirit to send to whom He willed, to renew their hearts, to satisfy and comfort them, and to qualify them for his service and kingdom.
  • That all given to Him by the Father should come to Him, and be kept by Him, so that none of them should be lost.
  • That a multitude whom no man can number should thus be made par- takers of his redemption, and that ultimately the kingdom of the Messiah should embrace all the nations of the earth.
  • That through Christ, in Him, and in his ransomed Church, there should be made the highest manifestation of the divine perfections to all orders of holy intelligences throughout eternity. The Son of God was thus to see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.

The Son Covenanted

He said, “I will go, die, and pay.” He would submit to the Father, go to earth, become a man, and perform his priestly work. He would earn the righteous merit required for all his people – those selected by the Father. Then, he would receive their deserved condemnation. He would take their hell.

John 6:38-39 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.

1 Peter 1:18-20 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.

The Spirit Covenanted

He said, “I’ll go, convict, transform, and protect.” The Spirit would follow and seal the deal. He would make them willing to believe and see them safely home.

Psalm 110:3 Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. Arrayed in holy majesty, from the womb of the dawn you will receive the dew of your youth.

Galatians 3:16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.

2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.

1 Peter 1:1-2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

What do we know about God and his covenants?

Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

Psalm 33:11 But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

Isaiah 14:24 The LORD Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand.

Isaiah 46:9-11 Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.

Ephesians 1:11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,

Titus 1:1-2 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness — a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,

Hebrews 6:17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.

James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

How ought we to respond?

Let us admit there are “secret things” that belong to the Lord. (Deut. 29:29)

Let us admit there are “revealed things” that belong to us and to our children. (Deut. 29:29)

Let us not be arrogant and dismiss “revealed things” because we cannot square them with other revealed things or our preferences. (Romans 9:20-23)

Let us not be arrogant and give ourselves any credit. Salvation is of God – alone!

Let us not be ignorant and doubt God’s power. (John 6:39)

Let us not be ignorant and doubt God’s love.

II. The Covenant of Grace

A. Election

God, in his exhaustive planning, foreordained the eternal death of willful sinners. In these men, God determined to display his holy, just, and loving wrath. These willful sinners would receive what they deserved; they would receive fair justice.

However, God also predestined the gracious salvation of many willful sinners. To these fallen sinners, God determined to display his holy, just, and loving grace.

(Notice: In the Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter three, two different verbs are used for these actions of God – foreordained, predestined.)

B. Promise

This Covenant of Grace was first presented to the hiding couple in the Garden of Eden. In theological terms, this episode was called the “proto-evangelion.”

Then, throughout the entirety of the Jewish scriptures, God’s Covenant of Grace was communicated through events, prophecies, types, symbols, rituals, and feasts. The Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace was coming to save them. The Son of Man was going to be the ultimate Patriarch, Prophet, Priest, and King. The Shepherd would be the Lamb. The whole Old Testament scriptures, they spoke of Christ.

C. Incarnation

At the appointed time, the God the Son came to earth. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit through the womb of the Virgin Mary. Through this process, God the Son added to himself a real, sinless, human nature. He was fully God and fully man, and as a man, Jesus experienced all the natural weaknesses and temptations of humanity. And this was not a temporary transition. Forever, Jesus would have two whole, perfect, distinct, and inseparable natures. (Hypostatic Union)

D. Atonement

As a godly man, Jesus proved to be a perfectly holy, sinless, and blameless worshiper. He loved God, trusted God, and kept God’s law. He was entirely pleasing to the Father and earned all the righteous merit all his people would ever need. This part of Christ’s substitutionary work is called the active obedience of Christ.

Then, at the appointed time, Jesus received the curse of sin and wrath of God deserved by his rebellious friends. In Jerusalem, the Father oversaw the betrayal, arrest, torture, blasphemy, crucifixion, death, and burial of his Son. There, Jesus willingly sacrificed himself and received the hell deserved by his elect friends, and in doing so he fully satisfied what justice required. This portion of Christ’s substitutionary work is called his passive obedience.

E. Resurrection

On the third day, he rose from the grave.

F. Ascension

Forty days later he ascended to heaven.

G. Enthronement

As the ultimate King, Jesus currently rules over his world, his church, and his enemies. As the ultimate Prophet, he continues to proclaim his law and gospel. Finally, as the ultimate Priest, Jesus continues to intercede and lead his people in acceptable worship. And it is from heaven that the Father and the Son sends the Spirit to form, fill, fruit, and fall upon the elect.

(More on the Holy Spirit is coming in upcoming sections.)

H. Regeneration

1. General Calling

God calls all men generally. As already stated, all men hear from God by means of nature and conscience. All men are aware there is a powerful, creative, personal, moral deity.

2. Special Calling

Jesus calls many men specially. Some individuals are privileged to receive God’s salvific communication – his Word. However, again, one should not underestimate the depravity of man. Though God be the great teacher, and though God’s lessons are always received, deprave men prefer to worship themselves and prove to be disinterested in bowing, submitting, and worshiping the King of Kings. The natural man is stiff-necked and rebellious; his evil tendency is to suppress the truth of God.

3. Effectual Calling

However, there is more good news – Jesus calls some men effectually. This is called regeneration, and it is a work of the Holy Spirit. Here, the Holy Spirit comes to rebellious and enlightens minds, changes hearts, renews wills, and makes them willing and desirous to believe and repent. It is most normal for him to do this work in conjunction with the Word of God. However, the sovereign God reserves the right to bypass the Word as he does with infants or other individuals incapable of believing and repenting.

I. Faith and Repentance

God’s free gift of justification is received through faith and repentance. Our works, before and after justification, have nothing to do with this transaction and declaration. This is what the Reformers mean when they write of Sola Fide. Faith and repentance are the instrumental requirements by which one receives justification.

However, even these instrumental requirements of faith and repentance are gracious gifts of the Holy Spirit. That which God requires, he provides in regeneration.

So, how does one know if he has faith and repentance? What does such look like? Here are three dimensions of saving faith and repentance as understood by the church fathers:

  • The reception of knowledge. (Notitia) Has one heard the information of the Gospel?
  • The acceptance of knowledge. (Assensus) Does one believe the information they have received to be true?
  • The willful response. (Fiducia) Is one ready to rest, repent, and love.

J. Justification

The Westminster Confession of Faith defines justification as follows, “Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein He pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

Justification, though foreordained by God, occurs in time, following regeneration.

Justification is monergistic. It is based upon the one-way performance of God – active and passive atonement. Christ’s righteousness becomes our righteousness; our condemnation becomes his.

Justification in the Old Testament is the same as that in the New Testament. Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, and all the elect of Israel were justified by faith, without works, based upon the sacrificial work of Jesus yet to come.

Justification is imputed and not gradually infused. It is an act and not a process. In a moment, all sins – past, present, and future – are completely pardoned. Instantaneously, one’s righteousness account is made full and overflowing. Instantly, perfectly, and immutably, those who come to Christ in faith and repentance are declared just, holy, blameless, righteous, or saintly.  

K. Adoption

In their natural condition, men are like their spiritual father – the devil.

However, all who have been reconciled in Christ, they are intimately and eternally adopted as sons and daughters of God. They are gifted Christ’s righteousness, heart, Spirit, name, and benefits. His eternal reward and inheritance become theirs.

Consequently, it is their privilege to enjoy life with other brothers and sisters in the family of God or household of faith.

L. Filling

In regeneration, the Holy Spirit forms the believer. He takes away the heart of stone and gives that person a new heart.

At justification, the Holy Spirit fills the believer. The Holy Spirit moves in and takes permanent residence in him who is reconciled to God. They become God’s sacred space. They become a temple of the Most High God. This is without exception; all who are in Christ enjoy this privilege.

Later, we will discuss how the Holy Spirit fruits and falls upon his saintly priests.

M. Positional Sanctification (Definitive)

In the words of the Westminster Fathers, “Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.” In this paragraph, one can notice both the positional (definitive) and progressive aspects of sanctification.

In the scriptures, one can see that sanctification is the work of God whereby he takes something common, declares it holy, determines to use it for his sacred purpose, and develops it into something beautiful. This too is a monergistic and instantaneous action. Here, men are set apart as holy, blameless, saints. Sin is dead to them; it is no longer their master. They are immutably called God’s temple, bride, priests, and saints. Examples of such sanctification presented in Scripture are when God takes …

  • Formless and void earth and declares it good.
  • Sand of Sinai and declares it holy.
  • Dead animals and declares them holy sacrifices.
  • Animal skins and declares them to be his holy tabernacle.
  • Dead trees and makes them holy furniture.

N. Practiced Sanctification (Progressive)

Worshipers then begin walking in the power of the Spirit, and like Jesus they increase in “wisdom, stature, favor with God, and favor with man.” They grow in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. As those connected to the vine, they bear much fruit as the Holy Spirit fruits them from within. Every day, they get the awesome privilege of displaying their new identity. These Spirit-infiltrated saints love God, love their neighbors, run the race, follow after Christ, grow in knowledge, train themselves for godliness, imitate Christ, mature in knowledge, put off sin, put on the Spirit, abstain from sin, flee sin, stand against the devil, obey, work, minister, hate wickedness, wage war against the world, the flesh, and the devil, and live a lifestyle of Gospel repentance. They walk to the beat of a different drum, and they would have it no other way.

O. Preservation

All Christians – elected, regenerated, justified, adopted, filled, and sanctified – have been called to persevere. This is their responsibility. This is their duty. But here comes even more good news.

The God who calls saints to persevere, he is the one who preserves them. His substitutionary work is full and final. His covenant is unbreakable. He loves his own to the end. Jesus promises to never lose one of his sheep. Nothing can ever separate the elect from his hand. So, while it is true that saints continue to rebel, the Spirit promises to renew the gifts of faith and repentance. He, who started the work, he will finish it. This is his promise!

P. Assurance

Therefore, believers can have objective assurance as they look to the promises of God and performance of Christ.

They can also enjoy subjective assurance as they look to their gifted faith, their affection for worship, their biblical enlightenment, their practiced sanctification, and their Gospel repentance. They can also find some measure of assurance as they are invited by elders to the Lord’s Table. It should be encouraging when those who know God’s Gospel, and those who know their own testimony and walk, encourage them to come and partake with at Christ’s table. This being said, this subjective assurance can be heightened or lessened as we worship, sin, and repent. Also, excommunication ought to be accompanied with great concern.

Q. Glorification

Upon death, Christians go immediately go to paradise where their souls enjoy perfect communion with the Lord. Then later, at Jesus’ second coming, their souls and new bodies will be reunited in heaven. At this point will come the Judgment Seat of Christ. For Christians, this will not be a time of weeping for they are covered by Jesus and his righteousness. All their sins have already been paid for; they have all been cast into the Sea of Forgetfulness. And on that glorious day, they will receive the reward purchased for them by their Savior and worked in them by the Spirit. Forever, they will enjoy perfect communion and community in the New Heavens and New Earth. Forever, they will be free from even the possibility of choosing evil. What a glorious day that will be!

However, the story will be entirely different for those who are not found in union with Christ.  

So, how then do we worship?

Practiced Sanctification will be further explained in the following sections.

This is how we respond in worship.