By Ninos Hadjirousou
(If anyone has not yet purchased ‘Body of Divinity’ from Puritan writer Thomas Watson, I highly recommend they do so. Because it has been praised and recommended by some of the godliest men to ever live. One of them was C.H Spurgeon).
In our last blog we discussed about the fall of Humanity.
Here the great Puritan Thomas Watson in a simple straight forward fashion answer’s this question: Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
And the title of the chapter to which he answers that important question for anyone who desires to know where there soul will be after death, is called ‘The covenant of grace’. And there is a reason why he calls it that.
Watson reminds us what is the real problem: “Man being by his fall plunged into a labyrinth of misery, and having no way left to recover himself,” then he adds the answer to our question above “God was pleased to enter into a new covenant with him and to restore him to life by a Redeemer.” And that Redeemer my dear reader is the Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God. He made possible a way for sinners to be saved from Hell and eternal punishment. God promised before His coming “I will make an everlasting covenant with you”(Isaiah 55:3).
It is called the covenant of peace, because it ends the war between sinful man and Holy God. As it is written “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). We never loved Him, never desired Him and never where able to please Him. But God, who is most gracious and merciful has made a way of peace.
It is also called covenant of grace because it is all made up of grace.
One might ask: why did God make this covenant with us?
It is because we somehow pleased him? Or is it because He needed us because He was very lonely? Is it because we are worth it? The answer to those questions is: no. Because we could not do all those things. The writer of Hebrews wrote “without faith it is impossible to please Him”(Hebrews 11:3), “there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God”(Romans 3:11), “there is no fear of God before their eyes”(Romans 3:18).
But He choose to make this covenant in spite of our sin. Watson wrote “God makes a covenant with us, to tie us fast to him; as it is called in Ezekiel, the ‘bond of the covenant’. God knows we have slippery hearts, therefore he will have a covenant to bind us”. He did not choose us because we are worth it, for the Apostle wrote “God chose what is foolish in the world” “God chose what is weak” “God chose what is low and despised in the world” “so that no human being might boast in the presence of God”(1 Corinthians 1:27-29). Our Lord Jesus said “You did not chose me, but I chose you” (John 15:16).
And what is the difference between the first covenant with Adam?
The terms of the first covenant where strict and severe. The first covenant did not allow us to hope and escape eternal punishment (as you read in the last article). But the new covenant allows sinners to enter into the gates of heaven, making room for repentance and provides for us a mediator. As it is written “Jesus is mediator of the new covenant” (Hebrews 12:24). Furthermore, the first covenant all depended on working, but the second is based on believing. To trust in what Christ has done for us. To trust in His merit’s and not ours. But then someone will object to this saying ‘but doesn’t the new covenant also command us to do good works? After all Titus 3:8 says “they that believe in God, be careful to maintain good works”. This is very true. But some false teachers have twisted its meaning to mean something that contradicts everything that God teaches us about salvation.
Because according to Watson “the covenant of grace does not require works in the same manner as the covenant of works did. In the first covenant, works were required as the condition of life; in the second, they are required only as the signs of life.” You see the difference? In the first we had to do works in order to earn salvation if we trusted in ourselves. But in the new, good works are the evidence that we love God who has already provided one way of salvation through Jesus Christ. And again I say, salvation and justification is not by our works. “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in His sight” (Romans 3:20).
Every covenant has a condition. And the main conditions for the new covenant is simply by faith alone. As the Scriptures tell us “we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law”(Romans 3:28).
Why did God choose faith? Watson wrote “To exclude all glorying in the creature. Faith is a humble grace. If repentance or works were the conditions of the covenant, a man would say, ‘it is my righteousness that has saved me;’ but if it be of faith, where is boasting?”. And if there is no room for boasting in ourselves, then there is much room to praise and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ warns “For everyone who exalts himself will be abased,” that’s pride. Grace teaches “but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”(Luke 18:14). The one who is humble put’s his whole confidence and trust in the Jesus Christ to save him.
For He is our Saviour and our Mediator between God and man.