Saturday, March 27, 2010

On the Covenant of Redemption

Thinking more and more about John 17 and being "given to Jesus," I went back to my bookshelf as I recalled words that had impacted me in the past. Here are a few morsels I found.

The covenant of redemption . . . is an eternal pact between the persons of the Trinity. The Father elects a people in the Son as their mediator to be brought to saving faith through the Spirit. . . . Our salvation, therefore, arises first of all out of the joint solidarity of the divine persons. The joy of giving and receiving experienced by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit spills over, as it were, into the Creator-creature relationship. In the covenant of redemption, the love of the Father and the Spirit for the Son is demonstrated in the gift of a people who will have him as their living head. At the same time, the Son's love for the Father and the Spirit is demonstrated in his pledge to redeem that family at the greatest personal cost. (Michael Horton, God of Promise, pp. 78-79).

Therefore Richard D. Phillips can encourage doubting, weary saints with the fact that

There is no debate raging within the Godhead concerning our place in salvation, no tension; there are no awkward silences or heated conversations. Rather there is a grand and cohesive conspiracy of love originating in the eternal and sovereign grace of the Father (Chosen in Christ, p. 33)

Theologians refer to this council as the covenant of redemption. God the Father laid a charge on the Son on behalf of his foreknown chosen people. The Son voluntarily accepted this charge, namely, that he would take up their cause and die for them upon the cross. In return, the Father promised him the salvation of all the elect, those chosen in eternity for eternal life as his people and bride. . . . This is good news for all who believe, for here is the foundation of your salvation--not something in you, who are so weak and changing, so mixed in your affections, so inconstant in your faith--it is the foundation of God's sovereign choice from eternity past. 'He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.' (Ibid., pp. 43-44)

Election and predestination are often misconstrued to be some sort of mechanical or abstract process. Consequently many are left wondering, "Am I among those whom God has chosen and given to Christ?" Michael Horton comforts such questions with the fact that all of redemption is mediated "in Christ" and that we are "chosen in Christ":

This is why we are not to search out God's secret decree of predestination or try to find evidence of it in ourselves, but, as [John] Calvin urged, to see Christ as the "mirror" of our election. God's predestination is hidden to us, but Christ is not. The unveiling of the mystery hidden in past ages, the person and work of Christ, becomes the only reliable testimony to our election. Those who trust in Christ belong to Christ, are elect in Christ. (God of Promise, p. 79)

In other words, if you believe yourself to be a sinner under God's wrath and in need of redemption, and Jesus as the Lamb slain for your sins and exalted to God's right hand, then you are one who is "chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4). You possess the "eternal life" of knowing God and Jesus, a knowledge given by the Holy Spirit only to those given to Christ so that they may have life (John 17:2-3).

And what future lies in store for all who trust in Christ Jesus and belong to him?
This is the soul's end--the blessing beyond which no better can be imagined or conceived: an infinite, eternal, mutual, holy energy of love and pleasure between God the Father and God the Son flowing out in the Person of God the Spirit, and filling the souls of the redeemed with immeasurable and everlasting joy. (John Piper, commenting on John 17:24, 26 in The Pleasures of God, pp. 311-312)

No comments: