The Covenant of Grace in the New Testament

Posted On May 16, 2019

We continue our study of Great Doctrines of the Bible by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The previous article examined the covenant of grace and how it has been revealed in the Old Testament. Today, we’ll look at chapter 21 and see how the covenant of grace is revealed in the New Testament.

MLJ emphasizes that while we are examining the covenant of grace in each testament, there is only one covenant. The seed of the woman who will crush the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15) is the promised descendant from Abraham (Gen. 17), the lion from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:9-10), the better prophet than Moses (Deut. 18), and the eternal king of David (2 Sam. 7). While revealed more fully and finally in the New Testament, it’s the same covenant of grace God has promised from the beginning.

However, the New Testament reveals the fulfillment of the many promises of the Old Testament. The Old Testament uses types and shadows to point forward to the final fulfillment in Christ. Thus, we see this “New Covenant” now come into effect. This new covenant is superior to the old covenant as Hebrews makes clear. The blood of bulls and goats, for example, was never sufficient to take away sin, but rather points forward to the fulfillment of Christ as the perfect sacrifice for sin. Many of these promises were partly hidden in the Old Testament. MLJ states:

There is only one covenant of grace and it all centers around the Lord Jesus Christ. The old points forward to Him; the new reveals Him and holds Him forth to us in person. He alone is the fulfillment of everything that is promised from Genesis 3:15 onwards. It is all in Him. The original covenant with regard to redemption was fully and clearly made with Him (242).

In the New Testament, Jesus is the clear revelation of the promise of God. He the full and final revelation of God, as stated in Hebrews 1:1-3:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power…

Christ’s Work in the Covenant of Grace

Next, MLJ summarizes the work of Christ. Since man was not in a position to fulfill God’s covenant, Christ fulfilled it for us. He mentions three specific aspects of how Christ fulfilled this covenant for us:

  1. He fulfilled the covenant of works that was broken by Adam in the Garden of Eden.
  2. He dealt with the results of the fall by paying the penalty for sin.
  3. He fulfilled the righteous requirements of the law on our behalf. By doing so, he “guaranteed the performance on our part of all the duties devolved on us in the covenant.”

To accomplish these things, Christ had to become the second Adam (1 Cor. 15:45,47). He had to take our place (Gal. 4:4-5) and present us faultless in God’s presence (Jude 24). Therefore, “the covenant of grace shows God’s plan, purpose, redemption, and salvation. It leads us to Christ and from every direction it points to Him” (243). He fulfills these many aspects by living the righteous life that God required so that man may be clothed with His righteousness. Through the cross and Resurrection, he took the penalty for our sin and provided justification. By doing so, he has “forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Col. 2:13-15).

Praise God for the covenant of grace! Praise God for his great mercy in that he provided salvation for his people! Christ lived the righteous life we never could have lived, and he paid the debt we never could have paid. May his name be forever praised!

Other posts in the “Great Doctrines of the Bible” series:

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