The Covenant Fulfilled
From Gospel Translations
“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22).
- 1 Corinthians 15:20-24
Today we conclude our brief study of the covenants found in the Bible. We have noted that the covenant of redemption is the foundation for all of the covenants. In the covenant of redemption, the Father elected a people, the Son pledged to accomplish their redemption, and the Spirit promised to apply redemption.
We have also seen that there are two main covenants made between God and man: the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. The covenant of grace was enacted after the failure of Adam to meet the conditions of the covenant of works. This covenant of grace, we have seen, is unfolded by a progression of sub-covenants with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and, finally, Jesus.
It is Christ who brings the promises of all of the covenants to fruition. It is Christ who brings all of creation into reconciliation with God, thereby ensuring that God will never again have to wipe out all life on earth. It is Christ who makes Abraham’s family innumerable and a blessing to the earth by becoming the righteous seed in whom many are called to the kingdom. It is Christ who makes the people of God the treasured possession Moses commanded them to be by offering atonement for their sins. And it is Christ who protects Israel from all her enemies by sitting on David’s throne and destroying all the power of the evil one by His reign of righteousness.
Before we conclude our discussion, we must note one very important thing. The covenant of grace is gracious only in its relationship to us. We are covered by it and saved through its administration, not through our own efforts but through the efforts of Christ Jesus.
But in the covenant of grace, when we look at the relationship between the Father and the Son, we see that it too is actually a covenant of works. However, this covenant of works depends not on us but on the work of the Messiah.
When Adam failed to keep the original covenant of works, God did not change His mind. Perfect obedience was still required for our salvation. Jesus came and kept the covenant of works, thereby earning salvation for us. By grace, we who are in Christ are counted righteous and granted the life Adam lost (1 Cor. 15:22). But this righteousness could not be granted if our Lord had not earned it.
We say we are saved by grace alone — which is absolutely true. But this grace is only available to us at Christ’s expense. Only because He came and perfectly fulfilled the covenant of works could God graciously impute His righteousness to us. Never forget the obedience and price Jesus paid in order to extend this grace to us.
Passages for Further Study
Rom. 3:21–22a; 8:3–4