This article and sermon is #2 in God and Sinners Reconciled, read/watch #1 Understanding the Different Types of Covenants.
The Eternal Royal Grant Covenant
#2 in God and Sinners Reconciled
I asked last week if you knew there were different types of covenants; Kinship, Suzerain-Vassal and Royal Grant. This week I want to show you how the New Covenant can only be defined as a Royal Grant Covenant. The New Covenant is a promise to all who believe, and the promise is eternal life by faith alone. Here’s how we know.
When the Old Covenant prophets prophesied the New Covenant, they were declarations from God regarding what he would do for his people. He announces promises and blessings for those in this New Covenant. There is no curse outlined for breaking the New Covenant, only the possibility of missing out on the promises if they didn’t follow his instructions. It’s pretty simple but those points make it absolutely clear that the New Covenant, secured in Jesus’ blood, is a promise from God rather than a set of stipulations for qualification.
What did the Old Covenant say about the New Covenant?
I’m going to let the Bible speak for itself for most of this article. It’s very important to notice how the New Covenant is introduced. Keep in mind under a RGC there is no requirement or stipulations to receive the promises made by the sovereign/royal/king, it is a kingly grant. Here are the things to notice that validate the New Covenant as being a Royal Grant Covenant.
God makes claims about his authority and ability (as all kings do who enter into treaties/covenants)
God reminds his covenant partners what he has done for them
God makes promises he’ll keep under this covenant
Notice how many times he says “I will,” yet adds no “you shall’s”
Isaiah 54:7 For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you. 8 In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD, your Redeemer. 9 “This is like the days of Noah to me: as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, and will not rebuke you. 10 For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
God identifies himself, he reminds them of what he’s done, he gives examples of his power, he gives an illustration of how sure his promise is, AND he lays out no stipulations.
Jeremiah 31:31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
All promises with no curses. And that part about not holding their sins against them…WOW!! To an Israelite, this must have been confusing and exhilarating. Their entire lives revolved around sin management. They had to wash themselves properly, eat certain things, live purely or face being stoned to death and bring the right kinds of offerings to the priests if they did slip up and sin.
Life for them was a constant awareness and safe guard against sin, now God was promising to not hold their sins against them? Surely this is indeed a covenant not like the one with their fathers! He does warn there can be destructive consequences from sinful actions but he will no longer punish them for their sins like under the former covenant.
Ezekiel 36:24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.a 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
God takes his promises to another level through Ezekiel. Not only are there no curses, there are the usual promises like having their own land, but he adds something they had not heard before, he addresses their hearts.
Until now the God’s covenants offered promises like land, blessed families, children to carry on their families, protection from other nations and the blessing of the whole world through them. But now he’s talking about new hearts, being washed with pure water and his spirit living within them.
Hold the shepherd staff, what kind of promises are these? They had seen what God’s spirit does to people, it killed them, now he’s talking about placing his spirit WITHIN them? And washing them with water? In the Mosaic covenant they had to wash themselves, purify themselves, sanctify themselves…now God is going to do that for them?
YES!!!!!!!! It’s a Royal Grant, a promise that cannot be earned. This is another determining factor for classifying the New Covenant as a Royal Grant Covenant.
Under this New Covenant, God would wash them with water, what water is he talking about? We know now on this side of the cross that he’s talking about the washing of the water of the living word (Jesus) and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. You see, when you place your trust in Jesus as your righteousness, God cleans you thoroughly and completely, in a way like you never could for yourself. You cannot sanctify yourself enough to gain eternal spiritual life, despite what the learned theologian tells you. Sanctification, by God, is part of his promise to YOU!
God cleans you in such a way that it washes the very core of sin away and prepares you to receive a new, clean heart. God did for us what David prayed for, he gave us a clean heart. The “heart” in Hebrew understanding was the seat of man’s being, your true identity, the deepest place within you that defined your level of righteousness and holiness. God was promising to wash them, you, to such a degree that his very own spirit could dwell in them/you.
God can only dwell where it is holy. The original hearer of this prophecy would have understood that they were going to be made pure and holy to be a proper vessel for God’s spirit. This promise has come true for you, if you have said yes to Jesus.
The Announcement of the New Covenant
John 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
This is a reference to the promise that God would no longer hold their sins against them.
Luke 2:20 In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you.
Of course there are many more passages announcing the arrival of the Messiah and his promised covenant, we’ll leave it at these two and move on.
The Upholding of the New Covenant
Every covenant has a canon. The canon of the covenant is essentially documentation. Here’s what’s included in the canon of a covenant.
How the covenant partners came into relationship
The promises and curses of each covenant partner
The records of how the covenant unfolded
A record of the breaking of the covenant if applicable
You can think of Genesis 1-11 as the canon for Noah’s covenant, Genesis 12-50 is the Abrahamic covenant canon and the rest of the Torah is the canon of the Mosaic covenant. The New Testament is the canon of the New Covenant.
Here’s what the New Testament says about the unfolding and upholding of the New Covenant. Again, notice how the covenant is upheld, by Christ, not by the covenant partner keeping rules and stipulations.
The main promise of the New Covenant is clear, eternal life.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Justification or qualification to be a covenant partner in the New Covenant is by faith alone.
Galatians 2:15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
The Apostle reframes those who inherit this covenant as people of faith. Paul went to war and insisted that the New Covenant was not just for Jews but also for Gentiles, and all who would believe.
Galatians 3:7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
Paul affirms again how one is qualified to be a covenant partner. The promised spirit he mentions is a reference to Ezekiel’s prophecy about this New Covenant. Paul is careful to explain that people inherit access into this new covenant through Jesus and not through law keeping.
Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Jesus himself is our peace. Peace in this context means wholeness of relationship as a covenant partner. Jesus himself maintains our “side” of the covenant to keep us qualified for the covenant promises.
Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
This next one is a reference to God’s promise of not holding our sins against us, Jesus took care of that for us too.
Romans 8:3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
The promise of the new covenant is eternal life. The way you “stay qualified” is you keep believing.
1 John 2:23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to use—eternal life.
We see in the next passage that we are saved or given eternal life not by our own works but through mercy, a gift from God. The reason I’m showing you all these passages is to reinforce the idea that the New Covenant that you are under is absolutely a Royal Grant covenant. It’s all promises and no curses. It’s an unconditional gift. If you trust the sovereign and his path of inheritance, faith in Christ, you receive the promise, eternal life.
Titus 3:4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
Hebrews 9:11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
God himself, through Jesus Christ, promised, initiated, enacted and upholds the better, eternal covenant of peace that offers the promise of eternal life for all who believe.
Your salvation is secure in Jesus. You are an heir of a promise from God that is received one way and one way only, through faith. Rest in this powerful, life giving truth and never again question your salvation, for it is a promise to be freely received, not a reward to be earned.