This week in our blog series we find ourselves in Chapter 24 of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. This chapter is about Covenants. What is interesting is that it has taken 24 chapters to get to this point, for the Bible is primarily about covenants.
But what is a covenant? At its simplest, a covenant is an agreement between two parties. Grudem defines the covenants between God and man as “an unchangeable, divinely imposed legal agreement between God and man that stipulates the conditions of their relationship.”
Many of us do not think about the covenant between God and us, instead we use the word “relationship.” In fact, many people (including me) will commonly say, “It is not about religion, it is about a relationship.” This is a true statement, but perhaps a better way to explain it is that it is about a “covenant relationship.”
There are several covenants mentioned in the Bible, but there is one overarching covenant that is preeminent, and it is the covenant that is mentioned in the text above, Hebrews 8:10. The words of Hebrews 8:10 are a quote from Jeremiah 31:33. Jeremiah was written around 625 B.C. and is God speaking of a future day. That future day was the day of Jesus Christ. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus was the consummation of the new covenant between God and man. The Old Covenant in the Old Testament was merely a shadow of what was to come.
This is why Jesus said during the Lord’s Supper, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). He was effectively saying that his is the covenant mentioned in Jeremiah 31, and that this agreement was signed with my blood, thereby ensuring its fulfillment.
This new covenant was different than the old covenant. As we stated earlier, in an agreement both parties have conditions. The problem is that man is sinful and we can’t fulfill the conditions. The nation of Israel in the OT is evidence of this. Knowing this, God implements a covenant whereby He fulfills both sides of the agreement through Jesus Christ.
Through faith in Christ, we receive Jesus’ Righteousness and through the Holy Spirit indwelling in us the law of God is put in our minds and written on our hearts. This gives us the capacity to live according to God’s will. And as with any agreement there is a promise, the promise that holds together the New Covenant is forgiveness of sins and eternal life with our Covenant God.