SGBC - 1689 Confession of God's Covenants
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 1  Trinity Baptist Church, Montville, NJ
 2  The Reformed Baptist Church, Grand Rapids, MI
 3  The Grace Reformed Baptist Church, Mebane, NC
1689 Revised Confession of Faith

of God's Covenants

1. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience to him as their creator, yet they could never have attained the reward of life but by some voluntary condescension on God's part; and since the fall the alienation between God and men is so great that sinners could never seek or attain peace with God except by some gracious initiative and powerful intervention on God's part, which he has been pleased to express by way of covenant.

2. Accordingly, it pleased the Lord to make and disclose a scheme (plan, way or method) of salvation from sin, commonly called the covenant of grace, wherein he freely offers unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them repentance from sin and faith in him, that they may be saved; and wherein he works powerfully by His Holy Spirit in all those that are ordained unto eternal life, to make them willing and able to repent and believe.

3. This divine scheme of salvation, or covenant of grace, is revealed in the gospel; first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation by the seed of the woman, and afterwards by further steps, until the full discovery thereof was completed in the New Testament; and it is founded in that eternal decree and commitment, of the Father, Son and Spirit about the redemption of the elect, often called the covenant or counsel of redemption; and it is alone by the grace of this scheme of salvation from sin that all the posterity of fallen Adam that ever were saved did obtain life and blessed immortality, man being now utterly incapable of acceptance with God upon those terms on which Adam stood in his state of innocency.

4. This divine scheme of salvation from sin is executed and disclosed primarily through three saving acts of God, each united with divine covenants. These covenants, through which His saving purposes are ordered and certified, are God's sworn promises, or pledges, of perpetual blessing to His righteous servants and of peaceful relations with communities saved by Him.

5. The first display of divine covenant and deliverance occurred when God, grieved with indignation against fallen mankind and determined to destroy them with flood, but graciously disposed toward His righteous servant, Noah, made a covenant with Him to spare him and a remnant of the creatures with him, rescued and saved them from the flood in the ark, and made the Noahic covenant with the entire community which experienced that awesome deliverance, both man and beast, and with their natural posterity after them, which covenant consists of the Lord's pledge never again to destroy the earth with flood, has the rainbow as its token, remains in force until the consummation of all things, and serves as the capstone over God's blessing with them with a new mandate for life in this world; from which deliverance and covenant our entire existence derives order and stability, sinners are given space and incentive to repent, and we obtain a graphic picture of God's deliverance of believers from sin and wrath through Jesus Christ.

6. Within the framework established by the Noahic Covenant, God graciously worked His two greatest deliverances, called divine redemptions: which occurred when the Lord, having in sovereign grace made a covenant with His righteous servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to bless them, their posterity after them, and all the nations through them, redeemed in fulfillment of that covenant with the patriarchs, their natural posterity, the Hebrew Nation, from slavery in Egypt, in the days of Moses and gave them the land of Canaan as their inheritance; and when the Lord, in further and ultimate fulfillment of that covenant with the Patriarchs, having sent His Christ into the world as their promised heir, accomplished the redemption of their spiritual posterity, believers from every nation, from sin and hell and poured out on them the Holy Spirit of promise as the earnest of their eternal inheritance: from which redemptions two communities of God's redeemed heirs were successively formed on earth, first the physical nation of Israel, then the Apostolic Christian Church, with which respectively he made the Old and New Covenants; from which redemptions also the Bible derives its format and structure, being divided into two parts, the Old and New Testaments, each revealed respectively in conjunction with these redemptions, written respectively in the language of those redeemed peoples, and designated respectively in terms of the covenants God made with them.

7. The Mosaic or Old Covenant was made with the generation of Israel which experienced firsthand redemption from slavery in Egypt, and with the generation of Israel which received the land of Canaan, as their inheritance, and with their natural posterity; which covenant consisted of God's pledge that if they would obey His voice, which they heard utter the decalogue at Sinai, and keep His commandments, which were codified for them in the book of the law, then they would forever be the special objects of His care and blessing and sustain their unique place as His peculiar people; was sealed with the observance of the Sabbath on the seventh day as its token; was mediated by Moses; and was established until the coming of the promised Messiah: by which covenant the entire Jewish theocracy and society derived its foundation, the people from whom the promised savior from sin would come were separated from the world and preserved by the Lord, many graphic pictures of the person and work of Christ are displayed, the abiding testimony of God's will for human conduct, the decalogue, is declared, and many needful admonitions and lessons concerning holy living are given.

8. The Old Covenant being broken through the apostasy and rebellion of the Hebrew nation, bringing wrath upon them to the uttermost, it pleased God, to make His final servant covenant, in fulfillment of His covenants with Abraham and David, with their promised heir, the incarnate Son, His righteous servant Jesus, which consists of His pledge to designate and coronate Him Son of God by resurrection from the dead, to appoint Him royal high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, to give Him a name above every name, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to seat Him on David's throne, at God's right hand in supreme glory and majesty forever, to bless all the nations through Him and give them to Him for His inheritance, to give Him complete victory over all His enemies, sin, death, Satan, the wicked, and hell, and to bless His posterity, who are born to Him spiritually when they become His disciples, with everlasting life and favor through Him for His sake.

9. Accordingly, in the days when He finished His work and poured out the Holy Spirit, God made the New Covenant, and everlasting covenant of peace, with Christ's posterity, the Israel of God, which does not consist of the whole Hebrew nation, or exclusively of Jews, but of a faithful remnant of every nation according to the election of grace, who repent of their sins and believe in Christ; which is a spiritual nation, a kingdom of priests, the saints and people of God: which includes, on earth, the entire holy catholic church of Christ, from the Apostolic generation alive when Christ returns; and which includes, in heaven, the disembodied spirits of all just men made perfect in glory.

10. Unlike the community of the Noahic Covenant, which has as its distinguishing trait that its first members were saved from the flood in the ark, and which was perpetuated organically with their physical descendants, and unlike the community of the Old Covenant, whose initial membership was distinguished by experiencing redemption from Egypt and inheriting Canaan, and which was also perpetuated organically by physical descent, since it is Abraham's and Israel's physical posterity; the community of the New Covenant has as its distinguishing trait that its initial members experienced firsthand the accomplishment of redemption from sin and inherited the Spirit of promise and is perpetuated on earth by spiritual descent, since it is Christ's posterity, with those born of God through the gospel, to whom the Spirit of promise dwells. Therefore no one, even if born to Christian parents, has any right to membership in the community of the New Covenant on earth, which is the Church of Christ, the house of the living God, unless he is truly saved from sin. Nevertheless, hypocrites, apostates and false brethren may at times be wrongly admitted to this earthly fellowship of believers, whose punishment from God shall be worse that that endured by those who broke the Old Covenant.

11. God's New Covenant with this Israel of God consists of His pledge to dwell in complete and everlasting peace with them as His people, to bless them now on earth with every spiritual blessing in Christ, including a heart to love, fear, serve and obey God, the forgiveness of sins and the gist of Christ's virtue (righteousness), the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the adoption of sons, a certain hope of glory, experiential knowledge of and communion with Himself, and perseverance in faith and grace firm unto the end; and to bestow on them, in the world to come, heavenly and eternal bliss, in glorified and resurrected bodies, as their inheritance, and it is sealed with the Lord's Supper as its token, mediated and secured through the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, ratified by His shed blood, and consummated at His return in glory.

12. Although the Old Covenant was truly gracious, yet the New Covenant is far superior to it, because of its superior promises and its efficacy to secure them, because it embodies the very image of the heavenly realities and the very substance of the scheme of salvation from sin and the spiritual blessings in Christ, not merely shadows of them, and because its promises endure permanently forever and ever. Accordingly, the divine scheme of salvation from sin, or covenant of grace, is administered differently in the time of the Old Covenant and in the time of the New Covenant.

13. Under the law, or the Old Covenant, the covenant of grace was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come, which were, for that time, sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom true believers had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation. Under the gospel, or the New Covenant, when Christ, the substance, was exhibited, the ordinances in which the covenant of grace is dispensed are the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper: which, though fewer in number, and administered with more simplicity, and less outward glory, yet, in them, it is held forth in more fullness, evidence and spiritual efficacy, to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles.

14. There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations. Nor is the New Covenant the same Old Covenant, merely administered differently, for it was not made with the same persons, nor does it have the same promises, mediator, token, efficacy or perpetuity.

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