What is a covenant? Generally it can be defined as an agreement or a pact that two parties enter into on the basis of prearranged conditions. What must it mean that God has entered into a covenant with humanity? In this sermon titled “The Covenant of Grace in the Old Testament,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones gives a brief survey of God’s covenants with humanity throughout history, highlighting God’s covenant of grace as revealed in the Old Testament. God has promised to be a God to people, and this is significant because all have sinned against God, yet He has made a way for them to declare that He is “my God.” God can be known through Jesus Christ, their mediator who is seen in the New Testament. Thus, the covenant of grace has been administered in two parts, the old and the new. Here, Dr. Lloyd-Jones focuses on the covenant of grace administered in the Old Testament. God’s covenant of works with Adam, God’s covenant of common grace with Noah, God’s covenant of justification by faith with Abraham, and God’s covenant of law with His people at Sinai are different yet intertwined. Ultimately, they all culminate in the person and work of Jesus Christ. If one looks for the gospel in the Old Testament, they will most certainly find it in what is known to be the covenant of grace.
- God made a covenant of works with Adam that he failed to keep, resulting in sin and the fall.
- God has since made one covenant of grace with humanity.
- The covenant of grace was first hinted at in Genesis 3:15, the "Protevangel." This passage promises enmity between the serpent and humanity, the triumph of humanity over the serpent, and the ultimate triumph of the "seed of the woman," Jesus Christ.
- God made a covenant with Noah promising not to destroy the earth with a flood again and establishing a degree of restraint over human violence and the forces of nature. This was a subsidiary covenant and did not replace the covenant of grace.
- God made an explicit covenant of grace with Abraham, promising to make him the father of many nations, to give his descendants the land of Canaan, and to bless all the nations of the earth through him. Abraham was justified by faith, not works.
- God made a subsidiary covenant with Moses and Israel at Sinai. This did not replace the covenant of grace but was meant to increase awareness of sin and point to humanity's need for Christ. The law was a "schoolmaster" to lead us to Christ.
- The old covenant refers to how God administered the one covenant of grace in the Old Testament through covenants with Abraham, Moses, and Israel. The new covenant refers to how God has fulfilled and perfected the covenant of grace in Christ in the New Testament.
- The covenant of grace is the one means of salvation in both the Old and New Testaments. The law was never meant as a means of salvation.
Great Biblical Doctrines
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.