A Video Introduction to John Crawford's book
"BAPTISM IS NOT ENOUGH . . .
How Understanding Covenant Explains Everything"

 

Below is Episode 2 in the Covenant Cartoon series, which seeks to visually
bring some clarity around this issue. Check out the first episode above
 

(Below is the official YouTube trailer)

 

God is a covenant God; the Trinity coexists eternally in covenant, and God relates to man through the New Covenant Jesus Christ made by his broken body and shed blood.  COVENANT is the framework of relationship that God has chosen not only to relate to man, but for man, in the likeness of God, to relate to one another.

 

Here are a few quotes from some of the world's leading theologians and scholars:

 

To see world renown Reformed theologian J.I. Packer's
exposition on "covenant theology,"
CLICK HERE.

(G.W. Icenogle, "Small Group Covenants" -- "Biblical Foundations for Small Group Ministry: An Integrative approach" by InterVarsity Press)

"Covenant always implies community, just as community always implies covenant. The coming together of persons finds its origin in the God whose very nature is being together. God calls humanity into relationship by being and declaring covenant. God’s invitation to be together is built into the very fiber of creation. Creation is the arena where covenant is constantly active. God is always grouping; he is always bringing things and persons together. There is no coming together without covenant being a reality, and without the reality of divine covenant being. 

"The word covenant has its etymology in the word "covene." Covenant brings two or more persons together. It is a “binding and solemn agreement made by two or more individuals to do or not to do specific things.”  The gathering of persons into a small group carries the immediate implication of covenant.  There is no human gathering that does not reflect the foundational covenant of a convening God. God’s covenantal personality may be blurred or obscured by human brokenness, but the personality of interactive divine community still haunts, if not beckons to, every human gathering."

Read what God's Word says about Covenant Rejectors/Denyers (bottom)

(Professor Herman Hanko)

"When the Scriptures emphasize that the church is one in Christ, that is covenantal language. We are His body, Scripture tells us. We are joined to Him by a true faith. He is our Head. We are nothing apart from Him. All our life comes from Him. We are His and He is ours.

Christ and the church are so much one that it is impossible to speak of Christ without speaking at the same time of the church. There is no Christ apart from the church. There is no church apart from Christ. They are one, together the elect of God.

The covenant of grace that God establishes with His people in Christ could never come to realization in history without the church. God establishes and maintains His covenant through the church of Christ. The unity of Christ and His people in the church is also the realization of God’s covenant with His people. This identity of the covenant and the church was prefigured already in the old dispensation. The nation of Israel in the old dispensation was the church, as Stephen in his speech before the Sanhedrin calls it: “the church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38).

Who is the body of Christ? The church! All of Scripture testifies of that. Christ is the one, therefore, in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwells with the church, so that Christ is the one in whom God and His church come as close together as it is possible to come.

Christ, in order to realize the covenant of God, establishes the church in the midst of the world. The church is a covenant community. The church constitutes God’s covenant people. The church is an organization, an institution of God’s covenant people. That does not only mean that the church is established for purposes of showing that God establishes His covenant with His people. The church, the institute of the church, the church in her organization, the church with a constitution, the church with a membership roll, the church with officebearers --— the church as an institution is the means by which God realizes His covenant.

The church is the mother of God’s covenant people. The figure emphasizes that the church is the instrument by which God brings forth His covenant people. That is, He makes them His covenant people. He regenerates them. He makes them, through the work of regeneration, His sons and His daughters. He takes them into His family ... Therefore, the church is necessary for the establishment and realization of God’s covenant in the world.

But not only is the establishment of the covenant dependent on the church, but also its maintenance. Keeping God’s covenant is our calling and responsibility. I want to underscore at the very outset the fact that all of our calling is possible because of the church."

 COVENANT THEOLOGY IN THE
WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH

Kevin C. Carr - August 31, 2009
Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary

Although representing the culmination of the family of Reformed creeds, Westminster was the first in one respect. Unlike its confessional predecessors the Westminster Confession explicitly set forth the doctrine of the covenant which had become the defining feature of Reformed theology (Joel R. Beeke and Sinclair B. Ferguson, editors, Reformed Confessions Harmonized [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company, 1999], 52.

Geerhardus Vos observes that, “The Westminster Confession is the first Reformed confession in which the doctrine of the covenant is not merely brought in from the side, but is placed on the foreground and has been able to interweave with almost every point.”

Earlier, Princeton’s redoubtable Benjamin Breckenridge Warfield had insisted that federal theology was the “architectonic principle” (Benjamin B. Warfield, The Westminster Assembly and its Work, in The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield , vol. 6 [1931, repr., Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981], 56.) underlying the Confession of Faith. From the time of Zwingli and Bullinger in Zürich, through Calvin and Beza in Geneva, and Ursinus and Olevianus in Heidelberg, to the Scottish and English contribution, federal or covenant theology had been a dominant point of discussion in the Reformed branch of the Reformation.

Early on the first and second generation Reformers in Zürich and Geneva utilized covenant theology to argue for the unity of redemptive history and biblical revelation. It thus became the means to refute Anabaptism and provide the grounds of sacramental theology, especially infant baptism (Lyle D. Bierma, German Calvinism in the Confessional Age: The Covenant Theology of Caspar Olevianus  [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company, 1996], 31-32, 36-37, 44.)

Later, with the Heidelberg Reformers, the covenant found its way into each major locus of doctrine being recognized as the organizing principle of Scripture instead of merely being the basis for Scriptural unity. Bierma summarizes the progress in covenantal understanding:

There were no fundamental differences in the conception of the covenant in the major first-generation (Zwingli) and second-generation (Musculus, Bullinger, Calvin)

Reformed theologians who dealt with the doctrine [of the covenant]….The most far-reaching changes in Reformed covenant thought took place in the third-generation theologians, lead by Ursinus [who]…became the first Reformed thinker to free the covenant of grace from the limits of a single locus…and to apply it to a whole range of topics within a unified system of theology (Bierma, German Calvinism , 61-62.)

For further study, there are several Bible study software programs like Logos 5 (see video).

      
 

How important is the Issue of Covenant?

God is a covenant God; the Trinity coexists eternally in covenant, and God relates to man through the New Covenant Jesus Christ made by his broken body and shed blood.  COVENANT is the framework of relationship that God has chosen not only to relate to man, but for man, in the likeness of God, to relate to one another.  (See the book "One Anothering" by Richard C. Meyer and LINK to Research Excerpts on "The Church Is A Covenant Community" [bottom])

For those who are implacable, refusing to enter into and receive God's covenant by being fitly joined to the Body of Christ (the Church), God's Word has some clear warnings:
 

Romans 1 -- (21)"Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened ...  (31) Without understanding, COVENANTBREAKERS, without natural affection, IMPLACABLE, unmerciful" (KJV)

COVENANTBREAKERS - Strong's Concordance G802 - ἀσύνθετος - asynthetos: "covenant-breaking, faithless"

IMPLACABLE - Strong's Concordance G786 - ἄσπονδος - aspondos: 1-without a treaty or covenant; 2-that cannot be persuaded to enter into a covenant, implacable

It was never God's intention for us to be alone---a woman or man alone (Gen. 2:18)--but to be joined to one another, "members of one another" ("...so we, being MANY, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another"- Ro. 12:5; Eph. 4:25b).  Aloneness only becomes the state of those who refuse to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him (Lu. 9:23)

"Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies,
 it remains
alone" - John 12:24

The way to covenant is "the way of the cross"---they are inseparable. The Word clearly states that "one member" is not the Body of Christ (1 Co. 12:14). Therefore those who are "lone rangers" or free spirits and therefore "anti-covenant" (above) are described as those in opposition to the work of the cross, by which the the death of "self" occurs so that the one becomes many, and the many become one in the Body of Christ (Ro. 12:5)

"For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ"

Those who embrace God's covenant not only enjoy God's favor and blessing upon their lives, united in His covenant with His children (Ps. 133:1,3b) in the Body of Christ, the church, but also possess the confidence and security in life outlined in 2 Samuel 23:5:

          "
He has made with me an everlasting covenant,
           Ordered in all things and secure.
           For
this is all my salvation and all my desire;
           Will He not make it increase?"

What "everlasting covenant"?

"Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory for ever and ever"
(Heb. 13:20-21)

SELAH

For further study, read various excerpts from world-reknown Biblical scholars on "The Church As A Covenant Community" (click)