Tuesday, October 17, 2023

A Catechism on Covenant Theology

Question 1. What is a covenant?
Answer: A covenant is a sworn bond and alliance between two parties that establishes a relationship between them and defines the nature and obligations of the relationship, binding them together.

Q. 2. What are some examples of covenants between humans?
A. Some examples of covenants between humans are those made between kings and their vassals, between friends or peoples (such as David and Jonathan, and Israel and the Gibeonites), and the marriage covenant between husband and wife.

Q. 3. What is God’s covenant?
A. When God makes a covenant with people, he establishes a mutual bond of fellowship with them, takes them under his special care, and promises them eternal life and blessing.

Q. 4. What is the covenant of works?*
A. When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon pain of death.

Q. 5. What did man enjoy under the covenant of works?
A. In the covenant of works, God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden, blessed them, confirmed his promise of eternal life by the tree of life, and they served him in accordance with his commands.

Q. 6. Has the covenant of works been kept?
A. The covenant of works was broken by the sin of our first parents and we lost fellowship with God. Outside of grace, all the heirs of Adam are condemned for their sin as treacherous covenant-breakers.

Q. 7. What is the covenant of grace?
A. God by his grace made this covenant with sinners through Jesus Christ. In it, he requires faith as the condition to receive the benefits of Christ’s mediation and promises life and salvation in Christ. In this covenant of grace, sinners are saved by God to be his people, that they might glorify and enjoy him forever.

Q. 8. How did God administer this covenant before Christ?
A. Ever since the fall, God has made his covenant with his people on the basis of grace through Christ. In the Old Testament, God called his people to faith in Christ through promises, sacrifices, and other symbols and ceremonies. God revealed it more and more as he made it with his people under Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David.

Q. 9. What is the new covenant?
A. With the coming of Christ, the covenant of grace reached its final and permanent form, the new covenant. Jesus provided the basis for the covenant of grace by his death and resurrection. He made the former ceremonies obsolete by fulfilling them and he instituted simpler ordinances, especially the ministry of the Word, baptism, and the Lord’s supper. He also poured out the Holy Spirit in great abundance so that this covenant is held forth in greater fullness and power to all nations.

Q. 10. With whom was the covenant of grace made?*
A. The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed.

Q. 11. Who are included in the visible administration of the covenant?
A. In every age since the fall, the covenant of grace has been made with those who profess the true religion and their offspring. This covenant people is the visible church of Jesus Christ.

Q. 12. What are the signs and seals of the new covenant?
A. The signs and seals of the new covenant are the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper.

Q. 13. Who should receive these sacraments?
A. Like circumcision, baptism is to be given once to all covenant members, even to infants, that it may be used by them all their life. The Lord’s supper is to be taken often by all covenant members who can examine themselves and have knowledge of Christ, profess faith and repentance, and are resolved to lead a Christian life.

Q. 14. What is baptism?*
A. Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.

Q. 15. What is the Lord’s supper?*
A. The Lord’s supper is a sacrament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to Christ's appointment, his death is showed forth; and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace.

Q. 16. How should you live as a member of the covenant of grace?
A. We are bound by this covenant to believe in Jesus Christ, that we might be saved, and to obey the God who has redeemed us, according to his commandments. For he has delivered us through Christ that we might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. Those who forsake the Savior through unbelief shall be cursed, but those who hold fast to him by faith shall be blessed forever.

* Questions marked with asterisk have answers taken from the Westminster Shorter or Larger Catechisms.

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