Christian Forums

This is a sample guest message. Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

  • Focus on the Family

    Strengthening families through biblical principles.

    Focus on the Family addresses the use of biblical principles in parenting and marriage to strengthen the family.

  • The Gospel of Jesus Christ

    Heard of "The Gospel"? Want to know more?

    There is salvation in no other, for there is not another name under heaven having been given among men, by which it behooves us to be saved."

  • Site Restructuring

    The site is currently undergoing some restructuring, which will take some time. Sorry for the inconvenience if things are a little hard to find right now.

    Please let us know if you find any new problems with the way things work and we will get them fixed. You can always report any problems or difficulty finding something in the Talk With The Staff / Report a site issue forum.

Covenant Of Redemption

Iconoclast

 
Member

Of the Covenant between God the Father and the Son | Monergism

by Herman WitsiusI. IN order the more thoroughly to understand the nature of the covenant of grace, two things are above all to be distinctly considered.
www.monergism.com

Of the Covenant between God the Father and the Son

BY HERMAN WITSIUS

I. IN order the more thoroughly to understand the nature of the covenant of grace, two things are above all to be distinctly considered. First, the covenant which intervenes between God the Father and Christ the Mediator. Secondly, That testamentary disposition by which God bestows, by an immutable covenant, eternal salvation, and every thing relative thereto, upon the elect. The former agreement is between God and the Mediator: the latter, between God and the Elect. This last pre-supposes the first, and is founded upon it.

II. When I speak of the compact between the Father and the Son, I thereby understand the will of the Father, giving the Son to be the head and Redeemer of the elect; and the will of the Son, presenting himself, as a sponsor or surety for them; in all which the nature of a compact and agreement consists.
The Scriptures represent the Father, in the economy of our salvation, as demanding the obedience of the Son even unto death, and, upon condition of that obedience, promising him in his turn that name which is above every name, even that he should be the head of the elect in glory;
but the Son, as presenting himself to do the will of the Father, acquiescing in that promise, and in fine, requiring by virtue of the compact, the kingdom and glory promised to him. When we have clearly demonstrated all these particulars from Scripture, it cannot, on any pretence, be denied, that there is a compact between the Father and the Son, which is the foundation of our salvation. But let us proceed distinctly.
1st, By producing such places of Scripture as speak only in general, but yet expressly, of this compact.
2dly, By more fully unfolding the particulars which complete or constitute this compact.
3dly, By invincibly proving the same from the nature of the sacraments, which Christ also made use of.
III. Christ himself speaks of this compact, in express words, Luke 22:29: Κἀγὼ διατίθεμαι ὑμῖν, καθώς διέθετό μοι ὁ πατήρ μου βασιλείαν, 'And I engage by covenant unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath engaged by covenant unto me.' In which words the Lord Jesus says, that by virtue of some covenant or disposition he obtains a kingdom, as we also obtain it by virtue of the same.

IV. And, Heb. 7:22, where he is said to be 'a surety of a better covenant,' or testament. But he is called the surety of a testament, not principally on this account, because he engages to us for God and his promises, or, because he engages for us, that we shall obey; as Moses intervened as a surety between God and the Israelites, Exod. 19:3–8. For by how much Christ was greater than Moses, in so much he was also a surety, in a more excellent manner. His suretiship consists in this, that he himself undertook to perform that condition, without which, consistently with the justice of God, the grace and promises of God could not reach unto us; but being once performed, they were infallibly to come to the children of the covenant. Unless then we would make void the suretiship of Christ, and gratify the Socinians, the very worst perverters of Scripture, it is necessary we conceive of some covenant, the conditions of which Christ took upon himself; engaging in our name with the Father, to perform them for us; and that having performed them, he might engage to us for the Father, that we should certainly have grace and glory bestowed upon us.
V. Moreover, Gal. 3:17, Paul mentions a certain διαθήκη, covenant, or testament, 'that was confirmed before of God in Christ.' Where the contracting parties are, on one side God, on the other Christ; and the agreement between both is ratified. But lest any should think that Christ is here only considered as the executor of the testament bequeathed to us by God, the apostle twice repeats, that Christ was not promised to us, or that salvation was not promised to us through Christ, though that be also true; but that the promises were made to Christ himself, verse 16. That Christ was that seed, ὧ ἐπαγγήλται, to which he had promised, or, to which the promise was made; namely, concerning the inheritance of the world and the kingdom of grace and glory. It is evident, therefore, that the word διαθήκη does here denote some covenant or testament, by which something is promised by God to Christ. Nor do I see what can be objected to this, unless by Christ we should understand the head, together with the mystical body, which with Christ is that one seed, to which the promises are made. This indeed we shall not refuse, if it also be admitted that Christ, who is the head, and eminently the seed of Abraham, be on no account excluded from these promises, especially as the promises made to his mystical body ought to be considered as made to himself; since he also himself hath 'received gifts for men,' Ps. 68:19.
 
VI. Nor ought those places to be omitted in which explicit mention is made of the suretiship of Christ; as Ps. 119:122: 'Be surety for thy servant for good;' that is, as surety receive him into thy protection, that it may be well with him. In like manner, Isa. 38:14: 'I am oppressed, undertake for me,' be to me a surety and patron. And that none but Christ alone could thus undertake, God himself says, Jer. 30:21, 'Who is this, עדב את לבו that engaged his heart,' or appeased his heart by his suretiship, or sweetened his heart by a voluntary and fiducial engagement, or, in fine, pledged his very heart, giving his soul as both the matter and price of suretiship (for all these things are comprised in the emphasis of the Hebrew language) 'to approach unto me,' that he may expiate sin? These words also show what that suretiship or undertaking was which David and Hezekiah sought for, namely, a declaration of will to approach unto God, in order to procure the expiation of sins.

VII. In fine, we may refer to this point Zech. 6:13, 'The counsel of peace shall be between them both;' namely, between the man whose name is The Branch and Jehovah, for no other two occur here. It will not be foreign to our purpose to throw some light on this place by a short analysis and paraphrase. In this and the preceding verse, there is a remarkable prophecy concerning the Messiah, whose person, offices, and glory, the prophet truly describes in a short, but lively manner, subjoining at last the cause of all these; namely, why the Messiah appeared as such a person, executed such offices, and obtained such a glory; namely, because of that counsel which was between him and the Father, the fruit of which, with respect to us, is 'peace.' Of the person of the Messiah he says, that he is איש, the 'man,' that is, true man; see Hos. 2:15; and, indeed, the most eminent among men; not אדם or אנוש, which words denote 'wretched man,' but איש ימינך, 'the man of thy right hand.' Ps. 80:17.
Because Christ is not here considered as in the abasement of his misery, but as in the excellence of his glory. His name is the Branch, because sprung from God, Isa. 4:2, Zech. 1:12. A new root of a new offspring, or of the sons of God according to promise and regeneration—the second Adam; and, indeed, a branch which shall blossom from under himself; Aben Ezra, מאליו, from itself, which shall not be produced or propagated by any sowing or planting of man's hand, but shall spring from a virgin, by the peculiar power of the Deity. His office is to build the temple of the Lord, that is, the church of the elect, 'which is the house of God,' 1 Tim. 3:15; which Christ κατεσκέυασε framed, Heb. 3:4; and built, Matt. 16:18. Laying the foundation in his cross, and cementing it with his blood.

But because, in the same breath, it is twice said, 'he shall build the temple of the Lord,' it may suggest to our minds whether, besides the building of the church, which is the mystical body of Christ, the resurrection of Christ's own natural body may not be intended, which is called, 'the building of the temple,' John 2:19, 21; which being done, he will receive majesty, a name above every name, and sit on the throne of God, to execute his kingly and priestly office in glory. For a king to sit on a throne, is nothing strange, but for a priest, very much so; being contrary to the custom of the ancient priests in the Old Testament, who stood daily, often offering the same sacrifices; because their labour was ineffectual to remove the guilt of sin, Heb. 10:11, But Christ, having once offered up the one sacrifice of himself, and by it obtained eternal redemption, sat down for ever at the right hand of the Father, never to rise to offer a second time, Heb. 1:3, 9:12, 14. He now does what his session gives him a right to do—he makes intercession for his people, Rom. 8:34; as was ingeniously observed by James Altingius, Hept. iii. Dissert. 6. § 49.

But whence does all this proceed, and what is the origin of such important things? 'The counsel of peace,' which is between 'the man whose name is the Branch,' and Jehovah, whose temple he shall build, and on whose throne he shall sit, Rev. 3:21. And what else can this counsel be, but the mutual will of the Father and the Son, which, we said, is the nature of the covenant? It is called a 'counsel,' both on account of the free and liberal good pleasure of both, and of the display of the greatest wisdom manifested therein. And a counsel of 'peace,' not between God and Christ, between whom there never was any enmity; but of peace to be procured to sinful man with God, and to sinners with themselves.
 
Differences between the covenants The Covenant of Redemption differs with the Covenant of Grace in seven respects:

(1) there are different parties involved,
(2) a difference of mediation,
(3) a difference of time in which the covenants are made,
(4) different conditions of the covenants,
(5) different obligations of the covenants,
(6) different promises in the covenants, and
(7) different designs intended for each covenant.

(1) The two covenants are made with different parties. A party is defined as one that receives or is obligated to fulfill the condition of the covenant and receives the promises or curses of the covenant. The Covenant of Redemption is made between God the Father, representing God as common to all three persons, and God the Son.
The Holy Spirit, though involved in the Covenant of Redemption is not a party to it. “Neither is there any intimation in scripture of any such thing as any covenant, either of the Father or of the Son, with the Holy Ghost. He is never represented as a party in this covenant, but the Father and the Son
Edwards calls the Father the “head of the Trinity,”
. Witsius speaks of the covenant between God and the Son but then immediately uses the language of the Father and the Son.
Rutherford states, “the parties are Jehovah God as common to all the three.” Samuel Rutherford, The Covenant of Life only”
While there is an agreement by the Holy Spirit to do His proper work in the economical functions of the Trinity, there is no condescension by Him any more than that of the Father. There is no humiliation or abasement in the Holy Spirit’s actions. His actions are not meritorious and earn no reward for man or for Himself. There are no promises in the Covenant of Redemption to the Holy Spirit. There is no transaction that takes place with Him. Nor does He function on behalf of anyone else, as does the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit’s role in the salvation of men is no more that of a party in the covenant than His influences amongst elect angels. The Holy Spirit’s role in subjection to the Son is with respect to the honor due to the Son as God, not that of covenant.
The Holy Spirit does not fulfill the condition of the Covenant of Redemption or receive it. In short, as Rutherford explains, “every mutual agreement between the blessed Persons concerning their actions without, cannot be called a Covenant.”
The elect, while represented by Christ in the Covenant of Redemption, are not parties because they are not obligated to fulfill the condition of the covenant (which is perfect righteousness) and do not receive the promises of it (sitting at the right hand of God, ruling as King in the mediatorial kingdom, etc.). Christ (not the elect) is the acting party in the Covenant of Redemption. The Covenant of Grace on the other hand is made with God (all three persons of the Trinity) and all those that profess the true religion and their children, in Christ. That the Covenant of Grace is made with men is seen in Ex. 2:24, 34:27, Deut. 29:12,15, 2 Kings, 23:3, 2 Chron. 15:12, Neh. 9:38, Jer. 32:38, and Rom. 9:4. That the Covenant of Grace is entered into by profession is exampled in Ex. 19:8, 24:3, and Neh. 10:29. That the Covenant of Grace includes unbelievers is seen from the verses already referenced and from Gen. 17:23, Judges 2:20, Jer. 11:10, 2 Pet. 2:1,20, Acts 8:13,23, 1 Cor. 10:1-11, Heb. 3:8-4:11, 6:4-6, and 10:26-29.
. See Rutherford, Covenant of Life, 432-433 for his arguments on this point. Dabney also implicitly leaves out the Holy Spirit in saying that the Covenant of Redemption is between the Father and the Son,.
The Covenant of grace is made with men in Christ in that they are represented by Christ as their mediator. However, Christ is not a party to the Covenant of Grace because He is not obligated to fulfill the condition of the covenant (justifying faith in the Savior). Men must believe, Christ does not do it for them.

Christ was not in the Covenant of Grace in His earthly ministry as a man in the same way that we are in the Covenant of Grace.
 
Don Kistler;

Redemption Planned​


Don Kistler


6 Min Read
In Reformed circles, we hear much about the covenants. We are a people who place our trust in God’s covenant faithfulness. We hear about the covenant of grace and the covenant of works, but we hear very little about the covenant of redemption. We also hear much about the saving work of Christ, but give little thought to the fact that the triune God conceived the work that the second person of the Trinity would do that would save sinners.
Simply stated, the covenant of redemption is a covenant God the Father made with God the Son before the foundation of the world was laid, that if the Son would offer Himself up as an offering for sin, the Father would give Christ all those for whom He would die as a love gift. The elect, then, are a gift from the Father to the Son for suffering and dying to redeem them.
God the Father chose from all eternity past, in His eternal and unchangeable decrees, to save some people. God the Son, from all eternity past, agreed to redeem those people from the fallen state that God ordained, from all eternity past, they would be in. If you ask why God ordained the fall of man and the sinful state into which he would go, the answer is that God ordained sin so that we would know Him in the fullness of His revelation of Himself. If God had not ordained sin, we would know Him only as the Creator; because God has ordained sin we can know Him as the Redeemer. Our knowledge of God is much more complete because of sin.
In Zechariah 6:13, this is referred to as a “counsel of peace … between them both,” that is, between the Father and the Son, between God and “the man whose name is the Branch” (v. 12). It is “the Lord of Hosts” who is speaking about the counsel of peace that will be between Himself and “the Branch.” When Christ speaks in John 17 of having been given people as a gift, He is praying to God, whom, He says, gave them. “Thine they were, and thou gavest them me” (John 17:6 kjv). The “thou” and the “thine” both refer to God the Father.
From all eternity past, God the Father determined to create a race of people, of whom He would save some. It is God the Father who is the Author of the plan of salvation. Christ is indeed the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2). 1 Peter 1:20 tells us that He was “foreordained before the foundation of the world.” Ephesians 1:4 is clear that the elect are chosen “in Him.” And grace has been given to them “in Christ Jesus before the world began,” according to 2 Timothy 1:9. But it is God the Father who contrived the plan that Christ would carry out. Whatever Christ encountered in this world happened to Him according to the eternal decree, foreknowledge, and determinate counsel of God. So the Father’s will is to redeem by the agency of the second person of the Godhead as a Surety.
God chose to save those who have been elected by God in Christ. The elect belong to God the Father, and they have been given by Him to Christ. “Thine they were, and thou gavest them Me.” Because of this, they are said to be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev. 21:27).
God, in a holy manner, decreed that our first parents would sin by their own free will, and thus would be reckoned as “children of wrath by nature” (Eph. 2:3). Now in order that the infinite mercy and grace of God should be bestowed upon them in delivering them from this state and bringing them into salvation, it was necessary that there be a Surety to satisfy God’s justice.
The Father thus gave the elect to His Son, and the Son accepted them, recorded their names in His book (the Lamb’s Book of Life), became a Surety for all of them — none excepted — and for them alone, and promised to accomplish His Father’s good pleasure in bringing them to salvation.
 
pt2;
We see here also that while Christ died on behalf of the elect, He also died to fulfill the Father’s will. His death was on behalf of the elect, but it was a death that was suffered for the will of the Father.
Here is what God the Father laid down as the conditions of the covenant of redemption: The Son must assume a true human nature, however, without sin (Heb. 4:15; 10:5). Emmanuel must become their Substitute, remove their sins from them, and take their sins onto His account as if He Himself had committed them (Gal. 3:13). On their behalf, He must bear all the punishment which their sins had merited, and He must suffer, die, and rise again (John 10:18). On their behalf, He must fulfill all righteousness in order to make them righteous (Rom. 5:19). He must make the elect to be partakers of this merited salvation by declaring the Gospel to them, regenerating them, granting them faith, preserving them, resurrecting them from the dead, and ushering them into heaven (John 6:39).
Here are the promises made by God to Christ as the result of Christ’s finished work: The Father promised that God’s good pleasure would prosper through Christ (Isa. 53:10). The Father promised to prepare the Son a body which would be a fit tabernacle for Him (Heb. 10:5). The Father promised to endow Christ with the necessary gifts and graces for the performance of His task, and to give Him the Spirit without measure (Isa. 42:1; cf. John 3:31). The Father promised to support Christ in the performance of His work, deliver Him from the power of death, and thus enable Him to destroy the dominion of Satan and establish the kingdom of God (Isa. 42:1–7). The Father promised that Christ would be King over all the elect (Ps. 2:6–8). The Father promised that Christ would have power over all creatures in order to govern them for the benefit of His elect (Matt. 28:18). The Father promised that He would be glorified in an exceedingly magnificent and wondrous manner that would be observed and acknowledged by all His creatures (Heb. 1:3). The Father promised that Christ would be Judge of heaven and earth (John 5:27). The Father promised to give Christ, as a reward for His accomplished work, a seed so numerous that it would be a multitude which no man could number (Ps. 22:27). The Father promised that all the elect would receive the benefits of the covenant of grace through Christ: forgiveness of sin, reconciliation, adoption unto children, peace, sanctification, and eternal glory (Luke 12:32).
This covenant reveals a love which is unparalleled and exceeds all comprehension. Think of what a blessing it is that you and I have been considered and known in this covenant, to have been given by the Father to the Son. Think of what a blessing it is that you and I have had our names written by the Son in His Book of Life. Think of what a blessing it is that you and I have been the objects of the eternal mutual delight of the Father and the Son to save us!
Neither God nor Christ were moved by necessity or compulsion, but by eternal love and volition. Jeremiah 31:3 states, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love” (kjv). Love moved the Father and love moved the Son. It is a covenant of love between those whose love proceeds from within themselves.
By virtue of this covenant, the Lord Jesus is the Executor of the salvation of the elect. The Father has given us into His hand and entrusts us to Him. The Son, in love, has accepted us and committed Himself not to lose one of us, but to raise us up again at the last day. Christ is omnipotent, faithful, loving, immutable, and possesses everything necessary for our salvation.
Think of how safely we can rest in Him, surrendering everything we are and have to Him! “The Lord is my Shepherd: I shall not want” (Ps. 23:1 kjv). And, Psalm 2:12: “How blessed are all they that put their trust in Him” (kjv). The implications of this for the believer are staggering! The salvation of the elect, then, is unmoveably sure. This is because both parties, the Father and the Son, are fully and mutually satisfied concerning the salvation of the elect and the finished work of Christ in fulfilling the conditions of the covenant.
The elect do not need to keep themselves, but according to this covenant they are kept in Christ; thus they are kept by a sure, almighty, and faithful hand. Besides, the issue of a secure salvation is a much greater one than simply me and my salvation. The elect person is a gift from God to Christ based on Christ’s satisfactory work, not on my satisfactory work. If a person could lose his salvation, it could only be on the basis of God’s dissatisfaction with the finished work of Christ. But He has declared once and for all, and it is written infallibly in the pages of Scripture, that He is satisfied. And if God is satisfied with what Christ has done, the issue is settled.




The Father thus gave the elect to His Son, and the Son accepted them, recorded their names in His book (the Lamb’s Book of Life), became a Surety for all of them — none excepted — and for them alone, and promised to accomplish His Father’s good pleasure in bringing them to salvation.

By virtue of this covenant, the Lord Jesus is the Executor of the salvation of the elect. The Father has given us into His hand and entrusts us to Him. The Son, in love, has accepted us and committed Himself not to lose one of us, but to raise us up again at the last day. Christ is omnipotent, faithful, loving, immutable, and possesses everything necessary for our salvation.

The elect do not need to keep themselves, but according to this covenant they are kept in Christ; thus they are kept by a sure, almighty, and faithful hand. Besides, the issue of a secure salvation is a much greater one than simply me and my salvation. The elect person is a gift from God to Christ based on Christ’s satisfactory work, not on my satisfactory work. If a person could lose his salvation, it could only be on the basis of God’s dissatisfaction with the finished work of Christ. But He has declared once and for all, and it is written infallibly in the pages of Scripture, that He is satisfied. And if God is satisfied with what Christ has done, the issue is settled.t2
 

THE COVENANTING PARTIES OF THE COVENANT OF REDEMPTION​

First of all we shall consider the covenanting parties, who are God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. It will be easier to comprehend this matter if we primarily consider the execution of this covenant rather than the decree from which it proceeds. We maintain that the manner in which the Lord executes it in this time state is consistent with the manner in which He has eternally decreed it. We nevertheless treat this covenant as one of the intrinsic works of God, being repeatedly presented in such a manner throughout the Holy Scriptures. Concerning Christ it is stated that He “was foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Pet 1:20). The elect are chosen in Him (Eph 1:4), and grace has been given them “in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Tim 1:9). Whatever Christ encountered in this world happened to Him according to the eternal decree, foreknowledge, and determinate counsel of God (cf. Ps 2:7; Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23).

By virtue of this eternal covenant there has been an eternal relationship between the Son and His suretyship. This He demonstrated already in His government of the Old Testament church immediately after the fall, prior to His incarnation. This raises a question: Since the Father and the Son are one in essence and thus have one will and one objective, how can there possibly be a covenant transaction between the two, as such a transaction requires the mutual involvement of two wills? Are we then not separating the Persons of the Godhead too much? To this I reply that as far as Personhood is concerned the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father. From this consideration the one divine will can be viewed from a twofold perspective. It is the Father’s will to redeem by the agency of the second Person as Surety, and it is the will of the Son to redeem by His own agency as Surety.
 

THE EXISTENCE OF THE COVENANT OF REDEMPTION SCRIPTURALLY VERIFIED​

That there was such a covenant made between Jehovah and the Lord Jesus concerning the elect can be verified as follows. First, in Ps 89:28,34 it is recorded, “My mercy will I keep for Him for evermore, and My covenant shall stand fast with Him. My covenant will I not break.” Proof that mention is made here of the covenant between God the Father and the Lord Jesus is clearly evident. It is a known fact that the Psalms contain many references to the Lord Jesus, and that David in many respects was a type of Him. Therefore, Christ is also referred to as David (Hos 3:5). In this Psalm mention is made of David and of the Lord Jesus as He is typified by David. I have stated that it also refers to the Lord Jesus, for

(1) whatever is recorded up to verse 37 applies most eminently to the Lord Jesus. In other texts He is also identified as the Elect of God (Ps 89:3; Isa 42:1), the Holy One of God (vs. 19; Luke 1:35), One that is mighty (vs. 19; Ps 45:8), the Anointed One who was anointed with oil (vs. 20; Ps 45:8), the firstborn of God (vs. 27; Heb 1:6), the King of kings (vs. 27; Rev 19:16), One whose kingdom extends over the entire earth (vs. 25; Ps 72:8), and One whose kingdom will endure as long as the sun and moon will be (vss. 36-37; Ps 72:5).

(2) Everything in this psalm does not apply to David, such as being the firstborn Son of God (vs. 27), being the King of kings (vs. 27), and possessor of an eternal kingdom (vs. 36).

(3) The last part of the psalm, beginning with verse 38, presents us with a contrast between David’s kingdom and that of the Messiah. This contrast points especially to the fact that the kingdom of the Messiah would extend over the entire earth and, as has been pointed out previously, would endure as long as the sun and the moon. The kingdom of David, on the contrary, would come to an end.

(4) That which is stated in 2 Sam 7:12-16 and in verses 26-37 of this psalm refers to the identical matter, and therefore it is beyond doubt that it refers to the same history. The words of 2 Sam 7 however, are expressly applied to Christ in the New Testament (cf. Acts 13:22; Heb 1:5), and it therefore follows that this is also true for vss. 26-37 of this psalm.

Taking all this into consideration, let us now reason as follows. The Psalms often refer to Christ, David frequently being a type of Christ in them. Everything eminently applies to Christ, but everything does not apply to David. A contrast is made between the kingdom of Christ (vs. 25-36), and the kingdom of David which, according to vs. 38, would be destroyed. It is thus very evident that mention is made here of the Messiah, Christ. He is here said to be in a covenant engagement with the Lord, and thus it is evident that there is a covenant between the Lord and Christ.

Secondly, this is also evident in Zech 6:12-13, “Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of the Lord: Even He shall build the temple of the Lord; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”

We cannot understand both to refer to Jews and Gentiles. They are indeed united in one church in the New Testament, but not the least mention is made here of them. Therefore this idea cannot suddenly be inserted here. The pronoun “them” indicates that mention is made of two who have previously been mentioned, who are none other than Jehovah and the Branch.

Neither can we understand both to refer to the two offices of the Lord Jesus, that is, His kingly and priestly offices. It is true that these offices were not to be united in one person. A king was neither permitted to be a priest, nor a priest to be a king. These tribes (Judah and Levi) and their respective offices had to remain distinct; however, in the Lord Jesus they coalesce in one person. It is equally true that these two offices coalesce in the execution of the mediatorial office, but one may therefore not conclude this text to refer to these two offices. This cannot be true, for,

(1) Christ is one Person, and there is mention of two.

(2) There is no reference here to two offices, but merely to “being a priest” and “ruling.”

(3) Christ had three offices, which all function in unison for the building of the Lord’s temple. Therefore, if the reference is meant to be to the offices, it should have stated “between these three.”

(4) There can be no mutual consultation between offices, as this is the activity of persons. Such consultation occurred instead between individuals who held the three Old Testament offices; thus we should not understand the reference to be to the kingly and priestly offices.

“Them both,” however, refers to Jehovah and the Branch, the latter being the Messiah. In one glance it can be discerned that the reference is to these two. “Thus, speaketh the Lord of hosts … the BRANCH … He shall build the temple of the Lord,” which is the work of the Messiah. He who would build the Lord’s temple, that is His congregation, would be endowed with the necessary qualifications: to rule and to be a priest. Therefore, rulership and priesthood are descriptive of the Branch who would accomplish this work, and thus it reinforces our contention. He, the Branch, would be engaged in the Lord’s work to which He had been commissioned: the building of the Lord’s temple. This required mutual understanding and consent as well as consultation, counsel, and wisdom. Thus the Father and the Son not only agreed to promote the peace of the elect, but they also agreed about the manner of execution, that is, it would be accomplished by the Prince of Peace, the Branch, who had the necessary qualifications for this task.
 
John Murray again;
The hallmark of Calvinism is unconditional election and that is exactly what this highest type of Arminianism vigorously denies. It professes indeed fixed and unchangeable election of individuals. But what is meant is, that, since God decrees to save all who believe and since He knows perfectly beforehand and from eternity who will believe, He on the basis of that foresight as ground and cause elects these individuals to eternal life. God elects all whom He foresees will believe and persevere to the end. His election then is determined by His foresight of some difference that comes to exist among men, a difference which He Himself does not cause but which in the final analysis is due to sovereign choice on the part of the human will. The determining factor in this type of election then is not the sovereign unconditioned good pleasure of God but the decision of the human will which God from eternity foresees. Election is not the source of faith, but faith foreseen is made the source or condition of election.On close examination it should be evident that this is not divine election at all. The sovereign determination of God is ruled out at the vital point, for the ultimate determinant of the discrimination that exists among men is made to be something in men and not the sovereign good pleasure of God. Indeed this type of Arminianism that at first appears to approach so closely to the Reformed position only serves to show more clearly the total difference between the two systems. The election taught in the Reformed Church is election to salvation and eternal life and therefore also to faith and all other graces as the means ordained of God to the accomplishment of His sovereign decree. Election is not then conditioned upon faith, but faith is the fruit of election. God sovereignly works faith in men because He has in His eternal counsel appointed them to salvation. Faith is not the logical prius of election, but election is the eternal prius and source of faith. Arminianism at its best denies all of these propositions.

The denial of unconditional election strikes at the heart of the doctrine of the grace of God. The grace of God is absolutely sovereign and every failure to recognize and appreciate the absolute sovereignty of God in His saving grace is an expression of the pride of the human heart. It rests upon the demand that God can deal differently with men in the matter of salvation only because they have made themselves to differ. In its ultimate elements it means that the determining factor in salvation is what man himself does, and that is just tantamount to saying that it is not God who determines the salvation of men, but men determine their own salvation; it is not God who saves but man saves himself. This is precisely the issue.
 
Back
Top