We found ample evidence in the Old Testament, the teaching of Jesus and the writing of the Apostles to establish the fact that the ADVENT and INCARNATION of Jesus Christ was planned before the foundation of the world.
That means that the events we observe at Christmas and Easter are part of the original plan of God.
God who is infinitely wise and infinitely good set out on this particular course of action because he knows it to be the best of all possible worlds.
Now let us review what we know of covenants for a moment.
We know that covenants are a binding agreement, often between a greater and a lesser party, with obligations and blessings.
In the case of this ancient covenant, we see that it is a covenant established between two equals - the Father and the Son. We see that it has certain obligations and certain blessings. To say it another way, it has certain requirements and certain rewards.
In order to receive the blessings or rewards, the obligation or requirements must be met.
This week we will look at the REQUIREMENTS of the Covenant of Redemption and how they were met in Jesus Christ.
Next week we will look at the REWARDS of the Covenant of Redemption and what that means for the world.
There are three requirements or obligations in the Covenant of Redemption. We can find them in many places in the Old and New Testament, but we will give particular attention to the writings of the Apostle Paul in Galatians and Philippians and also the writer of the book of Hebrews, who is unnamed. We’ll begin to look at Romans 5 this week but put our attention more directly upon that passage next week as we conclude the year.
The three requirements we want to wrap our mind around today are these:
- The requirement that God become fully human.
- The requirement that God place himself under the law.
- The requirement that God atone for sin with his own blood as a substitute for his people.
1. The requirement that God become fully human.
a. In order to serve as a representative of the human race, the one who would satisfy this covenant must be human. It was humans, as image bearers of God, who had failed to keep the covenant of work, had entered into rebellion against God and had multiplied sin upon the earth. So to restore the race, a man would have to accomplish what a man had failed to accomplish.
We see this spelled out in Hebrews 2:17-18 - Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
b. We understand that Jesus (the name that was given to the man who was born to Mary) is unlike every other child ever born. He is the only one who existed before he was born. This is the eternal God, particularly the 2nd person of the trinity, whom we would refer to as God the Son. He is in no way inferior or subservient to God the Father or God the Holy Spirit.
Scripture testifies to his eternal origins:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. John 1:1-3
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authroities - all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell… Colossians 1:15-19
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. Hebrews 1:1-3
Scripture establishes not only his eternal existence, but his complete equality with the Father. He is the one by whom, through whom, and for whom the world was created.
c. The scriptures reveal that God the Son willingly laid aside his glory and took upon himself human nature.
…Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men… Philippians 2:5b-7
He emptied himself by pouring himself into human nature. Consider the great humiliation:
The one who was once the epitome of beauty and glory became a man of no reputation… Isaiah declares of his human form that… he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.’ Isaiah 53:2
The one who had INFINITE power and through whom the world was made took upon himself the limitation of a human body… we find him WEARY from travel and sitting down at the side of a well; we find him in search of rest on the other side of the lake when the crowds continue to follow him; we find him asleep in the bottom of a boat.
The one who possessed all the cosmos as his inheritance became poor… how poor?
He was born in a borrowed stable and laid in a borrowed manger.
He borrowed a boat to travel in…
He borrowed a donkey to ride upon…
He borrowed an upper room for his last supper…
He borrowed a tomb when he was buried…
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9
d. In taking upon himself flesh - he became vulnerable… fragile!
The marauding terror of Herod’s murder squads, which could never have threatened God in heaven were a real threat to God in the flesh.
The Jews could never have threatened God in heaven with stoning, but they picked up stones to stone him upon the earth.
The Jews of Capernaum could never have thrown God down from heaven to his death, but they tried to throw Jesus off a high cliff.
The leaders of the Jews could not have plotted to murder God in heaven, but upon the earth they plotted repeatedly to kill him.
In becoming a man - a real man - a man just as you or I are human - he became vulnerable, fragile… able to die.
Before the first atom swirled through the cosmos God the Father and God the Son agreed that the Son would become a man. This was the first condition of the COVENANT OF REDEMPTION.
2. The requirement that God place himself under the law.
a. The moral law - that which defines what is right and moral for all people - this reflects the very nature and character of God. But when we speak of Christ being born under the law, we mean that he has been constrained by every aspect of the law. He has taken upon himself all the ceremonial aspects of the law. He is obedient to the FOOD RESTRICTION and the FEASTS and CIRCUMCISION.
b. Listen to what the scripture declares:
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4-5
Since then we have da great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16
Jesus himself declares his mission:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Matthew 5:17-18
c. We see this in two regards. First of all, in the OBEDIENCE of the Son to the Father. In coming under the law, he becomes entirely subject to the Father by obligation. But secondly, we see that he opens himself up to the threat of the law.
In this we see Jesus taking up the yoke that had crashed to earth with Adam’s fall. He takes up the old covenant of work with its PROMISE and its THREAT. Do this and live forever, fail and you will surely die.
d. He is taking up the obligation that Adam could not meet.
He is taking up the obligation that Noah fell short of.
He is placing himself under the obligation of Abraham’s severed animals - that if I do not do this then may my body be torn asunder.
He is true Israel taking up the entire Mosaic Covenant with all of its promises and threats - the people said they would do all God commanded, but they never did - but Jesus will put himself under the law.
He is true seed of David - the king with the law upon his heart who does it perfectly. At every place where man was meant to obey and failed, Christ will obey. He will endure every temptation and every test.
HE WILL BE PROVED! PERFECT, RIGHTEOUS, HOLY, GOOD, JUST - FULLY GOD, FULLY MAN - COMPLETE!
Before the first word of creation was spoken the Father and the Son had agreed that the Son would leave heaven and place himself under the yoke of the law and obey.
3. The requirement that God atone with his blood for the sin of his people and so redeem them.
a. In keeping the whole law, Jesus meets the condition that Adam failed to meet. To him belongs eternal life; not only because he is God, but because as a man he has MET THE CONDITION he has WON IT, he has EARNED IT. But the penalty of the broken covenant lies upon all of his people, so the final REQUIREMENT of the COVENANT OF REDEMPTION is that God the Son present himself as a willing substitute to die in the place of his people.
b. What saith the scripture:
…Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5b-8
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person - though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die - but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. Romans 5:6-9
c. In order to meet the OBLIGATION/REQUIREMENTS of redemption, it was not enough that God become a man - although he HAD TO BE A MAN.
…it was not enough that he humbled himself and placed himself under the full weight of the law and kept it perfectly - although he HAD TO BE UNDER THE LAW.
He had to die.
Peter preached on the day of Pentecost:
Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know - this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. Acts 2:22-23
When was this plan put into place? The DEFINITE PLAN AND FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD?
It is the ETERNAL PLAN of the Godhead…
The plan which was established before the foundation of the world…
This is the OBLIGATIONS that God the Son willingly accepted in order to win the BLESSINGS that were promised.
Conclusion: We have set our eyes on only one side of this covenant this week - but you know enough of the story to know the riches of the blessing that will flow from this.
But let me tempt you to come back next week by saying that you have not begun to fathom the GREATNESS of the GLORY that will flow from this.
God, who is infinite in wisdom and goodness; looking upon this plan, declared that of all possible possibilities, this was the highest, the greatest and the best.
God the Son agreed. What future could be so wondrous that the immortal should put on mortality and die?
The world that is revealed in the PROMISES of the Covenant of Redemption.
A world where a human king would reign forever over a perfected world that blazes with a never-ending flood tide of glory.