The Blueprint of Redemption

Dr. R. C. Sproul Saint Augustine was cynically asked, “What was God doing before He created the world? Augustine’s alleged reply was: “Creating hell for curious souls.”

The reply was, of course, tongue-in-cheek. The Bible doesn’t speak of such a special work of divine creation before creation itself. But Augustine’s bon mot had a serious point that warned against idle speculation of God’s activity in eternity.

However, quite apart from speculation, the Bible has much to say about God’s activity “before” the world was made. The Bible speaks often of God’s eternal counsel, of His plan of salvation and the like. It is a matter of theological urgency that Christians not think of God as a ruler who ad libs His dominion of the universe. God does not “make it up as He goes along.” Nor must He be viewed as a bumbling administrator who is so inept in His planning that His blueprint for redemption must be endlessly subject to revision according to the actions of men. The God of Scripture has no “plan b” or “plan c.” His “plan a” is from everlasting to everlasting. It is both perfect and unchangeable as it rests on God’s eternal character, which is among other things, holy, omniscient, and immutable. God’s eternal plan is not revised because of moral imperfections within it that must be purified. His plan was not corrected or amended because He gained new knowledge that He lacked at the beginning. God’s plan never changes because He never changes and because perfection admits to no degrees and cannot be improved upon.

The covenant of redemption is intimately concerned with God’s eternal plan. It is called a “covenant” inasmuch as the plan involves two or more parties. This is not a covenant between God and humans. It is a covenant among the persons of the Godhead, specifically between the Father and the Son. God did not become triune at creation or at the Incarnation. His triunity is as eternal as His being. He is one in essence and three in person from all eternity.

The covenant of redemption is a corollary to the doctrine of the Trinity. Like the word trinity, the Bible nowhere explicitly mentions it. The word trinity does not appear in the Bible, but the concept of the Trinity is affirmed throughout Scripture. Likewise, the phrase “covenant of redemption” does not occur explicitly in Scripture but the concept is heralded throughout.

Central to the message of Jesus is the declaration that He was sent into the world by the Father. His mission was not given to Him at His baptism or in the manger. He had it before His incarnation.
Continue reading

Redemption Planned

by Don Kistler

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.
Continue reading