Sunday, January 3, 2010

Covenant Theology and Prayer

All true prayer is predicated upon the unilateral and gracious purposes of God in establishing a covenant with man. Indeed, before time, the Triune God covenanted with Himself in the Covenant of Redemption, whereby it was determined that God the Son would descend (and condescend) upon the earth, to live, die, and rise again, to redeem a people for Himself, to the glory of the God the Father.

In the creation of man, God covenanted with him in the Covenant of Creation (Works), whereby God promised eternal life in His presence provided that perfect obedience was rendered. The Fall of Man is man's defaulting on this covenant, thereby ushering in death and alienation from God, with the whole of the created order subjected to the same curse. This Covenant of Works was republished in the Sinaitic Covenant, taking on a theocratic, geopolitical significance for the nation of Israel, promising prosperity in the land on the condition of obedience to the covenantal stipulations. Of course, after the Fall, failure was inevitable and the Exile was the aftermath.

This Old Testament covenantal economy consisted of types, shadows, and prefigures of the True Israelite, the Second Adam, God the Son, Jesus Christ, who was to come and fulfill all the requirements of the Covenant of Works, thereby bringing to the fore the Covenant of Grace. In this new economy, all the elect would be deemed as righteous in the sight of God—i.e., having perfectly fulfilled all the stipulations of the Covenant of Works—by virtue of the imputation of Christ's merits procured in the aforementioned obedience.

As you pray, therefore, remember all these things, taking to heart the truth that God is a covenant-making God, and that in Christ, united to Him in faith, we have all the promises and blessings of the covenant at our disposal, to the praise and glory of His wonderful Name.

"It perhaps needs to be said that knowledge of the God of the covenant can be quite minimal for some Christians. The covenant implications of the basics of the gospel may be little understood by a new convert, but it must never be said that such a newcomer has no true knowledge of God. To grasp the basic truth, 'Jesus died for my sins and I trust him for salvation,' is to grasp, without realizing it, the central truth of the covenant. The death and resurrection of Jesus fulfil the covenant promises and, thus, reveal the God of the covenant. But to remain at such a basic level without a growth in understanding, to deny oneself the richness of the revelation of the covenant in the Old Testament as well as in the New, is to stunt our knowledge of God and to deny ourselves the spiritual health of wisdom and assurance. Such a state of affairs will inevitably stifle prayer, leaving it undernourished and vulnerable. Above all, in this part of the Old Testament under consideration, we see the way prayer is a response to the covenant commitment of a gracious God. Even in the face of human failure, he is faithful and shows mercy to those who seek him and call upon his name."

- Graeme Goldsworthy, Prayer and the Knowledge of God, ch. 7, pp. 125—126.

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