All reformed denominations rightly understand (from a correct understanding of Romans 5 and 1 Cor 15) that all people are either fallen in Adam or stand in Christ. Those that are fallen in Adam fell with him in his failure to maintain his estate under the Covenant of Works. Those who stand righteous before God, only do so in that they are united (or Covenanted) to Christ (the second Adam), their Federal Head, in the Covenant of Grace.
What distinguishes the historic Particular Baptist position on the Covenants is our singularly unique understanding of this Covenant of Grace. For us, the Covenant of Grace and the New Covenant are one and the same. Although it was promised and foreshadowed to those who lived in the Old Testament, and the Old Testament saints were saved by the efficacy and power of it, it was not inaugurated until Christ came in the flesh.
With that said, here are a few additional points from Brother Malone’s helpful book, The Baptism of Disciples Alone:
- God revealed the “promise of grace”, beginning in Genesis 3:15, and successively revealing its future fulfillment in the various “covenants of promise” (Eph 2:12).
- Salvation by grace through faith in the “coming seed” was revealed and offered in types and shadows throughout the Old Testament period (Heb 11-12)
- The New Covenant (Jer 31, Heb 8, Luke 22:20) is the prophesied fulfillment of what has been historically called the Covenant of Grace, and is the fullest and final historical manifestation of that eternal Covenant of Redemption.
According to the London Baptist Confession of Faith (7.3), The Covenant of Grace is:
This covenant is revealed in the gospel; first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation by the seed of the woman, and afterwards by farther steps, until the full discovery thereof was completed in the New Testament; and it is founded in that eternal covenant transaction that was between the Father and the Son about the redemption of the elect; and it is alone by the grace of this covenant that all the posterity of fallen Adam that ever were saved did obtain life and blessed immortality, man being now utterly incapable of acceptance with God upon those terms on which Adam stood in his state of innocency.
According to Brother Malone and our Baptist forefathers, the Covenant of Grace was “revealed”, “promised”, and “prophesied” in the Old Testament, but it was not yet inaugurated. It’s power and efficacy saved those that believed the gospel through those promises and prophesies that were held forth, but the substance of the covenant was not fulfilled until Christ came.
This is in stark contract to our Presbyterian and Reformed brothers who believe that the covenants of promise (the Sinai Covenant, in particular), served as “administrations” of the covenant of grace, thus flattening all the Bible’s covenants after the fall into one. Whether the New Covenant then, IS the covenant of grace, or is a new “administration” of the covenant of grace is the central focus of our debate and deserves our most serious consideration and study.
For more on this topic, I’ve yet to read anything in print that surpasses AW Pink’s work, “The Divine Covenants”, which is an easy read and may be easily found online.