Sermon #1138 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: The Blood of the Everlasting Covenant
Text: Hebrews 13:20
Subject: The Covenant of Grace
Date: Sunday Morning – April 3, 1994
Last Sunday morning I preached to you on God’s Covenant – The Believer’s Comfort. On Tuesday evening my message was The Character of the Covenant. Today, I want to talk to you about The Blood of the Everlasting Covenant. My text is Hebrews 13:20 – “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect.”
In this everlasting covenant, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, the salvation of God’s elect was fixed and settled from eternity. This everlasting covenant of grace is a compact of love, an agreement of mercy, a contract of goodness, a sovereign disposition of grace made between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit before the world began. And in that covenant our salvation was immutably secured.
Every saved sinner traces the origin of his salvation back to eternity, for the origin of all saving grace is the firm and everlasting covenant spoken of in our text.
God always deals with men and women upon the basis of a covenant. Though he brings the blessings or the curses of the covenant upon individuals, God always deals with people collectively, in covenant terms, through a representative. According to his own sovereign purpose he has arranged that he will not deal with man except in covenant terms. And he will not allow us to deal with him in any other way.
God made a covenant with the first man, Adam, soon after he was created. It was a covenant of works (Gen. 2:15-17). But Adam broke that covenant in short order (Heb. 6:7). Everything God did with Adam and everything he has done with the sons of Adam in the punishment of sin has been according to the terms of that covenant (Rom. 5:12-14). The covenant of works, because of Adam’s sin and our sin in him, has always been a covenant of death. Later, when God gave the law at Sinai by the hand of Moses, it was a covenant of death from the beginning, because righteousness and life could never come to sinners by their works of righteousness (Gal. 3:10, 21). Sinful people cannot perform righteous works! The giving of the law at Mt. Sinai was nothing more or less than the revelation of God’s justice in punishing every transgression under the covenant of works. It was never intended by God to be a way of life for men, a rule of life for his children, or a code of moral ethics. The law was given by God to be a messenger of death, a messenger of justice, wrath, and condemnation to fallen men, that sinners might be driven to Christ and to the covenant of grace established with him.
However, long, long before God made the covenant of works with Adam in the garden, he had made a covenant of grace with Christ, his son. It was made for us. But it was made with Christ our covenant Surety and Mediator before the world was made, in eternity. In fact, Adam, as the federal head and representative of all men in the covenant of works, was a type and foreshadowment of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is called “the last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45) and is the federal Head and Representative of God’s elect in the covenant of grace (Rom. 5:12-19).
· In his representation.
· In his love for Eve.
· In his voluntary assumption of sin, guilt, and death.
The covenant of works was broken by the first Adam. The covenant of grace was fulfilled by the last Adam. Death came by the first Adam’s transgression. Life came by the last Adam’s obedience. Wrath came upn all men by the fall of the first Adam. Grace comes to all God’s elect by the success of the last Adam (1 Cor. 15:21-22).
The covenant of grace was typified in the Old Testament.
· In the covenant God made with Noah (Gen. 6:8, 18; 8:1, 20-22; 9:11-15).
· In the Davidic covenant (2 sam. 7:8-17).
It was often spoken of in the Old Testament prophets too.
· Psalm 89:19-31
· Isaiah 49:1-12
· Isaiah 54:9-10
· Jeremiah 31:31-34
· Jeremiah 32:37-40
· Ezekiel 36:21-38
As we have seen already, in our study of 2 Samuel 23:5, God’s saints in those days prior to the coming of Christ found in this everlasting covenant a solid foundation upon which to stand and a soft pillow upon which to rest their weary souls. Believing God, they said to the comfort of their souls, “The Lord hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure!”
This everlasting covenant of grace is the foundation of God that standeth sure. It cannot be shaken by the changing tides of time and trouble. That which inspired David in life and comforted him in death, the everlasting covenant, is the inspiration of our lives and the comfort of our souls today.
With those things in mind, I want us to look at our text together (Hb. 13:20). I want to talk to you briefly about those three things.
· The covenant
· The everlasting character of the covenant
· The blood of the everlasting covenant
I. The covenant – What is the covenant spoken of in our text?
This is not the first time the word “covenant” is mentioned in the Book of Hebrews. It is first mentioned in chapter 7, verse 22, where Christ is called, “the Surety of a better testament (covenant).” This is the “better covenant” described in chapter 8, verses 6-12. It is the “new covenant” of Hebrews 8:13, and the “new testament” (covenant) of chapter 9, verse 15, by which we “receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” When we read Hebrews 10:15-17, we discover that this is the very same covenant that was promised in Jeremiah 31:31-34, which the Lord Jesus came to fulfil by his obedience to God as our representative.
The covenant spoken of in our text is the new covenant of the gospel, the covenant of grace made in eternity for the salvation of God’s elect. Yet, it is ever fresh and new. It is the covenant by which God makes all things new in the new creation of grace. This everlasting covenant is the whole will of God, the whole purpose of his grace concerning the salvation of his elect.
A. The will and purpose of God regarding the salvation of his people is revealed in the Bible as a covenant.
I do not understand all that I know about this subject. But I do know that a covenant was made. You can call it “God’s sovereign purpose of grace,” or “God’s sovereign decree of grace.” That is perfectly okay with me. But the Bible calls it, “the everlasting covenant.” It does so because God’s purpose and decree of grace, as it is revealed to us, bears all the marks of a covenant. It has three marks.
1. A covenant is a contract, or an agreement made between two or more contracting parties.
The high contracting parties between whom the covenant of grace was made before time began were the three Persons of the Eternal Godhead. The triune God asked, “Who will go for us?” Christ, the Son, volunteering to be our Surety, arose and said, “Here am I, send me.” When he came to fulfill his covenant engagements he said, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.” When he ascended back into heaven, the Father said to his victorious Son, Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance…Sit thou upon my right hand until I make thy foes thy footstool.” And the exalted Son of God, our Savior, poured out his spirit upon all flesh to gather his elect from the four corners of the earth.
I am talking to you about a covenant made on our behalf before the worlds were made, a covenant in which Christ stood as our Representative, Mediator, Substitute, and Surety from everlasting. In that blessed, everlasting covenant, children of God, our salvation was decreed, purposed, predestinated, and made sure. Let your soul fly back upon the wings of faith into ancient eternity and behold this wondrous thing…
· God the Father pledged himself to God the Son – “I will save!”
· God the Son pledged himself to God the Father – “I will satisfy!”
· God the Spirit pledged himself to God the Father and God the Son – “I will sanctify!”
· When the three persons of the adorable Trinity struck hands together, the deal was done! The salvation of an elect multitude, which no man can number was made sure and looked upon by the Triune God as a things already done (Rom. 8:29-30; 2 Tim. 1:9).
2. A covenant, as I have already hinted, has specific stipulations which each of the contracting parties is honor bound to fulfill. If ever one stipulation is not met, then the entire covenant is nullified and made void.
This everlasting covenant had stipulations. But they are stipulations made, accepted, and sworn to by the triune God. Therefore, the covenant was and is never in jeopardy.
Note: The covenant of grace was made in anticipation of the fall of our father Adam and the ruin of his race. The object and goal of the covenant is the restoration of God’s elect from the ruins of the fall for the glory of the triune God. Under what conditions could this restoration be made?
a. God the Father spoke first – “I, even I, the Most High, Almighty God, do give unto my only begotten, well beloved Son an elect people more numerous than the sands upon the sea shore and the stars of the sky, upon condition that he redeem them from all sin, preserve and keep them all the days of their lives, and present them in the last day before my throne holy, unblameable, and unreproveable in my sight. I swear by my own great name, because I can swear by none greater, that those whom I now give to my Son I love forever. These I now forgive of all sin. To them I now impute perfect righteousness. I now adopt them for my Son’s sake and declare that they shall be my own sons and daughters forever! I will never turn away from them to do them good. And they shall reign with me eternally through the merit of my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased!”
· A people chosen.
· Conditions required.
· A Savior provided.
· A reward promised (John 6:37-40).
b. Then God the Son spoke for us (John 10:16-18). As our Mediator and Surety, he said, “’Lo, I come to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart.’ My father, I pledge myself to thee in this solemn covenant. In the fullness of time I will become a man. I will take upon myself the nature of my people. I will live in their world of woe in their room and stead. I will repair the law they have broken and prepare for them a spotless robe of righteousness. In due time I will take their place upon the cursed tree. I will be made sin for them. I will pay their debts. The chastisement of their peace shall be upon me. With my stripes they shall be healed. O my Father, I will be obedient unto thee for them, obedient even unto the death of the cross. I will magnify the law and make it honorable. I will endure all the curse of the law, until justice is completely satisfied. All the vials of thy holy wrath shall be poured out, emptied, and spent upon me. Then, I will rise from the dead, ascend into heaven, and make intercession at thy right hand until all thy chosen are saved. My Father, lay no sin to their charge. I assume all responsibility for every one of them. I pledge myself to save them. Not one of those whom thou hast given me shall be lost. By my blood, by my righteousness, and by my power I will bring them all safely to thee at last.”
c. God the Holy Spirit also spoke – “I do hereby covenant that all the Father has given to the Son and the Son has pledged to redeem with his own precious blood, I will at the time of love regenerate and call by almighty, irresistible grace. I will show them their need of Christ. I will destroy their groundless hopes, and their refuge of lies. I will show them the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. I will give them faith. I will give them a new heart and a new will. I will apply to their hearts the blood of Christ, make them clean, bring upon them every blessing and benefit of the covenant, and seal them in grace forever. By me all the sons and daughters of the Almighty shall be infallibly preserved unto everlasting glory!”
When all the stipulations of the covenant had been agreed upon all the blessings of grace were fully and infallibly bestowed upon God’s elect in Christ, our covenant Head (Eph. 1:3-6).
3. The beneficiaries of this everlasting covenant were named from eternity and their names written in a book, the Book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8; 17:8).
No, this covenant was not made for all men. If that offends you, I am sorry. But your offense does not nullify God’s work! This covenant was made for God’s elect and no one else. Who are God’s elect?
a. Those for whom Christ makes intercession (John 17:9, 20).
b. Those who are by the Holy Spirit called (Psa. 65:4).
c. Those who trust the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 4:1-10).
B. Why was this everlasting covenant made?
Only one answer can be given – “To the praise of the glory of his grace” (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14). This covenant was an act of free, unconditional grace and absolute sovereignty. Should any demand, “But that’s not fair,” my reply is, Take your argument up with God. I am only his messenger (Rom. 9:16-18). If you want to quarrel with the Almighty, if you dare to do so, I will not stand in your way.
II. The everlasting character of the covenant – Why does the Holy Spirit here and elsewhere describe the covenant of grace as the “everlasting covenant?”
In other places it is called, “the covenant of peace,” “the covenant of life,” “the better covenant,” and “the new covenant,” but why is it called specifically “the everlasting covenant” no less than seven times in the Word of God?
· 2 Samuel 23:5
· Isaiah 55:3
· Isaiah 61:8
· Jeremiah 32:40
· Ezekiel 16:60
· Ezekiel 37:26
· Hebrews 13:20
A. It is called “the everlasting covenant” first, to identify its antiquity.
The covenant of grace is the oldest of all God’s works. It is from everlasting. The covenant of works had a beginning and an end. The covenant of grace has neither. Now think about this for a minute and see if it does not ravish your very soul. Before anything that is was God loved you and made a covenant of grace for you!
· Before the mountains, the stars, or the seas were brought forth, God thought of you!
· Before Adam fell, God covenanted with God for you!
· Before you sinned, help was laid upon One who is mighty for you!
· Before you went astray from your mother’s womb speaking lies, the Triune God found a way to bring you home to glory!
· Before he made the angels to minister to you, God’s heart was devoted to you in covenant grace!
Now, realize this – God who has had his heart upon you from eternity will not forget you now (Isa. 54:7-10).
B. The covenant of grace is called “the everlasting covenant”, second, to assure us of its sureness (2 Sam. 23:5).
Here is something that stands forever! Its mercies are sure mercies! Its blessings are sure blessings! Its promises are sure promises!
1. On our part, it is an unconditional covenant.
· Nothing left to chance!
· Nothing left to be determined by our will!
· Nothing dependent upon our works!
There are no “ifs”, “maybes”, “buts”, or “peradventures” in this everlasting covenant. Every line is punctuated by God’s “shall” and God’s “will.”
2. God’s covenant is ordered in all things and sure from everlasting.
· Ordered by God’s decree!
· Made sure by god’s power!
C. The covenant of grace is called “the everlasting covenant,” third, to show us its immutability.
Anything everlasting must be immutable. Not one line of the covenant can be erased, not one word blotted out. God is immutable in all things and his covenant is immutable (Eccles. 3:14).
1. His love is immutable love (Rom. 9:13).
2. His grace is immutable grace (Mal. 3:6).
3. His forgiveness is immutable forgiveness (Rom. 4:8).
4. His favor is immutable favor (Eph. 1:6).
5. His blessings are immutable blessings (Rom. 11:29; Eph. 1:3).
D. And this covenant is called “the everlasting covenant,” fourth, to teach us that it will never cease to be enforced, no, not even in eternity.
It shall one day be consummated, but never terminated. All the heirs of grace shall be the heirs of grace forever.
· For the same reason!
· Upon the same basis!
· To the same degree!
III. The blood of the covenant – What is the connection between the shed blood of Christ and the everlasting covenant?
I must be brief here. I will have more to say about it tonight. But, believe me, I have saved the best until the last. The precious blood of Christ has a fivefold connection to the covenant of grace – A fivefold relation…
A. With regard to God the Son our Savior – His blood is the fulfillment of every stipulation agreed to in the covenant.
· “I have finished the work.” Righteousness!
· “It is finished!” – Satisfaction! “Therefore doth my Father love me!”
B. With regard to God the Father – The precious blood of Christ puts the Almighty under inescapable obligation.
· To save all the redeemed!
· The pardon all the ransomed!
· To give grace and glory to all for whom atonement has been made!
C. With regard to God the Holy Spirit the blood of Christ is that which he sprinkles (applies effectually) to the hearts of sinners to proclaim peace and reconciliation – “That’s enough!”
D. With regard to the believer – The precious blood of Christ is the solitary ground of our peace and assurance.
His blood is God’s token to us for good. Do you rely entirely upon the blood of Christ for all your salvation? If you do, be at peace. Let nothing disturb you. This covenant was made for you. All its blessings are yours forever. You are one of God’s elect.
E. With regard to guilty sinners – The precious blood of Christ is your only way of access to God (Heb. 10:22).
Nothing in my hands I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling,
I to thy fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, else I die!
1. No remission without the blood (Heb. 9:22).
2. No condemnation with the blood (Rom. 8:1).
3. He who died to ratify this covenant lives and reigns to enforce it (2 Sam. 23:5).