In conclusion, covenant theology provides the framework for the structure of Scripture and the basic grid through which the gospel is communicated. The Bible opens with a record of God’s covenant with Israel in the Pentateuch. The historical books serve as a covenant record – preserved by the prophets (2Chr 29:29). The psalms and wisdom literature embody the dreams of life within the covenantal community. Then the prophets recorded the eventual failure and delivery of the covenant curses – along with the hope that the covenant would be renewed by God’s Servant, an expected Messiah. The New Testament, of course, explains the fulfillment of the covenant in Christ – both what has been accomplished and what will be brought to completion. The covenantal framework organizes redemptive history, and provides us a clearer view of how God relates to others – even how he relates within the Godhead!
Covenant theology explains the connection between the ordo salutis and the work of Christ. Since our relationship to God is multi-faceted, the covenantal paradigm suited it well in its intricacy. For one thing, covenant relationships are familial – even as the gospel brings us in as sons and daughters of God, heirs with Christ. They involved legal status – as we now enjoy a justified standing through Jesus. They involved actual lived commitment – as we are now sanctified after Christ’s image. Even the doctrine of election rests on a vision of God’s royal prerogative.
Finally, the church itself functions as the covenant community – the assembly of the king. 1 Peter 2 reminds us in no uncertain terms how much we are part of a royal priesthood. Just as covenants have always had rituals of initiation and renewal, so to the church has baptism and the Lord’s Supper. It is a place together where we remind ourselves of the significance of God’s Word and call together upon him in prayer and praise.
For those who are trying to understand how it is that Scripture holds together, covenantal theology helps make sense of the underlying structure of the whole thing. For those trying to understand the complexities of our relationship with God – both individual and corporate – covenantal theology helps put the pieces together. If the promise of covenant theology seems too good to be true, consider one final passage. Notice the seamless movement between history and salvation, between individual and corporate. Notice it all centers around the covenant mediator:
For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, "If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned." Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I tremble with fear." But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assemblyof the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:18-24)