CONDITIONAL (LAW) VS. UNCONDITIONAL (GRACE)
A covenant can be either conditional or unconditional. A conditional covenant exists when both parties agree to do certain things. For example, an employer agrees to pay wages if the worker performs certain tasks over a period of time.
An unconditional covenant is when one party agrees to do certain things (a promise) whether or not the other party performs any function or work. The covenant is not dependent on the ability of the weaker party to perform a function or duty. In other words the stronger covenant head extends favor or grace to the weaker covenant head.
Grace can be defined as: Favor or kindness shown to a person without regard to the worth or merit of the one who receives it, and in spite of what that same person deserves.
Grace is a key attribute of God. “And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth’” (Ex 34:6). Grace is associated with mercy, love, compassion and patience; as the source of help; with deliverance from distress.
SCRIPTURE AS COVENANTS
As you know, the sacred Scriptures are divided into two significant divisions, the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is composed of 39 books and the New Testament is composed of 27. All of the books of Scripture are God-inspired (2Tim 3:16).
The word “testament” means witness, testimony, or covenant. In other words, we could rightly call the two major sections of Scripture the “Old Covenant” and the “New Covenant.” As a matter of fact, the word testament is used only 2 times in the Bible (Heb 9:16, 17) while the word covenant is used 316 times in the Bible.
COVENANTS BETWEEN GOD AND MAN
As we study each of the eight major covenants in Scripture, we will gain a greater understanding of three important things:
- A historical perspective. To understand the times and settings in the development of man’s understanding of God as He progressively revealed Himself.
- Why God established each covenant. God knows all things, past, present, and future. It is important that we realize He also knows the outcomes.
- Man could not save himself. From the beginning, God knew that man needed a Savior.
ESSENTIAL COVENANT PRINCIPLE
We will study in more detail the component parts of a covenant. But first, let us examine an essential principle in a blood covenant that is key to understanding the faithfulness of God.
As we have learned, a blood covenant is the most binding of all the covenants. A blood covenant also involves an exchange that takes place between the two parties of the covenant or the covenant heads. This exchange results in “oneness,” with the two parties of the covenant becoming one entity.
The marriage covenant is an example of two becoming one. In marriage, the two parties become one, one flesh (Gen 2:24; Matt19:5,6; Eph 5:31). In addition, all that belongs to the bride – including possessions, debts and future potential – now belongs to the bridegroom. All that belongs to the bridegroom – possessions, debts and future potential – now belongs to the bride. All the resources, power and authority are now shared between the covenant heads (in this case, the bride and bridegroom).