It’s been about two weeks since I last wrote. I have missed the discipline of writing and thinking but I simply have not had the margin to write. Tonight it is quiet and I have been thinking about baptism, covenant, and the blessing that God gives. To that I end I want to begin my series of posts on baptism with some discussion of covenant because I believe that it informs our understanding of baptism.
What is a covenant? This is a bad question. We are talking about covenant in a very specific sense and not in a general way. We are not talking about covenant between people and people or even god to god. No, we are talking about God covenanting with his people. So, what does this divine covenant look like? It is in its most basic understanding a suzerain treaty. You can read a fantastic description here.
What is unique about the divine covenant is that God’s covenant of grace is one way. He sets the requirements and meets the requirements in himself. In the covenant of works man was required to merit favor and ultimately failed. God was gracious and provided the Law to act as a guardian for his people (Galatians 3:24) until Christ came and fulfilled the conditions of the covenant of grace. He was the embodiment of the people of God and his faithfulness as our federal head is given to us.
So, there are two covenants. The covenant of grace and the covenant of works. Both are gracious in that they are implemented by God to provide a means for his people to have relationship with him. In Hebrews 7 and 8 we find that the people of God failed in their responsibility in the covenant of works but Christ was faithful in the covenant of grace.
Baptism then must be understood in light of this reality. A few of the questions that I want to explore in future posts are how does baptism function as a means of the covenant of grace? What are the effects of baptism? What is the role of baptism in the identity of formation fo the people of God?