Originally posted on Reformed Baptist Fellowship:
What is a divine covenant? A basic definition of a divine covenant is as follows: A divine covenant is a relational arrangement, initiated by God’s sovereign dispensing of his kindness, goodness, and wisdom toward man. In other words, divine covenants start with God and come to man. They come from him to us. In this sense, they are not contracts or pacts between two equals. There are no negations between God and man concerning these covenants. Divine covenants are the means through which God reveals his kindness, goodness, and wisdom to man. The specific concern of divine covenants, in the words of Nehemiah Coxe, is “the benefits [God] will bestow on [man], the communion [man] will have with [God], and the way and means by which this will be enjoyed by [man].” Divine covenants are concerned with the benefits God’s bestows, the type of communion man may have with God, and the means to obtain these things. When divine covenants demand conditions of obedience on man’s part, they can be viewed as covenants of obedience or works. When a divine covenant provides all it requires, it is a covenant of grace. In the discussion below, you will notice that I view the Old Covenant as a conditional covenant, a covenant of works, and the New Covenant as the covenant of grace.
Our second question is: What is the New Covenant in contrast to the Old Covenant? To answer this question we will look at how the Old Testament promises the New Covenant and how the New Testament explains and applies the New Covenant. Consider Jeremiah 31:31-34, which says:
31 “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah– 32 “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. 33 “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying,’Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (NKJV)