Reformed Theology is Covenant Theology

This morning I was reading from John Frame’s latest book, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief.  I am teaching my wife about Covenant Theology and this morning we are working through the Abrahamic Covenant.  As I was finalizing my thoughts and re-reading through Frame’s work on this, one of Frame’s footnotes from this section lead me to an article from Richard Pratt that I found very interesting, historically, about Reformed Theology.  It actually dovetails nicely with another book I recently completed entitled, Covenant Theology: A Baptist Distinctive.

Here is the article:

The Scriptures were written over thousands of years, by many human authors, to meet the needs of God’s people in different times and places. Despite the diversity that resulted from these variables, biblical faith is highly unified. Behind the manifold details of Scripture is a rather simple, straightforward theological organization shaped by what Reformed theologians have called covenant theology.

Traditional Covenant Theology

While John Calvin himself acknowledged the importance of God’s covenants from time to time in his commentaries, he did not draw attention to their significance for the organization of Scripture as a whole. Yet, within one generation Reformed theologians began to see that the theology of the bible gives a central role to divine covenants. Since that time, it has been nearly impossible to separate Reformed theology from covenant theology.

The pinnacle of these early developments appeared in the Westminster Confession of Faith in 1646. It expresses a way of looking at covenants that we may call traditional covenant theology. In brief, the Confession speaks of God condescending to reveal himself to humanity in two covenants: the “covenant of works” in Adam and the “covenant of grace” in Christ (WCF VII).

This traditional twofold approach to covenant theology highlights at least two central teachings of Reformed theology. On the one hand, the covenant of works draws attention to the fact that humanity’s relationship with God was based entirely on human works before Adam fell into sin. Of course, Adam failed and cast all human beings as well as the entire creation under God’s curse.

On the other hand, the covenant of grace points to the Reformed teaching that salvation for human beings and the restoration of creation has always been entirely dependent on God’s grace in Christ. From the first promise given to fallen Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15, to the last chapter in Revelation there has been only one way of salvation. The Confession admits that this long history is “commonly called the covenant of grace” (WCF, emphasis mine). Note 1 below. In other words, the phrase “covenant of grace” is theological terminology and not found in the Bible, much like the word “Trinity.” Even so, the doctrine of the covenant of grace expresses the teaching of Scripture that salvation throughout the Old and New Testaments is in Christ alone.

Although the contours of this twofold approach to divine covenants have characterized Reformed theology through the centuries, covenant theology has never been static. Throughout the centuries Reformed theologians have explored different aspects of covenant theology in a variety of ways. During the second half of the last century, covenant theology made some rather dramatic advances in at least two areas that we will sketch in this article: first, covenants and the history of salvation; second covenants and personal salvation.

Covenants and Biblical History

In the first place, recent covenant theologians have explained more thoroughly the prominence of biblical covenants in biblical history by discerning their function in the kingdom of God. Reformed theology has always emphasized that in a broad sense, God is the sovereign king over all of creation. Everything has been, is and will be the kingdom of God because he is sovereign over all. Continue reading

Daily Roundup Single

Visual Theology by Tim Challies is a wonderful tool to help you visually learn different theological concepts.  You can download them to print for your self, or order a copy from The Visual Theology Store.  To date, he has the following posters available:


Daily Roundup

Why God is Against Interracial Marriage – J. D. Hall will get a little under your skin with this post!  Hall claims to be from Arkansas, and with an attitude like this, he just might be.

When Christians Sin Part 1 – I’ve been listening to Tim Conway the last couple of days and these three sermons are incredibly relevant.  I highly recommend you give up 3 hours to listen to them. 

When Christians Sin Part 2

When Christians Sin Part 3

Joel Osteen, and Others, On The Prosperity Abomigospel – It is called the Prosperity Gospel, but it is an abomination to God’s Gospel, hence my renaming it to the Abomigospel.

What I Am Doing You Do Not Understand Now – Much of the Christian life is spent trusting Jesus now and understanding him later.  This is as hard for us to grasp today as it was for Peter in the upper room.

Classic Articles on Reformed Theology – A collection of articles and some complete eBooks on the Monergism website dealing with Reformed Theology.


Our closeness to God is connected to how much sin we hold on to.  Jesus stresses this very point in John 14:21, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Don’t you ever forget that there is a direct correlation between keeping Christ’s commandments and receiving expressions of love from the Father.  There is a direct relationship between the smile you perceive from Christ Himself and obeying His commandments.  There is distinctly a connection between submission to Christ and your ability to feel the reality of Christ’s presence. – Tim Conway from When Christians Sin Part 2.

Are You Reformed?

(Part 1)

By Richard Lucas–

Perhaps the question has been posed to you at one time or another.  The appropriate answer it seems depends almost as much on the questioner as the one replying.  For those in the emerging “Young, Restless, and Reformed” category, they might not realize that not everyone else understands the self-describing moniker of “Reformed” in quite the same way.

I have two goals for these blog posts: 1) to sketch out something of the landscape of those who consider themselves “Reformed”; and 2) to provide some historical perspective to the development of the T.U.L.I.P. acronym  in an effort to perhaps curb some misplaced enthusiasm.

Map of the Reformed Landscape

Here I’m merely surveying from my limited experience those who I’ve run into in the modern American Evangelical landscape.  I also will focus on those groups most likely to interest readers of this blog, which is “self-consciously Evangelical, Reformational, and Baptistic.”  My sympathies will become apparent as I don’t withhold my own biases along the way.

The survey really falls into more of a spectrum than separate categories, because there is quite a bit of overlap between various groups.  Nevertheless I think some differentiation will still prove to be helpful, because these groups are often using the word “Reformed” in different senses (i.e. historically, soteriologically, biblical-theologically, etc.).

1) Theonomists

They believe they are the only ones who are consistently reformed.  To them being reformed is applying their bi-covenantal theology in every area of life, including ethics, in a thoroughly consistent manner.  Continue reading

Daily Roundup

5 Myths about Reformed Theology – Michael Horton explores 5 Reformed Theology Myths that are bound to happen when a theology exalts God and lays man low.

Do We Ignore the Bible?– She asked, “what should we do with the hard passages in the Bible related to disability?”  A Jewish rabbi quickly responded. “Oh, you mean like the passages in Leviticus? Well, we just ignore those. We know better now.”  Seriously?  Not a good idea to ignore Scripture.

Chic-Fil-A Ban Continues – I’m not a fan of Chic-Fil-A, but it isn’t because of their stance, I just can’t eat their food because of Celiac disease.  I applaud them and support their stance on gay marriage.

Scripture and the Church Fathers – Links to what the early Church Fathers thought about Scripture.

Solo Christo – Modern Reformation magazine article about Christ.  This is also a good bi-monthly magazine worth subscribing too.  I typically read it cover to cover within a week of getting it.


The preacher is above all others distinguished as a man of prayer.

~Charles Spurgeon~