Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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God's Unconditional Covenant


Francis Turretin (1623-1687): "The promises of the covenant of grace are not absolutely and simply universal because in the Old Testament they were not promulgated to all (Dt. 7:7, 8; Ps. 147:19, 20; Acts 14:16; 17:30). Nor are they promulgated in the New Testament, since it is plain that the gospel was preached successively and there are still many nations to whom that preaching neither formerly, nor at this day, has reached. Rather the promises are only relatively and limitedly universal from the twofold manner of the divine dispensation; the one external as to obligation (which is extended indiscriminately to classes of individuals, although not to individuals of classes); the other internal (as to application and fruit) with respect to all and each believer, without distinction of nation, sex or age and condition. Hence frequently that universality is restricted to believers from the Jews and Gentiles (Rom. 3:22, 23; 10:12; Acts 10:43; 13:43; Jn. 3:16). And the nature of the promises (which can only be received by faith) demands this (Gal. 3:14; Rom. 4:13). Now all men have not faith (2 Thess. 3:2), but only the elect (Tit. 1:1, 2). And these are the true and proper object of them, who on that account are called 'the children of promise' (Rom. 9:6, 7)" (Institutes of Elenctic Theology [Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R, 1992], vol. 2, p. 215).

Herman Bavinck: "In the beginning Reformed theologians spoke freely of ‘the conditions’ of the covenant. But after the nature of the covenant of grace had been more carefully considered and had to be defended against Catholics, Lutherans, and Remonstrants, many of them took exception to the term and avoided it. [He then references Olevianus, Junius, Cloppenburg, Witsius, a Brakel as being those who avoided the language of conditions.] In the covenant of grace, that is, in the gospel, which is the proclamation of the covenant of grace, there are actually no demands and no conditions" (Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 3).

Herman Bavinck: "After all, when the covenant of grace is separated from election, it ceases to be a covenant of grace and becomes again a covenant of works. Election implies that God grants man freely and out of grace the salvation which man has forfeited and which he can never again achieve in his own strength. But if this salvation is not the sheer gift of grace but in some way depends upon the conduct of men, then the covenant of grace is converted into a covenant of works. Man must then satisfy some condition in order to inherit eternal life. In this, grace and works stand at opposite poles from each other and are mutually exclusive. If salvation is by grace it is no longer by works, or otherwise grace is no longer grace. And if it is by works, it is not by grace, or otherwise works are not works (Rom. 11:6). The Christian religion has this unique characteristic, that is the religion of redemption, sheer grace, pure religion. But it can be recognized and maintained as such only if it is a free gift coming up out of the counsel of God alone. So far from election and the covenant of grace forming a contrast of opposites, the election is the basis and guarantee, the heart and core, of the covenant of grace. And it is so indispensably important to cling to this close relationship because the least weakening of it not merely robs one of the true insight into the achieving and application of salvation, but also robs the believers of their only and sure comfort in the practice of their spiritual life" (Our Reasonable Faith, trans. Henry Zylstra [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1956], pp. 272-273).