The "covenant of redemption," or sometimes it's called the "council of peace," is that eternal covenant or agreement between God the Father and God the Son made before the foundation of the world for the salvation of the people of God.
In this covenant, God the Father appointed his Son to be the Head and the Redeemer of the Church, the elect people of God. For his part, the Son of God, committed to Father, promised that by his incarnation, his life, obedience, suffering, death, and resurrection that he would redeem God's people.
Now the term "covenant of redemption" is not found in scripture. However, it is a biblical teaching. It is a scriptural truth based on what the scriptures do teach us about God and his work of salvation.
First of all, God planned, he willed our salvation in eternity. Before he created the world, God had a decree, a purpose, a plan for the redemption of his people and not only that but the scriptures teach us that God is triune. God is one God and yet he exists in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. On the basis of that scriptural teaching, theologians have articulated this doctrine of a covenant of redemption between the Father and the Son in eternity.
Some verses for example would be from Ephesians 1:3-4.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him...
So as believers in Christ, we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and that being chosen in him certainly implies that there was a pre-existing covenant between the Father and Son that we would elect his people in His Son. Another passage would be the teaching of our Lord from John chapter 6 verses 38 and 39.
For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.
Jesus came into the world with this purpose to fulfill the will of his Father, the will that he was a part of in this eternal covenant of redemption. He had been given by the Father a people to redeem.
One pastoral implication of this teaching of the covenant of redemption is that as Christians our salvation is grounded upon something far greater than our faithfulness, our perseverance, our will, our decision. Our salvation is grounded upon the purpose, the will of God that he decreed in eternity, that eternal covenant or pact between the Father and the Son for our salvation. This brings us a wonderful sense of assurance that our redemption is secure because it is based upon God's eternal purposes in the covenant of redemption.
Scott Johnson (MDiv, Westminster Theological Seminary) is the pastor of Mt. Rose Reformed Church (OPC) in Reno, NV. He is married to Robyn and they have five children.
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