Read - John 6v37 & Ephesians 1v4-5
Message - Scott Woodburn
What word defines Christmas? The children's address answer is "Jesus", indeed any question in church usually has "Jesus" as the answer. But today and over the final weeks of 2020 I want us to think about the word "promise". Christmas is a season of promises fulfilled. Humanly speaking we promise Santa that we deserve some presents. At New Year we promise ourselves that next year will be different. But theologically speaking the birth of Christ sees the fulfillment of God's ancient promise to redeem a people for Himself.
As reformed Christians we have long been criticised by brothers and sisters in Christ over our practice of infant baptism. We are told that it is unbiblical and there is absolutely no ground in Scripture to support our practice. Before I enter into any discussion about the rights and wrongs of baptising the children of believing parents I always strive to take the discussion to the question of covenant. You can't understand our practice of infant baptism if you do not understand covenant.
What do we mean by covenant? In the Scriptures God deals with us by way of covenant, in simple terms God makes a promise that He will certainly keep. Hopefully you are familiar with the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. If not, then fear not! We'll be considering both before auld lang syne is sung. Perhaps though you have never heard about the covenant of redemption. What is it? The covenant of redemption is a pretemporal (before time), intratrinitarian (between the persons of the Trinity) agreement between the Father and Son. The Father promises to redeem an elect people. The Son promises to pay the price for those people. The Spirit ultimately calls those people to repentance and faith in the Son.
Have I just made that stuff up? Absolutely not! We see the covenant of redemption clearly in John 6v37. Jesus says that the Father has given a people to the Son. These people will certainly come to the Son (here is the Spirit's work) and all those who come, Jesus will by no means cast out. They won't be cast out because they look in faith to Jesus whose sacrifice is acceptable in the sight of God. We'll think later this week on the involvement of the Son and Spirit but today let's think about the Father's work.
In Ephesians 1v4 Paul says that the Father chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. This is what we mean when we say that the covenant of redemption is pretemporal. It was before time. Before there was anything, the Father had chosen a people in Christ. He had decreed that they would be adopted into the family of God through faith in Christ.
God's Word does not return to Him void, if He makes a promise then He keeps that promise. Beloved of the Lord, when we turn Christmas into tinsel and turkey we miss the glory of the season. With the birth of Christ, God's timeless promise was coming true. He wasn't waiting for a people who deserved His love. He wasn't waiting for us to seek Him out. He had made a covenant in eternity past and He was actively making that promise a reality. As he often does, Paul hits the nail on the head. "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons." (Galatians 4v4-5) Thanks be to God!
Q40 What did God at first reveal to man for the rule of his obedience? The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience, was the moral law.