Q. 33. Was the covenant of grace always administered after one and the same manner?
A. The covenant of grace was not always administered after the same manner, but the administrations of it under the Old Testament were different from those under the New.
The Catechism speaks now about the administration of the covenant, it’s actually the same covenant but administered differently. Vos goes into the difference.
When did the covenant of grace begin to operate as the way for sinners to receive eternal life? Immediately after the fall, when our first parents were driven from Eden (Gen. 3:15).
What error concerning this question is common today? It is very common today to hold that the Jews were saved by works, but Christians are saved by grace. Those who hold this view say that the covenant of works, as a way of gaining eternal life, did not end until Calvary.
Over against this common error, what principle does the catechism set forth? The catechism teaches the unity of the Old Testament and the New Testament in the one covenant of grace. According to the catechism, since Adam’s fall there has been only one way of salvation, and that has been by the covenant of grace. It is entirely wrong and harmful to set the Old Testament and the New Testament over against each other as if they taught different ways of salvation. The truth is that both Testaments teach one and the same way of salvation.
How can we account for the many obvious differences between the Old Testament and the New Testament? The one of salvation, or the covenant of grace, was administered in different ways under the two Testaments.
After dinner we have been reading through the Bible and this early in the year, we are still in the first five Books of Moses. With all the rules and details prescribed for God’s people in the wilderness one gets a great sense of just exactly what the administration of the covenant was in those days…particularly the offerings and sacrifices, and obedience to the law.
2 Corinthians 3:3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
It’s not actually new but administered in a new way…
Hebrews 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
Hebrews 10:1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Mat 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.