In our current series we’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in 1648. In previous weeks we’ve seen that God made a ‘covenant of works’ with humans which we broke by sinning. Next we saw that God made a ‘covenant of grace’ with sinful humans and then looked at some ways that God’s grace is shown in that covenant, namely by providing a mediator and eternal life. This week I want to show you that God’s grace is shown by requiring faith as the only condition of the covenant.
When people make covenants/contracts with others, they usually require roughly an equal amount of work/value for both parties. For example if I pay someone to do some work for me, the amount I pay is equal to the cost of their labour. But sometimes people are rather gracious in their contracts. They agree to work for you for very little, maybe because they are a friend of yours or family member.
So what is the requirement of God for his giving you eternal life in his contract? Or what could God demand of you in payment for your sin? An awful lot could be asked of you – after all God has given you life and everything you have and then you went and sinned against him. But all God requires of you is that you trust/believe/have faith in his son’s death for you. Jesus says: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16). That’s it. Nothing more to pay. If you trust in Jesus’ death for your sins then you have kept your end of the covenant and God richly keeps his end of the agreement.
Now requiring faith alone does indeed demonstrate that God is gracious in his covenant of grace. All major religions have gods that require much more of their members if their gods are going to give them anything. Many prayers and confessions must be made, much money must be given away, much service must be performed, much study must be done, much love must be shown to others. But the gracious God of Christianity knows how hopeless we are at keeping any agreement to do such things and so does all the work for us in his Son. All we have to do is believe that Jesus died for us.
So do you recognise that God has graciously required only faith of you in his covenant of grace? Have you then trusted in Jesus’ death for you so that God will generously give you all things in Christ?