Brown and Keele have written a survey of covenant theology entitled Sacred Bond. It’s very readable, unlike other intros to covenant theology this one is aimed at those who don’t understand covenant theology but want a deeper explanation that doesn’t become bogged down in academia.
Chapter one discusses the covenant of redemption. The beginning of covenant theology, this is the one from which all the others flow. “The covenant of redemption is essentially God’s blueprint for our salvation.”(23) This was not God’s plan to “fix the mess Adam made, but the original blueprint for the work of Christ and the plan of redemption.” (23) So we can know that our salvation was bound to happen because had covenanted between himself that this would happen. It is also known as the pactum salutis. The importance is that here is where election happens, the incarnation of Jesus, the resurrection and the promise of heaven.
It is a covenant made between the persons of the Trinity is the key difference. In a sense we’re not involved because we’re not one of the parties of the covenant. The Father promises the Son a reward upon perfect completion of the work given. He will give the Son a bride (the Church), and glory (his reward). The Son agrees and submits to the will of the Father. The Holy Spirit promises to “apply the benefits earned by the Son to the elect and unite them with the Son forever.” (24)
A second aspect of this covenant is that it is established before time. This means that behind all the other covenants we see (Abraham, David, etc.) stands the covenant of redemption. Without this covenant being established there would be no Mosaic, Davidic or Noahic.
the covenant established in eternity between the Father, who gives the Son to be the Redeemer of the elect and requires of him the conditions for their redemption; and the Son, who voluntarily agrees to fulfill these conditions; and the Spirit, who voluntarily applies the work of the Son to the elect.
One of the strengths of the chapter is the scripture support provided. Helping to rid the fear that this is simply a doctrine based on speculation. Psalm 40:6-8 is used to demonstrate the covenantal relationship of “obedience and reward between the Father and the Son, especially as it is interpreted by the book of Hebrews.” Scriptures they exegete in support are Psalm 110; Isaiah 52; Zechariah 6:12-13; John 4:34; 5:30, 36, 43; 6:37-40; 10:18; 12:49; 14:31; 15:10; 17:1-2, 4-5; Ephesians 1:3-14; Romans 5:12-19 and a few others. As I mentioned above, a great resource.
They next have a section discussing the doctrine in the Reformed Church. Citing the confessions. “Historically, Reformed Theology has taught that the mediation of Christ was the outworking of the covenant of redemption.” (33) Perhaps my favorite section of their chapter is the “So-what”. Why does this doctrine matter? You see the pastoral nature of these men as they take the discussion from the classroom to the laymen. Ultimately we realize that this is a covenant Christ has made and not us. Therefore salvation can only be found in him as he is the only one with whom it was made. Christ volunteers to fulfill the work given him to redeem a fallen race. The doctrine becomes a source of comfort and assurance teaching us of the love of God and the His mercies. To which we sing and pray Amen!