What is meant by these seemingly contradictory verses of Scripture? Is the Covenant of Grace unbreakable or breakable? Does the covenant include only the elect church or all the baptized church? The difficulties in trying to reconcile these apparently contradictory questions have led some to divide the Covenant of Grace into two different covenants with differing covenant heads. They believe that Scripture speaks of three distinct covenants pertaining to man's salvation instead of two. This has added a third complicated question to this matter - are there two or three covenants pertaining to man's salvation spoken of in Scripture?
These three questions have led to different views and explanations of the Covenant of Grace in various church denominations. For instance, the Baptist church denominations speak only of an unbreakable Covenant of Grace which includes only the saved church. Therefore, only saved persons may be baptized and join the church after making a personal confession of true saving faith. While clearly emphasizing the "unbreakable" and "elect church" groups of text, this view does not explain the "breakable" and "circumcised" or "baptized" listings of scriptural verses.
Each of the Reformed church denominations have included both groups of apparently contradicting texts in their explanations of the Covenant of Grace, but each denomination has explained them in a different manner. These differing explanations of the Covenant and the resulting differences regarding how to properly view those who are related to the Covenant (the baptized and the elect), have produced the major doctrinal differences to be found among the Reformed denominations.
The following three questions, with the fourth-related one, become four important questions regarding the possible relationships of church members to the Covenant of Grace:
1. Are there two or three covenants pertaining to man's salvation?
2. Is the Covenant of Grace breakable or unbreakable, or both?
3. Are all the natural (baptized) seed or only the spiritual (elect) seed of the church included in a Covenant of Grace relationship with God, or both?
4. How are the natural (baptized) seed to be distinguished from the spiritual (elect) seed of the church?
Reconcile - To remove apparent differences and formulate a consistent,
harmonious, and agreeable solution
Are the scriptural verses on the preceding page contradictory? How can you know that they are not? What needs to be done in all cases where initial apparent contradictions appear in the Word of God?