By RANDY WHITE, D.Min.
Founder and CEO
(Read Part 3)
So what is it to which covenant theology refers? The key issue for covenant theology, as it comes to interpreting the Bible through an interpretive grid, is the idea that God redeems mankind under a covenant of grace. That is the overarching idea of the system.
Certainly all who are saved are saved by grace through faith. But should we read the entire Bible through that lens—that God redeems man through a covenant of grace?
In terms of a practical application, many of us were taught that we could open up to any passage in the Word of God and preach an evangelistic sermon from it. That is covenant theology—it portrays the idea that the gospel is on every page of the Bible. That interpretive grid is used to understand all of the Bible.
But how do we find the gospel in the story of David and Goliath? Well, we could say that Christ, the little shepherd boy, picked up a stone and killed the devil on our behalf. Or we tell people that if you want to conquer your enemies you need to pick up “five smooth stones“—and then we could make up meanings for those five stones.
Now we could give meaning to these things that are not heretical, but the problem is that we are not really teaching the Bible. We are reading the gospel into it—and we are reading ourselves into it. That is eisegesis instead of what should be doing, which is exegesis.
This is very prominent in the church today. In recent years we have been inundated with words such as “gospel-centered,” “gospel-focused,” “Christ-centered,” etc. This sounds very good—but these are really code words that convey the idea that anywhere you look in the Bible you will find Christ and the gospel. That is an incorrect interpretive grid.
There is a second interpretive grid and that is dispensational theology. This theology used to be very popular, but this is not the case today. In fact, some people may even think that it is unorthodox or even crazy. It is mischaracterized as teaching that there are different ways of salvation, or that we are to love the Jews more than we love Jesus.
But here in short is the interpretive grid of dispensationalism:
God redeems His entire purpose through various means at various times.
Covenant theology teaches that God redeems mankind—and especially reads this as how He is redeeming me. Dispensationalism teaches that He does indeed redeem mankind—but He also redeems His entire purpose.
The overall picture of the Bible is that the earth, mankind—even Lucifer the fallen angel—will be dealt with in accord with God’s plan for redemption. For the devil that means ending up in the lake of fire, with no more authority or freedom to trouble believers (cf. 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2; 1 Pet. 5:8; Rev. 20:1-10)
Even the earth itself, which is currently under God’s curse—as it has been since the fall—will be redeemed (cf. Rom. 8:18-22). Although we can see beauty in the earth even today, we can also find tremendous evidence of the curse. But God created a “very good” world (Gen. 1:31). He did not create a world of death and destruction, thorns and scarcity. He created a world of abundance and blessing and He is going to redeem it once again—in accord with all of His purpose!
Editor’s Note: This blog article is taken from the following sermon, which you can watch in its entirety here: