My rating: 5 of 5 stars
If you read God’s word at all you will be confronted with the word “covenant.” It is impossible not to. What is quite possible is to read these references to covenant and completely miss what God is revealing. It is too easy to read through the Bible and see references to “covenant” and just skim through them or dismiss it as an antiquated “Bible” word that has no extensive meaning like “propitiation” or “justified.” :-/
P&R Publishing has released a work that is going to help any who read it to have a better grasp on “covenant” and its implications. Covenants Made Simple by Jonty Rhodes was released in 2013 in the UK but now it is getting a stateside release and it is easy to see why. The subtitle, Understanding God’s Unfolding Promises to His People, is good, but you really need one of those old, three-paragraph, Puritan subtitles to do justice to the scope of this great book. What is a covenant? What role does covenant play in God’s revelation of himself? Of his redemptive purposes? What covenant blessing do we enjoy?
Covenants Made Simple seems to have two main parts. In the first part, Rhodes unpacks what a covenant is and traces the covenant through the biblical storyline from Adam onward. He also lists out the covenant blessings and curses attached to each covenant. These seem to follow the pattern of people, place, and presence, and it is fascinating to see how this pattern fleshes out in each covenant. It is also important to see that “covenant” is not just an aspect of God’s revelation. In many ways, it is the filter through which we view the story. As we read accounts and events we do not read them as unconnected nuggets of information or nice stories. We see them as parts of a whole, interconnected drama in the one unfolding drama of God’s redemptive plan for his covenant people.
After surveying the covenants of Scripture, Rhodes shows the reader how this motif affects core doctrines. Rhodes shows that we enjoy a covenant salvation based on God’s great love, a love that is unconditional, personal, and unstoppable. He then shows that we, the Church, are a covenant people. One body of many bodies, one people from many peoples. He also goes through doctrines associated with this truth (baptism, discipline, and the Supper). Rhodes closes with the idea of a covenant life, how we as covenant people are to respond to God’s truth in our life. We are empowered to obedience by the Holy Spirit of God and educated in how to obey by God’s word. These truths are definitely truths for life and covenant people are called to be faithful people.
The layout of this book is great and the content is rich and simple. This is one of, if not the one, the best introductions to covenant theology that is available. The diagrams are actually helpful(so often diagrams just seem to be decorative). The presentation is warm and personal. This is a tremendous book and I look forward to recommending this to many, many people! Great book!
I received a review copy of this book from P&R Publishing.
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