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Tuesday
Jan292013

Theological Term of the Week


pactum salutis
An agreement made in eternity past among the persons of the Trinity in which they plan to save a people; also called the covenant of redemption.

  • From scripture:
  • [God] chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love [5] he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, [6] to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. [7] In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, [8] which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight [9] making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ [10] as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

    [11] In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, [12] so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. [13] In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, [14] who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:4-14 ESV)

    All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. [38] For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. [39] And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. [40] For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:37-40 ESV)

  • From Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof:
  • Scripture clearly points to the fact that the plan of redemption was included in the eternal decree or counsel of God, Eph. 1:4ff; …. Now we find that in the economy of redemption there is, in a sense, a division of labor: the Father is the originator, the Son the executor, and the Holy Spirit the applier. This can only be the result of a voluntary agreement amont the persons of the Trinity….

  • From Salvation, Past, Present, and Future by Sinclair Ferguson:
  • God has a plan. It has been called the covenant of redemption, or the covenant of peace (pactum salutis). Theologians as great as Thomas Boston and Jonathan Edwards have disagreed as to whether the plan should properly be described as a covenant at all. But the debates over nomenclature are incidental to the thing itself.

    The triune God had a plan, involving the mutual commitment of Father, Son and Spirit to save a people. About this the reformed theologians speak with one voice.

    Before all time; prior to all worlds; when there was nothing “outside of” God himself; when the Father, Son and Spirit found eternal, absolute and unimaginable blessing, pleasure and joy in their holy triunity — it was their agreed purpose to create a world which would fall, and in unison — but at infinitely great cost — to bring you (if you are a believer) grace and salvation. This deeper grace from before the dawn of time — pictured in the rituals, the leaders and the experiences of the Old Testament saints (cf. Heb. 11:39–12:3) — is now ours. These are the dimensions of what the author of Hebrews calls “such a great salvation” (Heb. 2:3).

Learn more:
  1. Sinclair Ferguson: Salvation, Past, Present, and Future
  2. John Samson: The Pactum Salutis
  3. Against Heresies: The Covenant of Redemption
  4. R. B. C. Howell: The Covenant of Redemption
  5. Charles Hodge: Covenant of Redemption

Related terms:

Filed under God’s Nature and His Work

Do you have a term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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