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Chapter 21: God’s Redemptive Work: Covenant and Incarnation


Having considered revelation, faith, and redemption, we turn now to the actual working-out of redemption in which Christian life participates. The first move is God’s. He establishes a covenant community and prepares for his decisive act: the Incarnation and the resurrection of the Word. This chapter therefore treats the preparatory stages of redemption and the make up, the “constitution,” of Jesus as redeemer. Chapter twenty-two will consider his redemptive life, death, and resurrection. Chapter twenty-three will take up in a general way the subject which the remainder of the book will develop in detail: the lives of Christians in the Church as their participation in the fulfillment of redemption.

God redeems by inviting sinful humankind into a covenant relationship with himself. This relationship both demands of its human participants that they live a morally good life and clarifies what this means. The Incarnation of the Word perfects the covenant relationship by divine sharing in human life in its fallen condition. In Jesus, the human and divine natures are united but uncommingled, distinct but inseparable. The life he lives has the same complex structure.