Temporal protection reflects God’s eternal counsel in salvation
by Peter Benyola
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,
but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.
~ Proverbs 13:22, ESV
The essence of life insurance is that a person manages the risk of negative impact to people who depend on him, in the case of his premature death, by entering into an agreement with an insurer that promises earthly provision. The essence of divine covenant is that God ensures the spiritual longevity of His elect people by bringing them into a promise of heavenly provision. The ultimate purpose of both life insurance and biblical covenants is for a Father to have in place a secure plan to indemnify His children against the risk of devastating loss. The prospectus of our eternal insurance, God’s inscripturated Word, projects for us an immeasurably vast inheritance of eternal capital gains.
The apostles sometimes compared divine covenants with temporal covenants for didactic purposes (Galatians 3:15), so we’ll find it useful to compare life insurance to Covenant theology.
Broadly speaking, the concept of covenant is involved in all our human relations. Since we are United States citizens, the government’s first duty is to protect us from harm — from within, by police; and from without, by the military. The relationship between government and its citizens often is based on a contract or agreement, or “covenant,” implicit or explicit. The U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights comprise the foundation of this agreement. Its particularities sometimes are clearly delineated, while others are assumed by centuries of precedents and societal conventions.
Marriage is a covenant with obligations and privileges, and the traditional concept of the family is intrinsically covenantal. As mentioned, insurance on life and property also resembles covenant. The modern understanding of legal agreements has its roots in the Judeo-Christian jurisprudence, as well as Covenant theology set forth in the Word of God. One of the great confessions of the Christian church dedicates a chapter to summarizing this theology:
(Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter VII, lines 1 and 7) “The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience to him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God’s part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant … This covenant of grace is frequently set forth in Scripture by the name of a testament, in reference to the death of Jesus Christ the Testator, and to the everlasting inheritance, with all things belonging to it, therein bequeathed.”
Dr. Ligon Duncan, the Chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary, has refined a useful working definition of Covenant theology:
“Covenant theology is the Gospel set in the context of God’s eternal plan of communion with his people, and its historical outworking in the covenants of works and grace (as well as in the various progressive stages of the covenant of grace). Covenant theology explains the meaning of the death of Christ in light of the fullness of the biblical teaching on the divine covenants, undergirds our understanding of the nature and use of the sacraments, and provides the fullest possible explanation of the grounds of our assurance.
To put it another way, Covenant theology is the Bible’s way of explaining and deepening our understanding of: (1) the atonement [the meaning of the death of Christ]; (2) assurance [the basis of our confidence of communion with God and enjoyment of his promises]; (3) the sacraments [signs and seals of God’s covenant promises — what they are and how they work]; and (4) the continuity of redemptive history [the unified plan of God’s salvation]. Covenant theology is also an hermeneutic, an approach to understanding the Scripture — an approach that attempts to biblically explain the unity of biblical revelation.” (What is Covenant Theology?, Third Millennium Ministries)