I. The Abrahamic Covenant
Appears to be unconditional, but when you get to Genesis 22 you see that it was actually conditioned upon Abraham’s obedience:
“Because you have done this [emphasis added]….I will surely bless you….I will make your descendants numerous….Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies….Through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed….because you have obeyed me [emphasis added].”
II. The Israelite Covenant
“Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments [emphasis added]; but repays those who hate Him to their faces, to destroy them; He will not delay with him who hates Him, He will repay him to his face. Therefore, you shall keep the commandment and the statutes and the judgments which I am commanding you today [emphasis added], to do them.” (Deuteronomy 7:9-11)
III. The Davidic Covenant
Did David understand this covenant to be unconditional?
“Be strong….Show yourself a man….Observe what the Lord your God requires….Keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses…so that the Lord may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel [emphasis added].'” (1 Kings 2:2-4)
Did Solomon understand this covenant to be unconditional?
“If you [emphasis added] walk before me as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, I will [emphasis added] establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a man to rule over Israel.’ But if you [emphasis added] turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you…then I will [emphasis added] uproot Israel from my land…and I will reject this temple.”
IV. The New Covenant
Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment [emphasis added]. (John 5:28-29)
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works [emphasis added], which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them [emphasis added]. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
We cannot save ourselves, but our salvation appears to be linked to us obediently doing the good works that God prepared for us to do.
But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds [emphasis added]: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good [emphasis added], to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. (Romans 2:5-11)
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad [emphasis added]. (2 Corinthians 5:10)
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done [emphasis added]. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done [emphasis added]….And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:12–15)
From Genesis to Revelation we see that the primary covenants hinge on human obedience and disobedience. No one can stand before God and say, “Please don’t judge me according to whether or not I did the good deeds that God prepared for me to do; instead, judge me according to the fact that I have faith in Jesus.”
Because demons have faith in Jesus Christ, but faith without works is dead!
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works [emphasis added] when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone [emphasis added]. (James 2:21-24)
There are a lot of people who think they are God’s children because they said a prayer that earned them admittance to heaven. They say, “I don’t have to DO anything because I have faith, so I’ve been covered by the blood of Christ.” If my understanding of the above scriptures is correct, there are a lot of people who are going to be in for a bad surprise.
Note: Some Protestant denominations influenced by Calvin and Luther teach that obedience is good, but not essential. This is why it is important to be like the Bereans and study scripture for ourselves.