The Lord said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Genesis 12:1-3)
According to J.I. Packer, "Covenants are solemn agreements, negotiated or unilaterally imposed, that bind the parties to each other in permanent defined relationships, with specific promises, claims, and obligations on both sides." There are essentially two types of covenants in Scripture: a covenant of works and a covenant of grace. A covenant of works does not offer salvation and will result in the spiritual death of those who trusts their ability to fulfill their part of the covenant. The reason for this is because the covenant is annulled if either party fails to perfectly fulfill the conditions of the covenant. On the other hand, the covenant of grace is established upon a relationship that God maintains with those whom He has chosen. This covenant has characteristics that are considered unilateral or hierarchical. That is, such a covenant is mutually binding between the Sovereign and His chosen people, even though its implementation is entirely one sided. An example is the case of Noah. God's sovereignty is evident in His establishment of who was to be saved from the flood by means of the ark (He even decided the means whereby mankind was saved from eternal destruction through His Son Jesus Christ). Furthermore, God determined who should be saved, specifically, Noah, his sons and their wives. God himself administered the covenant, thus guaranteeing its success. Moreover, God required obedience to the conditions of the covenant. In the case of Noah, he was obligated to build the Ark. Finally, God intends that the end result of Noah's obedience would be such that it bound Noah to God and enhanced their union. So too, in the Abram covenant we find the following elements: 1) A mutually binding relationship between the Lord and Abram; 2) God's sovereignty administered the covenant; 3) The conditions of the covenant are imposed by God; and 4) God promised Abram a union with himself.
One necessary component in the establishment of a covenant is free consent. In our agreement with God...