The pactum salutis or counsel of peace is a decree and covenantal agreement between God and the Son. It belongs to the heavenly and intrinsic counsel of God. It is a bond between Father and Son that is the basis for grace and surety; moreover a source of the covenants throughout God’s decree. It is known as the covenant of redemption as well. In considering it, the aim is to reveal this covenant as eternal representation of the covenantal nature of God expressed throughout the scripture by his covenants.
The pactum salutis is only between the two ‘parties’. The two persons of Father and Son divide the covenant. The Father gives ‘the commands and conditions, promises related…and the confirmation of these promises by oath and sacraments;” and the Son accepts ‘ the conditions and promises…fulfillment of conditions, and his demand relative to these confirmed promises’ (a Brakel CRS, p 251-2). This also Brakel calls an intrinsic work (in the being and between the two parties) over an extrinsic or transient work. I think the emphasis is important on the scriptural supports for this decree as well. It is noted in 1 Pet 1:20 that Christ was foreordained before creation (elsewhere as eternal mediator: Jn 14:16, Isa 42:1, Heb 13:18: cf Bav 214. This covenant certainly fits the description there. Moreover, the counsel of God through history is applied and illumined in the life of the Son. He fulfills scripture and must be fulfilling those that describe his work as everlasting and eternal [Heb 7:22, 13:20, Isa 54:10]. This covenant then is an “eternal foundation in the counsel of God’ and as such it is a covenant between the three persons of the divine being itself” (Bavinck, 213). We see through out scripture there is a bond between Father and Son, LORD and Christ (Ps 22:2; Isa 53:10; Jn 6:38, 10:18, Jn 17:4: cf Bav 214). These passages show in kind how the Lord serves, communes and is rewarded by God according to the will of the Father in Heaven. Confessionally we affirm that WCF III.6.014 is highlighting the counsel of God as the source for the covenantal form. It is believed that his very nature produces covenantal form to express the Trinitarian persons of the one substance. This covenantal form eternally expressed in the covenant between father and son; that peace will be made and kept between the father and the son and established for eternity, ultimately for us to be partakers in (cf Zech 6:13, WCF ch 3). Objections that the pactum salutis is not scriptural or otherwise confessional are untenable in light of scripture and history itself. For the covenants to have meaning they need rooting, for perdurability it is necessary they have a foundation in eternity to rest on. These and other evidences show the everlasting covenant to be archetypal to all the covenants we know and partake in through and because of the counsel of peace. Barth’s argument that somehow the righteous of remains in abstracto and his mercy and righteous remain to reconciled would be true if the nature of the covenant of reconciliation (Barth CD 4.1). This covenant serves as a foundation, formed before even the world was created! This covenant is the fountain from which covenants shower forth. The bond of Father and son is communicated as not just an agreement between; it is the life between them. Righteousness and mercy were not the issues to be bonded; this is the being of the Godhead producing the intrinsic work of His being and persons. Salvation it can be argued was attained; therefore, righteousness and mercy ultimately reconciled: God did not have to save us. What is formed is an imperishable reward for the son and himself, namely eternal communion. From this communion we have access to the riches of the kingdom through the God-man Jesus, because Christ must, does uphold his bond as servant, and glorifies the father through obedience to the preeminent covenant of covenants.