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Featured The Covenant of Works

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by JonC, May 10, 2023.

  1. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    You are quite mistaken. I really don't know where you get this stuff from. Every writer on C.T. that I have read understands that our Lord gave the proper interpretation of the Commandments in the Sermon on the Mount. As one reads on from Matthew 5:21, one sees various examples that our Lord gave of legal and evangelical obedience. It’s not enough, He says, not to murder; you must not have hatred in your heart. It’s not enough merely not to commit adultery; you mustn’t so much as look lustfully at someone to whom you’re not married or look at pornography. It’s not enough to love your neighbour; you must love your enemy too, and those who are attacking and abusing you. And you need to perform this righteousness perfectly and continually always.

    That is why the Law is a 'ministry of death' and of 'condemnation' to those who seek to be justified by it.(2 Corinthians 3:7-9). Sinful man cannot achieve it. It is the man who is justified by faith who can say with the Psalmist, 'Oh, how I love your law!' Psalms 119:97; cf. Psalms 1:2).
     
  2. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    I got that from you (in your response to NCT).

    You objected to the idea that the "Ten Commandments" were given to Israel and not given as universal commands.

    Did you mean otherwise?
     
  3. DaveXR650

    DaveXR650 Well-Known Member

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    If you read for example Thomas Watson's "The 10 Commandments" you find ALL the expanded understanding that is included in the idea of some kind of new or deeper idea of God's moral law.
     
  4. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Yes. I am not saying CT ignores Scripture. They do add a structure (specifically 3 "covenants" not actually found in the Bible) as governing covenants. But they do get around to the Bible nonetheless.

    The difference is how we understand God's moral law, the direction within redemptive history we take, and how this happens s applied to our lives.
     
  5. DaveXR650

    DaveXR650 Well-Known Member

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    Yes they do, and they cover all the purported enlightening aspects that NCT is supposedly discovering. That's my point.
     
  6. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    NCT does not claim to discover anything.

    The difference is NCT views Divine Economy through the New Covenant whereas CT views it through extra-biblical covenants (and Dispensationalism through various ages).

    That is what you are missing in our discussion. As far as the Bible goes, all three methods hold the same Scriptures to be true.

    Let me ask you - why do you prefer to view the Bible through "covenants" that are not actually in the Bible rather than through the New Covenant which is in the Bible?

    What is gained by imposing upon God's Word a covenantal system that is not in God's Word?

    Of the following - the covenant of redemption, the covenant of works, the covenant of grace, the New Covenant - which do you believe is the primary covenant?
     
  7. DaveXR650

    DaveXR650 Well-Known Member

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    I don't view salvation primarily through covenants. I don't know anyone at a laymen level who does. If you are Presbyterian and have a view of infant baptism that is thought out you might have a working knowledge of covenant theology. Baptists, because we tend to be evangelical and gentile, view salvation at the point of being grafted in like a wild branch. We view it as a proposal given in the gospel, directly between a person and God. It is simply a matter of entering the narrow gate.

    From what I do know about covenant theology, I think there was an original covenant of works where Adam was given conditions under which he had to live to continue in the state he was created in. As early as about Genesis 3 though you start seeing evidence of a overarching covenant of grace. The Bible is full of covenants made with specific groups and individual representatives. I would say they are under the overarching covenant of grace even though you don't automatically see it. In other words you read Deuteronomy and see several times where the Israelites get with God and promise "all this we will do". They don't, and they suffer but later are given another chance. That's because overarching this was a larger covenant of Grace.

    I would say also that if you want to embrace NCT go ahead. My only concerns are that it is a misrepresentation of traditional covenant theology to claim they somehow don't quite understand the work of Christ and what it means and that they did not have the insight into the true spiritual meaning of the moral law. Secondly, I detect, as some actual theologians have, that there may (may, not is) be a root of antinomianism in that the strong emphasis on Christ himself having already fulfilled everything then there is nothing else for a Christian to do in this life as far as personal striving to obey the law, whether as listed in the 10 commandments or the law of Christ.

    If Piper and Clear Creek Chapel embrace NCT, I know it's not some kind of heresy. I don't agree with Piper on everything but there is no question he is one of the good guys in today's world. And I know enough people who came out of Clear Creek, I think since they started teaching NCT and they are solid.
     
  8. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    I understand your concern, but it is misplaced.

    I never claimed that CT advocates do not understand work of Christ and what it means and that they did not have the insight into the true spiritual meaning of the moral law.

    I do hold that Reformed Theology in general does not have an understanding of the work of Christ, but that has to do with traditions held that are not in the Bible.

    What I find wrong about CT is the extra-biblical philosophy, not what CT accepts from Scripture. The reason is I hold a literal approach to Scripture (I am a "biblicist").

    This means I do not accept the "covenant of works" (the "Adamic covenant") as legitimate because it is based on assumptions and not presented in God's Word as a covenant.

    It means I do not accept the "covenant of redemption" as legitimate because of the same reasons with the additional reason that such a covenant between the Persons of the Trinity is problematic.

    It means I do not accept the "covenant of grace" as legitimate because it is based on an assumed covenant, not in Scripture, and is supposedly above the Noahic through New Covenants (which are but administrations of this assumed covenant).



    Between the covenant of redemption, the covenant of grace, the covenant of works, and the New Covenant, which do you believe is the primary covenant insofar as God's redemptive plan?
     
  9. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    No, I did not. Once again, all of the Decalogue is found in Scripture before Exodus 20. They are universal commands and stand for all time. All the sacrifices and festivals found in the Mosaic Law were utterly unacceptable to God in the absence of ethical righteousness and pure worship (Amos 5:21-27). Romans 5:12-14 show that God's moral law stood before the giving of the Mosaic Law.
    However, the Commandments are fleshed out in other portions of the Pentateuch. For example, the eighth commandment, ‘You shall not steal’ is expanded in Exodus 22 and elsewhere to include stealing by finding and the breaking of trust.

    With regard to NCT, the only book on the subject that I can claim any knowledge of is Tablets of Stone by John Reisinger. The central part of that book is the claim that the Decalogue does not apply to Christians except as it is repeated in the New Testament. You now tell me that you do not agree with that. I struggle to see that your position is truly NCT. If you take all the meat out of a meat pie, it surely ceases to be a meat pie. Not for the first time, I am left struggling to discover what it is you actually believe.
     
  10. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Of course the Decalogue contains moral laws communicated prior to Exodus. But the authority isn't the Old Covenant (the Decalogue). That is what we are talking about.

    There are several NCT theology books out there. Read.

    The question is why rely on fictitious "covenants" when we have the Bible?
     
  11. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    Because you do not find the covenants in the Bible, it does not mean they are not there. If something looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, waddles like a duck and swims like a duck, you do not need someone to tell you that it is a duck. Read. Read with understanding. Read with spiritual eyes.
     
    #91 Martin Marprelate, May 18, 2023
    Last edited: May 18, 2023
  12. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    I do find the covenants in the Bible. What is not in the Bible are the three "covenants" Presbyterians created to frame Scripture in support of Presbyterian doctrine.

    Even you would call Covenant Theology eisegesis were it not your tradition.
     
  13. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    If it is eisegesis, then the doctrine of the Trinity is eisegesis. Come on, John, greater and wiser men than you or I have found the three covenants in the Bible. You don't have to agree with them, but a bit of humility wouldn't hurt you.
    As for my 'tradition,' this is just another of your cheap shots that you use when you are losing arguments. We've seen it before. My 'tradition' is unbelief, which I espoused for my first 38 years. When I was saved, it was into a broad evangelicalism that had never heard of C.T. I came to C.T. by the study of the Bible.
     
  14. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Depending on your doctrine of the Trinity, it could be eisegesis. Mine isn't (the doctrine of the Trinity I affirm is in the text of Scripture).

    I do not believe you came to CT through the Bible. The reason is no biblical text teaches God made a covenant of works with Adam; no biblical text provides for a covenant between the Father, Son, and Spirit; and no biblical text teaches that the covenants actually in God's Word are administrations of the covenant of grace.

    CT was developed in the Presbyterian academia.

    So no, your claim that you arrived at all of those ideas simply through Scripture is not logical. It is just something you say, probably even believe, to justify adding to Scripture.
     
  15. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    The point we should take home here is that the "covenant of works" (the Adamic covenant) is a product of the Presbyterian Church. It simply is not in the Bible.

    In the Bible God commanded Adam not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge with the consequence of death.

    Genesis 2:16–17 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

    In the Bible there is no covenant between God and Adam.

    Adam transgressed God's command and death entered the world


    If we walk through the actual biblical covenants we will not need to create a mythology in order to understand the Bible.

    God made a covenant with Noah (the first biblical covenant). Then with Abraham. Then with Israel (the Old Covenant). Then with David (a covenant of kingship). Then with the World.
     
  16. Alan Gross

    Alan Gross Well-Known Member

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    Here this is. You can read it, or no. This is your all's great discussion. I just popped in with some of my secondary source references I believe in, etc.

    What? Why would we say these (4) things, about there being no scriptures for the various 'covenants'? (in brown).

    (The issues about the Law, Mosaic, Decalogue, etc., are needed to be segmented, by me, into as much a different subject as it can be
    {or, is mixing God's Eternal Moral law of nature with the 'covenant of works' with Adam/ "thou shalt not eat of it" a big part of all of "this debate issue"?}

    Here's the beginning take on God's Eternal Moral law, the natural law, or the law of nature, given to Adam, from Gill, which I can see as COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from "THE ADAMIC COVENANT" of works, in Genesis 2:16–17 where
    "The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

    So, conversely to that;
    "The natural law, or law of nature, given to Adam, was concreated with him, written on his heart, (Alan's note: not as a commandment or covenant, etc.) and engraved and imprinted in his nature from the beginning of his existence;

    "by which he was acquainted with the will of his Maker, and directed to observe it;

    "which appears from the remains of it in the hearts of all men, and even of the Gentiles;

    "and from that natural conscience in every man, which, if not by some means lulled asleep, that it does not perform its office, excuses men from blame when they do well, and accuses them, and charges them with guilt when they do ill, #Ro 2:14,15; (re: 14
    "For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

    15 "Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another
    ;)"

    and likewise from the inscription of this law, in a spiritual and evangelic manner, on regenerate persons, according to the tenor of the covenant of grace;

    "I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts",
    #Jer 31:33 so that they become the epistle of Christ, having the law as from him, and by his Spirit written in them, and the Spirit put into them, to enable them to walk in his statutes, and keep his judgments, and do them;

    "and this law that was written on Adam's heart, and is reinscribed in regeneration, is the same with the Decalogue, as to the substance of it;

    "and, excepting such things in it as were peculiar to the Jews, all of a moral nature; and which is comprised in these two precepts, to which it is reduced by Christ;
    "Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thou heart; and thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself";

    "this was binding on Adam, and on all his posterity."

    All of that, to me, IS ENTIRELY SEPARATE from THE "COVENANT GIVEN to ADAM", of
    “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”)

    I'm not CT, NCT, Reformed Baptist, Presbyterian, etc., but but are you saying these 'covenants' are "their problem"?
    because there are no texts for them?

    Are you sure you want to say that?

    Or, you're mostly saying they "make something more out of it" that applies to someone currently? (by adding in "keeping the Law", or something?

    Yes, as an argument from silence.

    Are they building a doctrine of Eternal Life?

    Are they building a doctrine of being blessed in this life?

    Or, are they trying to schmooze the two together by osmosis, or something, without saying it, or 'much' about it? You say it's in their doctrine (some of them).

    Is it; "You must keep the Law to be saved?"

    "You must be baptized to be saved"?

    "You must be an 'exceptional church member'(!) to be saved"?
    ...

    How are Presbyterians "making it a doctrine and then building on that doctrine"?

    This is the problem?;

    What is "the "covenant of works" within modern Covenant Theology"?

    Is it?;


    "Adam was promised blessing and life upon obedience to the terms of the covenant"?

    "Adam was promised blessing and life upon obedience..."

    How much of a promised blessing?

    The assumption of something Eternal?

    Again, the question on the initial 'covenant' of works;


    con't
     
  17. Alan Gross

    Alan Gross Well-Known Member

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    As far as "The Adamic Covenant" being called, or being a 'covenant', after going into depth about what he sees as the natural law to be above, Gill, in the Law Given to Adam, and the Covenant Made with him in his State of Innocence; in which he was the Federal Head and Representative of his Posterity

    talks about the law given to Adam as being "in the nature of a covenant",

    saying it contains a promise and a sanction.

    The promise is only for natural "life".

    The sanction is "shall die".

    (see below; 4b;

    The sanction of the law and covenant made with Adam, was death;)

    Then, he states one problem and issue that 'some divines' come up with;

    4a2. It was in another covenant more early than that of Adam's, in which eternal life was promised and secured;

    God, that cannot lie, promised it before the world began;

    and this promise was put into Christ's hands, even from all eternity;

    and the blessing itself was secured in him for all for whom it was designed


    Titus 1:2; "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;"

    2 Timothy 1:1; "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,"

    1 John 5:10; "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son".


    4a3. Eternal life is only through Christ as the Mediator of the covenant of grace;

    it comes by no other hands but his;

    it is "through Christ Jesus our Lord";

    he came to open the way of it, that "we might have life, and that more abundantly";

    a more abundant, durable, and excellent life, than Adam had in innocence: Christ, as Mediator, had a "power to give eternal life" to as many as the Father has given him;

    and he does give it to all his sheep, that know his voice, hearken to him, and follow him,


    Romans 6:23; "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

    John 10:10; "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."


    17:3; "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

    10:28; "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."

    con't
     
  18. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    I agree with most of what you have posted here. Id argue that the "natural law" is the reason Paul gives for the just condemnation of those "not under the Law (the Old Covenant). God has made His law known to man (even pagans have a moral compass they violate).

    I do mean to say that the covenant of redemption, the covenant of works, and the covenant of grace (as found in Covenant Theology) is completely and irredeemably unbiblical. It is a philosophy that serves to cloud God's grace and redemptive plan.
     
  19. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Let me pause ya for a minute.

    I believe that God commanded Adam not to eat of the fruit with the wages of Adam's disobedience being death.

    Is there a reason (other than supporting the fuller Presbyterian system) to make this command into a covenant?
     
  20. Alan Gross

    Alan Gross Well-Known Member

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    4a4. If eternal life could have been by Adam's covenant, it would have been by works; for that covenant was a covenant of works; and if by works, then not of grace; it would not have been the gift of God, as it is said to be;

    "The gift of God is eternal life", a free grace gift.

    Eternal life is no other than consummate salvation in the future state, and that is said to be of grace, and denied to be of works;


    see Romans 6:23; "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

    Ephesians 2:8,9; "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

    9 "Not of works, lest any man should boast."


    4a5. Life and immortality, or an immortal, eternal life, and the way to it, are only brought to light by the Gospel (2 Timothy 1:10), not by the light of nature, nor by the law of Moses; only by the Gospel of Christ.


    2 Timothy 1:10; "But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:"

    4a6. There is no proportion between the best works of man, even sinless obedience and eternal life; wherefore, though the threatening of death to Adam contains in it eternal death, it does not follow that the promise of life includes eternal life; since, though eternal death is the just wages and demerit of sin; yet eternal life is not the wages and merit of the works of men; it is the free gift of God (Romans 6:23).

    4b. The sanction of the law and covenant made with Adam, was death; "In the day you eat thereof you shall surely die" (Genesis 2:17), which includes death corporal, spiritual*,
    (see just below) or moral, and eternal.


    *On another subject, sort of, Br. Gill gives Adam a "spiritual life" prior to his fall and says that is part of what Adam lost.

    4b2. A spiritual, or rather moral death seized upon him; which lies in a separation of the soul from God, and communion with him; in an alienation from the life of God; in a deformation of the image of God; in a corruption and defilement of the several powers and faculties of the soul; in impotency and disinclination to that which is good; he became dead in trespasses and sins, as all his posterity are.

    4b3. An eternal death, which lies in a separation of soul and body from God; in a loss of the divine presence, and in a sense of divine wrath; both which are contained in these words, "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire";

    a symbol of which was the ejection of Adam from paradise;

    as eternal life is the gift of God, so eternal death is the wages of sin (Matthew 25:41; "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:"

    & Romans 6:23.

    ...
     
    #100 Alan Gross, May 19, 2023
    Last edited: May 19, 2023
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