Covenant of Works & The Tree of Life

Status
Not open for further replies.

thegospel

Puritan Board Freshman
Last night I was reading Genesis 3 with my son and I was reading this final portion of the chapter

22Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—" 23therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22-24)

How can Adam, who broke God's covenant, to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, be able to obtain eternal life after the covenant was broken?

Why would this even be a "concern" from God's point of view, since the promise was death?

Thanks for your help!
 

puritanpilgrim

Puritan Board Junior
If they had eternal life in their sinful state that would be subject to an eternity of God's curse. Hell. God was showing them grace by keep them away until the one who would crush the head of the serpent came.
 

thegospel

Puritan Board Freshman
If they had eternal life in their sinful state that would be subject to an eternity of God's curse. Hell. God was showing them grace by keep them away until the one who would crush the head of the serpent came.

Are you saying that if they ate of the Tree of Life after eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil that they would be in hell? I am a bit confused by what you are trying to say.

Your statement seems to communicate that if they were able to partake of the tree of life that they would have gone to hell.

The passage seems to communicate that "if" the could have eaten from the tree of life after eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil they would have obtained eternal life, not hell.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
It appears that they were able to eat of the Tree of Life before the Fall.

Some believe that partaking of the Tree of Life spoke of communion with God in a particular sense, and also renewed them in natural life.

It was important that they were not able to mock God by partaking of the Tree of Life, that they understood clearly that their communion with God by that means was broken, and that they knew that they were destined to undergo physical death. Therefore cherubim were sent to guard the Tree of Life from sinners.

Representations of such cherubim embroidered in the curtain and on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant, guarded the Holy Place and Most Holy Place from inappropriate access in the Tabernacle and Temple. The priests' communion with God in the holy place was linked to eating, this time the Bread of the Presence.

Maybe the Seven Branched Candelabra (Menorah) shaped like a tree echoed the Tree of Life? Spiritual light and life are linked in Scripture; to have spiritual light is to have spiritual life and vice versa.

I don't know if there are other links between the symbolism of the Tabernacle/Temple and Eden.

It's all fufilled in Jesus Christ, the last Adam, anyway.

Under the Covenant of Grace, Christ turned His Cross into a Tree of Eternal and Spiritual Life for believers.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us--for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree" (Gal 3:13, ESV)

I think Bruce Buchanan, Contra Mundum, one of the members and moderators, might have more on the Tree of Life and how it operated/dispensed grace(?)/life.
 
Last edited:

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
If one properly understands the relation of the sacramental sign to the thing signified therein, the issue is not problematic. Even as we can say with Peter that we are saved by baptism, so we can say that Adam had life in this tree. We understand that baptism, as an outward act wherein water is poured upon the subject, does not actually, in itself, save; but we also understand that, sacramentally, Christ and his benefits are thereby sealed to the one receiving in faith. Likewise, if the Tree of Life represented the Son of God, not as he is mediator of the Covenant of Grace, but as he is the source of life for all in every age, so we can also say that, sacramentally, he who ate of that tree had life. The covenant being broken, however, Adam was no longer able to have life through the terms of that first covenant: this could therefore be represented to us and to him under the species of the sacramental sign being removed from him -- a pledge to him that he could hope no more for life in God under the terms of the covenant made with him. He was not left in permanent despair, however, for immediately thereupon a new sacrament -- that of sacrifices -- was given to man to signify the life to be hoped for under God's new, firm and unshakable Covenant of Grace.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
This is a helpful thread as I am seeking how to better refute NCT.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Quote from Bill
This is a helpful thread as I am seeking how to better refute NCT.

Does NCT tend not to take enough account of Creation Ordinances which transcend the Old (Mosaic) Covenant?
 

thegospel

Puritan Board Freshman
Does NCT tend not to take enough account of Creation Ordinances which transcend the Old (Mosaic) Covenant?

NCT reject the Covenant of Works and Grace as exegetically tenable.

As one TMS journal about NCT states,

"John Reisinger, who may be considered the father of NCT, rightly states that
the covenants of CT are the children of CT’s theological system and are not the
products of exegesis. In addressing a group of Reformed ministers who adopted CT,
he said,

"We agree that the Bible is structured around two covenants. However, the two covenants
that you keep talking about, namely, a covenant of works with Adam in the garden of
Eden and a covenant of grace made with Adam immediately after the fall, have no textual
basis in the Word of God. They are both theological covenants and not biblical covenants.
They are the children of one’s theological system. Their mother is Covenant Theology and
their father is logic applied to that system. Neither of these two covenants had their origin
in Scripture texts and biblical exegesis. Both of them were invented by theology as the
necessary consequences of a theological system."

http://www.tms.edu/tmsj/tmsj18i.pdf (page 7)
 
Last edited by a moderator:

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I was just reading Hodge this morning and he points out that making the covenant of works hinge upon a positive command (forbidding to eat of a certain tree) as opposed to a moral command places the covenant squarely on obedience to the Creator. It is possible that Adam could obey moral commands simply through his own reason. By disobeying this positive command, Adam demonstrated that we are guilty of disobedience to God and not to some general morality.

Hodge says mankind continues under the covenant of works, not in any probationary sense, but in the fact that we are under the final, penal aspect of spiritual and physical death.

(You probably know all of this,, but I am writing all it to keep it fresh in my mind.)

Would a NC theologian agree with Hodge? If not, why?
 

thegospel

Puritan Board Freshman
I was just reading Hodge this morning and he points out that making the covenant of works hinge upon a positive command (forbidding to eat of a certain tree) as opposed to a moral command places the covenant squarely on obedience to the Creator. It is possible that Adam could obey moral commands simply through his own reason. By disobeying this positive command, Adam demonstrated that we are guilty of disobedience to God and not to some general morality.

Hodge says mankind continues under the covenant of works, not in any probationary sense, but in the fact that we are under the final, penal aspect of spiritual and physical death.

(You probably know all of this,, but I am writing all it to keep it fresh in my mind.)

Would a NC theologian agree with Hodge? If not, why?

Ken,

I do not claim to understand the NCT argument, but their rejection of the Covenant of Works reveals that in one sense they would not agree with Hodge, but in the sense that man is cursed and sin is imputed to all mankind through Adam's sin, I believe they would agree. I guess I need to pick up a book about NCT to see their arguments for their position. There is currently not a lot published on NCT, but online resources seem to be common.

One thing about NCT that seems confusing to me is that they see all of the OT laws cancelled even the ten commandments. The law that now exists is the law of Christ, so NT statements of law supercede the law of the OT (I think that is what they believe).
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I was just reading Hodge this morning and he points out that making the covenant of works hinge upon a positive command (forbidding to eat of a certain tree) as opposed to a moral command places the covenant squarely on obedience to the Creator. It is possible that Adam could obey moral commands simply through his own reason. By disobeying this positive command, Adam demonstrated that we are guilty of disobedience to God and not to some general morality.

Hodge says mankind continues under the covenant of works, not in any probationary sense, but in the fact that we are under the final, penal aspect of spiritual and physical death.

(You probably know all of this,, but I am writing all it to keep it fresh in my mind.)

Would a NC theologian agree with Hodge? If not, why?

Ken,

I do not claim to understand the NCT argument, but their rejection of the Covenant of Works reveals that in one sense they would not agree with Hodge, but in the sense that man is cursed and sin is imputed to all mankind through Adam's sin, I believe they would agree. I guess I need to pick up a book about NCT to see their arguments for their position. There is currently not a lot published on NCT, but online resources seem to be common.

One thing about NCT that seems confusing to me is that they see all of the OT laws cancelled even the ten commandments. The law that now exists is the law of Christ, so NT statements of law supercede the law of the OT (I think that is what they believe).

Presumably if I said that as a Christian I wanted to marry my aunt or sister, they wouldn't have much to say from Scripture since the biblical laws on incest have been cancelled.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
I was just reading Hodge this morning and he points out that making the covenant of works hinge upon a positive command (forbidding to eat of a certain tree) as opposed to a moral command places the covenant squarely on obedience to the Creator. It is possible that Adam could obey moral commands simply through his own reason. By disobeying this positive command, Adam demonstrated that we are guilty of disobedience to God and not to some general morality.

Hodge says mankind continues under the covenant of works, not in any probationary sense, but in the fact that we are under the final, penal aspect of spiritual and physical death.

(You probably know all of this,, but I am writing all it to keep it fresh in my mind.)

Would a NC theologian agree with Hodge? If not, why?

Ken,

I do not claim to understand the NCT argument, but their rejection of the Covenant of Works reveals that in one sense they would not agree with Hodge, but in the sense that man is cursed and sin is imputed to all mankind through Adam's sin, I believe they would agree. I guess I need to pick up a book about NCT to see their arguments for their position. There is currently not a lot published on NCT, but online resources seem to be common.

One thing about NCT that seems confusing to me is that they see all of the OT laws cancelled even the ten commandments. The law that now exists is the law of Christ, so NT statements of law supercede the law of the OT (I think that is what they believe).

Marty,

Yeah, that's the impression I have. There are not many exhaustive defenses of the NCT position, but I'm interested in learning it's distinctives. It has a presence in more than a few RB churches. That's another reason why we're heading towards ARBCA affiliation.
 

thegospel

Puritan Board Freshman
Marty,

Yeah, that's the impression I have. There are not many exhaustive defenses of the NCT position, but I'm interested in learning it's distinctives. It has a presence in more than a few RB churches. That's another reason why we're heading towards ARBCA affiliation.

Bill,

Now that you have brought it up so am I (interested in the distinctives). I have been looking at the book by Tom Wells and Fred Zaspel. Have you seen that book? Have you read it? Any thoughts about it if you have read?

In just previewing the 1st chapter on Amazon I notice that they seem to misunderstand the OT a lot. One of the author's states "What will happen if we start at Genesis and build our doctrine of the people of God from consecutive reading of the OT? Among other things, we will have a pretty through idea and extensive idea of who the people of God are, long before we come to the NT. The people of God is Israel, the physical decendants of Jacob, and before him Abraham." (emphasis mine)

He continues his thought about the people of God seeking to illustrate that the NT supersedes the OT, because of progressive revelation. I am not sure what that means, because without the OT you cannot have an accurate understanding of the NT either.

My question, to NCT, about the people of God would be why is Ishmeal not consider a inheriter of the promises of Abraham and as apart of God's people? Why did God reject Esau, being a physical decendant? I know that the NT helps shed light on these things, but still the OT text does not change its meaning because the NT clarified (helping those who were blind to see), does it? It was there all along!
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Marty,

You're right to point out Ishmael as a
problem for NCTers. On the surface it seems that NCTers miss the theology of the OT by dimissing it's present relevance.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
There is a fascinating translation possibility in verse 22 here as well to consider. It is quite possible (and I actually intend to explore this for a possible journal article) that the verse should read, "Look, the man had been like one of us, knowing good and evil. Now, supposing he takes from the tree of life, and lives forever," i.e. in this terrible state. No translation of which I am aware translates it this way, so the burden of proof lies utterly on the shoulders of those who would argue this. The general idea here is that Satan lied when he said, "you will be like God." In fact, they already were like God. They knew what good and evil was, because God had told them, and had implanted that knowledge in their hearts. They had since fallen from that position of being like God, an the image of God became marred and distorted.
 

TeachingTulip

Puritan Board Sophomore
There is a fascinating translation possibility in verse 22 here as well to consider. It is quite possible (and I actually intend to explore this for a possible journal article) that the verse should read, "Look, the man had been like one of us, knowing good and evil. Now, supposing he takes from the tree of life, and lives forever," i.e. in this terrible state. No translation of which I am aware translates it this way, so the burden of proof lies utterly on the shoulders of those who would argue this. The general idea here is that Satan lied when he said, "you will be like God." In fact, they already were like God. They knew what good and evil was, because God had told them, and had implanted that knowledge in their hearts. They had since fallen from that position of being like God, an the image of God became marred and distorted.

I know nothing about this particular translation, but indeed, Adam was made like God in His image, before the fall.

So, God casting Adam out of paradise; causing his separation from the tree of life, would be a judgment against Adam's sin and failure to deserve, let alone obtain, the benefits and blessings provided to him in his original state.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
It is quite possible (and I actually intend to explore this for a possible journal article) that the verse should read, "Look, the man had been like one of us, knowing good and evil. Now, supposing he takes from the tree of life, and lives forever," i.e. in this terrible state. No translation of which I am aware translates it this way, so the burden of proof lies utterly on the shoulders of those who would argue this.

This would be a worthwhile study. Thomas Boston has made some progress in this direction in his ms. notes on Genesis, an extract of which may be found in the second volume of his works, p. 631. His translation varies slightly, namely, "the man (who) was as one of us," and depends somewhat on the pointing (considered as inspired).
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
I was just reading Hodge this morning and he points out that making the covenant of works hinge upon a positive command (forbidding to eat of a certain tree) as opposed to a moral command places the covenant squarely on obedience to the Creator. It is possible that Adam could obey moral commands simply through his own reason. By disobeying this positive command, Adam demonstrated that we are guilty of disobedience to God and not to some general morality.

Hodge says mankind continues under the covenant of works, not in any probationary sense, but in the fact that we are under the final, penal aspect of spiritual and physical death.

(You probably know all of this,, but I am writing all it to keep it fresh in my mind.)

Would a NC theologian agree with Hodge? If not, why?

Rev. Klein, could you explain more about how 'moral commands' are defined in theology? -- I don't understand how anything could be 'moral' or 'immoral' apart from obedience or disobedience to God, so I find this confusing?
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I was just reading Hodge this morning and he points out that making the covenant of works hinge upon a positive command (forbidding to eat of a certain tree) as opposed to a moral command places the covenant squarely on obedience to the Creator. It is possible that Adam could obey moral commands simply through his own reason. By disobeying this positive command, Adam demonstrated that we are guilty of disobedience to God and not to some general morality.

Hodge says mankind continues under the covenant of works, not in any probationary sense, but in the fact that we are under the final, penal aspect of spiritual and physical death.

(You probably know all of this,, but I am writing all it to keep it fresh in my mind.)

Would a NC theologian agree with Hodge? If not, why?

Rev. Klein, could you explain more about how 'moral commands' are defined in theology? -- I don't understand how anything could be 'moral' or 'immoral' apart from obedience or disobedience to God, so I find this confusing?

Before God made the command, the eating of any fruit from any tree was neither good or evil. This is different from the moral law written upon Adam's heart. For example, our conscience tells us that stealing is evil. Adam was created 'upright' and, therefore, already knew that stealing was evil. He did not need the voice of God to tell him so. Therefore, stealing would not be a good probation, or 'test', to see whether he would obey the voice of God or not. Adam might never steal in obedience to his own conscience, but God wanted to prove whether Adam would obey God even in those cases where his reason or conscience did not apply.

(Thanks for the question because I have to crystalize this in my mind well enough to teach it on Sunday.)
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Thank you, Rev. Klein. I think I understand a little better -- is the point then being made about what we think of after the fall as natural law?

I do have a couple more questions.

1) wouldn't the image of God, the uprightness Adam was created in -- his unwillingness to steal, and his conscience in the matter -- primarily have reference to God (otherwise not stealing would have been sin anyway: as even the good works of the wicked are sin because they do not do them with reference to honoring God?) Didn't his uprightness consist not in an aversion to stealing, but in a disposition to honor God?

2) and wouldn't his uprightness and his faculty of reason also teach him to obey God's positive commands?

I don't mean to distract the thread, so will just think about the answers to these. Thanks again.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
(PS. I do think I see how what you are saying is in a sense, saying the same thing that I have understood about morality: basically, obeying some sort of natural law isn't good enough for true law keeping: we must do everything with reference to God: the positive command throws that into greater vividness for us?)
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Man had original righteousness.

That original righteousness would not/could not be broken except by disobeying God's command not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Richard, I wasn't going to distract the thread but that is too intriguing: are you saying that Adam *couldn't* have fallen from any other aspect of obedience to God because of original righteousness -- only from a positive command? Could you point me to sources for that?
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
(PS. I do think I see how what you are saying is in a sense, saying the same thing that I have understood about morality: basically, obeying some sort of natural law isn't good enough for true law keeping: we must do everything with reference to God: the positive command throws that into greater vividness for us?)

Right! The test was this: would man obey God simply because He is God? Not would man obey God because His laws make sense to the reason and conscience of man. The former gives all glory to God, the latter might reserve some for man himself.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Thank you, Rev. Klein. I think I understand a little better -- is the point then being made about what we think of after the fall as natural law?

I do have a couple more questions.

1) wouldn't the image of God, the uprightness Adam was created in -- his unwillingness to steal, and his conscience in the matter -- primarily have reference to God (otherwise not stealing would have been sin anyway: as even the good works of the wicked are sin because they do not do them with reference to honoring God?) Didn't his uprightness consist not in an aversion to stealing, but in a disposition to honor God?

2) and wouldn't his uprightness and his faculty of reason also teach him to obey God's positive commands?

I don't mean to distract the thread, so will just think about the answers to these. Thanks again.

1) Not necessarily. Many obey God indirectly by simply trying to avoid the searing of their conscience.
2) Apparently not. Such is the wonder of the fall. If Adam, who was created upright, could not be constrained, what hope do we have who were conceived in sin?
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Richard, I wasn't going to distract the thread but that is too intriguing: are you saying that Adam *couldn't* have fallen from any other aspect of obedience to God because of original righteousness -- only from a positive command? Could you point me to sources for that?

Well that's how I've always understood it.

He wouldn't have sinned in any other way e.g. saying something nasty to Eve, because of his original righteousness. He would only lose his original righteousness if he ate from the Tree.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Richard, Ruben says that in the Marrow of Modern Divinity there is an insistence that man broke every command in that action -- if so, he did sin against all of his original righteousness as well?

Rev. Klein, this has been a lot to think about; and I think perhaps I stated my questions confusingly, but in any case, it has been very good to reflect today on how the Tree of Life teaches me that true morality is not primarily focused on what I hate, but on Who I love.
 

TeachingTulip

Puritan Board Sophomore
Richard, Ruben says that in the Marrow of Modern Divinity there is an insistence that man broke every command in that action -- if so, he did sin against all of his original righteousness as well?

Rev. Klein, this has been a lot to think about; and I think perhaps I stated my questions confusingly, but in any case, it has been very good to reflect today on how the Tree of Life teaches me that true morality is not primarily focused on what I hate, but on Who I love.

Amen!

Adam lost his "upright" state through failure to submit his human will to the sovereign will and authority of God. Rather than any show of love for God, Adam revealed a desire to be an equal with God. He was not content being a mere creature, and exerted his will in rebellion against the revealed will of God.

I can't help but compare the heart attitude of the first Adam, with the heart of the last Adam, Jesus Christ, who put aside His legitimate equality with God; coming in the form of the creature and sinlessly submitting His human will to the will of the Father; thereby, working the redemption of His elect people.

What a great example of love for God and love for man!
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top