"Faith was not the condition of the Mosaic Covenant"?

Discussion in 'Covenant Theology' started by Pergamum, Jul 18, 2017.

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  1. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    What do I make of the statements, ""Faith was not the condition of the Mosaic Covenant"?

    The fuller quote by a defender of 1689 Federalism is:

    "...faith was not the condition of the MC. In fact, Paul contrast the difference between faith and works in Romans 10. The MC said do and live while they NC says believe and live.

    No member of the CoG can be eternally condemned as a covenant breaker because the federal head of the covenant of grace has promised he will loose none of those given to him by His Father. The MC, however, is completely characterized by covenant breakers, and this was why there was the need for a new and better covenant (Heb. 8)."
  2. Herald

    Herald Moderator Staff Member

    Faith may not have been a condition of the Mosaic Covenant, but it was implied that faith will be an integral part of it. A look at the Decalogue brings this to light. Faith is implied to have no other gods but the LORD, because faith will result in willing worship of God. Faith is implied to honor the Sabbath properly (especially the Sabbath).
  3. JTB.SDG

    JTB.SDG Puritan Board Freshman

    Pergamum, read this carefully if you can, because it really helps to explain a lot of things about all your questions.

    Faith was the condition/requirement of the Mosaic Covenant. You saw this in your study of Romans 10:6ff, and how when Paul wants to talk about the righteousness which is based on faith, he actually quotes Deuteronomy 30 to describe it. IE, Paul is quoting THE LAW to teach us about the righteousness that is BY FAITH. Conclusion: The Law actually commanded faith. This is the historical Puritan/Reformed Covenantal view of that text. I ALSO believe you see this same principle in other passages in the Law. Deuteronomy 4:1 says: "listen. . .so that you may live." This is echoed in other places in Deuteronomy as well. Compare that language with Isaiah 55:3, which is speaking of the Covenant of Grace: "Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies shown to David." Compare it also to what Paul says in Galatians 3: "This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith?" I take Deuteronomy 4:1 and many other places in Deuteronomy as GOSPEL COMMANDS: Listen and live = Believe and be saved. THIS is why (among other reasons) we can say that the Mosaic Covenant belonged to the Covenant of Grace.

    Having said that, what do you do with passages like later in Galatians 3, 3:10-12 which definitely contrasts two very different systems and ways to life: 1) obedience, and 2) faith? Or, we pointed out how in Romans 10 Paul actually goes back to a passage in the Law to prove the righteousness that is by faith; fine and dandy, but at the end of the day you still have a definite contrast there between the two ways of obtaining life. Here's what you do with it. I referred to this in another post but I'll repeat it here. This is really, really, really important for understanding the Law and the Mosaic Covenant. The Law can (and ought to be) understood in two very different ways: 1) largely taken; 2) strictly taken. Largely taken includes the promises of Christ that are in the Decalogue; and ALSO includes the requirement of FAITH that is in the Decalogue. But STRICTLY taken, it includes none of those things, and only refers to the Moral Law as repeated at Sinai IN THE FORM of the Covenant of Works: Do this and live. Again, the best example of this is Romans 3:21: "But now apart from the Law [STRICTLY TAKEN], the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law [LARGELY TAKEN] and the prophets." Even the Law itself testifies that the righteousness of God comes to us apart from the Law--that is--apart from the Law as completely abstracted from it's natural, organic gracious context (which is why again we take the Mosaic Covenant as belonging to the Covenant of Grace). Does this make sense?

    So why does the Law in its strict sense (Lev.18; Deut.29 etc) tell us "Do this and live" while at the same time in the background there is also the command given in the Law: "Believe and live"? God is not trying to confuse us. There is a purpose to it all. The whole purpose of the STRICT abstracted commanded in the Law (Do and live) is MEANT to drive us to the Law as LARGELY taken--that is, as it reveals Christ in the ceremonies and the sacrifices, and beckons us, since we are totally unable to do and live, to come to Christ as revealed in the Law largely taken, that we might truly BELIEVE and live. Hope this makes sense and helps. I can further clarify anything if needed.
  4. brandonadams

    brandonadams Puritan Board Freshman

  5. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    Agreed. Consider the preface to the 10 Commandments: "I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage."

    Maybe one could say that faith is a 'pre-condition'.

    Waldron distinguishes between 'conditions' and 'required responses'. Maybe one could say that faith is not a 'required response' of the Mosaic Covenant, but how can it not be a condition?
  6. brandonadams

    brandonadams Puritan Board Freshman

    That was a typological redemption that did not require saving faith on the part of the one being redeemed. Thus nothing can be concluded from that about saving faith in the Mosaic Covenant.
  7. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    God was at work among His Covenant people of Israel not in the exact sane fashion as he was/is now with his church, correct?
  8. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    What do you mean by 'require'?
  9. brandonadams

    brandonadams Puritan Board Freshman

    Saving faith was not a condition either to be in the Mosaic covenant or to receive its blessings, as it is in the New.

    Of course, all men everywhere are "required" to repent and believe.
  10. Douglas P.

    Douglas P. Puritan Board Freshman


    I've enjoyed reading through all of your recent threads on this topic, its created some good discussion!

    To your question, Paul seems to make it very clear in Gal 3 (amongst other places as well) that the defining characteristic of the Law (mosaic covenant) is that it is a works covenant not a faith covenant. I'm curious to know the problem you have with the 'defenders' quote is, if you do have one?
  11. brandonadams

    brandonadams Puritan Board Freshman

    To elaborate, here is A.W. Pink quoting Thomas Scott (a popular 18th century commentator)
  12. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    You are quite right. Gal's and Hebrews both make this distinction that the Mosaic covenant was a part of the Covenant of Works-at least, in my opinion, their language is consistent in that. However, technically speaking, it is an administration of the Covenant of Grace, hence, it is a gracious covenant and not a works based covenant. It cannot be both!

    My personal opinion is that the decalogue was a part of the C of W's. I describe this this way:

    Just like the Noahic Covenant is more than the ark, the Covenant of Works is more than the 10 commandments. Think of the C of W’s as a car; The commandments were the engine and gas of the covenant of works. The fall was the proverbial pothole that rendered the axel inoperative, making the whole of it inoperative. God took the engine and gas and gave that portion to Moses, leaving the defunct chassis behind. The spirit of the C of W’s was in the law. God gave that to Israel. He did not republish the C of W’s; why would He need to do that?

    The Mosaic is a gracious covenant, to attempt to press into the decalogue an idea of republication is like trying to say an 1958 Edsel is the same as a 911 Carrera. Yea, they are both cars, but completely different in so many ways.

    It seems as if Westminster uses the same rationale as they refer to the decalogue as a 'covenant of works'.

    Westminster uses language that helps in their confession and catechism:

    In Ch 7:2 "II. The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam, and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience."

    Ch 19: I. God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which he bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it; and endued him with power and ability to keep it.

    Ch 19:6 VI. Although true believers be not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned; yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others; in that, as a rule of life, informing them of the will of God and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their nature, hearts, and lives; so as, examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin; together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the perfection of his obedience.

    In the Larger catechism: Q. 97. What special use is there of the moral law to the regenerate?
    A. Although they that are regenerate, and believe in Christ, be delivered from the moral law as a covenant of works, so as thereby they are neither justified nor condemned; yet besides the general uses thereof common to them with all men, it is of special use, to show them how much they are bound to Christ for his fulfilling it, and enduring the curse thereof in their stead, and for their good; and thereby to provoke them to more thankfulness, and to express the same in their greater care to conform themselves thereunto as the rule of their obedience.

    I reject republication.

    If I am unsderstanding you, do you believe that the Mosaic is a free standing covenant-neither an administration of the C of W's or the C of G?
  13. brandonadams

    brandonadams Puritan Board Freshman

    Correct. This is known as the subservient covenant view.

    (Note: be careful to understand precisely in what sense I mean it was not an administration of the CoG: I mean that it was not the CoG. It did reveal the CoG and place the gospel before people in types and shadows.)
  14. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    So, do u hold to the idea that there are more than 2 covenants in time? The reformed view is that there are 2 covenants in time-C of W's and C of G.
  15. brandonadams

    brandonadams Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes, that is the whole point. I believe Westminster is incorrect to claim there are only 2 covenants. Once again, the subservient covenant view was a rejection of that idea. It argued the Mosaic Covenant was neither the Adamic Covenant of Works nor the Covenant of Grace. Samuel Bolton has a good discussion of the issue here https://www.monergism.com/true-bounds-christian-freedom-ebook-samuel-bolton

    See also John Owen's defense of the subservient covenant view in his Hebrews 8 commentary.
  16. brandonadams

    brandonadams Puritan Board Freshman

  17. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    What is the Mosaic subservient to? The term implies a larger scope that it is related to. Like a son is subservient to his father.

    I will look at the links later....just asking.
  18. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    How would the term Administrations of grace tie into the different Covenants in the Bible then?
  19. brandonadams

    brandonadams Puritan Board Freshman

    The gospel/Covenant of Grace.

    When Westminster and the reformed speak of the Mosaic or any other covenant being an "administration of the covenant of grace" what they mean is that the Mosaic covenant is the covenant of grace. It is the covenant of grace as it was administered during a certain period of time.

    If, on the other hand, someone is using the phrase "administration of grace" to simply mean that the gospel was revealed to OT saints so that they could place their faith in it, then as 2LBCF confesses in 8.6
    For a longer explanation, please see the "Long Reply" section here https://contrast2.wordpress.com/2017/06/15/re-did-the-covenant-of-grace-begin-in-the-new-covenant/
  20. Douglas P.

    Douglas P. Puritan Board Freshman


    Thanks for the reply. To be clear, I don't think the Mosaic Covenant was of the same substance of the covenant of works. The mosaic covenant was a covenant of works, not a republication of the covenant of works (I would still call myself a republicationist though, of the subservient kind). The Covenant of Works was only with Adam and had an eschatological aim. The covenant of works with Moses was sub-eschatological and had a Christo-typological aim (to try and coin a phrase).

    From what I can tell, I'm very much in agreement with Brandon here, at least on this point. However, still very much a paedobaptist.
  21. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    If u read what I've posted I agree that the Mosaic is NOT of the 'same substance', it was the juice in the C of W's I.e. The Decalogue. Brandon's view is contra-reformed and anti-Westminster. * No disrespect Brandon
  22. Douglas P.

    Douglas P. Puritan Board Freshman

    Scott I'm not much of a car guy so I don't know if I'm really following the analogy, but when/where is the 10 commandments part of the covenant of works? Are you referring to 19.1-2?

    (I'm assuming the Covenant of Works you're speaking of is the covenant that God made with Adam.)
  23. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    So God was saving them based upon the coming Messiah, so he was able to "credit the Cross" towards them , even though to us messiah had not actually come yet in the flesh?
  24. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    The law is eternal and was given to Adam in the garden.... see the WCF
  25. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    One gospel.
  26. brandonadams

    brandonadams Puritan Board Freshman

  27. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Puritan Board Junior

    Well Scott me thinks you are a closet Baptist. I note in your signature that the forerunner to our Lord was John the Baptist, not John the Presbyterian. :lol: :lol:
  28. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    Does the 1689 Federalist believe that the Mosaic Covenant IS the Covenant of Works?
  29. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Well, to be accurate, John's baptism was not Christian baptism but a Jewish washing-as well, JTB was circumcised and a covenanter. Most likeley, if he had been born in the day, would have been a Presbyterian.
  30. brandonadams

    brandonadams Puritan Board Freshman

    No. (Some have made imprecise statements). We believe it was a covenant of works, but certainly not the Covenant of Works. Its reward was not eschatological life but rather life and blessing in the land of Canaan. Note Owen:

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