Gospel in the Law, Law in the Gospel

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kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
I have made it a point not to comment on the other thread that deals with this, but I thought it might be helpful for me to explain what I meant in saying the title of this thread.

Part One

1. To say that there is no law in the gospel is a misunderstanding of the law.

A. Christ fulfilled the law which is the foundation of the Gospel message.

His own words say that He has come to do just that. Numerous places in the NT uphold the fact that Christ as our High Priest has satisfied the demands of the law once for all. The reason this is good news for us is because without Him and without the justification He brings us through faith, we would never be able to satisfy the righteous demands of the law.

B. Christ in the Gospel frees us so that we may obey the law by faith.

The 11th Chapter of Hebrews goes to great lengths to show how each of the fathers lived by faith. In verses 4-11, all these mentioned show their faith by obeying what the Lord required of them. This was not to fulfill the covenant of works, nor should we see these patriarchs as being in some kind of restatement of the COW. The key is when the writer tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith, in this case, is the antithesis of work because of its object, that is, the prefigured Christ. If these were all obeying out of a servile fear or out of their own efforts to please God by working in themselves without faith, they would not be mentioned in this chapter. Cain wasn't, and it is not because he committed murder. God tells us why his sacrifice was unacceptable, because it was not done in faith.

Further, the rest of the chapter continues through history. This is telling because some look at the Mosaic economy as a restatement of the COW. The writer of Hebrews disagrees. Faith is all over the rest of the OT. True, God was displeased with most of Israel. But was this because of their poor performance? Not at all. It was because they did not have faith. If faith is the only operative possiblity to please God, then how could God have been pleased by Israel's perfect performance of the laws of Moses without it? In other words,, if God is calling men to a covenant of works in the law of Moses, then there is no way they could ever have pleased Him. This is why the writer repeatedly says, "by faith, by faith, by faith."

Now did Christ free these in the OT to obey the law? The writer of Hebrews sure thinks so. Why else would he say, "By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh´s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward." How could Moses obey God in his life without being freed by Christ?

C. The Gospel message tells us how we will be renewed in life, how we are new creatures in Christ.

Paul says in two separate places that we are renewed in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, which is the basis for WSC question 10. This means that we are returned to a state of knowing God in His attribute and knowing what God's holiness demands. We are renewed in righteousness towards the law, because of Christ's righteousness, and we are once again set apart and sanctified as the priests of our God. None of these things can be done outside of God's righteous law. And this renewing works obedience in us so that we may obey what God commands.


These are three simple ways that law is in the Gospel. There are many more.

In part two I will outline how the Gospel is in the law.

In Christ,

KC
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Part two

First an explication about the law.

A question I had to ask myself was, "Does the law exist outside of creation?"

Many have rightly understood that the law is really bound up in God's attribute. We are commanded not to murder because it is contrary to God's will on the matter. We are commanded not to lie, because it is contrary to His truth. We are commanded to observe the Sabbath, because God has decreed that we should do so because He has called it Holy.

All of these laws would exist no matter if we were created or not. God is God. In Him there is no shadow of turning. He did not create the law, nor is it some entity that exists apart from God's other attachments. Therefore, law should be understood as the boundary of God's moral character. Why is it unlawful to steal? Because the concept of stealing is contrary to God's character, and is therefore out of bounds. God has the supreme authority to say what these boundaries are. This is why He could declare to the inhabitants of Eden, that they shall not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

So in seeing the law in this way, we understand that the decalogue is not something God came up with out of the blue. These 10 words are boundaries that would exist even if this world was never created even though it seems that they are all meant specifically to keep man in a right relationship to his God.

If we view the decalogue as something God just came up with to keep man under control, we must assume that these laws are eternally arbitrary. In other words,, God could have allowed us to murder each other. He takes life, right? So, He could have just put this law in place to keep some semblance of order. This is ludicrous. The taking of our brother's life is wrong on many levels that are not arbitrary. At the very least, we impugn the image of God in another human being. If we take someone's life, we are destroying a person made in God's image. Is this ever right?

The bottom line is that He is God and we are not. Christ did not take this fact away. No matter how much the Gospel recreates us, we are still made in the image of God, not God Himself. We are still the creature who owes to his creator everything He demands. Our comfort is that Christ has brought us near to God by His sacrifice.

The gospel is in the law because:

A. All things according to the law are typical of Christ's redemption.

All of the ceremony, all of the government, and all of the OT church is a type and shadow of the things to come. Numerous texts in the OT show us that Christ's redemption is typified in all of the ceremonial laws. Now the question we must answer is why did God give Israel ceremonial laws to obey, if they were not effectual to actual redemption? If we misunderstand this point, we might say that this is another gospel. In other words,, by obeying the laws of the OT, the Israelites either earned their salvation, or God's grace accepted the blood of bulls and goats so that their sins were atoned. We know that the former is false, because as has been already mentioned, without faith it is impossible to please God. And we know that the latter is untrue because if the blood of bulls and goats truly did atone for sins, Christ's sacrifice would not have been necessary.

Our only alternative, then, is to see that God introduced redemption in Christ through these shadows. Further, through Christ, the sacrifices of the OT are effectual in the lives of the faithful, those who had faith in the promise of Messiah. The blood of bulls and goats did not, by itself, atone for sins. But that blood sacramentally mixed with faith in the One to come, most certainly atoned for sin, otherwise, all of the saints who died prior to Christ's accomplishment of redemption would have died in their trespasses and sins.

B. The gospel is in the law, because Christ gave the law.

In the beginning was the Word. Whatever God speaks to us, He speaks to us through the person of His Son. Therefore, the 10 words are Christ speaking.

Christ is also the Prophet. He speaks to us the will of God, the decree of God, the attribute of God, and the demand of God.

C. The Gospel is in the law because it showed them the way to redemption and promise.

In the law, the Hebrews were given the righteous requirements of God in order that they may obtain redemption. The law gave them the stipulations for their remaining in covenant with God. They knew if they were to receive any reward in either this life, or the one to come, they would be bound to keep the law. But they also knew that they could not obey it perfectly. If they could, they would not have been given all the sacrifices to atone for their sins. They knew that God had to help them obey, and had faith in Him when they didn't obey. Otherwise, they could never have achieved any peace with God. That peace came through Christ. Without Christ, they stood as condemned enemies of God.

Christ, therefore, through the law gave them peace with God. Again it is typical, because that peace was ultimately gained at Calvary.

D. The Gospel is in the law because it has been in force since the fall of man into sin.

There was no time in the OT (after the fall) when God's Gospel of peace was not in effect. To say that God postponed it, or put it on hold would mean that there would be none saved during this time. We know that every man, woman, and child who was saved in the OT was saved through the Gospel. Now these same people were under the yoke of the law. They were required to live under its wrath and curse. They were all born under it, just as we are still. But even then, the just lived by faith. Nor did they live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Again, who does the mouth of God refer to and what words. The Word made flesh.


I look forward to correction, discussion, and debate on this. I hope that we will all come to a better understanding. I am sure that I have not been clear on some things, nor have I stated them perfectly. To remove all doubt, the reason I say that there is Gospel in the law, and law in the Gospel is because that is my understanding from the WCF, Chapter 19.

In Christ,

KC
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Dear Kevin,

It would be helpful if you discriminated between law and gospel as *historical* categories as distinct from *hermeneutical* categories.

Thus the proposition that,

<< To say that there is no law in the gospel is a misunderstanding of the law>>

is true if you are speaking about the *history* of redemption (historia salutis) but false if you´re speaking about the *application* of redemption.

In the latter case, to say that there is law in the gospel is to confuse fundamentally distinct categories. In their nature, law and gospel are different ways of speaking, they are different *moods* of speaking.

Your post seems to be concerned with the unity of the covenant of grace, to which all confessional Reformed folk say, AMEN.

Please be aware, however, that when you say "œthe gospel is in the law" etc you may well be misunderstood. You might give serious consideration about whether this is the most helpful way of speaking today. Typically when the Protestants spoke about "œthe law" and "œthe gospel" they were not speaking in historical, but in hermeneutical categories (i.e., asking "œwhat type of speech is this"?)

To be sure, as you note, the WCF does speak this way (e.g., WCF 7.5 where it clearly uses law to stand for the Mosaic covenant and gospel to stand for the new testament). If you were going to speak this way, it would help to say, "œrelative to the history of salvation"¦"

As to whether Moses was a re-publication of the covenant of works, I would encourage you not to draw hasty conclusions, not until you have given the Reformed tradition a full hearing. This is not the place to rehearse the whole history of Reformed federal theology, but there is considerable evidence in our tradition that we have been able to maintain the law/gospel distinction as a hermeneutic, the unity of the covenant of grace, and hold that Moses was, in certain respects, a republication of the covenant of works. I deal with this in the forthcoming volume on covenant and justification. Others have written on this as well.

It was the view that Moses (i.e., the "œold covenant" strictly speaking) was a republication of the covenant of works was the both a premise of classic covenant theology (CCT) and a major part of the ground of the doctrine of the covenant of works and a conclusion of CCT.

Your own post even suggests some of this line of argument when you say, << This is why He could declare to the inhabitants of Eden, that they shall not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.>>

To say that Moses was, in certain respects, a re-statement or re-publication of the covenant of works, is not to say that any sinner has ever been justified by law keeping. The doctrine of re-publication had to do with land promises and Israel´s temporary, peculiar role as a national people in the history of redemption.

There are complications, the national covenant was broken before Moses returned with the treaty and God was patently gracious toward Israel, nevertheless, he repeatedly prosecuted them for covenant-breaking, i.e., law-breaking and it was that which became the ground of their exile etc.

No confessional Reformed Christian denies that we are justified sola gratia, sola fide in order to glorify God by obeying his law. It is the case, however, that we want to be very clear about the logical order, especially today, to prevent confusion over justification.

rsc
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Dr. Clark...

Thank you for your clarification. I would be most greatful if you could point me in the direction of CCT who lean towards the Mosaic Economy as a renewed covenant of works. I hadn't seen this in Witsius, yet I admit, I do not have it memorized.

I guess my main problem in the law/gospel distinction is that the law always seems to be trotted out as an economy devoid of grace, it is a bringer of death, so that the law is blamed for our unrighteousness instead of our own failure to comply with it. This type of mentality says that only if God had different standards, I wouldn't be in the predicament I'm in. That's what makes modern grace to some so easy to embrace. This modern grace defined by many is that the standard of the law is relaxed on our behalf. We are no longer bound to keep it, nor do we have to work so hard to please God.

But even though a simple definition of grace does show us that we could never earn it, that does not give us license to displease God.

But in thinking that the law was given so that it could show men how God is appeased is wrong thinking. This is the thinking of the Greek and Roman pantheon. We do not seek ways to appease God so that He will look upon us favorably. Men who do, are doing what seems right in their own eyes.

Rather, the only thing that pleases God is what He has granted and is returned to Him. The Hebrew writer tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. Where does faith come from? In this we should see that God pleases Himself in vessels He made either for glory or for destruction.

The same is true in worship. God does not seek true worship, but true worshipers. If God sought true worship, He would be no different than the pantheon. God seeks true worshipers because it is the very thing within true worshipers that pleases Him. He, Himself, is what He is pleased by in a true worshiper. God's asceity demands that He be pleased only with Himself.

So what does this have to do with the law. Since the law is from God, and since He is of Himself pleased, then the law can only be performed if He performs it. This is why faith is the requirement. Because faith is not of this world. Faith is of God, and faith is the only vehicle that can bring us near Him. This faith has only one object and can only have one object, the Lord Jesus Christ. God is not pleased with anything outside of Himself.

So this is why I chafe when we look at the law as a restatement of the covenant of works. In essence, God would be seen to be promising reward and yet never granting the ability to attain it. If they were to work for any of the blessings, they would never be able to achieve one of them, because work is not faith, and without faith it is impossible to please God. Therefore, we can only conclude two things: 1) either God relaxed the standards and accepted their work in return for their blessings or, 2) it was not a covenant of works He made with them, because this much is certain, God did bless them. They did receive the reward, both temporally (most of them, communally) and eternally (some of them, as the elect of God). If He blessed them, it is because He blessed the faith which He put into them.

Dr. Clark,

If you can think of a way to help me see around this, I would be most appreciative. Especially if you can show me a CCT. I do not wish to be innovative in my thinking.

In Christ,

KC
 

D Battjes

Puritan Board Freshman
"Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgression, till the seed should come, to whom the promise was made."

HAVING, as near as I could, followed the apostle in extolling Christ, and reducing persons to him alone, for comfort and strength, I suppose some conceive I aim at abolishing the law; a jealousy which the apostle himself had in this text; I have therefore, on purpose, pitched hereon, to shew the use of the law to believers, which the apostle compriseth in these words. Now that you may the better observe his drift and meaning, consider that his watchful eye found the Galatians straggled by the seduction of the false apostles from the gospel of Christ, to the works of the law; hereupon he takes them to task, to reduce them back again to faith in Christ alone for justification: his main argument to prove justification by faith in the promises of Christ, is taken from the priority of them to the law; they being made before it the strength of the argument lies in this; that God, to whom nothing can intervene, after tie hath done an act, to make him recall it again, doth not make void the promise by the succeeding promulgation of the law: hence follow the objection and answer in my text; where the apostle shews an excellent use of the promulgation of the law, although it be not contrary to the promise.

The text consists of an objection, and an answer; the objection hath picked out of the premises a nullity of the law; the answer clears the premises from such gross absurdity. The objection imports, "If life must still come by promise, in vain did God publish the law;" the answer suggests, that though life be not the end of the law, yet there are other sufficient uses of it, requiring its promulgation; which uses the apostle mentions in that answer, shewing, that the law was published to be an appendix to the gospel, giving the reason why it was added to it, "Because of transgression:" then he adds the continuance of this use of the law, "Until the seed should come, unto whom the promise was made."

The apostle's own conclusion, in his own terms, shall be all the doctrine we will observe from the words, which is this; "The law was added because of transgression, until the seed should come to whom the promise was made." Because of the obscurity herein, let us examine, (1.) What the apostle means by this, "The law was added." (2.) What he intends by, "It was added because of transgression." (3.) What, by the duration of this use of the law, "Till the seed should come." (4.) We shall then see how far forth the law stands in force to believers.

1. The addition of the law to the promises of life by Christ, imports, (1.) A priority of the gospel to the law, both in its being, and its proper office; that is, that God at first established Christ by promise to be our life, and righteousness, before the law was on foot; for the addition of one thing to another supposeth the thing to which the other was added, was in being before; this the apostle expressly affirms, when he saith, "That the promise was four hundred and thirty years before the law ;" and from priority he infers, "That the law, when it was delivered, was not promulgated in opposition to the promise," as if the law were to contest with the promise; for, when God hath once said a thing, he never contradicts himself; neither doth one act of his annihilate another: for he is not a man, that he should lie. Now if' the law did contradict the gospel, they being both the voice of God, the matter would infer a lie, or falsehood in the former. If any say, that by this argument the ceremonial law must not be abolished, because it is God's act; I answer, that God ordained that to abide, but till Christ came, the promise was established for ever: besides Christ contradicts not the ceremonial law, but is the complement of it.

(2.) This addition imports a principality in the promise of life by Christ, above the law; that is, the law was published for the gospel's sake, to be subservient, or as an handmaid to it, not the gospel to the law; as additions to a house are for more conveniency and benefit of a house, the house is not made for the conveniency of the addition; the gospel is the end of the law's publication, not the law of the gospel. Now, by how much the end of a thing is more noble, than the means conducing to the better accomplishing thereof, by so much hath the gospel a principality above the law; for Christ promised, as the apostle speaks, is the end of it. He is the end, not only m execution, but also in intention; that is, not only the end of it, fulfilling it, but also the ultimate end, at which the law points. It is true, it points indeed at wrath; but that is by accident, or as a second end; namely, if it fail of making men run to Christ.

(3.) This addition imports a consistence of the gospel, and of the law; that is, that they can well stand one by the other, without destroying each other, as additions can well stand by their principals. Their natures are not so contrary, considering the true use the law was intended for, but that they may well agree together, and both abide without destroying each other. In brief, by this phrase of addition, the apostle intimates, 1. That the law and promise are of different uses, but not contrary; therefore, 2. They may well stand together, to let us now consider what use it serves for; "It was added because of transgression." I confess there is an obscurity in the expression, for the phrase imports, that sin was before the law, which seems a strange speech, because where there is no law, there is no transgression; but I will clear it as fully as I can. Note, therefore, the apostle speaks not here of the being of the law, but of the promulgation of it by Moses, which was a long time after the being of it. The law had its being from the time it was enacted, which was at the creation; and every aberration from that was a transgression, before this publication. But to come to the use of the law intended in this expression, (because of transgression) this expression imports,

1. That, therefore; God published the law anew, because, before Moses, it being only written in man's heart, through his corruption it began to be so obliterated, that a little more would quite have defaced it; so that transgression would not appear to be transgression. Therefore God revives the law, that, by making it so conspicuous, transgression also against it, might be apparent in its proper hue; for, when the law comes fresh, sin revives. Hence it is that God did not only publish it anew, hut also wrote it in tables of stone, that it might last fresh perpetually; this, then, is one use of it, to. shew man his transgression, which he could never take notice of, but by looking in this clear glass, that represents all his wrinkles and spots to the life.

2. "It is added because of transgression that is, it is set up to keep men from transgression, for rectum est sui index et obliqui. Now, supposing the law almost obliterated, were it not revived, man should not be able to distinguish what is good and what is evil; now the law renewed, propounding to man what is good and acceptable to God, by looking hereinto he shall see what will please, and what displease; when he doth well, and when he fails; so theft it serves for a rule of life, and a discerner of aberrations.

3. It imports, that the law was added, that when man transgresseth, he may know what to expect from it, ii he have no other refuge; to wit, the curse attending every person that continues not in all things written therein. The sum is, it serves to revive sin, to be a rule to avoid it, and to discover wrath to sinners; all which may, and well consist with, nay, is subservient to, the promise of Christ; for Christ will not seem worth any thing; nay, men will turn away their faces from him, the law discovers them to be transgressors, yea. and subject to God's wrath for it; as, blood-guiltiness pursued, made the city of refuge acceptable, and the man-slayer to hasten thereto, which otherwise might have stood as a neglected place; Christ, as a physician, is only welcome when need calls for him.

Again the rules and precepts of the law are very subservient unto Christ, as they adorn the with a conversation beseeming a companion of Christ, who calls us not unto uncleanness, but holiness. Now had we not directions from the law, men would live as they list; christians would be rather monsters than men; the law, in the tales of it, being holy and good, maintains a part fitting our communion with Christ. Some may say, If that be transgression still, which the law makes so, and those the rules of duty still, and that curse force still unto such breach of those precepts, seeing, in many things, we all transgress those rules, the curse also lies on us still, and then where is life by Christ? I answer, That, in respect of those that are still under the law, all this is true; so saith the apostle, "They are under the curse," Gal. iii. 10. But so many as are within the covenant of grace, the law propounds but the desert of such transgression it intends, not the execution of it upon them; for then it should directly contradict the covenant of promise before made, which proved to be impossible. You will say then, That the use of the curse of the law is made void. 1 answer, That at the second publishing of the law. the execution of the curse could not be intended, because of the contradiction before-mentioned the first institution, Indeed it was intended, but Christ hath borne it; and so, though he hath not utterly avoided it, because he endured it, yet he hath translated it from us; as a surety, by paying a debt, dischargeth the principal. But, yet there is some use of the curse intended in the second promulgation, even to those whom the covenant of grace belongs; namely, to hie them quickly out of themselves to Christ, as the fire that was coming to Sodom, though it was not sent to destroy Lot, yet it served to hasten him out of Sodom.

I come next to examine the duration of the law, in the uses before-mentioned, which the apostle expresseth thus, "Till the seed should come to whom the promise was made." There is some obscurity in this expression, for it seems by this, seeing Christ is the seed, therefore this law must remain but till he come; whereas the apostle professeth, that he seeks not to make void, but to establish the law by this doctrine. Let us, therefore, consider, what he means by this, "Till the seed should come." The seed of Abraham, in respect of the promise, whereof the apostle here speaks, is taken two ways, 1. For the person of Christ; "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." 2. For the children of Abraham, according to faith; to wit, the company of all believers to the end of the world, "I will be the God of thee, and of thy seed after thee." Now, if you understand by the seed here, the person of Christ, then conceive the meaning thus; that the law in the utmost rigour of it, is in force against man, till Christ come, and take it upon himself; but, by seed here, we may understand Christ, in aggregato; to wit, mystical, consisting of himself the head, and the faithful his members; and so the law continues till that come; that is, till the whole body of Christ be made compleat, by an actual subsistence of every member in him. Now this seed will not be wholly compleat, till the consummation of all things. Indeed, the words immediately following gives no little intimation that he understands seed thus; for it is the seed to whom the promise, to wit, of justification and life by Christ, was made; which cannot be understood of Christ personally, but of his mystical members: so then the law continues to point out the wrath due for transgressions; for so long as Christ hath any seed upon earth, the law is to hunt men into Christ, their rock of safety; and, another end is, for a rule to order their conversation in him.

Some, it may be, will object, that all this while it seems that Christ hath not freed us frown being under the law, whereas the apostle saith, "Ye are not under the law, but under grace." I answer, 1. That in respect of the rules of righteousness, or the matter of obedience, we are under the law still; or else we are lawless, to live every man as seems good in his own eyes, which I know no true christian dares so much as think; for Christ hath given no new law diverse from this, to order our conversation aright by; besides, we are under the law, to know what is transgression, and what is the desert of it. You will say, what then is the liberty which the apostle there speaks of? I answer, having thus shewed how far the law is in force, I will now shew you what liberty we have from the primary intention of the law. The law, as it was a rule of life, so was it the only way to life; a long and hard way, nay, through man's fail, an impossible way, insomuch, as there can be no access to life by it: this end of it is abolished by Christ, who now is the only true way to life; "So that none comes to the Father, but by him;" a believer is not tied to seek life by his obedience to the law, but by his faith in Christ. 2. The law was an executioner to avenge itself on trespassers; it had a curse like a sting in the tail of it, but Christ hath redeemed his from this curse, being made a curse for them, enduring the severity of that wrath, which their sins deserved; so that although in many things they offend all, yet God lays on Christ the iniquities of them all, by whose stripes they .are healed. 3. The law stood upon exact and perfect obedience to every jot and tittle, for matter, measure, time, anti end of every particular duty required; so that if there happened but the least error, though out of mere forgetfulness, or any kind of weakness, it would not own or take notice of the most exact care and endeavour, but all must he quite lost. The rigour also hath Christ taken from the law, insomuch, as weak performances, if they be sincere, are accepted in him the beloved.

The apostle making use of that prophecy in Isaiah concerning the acceptable time when the Redeemer should come, applies it thus, till the time that grace comes. "Now is the accepted time," 2 Cor. vi. 2. So again, shewing the excellency of Christ's gospel above the law, he concludes, "Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably,"Heb, xii. 28. And in Rom. xiv. 18, the same apostle saith, " He that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable unto God." So again, having said, "That of, through, and to Christ, are all things," Rom. xi. 36. He tells us in chap. xii. 1. That the presenting of our bodies a living sacrifice, which is one reasonable serving of him, is hath a "holy and acceptable service unto God: in my holy mountain shall the house of Israel serve me,(saith the Lord) there will I accept them; I will accept you with the sweet savour:" it is a prophecy of the kingdom of Christ. 4. The law meeting with the corrupt nature of man, though in its own nature it be holy and good, yet, accidentally, it had an irritating and enraging power: man's heart would be the more upon sin, because of the restraints of the law, as a wild bull in a net. nilimur in vetitum; the more we are prohibited, the more by nature do one fingers itch. But Christ so crucifies the flesh, that he kills this itch, which made Paul say, "I am dead unto the law:" not only the condemning, but also the irritating power of it; instead of hankerings and shifts, and propensiveness to sin, Christ raiseth indignations against what the law forbids. 5. The law calls for bricks, but allows no straw; for obedience, but supplies no succour to help our infirmities; it saith, "Do this, and live," but leaves a man to shift as well as he can, the work being infinitely beyond man's reach, it is impossible but he must sink under the burden; this is that which makes duty so harsh, uncouth, and unsavory to many: they look on it as a tiring thing; but this hath Christ taken away, promising never to fail; "Fear not, (saith he) I am with thee; I will strengthen thee; I will uphold thee:" he will cause the lame to leap, the dumb to sing: he will carry the weary in his bosom, give them wings to mount, and strengthen them when they faint; he furnisheth with talents to trade with; he affords seed where he looks for a harvest...... Tobias Crisp
 

default

Puritan Board Freshman
We spent many hours in our Bible Study disucssing this very issue, so I am most interested in reading this thread, when I have more time! The discussion took place I believe in 1997 or 1998 and lasted oh, 8 weeks or more (mind you our studies are solid, or longer, 2 hour sessions each week, not including share time.)
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Dear Kevin,

For one historical review of re-publication see: http://www.upper-register.com/mosaic_law/works_in_mosaic_cov.html

Indeed, Witsius, Polanus, Van Mastricht (among many others including Owen) explicitly affirmed that, properly qualified, Moses can be said to be a covenant of works relative to tenure in the land and a re-publication of the covenant of works.

Polanus says:

<< The covenant of works is that in which God promiseth everlasting life unto a man that in all respects performeth perfect obedience to the law of works, adding thereunto threatenings of eternal death, if he shall not perform perfect obedience thereto. God made this covenant in the beginning with the first man Adam, whilst he was in the first estate of integrity: the same covenant God did repeat and make again by Moses with the people of Israel (quoted in Fisher, p.59).>>

Witsius:

<< As the covenant of grace, under which the ancients were, is not to be confounded with, so neither is it to be separated from, the Sinaitic covenant: neither are we to think that believers were without all those things which were not promised by the Sinaitic covenant, and which the typical covenant, because of its weakness and unprofitableness, could not bestow; as they were likewise partakers of the Abrahamic covenant, which was a pure covenant of grace: and hence were derived the spiritual and saving benefits of the Israelites (vol. 2, pp. 336-37).>>

Van Mastricht:

<< The Apostle Gal. 4.24 "¦ mentions a double covenant, the former of which is "by works of the law" "¦ If you say the Apostle is speaking of a covenant not in Paradise, but the covenant at Sinai, the answer is easy, that the Apostle is speaking of the covenant in Paradise so far as it is re-enacted and renewed with Israel at Sinai in the Decalogue, which contained the proof of the covenant of works (quoted in Heppe, pp. 289-90)>>

My own, limited, survey is forthcoming in a published work.

One of the theological problems your approach has created is that you have utterly identified the Mosaic law with the divine nature. In the history of theology, this approach is known as realism. The other extreme, where the law is utterly disassociated from the divine nature (i.e., utterly arbitrary), is known as Nominalism.

The Reformed were neither totally realist nor nominalist in their approach to the law and the covenants. The covenants are the product of the divine will, and the divine will does *reflect* the divine nature, but because we distinguish (following Scotus, Luther, and Junius) between theology as God knows it and theology as it is revealed (a distinction mostly ignored in the modern period), we recognize that the Mosaic law is, to a certain degree, arbitrary. If not, it could not be repealed and we all recognize that elements of the Mosaic legislation have been repealed.

Even within the decalogue itself, we have always recognized certain ceremonial elements that can and have been repealed, e.g., the land promise and the Saturday Sabbath.

Therefore, God being free, and our knowledge of God's nature being restricted to revelation, we cannot say a priori what God can or can't do (except contradict himself). Thus, e.g., we cannot say (not that you are making this argument) that "God can't establish a prelapsarian covenant of works with a reward of consummation because of the incommensurability between the test and the promised reward" because the objection is a form of rationalism. God being free, he certainly can establish such a covenant and has. So too, God is free and able to establish such a temporary, typological, covenant with national Israel relative to the land (and not justification).

As I say, before drawing hard conclusions, there is much reading to be done in the Reformed tradition.

rsc
 

D Battjes

Puritan Board Freshman
May I incorporate some questions please.

1) Is not a covenant connected to everything in our lives pertaining to our relationship to our Sovereign Lord?

2) What does it mean when we say the Law is the "Rule of life" for the believer?

3) Where in Scripture is the Law seperated into 3 parts?

4) Does the Law still condemn an elect believer?


I personally love the Law of God and find it Holy because it is from our Lord. But when I approach my life with the Law as my standard of living, I find myself acting as a self righteouss accountant building up my heavenly resume. Almost making a checklist of daily activities. I find myself in a daily grind binded up by rules and regulations that cause me to lose focus of what Christ has done and finished on my behalf.

I share this struggle asking for help in understanding this better. I am not a learned doctor, nor am I wise. The Law / Gospel distinction as Kevin mentions is treated differently even with the reformed denominations.

Christ Alone

DB
 

Larry Hughes

Puritan Board Sophomore
Kevin,

Again Dr. Clark has eloquently spoken what I miserably fail to be able to express concerning the distinction.

I guess my main problem in the law/gospel distinction is that the law always seems to be trotted out as an economy devoid of grace, it is a bringer of death, so that the law is blamed for our unrighteousness instead of our own failure to comply with it. This type of mentality says that only if God had different standards, I wouldn't be in the predicament I'm in. That's what makes modern grace to some so easy to embrace. This modern grace defined by many is that the standard of the law is relaxed on our behalf. We are no longer bound to keep it, nor do we have to work so hard to please God.

I understand what you are saying here in that there can be a tendency of some to "œblame the Law" rather than sin and thus have a cheap grace and I agree in that strict context. However, this is never what I or any true Reformed or true Lutheran means. But the distinction properly applied takes care of that for the full undiluted strength of the Law says, "œYou must have been, are and continue to be perfect or else you will receive wrath". Which all fallen cannot do. Furthermore, with the distinction the Gospel/Grace sets forth nothing of cheap grace at all but preserves its true cost for it cost nothing less than the eternal innocent blood of Christ the Son of God - the cost was infinite. This infinite cost for my/your/our horrible sin and rebellion is anything but cheap. When one mixes or confuses Law and Gospel per the category Dr. Clark pointed out - then one really ends up reducing both Law and Gospel and the end product is the very thing you fear (quoted above). In this sense the legalist and antinomian function the same way toward a sense of "œpurchasing grace".

From the direction and position of being a sinner the Law is death for Law and Sin are perfect antagonistic to each other. Law, sin and death here in a relative sense with each other. This in spite of the fact that in the absolute the Law is really life for it comes from the author of life. Sin is the blame, but sometimes Paul even speaks in these two categories of relative Vs. absolute. The Law is absolutely meant for life, but relative to sin it is death - because of sin´s (lawlessness) total opposition to Law (life).

Maybe this will help. When one mixes or confuses Law and Gospel one ends up diluting both so that in reality they are neither. For the Law must remain and demand purely, holy and perfectly. And the Gospel must be all of Christ and none of man. The Gospel being purely all of Christ shows that the Law is perfect. If, however, on the one side one introduces a "œlaw principle" into Gospel, then the Gospel becomes Christ´s work plus "œmy" work. My work becoming the deciding factor. If the Gospel becomes Christ + me, then the Law couldn´t have demanded perfectly since in the Gospel I can still "œadd to" Christ´s work. And here is a key thing to remember, this not only applies to initial conversion but the maintaining/sustaining of the true saving faith. Similarly, if one on the other hand reduces the Law (either in entrance to the faith or the sustaining within) by saying "œyou can do it", then by necessity the true Gospel which is relied upon purely becomes unnecessary. Again, the key to guard out for is that it is not only in the initial conversion but also in the sustaining of faith.

The Gospel though infinitely purchased by Christ is freely given and that is what breaks the rebellious heart (via the work of the Holy Spirit) and that is what makes it Good News, Glad Tidings, Gospel. We cannot throw away the freeness of the Gospel just because abusers abuse it. Which I know you yourself don´t mean anyway.


I don´t know if that helps or not, I have to think it through and re-study it a lot myself for my flesh too always wants to justify itself.

Your Brother In Christ Always,

Larry
 

D Battjes

Puritan Board Freshman
Therefore these two things (as I do often repeat), to wit the law and the promise, must bediligently distinguished. For in time, in place, and in person, and generally in all other circumstances, they are separate as far asunder as heaven and earth... so that the law may have dominion over the flesh, and the promise may sweetly (and comfortably) reign in the conscience... But now, if thou confound and mingle these two together and place the law in the conscience, and the promise of liberty in the flesh thou makest a confusion... so that thou shalt not know what the law, what the promise, what sin, or what righteousness is.... Martin Luther


It is no small matter then to understand rightly what the law is, and what is the true use and office thereof... we reject not the law and works, as our adversaries do falsely accuse us... we say that the law is good and profitable, but in his own proper use: which is first to bridle civil transgressions, and then to reveal and to increase spiritual transgressions. Wherefore the law is also a light, which sheweth and revealeth, not the grace of God, not righteousness and life; but sin,death, the wrath and judgment of God... the law, when it is in his true sense, doth nothing else but reveal sin, engender wrath, accuse and terrify men, so that it bringeth them to the very brink of desperation. This is the proper use of the law, and here it hath an end, and it ought to go no further.
 

turmeric

Megerator
Cheap Grace

Antinomian - Grace is cheap!

Legalist - It ain't cheap, but I can afford it!

[Edited on 5-20-2005 by turmeric]
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Dr. Clark...

Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
Dear Kevin,

For one historical review of re-publication see: http://www.upper-register.com/mosaic_law/works_in_mosaic_cov.html

Not to step on what you so graciously offered, but I will not take Lee Irons word for this. He has refused proper sanction from the OPC and as such, I will not trifle with any of his opinions, especially ones that got him in hot water to begin with.

Witsius:

<< As the covenant of grace, under which the ancients were, is not to be confounded with, so neither is it to be separated from, the Sinaitic covenant: neither are we to think that believers were without all those things which were not promised by the Sinaitic covenant, and which the typical covenant, because of its weakness and unprofitableness, could not bestow; as they were likewise partakers of the Abrahamic covenant, which was a pure covenant of grace: and hence were derived the spiritual and saving benefits of the Israelites (vol. 2, pp. 336-37).>>

Again, and at the risk of being argumentative, I do not see in this quote where the Mosaic covenant is a restatement of the covenant of works. Are there other places in Witsius where it is more clear?

If you find something within Witsius or Turretin on this, I would immediately reconsider my position. As I have understood covenant theology in a more limited sense than you, I would not see the three historic covenants as overlapping. In other words, the COR made outside of time is really an overarching covenant that encompasses the other two. The covenant of Life or Works is a covenant that is still in force, though God's people are not subject to it. All are born under it, but the elect are removed from the stipulations of it if they are in the covenant of grace. The covenant of grace is the outworking of the covenant of redemption in time.

So, I do not find physical Israel placed under a recaptulation of the covenant of works. I do not see them as being under a completely physical and temporal covenant. Why? For these two main reasons:

1. God is pleased with nothing but faith. God is a rewarder of those who diligenly seek Him. No one seeks God, except those to whom it is given, bringing us right back to faith. Now, if the blessings of the old covenant are contingent upon the law and it's perfect performance, none would be rewarded. God is not lying. God is not going to bless those who are His enemies unless it is a common blessing upon the earth. The promises made to Israel are not common blessings. Therefore, the Mosaic covenant involved faith, not works, in order to receive the blessings. If faith, then the object of that faith is Christ. The just shall live by faith. Who are the just except for those who are in Christ?

2. In Lev. 26, we see a restatement of the Mosaic covenant. The prime goal of that covenant was this: I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. That in itself implies redemption by faith in Christ.

One of the theological problems your approach has created is that you have utterly identified the Mosaic law with the divine nature. In the history of theology, this approach is known as realism. The other extreme, where the law is utterly disassociated from the divine nature (i.e., utterly arbitrary), is known as Nominalism.

One of the reasons why I do so is because the law is the revealed will of God. If He so revealed this to us, how can we say it is contrary to His nature, as if He could change His will.

In Chapter 3 of Book I, (which I'll not quote in its entirety, but here is the link: http://www.federaltheology.org/witsius_book_1_chap_3.htm), Witsius is claming that, "This law is deduced by infallible consequence from the very nature of God and man, which I thus explain and prove." He then goes on to point out that God's law is not arbitrary, but flowing from His divine nature. So it would seem that he is a realist.

The Reformed were neither totally realist nor nominalist in their approach to the law and the covenants. The covenants are the product of the divine will, and the divine will does *reflect* the divine nature, but because we distinguish (following Scotus, Luther, and Junius) between theology as God knows it and theology as it is revealed (a distinction mostly ignored in the modern period), we recognize that the Mosaic law is, to a certain degree, arbitrary. If not, it could not be repealed and we all recognize that elements of the Mosaic legislation have been repealed.

This doesn't square with Witsius. I'm not sure that it can be deemed arbitrary for surely Christ fulfills all that was required, in the civil realm, the ceremonial realm, and the moral realm. The ceremonial laws are abrogated only because Christ has fulfilled them. The principal of each ceremony derives its meaning from the revealed Christ, therefore the law is not repealed but rather, already subsumed under Christ.

Therefore, God being free, and our knowledge of God's nature being restricted to revelation, we cannot say a priori what God can or can't do (except contradict himself). Thus, e.g., we cannot say (not that you are making this argument) that "God can't establish a prelapsarian covenant of works with a reward of consummation because of the incommensurability between the test and the promised reward" because the objection is a form of rationalism. God being free, he certainly can establish such a covenant and has. So too, God is free and able to establish such a temporary, typological, covenant with national Israel relative to the land (and not justification).

I would agree with you accept for the fact that the Mosaic covenant held out salvation. Lev. 26 surely proves this.

As I say, before drawing hard conclusions, there is much reading to be done in the Reformed tradition.

I know. Ain't that the truth.

In Christ,

KC
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Dear D M and Kevin,

Yes, everything in Scripture is covenantal, though we must ask, "which covenant?" Modern covenant theology has tended to speak of only one, creating massive confusion.

The law is a covenant of works, the gospel is a covenant of grace and both are founded on the covenant of redemption between the Father and the Son from eternity, which was a covenant of works for the Son and the covenant of grace for the elect. See http://public.csusm.edu/public/guests/rsclark/pactumsalutis.html

The law is the rule of life in its third use. This is our language, "use." So we speak of three uses of the law. We deduce these three uses from the teaching of Scripture, i.e., the way the law is used there. On the three uses see Berkhof.

By "three parts" I take it that you mean the distinction between civil, ceremonial, and moral. This distinction is intended to account for the preservation of the substance of the moral law from the covenant of works, through Moses and into the New Covenant. Again, it is a theological deduction from the teaching of Scripture. If one denies it, then we must become Papists or Jews or Theonomists. Again, see Berkhof.

Re: Lee Irons, I hesitated to post the link because of the strong reaction folk have to him. My posting of the link is not an endorsement of everything Lee has said, nevertheless it is an *ad hominem* fallacy to say, "X was wrong about this theological issue, therefore x is wrong about everything and therefore I won't read his historical analysis." His historical analysis must be judged on its own merits.

As to research, well Kevin, let´s say you're right about that Witsius quotation (it isn't very clear, its clearer elsewhere; see below; I just grabbed it from Lee's paper for the sake of time) what about Van Mastricht? What about Polanus? Those are two of the most significant Reformed theologians at the beginning and end of the 17th century? Polanus wrote a multi-volume Reformed dogmatics Called the Syntagma (Gk for "Sentences") which was highly regarded and widely used in the early 17th century and Van Mastricht's system is brilliant account of Reformed orthodoxy. These are not idiosyncratic systems. I've read (parts of) both of them and they are quite confessional.

The fact that they have not been translated into English and therefore have not been read for some time does not diminish their importance or truth-- nor does it follow that because a text has been translated and is now read widely that it is therefore true. Works are translated or not for a variety of reasons (time and money, mainly) which don't have to do with their value.

What about Thomas Boston? He is the essence of mainstream Reformed orthodoxy in Scotland in the early 18th century. Are you saying that unless you find re-publication in a single (albeit important) Reformed theologian, you are not prepared to admit that it was widely held Reformed doctrine? That is, if I may say so, an odd historical method.

I have many references to sources in CCT in a forthcoming book. Because it is with the publisher and it is copyrighted, I am not free to give it away on the web. I can say, however, that I have found places in Witsius, Polanus, Wollebius, Boston, Van Mastricht, Owen, Rijssen and Marckius, to name just a few.

You will have to wait for and buy the book to see the research. Sorry.

rsc
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
As to the law being arbitrary, I agree entirely. The law is not absolutely arbitrary, but you do not want to *utterly* identify the ceremonial law with the divine nature do you? So God could have *only* legislated as he did under Moses in every respect? He could not have legislated in any other way in any particular? I don't think Witsius is saying that at all.

There is no question that there was a connection between salvation and the Mosaic covenant, because Moses was *also* an administration of the covenant of grace as well as the covenant of works. It fulfilled a dual function. Isn't this Paul's teaching in Gal 3? This is why he was at pains to explain why Moses did not overturn or fundamentally change Abraham, as it were. The Abrahamic covenant (of grace) was irrevocable, but clearly the Mosaic covenant (being "old" and "inferior" etc) was revocable. Why? Because it was a works covenant in some respect (i.e., as a typological covenant) and had a sort of built in obsolescence.

rsc
 

D Battjes

Puritan Board Freshman
RSC:

Do many reformed teachers make such a distinction between the covenants as you appear to? What I have been forcefed is that the COW really never existed. It is mentioned because of maintaining aspects of scripture, but many speak of only 1 COG. IF I am mischaracterizing you I apologise. I have not been accustomed to reading one as yourself who makes such a distinction between the two
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Dr. Clark....

I should clarify one other thing. The covenant of works was not abrogated. It is in effect still. Those who are not elect in Jesus Christ belong to it and they are bound to all the stipulations of it, before God their creator. If in saying that the Mosaic covenant is used as an explication and formal warning to all those who would transgress the law of God, then what happened at Sinai, and Moab would be a restatement, as it were. This does not mean that Israel was to be placed under the same yoke as Adam in their relationship to God. If He is to be their God and they His people, their obedience which is grounded in faith in Christ, is not a covenant of works, but a covenant of grace. If by the law, God brings to their memory (which being a tutor it certainly will) that His righteous requirements cannot be fulfilled by their works, they are logically driven to faith in Christ (if they are elect.)

However, this does not preclude the covenant of grace, nor does it mean that national Israel then gains the favor of God by their works. If there is any blessings from obedience, that very obedience is of no merit in man. If we obey at all, we obey because of God in us.

So if by restatement of the covenant of works you mean that Israel is reminded of her sin so that she will repent and flee to God, that God is not remanding them to their work in order to obtain His favor, but still holds out to them redemption by faith, then I would agree that the Mosaic covenant is in a way, a restatement of the covenant of works.

But, I will not agree to a reinstatement of the covenant of works. This is contra the WCF.

In Christ,

KC
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Dr. Clark...

Originally posted by R. Scott Clark

As to research, well Kevin, let´s say you're right about that Witsius quotation (it isn't very clear, its clearer elsewhere; see below; I just grabbed it from Lee's paper for the sake of time) what about Van Mastricht? What about Polanus? Those are two of the most significant Reformed theologians at the beginning and end of the 17th century? Polanus wrote a multi-volume Reformed dogmatics Called the Syntagma (Gk for "Sentences") which was highly regarded and widely used in the early 17th century and Van Mastricht's system is brilliant account of Reformed orthodoxy. These are not idiosyncratic systems. I've read (parts of) both of them and they are quite confessional.

I guess the reason I value Witsius so much is that he endeavors to be the unifier of all of the parts. He does the best job of taking all the different pieces, show how they relate to one another, and then bring it all together. I know it isn't perfect, but In my humble opinion, it is covenant theology and everything should be compared with it.

Having read Mr. Iron's piece, I think he is reading a bit much into these different quotes. I also do not appreciate his quoting a person who quotes the source. We don't really get the full picture if there is already a middleman.

What about Thomas Boston? He is the essence of mainstream Reformed orthodoxy in Scotland in the early 18th century. Are you saying that unless you find re-publication in a single (albeit important) Reformed theologian, you are not prepared to admit that it was widely held Reformed doctrine? That is, if I may say so, an odd historical method.

I respect Boston, but I just want to be careful that we are not trying to read these theologians through a particularly bent lense. I think Mr. Iron's lens is bent. I would also include the FV and NPP guys as well. There almost needs to be a class in Medieval Language because I think the preponderance of errors today stem from the fact that we just don't talk that way anymore. So, with limited practice of reading these theologians, each of us need to keep in mind that they are speaking English, but they're still speaking a different language. We must be completely with their mode of discourse before we can adjudge rightly, what they are saying.

The reason I shy away from Iron's interpretation is because I know where he ends up. He denies that the moral law is binding. I think part of this stems from his understanding of the Mosaic covenant, therefore, I take what he says lightly.

I have no reason to believe that of you. Thanks for your help and your patience.

I have many references to sources in CCT in a forthcoming book. Because it is with the publisher and it is copyrighted, I am not free to give it away on the web. I can say, however, that I have found places in Witsius, Polanus, Wollebius, Boston, Van Mastricht, Owen, Rijssen and Marckius, to name just a few.

You will have to wait for and buy the book to see the research. Sorry.

rsc

I look forward to it.

In Christ,

KC
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Dear D M and Kevin,

Yes, the three-covenant scheme is the traditional scheme. Unfortunately, Hoeksema et al are part of the problem of 20th century covenant theology. See http://public.csusm.edu/public/guests/rsclark/CovResources.html

There are two histories of covenant theology there are numerous other helps.

Kevin,

In no way would I encourage anyone to contradict the WCF. To do so would be a violation of my oath as a faculty member at WSC. I am hearty confessionalist.

Following Cocceius, it was understood that there were ways in which the covenant of works was abrogated and ways in which it was not. It is not an either/or question.

When I say that the covenant of works is still in force, by that I mean to say that the obligation to "do and live" is still in force.

I agree, however, that the reward promised to Adam is no longer "on the table," as it were, for sinners, after the fall. It was possible for Jesus, the second Adam, to earn that reward, and he did. We cannot say that the covenant of works was utterly abrogated after the fall or we contradict Romans 5 and 1 Cor 15, among other places.

Speaking strictly, Adam was not offered "salvation," but consummation. There is a difference. He could and would have earned, merited, consummation by his obedience just as the second Adam Jesus earned, merited our justification and glorification.

The fall, of course, changed everything. Justification is given freely to sinners. It is conditioned upon Jesus' law keeping as the second Adam and that imputed to elect believers.

So too, with Moses, the covenant of work undergoes some changes, and the "reward" under Moses was not salvation, that would be impossible, but the land, under a very specific, temporary, typological arrangement.

rsc

[Edited on 5-20-2005 by R. Scott Clark]
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Dr. Clark...

Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
So too, with Moses, the covenant of work undergoes some changes, and the "reward" under Moses was not salvation, that would be impossible, but the land, under a very specific, temporary, typological arrangement.

rsc

[Edited on 5-20-2005 by R. Scott Clark]

Is this the same covenant that Moses declares to the people when he says, "You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the LORD your God is giving you."

How can they do what is just, or in other words, be just, if not by faith? How can God bless any of His creatures without faith?

If the Mosaic covenant is a reinstatement of the covenant of works and they are to gain temporal and physical blessings by their obedience to it, none would ever gain a blessing. Further, God would have made a covenant which no one could keep, nor did He intend to bless, for surely, without working faith in them, none could be blessed. Unless you believe that God made with them a covenant that relaxed the stipulations of the covenant of works. How can He reward those to whom He has not given the ability?

In Christ,

KC
 

Rich Barcellos

Puritan Board Freshman
Here are some things I have written elsewhere which speak to some of the issues being discussed.

Owen did not view the Old Covenant as a covenant of works in itself. He viewed it as containing a renewal of the original covenant of works imposed upon Adam in the Garden of Eden (John Owen, The Works of John Owen (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1991), 22:78, 80, 81, 89, 142). Owen viewed the Old Covenant as containing a works-inheritance principle of the broken covenant of works. The reintroduction of this element of the covenant of works, however, functioned on a typological level under the Old Covenant and applied to temporal promises and threats alone. See Mark W. Karlberg, Covenant Theology in Reformed Perspective (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2000), 167, 184, 217, 218, 248, 273, 346, and 366 for a similar understanding of the works principle of the Old Covenant as it relates to the covenant of works on the typological level of kingdom administration.

Here's Owen:
This covenant [Sinai] thus made, with these ends and promises, did never save nor condemn any man eternally. All that lived under the administration of it did attain eternal life, or perished for ever, but not by virtue of this covenant as formally such. It did, indeed, revive the commanding power and sanction of the first covenant of works; and therein, as the apostle speaks, was "œthe ministry of condemnation," 2 Cor. iii. 9; for "œby the deeds of the law can no flesh be justified." And on the other hand, it directed also unto the promise, which was the instrument of life and salvation unto all that did believe. But as unto what it had of its own, it was confined unto things temporal. Believers were saved under it, but not by virtue of it. Sinners perished eternally under it, but by the curse of the original law of works. (Owen, Works, 22:85-86)

Geerhardus Vos acknowledges that other Reformed theologians have used similar language as Owen concerning the relationship between the covenant of works and the Sinai covenant. He says, "œwe can also explain why the older theologians did not always clearly distinguish between the covenant of works and the Sinaitic covenant. At Sinai it was not the "˜bare´ law that was given, but a reflection of the covenant of works revived [emphasis added], as it were, in the interests of the covenant of grace continued at Sinai." See Geerhardus Vos, Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1980), 255. See also Karlberg, Covenant Theology, 76, 184, 248, and 273 and Samuel Bolton, The True Bounds of Christian Freedom (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1978), 88-109 (cf., also 173, 174) for a discussion on the various views of the nature and function of the Old Covenant among seventeenth-century divines. Bolton holds, substantially, the same position as Owen. The Old Covenant is not a covenant of works in itself, nor a "˜legal´ administration of the covenant of grace. It is a subservient covenant to the covenant of grace. Fisher and Boston held similar views. The Particular Baptist, Nehemiah Coxe (co-editor of the 2nd London Confession of Faith [1677/1689]), also held this view.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Thanks Rich for those references and quotations.

Kevin, I think I already addressed the objection of how could the land inheritance be by works. Please re-read my original post in this thread.

The first question concerns whether some notion of re-publication is traditional Reformed theology. Others and I have provided significant testimony to that effect.

The second question is whether the Reformed tradition is correct in understanding the Mosaic covenant that way. It´s a fair question.

As I said earlier, this view, though basically correct, is not without difficulties. It is better than the alternatives, however, especially those alternatives which recognize no works principle of any kind whatever and those which make Moses into a covenant of works for justification.

Again, I go back to assumptions about the nature of the relations between God's revelation in redemptive history and his nature. How should we relate God's will to his nature?

Yes, their tenure in the land was conditioned on legal obedience. This is the background for what some have termed the "covenant lawsuits" of the prophets right through to the Baptist's prosecution of national Israel's infidelity.

Their law keeping or failure therein, as I understand it, was to serve as a giant, historical, sermon illustration. This is why Paul calls the law a "pedagogue."

Obviously, Israel could not obey the law sufficiently for justification and obviously they did not obey the law well enough even to stay in the land. These, I think are two different standards. The land was not salvation. It was a picture of it. This is how Hebrews uses it. Some did not believe and therefore did not enter the rest. That's not to say that everyone entered the land believed or that everyone who enjoyed tenure in the land believed.

National Israel was a mixed church. There were those who were in the covenant of grace externally only and some who enjoyed not only tenure in the land, but also the grace of salvation. Evidently, not all who entered the land (e.g., Moses) also enjoyed the grace of salvation.

Israel existed to serve as giant type of Christ, the obedient Son to come. He is the true Israel. http://public.csusm.edu/public/guests/rsclark/Israel.htm

However merciful God was to national Israel, at the end of the day, they were ejected because of their lawlessness. That is the nature of the Mosaic covenant. That is why the New Covenant is not like the "covenant I made with their fathers...". The New Covenant is new relative to Moses, because Moses was temporary and typical. The New Covenant is not temporary. It is not provisional.

Moses is not *entirely* and *only* a re-statement of the covenant of works, but that is one aspect of the Mosaic covenant. It was, simultaneously, an administration of the covenant of grace. Its not an either/or question.

Is there no way that Moses could be, as Vos said, a "reflection" of the covenant of works? Is there no way, accounting for the changes introduced by the fall, and accounting for the repeated mercy God shows to national Israel in not expelling them when he had every right, that their tenure in the land could be legally grounded in their obedience?

Has a landlord never borne patiently with a tenant? On what grounds does the patient landlord act finally against the tenant? The grounds are legal. Did the landlord not show mercy to the tenant? Sure he did, but when judgment day comes, it´s a legal judgment. If the tenant had obeyed the conditions of the covenant/contract, tenant would have remained in the house.

Remember, there are two covenants running concurrently and these two operate on different principles, with different instruments.

rsc
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Dr. Clark...

Help me with just one thing at a time, instead of us trying to address the whole.

Lev. 26 talks about the covenant being made at that time as God being a God to them and they being His people. Verses 1-13 talk about physical, temporal things as well as eschatological. Realizing that the misery of that estate whereinto man fell was that he lost communion with God and was under His wrath and curse, how do we account for God overcoming this, man regaining communion with God in order to enter into a temporal, physical covenant with Him on condition of their obedience?

Is it all contingent upon work? Is it all contingent upon faith? Is the physical temporal part contigent upon work, and the eschatological part contingent upon faith, and if so, how can we separate this passage, thus?

In Christ,

KC
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Kevin,

1. Remember where you are in the Bible. The question is not *primarily* how to read Lev 26 (as important as that is), but how to read the Pentateuch.

2. Lev 26 contains a series of conditional (if...then) statements. Take vv.15 and 16 as examples. 25.55 conditions the passage. Yahweh announces that he is their God, having redeemed them from Egypt. What follow are the promises and conditions he lays upon them as the national people.

3. What do we do with these temporal promises of wealth etc? 26.8 promises military success. v.9 promises population growth. v.12 promises his covenantal presence among them. v. 13 reminds them again of their redemption.

4. So, now, v. 14, what does God require? That Israel obey his commands. In v. 15 Yahweh threatens punishment if they disobey. v. 16 promises punishments for disobedience. The punishments are as temporal as the promises and as wasting as the blessings are abundant.

5. These temporal blessings and curses are conditioned on legal obedience.

The chapter continues to threaten dreadful temporal punishments, covenant curses for disobedience. v. 38 is typical of these, Israel shall perish among the Goim. They shall become just another national people, Lo Ammi, not my people. Which is precisely what happened. Why? Israel, as a national, temporary, typological people did not meet the legal terms of that covenant.

Of what use is this chapter? It teaches sin-conscious Christians the greatness of our redemption. In Christ, we have all that he promised the Israelites. All the wasting judgments he threatened were borne by our Savior in his active and passive obedience.

What God's adopted son Israel refused to do, his only, eternally begotten Son did for his elect. He kept the commands, and he entered into his rest (Heb 4) and we in him.

Now, my work load is picking up and I must go back to it. Read M. G. Kline, Treaty of the Great King and the rest. He fleshes out the implications of this hermeneutic. Vos does similar things in Biblical Theology.

rsc
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Dr. Clark...

Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
Kevin,

1. Remember where you are in the Bible. The question is not *primarily* how to read Lev 26 (as important as that is), but how to read the Pentateuch.

2. Lev 26 contains a series of conditional (if...then) statements. Take vv.15 and 16 as examples. 25.55 conditions the passage. Yahweh announces that he is their God, having redeemed them from Egypt. What follow are the promises and conditions he lays upon them as the national people.

3. What do we do with these temporal promises of wealth etc? 26.8 promises military success. v.9 promises population growth. v.12 promises his covenantal presence among them. v. 13 reminds them again of their redemption.

4. So, now, v. 14, what does God require? That Israel obey his commands. In v. 15 Yahweh threatens punishment if they disobey. v. 16 promises punishments for disobedience. The punishments are as temporal as the promises and as wasting as the blessings are abundant.

5. These temporal blessings and curses are conditioned on legal obedience.

The chapter continues to threaten dreadful temporal punishments, covenant curses for disobedience. v. 38 is typical of these, Israel shall perish among the Goim. They shall become just another national people, Lo Ammi, not my people. Which is precisely what happened. Why? Israel, as a national, temporary, typological people did not meet the legal terms of that covenant.

Of what use is this chapter? It teaches sin-conscious Christians the greatness of our redemption. In Christ, we have all that he promised the Israelites. All the wasting judgments he threatened were borne by our Savior in his active and passive obedience.

What God's adopted son Israel refused to do, his only, eternally begotten Son did for his elect. He kept the commands, and he entered into his rest (Heb 4) and we in him.

Now, my work load is picking up and I must go back to it. Read M. G. Kline, Treaty of the Great King and the rest. He fleshes out the implications of this hermeneutic. Vos does similar things in Biblical Theology.

rsc

I do not wish to be impertinent, but how exactly did you answer my question? What was the remedy of their being separated from their communion with God, and their being under His wrath and curse? What was it that made it possible for God to tabernacle with Israel? What made it possible for Him to be their God and they to be His people?

I realize that you may not have the time for this. And we can certainly take the time for careful discussion. So, I will wait patiently for your answer. Take as long as you need.

In Christ,

KC
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Kevin,

Here is where email fails as a teaching tool. Yet another illustration of the weakness of (internet based) distance ed. Even video based distance ed fails here, because the video feed has to end (its very expensive!) and suddenly, the prof is gone, poof, into the ether. There's no office to visit or after class discussion or even a meal to share.

I've written as clearly as I can -- in a concise way. If you were here, in class, or in my office or if we were discussing this over dinner, perhaps I could discover what assumptions you're making or you could help me see those that I am making and we could find a resolution.

Failing that, I'll have to leave you to your professors and pastors.

Best wishes,

rsc
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
...the COR made outside of time is really an overarching covenant that encompasses the other two. The covenant of...Works is a covenant that is still in force, though God's people are not subject to it. All are born under it, but the elect are removed from the stipulations of it if they are in the covenant of grace. The covenant of grace is the outworking of the covenant of redemption in time.

This is exactly what Witsius formulates.


Even within the decalogue itself, we have always recognized certain ceremonial elements that can and have been repealed, e.g., the land promise and the Saturday Sabbath.

I'm not personally aware of where the 4th commandment makes Saturday "the day." Otherwise the day would have changed, which it idid not, following a pattern of 1 in 7.

I beelive both of these to be fulfilled in Christ (which I'm sure others do as well) but were shadowed through the OT.


The law is not absolutely arbitrary, but you do not want to *utterly* identify the ceremonial law with the divine nature do you?

I'm not sure why the scaffolding of the building wopuld be confused witht he building itself?


Unfortunately, Hoeksema et al are part of the problem of 20th century covenant theology.

Quite true, and many of the Federal Visionists acribe to this scheme to jsutifiy their own claims as well. Hoeskema has done a great disservice in messing up CT in this way.


When I say that the covenant of works is still in force, by that I mean to say that the obligation to "do and live" is still in force.

Most assuredly, and this is the sina qua non of Reformed Theology on this issue.

Which follows...


Moses is not *entirely* and *only* a re-statement of the covenant of works, but that is one aspect of the Mosaic covenant. It was, simultaneously, an administration of the covenant of grace.

:up:

Also...


Remember, there are two covenants running concurrently and these two operate on different principles, with different instruments.

:up:
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Yes. I do agree with Berkhof on Law and Gospel. This is what I've been been saying, I think. I might quibble with a few statements here or there.

For example, when he said:

<<Some of the older Reformed theologians represented the law and the gospel as absolute opposites. They thought of the law as embodying all the demands and commandments of Scripture, and of the gospel, as containing no demands whatsoever, but only unconditional promises; and thus excluded from it all requirements.>>

He might be misunderstood. Indeed, this sentence has been used to claim that Berkhof rejected any sort of law/gospel antithesis in justification.

In those two sentences, he seemed not to appreciate, or perhaps we might say that he seems to downplay, the distinction between law and gospel as hermeneutical categories and historical categories, even though that very distinction underlies all that he said and he affirms the essence of that distinction under this heading.

On the sabbath, its pretty clear that the Jews observed the Sabbath on Saturday and that our Lord transformed the Sabbath by virtue of the power of an indestructible life, to use the language of Hebrews, to the "First day of the week," the "Lord's Day." This is a standard view.

The point is that the substance of the 1/7 pattern, grounded in creation, does not change, but the accidents (to use the old distinction) or the administration of the moral law does change and is conditioned by the progress of redemptive history (Heb 7:11-14).

Perhaps we could say that to the degree that the decalogue is rooted in redemption (as it is presented in Ex 20), it is subject to revision. To the degree it is rooted in creation (as it is presented in Deut 5) it is not.

Those who argue for near total discontinuity, tend not to recognize the creational aspect of the decalogue, that it is what our forefathers called "natural law." Those, however, who see no revision whatever, are not accounting for the progress of redemption. The issues of continuity and discontinuity are challenging, but, in my view, not impossible.

The entire Mosaic covenant was premised, like an inverted pyramid on its top, on the priesthood. When the priesthood changed, mutatis mutandis, the law changed. This is why the Synod of Dort concluded, in its post-Acta that we do not observe the Sabbath in the New Covenant, with Jewish strictness. See http://public.csusm.edu/public/guests/rsclark/dortsabbath.htm

If it is of any encouragement, Kevin, I agree heartily with your statement

<< In other words, the COR made outside of time is really an overarching covenant that encompasses the other two. The covenant of Life or Works is a covenant that is still in force, though God's people are not subject to it. All are born under it, but the elect are removed from the stipulations of it if they are in the covenant of grace. The covenant of grace is the outworking of the covenant of redemption in time.>>

I think, if I understand you correctly, this is what I teach my students.

rsc

[Edited on 5-22-2005 by R. Scott Clark]

[Edited on 5-22-2005 by R. Scott Clark]

[Edited on 5-22-2005 by R. Scott Clark]
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Dr. Clark,

Berkhof is what I meant to say, but obviously botched. When I speak of gospel in the law and law in the gospel I mean it in the sense he outlines. I think I am guilty of equivocation on these points. I was referring to law in two different senses without defining them. What I meant was that there is gospel in the OT, and law in the NT, just as Berkhof talks about. I am in complete agreement with his definitions. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

In Christ,

KC
 
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