Taken fromPract…

Taken from

Practical Exposition of the Ten Commandments

by
James Durham

Topic is
The Covenant of Works and the Law

pp. 52-55

Our purpose is not to aim at any great accuracy, nor to multiply questions and digressions, nor to insist in application and use, but plainly and shortly (as we are able) to give you the meaning of the law of God. 1. By holding forth the native duties required in every commandment. 2. The sins which properly oppose and contradict each commandment, that by these we may have some direction and help in duty, and some spur to repentance, at least a furtherance in the work of conviction, that so by it we may be led to Christ Jesus, who is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes (Rom. 10:4), which is the principal intent of this law, as it was given to Israel.

To make way for the exposition, we shall:

I. Lay down some conclusions, which arise from the preface.
II. Give you some ordinary distinctions.
III. Clear and confirm some rules or observations useful for understanding of the whole law.

1. The first conclusion that we take for granted is, that this law (as it is moral) ties even Christians and believers now, as well as of old. Which appears from this, that he who is God the Lawgiver here, Acts 7:38, is the Angel Christ, and it is his word, as is clear, vs. 30-31. As also, the matter of it being connatural to Adam, it did bind before the law was given, and that obligatory force cannot be separated from its nature (though the exercise of right reason in nature be much obliterated since the fall). Therefore Christ was so far from destroying this law in its authority, and Paul so far from making it void by the doctrine of faith, that our Lord tells, he came to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17), and Paul shows that his preaching of faith was to establish it (Rom. 3:31). Which truth being confirmed by them both in their practice and doctrine shows that the breach of the holy law of God is no less sinful to us now, than it was to them before us.

The second conclusion is, that though this law (and obedience thereto) lie on Christians, and be called for from them, yet it is not laid on them as a Covenant of Works, or that by which they are to seek or expect justification. No, but on the contrary, to overturn self-righteousness, by this doctrine, which manifest sin, and of itself works wrath. Which is also clear, in that he is here called, Our God, which he cannot be to sinners but by his grace. And also it appears from the Lord’s owning of this sinful people as his, and his adjoining to this law so many ceremonies and sacrifices with point out and lead to Christ; and from his adding the law on mount Sinai, as a help to the covenant made with Abraham (Gen. 17 – which was a covenant of grace, and was never altered as to its substance), in which the people of Israel, as his seed, was comprehended. Therefore it appears that this was never the Lord’s intent in covenanting thus with his people, that they should expect righteousness and life by the adjoined law, but only that it should be useful in the hand of grace to make the former covenant with Abraham effectual. So then, though we are bound to obey the law, we are not to seek righteousness or life by the duties therein enjoined.

Skipping page 54 to section II on the bottom of the page.

II. These conclusions being laid down as necessary caveats, we shall propose these distinctions for clearing of them.

1. We would distinguish between a law and a covenant, or between this law considered as a law, and as a covenant. A law does necessarily imply no more than: (1) To direct. (2) To command, enforcing that obedience by authority. A covenant does further necessarily imply promises made upon some condition, or threatenings added, if such a condition is not performed. Now, this law may be considered without the consideration of a covenant, for it was free to God to have added or not to have added promises, and the threatenings (upon supposition that the law had been kept) might never have taken effect. But the first two are essential to the law; the last two are made void to believers through Christ. In which sense it is said, that by him we are freed from the law as a covenant, so that believers’ lives depend not on the promises annexed to the law, nor are they in danger by the threatenings adjoined to it. Hence we are to advert, when the covenant of works is spoken of, that by it is not meant this law simply, but the law propounded as the condition of obtaining life by the obedience of it, in which respect it was only so formally given to Adam. This then is the first distinction between the law and the Covenant of Works. 

2. [We would] distinguish between these ten commandments simply and strictly taken in the matter of them, and more complexly in their full administration, with preface, promises, sacrifices, etc. In the first sense they are a law having the matter, but not the form of the covenant of works. So Moses by it is said to describe such righteousness as the covenant of works requires, yet he does not propound it as the righteousness they were to rely on, but his scope is to put them to a Mediator, by revealing sin through the law (Rom. 10:3). In the second sense it is a covenant of grace, that same in substance with the covenant made with Abraham, and with the covenant made with believers now, but differing in its administration.

3. [We would] distinguish between God’s intention in giving and the believers in Israel, their making use of this law; and the carnal multitude among that people, their way of receiving it, and corrupt abusing it contrary to the Lord’s mind. In the first sense, it was a covenant of grace. In the second it turned to be a covenant of works to them. And therefore it is that the Lord rejects (as we may see, Isa. 1:13; 66:2-3; Jer. 7:22) their sacrifices and services as not commanded, because rested on by them, to the prejudice of grace, and contrary to the strain and scope of this law complexly considered.

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The Covenant of…

The Covenant of Life Opened 
Chapter XI


The Three-fold Covenant Considered.
The Law Pressed upon Israel was not a Covenant of Works, but a darker dispensation of Grace.

The three-fold Covenant of Arminians refuted.
Diverse considerations of the Law and the Gospel

by
Image
Samuel Rutherford
edited by Randy Martin Snyder

CHAPTER XI 

The three-fold Covenant considered. 2. The Law pressed upon Israel was not a Covenant of Works, but a darker dispensation of Grace. 3. The three-fold Covenant of Arminians refuted. 4. Diverse considerations of the Law and the Gospel. 

There be some who hold that there be three Covenants. 1. A Covenant of Nature, whereby God as Creator required perfect obedience from Adam in Paradise, with promise of life, and threatening of death. 

2. The Covenant of Grace, whereby he promises life and forgiveness in Christ’s Blood to believers.

3. A subservient Covenant, made 1. With Israel, not with Adam, and all mankind. 2. For a time with Israel, not for ever, as the natural Covenant. 3. In Mount Sinai, not in Paradise. 4. To terrify and keep in bondage (the other from an inward principle required, obedience.) 5. To restrain Israel from outward sins, to prove the people, that the fear of God might be before their eyes, that they should not sin. So they expound (Exo. 20.20) the other Covenant was to restrain from all sin. Yea and so was that on Mount Sinai, to do all that are written in the Book of the Law (Deut. 27:26) (Deut. 28:1,2,3,4), to that same end, to love God with all the heart, and with all the soul (Deut. 10:12) (Deut. 5:1,2,3) (Deut. 6:1,2,3) (Deut. 5:29) (Deut. 6:5), with all the heart, with all the soul, with all the might, which is expounded by Christ (Mat. 22:37) (Luke. 10:27) in as full as height of perfection as ever was required of Adam. 6. It was written to Israel in tables of stone: The natural Covenant was written, in the heart, there a circumcised heart promised to Israel (Deut. 30:6), though sparingly. 7. It was (say they) given by the Mediator Moses, as that of nature was without a Mediator. Yea, Moses was the Typical Mediator of the young Covenant of Grace. 

The differences between the subservient Covenant, and that of Grace.

1. In the subservient, God only approves righteousness and condemns sin in that of Grace he pardons and renews. Answer (Acts 15:11). We believe through the Grace of the Lord Jesus, we shall be saved even as they under that Covenant. (Acts 10:43). To him gave all the Prophets witness, that through his Name, whosoever believeth in him, shall receive remission of sins. Abraham and David were justified, in that sin was not imputed to them, not by works, (Rom. 4.1,2,3,6,7,8,9) (Gen. 15:.6) (Psa. 32:1,2,5). I said I will confess my transgression, and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. (Isa. 43:25) I, even I am he that blots out thy transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember thy sins. So David was a man according to the heart of God, so Asa, Josiah, Jehoshaphat, Daniel, the Prophets, under Samuel, Baruch, Gideon, that subservient Covenant (except they be under a fourth Covenant) were renewed, justified, saved by faith (Heb. 11), as under a Covenant of Grace.

2. The former was, do and live, this was, believe and live, Ans. Doing and living was but a shutting them up under the Law, that they might flee to Christ in whom they believed; else the fathers must be saved and justified by works contraire to (Rom. 2), (Rom. 4), (Heb. 11).

3. In antiquity the former came in as added 430 years after the promise of grace (Gal. 3:17).
Answer. True, but he speaks of the Covenant in Sinai, according to the strict Law part, which could not save, and so it’s different. But that proves not two Covenants.

4. In the former is compulsion and the Spirit of bondage, in this heart inclining freedom and the Spirit of Adoption. Answer. Yet the differences are accidental, there was a legal awing (Inspire with awe) of the hearts, as if they had been Servants, yet Heirs and Sons they were (Gal. 4:1,2). The whole Book of the Proverbs spake to the Godly as to adopted sons. They were believers (Heb. 11) (Rom. 4) (Acts 10:43), and so Sons as touching a spiritual state (John 1:11,12). In regard of Oeconomie (economy), it was somewhat more rigid and legal, they were restrained as servants; Yet it was the Covenant of Grace, by which believing Jews were justified and saved ( Acts 15:11) (Acts 10:43).

5. In the former man is dead, in this man is humbled for sin? Answer. Legally dead, except they would flee to Christ, and legally condemned, but there, was true humiliation for sins under that Covenant, As David, Josiah, Hezekiah, and all believers then, as now, were pardoned and justified.

6. In the former there are commands, not strength, but here there be promises and grace given? Answer. The full abundance of grace and of a new heart, was reserved until now. And the Law could not make perfect nor give pardon, in the blood of beasts; as touching that legal dispensation: But both grace, the Spirit, pardon, righteousness and life were received and believed; by looking on Christ to come. 

7. In the former, Canaan was promised, in this, Heaven. Answer. Canaan is promised only but Sacramentally, and that was a pedagogical promise for the infancy of that Church, but a type which was then in that Covenant, and is not now, make not two Covenants, one then, and another now? Except ye say, there was then a Lamb in the Passover, which was a Type of Christ to come, and there is now no such Type, because the body is come, and Christ the true High Priest offered himself. Therefore there are two Christs, one then to come, another now who hath come already. The Lords dispensation with Israel is often called a Covenant, now it must either be a Covenant of Works, or of Grace, or a third Covenant.

But the truth is, the Law as pressed upon Israel, was not a Covenant of Works.

1. The Law as the Law or as a Covenant of Works is made with perfect men who need no mercy; But this Covenant is made with sinners, with an express preface of mercy: I am the Lord thy God that brought thee out of the land of Egypt. It is made with stiff necked Israel (Deut. 29. 30. 31. 32), and that is called a Covenant from the end and object, as motions are denominate from their end: for the end of the Lord’s pressing the Law upon them was to bring them under a blessed necessity to seek salvation in their true City of Refuge Christ Jesus, who redeemed them out of the spiritual bondage of sin. 2. It was the Covenant made with Abraham, which was a Covenant of Grace: and though it be called (Deut. 29.1) a Covenant beside that which was made in Horeb: Because 1. Renewed again after their breach. 2. Repeated a little before the death of Moses. (Deut.31.28.29.30) 3. Because there were some additions of special blessings, cursings, Ceremonial Commands that were not on the formerly proposed Covenant (Exod. 20), yet the same it was in substance, to love the Lord with all the heart (Deut. 2.10,12,13,14). The same with that of Abraham (Deut. 8.18). That he may establish that Covenant, which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. When he is to deliver them out of Egypt (Exod. 2:24). And God heard their groaning, and remembered his Covenant with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. So the Lord expones (explains) it in his appearing to Moses (Exod. 3:6) (Jer. 31:32). Not according to the Covenant which I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand, to bring them out of the Land of Egypt. Now that was the Covenant which God made with Abraham, of which Circumcision, was a seal (Gen. 17), not of temporary Canaan only, but of heart Circumcision (Col. 2.11). For the Lord expressly tells them, when he took them by the hand, as his married people, to bring them out of the Land of Egypt, and out of the house of bondage (Exod. 20), He meant no other Covenant then he made with Abraham, of believing (Gen. 15), and of walking before him and being perfect (Gen. 17:1,2) which is somewhat more legal, as Moses and the Lord himself expones (explains) it (Exod. 2:24) (Exod. 3:6) (Exod. 20:1,2). And he shows them (Lev. 26) if in their enemies land they repent and shall come out and meet the rod, and their uncircumcised hearts shall willingly accept of the punishment of their iniquity: 24. Then (saith the Lord) I will remember my Covenant with Jacob, and also my Covenant with Isaac, and also my Covenant with Abraham will I remember. Beside there are not here three Covenants, but one, there is no word of the subservient Covenant with Israel in Sinai. Except that when he mentions the one, he excludes not the other. For to walk before the Lord required in Abraham’s Covenant (Gen. 17:1) is to walk in all the ways of the Lord, to fear and love him (Deut. 10:12,13) and Samuel (1 Sam. 12:2), Joshua (Josh. 24:22,23,24,25), and Mary (Luke 1.55), and Zachariah (Luke 1:70,72,73), refer to the Covenant made with Abraham, and Deut. 6 the Covenant at Horeb the Lord made with Abraham to give Canaan to his seed (Deut. 6:10), (Deut. 7:12). If thou hearken to these judgments to do them, it shall come to pass that the Lord thy God will keep unto thee the Covenant of mercy that he sware unto thy fathers.

3. This Covenant hath the promise of a circumcised heart (Deut. 30:6) and of the word of faith that is near in the mouth, and of the righteousness of faith clearly differenced from the righteousness of the Law by doing. For so Paul (Rom. 10:5,6,7) expones (explains) Moses (Deut. 30:11,12,13,14).

4. The Covenant of Works taught nothing of the way of expiation of sin by blood typifying the Ransom of blood that Christ was to pay for our sins, as this Covenant, all along had sacrifices and blood to confirm it (Exod. 24:8). And Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, behold this is the Blood of the Covenant which the Lord hath made with you, concerning all these words. Now the words were the ten Commandments. See Heb. 9:18,19,20,21,22,23,24. 5. This Covenant is made with Israel only (Exod. 20) (Deut. 5) (Deut. 6:5,6,7.12). The Covenant of Works is made with all mankind. 6. No people under the Law can be justified and saved thereby, nor have their sins pardoned, (Rom. 3.9,10,11,19,20) (Rom. 4:1,2,3,4) (Rom. 9) (Rom. 10) (Psal. 130:3) (Psal. 143:.2) (Gal. 3:1,2,3,10,11,12,13). But in this Covenant, Abraham, David, (Gen. 15) (Psal. 32) (Rom. 4:1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9) and the Jews by faith, have remission of sins and salvation, as also the Gentiles have (Acts 10:43) (Acts 15:11). 7. The Lord minds to lay aside the Law as inconsistent with the Covenant of Grace, (Gal. 3:18). If the inheritance be by the Law, then it is not by promise, but God gave it to Abraham by promise; For to live by this Covenant, is a life of promises, all being here promised, both faith the condition, and perseverance therein, and a new heart, righteousness, pardon, and life. A man that hath his estate in papers and in good words that are transient things, may seem a poor man, but to live by promises here is the rich life of the heirs of hope, this is strong consolation under deadness, absence, faith working under-ground in the dark (Gal. 3:21). If there had been a Law which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the Law.

Though he commanded them to do the Law, it was not that they should live thereby, and though he commanded us the same, it is another command, as it were, it is not so much now that we obey from the Authority of God Law-giver under pain of damnation (though that be not laid aside, but urged in a Gospel intention upon heirs) as from the love of God, Grace giver; as also there is an intrinsic amenity in Christ drawing, and obedience now becomes connatural, free, delightful. Let these consider, to whom the yoke of obedience is a torment and a man-mill.

8. The Passover and Circumcision (Gen. 17:7) all along were Seals of the Covenant, as Baptism one with Circumcision in substance (Col. 2:11) is the seal of the same Covenant (Acts 2:39,40,41). Now the Law required no Circumcision, no shedding of blood, no Repentance, no new heart, but eternal condemnation followed the least breach thereof. Paul saith indeed (Gal. 5:3), If ye be Circumcised (as the false Apostles would have, that thereby you may be justified and saved) you are debtors to keep the Whole Law perfectly, as the only way to life, and by no other Covenant can you be justified and saved, now Abraham was not circumcised that way, circumcision did bind Abraham to keep the Law, as a Ceremony and Seal of the Covenant of Grace commanded of God. But the Law as a Covenant of Works doth command no Ceremony, no Sacrifice, no Type of Christ Mediator at all.

It’s true that first Covenant had Moses for its Mediator, but as he was a Type of Christ, so Christ yesterday and the day was the real Mediator, but vailed. The New Covenant hath better promises (Heb. 8:6) (Heb. 7:22), it’s a better Covenant (Heb. 7:22), hath a better, real, not a Typical Surety, a better Priest who offered himself through the eternal Spirit (Heb. 9:14), a better Sacrifice, because of the plainness (John 16:29) (2 Cor. 3:18), because the real promises are made out to us, because of a larger measure of Grace (2 Cor. 3:1,2,3,4). And the first Covenant is faulty (Heb. 8.7) not because there was no Salvation by it, the contrary is Heb. 11, but that is comparatively spoken: because the blood of beasts therein could not take away sins (Heb. 10:1,2,3,4) because forgiveness of sins is promised darkly in the first Covenant, but plainly in the other, because Grace is promised sparingly in the former, but here abundantly, the Law being written in the heart (John 7:39) ((Isa)Esay 54:13).

And it is true (Gal. 4:22,23,24,25) they seem to be made contrary Covenants: But Paul speaks (Gal. 3) of the Law as relative to that people, and so it pressed them to Christ, and keeps them as young Heirs under nonage (pupilage – infancy). 1. He speaks of the Law absolutely, as contradistinguished from the Gospel (Gal. 4:21) so it is a Covenant of Works begetting children to bondage: 2. Who come short of righteousness and the inheritance, and shall not be saved. 3. Who are cast out of the Kingdom of Grace. 4. Who persecute the Godly the Sons of promise, so is the Law as it was in Adam’s days, and is now to all the Reprobate; so the Godly are not under the Law and the Covenant of Works. The Covenant urged upon Believers is to prove them, when they stand afar off and tremble (Exod. 20:20). Fear not (saith Moses) God is come to prove you (not to damn you) and therefore Calvin solidly observeth that Paul (2 Cor. 3) speaks with less respect of the Law then the Prophets do, for their cause, who out of a vain affectation of the Law Ceremonies, gave too much to the Law and darkened the Gospel, and sayeth the one was 1. Literal. 2 Written in stone. 3. A Sermon of death and wrath. 4. To be done away and less glorious, whereas the Gospel is Spiritual. 2. Written on the heart, 3. The Ministry of life. 4. And glorious: and praises put upon the Law, agree not to it of its own nature, but as it was used by the Lord to prove them (Exod. 29:20) and chase them to Christ.

The Arminians also (especially Simon Episopius) make three Covenants. 1. One with Abraham, in which he requires sincere worship and putting away strange gods: Beside 2. Faith and Universal obedience, and promised Canaan to his seed and Spiritual blessings darkly. 2. One in Mount Sinai in these three Laws Moral, Ceremonial and Judicial, with a promise of Temporal good things, but to no sinners promise of life Eternal. 3. A Covenant of Grace, with a promise of pardon and life to all that believe and repent, to all mankind, but he denies 1. All infused habits, contrary to (Isa. 44:1,2,3) (Isa. 59:20,21) (Zach 12:10) (John 4:14) (John 7:37) (John 16:7,8) (1 John 3:9) he sayeth that 2. all commands are easy by Grace. 3. That the promise of earthly things in their abundance is abolished, in that we are called to patient suffering. 4. That there is no threatening in this Covenant, but that of Hell fire. But the Covenant made with Abraham is that of Grace made with all the Seed (Deut. 30:6) (Deut. 7:5,6,7,12) (Lev. 26:40,41) and made with all Believers, who are Abrahams children (Gal. 3:13,14,18,19) (Rom. 4:1,2,3,4) (Luke 19:9), yes with the whole race of man without exception. (2.) The second Covenant which promiseth only blessings is made rather with beasts, that are well fed, then with men, contrary to (Psal. 73:25) (Isa. 57:1,2,3) (Psal. 37.37) and it must build some chalmer (Chamber) in hell, where the fathers were before Christ, a dream unknown to Scripture. The third Covenant makes the Covenant of Grace a Covenant of Works, and holds out life and pardon, upon condition that free-will repent and believe and stand on its own feet, for there is neither faith, nor a new heart, nor repentance promised, contrary to (Deut. 30:6) (Ezek. 11:19,20) (Ezek. 36:26,27) (Isa. 59:19,20,21) (Isa. 44:1,2,3,4,5) (Zech. 12:10).

Samuel Rutherford ‘The Covenant of Life Opened Or, A Treatise of the Covenant of Grace’ edited by Randy Martin Snyder

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Possible Misconceptions about Galatians. Law and Gospel are opposed?

Galatians 5:4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons (Gal*4:4-5*NAU).

“I am far from thinking that the mount Sinai dispensation was a covenant of works to Israel, as if the design and intention of God therein had been to afford eternal life to Israel upon their own doing; but yet it is called the law, Rom. 10:5; Gal. 3:10, 13, 17, even in way of opposition to the promise, verse 12, yea, verse 8, God preached before the gospel to Abraham. Here the covenant with Abraham is expressly called gospel, and that in constradistinction from the very Sinai dispensation, which is called the law; undeniably he speaks of the law, not as given to Adam before the fall, (for then man himself must have been the door for life, and not another for him), but as given at mount Sinai, four hundred and thirty years after that promise to faithful Abraham, verse 17. So that the covenant of grace is rightly distinguished by legal and evangelical, for the Holy Spirit here gives us both parts of the distinction, speaking expressly of that at mount Sinai as one member of it; yea, he makes these so opposite, as he says, verse 12, and the law is not of faith, and so is not the covenant of grace; but yet the Sinai law appertains and refers to it, viz. as holding forth the condition thereof to be fulfilled by Jesus Christ.” The Mosaic covenant “[i]n general, …was a covenant of works, as to be fulfilled by Jesus Christ, but not so to Israel.” ~ Samuel Petto.

I am going to deal with the scriptures mentioned above in more depth soon (but don’t have it done yet). I believe I have been helped in understanding the Law / Gospel situation mentioned in Galatians by comparing the Roman’s 10:5 and Leviticus 18:5 passages to the Galatian controversy in light of Patrick Ramsey’s short exegesis of the passages.

I believe Samuel Petto and many get this passage all mixed up and out of context when they start thinking the Mosaic Law and Gospel oppose each other. It is an old problem that dates back to even the divines and before. In context Paul is addressing how the Israelite’s turned the law into something it wasn’t intended on being. As I have noted in a few places, “we can turn the New Covenant into a Covenant of Works if we wanted to even when that is the farthest thing from God’s mind.” In the letter to the Galatian Church I believe St. Paul is addressing two issues concerning the Mosaic Covenant and in the broader context he reveals that the Law’s intent was to expose the Gospel. Even Jesus and the author of Hebrews state that the Gospel was preached by Moses and in the Mosaic Covenant.

(Luk 24:27) And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

(Joh 5:46) For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.
(Joh 5:47) But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

(Heb 4:2)
For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
(Heb 4:3)
For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

Yes, the Law used as a legal means to obtain a right to something can be considered here. That is precisely the problem that St. Paul is confronting. When the Law is used outside of faith it becomes a task master. But the Law in context with this passage was to be more than something that can dissannul. The following passages reveal this. It is a schoolmaster that was to take the Israelite’s somewhere. God gave them circumcision as a sign of His Covenant of Grace toward them. They turned it into an instrument by which something was appropriated instead of a sign and seal of the promises annexed to it. They turned obedience to perform duties into something it wasn’t intended to do. Performing duties is good. But the motivation behind those duties can make them null and void. Thus, they did exactly what the law (The Mosaic) in it’s function here was not intended to do. They used it in a way that was opposing God’s purpose. God’s purpose was to make the Mosaic Covenant a schoolmaster that took them to faith by shadows in light of reality. In all reality the Gospel is not opposed to the law nor is the law opposed to the Gospel. How we use the law can be. In fact we are being conformed back into the image that will have us being restored fully into sinless creatures that will reflect the Law perfectly again. The Gospel is bringing us back by faith into being what we are going to be. I agree that the Law cannot dissannul the promises. But there is a reason for that. It wasn’t intended to. It was to point to the Promises in Christ. The condemnation that the Covenant revealed was in effect from Adam. Not from the Mosaic. The Mosaic is only something that reveals the Covenant of Works and taught by shadows faith in Christ for the propitiation and expiation of sin.

The Law is not in opposition to the Gospel and the Gospel establishes the law (Galatians 3.:21 and Romans 3:31) . The Law being in opposition to the Gospel is something that is being presented way too much now days. This is bad thinking in my estimation and an over reaction to the opposite end of the problem presented here in the Galatians (and Hebrews) situation which was Nomism or Covenantal Nomism. And NO!, I do not hold to those positions. The Galatians were being coaxed to turn to circumcision (which is the context of this letter) for justification before God. Fulfilling the rights of passage were being touted as the way one gained favor with God instead of by faith. As I noted above, “Even we can turn the New Covenant into a Covenant of Works.” The Church through the centuries has done this with Baptism also. Same situation, different ordinance. The Law being referenced here is not just the Decalogue but the (over 600) commands of ordinances and regulations that were imposed upon the Israelite’s. Circumcision being included in that group and the main contention of this letter.

I disagree with Petto and those of his vein of thought now. The Law was intended to be a schoolmaster and it is not in opposition or against the gospel as noted in Galatians. The way the Israelites were using it was. It wasn’t intended to do that. The carnal mind just is opposed to faith and submission to the Person and Work of Christ. And Paul is trying to show the real purpose of that Law.

I discuss the Leviticus 18:5 and Romans 10:5 passages in context with something that Patrick Ramsey wrote. I will post Ramsey and if anyone desires they can read my blog comments also in the following link.

Paul’s Use of Lev. 18:5 in Rom. 10:5
Pastor Patrick Ramsey

The following is (I trust) a simple but not simplistic explanation of Paul’s use of Leviticus 18:5 in Romans 10:5.

In 9:30-10:5 Paul explained the reason the Jews did not attain righteousness even though they pursued it. They mistakenly pursued it by works (9:32). Hence, they stumbled over the stumbling stone (9:33). They sought to establish their own righteousness (10:3). Ignorant of the right way to righteousness, although they should have known better, they zealously pursued life on the basis of their own obedience to the law.

In Rom. 10:5 Paul describes this wrong way of pursuing life (righteousness) from the OT, namely Leviticus 18:5 (see also Neh. 9:29; Eze. 20:11, 13, 21): “For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.” Now the fact that Paul appeals to Moses to describe the wrong way, or if you will, the Pharisaical way of pursuing righteousness, is somewhat perplexing. As a result, this verse, along with its counterpart in Gal. 3, is quite controversial among commentators and theologians.

Here is the difficulty from three different perspectives. First, in 9:32, Paul had said that the law itself did not teach that righteousness was based on works or obedience to the law. The Jews pursued the law as if it led to righteousness. The Jews, as the NT says elsewhere, misread the OT. And yet Paul seems to be saying in vs. 5 that the OT did in fact teach and exhort the people to pursue life/righteousness by keeping the law. How then can Paul (or the rest of the NT) condemn the Pharisees for seeking righteousness by works if that is what Moses told them to do?

Second, in vs. 8 Paul will quote Deut. 30 and later on he will cite Isaiah and Joel in direct contrast to Lev. 18:5 to describe the right way to find life and righteousness. So then it would seem that Paul pits Moses against Moses and the OT against the OT.

Third, the context of Lev. 18:5 doesn’t seem to support the way Paul uses it in Rom. 10:5. Moses exhorts Israel to keep God’s commandments in the context of redemption and covenant. Verses 1-3 highlight the point that Israel already belongs to God as his redeemed people. These verses are very similar to the prologue to the Ten Commandments, which teaches that salvation precedes obedience. God didn’t give Israel the law so that they might be saved. He saves them so that they might keep the law. In short, the context of Lev. 18:5 speaks against the idea that it teaches legalism or a work-based righteousness. Yet, that is how Paul is using this verse!

Now some have sought to solve this difficulty by saying that there is no actual contrast between verses 5 and 6. The “but” of vs. 6 should be translated “and.” The problem with this, however, is that it doesn’t fit the context of Paul’s argument. The apostle, beginning in 9:30 is contrasting two ways of seeking righteousness—works and faith—and this contrast clearly continues in vs. 5. This is confirmed by the fact that Paul speaks of works righteousness or righteousness based on law elsewhere (Gal. 3; Phil. 3:9) in a negative way.

So then how are we to understand what Paul is saying in vs. 5 (and in Gal. 3)? Well, Paul is citing Lev. 18:5 according to how it was understood by the Jews of his day; and no doubt how he understood it before his conversion. The Jews of Paul’s day saw obedience to the law (which included laws pertaining to the atonement of sins) as the source of life and as the basis of salvation. Keeping the law was the stairway to heaven. The way to have your sins forgiven and to be accepted by God was to observe the law. Lev. 18:5 provided biblical support for this Pharisaical position. And it is not hard to see why they would appeal to this verse since it says that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.

In Rom. 10:6ff Paul refutes this works-based righteousness position including the Jewish appeal to Lev. 18:5. Now he doesn’t do it in the way you or I might think of doing it. We might tend to respond to the Pharisee and say: “Look, you have completely misunderstood what Moses is saying in Lev. 18:5. The specific and general context of that verse indicates that your interpretation is incorrect…” Instead, Paul uses a technique that was quite common in his day. He counters their interpretation of Lev. 18:5 by citing another passage: Deut. 30:12-14. In other words, Paul is saying that Deut. 30 demonstrates that the Jewish understanding of Lev. 18:5 is incorrect. We of course sometimes use this type of argument today. For example, some people today appeal to James 2 to prove that we need to obey the law in order to be justified. One way to disprove that interpretation would be to cite Paul in Romans or Galatians. So Paul is not pitting Moses against Moses in vv. 5-6 or saying that Moses taught salvation by works. Rather the apostle is using one Mosaic passage to prove that the legalistic interpretation of another Mosaic passage is wrong.

Here is the blog.
http://www.puritanboard.com/blogs/puritancovenanter/mosaic-covenant-same-substance-new-724/

In light of this I want to move forward with a few more thoughts on the book of Galatians. What are the two Covenants mentioned in Galatians 4:24? I use to view them as two covenants that were in the Mosaic Covenant as a Particular (Reformed) Baptist. But what are they really representative of in this text? They were the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace which worked together side by side. Wouldn’t they be representative of the Old and New Covenant? The Old would be the one where men were bound (over 600 commandments and ordinances) to shadows and things that point to Christ instead of to Him? The old was a schoolmaster which is hard and the the New was liberating freeing us from the hard schoolmaster?

It seems that the situation the Galatians (very similar to the Hebrew Church) were facing was being turned back to the shadows instead of to the real and significant Anti-type. They were being turned to the shadows instead of being turned to the one who came and set us free. They were being turned to a darker Administration of the Covenant of Grace which was idolatrous to turn back to after the actual Person it signified came in His Fullness. They were also seeking to be just before God by their supposedly correct sacramental obligation. This in reality was a distortion and false teaching concerning the purpose of circumcision and in our own day concerning baptism as I have noted before. They were changing the meaning of the sign and seal.

Thus they were falling prey to bad teaching which was bondage to things that were shadows instead of to the substance. For Christ’s yoke is easy. The yoke Moses put on them, with all of the laws that pointed to Christ, was very burdensome. Being set free from the shadows by the substance was entering a real rest.

Does that make sense? I always viewed this differently as being two covenants in the Mosaic but I am not sure I was getting that correct. I believe I am seeing this analogy a bit clearer now. Maybe I aint. What thinkest thou?

Here are some highlighted scriptures that I believe become evidence for what I am saying.

(Gal 3:11) But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

(Gal 3:12) And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

(Gal 3:13) Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

(Gal 3:14) That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

(Gal 3:15) Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.

(Gal 3:16) Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

(Gal 3:17) And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

(Gal 3:18) For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

(Gal 3:19) Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

(Gal 3:20) Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.

(Gal 3:21) Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.

(Gal 3:22) But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

(Gal 3:23) But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

(Gal 3:24) Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

(Rom 3:27) Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

(Rom 3:28) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

(Rom 3:29) Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:

(Rom 3:30) Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

(Rom 3:31) Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

(Gal 4:1) Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;

(Gal 4:2) But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.

(Gal 4:3) Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:

(Gal 4:4) But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

(Gal 4:5) To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

(Gal 4:6) And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

(Gal 4:7) Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

(Gal 4:24) Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

(Gal 4:25) For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

(Gal 4:26) But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

(Gal 4:27) For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.

(Gal 4:28) Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.

(Gal 4:29) But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

(Gal 4:30) Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.

(Gal 4:31) So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

(Gal 5:1) Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

(Gal 5:2) Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.

(Gal 5:3) For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

(Gal 5:4) Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

(Gal 5:5) For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

(Gal 5:6) For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

As a side note this also reminds me of the following passage as application.

(Rom 11:15) For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

(Rom 11:16) For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.

(Rom 11:17) And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;

(Rom 11:18) Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.

(Rom 11:19) Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.

(Rom 11:20) Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

(Rom 11:21) For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

(Rom 11:22) Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

(Rom 11:23) And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.

(Rom 11:24) For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?

(Rom 11:25) For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

(Rom 11:26) And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

(Rom 11:27) For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins…

(Rom 11:31) Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.

(Rom 11:32) For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

(Rom 11:33) O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

(Rom 11:34) For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?

(Rom 11:35) Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?

(Rom 11:36) For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

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The Mediatorial Dominion of Christ. Christ the King

I appreciate Pastor Pockras’ concise way of putting things. May you be encouraged in seeing Christ’s Mediatorial Dominion. Thanks for allowing me to post this Pastor Pockras.
RMS

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Christ the King of All
By Philip H. Pockras, minister
Belle Center Reformed Presbyterian Church
Belle Center, Ohio
http://www.bcrpchurch.org/

STATEMENT OF THE DOCTRINE

God the Son, as the second Person of the Holy Trinity, is King over all things. This exalted position He holds in common with the other Persons of the Trinity. Jehovah God is King in His essential Deity. This no orthodox believer denies, at least in theory. As well, the Lord Jesus Christ, the God-man Mediator, reigns as Mediatorial King over all things, for the benefit of His Church to the glory of the Father.

“1. Jesus Christ, as mediator, governs all creatures and all their actions for his own glory. Submission is due to Him from all men and angels. All men, in every possible relation and condition, are under obligation to promote His gracious purposes according to His Law. The holy angels minister, under His direction, to the heirs of salvation. Eph. 1:20-22; Heb.2:8; Phil. 2:9-11; Ps. 2; Heb. 1:4.

“2. Jesus Christ, as Head over all things for the sake of the Church, rules in perfect wisdom and justice over all parts of His creation including wicked men and devils. He makes them, and all their counsels and efforts, serve God’s glory in the plan of redemption. Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:22-23; John 17:1-5; Luke 9:26″ The Testimony of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, Chapter 8: “Of Christ the Mediator” (1980).

This teaching, unknown or poorly understood within much of the evangelical church, is one of the doctrinal linchpins of the Reformed Presbyterian Church throughout the world. Historically, Christ’s Mediatorial Kingship has been asserted, during the whole of the RP Church’s existence, against several errors: Popery and Erastianism in Britain, and secularism in other nations in which she has been planted. As we look to Scripture, we see this doctrine taught in both Testaments.

“1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, [saying], 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. 4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. 5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. 6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. 7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou [art] my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I shall give [thee] the heathen [for] thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth [for] thy possession. 9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. 10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish [from] the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed [are] all they that put their trust in him.” (Ps 2)

“13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, [one] like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion [is] an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom [that] which shall not be destroyed.” (Dan 7:13-14)

“18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.” Mat 28:18-20)

“20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set [him] at his own right hand in the heavenly [places], 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath put all [things] under his feet, and gave him [to be] the head over all [things] to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” (Eph. 1:20-23)

“5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth; 11 And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11)

Certainly, more references could be multiplied. Enough have been cited to show, however, that there is a distinct Dominion given to Messiah. This Mediatorial Dominion is distinct from, additional to, and coterminous with that Dominion which He retains essentially as the Second Person of the Godhead. Note that this additional Dominion is given to Him. It is bestowed upon Him. The reasons for this bestowal by the Father are given, too. This bestowal is a reward for Christ’s “doing and dying.” The Mediatorial Dominion is by purchase. Further, we see that this economy is bestowed in order to bless Christ’s body, the Church.

The extent of this Mediatorial Dominion is universal. This is absolutely necessary for Messiah, as He must rule over all things in order to make them work together for good for those who love Him, and who are the called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). It may be objected that the reprobate cannot be under His Mediatorial Reign, for how could He be a Mediatorial King to those who do not benefit from His work of redemption? Let us remember that, in our common experience, we see many who live lives of continual criminality, yet we do not deny that they are under the jurisdiction of the civil magistrate. So it is with the reprobate. Indeed, they get no benefit from the King; only judgment and condemnation (Mat. 25:31ff). Nonetheless, the King sovereignly directs them and all their ways, that His church may be benefitted and the Father made glorious.

Again, it may be objected that the doctrine of a universal Mediatorial King derogates from the dignity, glory, activity, and even the immanence of the Father and the Holy Spirit. Further, Christ’s high dignity as the only-begotten Son is lost sight of. In reply, it should be noted that the orthodox church concurs that the Lord Jesus Christ is Zion’s only King and Head. Does anyone seriously believe that, in the church, the dignity, glory, and activity of the other Persons of the Godhead are in any way impaired? Is there a soul who maintains that teaching that Messiah alone is King of Saints removes the presence of the Father and the Spirit from the Church? And who will say that such teaching leads to the eclipse of His Deity? Who? Such a man, in any orthodox Protestant denomination, would be condemned in the courts of his church for maintaining such positions. If Christ’s Mediatorial Kingship in the church be so obviously acceptable, then there should be no objection of this sort to teaching that He holds sway over all the creation.

One further objection comes to mind. It is that someone else exercises sovereign rule over all things extraneous to the Church. An objector may say that this someone is the Son in His essential Deity. It must be remembered that, although Christ has two distinct natures, He is one Person, one Savior. “Is Christ divided?” (1 Cor. 1:13a) remains a relevant question just at this point. Such an assertion goes against clear Scripture teaching already cited, declaring Christ’s universal dominion as the Mediator. Some bizarre attempts at “exegesis” have been tried in order to elude this conclusion, but such attempts would have been laughable had the subject not been so solemn and majestic.

If not the Son Himself, then perhaps another Person of the Godhead, or the undifferentiated Deity rules in all things extraneous to the Church, it may be said. A problem arises in connection with this proposal. God has determined all blessing, all redemption, all things necessary to the accomplishment of His gracious purposes, to come through the Covenant of Grace. The Covenant, of course, cannot be separated from Him who is its Head. To attempt to approach God apart from a Mediator in these post-Fall times is fatal. To seek any blessing from the Holy and Righteous Judge, deeply offended at sin, is absurdity. To expect anything but God’s wrath and curse, apart from a Mediatorial administration, is folly. If all things extraneous to the Church are in the hands of God essentially, then the Church cannot repose in confidence and trust that all will work for her good. Might they not work for wrath upon her who is still stained, wrinkled, blemished, impure and unrighteous in her current experience? Should she not cower at the approach of the Holy One, strong to smite? Of course she does not, because all things are now ordered through the Covenant of Grace for her benefit. All things, internally and externally, are under the feet of her glorious and loving Husband, the King. His Father becomes Her Father in heaven, strong to save, not the offended Judge mentioned. Her Beloved’s Spirit is sent abroad to be at work as the King’s agent. All Providence, at the King’s command, is ordered for her ultimate good, ultimate purification, ultimate salvation. In the Universal Mediatorial Dominion, and only in it, blessing is certain.

APPLICATIONS

I. For the Church

As noted above, there is a general concensus among Reformed churches that Christ is Mediatorial King of Saints. The Church is His Kingdom of Grace, His “special Kingdom”. As we look at this particular aspect of Christ’s Mediatorial Kingship, we should assume that there would be implications for doctrine, discipline, government, and worship. In these four areas, it must be asserted that the Word of Christ alone determines matters, either as it is “expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence…deduced from Scripture” (WCF 1:6). Therefore, the Church of Christ, and every branch of it, must see that it holds and practices the directions of Him Who is Head and King of Zion. Everything that is truly attained from Scripture must be held tenaciously and perseveringly. Anything that is added must be excised. That which has been dropped must again be carried aloft. This is the reason that the RP Church has retained what she believes to be Scriptural doctrine, although it keeps her apart from other brethren whom she holds dear. This is why the RP Church has tried, though grieving over much of her own inconsistency and negligence, to maintain Scriptural church discipline, especially in the matters of common confession, testimony bearing, and the Sacraments. This is why the RP Church still professes to believe in jure divino Presbyterianism. This is why the RP Church, despite unpopularity and ridicule, retains what she believes to be Scriptural worship principles and practices. These things she believes to be binding upon all the Church of Christ, not mere quirks of her own little circle. Any change on her part must occur as she is convinced that she has erred in her understanding of the Word of God, as has happened in the past. Of course, this is the required basis for change in any part of the Apostolic Church.

This leads to a consideration of church union. That this is a desirable goal, and commanded by Christ no one can deny. Can it come legitimately by the scuttling of the truth of the Bible? Our Savior has commanded His disciples to disciple the nations, teaching them to observe everything that He has commanded (Matt 28:18-20). Putting aside one part of Christ’s commandments in order to effect another is wrong. The one is sinfully ignored and the other is not truly brought about. Both end up lost. Union must be a union in truth. Any true union within the Church of Christ must be a union in the truth, where the formerly divided brethren come to a concensus in their understanding of the King’s gracious decrees. Further, there should then be a corporate pledging of allegiance to the King. In the past, this has been called “public social covenanting”.

2. For the State

Christ is King of nations as well as saints. Nations are distinctly part of His universal Mediatorial Dominion. They are part of His Kingdom of Power, His “subordinate Kingdom”. A very obvious a fortiori argument to this point could be inserted here, but there is no need. Suffice it to say, that since a universal Dominion is demonstrated, there can be nothing remaining outside it, but what is specifically excluded. We have such an exclusion from Messiah’s sway mentioned, but it is not the Civil Magistrate/Civil Government/Nation. “For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under [him, it is] manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.” (1 Cor 15:27).

That Christ, as the Mediatorial King, claims the allegiance of earth’s nations is quite explicit in Scripture passages already cited. To these testimonies we could add more: “1 O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph. 2 For the LORD most high [is] terrible; [he is] a great King over all the earth. 3 He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet. 4 He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah. 5 God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. 6 Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises. 7 For God [is] the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding. 8 God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness. 9 The princes of the people are gathered together, [even] the people of the God of Abraham: for the shields of the earth [belong] unto God: he is greatly exalted.” (Psalm 47) In connection with this citation, it ought to be remembered just who it is that has ascended. It is not God considered in His unity, nor the Heavenly Father, nor the Holy Spirit, nor yet the Son essentially considered, but Messiah. He is the One addressed as God in Psalm 47. The fulness of revelation that we now have in these last days shows us that it is God-man Who is ascended, Who is King, Who reigns over nations, before whom officials, as officials, assemble to learn and to do His will.

Further witness to Christ’s Mediatorial Kingship over the nations can be found in Revelation:

“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become [the kingdoms] of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” (11:15)

Of Him Who rides forward to conquer the nations with the sword of His Word we read, “And he hath on [his] vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (19:16)

Further official statements on this doctrine as currently confessed by the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America are in its Testimony, chapter 23, “Of the Civil Magistrate”, pp. A69 – A78 in its Constitution.

From time to time different objections to this teaching come forth. One of the most common comes from misunderstanding the words of our Savior when, before the judgment seat of Pilate, He said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36) Some say that these words are in conflict with a notion of nations formally pledging allegiance to Christ as King. The apparent tension relaxes when we remember what Jesus means when He says that His Kingdom is not of this world. He surely does not mean that it is a purely privatized affair, or something irrelevant to matters of this earth, something of grace as opposed to nature, or something noumenal as opposed to the phenomenal. He does mean that His Kingdom is of a different order, not merely one more kingdom in the midst of many others. He does mean that it is one that acknowledges Him as its immediate supreme overlord, instead of others claiming that role. He does mean that the weapons of conquest are the preaching and teaching of His Word, which bring sinners and societies under Him. He does mean that it is established by the power of the Spirit, rather than that of man. He does mean that it is established in the righteousness and holiness of heaven, not the pride and cruelty of man. This Kingdom is in the world, although not of the world. The nations of this world, along with all else, can, should, and shall be explicitly under the aegis of Christ the King.

Another objection commonly mentioned is that this doctrine seems to force a union of Church and State, with one or the other in ascendancy. While some have perverted this teaching to such an end, proper practical application militates against either an Erastian or Romanist conception of church-state relations. It remains true that Christ alone is Head of the Church, not a pope nor yet a civil magistrate. The proper civil powers remain in their place, too. Scripturally, both Church and State have distinguishable subjects, different ends, different officers, and different sanctions, among other things. Both, nonetheless, are under the same Mediatorial King, the King of Zion and the King of kings. Both Church and State are under the same obligation to covenant with Him in their own appropriate ways, yielding loyalty to their Lord. Both are obliged to support each other in appropriate ways, that the King may be glorified by men in their public lives. Both are obliged to conform to God’s Law, in ways proper to each institution. The State is under constraint in these areas just as much as the Church, in order that it may fulfill its role as God’s ordinance, His ministry for good (Romans 13:2,4). Especially in those nations where the Gospel has been preached, to “Kiss the Son” is an absolute necessity for the national well-being. To resist or refuse such submission is to invite total national annihilation from the offended “King on Zion’s hill.”

In this matter of national submission to Messiah, the Church of Christ has a prominent responsibility. Part of her duty in supporting the State is declaring what is true and false, what is right and wrong, as defined by the Old and New Testament Scriptures. The Church catholic must declare that the State is morally compelled to own Messiah as King and His Law as the law of the land. She must declare the State immoral at these extremely critical points, if it does not repent. Christians, in such a case, in such as we live now, cannot participate in any action that would entrap them in such immorality themselves. There can be no unqualified allegiance sworn to immoral constitutions of government that do not themselves swear allegiance to Christ.

In connection with this national submission, often called “national reform”, the Church has the duty of calling the nation to formal public social covenanting with the King. This follows approved Scriptural example in the times of Joash, Hezekiah, Josiah, Nehemiah, and others. Some may say that the situation of OT Israel was unique. It is true that, in OT times, Israel was unique among the nations of the world in containing the visible Church, and that no nation in these last days can ever make a legitimate claim to be the sole Christian nation. This precludes no land, however, from covenanting to be a Christian nation.

In the matter of putting men into civil office, the Christian citizen must recall, first, that only personally godly men who espouse Scriptural righteousness and justice are worthy of office (Deuteronomy 17:14-20, 2 Samuel 23:3), not those who are of a certain political party or those considered the “lesser of two evils”. Further, these candidates must, themselves, hold to the Christian view of civil government that has just been explained. To elect a man to office who has no conscience qualms about swearing to uphold and defend, without proper qualification, a Christless constitution of government involves both him and the elector in treason to Jesus.

Many, when receiving these teachings for the first time, react negatively. They call them quixotic, out of touch with the rampant ungodliness within our nation. Such principles are unrealistic, they declare. In initial reply, a simple question is appropriate: “But aren’t they Biblical?” If so, then no matter how contrary to common sense they may initially seem to be, we must embrace the doctrines and emplace their practical applications. Many are the times that God has blessed faithful obedience to His Word despite what appear to be pretty long odds, as man perceives. Who knows but that, as we follow the command of Christ to call the nations to repentance in this matter, we shall see them turning contritely to their King by the power of His Spirit? So it happened with Nineveh in the days of Jonah. Our preaching and teaching Christ’s Mediatorial Kingship over the nations will pull people from their pietism and privitization of Christianity. It will prepare the people of God, the Body of Christ, for proper action when the time comes to enact changes in the constitution of civil government, changes that will reflect proper, godly national submission to Messiah.

Another word that may spring up in the mind of some is “triumphalism”. It must be admitted that, historically, the Reformed Presbyterian Church has been postmillenial. Even now, whether they call themselves postmillenial or amillenial, most members of the Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church would consider themselves to be optimistic in their eschatology. This optimism, however, is not absolutely necessary in order to hold to the doctrine of Christ’s Mediatorial Reign over the nations, as is known from personal acquaintance. Is it “triumphalist” to teach and act on plain teachings of the Bible? If so, let us triumph in being “triumphalist”! In hoc Christo vinces! (In this Christ conquer!) Really, though, this name-calling is no more profitable in this discussion than that of my fellow theological/eschatological optimists who castigate “pessimillenialists”.

CONCLUSION

This, then, is a very condensed presentation of the doctrine of Christ’s Mediatorial Kingship, with some practical application. The Reformed Presbyterian Church believes it to be Biblical and binding on all the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ. Much of this material may be new to brethren in other branches of the Church, even those branches very near in most points of doctrine, discipline, government, and worship.

The Interchurch Committee of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America originally assigned this essay in the spirit of obedience to the church’s Covenant of 1871. In the actual engagement, paragraph 4, we read, “That, believing the Church to be one, and that all the saints have communion with God and with one another in the same Covenant; believing, moreover, that schism and sectarianism are sinful in themselves; and inimical to true religion, and trusting that divisions shall cease, and the people of God become one Catholic church over all the earth, we will pray and labor for the visible oneness of the Church of God in our own land and throughout the world, on the basis of truth and of Scriptural order. Considering it a principal duty of our profession to cultivate a holy brotherhood, we will strive to maintain Christian friendship with pious men of every name, and to feel and act as one with all in every land who pursue this grand end. And, as a means of securing this great result, we will by dissemination and application of the principles of truth herein professed, and by cultivating and exercising Christian charity, labor to remove stumbling-blocks, and to gather into one the scattered and divided friends of truth and righteousness.”

It is hoped that this essay will lead to a better understanding of this vital, yet much overlooked, doctrine; a greater unity in the Church of Jesus Christ; and a determination to work for the recognition of Christ’s crown rights in the nation. May He Who is Head and King of the Church, Zion’s only Potentate; He Who is King of kings and Lord of lords bring it to pass, to the praise of His Name and the glory of His and our Father!

By Philip H. Pockras, minister
Belle Center Reformed Presbyterian Church
Belle Center, Ohio

SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY

Boyle, Samuel E. The Christian Nation. Pittsburgh: The Christian Government Movement, n. d. [1971].
Edgar, William. “The National Confession Position.” In God and Politics, pp 176-99. Edited by Gary Scott Smith. Foreword by John H. White. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1989.
Hodge, Archibald Alexander. Evangelical Theology. 1890; Reprint ed., Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1976.
McAllister, David. Christian Civil Government in America. 6th ed. Revised by T. H. Acheson and Wm. Parsons. Pittsburgh: National Reform Association, 1927.
Oburn, William. The Dominion of Our Savior Jesus Christ as Mediator. Galion, OH: By the Author, 1878.
Palmer, Benjamin Morgan. “Christ’s Universal Dominion.” The Southern Pulpit I:9 (September, 1881): 526-36.
_____________________. “Sermon, Preached in the First Presbyterian Church, Augusta, Ga., December 4th, 1861, at the Opening of the First General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States of America.” Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America, 1861.
Reformed Dissenting Presbytery. An Act, Declaration, and Testimony of the Reformed Dissenting Presbyterian Church, in North-America. West-Union, Ohio: Reformed Dissenting Presbytery, 1839.
Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. The Constitution of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. Pittsburgh: Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America Board of Education and Publication, 1989.
Reformed Presbytery. Act, Declaration, and Testimony. Ploughlandhead, Scotland: 1761; reprint ed. with added historical and declaratory supplement, Philadelphia: Reformed Presbytery ["Steelite"], 1876.
Symington, William. Messiah the Prince, 2nd ed. Edinburgh: John Johnston, 1840.
Thornwell, James Henley. “Relation of the State to Christ. (A Memorial).” The Collected Works of James Henley Thornwell. Vol IV: Ecclesiastical, pp. 549-56. Edited by B. M. Palmer, 1875; reprint ed., Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1986.
United Presbyterian Church of North America. “The Testimony of the United Presbyterian Church of North America,” The Subordinate Standards of the United Presbyterian Church of North America, pp 535-92. Pittsburgh: United Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1903.

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What is New about the New Covenant?

As usual, I keep looking for nuggets of fine precise statement. This is one of them by Reverend Matthew Winzer concerning what is New in the New Covenant. I love God’s gift of teachers so that I might grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Let’s look at what is said to be new. Is forgiveness of sin a new concept? No. But the text says “I will remember their sins no more.” What is meant? Hebrews 8-10 tells us that it refers to sacrifice for sin. God will not require a yearly remembrance of sin by means of an annual sacrifice. So clearly the substance of the covenant has not changed. Forgiveness of sin was as much a reality of the old covenant as it is for the new. But the administration of the covenant has changed. Now we do not require a yearly sacrifice.

Let’s look at another aspect of the description — teaching. What is the point of reference? Is it all teaching? That cannot be the case, because the NT specifically speaks of teachers as one of the ascension gifts Christ has poured out upon His church. So when the text says that a man will no longer teach his neighbour, the point of reference cannot be to teaching per se, but must refer to a specific aspect of teaching, namely, the mediatorial function of the priesthood. Men could not come directly into the presence of God under the old covenant, but were dependent upon the ministry of priests to offer sacrifices and prayers on their behalf, and to teach them the significance of the sacrifices. As Hebrews 10 explains, all may now come boldly into the Holiest of all by means of the one sacrifice of our great High Priest, without the use of priestly intermediaries. All believers are priests unto God. So we note that coming into the presence of God was as much a reality for old covenant believers as for new covenant believers. The substance has not changed. What has changed is the administration of the covenant.

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The Mosaic Covenant, same in substance as the New?

You can skip over the first two links and view them later. I have tried to discuss this topic before on the Puritanboard but the discussion died out.
http://www.puritanboard.com/f30/kline-karlburg-not-confessional-concerning-mosaic-69258/

I was trying to get some feedback and response and learn a few things. It was based upon this article.
http://patrickspensees.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/in-defense-of-moses.pdf

I use to hold to a position somewhat similar to that of John Owen concerning the Mosaic Covenant.

5). This covenant thus made, with these ends and promises, did never save nor condemn any man eternally. All that lived under the administration if 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 “the ministry of condemnation,” 2 Corinthians 3:9; for “by 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. John Owen Commentary on Hebrews Chapter 8 pp. 85.86 Goold

I have recently been helped in understanding the Mosaic Covenant by Scripture clarification along with the help of a Pastor Patrick Ramsey. Thank You Pastor Ramsey.

The following was a post on the Puritanboard where I discussed the works paradigm in relation to how it should be understood in my ever so humble opinion. Yeah, I know you are all laughing. I can be rather opinionated sometimes. Hopefully I am humble in those opinions. For I know not as I should know as St. Paul warns me.

I have found that I disagree with Meredith Kline and others that hold to similar postions of a works paradigm in the Mosaic Covenant. I think Patrick Ramsey does a good job in revealing what Romans 10:5 and Leviticus 18:5 say when considering the whole Counsel of God. In fact when we look at Paul’s references we would think that Paul is pitting Moses against Moses and the Old Testament against the Old Testament in his New Testament writings. Especially if we just lift passages out of texts without considering other passages Paul also referenced. Paul isn’t pitting the OT against the OT or Moses against Moses when we look at the fuller context for understanding.

http://patrickspensees.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/pauls-use-of-lev-185-in-rom-105/

Paul’s Use of Lev. 18:5 in Rom. 10:5

The following is (I trust) a simple but not simplistic explanation of Paul’s use of Leviticus 18:5 in Romans 10:5.

In 9:30-10:5 Paul explained the reason the Jews did not attain righteousness even though they pursued it. They mistakenly pursued it by works (9:32). Hence, they stumbled over the stumbling stone (9:33). They sought to establish their own righteousness (10:3). Ignorant of the right way to righteousness, although they should have known better, they zealously pursued life on the basis of their own obedience to the law.

In Rom. 10:5 Paul describes this wrong way of pursuing life (righteousness) from the OT, namely Leviticus 18:5 (see also Neh. 9:29; Eze. 20:11, 13, 21): “For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.” Now the fact that Paul appeals to Moses to describe the wrong way, or if you will, the Pharisaical way of pursuing righteousness, is somewhat perplexing. As a result, this verse, along with its counterpart in Gal. 3, is quite controversial among commentators and theologians.

Here is the difficulty from three different perspectives. First, in 9:32, Paul had said that the law itself did not teach that righteousness was based on works or obedience to the law. The Jews pursued the law as if it led to righteousness. The Jews, as the NT says elsewhere, misread the OT. And yet Paul seems to be saying in vs. 5 that the OT did in fact teach and exhort the people to pursue life/righteousness by keeping the law. How then can Paul (or the rest of the NT) condemn the Pharisees for seeking righteousness by works if that is what Moses told them to do?

Second, in vs. 8 Paul will quote Deut. 30 and later on he will cite Isaiah and Joel in direct contrast to Lev. 18:5 to describe the right way to find life and righteousness. So then it would seem that Paul pits Moses against Moses and the OT against the OT.

Third, the context of Lev. 18:5 doesn’t seem to support the way Paul uses it in Rom. 10:5. Moses exhorts Israel to keep God’s commandments in the context of redemption and covenant. Verses 1-3 highlight the point that Israel already belongs to God as his redeemed people. These verses are very similar to the prologue to the Ten Commandments, which teaches that salvation precedes obedience. God didn’t give Israel the law so that they might be saved. He saves them so that they might keep the law. In short, the context of Lev. 18:5 speaks against the idea that it teaches legalism or a work-based righteousness. Yet, that is how Paul is using this verse!

Now some have sought to solve this difficulty by saying that there is no actual contrast between verses 5 and 6. The “but” of vs. 6 should be translated “and.” The problem with this, however, is that it doesn’t fit the context of Paul’s argument. The apostle, beginning in 9:30 is contrasting two ways of seeking righteousness—works and faith—and this contrast clearly continues in vs. 5. This is confirmed by the fact that Paul speaks of works righteousness or righteousness based on law elsewhere (Gal. 3; Phil. 3:9) in a negative way.

So then how are we to understand what Paul is saying in vs. 5 (and in Gal. 3)? Well, Paul is citing Lev. 18:5 according to how it was understood by the Jews of his day; and no doubt how he understood it before his conversion. The Jews of Paul’s day saw obedience to the law (which included laws pertaining to the atonement of sins) as the source of life and as the basis of salvation. Keeping the law was the stairway to heaven. The way to have your sins forgiven and to be accepted by God was to observe the law. Lev. 18:5 provided biblical support for this Pharisaical position. And it is not hard to see why they would appeal to tis verse since it says that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.

In Rom. 10:6ff Paul refutes this works-based righteousness position including the Jewish appeal to Lev. 18:5. Now he doesn’t do it in the way you or I might think of doing it. We might tend to respond to the Pharisee and say: “Look, you have completely misunderstood what Moses is saying in Lev. 18:5. The specific and general context of that verse indicates that your interpretation is incorrect…” Instead, Paul uses a technique that was quite common in his day. He counters their interpretation of Lev. 18:5 by citing another passage: Deut. 30:12-14. In other words, Paul is saying that Deut. 30 demonstrates that the Jewish understanding of Lev. 18:5 is incorrect. We of course sometimes use this type of argument today. For example, some people today appeal to James 2 to prove that we need to obey the law in order to be justified. One way to disprove that interpretation would be to cite Paul in Romans or Galatians. So Paul is not pitting Moses against Moses in vv. 5-6 or saying that Moses taught salvation by works. Rather the apostle is using one Mosaic passage to prove that the legalistic interpretation of another Mosaic passage is wrong.

By Pastor Patrick Ramsey OPC Teaching Elder

A statement was also made how the Mosaic should be viewed as an administration of death. I actually believe the above helps us answer this problem but I also saw this. We as fallen people tend to want to turn the Covenant of Grace into a Covenant of Works. Many people even do this concerning the New Covenant today when they add works to the equation of justification by faith.

In light of the passage mentioned in 2 Corinthians 3, which calls the Old an administration of Death, one must also read the prior passages to understand what context St. Paul is referring to the Mosaic Covenant in.

(2Co 2:14-17) Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

Christ and the Gospel was Preached in Moses and the Old Testament. In fact Jesus said as much as did the author of Hebrews.

(Luk 24:27) And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

(Joh 5:46,47) For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

(Heb. 4:2,3) For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

The Mosaic was an administration of death the same way the New Covenant is to those who seek to turn the New Covenant into a Covenant of Works. We are so inclined to stumble because we will not believe Moses or Christ. We naturally tend to corrupt the Word of God and the Covenant of Grace by wanting to add our works into our justification before God. In doing so we are refusing the Cornerstone and Saviour. We become like those that Paul is speaking about, “to one they [Paul and the Apostles] are a savour of death unto death.” And how do they who consider Paul and the Church to be a savour unto death? They do it by what Paul says he doesn’t do in the proceeding verse, “For we are not as those who corrupt the Word of God.”

Well, this is some of the stuff I am seeing now days. I do believe that works are important and a big part of our salvation. But I speak of salvation as a whole. Not in the respect of purely justification. There are no works considered in our justification. I do believe that our Union in Christ brings a twofold Grace of justification and sanctification. You can not separate them from our salvation. They are not dichotomized but are distinct in the process of salvation. It is all by Grace as St. Paul said. It is all by Grace as St. Paul said. This tension seems hard to process but it is summed up in Ephesians 2:8-10 and Philippians 2:12,13.

(Eph 2:8-10) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Php 2:12,13) Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

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Joined at the Hip: Good Works and Salvation in the Reformed Faith

I was referred to this blog post by the Pastor who wrote it. It is outstanding…..
Here is a short from it with a link to read the whole paper he did for his ThM.
Thank you Pastor Ramsey for your diligent work.


All Protestants, except the most extreme Antinomians, advocate the importance and even the necessity of good works. They readily admit that justified believers must engage in good works in order to glorify God, edify one’s neighbor, express gratitude, attest true faith and submit to God’s command. Contention arises, however, when the necessity of good works is related to salvation. For instance, the Majoristic controversy swirled around George Major’s assertion that good works are necessary to salvation (bona opera necessaria esse ad salutem).[1] Similarly, English Dissenters in the Neonomian/Antinomian controversy argued whether or not good works are the way to heaven and the necessary means to obtaining salvation.[2]

The Lutheran branch of the Protestant Reformation settled this debate confessionally with the publication of The Book of Concord. It condemned Major’s teaching[3] while affirming “that good works were obligatory, in that they are commanded, as well as being an appropriate expression of faith and gratitude to God.”[4] By contrast, the Reformed, in the main, affirmed the necessity of good works to salvation. To be sure, differences existed, both verbal and real.[5] Nevertheless, numerous Reformed theologians did not hesitate to draw a necessary link between works and salvation.[6] Indeed, such teaching was given confessional status. The Waldensian Confession states that “good works are so necessary to the faithful that they cannot attain the kingdom of heaven without the same.”[7] It also avers that eternal life is the reward of good works.[8] According to the Westminster Standards, Spirit wrought obedience is “the way which he hath appointed them to salvation,” and good works are to be done “that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life.”[9]

This paper will attempt to unpack the Reformed understanding of the relationship between good works and salvation by examining the writings of numerous prominent Reformed theologians. In so doing we will discuss the salvific necessity of good works under three headings: the requirement of the covenant, the road to heaven, and the reward of eternal life.

The Requirement of the Covenant

Since the growth and development of covenant theology occurred primarily within Reformed circles[10] it is not surprising that the discussion of good works is often addressed in covenantal terms. Geerhardus Vos correctly observes that the Reformed, unlike the Lutherans, are not reluctant to include new obedience as a condition or requirement of the covenant of grace since they understand the covenant and salvation to be broader than justification.[11] As Turretin writes: “There is not the same relation of justification and of the covenant through all things. To the former, faith alone concurs, but to the observance of the latter other virtues also are required besides faith.”[12]

John Ball (1585-1640) in his influential work A Treatise on the Covenant of Grace demonstrates from the Scriptures that though there are many postlapsarian redemptive covenants, there is, in substance, one overarching covenant of grace.[13] In this one covenant of Grace, God promises forgiveness of sins, spiritual adoption and eternal life, requiring on the part of man repentance, faith and obedience. With respect to the condition Ball writes:

“The stipulation required is, that we take God to be our God, that is, that we repent of our iniquities, believe the promises of mercy and embrace them with the whole heart, and yield love, feare, reverence, worship, and obedience unto him, according to the prescript rule of his word.”[14]

Ball, as well as the many other Reformed covenantal theologians, carefully distinguishes between types of conditions.[15] Generally speaking, conditions refer to whatever is required on man’s part in the covenant; they may either be antecedent, concomitant or subsequent to the thing promised; and they may or may not be causal….

http://patrickspensees.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/good-works-in-the-reformed-tradition/

 

I found this paper that Pastor Patrick Ramsey did to be very informative from a Confessional and Reformed standpoint concerning good works as the way to salvation. It has plenty of good references and is well documented. Please enjoy the whole of it by copying and pasting the link above.

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