Two Different Definitions of Merit


Two Different Definitions of Merit

pp.36-41 of the Merit and Moses paper presented to the OPC Northwest Presbytery.

This booklet has been published now. Please get the booklet.

Part 2: The Republication Paradigm

The Republication Paradigm: Merit Divorced from Ontology

In the Republication Paradigm, merit is not defined ontologically, but covenantally. This redefinition of merit (which will be explained below in more detail) is central and foundational to the doctrine of republication. Shepherd (along with Daniel Fuller and FV proponents) have formulated a theology that categorically rejects the concept of merit in God’s covenantal arrangements. In so doing, they have appealed to the Biblical principle of the ontological disproportion between man and God. Yet, they have rejected the traditional doctrine of the covenant of works. They have deemed the idea of Adam’s merit to be an inconsistent compromise of the Reformation’s insistence of salvation and eternal life by God’s grace alone. We believe that Kline (among many others) was correct in expressing concern over the categorical rejection of Adamic merit and the merit of Christ. The Bible’s two-Adam covenantal structure demands that we account for the unique theological parallel between the two Adams and their mutual ability to perform perfect, personal obedience. We believe this was done in a careful and theologically balanced way through the traditional distinction between “covenant merit” and “strict merit.” By confusing or failing to account for these two, many have gone as far as to reject the merit of Christ. In Part 1, we observed that Norman Shepherd did eventually reject the necessity of Christ’s imputed active obedience, and thus undermined the doctrine of justification.

Nevertheless, in his reaction to Shepherd’s pendulum swing away from the ideas of “merit” and the “covenant of works,” we believe Kline swung the pendulum too far in the other direction (as was presented in Part 1). Yet, the editors of TLNF have stated their position clearly; they agree with Kline’s conviction that the republication view is necessary, and will better serve the church by guarding against the errors of Shepherd. Instead of seeking to recover what we regard to be the balanced and Biblically faithful view of merit and the covenant of works in our Confession and other creeds of the Reformed church, Kline and many of his followers have found it necessary to reformulate these ideas apart from ontological considerations. In our view, the resulting paradigm has serious repercussions on other important elements in the Reformed system of doctrine.

The Klinean reformulation includes three key elements, which will be considered below, point by point.

1. The conflation of creation and covenant (essentially eliminating the logical distinction between the two).

2. The rejection of the necessity of God’s voluntary condescension to establish the covenant with man.

3. The redefinition of merit and justice along covenantal lines to the exclusion of Ontology.

1. Man is in Covenant with God at the Moment of Creation

The republication view teaches that man was in covenant with God at the very moment of creation. This is an important shift from the traditional viewpoint. Ontological considerations demand that there be at least a logical distinction (rather than a chronological or historical sequence) between God’s creating man and his entering into covenant with him. The republication teaching now erases this confessional distinction (which is based upon the “great disproportion” between the Creator and creature), and thereby turns God’s providential work of establishing the covenant into an aspect of the work of creation. Thus, we may say that the two distinct acts have been conflated or collapsed into essentially one act in this new view. For all intents and purposes, the relationship between God and man is not first that of sovereign Creator over his finite creature, but is from the point of creation a relationship of “God-in-covenant-with-man.” For Professor Kline and those who have followed his lead in the republication position, it is improper to even consider man’s existence apart from covenant. Thus, man’s covenantal status seems to “trump” his creaturely status. Professor Kline makes this clear in Kingdom Prologue.

Man’s creation as image of God meant, as we have seen, that the creating of the world was a covenant-making process. There was no original non-covenantal order of mere nature on which the covenant was superimposed. Covenantal commitments were given by the Creator in the very act of endowing the mancreature with the mantle of the divine likeness. …The situation never existed in which man’s future was contemplated or presented in terms of a static continuation of the original state of blessedness (Kingdom Prologue [2000], p. 92).

A recent book, Sacred Bond,10 written on the popular level concerning Reformed covenant theology, has put the Klinean reformulation in simple terms.

“…God is the one who made the covenant, and he did so at creation. For Adam and Eve to be made in the image of God is for them to be in covenant with God” (Sacred Bond [2012], p. 43).

The obliteration of the distinction between creation and covenant is extremely significant for laying the foundation of a new paradigm of merit—one that is divorced from ontological considerations.
We have already observed that the Creator-creature distinction lies at the center of the doctrines of God, man, and of the covenant in the history of Reformed theology. This distinction is also central to the traditional understanding of merit, as the differences between Adam’s covenant merit and Christ’s strict merit rest on ontological factors. It is apparent that the adherents to the Republication Paradigm have followed Professor Kline in their departure from the tradition in this regard. Professor David VanDrunen shows his agreement with Kline in TLNF.

Meredith Kline (1922-2007) follows his Reformed predecessors closely in affirming the works principle operative in the covenant with Adam and in associating this works principle with the reality of the image of God. He resolves the ambiguity patent in many of his predecessors, however, by refusing to separate the act of creation in the image of God from the establishment of the covenant with Adam. For Kline, the very act of creation in God’s image entails the establishment of the covenant, with its requirement of obedience and its prospect of eschatological reward or punishment. …God’s creating Adam in his image and the establishment of the covenant are aspects of the same act, and thus Adam’s image-derived natural human knowledge that obedience brings eschatological life was at the very same time covenantal knowledge of a special relationship with God (VanDrunen, TLNF, p. 291).

It is debatable whether Kline’s “Reformed predecessors” actually taught this conflation of creation and covenant, and whether it is fair to characterize the tradition as having “ambiguity” on this point. In his review of TLNF, Venema seeks to set the record straight.

VanDrunen’s characterization of this “ambiguity” in historic theology is rather puzzling. There is little evidence that many covenant theologians in the orthodox period simply identified the covenant of works with man’s creation in God’s image and subjection to the moral law of God. Rather than being an ambiguity in Reformed covenant theology, the distinction (without separation) between the creation of man in God’s image and the institution of the prelapsarian covenant of works is nearly the unanimous opinion of the covenant theologians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. VanDrunen’s claim that there is an ambiguity in Reformed covenant theology on this point is belied by the express language of the Westminster Confession of Faith, when it describes the covenant as a “voluntary condescension” on God’s part. Rather than being an ambiguity in the history of Reformed covenant theology, the consensus opinion expressed in the Confession views the covenant of works as a sovereign and voluntary initiative of God (“The Mosaic Covenant.” Mid-America Journal 21 [2010]: 95).

We will address the idea of “voluntary condescension” in the next point. Here, it is important to underscore that the conflation of creation and covenant within the republication position is a departure from the formulations of the Westminster standards. What is clear in the Standards is that God “entered into” the covenant of works with man as the result of his work of providence, rather than from his work of creation. Shorter Catechism, Q&A 12, explicitly identifies the making of the covenant of works with Adam and Eve as a “special act of providence”—not an act that coincides or co-originates with the work of creation (see Shorter Catechism 10). The Republication Paradigm rejects this formulation of the Standards when it teaches that the covenant relationship is an aspect of creation.
2. Voluntary Condescension Is Eliminated

In the above quote, Venema shows that voluntary condescension is clearly affirmed within the mainstream Reformed position when he writes, “Rather than being an ambiguity in the history of Reformed covenant theology, the consensus opinion expressed in the Confession views the covenant of works as a sovereign and voluntary initiative of God.” The Confession’s articulation of the doctrine appears to be the obvious answer to any claims of “ambiguity” in the tradition. Westminster Confession of Faith 7:1 makes the doctrine of voluntary condescension foundational to God’s covenant with man as an expression of how God bridged the gap of the “great disproportion” between God and man. The Confession indicates that this doctrine is integrally connected to man’s hope of heaven. Even sinless man “could never have any fruition of [God] as their blessedness and reward” without voluntary condescension. One may wonder why TLNF is silent on this integral part of covenant theology. We believe this omission is consistent with the previous point (1 above).

Although the authors of TLNF do not explicitly reject WCF 7:1, as Kline did (cf. Part 1, p. 19), it becomes clear that this is the logical and necessary conclusion of Kline’s viewpoint. Lee Irons wrote extensively about this in the article “Redefining Merit” for the Kline festschrift.

It is therefore incorrect to speak of God voluntarily condescending to the creature to make a covenant. For the very fact of creation itself has already constituted man in a covenant relationship with his creator. This formulation of the mutual reciprocity of creation and covenant shows more clearly than ever that the covenant of works is not a matter of grace but simple justice toward the creature made in God’s image (Creator, Redeemer, Consummator [2000], p. 267).

It is evident that WCF 7:1 becomes problematic for the republication position. Even if an explicit rejection of God’s voluntary condescension (such as the one by Irons) is absent in TLNF, an implicit one remains. The republication view’s “erasure” of the historic distinction between the work of creation and the establishment of the covenant necessarily leads to the rejection of the doctrine. Irons has told us the reason in the above quote. Since the republication position entails that creation itself is conflated with the covenant relationship, there is no need (in this system) to bridge an ontological divide between God and man through voluntary condescension. As Irons clearly states, “For the very fact of creation itself has already constituted man in a covenantal relationship with his creator.”

Thus, in the Republication Paradigm, the doctrine of condescension actually gets in the way. As is reflected in the quote from Irons, adherents of the republication view are concerned that the doctrine of voluntary condescension opens the door to Shepherd’s error. How might this happen? Voluntary condescension would seem to allow for the claim that the covenant relationship between God and Adam is founded on love or grace rather than on a works principle (“simple justice”). This paradigm therefore rejects the idea that God’s goodness, benevolence or unmerited favor is foundational for the establishment of the covenant relationship. Such a rejection of voluntary condescension, in our view, is to throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water, and will lead to catastrophic alterations within the system of doctrine. One cannot remove a foundation stone (“voluntary condescension” in WCF 7:1) without a significant shift occurring—one that will inevitably damage the structure (covenant theology) resting upon it.

3. Merit and Justice Are Determined ‘Covenantally’

The previous two points lead to the third and final element of the Republication Paradigm shift. In light of the conflation of creation and covenant and the removal of voluntary condescension, it becomes evident that the historical Reformed concept of merit must be replaced with a new model. Merit must not be defined ontologically. Merit and justice are no longer to be governed by God’s nature (ontology) or considered in light of the Creator-creature distinction. Nor is the distinction between strict and covenant merit a legitimate or relevant one to make. Instead, merit and justice are to be determined “covenantally.” What does this mean in the republication view? Only the terms of a particular covenant may decide what is “just” and “meritorious.” Merit, in this new paradigm, may be defined as follows: one performs a meritorious work when he fulfills the stated stipulation (i. e., condition or requirement) of a given law-covenant.

This might be confusing to some readers because this redefined notion of merit uses the term “covenant merit” in a novel way. This term has been used historically in one way, but is now being used with a different meaning. What are the precise differences between the Klinean version of “covenant merit” and the traditional view?

The traditional paradigm affirms that Adam’s merit was considered to be covenant merit in distinction from strict merit. In other words, Adam’s perfect obedience, as a creature, is being contrasted with Christ’s obedience as the God-man. On the one hand, Adam’s obedience was counted as meritorious on the basis of the covenant which had been established as an expression of God’s voluntary condescension. He had the ability to perform perfect, personal obedience to the law as the ground of his reward. (This stands in contrast to the covenant of grace, which requires faith in Christ as the way of salvation.) However, Adam’s finite works of obedience could never be considered as valuable as the infinite gift of eternal life. On the other hand, Christ’s obedience could be counted as strictly meritorious since it was inherently worthy of receiving such a reward. Thus, the traditional definition of covenant merit is dependent on ontological considerations. In the traditional view, “covenant merit” only possessed meaning as it stood in contrast to “strict merit.” It existed as part of a Biblical and systematic theology that not only took into account the Creator-creature distinction, but viewed it as foundational for its theology. Nevertheless, strict and proper merit did actually exist in the history of redemption. It is hardly an example of theological abstraction or speculation that would detract from a concrete Biblical theology of justice and merit. Instead, “strict merit” serves to uniquely identify the merits of Jesus Christ which were historically accomplished on behalf of his people, in the fulfillment of his active and passive obedience.

Within the new Republication Paradigm, “covenant merit” is used to communicate a different concept than what has been understood by the customary use of the term. The new use of “covenant merit” no longer serves to communicate the importance of the ontological divide between the Creator and creature. In fact, the Klinean-republication version of “covenant merit” is no longer based upon, defined by, or understood in reference to ontology at all. Points 1 and 2 above have laid the groundwork for understanding why the Republication Paradigm has removed all ontological considerations from the definition of merit. The pathway has been cleared for a new paradigm of merit.

In the republication view, merit is defined in terms of God’s revealed will as specified by the terms of the covenant. Simply stated, merit is whatever God says it is. According to the republication position, the nature of the specified condition is ultimately irrelevant for determining its meritorious or non-meritorious character. The condition may be perfection (as in the covenant with Adam), or it may be something less than perfection (as in the Mosaic covenant). A work is meritorious, therefore, simply when God decides to accept it as such through the stated stipulations or conditions of a particular covenantal arrangement. Kline referred to this as “simple justice.”

In keeping with the nature of God’s covenant with Adam as one of simple justice, covenant theology holds that Adam’s obedience in the probation would have been the performing of a meritorious deed by which he earned the covenanted blessings (Kline’s unpublished version of “Covenant Theology Under Attack” at

If God gives a particular condition in a particular covenant, and that condition is met through obedience, then it is a matter of God’s simple justice that he reward that obedience as meritorious. As Kline says elsewhere, “…God’s covenant Word is definitive of Justice” (God, Heaven and Har Magedon, p. 64). Note what follows. In this redefined view of merit, there is no longer any need or place for the previous distinction made between Adam’s covenant merit in contrast to Christ’s strict merit. In terms of the definition of merit, Adam and Christ can equally earn the rewards of their respective covenants according to the principle of simple justice.

It is also important to note another ramification of this new paradigm. Just as the respective obedience of Adam and Christ would be deemed equally meritorious according to the definition of “simple justice,” so also the works of others, beyond (or between) the two federal heads, may equally be counted as meritorious. The Republication Paradigm allows for only one category or definition of merit (“covenant merit”) which is applied equally to Adam, to Christ, as well as to other figures after the fall (such as Noah, Abraham, and Israel). This explains why meritorious works of obedience are possible for sinners between Adam and Christ in this new paradigm. The redefinition of merit “allows” God to make another meritorious arrangement outside of the ones made with the two Adams. After the fall, in the Mosaic covenant, for example, God may decide to make an arrangement in which he promises temporal-typological blessings on the basis of Israel’s imperfect, sincere, national obedience, instead of the perfect, entire and personal obedience which was required of the two covenant heads (see following diagram).

Simple Justice


Perfect Obedience–Imperfect National Obedience–Perfect Obedience

The redefinition of “covenant merit” does not require any ontological considerations. In fact, it does not even require moral perfection on the part of man. Thus, the fact that Israel’s works are those of fallen sinful creatures is completely irrelevant. They are meritorious because God says so. All that matters is that they fulfill God’s covenant Word, which alone defines and determines what constitutes merit and justice in any given covenantal arrangement.

St. Patrick a Heart of Fire / Adventures in Odyssey


It is St. Patrick’s Day.  Adventures in Odyssey did a few episodes on the Saint.  I listened to them with the kids as they were growing up.  I think you will enjoy these two episodes.

Santa Is Dead

Just for you alls entertainment and encouragement. This is something I usually post around this time of year on the It has been a few years and I don’t believe I have put it on a Blog post.

Here is a picture I love to post at this time of year.


To explain why I appreciate it and put it into some context I will also share an old story of mine. I posted it a many years ago on the Puritanboard. I also think it is humorous and goes along with the picture.

Before I was married I purposed in my heart to never lie to kids about St. Nicholaus. My reasoning was this. If I told them a lie about Santa then who is to say that I am not lying about Jesus? So when I started having children I told them the truth. St. Nick was dead but that he lived in heaven with Jesus. I told them about the fables and myths and said it was wrong to make Santa Claus have characteristics that only God has.

Well, one Christmas we were in a department / grocery store and the cashier asked my two boys (probably around 6 years old) if they were good and if Santa was going to come to their house? I believe it was my oldest son Daniel who looked up at her and said, “No, Santa is dead.” You should have seen the look of horror on that ladies face. It was great. I then explained to her that we believe that the real St. Nick is alive in heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ because Jesus died for the Bishop’s sin. We then explained to the horrified cashier that we wanted our son’s to know that their parents tried to always tell them the truth. They could trust us when we said Jesus was real.

It is a great witness.

Please read the below Gospel Presentation.

Some Scripture Passages Concerning Degrees of Sin, Punishment, and Reward

Choices - heaven or hell

Last Evening I got into a discussion with a Sales Representative from a local Wine Distributor at a Cafe’ / Bar where my son is the General Manager.  The sales rep told me he was not a Christian. But he was a very nice man who had attended a Wesleyan University here in Indiana.  He contested that all sin was equal and that sin is only more heinous in the sight of men.  He contested that all sin is equally detestable in the sight of God whether it be murder or lying. He believed that all men who deserve and go to Hell suffer the same whether they be mass murders or just the local man who stole something from his neighbor.  There are no degrees of sin or punishment in Hell.  He also contested that the Righteous who enter heaven all receive the same level of blessedness. I agree that all sin is detestable to God but I also believe the Scripture points out that there are sins that are more heinous in God’s sight than other sins. (John 19:11)  So I set out to look at some passages today concerning God’s judgment and if there might be scripture to support his claim.

I believe he was basing his assumption on something that James wrote.  James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. That passage is not speaking about degrees of sin though.  It is just pointing out that when you sin you are a law breaker and if you break one of the commandments you actually break the whole system.

As an example let’s look and see if Adam’s sin was a violation that defied the whole decalogue (or Ten Commandments).  When Adam sinned did he break the whole Decalogue? I believe so.  By listening to the serpent,  creating his own worldview and not holding to God’s, he violated the first and second commandments. In letting his wife eat the tree and joining her, he violated his marriage vows. He committed adultery.God told him not to eat the fruit. He presumably agreed, so he violated taking God’s name in vain by failing to keep an oath. He also stole/took what was not his to have at the time it wasn’t granted. (the knowledge of good and evil). The fruit looked good to the eyes. This is covetousness. God told Adam they would die if they did this. Adam “murdered” Eve and all of us. We are “dead” in sins because of him. We die physically because of him.

When we break one commandment we violate all the others because they are so intrinsically attached to each other. At the same time I am not so sure that the James passage above is addressing the heinous depths and degrees of sin which we can partake in.

Here were some of the passages I gleaned today.

Psa 62:12  Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.

Pro 24:12  If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?

Jer 17:10  I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

Eze 18:20  The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him…
Eze 18:30  Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.

Mat 10:15  Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

Mat 11:21  Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
Mat 11:22  But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
Mat 11:23  And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
Mat 11:24  But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

Mat 12:36  But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
Mat 12:37  For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Mat 19:28  And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Mat 19:29  And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

Mat 25:14  For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
Mat 25:15  And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
Mat 25:16  Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
Mat 25:17  And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
Mat 25:18  But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
Mat 25:19  After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
Mat 25:20  And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
Mat 25:21  His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Mat 25:22  He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
Mat 25:23  His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Mat 25:24  Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
Mat 25:25  And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
Mat 25:26  His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
Mat 25:27  Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
Mat 25:28  Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
Mat 25:29  For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
Mat 25:30  And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Luk 10:12  But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.
Luk 10:13  Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
Luk 10:14  But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you.
Luk 10:15  And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.

Luk 12:42  And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?
Luk 12:43  Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
Luk 12:44  Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.
Luk 12:45  But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;
Luk 12:46  The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
Luk 12:47  And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
Luk 12:48  But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

Luk 20:46  Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts;
Luk 20:47  Which devour widows’ houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.

Joh 19:11  Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.

Rom 2:5  But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
Rom 2:6  Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

1Co 3:11  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1Co 3:12  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
1Co 3:13  Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
1Co 3:14  If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
1Co 3:15  If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
1Co 3:16  Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
1Co 3:17  If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

2Co 5:10  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Col 3:24  Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
Col 3:25  But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

Heb 9:27  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Heb 10:28  He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
Heb 10:29  Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Jas 3:1  My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

1Pe 1:17  And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

2Pe 2:19  While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
2Pe 2:20  For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.
2Pe 2:21  For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

Rev 20:12  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

Westminster Larger Catechism

Question 149: Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?

Answer: No man is able, either of himself, or by any grace received in this life, perfectly to keep the commandments of God; but does daily break them in thought, word, and deed.

Question 150: Are all transgressions of the law of God equally heinous in themselves, and in the sight of God?

Answer: All transgressions of the law of God are not equally heinous; but some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.

Question 151: What are those aggravations that make some sins more heinous than others?

Answer: Sins receive their aggravations, From the persons offending: if they be of riper age, greater experience or grace, eminent for profession, gifts, place, office, guides to others, and whose example is likely to be followed by others. From the parties offended: if immediately against God, his attributes, and worship; against Christ, and his grace; the Holy Spirit, his witness, and workings; against superiors, men of eminency, and such as we stand especially related and engaged unto; against any of the saints, particularly weak brethren, the souls of them, or any other, and the common good of all or many. From the nature and quality of the offense: if it be against the express letter of the law, break many commandments, contain in it many sins: if not only conceived in the heart, but breaks forth in words and actions, scandalize others, and admit of no reparation: if against means, mercies, judgments, light of nature, conviction of conscience, public or private admonition, censures of the church, civil punishments; and our prayers, purposes, promises, vows, covenants, and engagements to God or men: if done deliberately, wilfully, presumptuously, impudently, boastingly, maliciously, frequently, obstinately, with delight, continuance, or relapsing after repentance. From circumstances of time and place: if on the Lord’s day, or other times of divine worship; or immediately before or after these, or other helps to prevent or remedy such miscarriages: if in public, or in the presence of others, who are thereby likely to be provoked or defiled.

Westminster Confession of Faith

Chapter XXXIII

Of the Last Judgment

I. God has appointed a day, wherein He will judge the world, in righteousness, by Jesus Christ,[1] to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father.[2] In which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged,[3] but likewise all persons that have lived upon earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds; and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil.[4]

My mind runs like this after I hear a great quote

Great Quote from a friend.

Christ’s sacrifice commenced the moment He assumed human nature.”


Those kind of quotes just make my mind run through the scriptures like this…..

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Mark 1:38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.”

Luke 4:43 but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”

John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
John 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
John 6:39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
John 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 12:27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.

John 16:28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. 

John 18:37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

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

Galatians 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:

2Corinthians 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
2Corinthians 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
2Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
2Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

1Corinthians 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

Yep, Paul speaks to me and I accept the rebuke and will keep speaking of Christ and His love.

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Romans 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Romans 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
Romans 5:4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
Romans 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
Romans 5:7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
Romans 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
Romans 5:11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

I love this passage…
Joh 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

The Difference Between the Just and Unjust


The difference between the man (or woman) who is on the heavenly journey and the man (or woman) who is headed toward eternal punishment and separation from God is a matter of concern from the heart. The heart of a just man cries to God and knows what he deserves and confesses it.

Psa 51:1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
Psa 51:2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
Psa 51:3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
Psa 51:4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
Psa 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Psa 51:6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
Psa 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Psa 51:8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
Psa 51:9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
Psa 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Psa 51:11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
Psa 51:12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
Psa 51:13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

The Way of the unjust man (or woman) is void of concern for God’s will and love. They are spiritually blind, deaf, and are truly dead spiritually. Truly spiritual things are foolishness to them.

1Co 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

No person is perfect.  But a Christian’s pursuit and reaction to offending God manifests itself in repentance if he is spiritually alive. He may fall but he gets back up and moves on as St. Paul suggests.

Php 3:12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
Php 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
Php 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

The wicked try to get the the just man (or woman) to stumble but the Christian shall recover if he sins, unlike the wicked. The wicked man doesn’t manifest true repentance.  He may manifest a sorrow concerning his wrong doing but it isn’t a sorrow that is produced by godly repentance toward God.  That is why we are called to seek the wicked man’s justification and reconciliation with God.  So that they may repent with godly sorrow.

2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

Pro 24:16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
Pro 24:17 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:
Pro 24:18 Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.
Pro 24:19 Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked;
Pro 24:20 For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.

Please think about this and be reconciled to God. Please start to be concerned over offending Him. Seek Him while he may be found.

2Co 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
2Co 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
2Co 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
2Co 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Christ gives this encouragement and exhortation to mankind.

Mat 11:27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
Mat 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Mat 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Mat 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Mat 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
Mat 6:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
Mat 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Mat 6:22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
Mat 6:23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
Mat 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

May we fear God who loves us and who desires for us to come to Him. May we not be like the rebellious Covenant People of God who forsook Him and had a dead and false religious ear and heart…

Jer 5:21 Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:
Jer 5:22 Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?
Jer 5:23 But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone.
Jer 5:24 Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.
Jer 5:25 Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.
Jer 5:26 For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men.
Jer 5:27 As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich.
Jer 5:28 They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge.
Jer 5:29 Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?

The unjust man needs to be adopted into God’s family.

The Christian is adopted already and needs to relate as a child does with their Father.

Very Good discussion on R. Scott Clark’s 7 point summary of Republication


This was a very good discussion on the Puritanboard in which Dr. Clark himself participated.  I joined in on the second page after he made this statement.

“First, As a minister in the United Reformed Churches I subscribe, without exception and unequivocally, the Three Forms of Unity. As a seminary prof I subscribe ex animo (sincerely from the heart) the system of doctrine contained in the Westminster Standards but I believe that I hold them without exception.”  RSC

My response to this was, “On another point I also believe that Dr. Clark holds to a position concerning the Mosaic Covenant that is not in accordance with the WCF concerning the Mosaic Covenant. He seems to hold to a position that is at odds with the Mosaic Covenant being a full administration of the Covenant of Grace. It seems to be a modified approach that makes it both an administration of both the Covenant of Grace and a Covenant of Works (in a varied sense).”

As he has stated,

“That God might have arranged a temporary, national covenant with Israel such that she may be said to have “merited” temporal blessings in the land is a view that has been held in the history of Reformed theology. It is probably a minority view but it has been held.

I would not put it that way myself. As I’ve said many times, there’s too much evidence in the history of Israel for me to think that even the temporal blessings were merited. Nevertheless, it is also the case that Scripture does speak to Israel in legal terms and that, is, in my view, the material question in republication. I agree with the broad mainstream of classic Reformed writers in the 16th and 17th centuries and with the Marrow of Modern Divinity, that the old covenant (Moses-David-Prophets) was both an administration of the covenant of grace and an administration of the covenant of works.” R. Scott Clark

I also note in the discussion, “I do not believe this is the broad mainstream of the Westminster Divines. I am not so sure it is that of the Marrow Men either as I have noted here.”

I know Dr. Clark is not ignorant of the positions here since he was someone who warned me against John Ball’s ‘A Treatise of the Covenant of Grace’. I assume he has read Samuel Rutherford, Anthony BurgessHerman Bavinck, James Durham, John Ball, etc. He is a Reformed Historian and Seminary Professor. I just wish he would be open and quit obfuscating. He isn’t the only person doing this but he is the one who has harped and penned on these issues in great quantity and I believe he is confusing people by hiding the facts and being less precise than he should be as in his comment about Distinctions and being called a Lutheran in a recent comment on his blog.

This really isn’t about Clark as much as it is about others being confused by these type of men on these issues. Just be honest about what you believe whether it is in the minority position or majority positions. I have great fellowship with those of other denominations. But they are honest about their disagreements and who they are. They don’t claim to hold to a Confession of Faith without exception when they really don’t.

I hold to the WCF but have some possible quibbles as per my Denominations Testimony. Being honest and open lays a better ground for fellowship and love. In Him there is no darkness.

I believe the following web site can be very beneficial. Please take your time and explore it.

The Mosaic Covenant in Reformed Theology

Introduction to site.

They are deceived then who make Parallel distinctions of the Old and New Testament; of the Covenant of Works, and of Grace; of the Law, and Gospel: for in both, the Testament or Covenant is the Covenant of Grace; in both, the Law and Gospel are urged.

(Johannes Wollebius)

This site will be dedicated to providing resources for understanding the Mosaic covenant in Reformed Theology. Our primary focus will be historical-theological. Our goal is provide the church, her pastors, and professors with direct access to primary documents that speak to this issue. Many historical-theological treatments of this issue are agenda-driven, and are highly skewed according to each person’s own position (and you are free to judge from these primary documents if that is true for me as well).

Most of the material on this sight will be from Reformed Theologians. However, in order to help others understand the Reformed doctrine in its historical-theological context, we hope to provide exerpts from Roman Catholic, Arminian, Socinian, Lutheran, and Amyraldian theology as well. In this way, the distintively Reformed position will stand out sharply against those who disagreed with them.

We do not pretend to make any secret of our own position on this matter. We believe that the majority consensus of Reformed theologians of the 16th and 17th centuries was that the Mosaic Covenant was essentially a covenant of grace. While it had unique administrative elements, these were merely accidental and did not change its essential character as a covenant of grace. This position was advanced by the vast majority of prominent 17th century Reformed Theologians, and is embodied in the confessions of that same century, particularly the Westminster Standards. Aware of this, the reader is also free to check all my introductory comments and analysis on the basis of the primary documents, and correct them where he or she feels they are inaccurate.

Nevertheless, we welcome the visitors to this site to read these books and excerpts for themselves to come to their own opinion on the matter. We believe that a thorough, honest, and careful reading of these primary documents will lead the reader to come to the same conclusion.