The Covenant of Works and the Mosaic Law / James Durham

God gave the Mosaic Covenant as an administration in the Covenant of Grace but the Israelite’s turned it into a Covenant of Works which wasn’t his intention. Therefore God rejected their sacrifices and services as not commanded.  The Mosaic Covenant is not a mixed Covenant.  It is an Administration of the Covenant of Grace.
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 witch 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.

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

Heidelbrew

http://www.puritanboard.com/f31/dr-clarks-7-point-summary-republication-84410/

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.”
https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/the-marrow-of-modern-divinity-and-the-recent-republication-issue/

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. https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/the-charge-of-lutheranism-is-not-about-distinction-it-is-about-dichotomy/

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

https://sites.google.com/site/themosaiccovenant/Home

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.

Trying to clarify my thoughts in light of G. Vos’ thoughts concerning the Mosaic Covenant

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Just some thoughts I am untangling in relationship to a blog Nick Batzig wrote on the Feeding on Christ blog.

Geerhardus Vos on the Mosaic Covenant and the Covenant of Grace

http://feedingonchrist.com/geerhardus-vos-mosaic-covenant-covenant-grace/

Here is the Vos quote that puzzles me a bit because of how I have come to understand the passages referenced in the quote.

“it also contains expressions that had reference specifically to Israel, and thus are not totally applicable to us (e.g., “that it may be well with you in the land that the Lord your God gives you”). But also, beyond the Decalogue, there is reference to the law as a demand of the covenant of works (e.g., Lev 18:5; Deut 27:26; 2 Cor 3:7, 9). It is for this reason that in the last cited passage, Paul calls the ministry of Moses a ministry of condemnation. This simply shows how the demand of the law comes more to the fore in this dispensation of the covenant of grace.” GV

For one thing Paul references the application of “be well with you in the land” and specifically brings this passage into the New Testament.

Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
Eph 6:2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
Eph 6:3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. (in the land)

Concerning the Faith and Leviticus 18:5 passage, I believe Patrick Ramsey speaks well to that issue as I have referenced it many times before..
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
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.

Patrick Ramsey

Concerning the 2 Corinthians 3 passage I wrote this.

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 in what context St. Paul is referring to the Mosaic Covenant.

(2Co 2:14) 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.
(2Co 2:15) For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:
(2Co 2:16) 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?
(2Co 2:17) 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 were 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) 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.

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 is to be considered that Paul and the Church is a savour unto death? They are because the corrupters of the word of God do what St. Paul says he doesn’t do in the proceeding verse, “For we are not as those who corrupt the Word of God.” Those who corrupt the word are rejecting the Chief Cornerstone and depending upon their works or acts that contribute to their justification. The book of Galatians, Romans, and Hebrews have warnings and correctives for those who corrupt the word. But when they reject the truth they fall deeper into death. Even St. Paul acknowledged that the Law didn’t kill him. He was already dead and discovered it.  That is one of the purposes of the Law.  That purpose is to reveal sin and death.  .As Paul noted earlier in the letter to the Romans death came upon all men by sin and Adam.

Rom 7:13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
Rom 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

Note James Durham here on the Mosaic Covenant and how God intended the reception to be in light of how it was turned into something God didn’t intend. https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/taken-frompract/

“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.”
James Durham Practical Exposition of the Ten Commandments p. 55

Most of this has been taken from this blog I wrote in Sept of 2012.
https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/the-mosaic-covenant-same-in-substance-as-the-new/

As far as the Deuteronomy 27:26 passage I leave you with these examples. The man in 1 Cor 5 who was delivered to Satan and the removal of the Candlestick in Revelation 2.  There are various New Testament passages also that contain strong warnings such as in 1 Cor. 10, 11; Hebrews 2-4, 6, 10, 12; 2 Peter 2; Jude; and Revelation 2-3.

Vos can’t be right about everything. I do appreciate a lot what I have seen of Vos as others have written about him.  I loved Rich Barcellos’ book ‘The Family Tree of Reformed Biblical Theology‘ so much I read it two times in a row. I admit that I haven’t read much of Vos.  I will be getting his Biblical Theology book as it is now being published in hardcover by Banner of Truth.  Nick Batzig asked me if I had the Logos edition of Vos’ Reformed Dogmatics.  I can’t afford much of anything from Logos.  I am still using E-Sword.  It is more fitting to my wallet.  Nick told me through a message I need to read the fuller context.  He admonished me to read Vos on the Mosaic Covenant in his section on the Covenant of Grace.  

One thing that I wonder is why these guys who want to teach the new paradigm of Republication of the Covenant of Works in the Mosaic Covenant, why they don’t want to reference or deal with the Divines who spoke clearly on this subject and contended that the Mosaic Covenant was purely an Administration of the Covenant of Grace as is stated in the Westminster Confession of Faith and as is proven by a lot of the following site’s references. (https://sites.google.com/site/themosaiccovenant/). I believe Vos holds to the view of the majority of the old Divines but this section’s nuances seem a bit confusing to me.  It won’t be the last time something written is confusing to me.  I probably just don’t understand the nuances myself.  But I am trying.

Just my humble opinion.

I actually found this blog by Michael Lynch (PhD student with Richard Muller) to be encouraging in light of what is going on in today’s atmosphere

Vos, Republication, and the Mosaic Covenant.  by Michael Lynch

Here are three paragraphs from it.

The Orthodox Presbyterian Church, of which I am a member, just approved to form a study committee to investigate the role of the Mosaic covenant in the economy of the covenants.  The particular view at question is the republication of the covenant of works in the Mosaic covenant.  It should be noted that the Westminster confession of faith itself teaches (cf. WCFXIX, 1 and 2) material republication–i.e., that God republished the law, which God gave Adam under the covenant of life or works, in the Mosaic economy.   However, the question at hand is not whether the law was republished in the Mosaic economy (or under the new covenant!), but whether the Mosaic covenant, as a covenant, was established or given as a covenant of works (even if, under the broader context of the covenant of grace).  In light of this discussion, I want to revisit Geerhardus Vos and his discussion of the Mosaic economy as expressed in his Biblical Theology….

…This typology is crucial to understanding the role of the law in the Mosaic administration. Vos argues that from “the function of the theocracy” in its typological significance, “we may learn what was the function of the law.”[9] At the outset of his section on “the function of the law” inBiblical Theology, Vos states that it is of “utmost importance” to distinguish between the law’s original function and the subsequent interpretations of the function of the law in later periods.[10] So, one must not impute the “pharisaical philosophy” found for instance in Paul’s opponents. This interpretation of the law asserted “that the law was intended, on the principle of merit, to enable Israel to earn the blessedness of the world to come.”[11] Vos recognizes that Paul, and even the Pentateuch itself, sometimes appear to be teaching such a “pharisaical philosophy.”[12] However, in fact they do not, for “the law was given after the redemption of Israel from Egypt had been accomplished, and the people had already entered upon the enjoyment of many of the blessings of the berith.”[13]

In summary, Vos’s understanding of the Mosaic covenant is in line with confessional Reformed theology when he argues that the Mosaic administration and the law in particular, is grounded in the covenant of grace. The Mosaic economy is not a republication of the covenant of works where Israel merited the blessings or merited the continuation of the blessings. Rather, Israel typifying the NT church and the promised land typifying the New Heavens-New Earth, demanded an “appropriateness of expression” that Israel should “trust and obey” and meet the condition of the covenant of grace. As soon as the nation as whole apostatized, Israel was sent into exile. Although the Mosaic covenant (and thus the covenant of grace) was broken by Israel, God did not break his ratified promise to be a God to his people. Because the Mosaic covenant, like all OT covenants, was grounded upon God’s immutable ratification, God could not forget his covenant. For Vos, this is why the Mosaic covenant, though broken by Israel, is not the end of redemptive history. The old covenant, the Mosaic administration, awaited the full-flowering of God’s dealing with his people, which finds its telos in the new covenant.

Old Posts on the Mosaic Covenant / the New Reformed Paradigm

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Old Posts on the Mosaic Covenant vs. the New Reformed Paradigm

Why I was drawn into this.

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2014/06/28/why-i-was-drawn-into-the-nuanced-republication-and-mosaic-covenant-study/

Dr. Robert Strimple on Republication and the Mosaic Covenant

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2014/02/19/dr-robert-b-strimple-on-the-mosaic-covenant-and-republication-of-the-covenant-of-works/

It isn’t about disctinctions it is about dichotomy

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/the-charge-of-lutheranism-is-not-about-distinction-it-is-about-dichotomy/

A Very Good Discussion on R. Scott Clark’s 7 point Summary of Republication /  He mistakenly thinks

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/very-good-discussion-on-r-scott-clarks-7-point-summary-of-republication/

The Marrow of Modern Divinity and the Recent Republication Issue

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/the-marrow-of-modern-divinity-and-the-recent-republication-issue/

The Covenant of Grace, the Sinaitic and the New

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/the-covenant-of-grace-the-sinaitic-and-the-new/

OPC Special Committee Report

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/confusion-in-the-camp-merit-and-reformed-theology/

OPC Presbytery Northwest Debates Republication: Merit, Grace, and the Mosaic Covenant. Vote to send it to General Assembly

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/opc-presbytery-of-the-northwest-debates-republication-merit-grace-and-the-mosaic-covenant-votes-to-send-overture-to-the-81st-general-assembly/

OPC Video – Session Two – Presentation on Particular view of Republication

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/opc-pnw-republication-session-2/

WCF 19

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/02/westminster-confession-of-faith-chapter-19-the-law-and-the-covenant-of-works/

Republication Beeke / Jones
https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/what-is-republication-of-the-covenant-of-works/

Lutheran and Reformed Differences in the Divines.
https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/lutheran-reformed-differences-back-during-the-time-of-the-westminster-divines/

Mosaic Covenant and the modern justification / sanctification controversy

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/the-mosaic-covenant-and-the-modern-day-justification-and-sanctification-controversy/

The Mosaic Covenant same in Substance as the New Covenant

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/the-mosaic-covenant-same-in-substance-as-the-new/

THe Modern Day Controversy justification / Sanctification

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/the-mosaic-covenant-and-the-modern-day-justification-and-sanctification-controversy/

Depraved Christianity might be antinomian Christianity

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/depraved-christianity-might-be-antinomian-christianity-pt-3/

Samuel Rutherford the Covenant of Life opened.
https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/the-covenant-of/

James Durham the Covenant of Works and the Mosaic
https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/taken-frompract/

Vindication of the Law and Covenants Anthony Burgess
https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/11/11/vindication-of-the-law-and-the-covenants-1647-pp-231-237/

Skirting the Issue  / Clark
https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/skirting-the-issue/

Dr. R. Scott Clark is not teaching the Broad View of the Westminster Divines

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/clark-is-not-teaching-the-broad-view-of-the-westminster-divines/

I know Dr. Clark seems to get a lot of attention here.  It isn’t because I have some personal vendetta.  Dr. Clark is accessible and easy to reference since he writes and contributes often in the world of modern media.

Typology and Republication (Patrick Ramsey)

http://patrickspensees.wordpress.com/2013/11/22/typology-and-republication/

“Two Kingdoms” Propositions and some Responses

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/two-kingdoms-propositions-with-some-responses-or-counterpoints/

Modern Day Reformed Thought and Two Kingdoms

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/modern-day-reformed-thought-two-kingdoms-view-vs-the-biblical-one-kingdom-view/

Sundry Quotes from Solid Reformed Men on Law and Gospel

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/sundry-quotes-from-solid-reformed-men-on-law-and-gospel/

 

OPC REPORT ON REPUBLICATION

I am somewhat satisfied with the final report.  It should prove and settle the problem that some of our Modern Popular Professors and Authors are teaching contrary to the Scriptures and the Westminster Standards when it comes to the Mosaic Covenant.

http://www.opc.org/GA/republication.html

 

The Mosaic Covenant and the Modern Day Justification and Sanctification Controversy

Image

In light of the modern day controversy concerning justification and sanctification,  let me ask others to look at something that hasn’t been considered much. What is its root problem? The root problem can actually solve a lot of issues from the justification / sanctification issue in soteriology to the Natural Law / Kingdom Issues we are experiencing.  Why?  Because they all have to do with our relationship to the Law of God.

This issue has a root problem that goes back to a hermeneutic of how the Mosaic Covenant is viewed and seen. It is having a rippling effect through much of the theology in our Reformed Camp. It is dichotomizing (divorcing) law and grace (law and gospel) in our doctrines of soteriology. It is also leading others into the various doctrines that are divorcing God from society.  A few friends of mine have referred to these doctrines as old distortions of Natural Law / Two Kingdom Theology that were out of accord and rejected by the Reformers.

The hermeneutic I am referring to is propagated by men who are in the United Reformed Church of North America, Orthodox Presbyterian Church, possibly men in the Presbyterian Church of America, and noted men teaching at a Seminary that trains our Reformed and  Presbyterian Ministers. Most people who know me know of whom I am referring to.  (Westminster Seminary California)  Does this Seminary allow this teaching to go on from the top (Dr. Robert Godfrey) down (Drs. Horton and Clark) without a notification that it is against the Standards we as Presbyterians confess?  It sure seems hidden to me.  I would even venture to say that this teaching is so prevalent in the Church today that it isn’t even recognized as being different from the Westminster Standards.   I know Pastors, Ruling Elders, Drs. of Theology, Seminary Professors,  Seminary Students, and Laymen who know this is true and have affirmed this truth to me.  

Even our Divines at the Westminster Assembly knew this teaching and variants of it were in opposition to sound doctrine.  Here is Anthony Burgess on the difference between Lutheran and Reformed views concerning the Mosaic Covenant.

“We have confuted (proven to be incorrect) the false differences, and now come to lay down the truth, between the law and the Gospel taken in a larger sense.  

And, first, you must know that the difference is not essential, or substantial, but accidental: so that the division of the Testament, or Covenant into the Old, and New, is not a division of the Genus (classification) into its opposite Species; but of the subject, according to its several accidental administrations, both on Gods part, and on mans. It is true, the Lutheran Divines, they do expressly oppose the Calvinists herein, maintaining the Covenant given by Moses, to be a Covenant of Works, and so directly contrary to the Covenant of Grace. Indeed, they acknowledge that the Fathers were justified by Christ, and had the same way of salvation with us; only they make that Covenant of Moses to be a superadded thing to the Promise, holding forth a condition of perfect righteousness unto the Jews, that they might be convinced of their own folly in their self-righteousness.” (Vindication of the Morall Law,  Lecture 26  p.251)

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/lutheran-reformed-differences-back-during-the-time-of-the-westminster-divines/

This view that is being taught was a minority view and evidently refuted without much to do from what I understand.  There isn’t much discussion paid to the topic in the minutes nor much argument about it from what I understand. I guess that might be an indication about how much of a factor this minority view was.  Yet it seems this minority teaching is being taught as though it is a majority position. This doctrine has to do with the substance of the Old and New Covenants being the same as the Westminster Confession of Faith states in chapter 7, sections 5,6.  It also has to do with some forms of Republication of the Covenant of Works and what Republication is.

I can quote one person specifically that does not believe the Mosaic Covenant is of the same substance as the New Covenant.  He holds to views that are specifically contrary to our Standards when considering the Mosaic Covenant. Yet he is teaching future Presbyterian Pastors contrary to our Standards. I wonder if he is teaching our future Pastors that he doesn’t hold to the Westminster Confession of Faith on this topic.  I think he should since he teaches these future Pastors  from a Seminary which distinctively has a namesake taken from our Confessional Standards.  He specifically writes (for everyone to read) that he does not believe that the Mosaic Covenant is renewed in the New Covenant.  He must believe it is of a different substance having a superadded work or Covenant of Works principle in it.  The Mosaic Covenant in his thinking is both an administration (pedagogically) of the Covenant of Works and of Grace. That would make the New Covenant and Mosaic Covenant different and not of the same substance as an administration of the Covenant of Grace.  As I understand it, in this scheme there is an opposition of law and grace that is not found in the Presbyterian or later Reformed hermeneutic of the Majority of the Divines.  Samuel Rutherford, Anthony Burgess, and many other good men have written on this topic and it just seems that this is neglected by these Modern Reformed Thinkers.

http://clark.wscal.edu/covtheses.php
Biblical / Exegetical section…
13. The Mosaic covenant was not renewed under Christ, but the Abrahamic covenant was.

16. With regard to the land promise, the Mosaic covenant was, mutandis, for pedagogical reasons (Galatians 3:23-4:7), a republication of the Adamic covenant of works.

17. With regard to justification and salvation, the Mosaic covenant was an administration of the covenant of grace.

18. The Israelites were given the land and kept it by grace (2 Kings 13:23) but were expelled for failure to keep a temporary, typical, pedagogical, covenant of works (Genesis 12:7; Exodus 6:4; Deuteronomy 29:19-29; 2 Kings 17:6-7; Ezekiel 17).

19. The covenant of grace, initiated in history after the fall, was in its antepenultimate state under Adam, Noah, and Abraham, its penultimate state under the New Covenant administration and shall reach its ultimate (eschatological) state in the consummation.

20.  The term “Old Covenant” as used in Scripture refers to the Mosaic epoch not every epoch before the incarnation nor to all of the Hebrew and Aramaic Scriptures indiscriminately.

21. The New Covenant is new relative to Moses, not Abraham.

Concerning the Covenant of Grace, Richard Sibbesl states it thusly in his writing…

There are four periods of time of renewing this covenant: first, from Adam to Abraham;… Secondly, From Abraham to Moses;… The third period of renewing the covenant of grace was from Moses to Christ; and then it was more clear, whenas to the covenant made with Abraham, who was sealed with the sacrament of circumcision, the sacrament of the paschal lamb was added, and all the sacrifices Levitical; and then it was called a testament. That differeth a little from a covenant; for a testament is established by blood, it is established by death. So was that; but it was only with the blood and death of cattle sacrificed as a type.

But now, to Christ’s time to the end of the world, the covenant of grace is most clear of all; and it is now usually called the New Testament, being established by the death of Christ himself; …

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/covenant-testament-works-grace-love-and-communion/

This is the hermeneutical root and problem in my estimation. This hermeneutical problem is a dichotomizing of Law and Gospel (Grace).  It tells us the Law only commands and that Gospel (Grace) tells us something has been done for us without command.  Just for reference this is what I am talking about.   Dr. Michael Horton in his three minute video clip says this concerning the Gospel,  “It refers to God’s promise of salvation in Christ.  The gospel is a victory announcement.  It never tells us something to do.  That is the business of the law.  Rather, the gospel tells us something that has been done.


This has spilled over into other areas of our theology also.  For instance it has spilled over into Kingdom Theology and how the Law of God applies to all of mankind.   We are slowly removing the requirement and responsibilities of our Magistrates to be in subjection to God and His Ten Commandments.   This is killing our Society.  Anytime you start to partition an Administration of the Covenant of Grace and change its substance like these guys are doing you are treading in strange waters if you are Presbyterian.  The Gospel and Law are not opposed to each other as some want to prove in all cases.  In fact Ursinus says when they are joined together they become the Spirit.

I started discovering this dichotomizing of law and grace a few years ago as I started noting how these men were defining the Gospel.  This dichotomizing of law and Grace seemed unnatural even to this one time Reformed Baptist. I use to be a Reformed Baptist until I came to understand that the Old Covenant and New Covenant were of the same substance as they were from the Administration of the Covenant of Grace. Even then this long time Reformed Baptist didn’t dichotomize Law and Grace in the Gospel and Sanctification to the extreme I saw it being done.  As a Reformed Baptist I did dichotomize the Substance of the Covenants based upon my understanding of Hebrews chapter 8.  I did hold to a similar view of John Owen’s interpretation of the Mosaic and New Covenant when it came to membership of the Covenant but I didn’t dichotomize grace and law in the life of the believer of either Covenant.  I believe that is what is being done by those who hold to this Lutheranized (Not necessarily Luther’s view) / Klinean view of the Mosaic Covenant.

I believe a proper view of the Covenant of Grace as it administers the Covenants historically will give us a proper balance of Law and Grace.  I have already written about the substance of the Covenant before and I think if you read it you will see why I am saying what I am saying.  It views the Law of God and Grace in their proper relationship as they should be viewed in my estimation.  It also views the Gospel correctly as it isn’t just a proclamation outside of us with no commands.

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/the-mosaic-covenant-same-in-substance-as-the-new/

I also want to encourage Westminster California to be forthcoming about their Professors doctrinal stances in relationship to the Westminster Confession of Faith.  I have run into far too many people that look to Westminster West for guidance that don’t know that they are teaching contrary to the Westminster Standards concerning the Mosaic Covenant.   It is eye opening when others discover this.  After they put aside their party spirit and their theological celebrity status blinders things start falling into place and a whole new world of understanding comes to their aid in Christ.  Pieces of the theological puzzle start to fit together as it was meant to be.  People start to have a different appreciation for grace and law as they see it more clearly.

Just my Nickles worth.

The following link is a short paper presented to Dr. Joseph Pipa on this topic. It also helped me clarify some things when I first started looking at this issue.

KLINE, HORTON, AND THE MOSAIC COVENANT

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.737.5521&rep=rep1&type=pdf&fbclid=IwAR3Djotk6sWLDlEjIiyRBcm895iEGrpYFZ5RYppsXxF7DG6A7pKKK8Oa9NE

And this is one great website that is pulling the historical truth out concerning the Mosaic Covenant.

https://sites.google.com/site/themosaiccovenant/

James Durham on the Mosaic Covenant

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/taken-frompract/

From A Puritan Theology by Beeke and Jones. What is Republication

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/what-is-republication-of-the-covenant-of-works/

Depraved Christianity?  The Gospel….. Horton…. What is the Gospel?

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/depraved-christianity-might-be-antinomian-christianity-pt-3/

Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 19. The Law and the Covenant of Works.

Following the book ‘The Law Is Not of Faith’ (see pp. 10-11, 43), DR. R. Scott Clark, believes that chapter 19 of the Westminster Confession of Faith “clearly suggests”that the covenant of works was republished at Mt. Sinai. The argument goes something like this: Westminster Confession of Faith 19.1 states, God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works. Paragraph 2 begins with “This law,” obviously referring to the law described in paragraph 1. Since the law in paragraph 1 was described as a covenant of works, the law of paragraph 2 must be as well.

This argument is nothing new as it is one that I (Pastor Patrick Ramsey) addressed in a journal article back in 2004, which you can find here. Its appearance in the book TLNF, however, may well be the first time it has appeared in print. And quite frankly I am surprised to see the editors using it because it is such a poor argument and one that is easily answered. Chapter 19 does not say that the covenant of works was delivered or republished at Mt. Sinai. It says the law was delivered at Mt. Sinai. What law? “This law” of paragraph 2 does refer to the law in paragraph 1, i.e. the one given to Adam as a covenant of works. But what the editors of the book TLNF and Clark fail to see is that “This law” is further defined in paragraphs 3, 5, and 6. In these sections we learn that “this law” is the moral law (paragraph 3), which is the perfect rule of righteousness (paragraph 2) binding on all persons in all ages (paragraph 5) and is given to true believers not as a covenant of works (paragraph 6). Therefore, WCF 19 clearly does not suggest or indicate that the covenant of works was republished at Mt. Sinai.

Now since the law that was delivered at Mt. Sinai was the moral law, it is the same law that was given to Adam in the garden. Indeed it is the same law that binds all men in every age as the Confession rightly says. Consequently, it is correct to say that part of the content of the covenant of works was republished at Mt. Sinai and for that matter in the new covenant since the moral law is restated there as well. This is what Brent Ferry calls material republication (see TLNF, 91-92). It is important to note, however, that this is republication of the law and not the covenant of works. This is why it is misleading to refer to material republication as a sense of the republication of the covenant of works. There is a difference between law and covenant or at least the Puritans thought there is. In other words, to say that the law (or content of the covenant of works) was republished is different from saying that the covenant of works was republished at Mt. Sinai.

Notice in 19.1 of the Confession that the law given to Adam is qualified by the phrase “as a covenant of works.” This qualifier is missing in paragraph 2 and it is replaced with “a perfect rule of righteousness.” In the garden the law was a perfect rule of righteousness and the condition of the covenant of works. But at Mt. Sinai the law no longer serves as the condition of a covenant of works though it does continue to be a perfect rule of righteousness. It is this Puritan and Confessional distinction that Clark and the editors of TLNF fail to incorporate in their reading of chapter 19. As a result they completely misread the Confession.

If we would follow the Confession’s teaching on the law as explained in chapter 19 it is imperative that we distinguish between the law as given to Adam from the law as given to Israel. James Durham explains:

James Durham

Then you would distinguish between this law, as given to Adam, and as given to Israel. For as given to him, it was a covenant of works; but, as given to them, it was a covenant of grace; and so from us now it calls for gospel duties, as faith in Christ (1 Tim. 1:5), repentance, hope in God, etc. And although it call for legal duties, yet in a gospel-manner; therefore we are in the first commandment commanded to have God for our God, which cannot be obeyed by sinners but in Christ Jesus; the covenant of works being broken, and the tie of friendship thereby between God and man made void. So that now men, as to that covenant, are without God in the world, and without Christ and the promises (Eph. 2:21-13). And so our having God for our God (which is pointed at in the preface to the commandments) and Christ for our Savior, and closing with his righteousness, and the promises of the covenant (which are all yea and amen in him) must go together.[1]

I might also add that I find it quite ironic that Klineans appeal to Fisher and Boston for support of the republication of the covenant of works. The position advocated by Fisher and Boston is one that is repudiated by Kline. Furthermore, their (mis)reading of chapter 19 would support the position of Fisher and Boston but there is no way it could support Kline’s republication view. Perhaps this is why they tend to argue for republication in general (“in some sense”) and not for specific views of republication. But of course it is fallacious to argue that since republication in some sense is found in the Reformed tradition that therefore a particular view of republication is Reformed. I have previously argued that the particular view espoused by Kline and Karlberg, like its closest predecessor, namely the view held by Samuel Bolton, is incompatible with the Westminster Standards.
Rev. Patrick Ramsey OPC

[1] James Durham, Practical Exposition of the Ten Commandments, 62. See Francis R. Beattie, The Presbyterian Standards (repr., Greenville, S.C.: Southern Presbyterian Press, n.d.), 249; Ball, A Treatise of the Covenant of Grace, 15, 113.

WCF and Republication

A Pastoral acquaintance of mine wrote the above. He is most correct in my estimation. I have communicated with Dr. Clark on this topic. He does believe that the law in Chapter 19 is equivalent to a Covenant of Works (in some sense). I believe he is incorrect.  As Robert Shaw states,  Adam was created under this Law in a natural form but then was  brought under it in the form of a Covenant.

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

The law, as thus inscribed on the heart of the first man, is often styled the law of creation, because it was the will of the sovereign Creator, revealed to the reasonable creature, by impressing it upon his mind and heart at his creation. It is also called the moral law, because it was a revelation of the will of God, as his moral governor, and was the standard and rule of man’s moral actions. Adam was originally placed under this law in its natural form, as merely directing and obliging him to perfect obedience. He was brought under it in a covenant form, when an express threatening of death, and a gracious promise of life, was annexed to it; and then a positive precept was added, enjoining him not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, as the test of his obedience to the whole law.–Gen. ii. 16, 17. That this covenant was made with the first man, not as a single person, but as the federal representative of all his natural posterity, has been formerly shown. The law, as invested with a covenant form, is called, by the Apostle Paul, “The law of works” (Rom. iii. 27); that is, the law as a covenant of works. In this form, the law is to be viewed as not only prescribing duty, but as promising life as the reward of obedience, and denouncing death as the punishment of transgression. ….

Section II.–This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness; and, as such, was delivered by God upon mount Sinai in ten commandments, and written in two tables; the first four commandments containing our duty toward God, and the other six our duty to man.

Exposition

Upon the fall of man, the law, considered as a covenant of works, was annulled and set aside; but, considered as moral, it continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness. That fair copy of the law which had been inscribed on the heart of the first man in his creation, was, by the fall, greatly defaced, although not totally obliterated. Some faint impressions of it still remain on the minds of all reasonable creatures. Its general principles, such as, that God is to be worshipped, that parents ought to be honoured, that we should do to others what we would reasonably wish that they should do to us–such general principles as these are still, in some degree, engraved on the minds of all men. – Rom. ii. 14,15. But the original edition of the law being greatly obliterated, God was graciously pleased to give a new and complete copy of it. He delivered it to the Israelites from Mount Sinai, with awful solemnity. In this promulgation of the law, he summed it up in ten commandments; and, therefore, it is commonly styled the Law of the Ten Commandments.

Notice what Shaw states.  He notes the Original Natural form of the Law that Adam was under.  Then he notes that Adam was brought under a Covenant of Works when an express threatening of death, and a gracious promise of life, was annexed to the Law.  This might seem strange to some of you because you have been taught and drank the Klinean (Westminster Seminary California) Kool Aid. It is kind of like the Scoffield Bible. The media has so influenced us that we just accept a certain view as biblical and as historical. But I don’t believe it is the understanding that the majority of the Divines held at the Westminster Assembly. And I think I can show this to be true.

The reason I am starting this topic on the different views of Law concerning the Covenant of Works and the Mosaic is because so much of this teaching is where Klineans (followers of Meredith Kline’s teaching) start to go off the rails when they get to the Mosaic Covenant and the Republication issue. They want to import a Covenant of Works scheme into the Mosaic Covenant that dicotomizes Law and Gospel. They make the Law and Gospel opposed to each other in a way that is unbiblical. The Law and Gospel are not opposed to each other as I note in a previous blog on the book of Galatians.


Since I wrote that blog I have been led to many Reformers of the past who share the same view I have learned. The Mosaic Law is a schoolmaster and not opposed to the Gospel. (Galatians 3:21) Samuel Rutherford, Anthony Burgess, James Durham, and Herman Bavinck all do a good job explaining this. I believe Klineanism leads to a denial that the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant are the same in Substance as our Confession states they are in Chapter 7.5,6. This view does lead to what I have termed Modern Reformed Thought and it appears it is leading to what some call Escondido Two Kingdom / Natural Law Theology and a poor definition of the Gospel in my estimation. It also denies some of the authority that Christ has as King. No, I am not a Theonomist. I am a Covenanter. I do believe in the Mediatorial Kingship of Christ. But that is a side issue.

The following words about this movement aren’t mine but I agree with them….

The basic problem with the new scheme is the way it makes the covenant of works co-ordinate with the covenant of grace in the Mosaic economy. They refer to the Abrahamic promise and the so-called “works principle” of the Sinaitic covenant functioning side by side. The older divines would speak of the covenant of works as subordinate to the covenant of grace. It was serving in the way we see it in action in Romans 7, for example, bringing conviction of sin and driving the people to the promised Christ. (Incidentally, the same is true with respect to the law-gospel relationship now.) Besides this ordo salutis aspect, there was also the historia salutis aspect. The outward service of weak and beggarly elements bound the people to the faith of Christ until Christ came. This was a temporary “addition” which had respect to their minority as sons and had all the appearance of making Israel look like they were servants in bondage. This has been abrogated in Christ and the son has come to maturity in the Spirit. But as to the essential nature of the Sinaitic covenant, it was always looked upon as an administration of the covenant of grace. The catechetical teaching on the preface to the ten commandments drove this point home in an experiential way which could not be easily forsaken.

Further problems arise once this basic departure is discerned. One begins to see a metaphysical reworking of the categories of grace and justice in relation to the “covenant of nature.” Instead of a providential dispensation (see Shorter Catechism question 12), the covenant of works is turned into a creational entity which characterises the natural relationship between God and man. Human morality is, in its very essence, made a covenant of works. Grace is only operative where sin abounds.

Anyways, I don’t hate anyone and I recognize that I have brothers in all walks and theological persuasions so don’t think I am out to be at anyone’s throat. I am just trying to work this out and put this in a historical setting also. I have been accused of federal vision and historical revision lately. Something about a red dog or a dog not barking…. I have been trying to work with Drs. and Professors of the faith. I am not swinging my bat from my shoulder alone. I am a man under authority. Pray for me.

May we all grow in our understanding…..

R. Martin Snyder

also reference these blogs.

Dr. Robert Strimple writes specifically on this topic also.

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2014/02/19/dr-robert-b-strimple-on-the-mosaic-covenant-and-republication-of-the-covenant-of-works/

The Covenant of Life chapter XI by Samuel Rutherford

Samuel Rutherford 
was a very prominent Scottish member of the Westminster Assembly, which sat in the 1640s. Hpublished an extensive treatise on the covenant. It appeared in 1655, as was entitled The covenant of life opened, or, A treatise of the covenant of grace. In the eleventh chapter, Rutherford deals with several abberant views on the Mosaic covenant. First he deals with the Amyraldian view (espoused first by John Cameron, and later by Bolton), which argues that the Mosaic covenant is not a covenant of works or a covenant of grace, but rather a third “subservient” covenant. This view is rejected by the Standards, as well as the Formula Consensus Helvetica. Second, he deals with those who make the Mosaic covenant a covenant of works, completely different from the covenant of grace. This is the view of all Lutherans, as well as a very small minority of Reformed theologians. It is also rejected by the Standards (WCF 19:1-2, LC 101, etc, but we will deal with that issue elsewhere). Finally, he deals with the Arminian view. It is similar to the Amyraldian view, in that it also argues for three covenants entirely distinct in substance.

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/the-covenant-of/
https://sites.google.com/site/themosaiccovenant/samuel-rutherford/the-covenant-of-life-opened

Anthony Burgess

 Anthony Burgess’s Vindication of the Law and the Covenants (1647). Burgess was a prominent member of the Westminster Assembly. These lectures were internationally hailed as a solid defense of consensus Calvinism over against the more extreme views of the Calvinistic antinomians of the period, as well as those of the Papists, Socinians, and Arminians.

Burgess argues for the consensus position articulated in the Westminster Standards, that the Mosaic Law is a covenant of grace (cf. WCF 7:5-6; 19:1-2; LC #101). Over against this, he refutes three other aberrant minority views, who maintain that the Mosaic covenant was a covenant of works, a mixed covenant, or a subservient covenant. Note especially his insightful exegesis of the Ten Commandments towards the end: even the very form of the commandments presupposes that they are given in the context of a covenant of grace.

https://sites.google.com/site/themosaiccovenant/anthony-burgess
http://heritagebooktalk.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/burgess-vindiceae-text-complete.pdf

The Covenant of ‘Works and the Mosaic Law /  James Durham

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/taken-frompract/

WCF 19:1-2 – Law as Covenant vs. Law as Rule

https://sites.google.com/site/themosaiccovenant/Home/wcf-19-1-2—law-as-covenant-vs-law-as-rule

The Mosaic Covenant in Reformed Theology

Also check out the Substance of the Covenants….
https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/the-mosaic-covenant-same-in-substance-as-the-new/

and my other findings.

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/old-posts-on-the-mosaic-covenant-vs-the-new-reformed-paradigm/

Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 19. The Law and the Covenant of Works.

Following the book ‘The Law Is Not of Faith’ (see pp. 10-11, 43), DR. R. Scott Clark, believes that chapter 19 of the Westminster Confession of Faith “clearly suggests”that the covenant of works was republished at Mt. Sinai. The argument goes something like this: Westminster Confession of Faith 19.1 states, God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works. Paragraph 2 begins with “This law,” obviously referring to the law described in paragraph 1. Since the law in paragraph 1 was described as a covenant of works, the law of paragraph 2 must be as well.

This argument is nothing new as it is one that I (Pastor Patrick Ramsey) addressed in a journal article back in 2004, which you can find here. Its appearance in the book TLNF, however, may well be the first time it has appeared in print. And quite frankly I am surprised to see the editors using it because it is such a poor argument and one that is easily answered. Chapter 19 does not say that the covenant of works was delivered or republished at Mt. Sinai. It says the law was delivered at Mt. Sinai. What law? “This law” of paragraph 2 does refer to the law in paragraph 1, i.e. the one given to Adam as a covenant of works. But what the editors of the book TLNF and Clark fail to see is that “This law” is further defined in paragraphs 3, 5, and 6. In these sections we learn that “this law” is the moral law (paragraph 3), which is the perfect rule of righteousness (paragraph 2) binding on all persons in all ages (paragraph 5) and is given to true believers not as a covenant of works (paragraph 6). Therefore, WCF 19 clearly does not suggest or indicate that the covenant of works was republished at Mt. Sinai.

Now since the law that was delivered at Mt. Sinai was the moral law, it is the same law that was given to Adam in the garden. Indeed it is the same law that binds all men in every age as the Confession rightly says. Consequently, it is correct to say that part of the content of the covenant of works was republished at Mt. Sinai and for that matter in the new covenant since the moral law is restated there as well. This is what Brent Ferry calls material republication (see TLNF, 91-92). It is important to note, however, that this is republication of the law and not the covenant of works. This is why it is misleading to refer to material republication as a sense of the republication of the covenant of works. There is a difference between law and covenant or at least the Puritans thought there is. In other words, to say that the law (or content of the covenant of works) was republished is different from saying that the covenant of works was republished at Mt. Sinai.

Notice in 19.1 of the Confession that the law given to Adam is qualified by the phrase “as a covenant of works.” This qualifier is missing in paragraph 2 and it is replaced with “a perfect rule of righteousness.” In the garden the law was a perfect rule of righteousness and the condition of the covenant of works. But at Mt. Sinai the law no longer serves as the condition of a covenant of works though it does continue to be a perfect rule of righteousness. It is this Puritan and Confessional distinction that Clark and the editors of TLNF fail to incorporate in their reading of chapter 19. As a result they completely misread the Confession.

If we would follow the Confession’s teaching on the law as explained in chapter 19 it is imperative that we distinguish between the law as given to Adam from the law as given to Israel. James Durham explains:

James Durham

Then you would distinguish between this law, as given to Adam, and as given to Israel. For as given to him, it was a covenant of works; but, as given to them, it was a covenant of grace; and so from us now it calls for gospel duties, as faith in Christ (1 Tim. 1:5), repentance, hope in God, etc. And although it call for legal duties, yet in a gospel-manner; therefore we are in the first commandment commanded to have God for our God, which cannot be obeyed by sinners but in Christ Jesus; the covenant of works being broken, and the tie of friendship thereby between God and man made void. So that now men, as to that covenant, are without God in the world, and without Christ and the promises (Eph. 2:21-13). And so our having God for our God (which is pointed at in the preface to the commandments) and Christ for our Savior, and closing with his righteousness, and the promises of the covenant (which are all yea and amen in him) must go together.[1]

I might also add that I find it quite ironic that Klineans appeal to Fisher and Boston for support of the republication of the covenant of works. The position advocated by Fisher and Boston is one that is repudiated by Kline. Furthermore, their (mis)reading of chapter 19 would support the position of Fisher and Boston but there is no way it could support Kline’s republication view. Perhaps this is why they tend to argue for republication in general (“in some sense”) and not for specific views of republication. But of course it is fallacious to argue that since republication in some sense is found in the Reformed tradition that therefore a particular view of republication is Reformed. I have previously argued that the particular view espoused by Kline and Karlberg, like its closest predecessor, namely the view held by Samuel Bolton, is incompatible with the Westminster Standards.
Rev. Patrick Ramsey OPC

[1] James Durham, Practical Exposition of the Ten Commandments, 62. See Francis R. Beattie, The Presbyterian Standards (repr., Greenville, S.C.: Southern Presbyterian Press, n.d.), 249; Ball, A Treatise of the Covenant of Grace, 15, 113.

WCF and Republication

A Pastoral acquaintance of mine wrote the above. He is most correct in my estimation. I have communicated with Dr. Clark on this topic. He does believe that the law in Chapter 19 is equivalent to a Covenant of Works (in some sense). I believe he is incorrect.  As Robert Shaw states,  Adam was created under this Law in a natural form but then was  brought under it in the form of a Covenant.

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

The law, as thus inscribed on the heart of the first man, is often styled the law of creation, because it was the will of the sovereign Creator, revealed to the reasonable creature, by impressing it upon his mind and heart at his creation. It is also called the moral law, because it was a revelation of the will of God, as his moral governor, and was the standard and rule of man’s moral actions. Adam was originally placed under this law in its natural form, as merely directing and obliging him to perfect obedience. He was brought under it in a covenant form, when an express threatening of death, and a gracious promise of life, was annexed to it; and then a positive precept was added, enjoining him not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, as the test of his obedience to the whole law.–Gen. ii. 16, 17. That this covenant was made with the first man, not as a single person, but as the federal representative of all his natural posterity, has been formerly shown. The law, as invested with a covenant form, is called, by the Apostle Paul, “The law of works” (Rom. iii. 27); that is, the law as a covenant of works. In this form, the law is to be viewed as not only prescribing duty, but as promising life as the reward of obedience, and denouncing death as the punishment of transgression. ….

Section II.–This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness; and, as such, was delivered by God upon mount Sinai in ten commandments, and written in two tables; the first four commandments containing our duty toward God, and the other six our duty to man.

Exposition

Upon the fall of man, the law, considered as a covenant of works, was annulled and set aside; but, considered as moral, it continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness. That fair copy of the law which had been inscribed on the heart of the first man in his creation, was, by the fall, greatly defaced, although not totally obliterated. Some faint impressions of it still remain on the minds of all reasonable creatures. Its general principles, such as, that God is to be worshipped, that parents ought to be honoured, that we should do to others what we would reasonably wish that they should do to us–such general principles as these are still, in some degree, engraved on the minds of all men. – Rom. ii. 14,15. But the original edition of the law being greatly obliterated, God was graciously pleased to give a new and complete copy of it. He delivered it to the Israelites from Mount Sinai, with awful solemnity. In this promulgation of the law, he summed it up in ten commandments; and, therefore, it is commonly styled the Law of the Ten Commandments.

Notice what Shaw states.  He notes the Original Natural form of the Law that Adam was under.  Then he notes that Adam was brought under a Covenant of Works when an express threatening of death, and a gracious promise of life, was annexed to the Law.  This might seem strange to some of you because you have been taught and drank the Klinean (Westminster Seminary California) Kool Aid. It is kind of like the Scoffield Bible. The media has so influenced us that we just accept a certain view as biblical and as historical. But I don’t believe it is the understanding that the majority of the Divines held at the Westminster Assembly. And I think I can show this to be true.

The reason I am starting this topic on the different views of Law concerning the Covenant of Works and the Mosaic is because so much of this teaching is where Klineans (followers of Meredith Kline’s teaching) start to go off the rails when they get to the Mosaic Covenant and the Republication issue. They want to import a Covenant of Works scheme into the Mosaic Covenant that dicotomizes Law and Gospel. They make the Law and Gospel opposed to each other in a way that is unbiblical. The Law and Gospel are not opposed to each other as I note in a previous blog on the book of Galatians.


Since I wrote that blog I have been lead to many Reformers of the past who share the same view I have learned. The Mosaic Law is a schoolmaster and not opposed to the Gospel. (Galatians 3:21) Samuel Rutherford, Anthony Burgess, James Durham, and Herman Bavinck all do a good job explaining this. I believe Klineanism leads to a denial that the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant are the same in Substance as our Confession states they are in Chapter 7.5,6. This view does lead to what I have termed Modern Reformed Thought and it appears it is leading to what some call Escondido Two Kingdom / Natural Law Theology and a poor definition of the Gospel in my estimation. It also denies some of the authority that Christ has as King. No, I am not a Theonomist. I am a Covenanter. I do believe in the Mediatorial Kingship of Christ. But that is a side issue.

The following words about this movement aren’t mine but I agree with them….

The basic problem with the new scheme is the way it makes the covenant of works co-ordinate with the covenant of grace in the Mosaic economy. They refer to the Abrahamic promise and the so-called “works principle” of the Sinaitic covenant functioning side by side. The older divines would speak of the covenant of works as subordinate to the covenant of grace. It was serving in the way we see it in action in Romans 7, for example, bringing conviction of sin and driving the people to the promised Christ. (Incidentally, the same is true with respect to the law-gospel relationship now.) Besides this ordo salutis aspect, there was also the historia salutis aspect. The outward service of weak and beggarly elements bound the people to the faith of Christ until Christ came. This was a temporary “addition” which had respect to their minority as sons and had all the appearance of making Israel look like they were servants in bondage. This has been abrogated in Christ and the son has come to maturity in the Spirit. But as to the essential nature of the Sinaitic covenant, it was always looked upon as an administration of the covenant of grace. The catechetical teaching on the preface to the ten commandments drove this point home in an experiential way which could not be easily forsaken.

Further problems arise once this basic departure is discerned. One begins to see a metaphysical reworking of the categories of grace and justice in relation to the “covenant of nature.” Instead of a providential dispensation (see Shorter Catechism question 12), the covenant of works is turned into a creational entity which characterises the natural relationship between God and man. Human morality is, in its very essence, made a covenant of works. Grace is only operative where sin abounds.

Anyways, I don’t hate anyone and I recognize that I have brothers in all walks and theological persuasions so don’t think I am out to be at anyone’s throat. I am just trying to work this out and put this in a historical setting also. I have been accused of federal vision and historical revision lately. Something about a red dog or a dog not barking…. I have been trying to work with Drs. and Professors of the faith. I am not swinging my bat from my shoulder alone. I am a man under authority. Pray for me.

May we all grow in our understanding…..

R. Martin Snyder

also reference these blogs.

The Covenant of Life chapter XI by Samuel Rutherford

Samuel Rutherford 
was a very prominent Scottish member of the Westminster Assembly, which sat in the 1640s. Hpublished an extensive treatise on the covenant. It appeared in 1655, as was entitled The covenant of life opened, or, A treatise of the covenant of grace. In the eleventh chapter, Rutherford deals with several abberant views on the Mosaic covenant. First he deals with the Amyraldian view (espoused first by John Cameron, and later by Bolton), which argues that the Mosaic covenant is not a covenant of works or a covenant of grace, but rather a third “subservient” covenant. This view is rejected by the Standards, as well as the Formula Consensus Helvetica. Second, he deals with those who make the Mosaic covenant a covenant of works, completely different from the covenant of grace. This is the view of all Lutherans, as well as a very small minority of Reformed theologians. It is also rejected by the Standards (WCF 19:1-2, LC 101, etc, but we will deal with that issue elsewhere). Finally, he deals with the Arminian view. It is similar to the Amyraldian view, in that it also argues for three covenants entirely distinct in substance.

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/the-covenant-of/
https://sites.google.com/site/themosaiccovenant/samuel-rutherford/the-covenant-of-life-opened

Anthony Burgess

 Anthony Burgess’s Vindication of the Law and the Covenants (1647). Burgess was a prominent member of the Westminster Assembly. These lectures were internationally hailed as a solid defense of consensus Calvinism over against the more extreme views of the Calvinistic antinomians of the period, as well as those of the Papists, Socinians, and Arminians.

Burgess argues for the consensus position articulated in the Westminster Standards, that the Mosaic Law is a covenant of grace (cf. WCF 7:5-6; 19:1-2; LC #101). Over against this, he refutes three other aberrant minority views, who maintain that the Mosaic covenant was a covenant of works, a mixed covenant, or a subservient covenant. Note especially his insightful exegesis of the Ten Commandments towards the end: even the very form of the commandments presupposes that they are given in the context of a covenant of grace.

https://sites.google.com/site/themosaiccovenant/anthony-burgess
http://heritagebooktalk.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/burgess-vindiceae-text-complete.pdf

The Covenant of ‘Works and the Mosaic Law /  James Durham

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/taken-frompract/

WCF 19:1-2 – Law as Covenant vs. Law as Rule

https://sites.google.com/site/themosaiccovenant/Home/wcf-19-1-2—law-as-covenant-vs-law-as-rule

The Mosaic Covenant in Reformed Theology

Dr. Robert Strimple discusses Dr. Clark and WCF chapter 19

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2014/02/19/dr-robert-b-strimple-on-the-mosaic-covenant-and-republication-of-the-covenant-of-works/

Also check out the Substance of the Covenants….
https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/the-mosaic-covenant-same-in-substance-as-the-new/

and my other findings.

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/old-posts-on-the-mosaic-covenant-vs-the-new-reformed-paradigm/