Creation, Condescension, and Redefinition of Covenant Merit


The doctrine of God’s voluntary condescension goes hand in hand with the distinction that developed in Reformed theology between “covenanted” merit and “strict” or “proper” merit. Covenant merit is assigned to Adam in the covenant of works, whereas strict merit is assigned to Christ in the covenant of grace. What is the difference between the two? Covenant merit is a lesser category of merit when compared to strict merit. Adam’s merit is said to be “improper” when it is measured against the standard of Christ’s “proper” merit. This designation of covenant merit reflects the ontological considerations which pertain to Adam’s status. It seeks to take into account the Creator creature distinction and God’s act of condescension (WCF 7:1) to enter into covenant with Adam. According to the Confession, the establishment of the covenant of works is God’s appointed means of condescension, so that man as mere creature may know and enjoy God as his ultimate blessedness and reward.

…The merit of Christ, in contrast to Adam’s “covenant” or “improper” merit, falls uniquely into the category of “strict” or “proper” merit. Adam was a mere creature, and was dependent on God’s voluntary condescension to enter into the covenant of works. Jesus Christ, the second and last Adam, is uniquely set apart in his role as the Mediator of the covenant of grace. In the incarnation, Jesus is by nature true God as well as true man. He possesses a sinless human nature, which would qualify him (like Adam) to perform perfect and personal obedience. Christ was able to merit eschatological life in more than the “covenanted” sense. Our Savior, being the divine Son of God, is uniquely qualified to merit eternal life in the covenant of grace in the “strict” or “full” sense of the term.

This truth is implicitly taught in the Westminster Confession, where Christ is said to satisfy the justice of God and “purchase” (i. e., “merit”) the eschatological reward of the covenant for his people.

  The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience, and sacrifice of Himself, which He through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, has fully satisfied the justice of His Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for those whom the Father has given unto Him (WCF 8:5).

The [Klinean] 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 [Klinean] 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).

…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.

… 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 [Klinean] 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.

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.

Booklet on Merit
portions from pp. 32-42

Moses and Merit

Follow up post after this one.

“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 characterizes 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.”  Rev. Winzer


The Marrow of Modern Divinity and the Recent Republication Issue.



Someone on the Puritanboard wanted to know how the view of Republication contained in the Marrow of Modern Divinity measured up.

He asked, “I have some questions in regards to Republication in the book Marrow of Modern Divinity. The book seems to be supporting some sort of republication of the CoW at Sinai. The Republication of the CoW proposed in Marrow does not seem like what we have in modern Republication. Am I right?”

Reverend Winzer does a really good job pointing out the positions advocated in the Marrow. He speaks and addresses a few questions in the discussion linked to above that I think highlight some of the problems with the Modern understanding propagated by those who hold to the modern Republication model advocated by David Van Drunnen, R. Scott Clark, Bryan Estelle, J. V. Fesko, and those who adhere to the teachings of Meredith G. Kline’s later theological stance concerning the Mosaic Covenant.

Reverend Winzer comments in Post 2…

‘The traditional view held that there was a republication subordinate to the covenant of grace, whereas the modern movement maintains that republication is co-ordinate with the covenant of grace. The one sets forth the unity and continuity of the covenant of grace as administered under Law and Gospel while the other introduces division and discontinuity into the covenant of grace.”

The last post at this time ,post #12, is an answer to Reverend Todd Ruddell.

Reverend Ruddell asks, “What is the “Marrow” combating in that line of argument?”

Reverend Winzer replies,”Antinomista questioned the belief that the covenant of grace was renewed with the people of Israel and is the same in substance with the new covenant, and quoted Jeremiah in an attempt to show there are two covenants differing in substance. From an Antinomian perspective, the law and the old covenant are one and the same and the abrogation of the old covenant entails abrogation of the law in every respect.”

Now, I know for a fact that one of the Professors I use to communicate with holds to a doctrinal stance that Antinomista is advocating in the Marrow. That being that the Mosaic Covenant is both an administration of the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace.  It is a mixed Covenant.  Let me quote Dr. R. Scott Clark’s Theological Theses at the end of this blog. It is certain that even Evangelista is in opposition to the movement that is being presented today as an acceptable understanding of Republication. But it wasn’t Fisher’s or Boston’s view that these men are teaching and claiming to advance.  I have heard one of them specifically say they are in agreement with what the Marrow men advocated.  If the Marrow of Modern Divinity is teaching the doctrine of the Marrow Men then it appears that some of these guys are off base.  Reverend Winzer points out that the root of this teaching advocated by this Modern teaching has more in common with Antinomista’s position.  Reverend Winzer makes note of this in his last sentence on post 6 stating, “If one is looking to trace the co-ordinate view of republication to its ancestry the tree will lead back to Antinomista, not Evangelista.”

Dr. Clark’s Theological Theses.
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.


I thought the thread was pretty explanatory.  It lays out that the modern understanding of Republication differs significantly from that of the teaching in the Marrow of Modern Divinity. This should draw a line for some of us. I personally am not a Marrow Man but it is within the confessional bounds of Reformed teaching. That being that the Mosaic Covenant is an Administration of the Covenant of Grace and not a mixed Covenant.

Be Encouraged guys. Press on.


Why I Was Drawn Into The Nuanced Republication and Mosaic Covenant Study


note: Click on the blue texts for links.

If anyone is interested, I first was drawn to this issue of Republication and the Mosaic Covenant as a person who was a Reformed Baptist for 30 years.  I had strong leanings toward Reformed Theology.  It took me a long time but I finally started to understand the differences between Reformed thought and Reformed Baptist thought.  Reformed Baptists hold to a view that the substance of the Mosaic Covenant is not an administration of the Covenant of Grace but that the Mosaic Covenant administers the Covenant of Grace along with a Covenant of Works.  It is a view that is similar to that of Samuel Petto, John Owen, Fred Malone (a modern day switcher) and somewhat similar to that of a recent Orthodox Presbyterian Professor of Great Influence at Westminster Theological Seminary West (not Philadelphia) even after death, Meredith G. Kline in his later days.  The Kline who wrote the book ‘By Oath Consigned‘ was not the same theologically as the Kline of ‘Kingdom Prologue’ many years later as is noted by Mark Karlberg .  He seems to have taken on a more Lutheran Theology the Reformers of the Westminster Standards understood.

As a Reformed Baptist, whenever I would debate issues concerning church membership and baptism I viewed the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant to be different substantially.  Since the New Covenant was purely an Administration of the Covenant of Grace it had a different membership make up than the Mosaic Covenant.  The New Covenant membership was made up of those who were truly regenerate or Elect.

London Baptist Confession of Faith 26.1.

The catholic or universal church, which (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) may be called invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ, the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

The Old Covenant membership was a mixture of unregenerate and regenerate as the Mosaic Covenant was a mixed Covenant.  The Mosaic Covenant administered both the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace as a stand alone Covenant.

Reformed Baptists view Covenant Theology somewhat similar to that of Johannes Cocceius from what I understand.  Covenant Theology was progression from a full blown out Covenant of Works that slowly faded away through the progression of Redemptive History as the Covenant of Grace took over and found its fulfillment in the coming of the Second Adam (Jesus Christ) in the New Covenant.

For the life of me I couldn’t understand why Dr. Clark and other Presbyterians weren’t anti-paedobaptists since they held to a position very similar to the Baptist position. That position is that the Old Covenant and New Covenant are substantially different.  It seemed they believed the Mosaic was a Covenant that administered both the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace making it different in substance from the New Covenant.  I understood that they claimed succession of the Covenant of Grace from Abraham but I thought that was a bit of a stretch since God also required the same obedience of Abraham as He did from Israel in Genesis 17:1,2.  (side note.  For a good concise understanding about this from a Reformed perspective look here.)

In 2007 Rev. Winzer tried to help me understand the issues concerning administration but I didn’t understand what he meant by the Mosaic being an administration of the Covenant of Grace.  I was too dispensational in my thinking.  And Dr. Clark wasn’t helping me understand it since he held to a view very similar to Kline’s later views along with those of a few minority Divines of the past such as Samuel Bolton who joined the Westminster Assembly after Chapter 7 was already written.  I believe he learned this particular view from a Divine named John Cameron.

Then we started having Law / Gospel discussions on the Puritanboard.  Those got rather heated but I had a different view of Grace that was closer to the Majority view of the Divines.  I believe that view is stated well by Samuel Rutherford.

The obedience of faith, or Gospel-obedience, in the fourth place, hath less of the nature of obedience than that of Adam, or of the elect angels, or that of Christ’s. It’s true we are called obedient children, and they are called the commandments of Christ, and Christ hath taken the moral law and made use of it in an evangelic way, yet we are more (as it were) patients in obeying gospel-commands. Not that we are mere patients, as Libertines teach; for grace makes us willing, but we have both supernatural habits and influences of grace furnished to us from the grace of Christ, who hath merited both to us; and so in Gospel-obedience we offer more of the Lord’s own and less of our own because he both commands and gives us grace to obey. And so to the elect believer the Law is turned into Gospel, he by his grace fulfilling (as it were) the righteousness of the Law in us by begun new obedience, Rom. 8:4.   Samuel Rutherford (The Covenant of Life Opened, 198-199).

The justification / sanctification discussions started to get heated up around 2009 and they started to escalate more after 2011 in my estimation.  I also noticed that this debate had to do with the same hermeneutical issue concerning the Mosaic Covenant.  Men were dichotomizing Law and Gospel (Grace) as the Lutherans did and not truly understanding the differences between the Reformed and Lutheran view of Law and Gospel.  We were both using the term distinctions about Law and Gospel but when Klineans were using the terminology it was a dichotomy instead of a mere distinction.  I explain that in one of my blogs.

Then the Natural Law / Two Kingdoms issue (Radical Two Kingdom in some critics thoughts) started to rear its head up and it also had to do with the same root issue of Law / Grace.  Thus its root in my estimation goes back to the hermeneutic some Professors are using that is more Lutheran than Reformed concerning the Covenant of Grace and the Mosaic Covenant.

I started to discuss this issue with some of the other leadership on the Puritanboard as my views were becoming more focused and I realized I wasn’t a Reformed Baptist any longer.  I believed that the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant were the same in substance as they were administrations of the One Covenant of Grace.  I fully agreed with WCF chapter 7.  It wasn’t hard for me to change for a lot of reasons.  I was already a member of the RPCNA back in the mid to late 80’s and had returned back to that Congregation.  I had also been a member of a PCA Church Plant before I returned back to the RPCNA.  For some reason the light bulb just didn’t turn on for me until 2011.  I can’t explain it except I had been so indoctrinated as a Reformed Baptist that I couldn’t understand the terminology of my Reformed brothers.

So after much time waiting to openly confess my change (as I was counseled to do) I posed this question on the Puritanboard.  It was the beginning of my open confession as I was learning. Are Kline and Karlburg Not Confessional Concerning the Mosaic?

I also made this post on the Puritanboard Blog area to start helping others understand why I was becoming a Reformed Theologian instead of a Reformed Baptist.  I ended up starting my own personal blog and moved it there.

These are some of the reasons I started to pursue this issue and this is where it has lead me thus far.  I am not one who has had many changes in my theology since I became a Christian.  I actually was born a Calvinist and didn’t know it.  You can read about it here. I wasn’t even a classical Scoffield / Darby dispensationalist which was the eschatological view that many of my friends in the Navigators held to.  I was Premil for a short time but I shortly became an Amil with a Positive bent when I started learning about the differences.  I have had a lot of growth over the past 33 years but not a lot of Theological shifting as some people experience.

Well now you all might have some understanding about why I have pursued this.  I also want you to know that I have not pursued these issues apart from counsel and apart from being under authority.  I keep close to my Elders and listen to them and I listened to the Leadership of the Purianboard who has placed a lot of trust in me as a Moderator.  I have not acted as a Lone Ranger who has been out to correct and purify the Church because I am right and everyone else is wrong.  I am a man under authority.  I am a sinful man who needs the counsel of my Elders and Leadership and I have tried to be faithful in obeying them.  They have had to reel me in a few times in the past few years also.  They have helped me to keep it between the lines the best they can and I am most grateful for them and their work.  I truly believe Hebrews 13:7, 17.  There is blessing in submission.

Heb 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

Heb 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

In my estimation I found that the particular view of Republication that Popular Modern Reformed Teachers are holding to (Michael Horton, Bryan Estelle, David Van Drunen, R. Scott Clark, etc.) and their view of the Mosaic Covenant to be out of bounds.  It effects the doctrine of Christology (His Kingship and authority, Two Kingdom / Natural Law), Soteriology and how the Gospel is defined (ie. Justification is overemphasized and sanctification denied leading to a form of antinomianism possibly.), and the doctrine of Union with Christ has been debated due to this.

This teaching has a hermeneutic with fingers that reach into many different areas of theology.  So I have tried to understand it the best I can.  I am sure I still have much to learn.  So I will keep on trying.

Be Encouraged,

For the peace and Unity of the brothers.

Be Encouraged dear Elders and brothers in Christ,

Randy Martin Snyder

“Our object should not be to have scripture on our side but to be on the side of scripture; and however dear any sentiment may have become by being long entertained, so soon as it is seen to be contrary to the Bible, we must be prepared to abandon it without hesitation.”
William Symington

The Covenant of Grace, The Sinaitic and the New



The Covenant of Grace, The Sinaitic and the New
Drs. J van Gunderen and W. H. Velema
Concise Reformed Dogmatics pp. 548-550 P&R 2008

3. The Sinaitic Covenant.  We can say with Bavinck that the covenant with the fathers is the foundation and core of the Sinaitic covenant (R. D., 3.220).  God’s faithfulness toward the patriarchs is mentioned as the motive (Deut. 7:8).  There is continuity so that also the covenant with Israel bears the character of a covenant of Grace.  This is sufficiently clear from the words of Exodus 20:2, although in the phase of the history of the covenant there is a great emphasis on the observance of God’s commandments.

Sometimes the distinction between the covenant with Abraham and that with Israel at Sinai is almost turned into a contrast.  Thus it is said that although the latter is indeed not a covenant of works, it is presented in a form that is strongly reminiscent of a covenant of works (Aalders, 1939. 179).  We can object that the emphasis on what God demands from his people does not take us into the sphere of a covenant of works.  In Deuteronomy the central idea is that the people will keep the covenant.  Blessing and curse depend on this (Deut. 27-30), but it is the obligation to respond to God’s love that carries the covenant (see Deut. 6:4-5; 7:6-8; 30:19-20).  The Law is the torah, which plays a role within the covenant.  It provides the instruction that is required to make the people walk in the way of the covenant.  Just as Abraham is called to walk before God’s face when the Lord allies himself with him (Gen17.1), so the law that is given to Israel serves the covenant as a further explanation of the statement, “Walk before me and be thou perfect” (cf. Bavinck, R. D. 3.222).

4. In connection with the prophesies concern a new covenant or an eternal covenant, which God is about to establish with his people (Jer. 31:31-34; 32:37-41; Ezek. 37:24-28), the question arises whether this is a covenant other than the covenant made with Israel or whether we must think in terms of a renewal of the covenant.

Some theologians contrast the Sinaitic covenant with the new covenant.  The bond with the people of God in the covenant of Sinai is purely external and national, in the new covenant it is purely internal and spiritual.   Today we deal with the new covenant.  The members of the covenant are members of the invisible church , the living members of Christ (Aalders, 1939, 158f.).  An important conclusion is that covenant and election are quantitatively identical.  The number of covenant members is identical to the number of the elect.  Incidentally, the covenant appears to include illegitimate members, to whom also God has said that he establishes his covenant with them to be their God, but who refuse to acknowledge him as their God.  This can be interpreted as a breach of the covenant on their part (Aalders, 1939, 193,222).

According to Reiling, the prophecy of the new covenant implies that the old covenant no longer exists.  It has been breached by the people and there is nothing left to be restored or renewed.  The old covenant and the new covenant constitute the same covenant only to the extent that God remains himself.  As far as the covenant people are concerned, however, we must speak of two fundamentally different covenants. (J. Reiling, Verbond, oud en nieuto, 1976.111)

While Aalders, Reiling, and others emphasisze the discontinuity of the covenant with Israel and the new covenant, others point to continuity.  The distinction is not that the old covenant is only external and the new covenant internal.  This would constitute an essential difference.  It is disputed by L. H. Vander Meiden (1955.35).  The difference lies entirely in the area of the history of redemption (Wiskerke, 1955.174).

Regarding the relationship between the old (Sinaitic) covenant and the new covenant (Jer.31), we must keep in mind both the similarities and the distinctions between them.

  1. It is in essence one covenant of God with his people.  When the covenant first established with Abraham was subsequently ratified with Israel at Sinai, it retained the character of a covenant of grace.  Jeremiah 31 implies in a surprisingly new manner that God commits himself to extend his grace and faithfulness toward people who do not at all deserve it (cf. in this regard Jer. 31:32).  He renews his covenant with his people.
  2. The new covenant is none other than the old covenant.  The Law that is to be written in the hearts is the same law that was given earlier.  The all-encompassing promise (Jer. 31:33), “I…will be their God and they shall be my people,” is the same promise of Moses’ time (“I … will be your God, and ye shall be my people,” Lev. 26:12).  One may not infer from Jeremiah 31:33-34 that in earlier days the law was not yet written in the hearts or that there was then no forgiveness of sin and knowledge of the Lord.  This “internalization” (See F. Malaresta, Interiority and Covenant, 1978, 68-77) was already promised in the books of Moses (Deut. 30:6).  The Law was indeed written in the hearts of the godly, and the saints of God stood in the right relationship to him.
  3. The manner in which God deals with his people has not changed in the new covenant.  He grants promises such as those expressed in Jeremiah 31:31-34 not just to those who have been chosen to eternal life.  Just as those in Genesis 17 and Exodus 19, they are promises that require a believing response.
  4. There is nevertheless a clear progression in the history of the covenant, which is at the same time redemptive history.  “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant” (Jer. 31:31).  More blessings can be expected in the future.  In essence, what was granted under the old covenant is given to a fuller and richer extent under the new covenant.  Thus there is indeed a difference in degree (cf. Vander Meiden, 1955, 41).
  5. As far as the fulfillment of this prophecy is concerned, some place it after the exile, because the context refers to people returning (Jer. 31:23-25) and because they would then naturally be preoccupied with the law (cf. Neh. 9.38-10.31).  In our view the prophesies concerning the new covenant refer more to a new, enduring dispensation the covenant.  This new dispensation came when Christ completed his work as Mediator and when his Spirit was poured out (see Heb. 8:6-13; 2 Cor. 3:6).  Believers from among the Jewish people and from the nations of the world are proof that God fulfils his promise (cf. Rom. 9:24-26; 2 Cor. 6:16-18).  Thus the church of Christ represents the people of the new covenant. 

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


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

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..

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.

“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.

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. ( 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.

Kline’s Reactionary Theology


Kline’s Reactionary Theology


This is a portion taken from a paper written by three OPC Ministers who were taught at Westminster Seminary California.  This portion explains reasons why they believe Professor Meredith Kline adopted some of the doctrines he did concerning a Republication not only of the Law but of a Covenant of Works in the Mosaic Covenant.  In this portion they explain as does the book ‘The Law is Not of Faith’ (a book written by multiple authors) in Kline’s thought that Israel is to be considered a Corporate Type of Adam.  Is this the historical Reformed position?  It is something we need to figure out and decide.  Does this teaching protect the doctrine of Sola Fide as some desire?  You can decide for yourself.

The original booklet can be purchased from a link posted here.

Kline’s Reactionary Theology

pp. 19-24
As noted above, Kline and the authors of TLNF are correct to point to dangerous imbalances in the theology of Norman Shepherd and FV. But is it possible that even as Shepherd and FV represented a pendulum swing away from the WCF in one direction, Kline’s reaction to it might constitute a swing in another? We may identify three components of Kline’s teaching and writings intended to counteract the teaching of Shepherd and FV. In our view, these components also swing wide of the plumb line of the Westminster Standards.

1. Disagreement with Voluntary Condescension

In light of these controversies, Kline spoke of redefining the concept of grace to preserve the meritorious character of the covenant of works. Instead of the traditional Augustinian definition of grace as “unmerited favor,” Kline proposed viewing grace more strictly as “demerited favor” (i. e., favor granted after man’s fall in spite of demerit). He also questioned the Westminster Confession of Faith 7:1, which speaks of God’s voluntary condescension to make a covenant with Adam. (He told faculty members, including Robert Strimple in a private conversation, that he took a personal exception to that particular wording of WCF 7:1 [See Strimple, “WCF,” p. 8].) Since Murray and Shepherd spoke of gracious elements in God’s relationship with man before the fall, Kline did not want to use vocabulary like God’s goodnesskindness, or even condescension in entering into the covenant of works with Adam. Kline finally settled on speaking about God’s benevolence, but not in the context of the doctrine of God’s voluntary condescension (as outlined in WCF 7:1). Instead of referring to the necessity of God’s condescension in establishing the covenant with its reward of eternal life, he sees the bestowal of the reward of the covenant as “an aspect of God’s creational love.” He sought to guard the attainment of the reward as “a matter of works” in distinction from grace (Kingdom Prologue [2000], p. 112). As we will explore later in Part 2, this is the result of the conflation of creation and covenant in Kline’s system, which leads to the squeezing out of God’s voluntary condescension, and a recasting of the covenantal formulation of the Westminster Standards.

2. Israel as a Corporate Typological Adam with a Merit-Based Probation

As Kline reacted to Shepherd’s theology, he sought to demonstrate that the works principle was foundational to all of the divine covenants, and therefore, shut the door once and for all “to the sweeping denial of the operation of the works principle anywhere in the divine government” (Kingdom Prologue [2000], p. 108). One of the ways to do this is by comparing the two Adams, which is typical and necessary in Reformed covenant theology. If Christ’s mission is to prevail where the first Adam failed, then “Adam, like Christ, must have been placed under a covenant of works” (Kingdom Prologue [2000], p. 110)In the standard Reformed view of Romans 5, we understand that Paul draws a comparison between the obedience of the two Adams as the respective covenant heads of the covenant of works and covenant of grace: “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men” (Rom. 5:18).

But Kline does not stop with the comparison between the two Adams. He goes on to make Israel something of another “Adam figure” that he believes will fortify the two- Adam doctrine.

Likewise, the identification of God’s old covenant with Israel as one of works points to the works nature of the creational covenant. Here we can only state a conclusion that the study of biblical evidence would substantiate, but the significant point is that the old covenant with Israel, though it was something more, was also a re-enactment (with necessary adjustments) of mankind’s probation – and fall. It was as the true Israel, born under the law, that Christ was the second Adam. This means that the covenant with the first Adam, like the typological Israelite re-enactment of it, would have been a covenant of law in the sense of works, the antithesis of the grace-promise-faith principle (Kingdom Prologue [2000], p. 110).

Professor Kline taught that because the covenant with Israel provides the context for a historical re-enactment of the probation of the first Adam, it also republishes the covenant of works. The works principle in the Mosaic covenant would therefore provide additional evidence against Shepherd that Adam was in a covenant governed by the works principleIn other words, if it can be shown that Old Testament Israel was under a national works principle, then it is impossible to deny that Adam was under a works principle. The Mosaic covenant is designed to show that corporate Israel’s relationship to God is a re- enactment of Adam’s probation and fall. This retrospective reasoning going from Israel’s situation back to Adam’s would demonstrate that “there can be no a priori objection to the standard view of the original Edenic order as a covenant of works” (Kingdom Prologue [2000], p. 110). This also means, however, that the Mosaic covenant’s essential nature can no longer be characterized as a covenant of grace in Kline’s formulation (contrary to WCF 7:3). Instead, it corresponds to the nature of the Adamic covenant. In Kline’s words again, both the Adamic as well as the old covenant with Israel “would have been a covenant of law in the sense of works, the antithesis of the grace-promise-faith principle” (Kingdom Prologue [2000], p. 110)Thus, Kline taught that Israel was placed under a situation analogous to that of Adam, in which they were required to “maintain the necessary meritorious obedience” (Kingdom Prologue [2000], p. 109).

3. Israel’s Meritorious Works as Typological of Christ’s Obedience

Since Kline was seeking to show the importance of the republication view, in contrast to Shepherd’s covenant formulation, he continued to draw a line of continuity from the obedience of Adam through Israel, to Christ. In this way, Israel’s probation was not only a “re-enactment” of Adam’s, but also served as a type of the obedience of Christ. In Kline’s system, the works principle operating in Israel under Moses thus illustrates and anticipates the necessity of the imputation of Christ’s meritorious active obedience. For Kline, the works arrangement under which Christ is placed as Mediator only makes sense in connection with Israel’s works arrangement. This point is affirmed and explained in the following way.

It was therefore expedient, if not necessary, that Christ appear within a covenant order which, like the covenant with the first Adam, was governed by the works principle (cf. Gal. 4:4). The typal kingdom of the old covenant was precisely that. Within the limitations of the fallen world and with modifications peculiar to the redemptive process, the old theocratic kingdom was a reproduction of the original covenantal order. Israel as the theocratic nation was mankind stationed once again in a paradise-sanctuary, under probation in a covenant of works. In the context of that situation, the Incarnation event was legible; apart from it the meaning of the appearing and ministry of the Son of Man would hardly have been perspicuous (Kingdom Prologue [2000], p. 352).

… Thus, in addition to calling attention to the probationary aspect of Jesus’ mission, the works principle that governed the Israelite kingdom acted as a schoolmaster for Israel, convicting of sin and total inability to satisfy the Lord’s righteous demands and thereby driving the sinner to the grace of God offered in the underlying gospel promises of the Abrahamic Covenant (Kingdom Prologue [2000], p. 353).

In this way, by looking forward to Christ and backwards to Adam, Kline underscored the continuity of the works principle in redemptive history. It runs not only from Adam to Christ, but also through corporate Israel in between. We may thus modify the familiar slogan about federal headship in this way: “Where Adam and Israel failed, Christ prevailed.” In effect, there are now three Adams in redemptive history, with Israel’s meritorious works arrangement now functioning along with the first Adam’s, as precursors to the meritorious work of Christ. Kline thus taught that the works principle in Israel served to show the need for the active obedience of Christ to merit the reward of life. Whereas Israel once sought to merit its retention of the typological reward— temporal life in the land—now Christ has come to merit eschatological life.

In sum, this distinctive element of Kline’s Republication Paradigm is thus viewed as undergirding the doctrine of justification against the teaching of Shepherd and Federal Vision. It does this by showing that Israel serves as a type of Christ, as she both re-enacts Adam’s history and pre-enacts the merit-paradigm under which Christ is placed. Kline seeks to show unequivocally that the need for the imputation of the active obedience of Christ is anticipated in the Mosaic covenant in the “typological” and “pedagogical” works principle in the life of the nation of Israel (see following diagram).

Adam Israel Christ
Obedience Typological Obedience Active Obedience

According to Kline’s republication teaching, the failure to view the Mosaic covenant as a merit-based probation has serious consequences. For Kline, the works principle in Israel becomes a key plank for the doctrines of the covenant of works and Christ’s active obedience. Since Kline integrally links the Adamic and Mosaic covenants by way of a meritorious works principle, a modification of the latter would (in his system) lead to a necessary modification of the former. Kline is thus seeking to guard against Shepherd’s formulation of a gracious covenant with Adam. This explains (in part) the zeal with which Kline and other proponents have promulgated and defended the doctrine of republication. It is just as TLNF put it: “In short, the doctrine of republication is integrally connected to the doctrine of justification” (TLNF, p. 19).

Kline Is the Source of the Republication View in TLNF

In spite of the book’s claims to the contrary, we believe (with several reviewers of TLNF) that the Republication Paradigm was not the predominant view in the history of Reformed covenant theology. There are certainly those in the Reformed tradition who speak of the Mosaic covenant as reflecting aspects of the original covenant of works with Adam. But even these are quite different from the view proposed by Kline, which isolates the works element to the temporal arena and describes Israel’s obedience (and other Old Testament figures) as possessing a “meritorious” character. We also believe it is unfair that John Murray has been made the scapegoat who shoulders the blame for the errors of Norman Shepherd, as well as for any resistance with which the republication view is met. Although we acknowledge that certain points of similarity between the covenant of works and the Mosaic covenant can be found in previous writers, none of them argue a works-merit formula for Israel as a “corporate Adam”, as Kline and his disciples propose. Instead, in our view, the evidence shows that Meredith Kline is the architect of the contemporary Republication Paradigm described above. Kline was responding to a modern theological debate and discussion about the covenants, and his views are now being advocated by the authors of TLNF and other adherents of the republication doctrine. The present writers agree with the point Cornel Venema makes in his review.

First, the stimulus and source for this understanding of the typology of the Mosaic covenant is undoubtedly the biblical-theological formulations of Meredith Kline. In the writings of Reformed theologians in what I have termed the “formative” period of the formulation of covenant theology, the language of a “works principle” in the Mosaic economy is not found. However, this language is frequently employed by Meredith Kline in his biblical theology of the covenants of works and of grace, and it is evident that Kline’s formulations lie behind those of several of the authors of The Law is Not of Faith. The idea that the covenant of works was republished “in some sense” is a significant part of Kline’s understanding of the distinctive nature of the Mosaic economy (“The Mosaic Covenant: A ‘Republication’ of the Covenant of Works?” Mid-America Journal of Theology 21 [2010]: 89).

Thus, it is our belief that in the republication teaching presented in TLNF, we see the evidence of a pendulum swing in reaction to Norman Shepherd’s modern formulations of covenant theology.8

The Faithful Plumb Line of the Westminster Confession of Faith

On the one hand, Shepherd’s teaching led to a pendulum swing away from the Westminster Standards by rejecting the covenant of works. In its place, he recast the covenant of grace as a monocovenantal enshrinement of the gracious condition of covenant faithfulness from creation to consummation. This condition was imposed upon all alike, from Adam and his descendants, to Christ and all who are united to him by faith. This has led to serious doctrinal errors, especially regarding justification. We are grateful for how the authors of TLNF joined many others in the church in sorting out a number of these errors.

On the other hand, the Republication Paradigm of Kline and the authors of TLNF has led to a pendulum swing away from the Westminster Standards in the opposite direction. This has occurred by bringing meritorious human works into the covenant of grace after the fall (i.e., in the Mosaic covenant). It is laudable that the proponents of the doctrine of republication passionately reject the mixture of faith and works in the covenant with Adam against Shepherd. Nevertheless, it is of equal concern that a similar mixture of individual faith and national works are brought into the covenant with Moses after the fall (see following diagram).




Perfect Obedience Imperfect National Obedience Perfect Obedience

What is more, these (imperfect) works after the fall are said to be operating within a paradigm where a group of fallen sinners can merit or extract a blessing from God. In Kline’s writings, meritorious works become possible for other post-fall Old Testament figures prior to the Mosaic covenant (as we will see in Part 2). How can this be? We believe the concept of merit that lies behind the Klinean republication teaching raises serious doctrinal concerns. When evaluated against the measuring line of our Confession and other Reformed creeds, additional questions and concerns about the republication view emerge. We will address these concerns in the remainder of this booklet.

The result of the controversy surrounding the Shepherd-FV theology, was the establishment of an OPC study committee on justification. Their report has helped the church clarify these issues in light of Scripture and the system of doctrine contained in the Westminster Standards. We believe the republication doctrine similarly leads to imprecise theological formulations, as well as the redefinition of established Reformed concepts (as we will consider in Part 3). This, in turn, leads to confusion. Our hope and belief, therefore, is that our presbytery will overture the general assembly of the OPC to establish a study committee to examine and consider this contemporary controversy.

Conclusion of Part 1

We need not fall prey to the confusion caused by the formulations of Shepherd and FV on the one side, nor those of Kline and the Republication Paradigm on the other. The Westminster Standards (and other Reformed creeds) embody the consensus formulations of historic Reformed theology. This plumb line has served as a faithful standard for faith and life for hundreds of years. More importantly, our church embraces the Westminster Standards as containing the system of doctrine taught in the holy Scriptures. Indeed, we may be assured that our confidence in our Reformed creeds is well-placed. They are proven guides and reliable signposts in navigating a Biblically sound course among many potential deviations.

 (8) Additionally, the recent work of James T. Dennison, Jr. (which has resulted in the publication of Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation, Vols. 1-3 [1523-1599]; Vol. 4 [1603-1609] forthcoming), demonstrates that the Republication Paradigm of a typological works-merit covenant with Israel as a “corporate Adam” in the Mosaic era, is not found in any of the more than 125 Reformed confessions of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Part 2 Intro
Redefining Merit: The Klinean Paradigm Shift

In Part 1, we spoke of a “Republication Paradigm” that differs in important respects from the Westminster Confession of Faith. We argued that these differences were the result of a pendulum swing against the paradigm of Norman Shepherd. In Part 2, we will seek to show how this pendulum swing resulted in a redefinition of the traditional concept of merit. This redefinition was first applied to the notion of Adamic merit in the original covenant of works. In the development of Kline’s teaching, it also came to undergird and shape Israel’s “typological merit” in the republication of the covenant of works under Moses.

Our purpose in this section is to demonstrate that the Republication Paradigm and the Westminster Confession of Faith represent two different conceptions of “merit.” One of the most significant differences between the two positions is the way in which the Republication Paradigm affirms merit for Old Testament figures after the fall. Clear examples of this can be found in the writings of Professor Kline and other contemporary authors. The difference between this view and the traditional position cannot be more striking. The traditional view rejects any possibility for merit on the part of sinful man, in any sense, after the fall. The Republication Paradigm affirms that a type of merit is possible on the part of fallen man.

What is at the root of these differences between historic Reformed theology (as expressed in the Confession) and the republication formulation? To answer this question, we must first speak about the different ways in which the term “merit” is being used (Ch.5). Then we will seek to explain how the Republication Paradigm is a system that defines merit in a particular way, in contrast to the Confession’s earlier definition of merit (Chs. 6-7). Finally, we will consider how the reformulation of merit is connected to the Mosaic covenant, as it was separated into two levels in Kline’s system. On the one hand, there was the grace level for the eternal salvation of the individual. On the other hand, there was a national, meritorious-works level for the retention of temporal earthly blessings (Ch. 8).0

Further, it is our belief that this redefinition of merit is not an isolated modification that leaves the broader Reformed system of doctrine unaffected. Instead, this new conception of merit has paradigmatic implications which significantly modify other key doctrines. This will be taken up in Part 3.

To read the rest you will have to purchase the book.

Or you can listen to them speak about this topic on You Tube.

I also recommend you read a follow up concerning Kline, Creation, Condescension, and Covenant Merit which I posted after this.

And here also.

By Robert B. Strimple

Dr. Robert B. Strimple on the Mosaic Covenant and Republication of the Covenant of Works


Dr. Robert B. Strimple
I found Dr. Strimple’s thoughts on Republication of the Covenant of Works as portrayed in ‘The Law is Not of Faith’ very true.   “Here in the WCF, it is claimed,one also finds the same legal characterization of the Mosaic covenant even in terms of the republication of the covenant of works…” (p. 43). And I wrote in the margin of my copy: “No, no, no!” That is precisely what is not found in the Confession!” RBS

I find it strange that David Van Drunen is the Robert B. Strimple Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics at Westminster Seminary California, Dr. R. Scott Clark is the Professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Westminster Seminary California, J. V. Fesko is Acedemic Dean, Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Westminster Seminary California, and Bryan Estelle is Professor of Old Testament at Westminster Seminary California.  It is strange that these men have taken up a position that is not confessional especially since one of Dr. Clark’s books is claiming the Recovery of Confessionalism.

Here is the conclusion of the paper by Dr. Strimple concerning Dr. Robert Scott Clark’s position concering WCF chapter 19.

The other relevant blog by Dr. Clark was published much earlier; it is dated  July 16, 2007 (quoted here from footnote 87 on p. 356 of Covenant,  Justification and Pastoral Ministry. Essays by the Faculty of Westminster  Seminary California). There he presented essentially the same argument that he presented in his more recent blog (which we considered above), but with the additional factor of following Thomas Boston in appealing “to the logic implied by the grammar of WCF 19:1 and 2,” and claiming that “the phrase ‘covenant of works’ in 19:1 is appositive to the noun ‘law'” (italics added). “Thus the ‘Law’ is reckoned here as a covenant of works. Thus when, 19:2 establishes ‘this law’ as the subject of the verb “was delivered,” the antecedent can be none other than the law defined as a covenant of works in 19:1.”

Thus, if I am following the “logic of the grammar” correctly, if (as we have shown above) then all the references to “this law” in this chapter, since they all have the same ultimate antecedent (namely the “law” referred to in sec. 1), must also be understood as referring to “none other than the ‘Law’ defined as a covenant of works in 19:1.” But that, of course, is impossible, for that would mean that “this law” spoken of there in sec. 2 as continuing for us is a covenant of works; as also the “law” spoken of in sec. 5 as “forever bind(ing) all, as well justified persons as others”; as well as the references to “the law” twice in sec. 6 as that which “true believers” are “not under…as a covenant of works”! I know Dr. Clark doesn’t believe that, but that is where the logic of his argument would lead him.

When Dr. Clark says in this blog that “the phrase ‘covenant of works,’ in 19:1 is appositive to the noun ‘Law’—”the second expression identifying or supplementing the first” The American College Dictionary—his argument is that therefore “this law” in sec. 2 “can be none other than the ‘Law’ defined as a covenant of works in 19:1.” But if all references to “law” or “this law” in this chapter must be  references to law as a covenant of works, because that is the definition of law in this chapter, that would lead to the consequences noted in our previous paragraph, which cannot be true. The error in Dr. Clark’s argument is that the phrase “as a covenant of works” in sec. 1 is not appositive but restrictive. The little word “as” in the sec. 1 —”God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant or works—is a preposition here in the first sense listed in the Webster New World Dictionary: “as—preposition 1. in the role, function, capacity, or sense of “. The Confession says that God gave to Adam a law as a covenant of works, but it never says, or even suggests, that God ever so gave it to any person or nation after the fall.

In sec. 2 the important phrase “as such” appears, appears immediately after the reference to “this law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness; and…” The first usage of the word “such” as an adjective listed in the Webster New World Dictionary is: “such—adjective 1. of the same kind mentioned or implied.” Here in sec. 2 the phrase is “as such,” where “such” is a pronoun, meaning “as being what is indicated or suggested” Webster. And what is indicated in the sentence in sec. 2 is the purpose/function stated in the words immediately preceding “as such,” i.e., “to be a perfect rule of righteousness.” The words “as such” do not leap over all the words in the sentence in which it appears to go back to “as a covenant of works” at the beginning of sec. 1!

Note also that the two references to “covenant of works” with negative force in sec. 6—”not under the law as a covenant of works” and later “although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works”—must be read alongside the positive statement of sec. 2. Question: If true believers after the fall (including those who received the law on Mt. Sinai) be “not under the law, as a covenant of works” (sec. 6), how does the law relate to them?  Answer: As “a perfect rule of righteousness.”

The meaning of 19:1-2 is so clear that I do not understand why any question concerning that meaning should ever have arisen. To state that meaning I can use no clearer words than the words the divines used: “God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works…This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness; and, as such, was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai…”

Download the short document here.

Herman Bavinck – The Covenant of Grace – Mosaic- (Read Bavinck!)


Reading Bavinck on the Covenant of Grace and the Mosaic Covenant is well worth anyone’s time. Put the modern books down and read the good stuff. The difference between Modern Reformed Thought and reading Reformed thought is like going to eat at McDonald’s or Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Read Bavinck!


The universal reality of misery evokes in all people a need for deliverance, a deliverance from above. Pagans who construe misery as basically physical know neither the essential character of sin nor the deliverance of grace. Scripture, however, sees our misery as sin, as an ethical violation of communion with God, who alone can restore it. This requires grace, which in biblical revelation assumes the form of a covenant.

This covenant begins immediately after the fall as evidenced by Adam and Eve’s shame in their nakedness, a sign of lost innocence. Guilt and shame reveal both God’s wrath and his grace, but the latter is shown especially when God seeks out Adam and Eve and interrogates them. In his punishment on the serpent and on humanity, God’s mercy triumphs over judgment as he annuls the covenant made with evil and puts enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. Now the path of glory must pass through suffering for man and woman. In the promise of Genesis 3, we find the gospel in a nutshell and, in principle, the entire history of the human race.

The word “covenant” is not found in Genesis 3, but the reality is. Modern critics judge that covenant ideas arose late in Israel’s history but need circular arguments for their case. A history of Israel is constructed by alleging that certain biblical sources are inauthentic, which history is then used to demonstrate the inauthenticity of documents that witness against it. It is better scholarship to see the latter prophets as standing on the foundation of a real covenant made with the patriarchs.

Covenant (ברית) is characterized by three factors: an oath or promise including stipulations, a curse for violation, and a cultic ceremony that represents the curse symbolically. Covenant making is a religious and social act. The covenant of grace is unilateral, indissolubly grounded in the merciful promises of the sovereign God. God cannot break his promise; he has sworn himself to uphold it. The unilateral divine origin and character attributed to the covenant in Hebrew is likely the reason why the Septuagint translates ברית by διαθηκη, or “testament,” rather than συνθηκη.

The doctrine of the covenant achieved dogmatic significance in the Christian church because the Christian religion had to understand its relation to and distinction from Judaism. Over against Gnosticism and Marcion, the church had to maintain the unity of and, over against Judaism, the distinction between the two covenants. Law and gospel, Old Testament and New Testament, are to be distinguished but never separated. During the Reformation this issue became crucial as Anabaptists and others (Arminians, Socinians) devalued the Old Testament. Key differences also arose between the Lutheran and Reformed traditions. It is in the latter, beginning with Zwingli and Calvin, that the doctrine of the covenant is most fully developed, notably in the German Reformed theology of Olevianus and Ursinus, English Puritanism, and the Westminster Confession.

Among the Dutch Reformed, Cloppenburg and Cocceius made the covenant the fundamental premise and controlling principle of dogmatics as a whole. Cocceius had an eccentric view of the covenant, notably the notion of successive covenantal abrogations, which in fact undermined the key element of grace, making it uncertain. After Cocceius, a more general disparagement of the Old Testament took place among modern thinkers such as Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, and Schleiermacher. Judaism was then seen as no better than paganism as preparation for Christianity.

In the Reformed church and theology, covenant became a very important practical encouragement for Christian living. Here the basis of all covenants was found in the eternal counsel of God, in a covenant between the very persons of the Trinity, the pactum salutis (counsel of peace). The work of salvation is an undertaking of the one God in three persons in which all cooperate and each one performs a special task. It is the triune God—Father, Son, and Spirit—who together conceive, determine, carry out, and complete the entire work of salvation. The benefit to the believer is in knowing that the covenant of grace executed and revealed in time and history nevertheless rests on an eternal, unchanging foundation, the counsel of the triune God. The Father is the eternal Father, the Son the eternal Mediator, the Holy Spirit the eternal Paraclete.

Care must be taken in considering the execution of the pact of salvation in time and history. Though God elects Abraham and Israel as his chosen people, his salvific purpose is universal, with all peoples. In the fullness of time, humanity as a whole, Jew and Gentile, is reconciled in the one man, Jesus Christ, at the cross. After the fall, grace and judgment alike are extended to the whole human race. In the beginnings of human history, we see great blessing in remarkable longevity and the great judgment of the flood. After the flood, God makes a covenant with nature not to destroy the world with water again, reduces human life span, and spreads humanity across the world, preventing humans from reaching heaven itself with their ambition. Despite letting the Gentiles walk in their own ways, God providentially grants them significant cultural and social development. He did not leave them without witnesses to himself through the works of his hands. In this way God is present to all people, and they are in some sense “prepared” for the message of salvation.

The universal scope of God’s intention for all peoples—Jew and Gentile—must never obscure the special favor of God to Israel. While Israel is drawn from the nations and there are analogies between Israel’s religious practices and those of the nations, the essential difference is that special grace is reserved for Israel and is not known among the pagans. Pagan religion is self-willed and legalistic. The covenant made with Abraham is new and comes from God alone. Through his covenant with Abraham and Israel, the Creator proves himself to also be the Re-creator and Savior. Elohim, Creator of heaven and earth, is Yahweh, the God of the covenant.

The old covenant with Israel is the necessary preparation for the new covenant in Christ. Though the covenant is one, there are two dispensations. In God’s own time, the promise of the old covenant was fulfilled in the new. The shadow and particularity of the letter became the substance, universality, and freedom of the Spirit. Nothing of the Old Testament is lost in the New, but everything is fulfilled, matured, has reached its full growth, and now, out of the temporary husk, produces the eternal core.

The covenant of grace, fulfilled in the New Testament, was and is surrounded and sustained by God’s covenant with nature, with all creatures. Unlike what Cocceius taught, the covenant of grace is not the successive abolition of the covenant of works but its fulfillment and restoration. “Grace repairs and perfects nature.” God’s demand of obedience remains as the only way to eternal life. The difference between the covenant of works and grace is that God now approaches us not in Adam but in Christ, who fulfilled all the obedience required of Adam. Christ is the second and last Adam who restores what the first Adam had corrupted; he is the head of a new humanity.

The covenant of grace is also integrally united with the counsel of peace, though it should be distinguished from it. In the counsel of peace, Christ is the guarantor and head; in the covenant of grace, he is the mediator. In this way the doctrine of the covenant maintains God’s sovereignty in the entire work of salvation. It is the Father who conceives, plans, and wills the work of salvation; it is the Son who guarantees it and effectively acquires it; it is the Spirit who implements and applies it.

At the same time, the covenant of grace also allows the rational and moral nature of human beings to come into their own. Here it differs from election, in which humans are strictly passive. The covenant of grace describes the road by which elect people attain their destiny; it is the channel by which the stream of election flows toward eternity. Christ sends his Spirit to instruct and enable his own so that they consciously and voluntarily consent to this covenant. The covenant of grace comes with the demand of faith and repentance, which may in some sense be said to be its “conditions.” Yet, this must not be misunderstood. God himself supplies what he demands; the covenant of grace is thus truly unilateral—it comes from God, who designed, defines, maintains, and implements it. It is, however, designed to become bilateral, to be consciously and voluntarily accepted by believers in the power of God. In the covenant of grace, God’s honor is not at the expense of but for the benefit of human persons by renewing the whole person and restoring personal freedom and dignity.

The covenant of grace, with Christ as the new head of humanity, reminds us of the organic unity of the church. The covenant of grace reminds us that election is about not only individual persons but also organic wholes, including families and generations. Therefore, some who remain inwardly unbelieving will for a time, in the earthly administration and dispensation of the covenant of grace, be part of the covenant people. The final judgment belongs to God alone, and in this life the church must regard such with the judgment of charity.(a)

This (Abrahamic) covenant with the ancestors continues, even when later at Sinai it assumes another form. It is the foundation and core also of the Sinaitic covenant (Exod. 2:24; Deut. 7:8). The promise was not nullified by the law that came later (Gal. 3:17). The covenant with Israel was essentially no other than that with Abraham. Just as God first freely and graciously gave himself as shield and reward to Abraham, apart from merits of his, to be a God to him and his descendants after him, and on that basis called Abraham to a blameless walk before his face, so also it is God who chose the people of Israel, saved it out of Egypt, united himself with that people, and obligated it to be holy and his own people. The covenant on Mount sinai is and remains a covenant of grace. “I am The Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the ouse of slavery” (Exod. 20:2) is the opening statement and foundation of the law, the essence of the covenant of grace. Yahweh is and perpetually remains Israel’s God before and aside from any dignity or worth that Israel may have. It is an everlasting covenant that cannot be broken even by any sins and iniquities on the part of Israel (Deut. 4:31; 32:26f; Judg. 2:1; Pss. 89:1-5; 105:8; 111:5; Isa. 54:10; Rom. 11:1-2; 2 Cor. 1:20).

The benefits granted to Israel by God in this covenant are the same as those granted to Abraham, but more detailed and specialized. Genesis 3:15 already contains the entire covenant in a nutshell and all the benefits of grace. God breaks the covenant made by the first humans with Satan, puts enmity between them, brings the first humans over to his side, and promises them victory over the power of the enemy. The one great promise to Abraham is “I will be your God, and you and your descendants will be my people” (Genesis 17:1 paraphrase). And this is the principle content of God’s covenant with Israel as well. God is Israel’s God, and Israel is his people (Exod. 19:6; 29:46; etc.) Israel, accordingly, receives a wide assortment of blessings, not only temporal blessings, such as the land of Canaan, fruitfulness in marriage, a long life, prosperity, plus victory over its enemies, but also spiritual and eternal blessings, such as God’s dwelling among them (Exod. 29:45; Lev. 26:12), the forgiveness of sins (Exod. 20:6; 34:7; Num. 14:18; Deut. 4:31; Pss. 32; 103; etc.), sonship (Exod. 4:22; 19:5-6; 20:2; Deut. 14:1; Isa. 63:16; Amos 3:1-2; etc.), sanctification (Exod. 19:6; Lev. 11:44; 19:2), and so on… (b)

Just as Abraham, when God allied himself with him, was obligated to “Walk before his face,” so Israel as a people was similarly admonished by God’s covenant to a new obedience. The entire law, which the covenant of grace at Mount Sinai took into its service, is intended to prompt Israel as a people to “walk” in the way of the covenant. It is but an explication of the one statement to Abraham: “Walk before me, and be blameless” [Gen. 17:1], and therefore nor more a cancelation of the covenant of grace and the foundation of a covenant of works than this word spoken to Abraham. The law of Moses, accordingly, is not antithetical to grace but subservient to it and was also thus understood and praised in every age by Israel’s pious men and women. But detached from the covenant of grace, it indeed became a letter that kills, a ministry of condemnation. Another reason why in the time of the Old Testament the covenant of grace took the law into its service was that it might arouse the consciousness of sin, increase the felt need for salvation, and reinforce the expectation of an even richer revelation of God’s grace. He writes that Israel as a minor, placed under the care of the law, had to be led to Christ (Rom. 10:4; Gal. 3:23f. 4:1f.) and that in that connection sin would be increased and the uselessness of works for justification and the necessity of faith would be understood (Rom. 4:15; 5:20; 7:7f; 8:3; Gal. 3:19). On the one hand, therefore, the law was subservient to the covenant of grace; it was not a covenant of works in disguise and did not intend that humans would obtain justification by their own works. On the other hand, its purpose was to lay the ground work for a higher and better dispensation of that same covenant of grace to come in the fullness of time. The impossibility of keeping the Sinaitic covenant of the meeting of demands of the law made another and better dispensation of the covenant of grace necessary. The eternal covenant of grace was provoked to a higher revelation off itself by the imperfection of the temporary form it has assumed in Israel. Sin increased that grace might abound. Christ could not immediately become human after the fall, and grace could not immediately reveal itself in all its riches. There was a needed for preparation and nurture. “It was not fitting for God to become incarnate at the beginning of the human race before sin. For medicine is given only to the sick. Nor was it fitting that God should become incarnate immediately after sin that man, having been humbled by sin, might see his own need of a deliverer. But what has been decreed from eternity occurred in the fullness of time. (c)

Bavinck, H., Bolt, J., & Vriend, J. (2006). Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ ((a) 193–196, (b) 220-221, (c) 222). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

I guess what I am trying to say is read Bavinck!

Peter Martyr Similarities and Differences Between the Old and New Covenants


The following is taken from Peter Martyr Vermigli’s Common Places, published in English in the year 1574, and translated by Anthonie Marten. Much of the spelling has been modernized for easier reading, and the sentence structure has been slightly modified from time to time. In no place have I willingly or knowingly altered the sense of his statements. Vermigli’s locus on the covenant comes in part 2, chapter 16, and is entitled all the likeness and unlikeness of the old and new league or covenant. The work as a whole (in its original type) can be read here. Just go to page 207 in the PDF file for the section on the covenant. I have only made it part way through this transcription, and am currently trying to complete it. However, I figured that even part of it would be better than nothing. You can read the whole chapter in the link above, but this should be a little easier going for you who can’t read older English very well. Not only are the words spelled differently, the type is hard to read, too! I hope ye haue a goode tyme reeding thys updayted texte.

I did not write this or Translate it. I borrowed this from the site link below. I have done this before with the authors permission. Just trying to get the word out.
Randy Martin Snyder

Of The Likeness and the Unlikeness of the Old and New Covenants

The word league, in Latin foedus, is derived from the verb Ferire, “to Strike,” because the ambassadors of each party killed a pig, from which etymology perhaps the Hebrew word Berith differs very little. By which outward sign also, they wished by prayer the destruction of that part which should violate the covenant. We may gather this out of Livy, in his first book after the building of the city: and as the same author writers in his fourth book De bello Macedonico. There are three kinds of leagues [or covenants].

  1. The first kind is where the conquerors make laws unto those they have conquered, in punishing and commanding them in such things, as they will afterward have them to do.
  2. The second kind is, when things being yet in their own state and neither party overcome, they agree together, that such things, as are taken from each party, may be restored, and that covenants of peace may be established.
  3. The third kind is, where there hath been no war between the parties; and when certain cities or princes are joined together by some covenants either to live the more peacably, or else to take some public affairs in hand.

These things being on this wise declared, let us show what a league [covenant] is. A league [covenant] is that bond between men, whereby they testify, both by words and signs one to another, that they are bound to perform certain things, so long as they deal faithfully either towards the other.

And it be a bond, and pertain to relation, it is grounded upon human actions; and I referred to those things, which the parties confederate ought to perform one towards another. It is expressed by words, and for the most part, signs are added, When God made a covenant with mankind, after the flood, he not only set forth the form of the bond by words; but he also put the rainbow in the clouds as a witness [pg. 583] and in the covenant, which he made with Abraham, he put the sign of circumcision. Furthermore, in the same, which was made by Moses at Mount Sinai, there were twelve pillars erected, and the people were sprinkled with blood. Joshua also, when he should die, erected by a very great stone; thereby as it were to sign the league renewed between God and the people. And what the promises were, which should be kept by each party, the Scripture often times teaches. For God promised, that he would be the God of his people; namely, that he would be with them, to help them, to deliver them, and by all means (as touching all kind of good things) to bless them. The people again promised, that they would count the Lord Jehovah for their God, in believing, worshipping, and obeying him. And Christ was in the league [covenant], as the mediator between each party. This is the exposition and nature of the covenant between God and man.

The League [covenant] is divided into the new, and into the old. Which division is not of a general thing, into special things; but of the subject into accidents. Forsomuch as in either league, the thing itself, and the substance, is utterly one and the self-same: only certain qualities do vary. For the old league was made with only one nation of the Jews, and had certain things annexed; I mean the possession of the land of Canaan, the kingdom of the Jews, and the priesthood of Aaron, and also the promise of the Messiah, according to the birth of the flesh. Moreover, it had very many signs of ceremonies, and sacrifices very fit for that age. It also were mysteries of salvation, and promises of eternal life; although far more obscure than they were afterward taught to us. And on the other hand, in the new league there are properties, in a manner contrary. For it pertains not to any one certain nation, but two all nations, however far the world is extended: neither is there any peculiar civil administration joined to it.

Furthermore, there are but very few ceremonies and outward signs, and they are very plain and simple, annexed unto it. And (to conclude) all things are contained more openly, plainly, and manifestly in the new testament, than they are in the old. By these qualities both the old and new league [covenant] differ from one another: however, the thing itself, and the substance remains one and the same. For as Jehovah would then be the God of the Hebrews: so has he now decreed to be the God of the Christians. And that also, which they in those days promised; namely, that they would believe in the true God, and obey, and worship him as he hath prescribed; we also ought to perform. Christ comes between both parties as a mediator: and forgiveness of sins; yea and eternal life also is promised by him. Also, the moral laws remain the very same now, which they were then.

Paul, in the eleventh chapter to the Romans, has very well declared, that the league of the fathers in old time, and ours, is all one; when he compares the church with the tree, which hs Christ as it were the root. Then he adds that from such a tree certain branches were cut off; namely, the Hebrews, who did not believe; and we who are Gentiles, were planted in their place; that is to say, we were chosen into the same league [covenant] wherein they were comprehended. The same tree is affirms to remain, into which some are grafted in by faith; and from the which other some, because of the incredulity, he cut off. Wherefore, each league [covenant] contains both the law and the Gospel. And there be in either of the testaments, the self-same sacraments: as it is declared in the first epistle to the Corinthians, the tenth chapter: for, the fathers were all under the cloud, and were baptized into the sea, and did eat the same spiritual meat, and drank of the spiritual rock following them, and the rock was Christ. Furthermore, we grant, that as touching outward signs, there is some difference between their sacraments and ours: which nevertheless, as concerning the things signified by the sacraments, is found to be nothing at all.

Otherwise, the argument of Paul might not have persuaded the Corinthians, to be subject unto the same punishments that the Hebrews were. For they might have said, that they had far better sacraments than had the Hebrews; and that therefore they should not so much need to fear, lest they should suffer the like; forsomuch as the excellency of the sacraments might put off those misfortunes, from which the Hebrews could not be delivered by the sacraments of the law. So as the apostle took away this shift from them, and makes our sacraments and their equal and alike, as touching the things themselves. He writes also to the Romans, the first chapter, concerning the Gospel; that it was in the old time promised by the prophet in the holy Scriptures [Rom. 1:2]. And in the third chapter he speaks on this wise; But now is the righteousness of God made manifest, being testified by the law and the prophets [Rom. 3:21].

Neither may you say to me, that these things were indeed promised in the holy Scriptures of the old testaments; but not that they should be performed unto the men that lived in those days. For the apostle does very well show the meaning of this place, when he [pg. 584] says; that Every aw doth speak to those men, which live under it. And it is not to be doubted, but that the fathers were justified after the same sort that we are now at this present. For even they were no less justified by faith only in Christ, than we are. Wherefore it is written in the book of Genesis of Abraham, that he believed, and the same was counted to him for righteousness. John also testified that Christ said of Abraham, that he had seen his day, and rejoiced. The epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 13, affirms that Christ was yesterday, and today, and remains forever. Wherefore, even as we are said now to be saved, not by works, but by the meer mercy of God, through faith in Christ: so was it with the fathers at that time; for they were justified by no merits, but only by faith in Christ. Furthermore, what obedience so ever the fathers had toward the commandments of God, and also faith in the promises: those things were not derived from their own strength and power; but (even as it also happens unto us) they came unto them by the grace of God and Christ.

It is true indeed, that Jeremiah, in the 31st chapter (as it is also alleged in the eighth chapter to the Hebrews;) thatThere must be another league made in the name of God, not as it was made in the old time with the fathers. And among other things he says, God would give his laws in the hearts and inward parts of men; so that none should need any more to teach his neighbor: because all, from the least to the greatest, should have the knowledge of God. And further it is said, in the person of God; I will be merciful unto their sins, and will no more remember their iniquities, etc. As touching those words, both of Jeremiah, and also of the epistle to the Hebrews, we must understand; that they prove not that there is any difference between the testaments, as touching the substance and the thing itself; but touching the properties and qualities: as we have before said. Neither must we think, that the old fathers (who in obeying the commandments of God, and in right faith, worshipped him purely) could perform those things of their own strength or natural power. For, unless they had had the laws and promises of God written in their hearts and minds, by the Holy Ghost; and also a will, bu the grace of God, ready to obey his commandments: they had never been able to perform such things.

They wanted not therefore the light of God, which shined before their eyes, to make them believe: yea and their sins were forgiven them through Christ. So then they had also the fruition of those things, which god promised to give in the new covenant. The only difference herein was touching the largeness, and perspicuity. Far at that time, those gifts were kept within the compass of a few; but now they are everywhere communicated to the Gentiles. In that age, they were somewhat obscure, but to us they are made evident and clear, that we have no more need of the old discipline. Hereby it manifestly appears, how they err from the truth, who affirm that the old league [covenant] had promises only for possessing the land of Canaan, and for worldly felicity; and that the people of the Hebrews were bound only to an outward observation of certain rites and works, and not to show forth good and perfect motions of the mind towards God. The prophets do not interpret the matter to be in such wise; nay rather, they deny that God esteems any outward works without inward godliness: and they pronounce in every place, that the ceremonies, which be void of faith, and of the fear of God, are a most grievous burden; and so troublesome, as he cannot abide them.

Yea, and the law itself makes express mention of the circumcision of the heart; and God every where requires, that we should hear his voice: which is nothing else, but to deal with him by faith. Wherefore, the faith of the promises and commandments of God, ought to be counted as the root and foundation, which always abides: when as outward sacraments, and visible rites, should at the length be changed. So that it is very manifest, that God would not have them for their own sakes. Howbeit, they endured so long, as men were indued with a childish spirit; as Paul speaks to the Galatians, while they lived as yet under tutors, and as yet differed very little from servants. But when they received a more full spirit, then were the sacraments and childish rites (as Augustine says) taken away. It is manifest therefore, that the difference between the two covenants must not be taken of the thing or substance; but of the qualities and properties.

Let them therefore forsake their soul error, which think, that God in the old law only promised earthly things, as though at that time he only provided for the bodies, and not for the souls: as do shepherds, ploughmen, and hogheards; which only have a care of the bodies and carcasses of their sheep, swine, and oxen; neither endeavor they any thing else, but to make those beasts strong and fat. We must not so imagine of God, who in such sort made a league with the gathers, as he promised them the chief felicity, which specially appertains unto the soul. Also it is written in Ps. 144:15, Blessed are the people, which have the Lord for their God. In Deut. 30:6 also, God took upon him to bring to pass, that they should walk in [pg. 585] his commandments. But what more? Our Savior, out of the words of the old league [covenant], has most aptly taught the resurrection of the dead. For when the Lord said, that he was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (and they were then dead;) Christ inferred, that they were not then dead, but that they still lived, and that their bodies should be resuscitated; namely, in the blessed resurrection. Hereunto pertains that which God asserted to Abraham; to wit, that he himself would be his reward (Gen. 15:1). Which words plainly teach us, that in that covenant were not promised carnal and earthly good things alone.

Undoubtedly, it were a great shame, even for kings and princes, which (being compared unto God) are but flesh and blood; if they should be counted to govern the public weales, in respect only of the bodies of subjects; seeing they profess, that they provide for the outward commodities, quietness, and peace of their citizens; because they may live happily, and according to virtue. So then, if earthly princes provide goods of the mind for their subjects, is it not fit, that God himself did provide far more excellent things for the public weale of the Israelites, whom he faithfully governed? Furthermore, I say not how foolish it is to believe, that the forefathers, by the league (covenant), bound themselves only to outward rites, and visible ceremonies, whereby they would worship God; seeing the very Ethniks (Gentiles) were not ignorant: but rather, they have most planly testified, that the worshipping of God does not consist in those things. For Plautius in Rudentewrites thus; they think that they please God with figts and sacrifices, but they loose both their labor and cost. I will not declare those which Plato writes in his Alcibiades concerning this matter. Yea, and (as I have taught before) the law itself and the prophets declare, that the things was far otherwise.

We will note also, that the fathers made a league (covenant) with God; not only for themselves, but also for their posterity: as God again, for his part, promised that he would be God not only to them, but also to their seed and posterity. Wherefore, it was lawful for them to circumcise their children who were yet infants. And in like manner it is lawful for us also to baptize our little children, when they are yet infants; inasmuch as they also are included in the league [covenant]. For they, who already have the thing itself, there is nothing that may lett, but that they should receive the sign. It is plainly written in Deuteronomy 29 that “the covenant was made, not only with them, which were present, but also with them who were absent, and not yet born.” But some doubt, whether the posterity may be bound by their forefathers. We do answer: we must look whether the things which were promised to our forefathers were just and honest; then we must consider whether these promises pertained unto civil things, or unto godliness. When they are made for civil things, the bond is firm; because it is not lawful for the posterity to infringe the contracts of their forefathers: such as are buyings, sellings, bargains, and things like these. Provided that they contain nothing that is shameful, dishonest, and unjust. But if the bonds and covenants belong to godliness, or to a right faith, then the obligation is of full strength, because we are all bound to true godliness, and to a sound faith, although there were no covenant to bind us. But if the forefathers have bound themselves and their posterity, unto dishonest and wicked things, it is no bond at all. But whereas God so humbled himself, as to enter in league [covenant] with men, that comes of his own mere mercy and good will; to stir us up thereby more and more, to do those things, which otherwise is our duty to do.

But some affirm that Paul takes something away from the Old Testament, when in 2 Corinthians he calls it “the ministry of death.” And to the Galatians he writes, “you have begun in the Spirit, take heed that you do not end in the flesh.” And in the same epistle he shows that whose who are under the law do persecute those which belong to the Gospel. But in such places as these, Paul speaks of the Old Testament as it was thrust upon them by the false apostles—without Christ and without faith. Then it is as if you should take away the very life from it, and leave nothing remaining but death and offense of the flesh. But when the apostle speaks of the law by itself, he writes far otherwise. To the Romans it is written: “The law is indeed spiritual, a holy commandment, just and good; but I am carnal, etc.” And to Timothy: “For we know that the law is good, if a man uses it lawfully.” Wherefore, when as it seems that the law is diminished or reproved by Paul, that is not said in respect of itself, but for our fault’s sake. For it meets with those who are defiled, and endeavor to resist it, then it breeds those discommodities. Or else (as I have said) he speaks thereof, so far as the false apostles severed Christ from the same [the law]. Perhaps you will affirm that the false apostles did not take away Christ, but rather preached the law together with him. But nevertheless, seeing that they taught that he was not sufficient unto salvation, no doubt they took him away. For he that has need of the law to save man is not [pg. 586] the true Christ that was promised.

But because Paul said out of the testimony of Isaiah that “this is a testament,” and that we read the same thing in Jeremiah 31, that “the new covenant herein cnsists, that the deliverer should come, and be merciful to iniquities,” there arises a doubt, whether the new testament be diverse or not. Concerning this matter I have spoken a little before, but now I intend to treat it more largely. At first sight they seem to be altogether diverse, sot that the one is altogether distinguished from the other. For in Jeremiah it is said that “there should be a new covenant, and not according to that which he made with the fathers.” And the Epistle to the Hebrews adds, “When it is said, a new, then that which is old is abolished.” But does not see, that if one thing abolishes and makes void another thing, it differs altogether from it. There is also another argument, for (as they say) in the Old Testament, there was no forgiveness of sins. For the epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 10, says that “the blood of goats, and of oxen, and of calves could not take away sins.” But in the New Testament, no man doubts that there is remission of sins: so as no man will say, but that the things, which in so great a matter differ, are diverse.

Yet this on the other side is to be considered, that that faith, in which justification consists, is all one in either testament. Moreover, the Mediator is one and the same, namely, Christ Jesus. And the promise of remission of sins, and of eternal life through him, are all one. The commandments (at least those which are moral) are all one. The signification of the sacraments is all one. The root and plant our which some Jews were cut off and into which we were grafted in their place is all one. All these things plainly declare that either testament, as touching the substance or essence (if I may so call it) is all one thing. Although there must be granted some differences, by reason of the accidents. These are that Jesus Christ was there known, as he who was to come, but with us he is known as he who has already come. Also, their signs were different from ours in form, but of like strength in signification, as Augustine says. Moreover they had certain and assured public wealth, for the preservation whereof, they had civil precepts delivered to them, which we do not have. And finally, unto the promise of remission of sins by the Messiah, there were in old time added a great many other promises, as of the incrase and preservation of their posterity, and of the possession of the land of Canaan, which promises we do not have. And besides all this, our sacraments are easier and fewer in number, and are also more manifest and extend much further, seeing that they are not shut up in a corner, as theirs were in Jewry; but are spread abroad throughout the whole world. Wherefore we may affirm, that the New Testament and the Old are indeed all one, as touching the substance; and differ only in certain accidental things, which we have now mentioned.

But now it remains to answer the two arguemtns which were brought forth before concerning the remission of sins. We do not deny that the same [remission of sins] was in the Old Testament, seeing that if we consider the promise, which there also was of force, the old fathers were justified by the same. For it was said of Abraham, “He believed God, and it was imputed to him to righteousness,” as the apostle has declared. And David says, “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” (Ps. 32:1). Yet if we look upon the sacraments or ceremonies, they did not pardon sins, as touching the work; neither yet do our sacraments have strength to do so. But whereas Paul says to the Hebrews that “the blood of goats, oxen, and calves could not take away sin” (Heb. 10:4), we do not deny this to be true. But yet in the meantime, neither does Paul deny that the faith of the old fathers (whereby they had a respect unto Christ, and embraced him in the signification of those sacrifices) did justify and obtain remission of sins. Doubtless the blood of those sacrifices washed not away the sins of the world, but the the blood of Christ alone, as he himself said, “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which shall be shed for you, and for many for the remission of sins” (Luke 22:22).

But whereas we are said to be baptized into the remission of sins, the meaning whereof is that by the sacrament is remission of sins is sealed and signified unto us, which we have already obtained by the blood of Christ. This same thing is also done in the Eucharist. And faith always ought to go before the receiving of the sacraments, if we receive them rightly, and the order not be inverted. For just as without faith men eat and drink unworthily, so also without faith baptism is unworthily received. Yet this must be understood concerning those who are of full age. Concerning how it is with infants, we will declare elsewhere. If faith, then, goes before [the sacraments] it is manifest that sins are forgiven, because the sacraments that follow seal and also confirm us concerning the will of God. And when they are set forth unto us, they oftentimes stir up faith; no otherwise than the word of God does, when it is heard.

So that is not possible but that faith, being [pg. 587] newly stirred up is apprehended more and more, justification is apprehended more and more, and new strength of restoring is laid hold upon. And therefore, whereas Chysostom (interpreting these words, “When I shall take up their sins”) says upon the same: When they were yet uncircumcised, when they did not yet offer, and when they did not yet other things pertaining to the law, their sins were taken away. Certainly he must no be so understood to mean that the fathers in ancient times, when they did these things and by them exercised their faith (because they saw Christ to be signified in them) had not thereby fruit as we have. But rather, he meant that these things now after Christ has suffered are unprofitable, and that in ancient times they did not give grace by the work itself, as the Jews dreamed. Wherein also in our day the sophistical Divines are deceived concerning our sacraments.

But concerning the other argument, that in the Epistle to the Hebrews it is said that “The Old Testament is abolished, and made void, the new taking its place”; and whereas Jeremiah says (31:33) that “God would make a new league, not according to the league he made witht he fathers, when he brought them out of the Land of Egypt,” we answer as follows. There the league is taken for the law, and is distinguished from the Gospel. This is clear because he said that he will write his laws in their hearts, and ingrave them in their inward parts. But that thing is not agreeable with the law, which only shows sins, condemns and accuses. Neither does it give strength; yea, it rather after a sort commands infinite things, and lays such a burden upon us that we are not able to bear. And therefore the prophet there says that “They did not abide in his covenant.” So as this word league, or testament, is not there so taken as we now take it. For as where here intreat of it, it comprehends both the Law and the Gospel. And in this respect there is no difference between the old testament and the new, but only as we have declared.

And if you will say that the prophet there also understands this word “testament,” in such a way as we now speak of it, we may then grant that by the coming of Christ, some abrogation is made, seeing that theose accidents, conditions, and qualities, which we have shown in the old testament, are now abrogated. Wherefore, therein is used the figureSynechodoche; whereby a thing is perfectly or absolutely said to be abolished or made void when it is only taken away as touching some part of it. The Jews are wonderfully troubled with this sentence of the prophet, and can scarcely tell what to say. For while they seek to defend the old law, and so to defend it, as they say nothing of it is to be changed. And they reprove us because we have changed circumcision into baptism, and the Sabbath day into the Lord’s Day, and have rejected many other things. How can they affirm that a new league shall be made, and not according to that which was made, when they were brought out of Egypt?

Here they can scarce tell which way to turn themselves. Howbeit, lest they should seem to give place, they say, that only the manner shall be different, and think that the league, as concerning the thing itself, shall be all on: but that under the Messiah it shall be more firmly and more surely established. But we may more truly say that this was done at the beginning of the church, when so great an abundance of the Holy Spirit was poured out into believers; that not only they spread abroad the Gospel throughout the whole world, but also no torments, no persecutions, were they never so horrible, nor death, though it were most sharp, could cause them to depart from the league which they had now through Christ made with God. And as many as are faithful indeed, do willingly and of their own accord cleave to this truth, and unto holiness. And forasmuch as here is made mention of the league, let this be understood; that it is for the most part of the Latins calledTestamentum; of the Grecians diatheke; of the Hebrews Berith, all which words do fitly express it.

But here again rises a doubt: because if the thing be all one as well as on the one part as well as the other, in the sacraments of both testaments, how may ours be said to be greater in power and vertue [efficacy]. Furthermore, how could it be that they did eat the flesh of the Lord, seeing that the Son of God had not yet taken the same upon him. To the latter question I say: in the Apocolypse it is written, that the Lamb was slaine fromt he beginning of the world (Rev. 13:8; cf. 1 Cor. 10:4). For to the foreknowledge of God all things are present, though they be never so far off. Wherefore, Christ, seeing he was to come, and was to be offered for us upon the cross, in this respect was comprehended of the fathers by faith, and was food for their souls unto eternal life. For those things which be furthest off from us, the same does faith make present. So that they took hold of the same Christ which we at this time do enjoy. But the difference stands in the time: for they believed that he should be born, and we that he is already born. They affirmed that he should die, and we affirm that he has died.

Wherefore Augustine, in his 16th book Against Faustus, says, that he vehemently errs, who thinks that the sacraments of the Jews ought to be retained in the Christian religion; seeing that God has now finished what he would have [pg. 588] to be done. And it was necessary that other signs should be ordained. Neither ought this to seem absurd. For when we signify anything that is done, or that is to be done, we use many different manners of speech. He writes the very same thing unto Ianuarius, to Optatus, and elsewhere. Neither is that any left, which the same father, upon the 73rd Psalm, speaks on this way: Their sacraments promised salvation, ours declare a Savior. The Papists wonderfully boast about these words, and cry out: “our sacraments give grace, which the sacraments of the Hebrews could not give.” Howbeit, what Augustine’s mind was in that place, they cannot tell. He meant nothing else, but that which he taught against Faustus, namely, that our sacraments do give and exhibit Christ. That is, they testify and bear record that he is given and exhibited. For he adds: I say not, that it has now salvation, but because Christ is now come. And if Augustine at any time says that the thing, which is now unto us, and that was in times past promised unto the Jews is not all one, undoubtedly he deals concerning other things, and not touching that which was principal in the promises of God. For in them, besides Christ, there was promised an earthly kingdom. Also the country of Canaan, which was a land flowing with milk and honey, and other such similar things were promised, which are strange and different from the promises of the Gospel. But Christ is common, both to us and to them, and is to us no otherwise than he was to them.

Now I come to the former question, in which it was asked, “How can our sacraments be of no more power, if the thing is one on both parts?” To this I answer: whe the self-same thing is set before us, of which one man takes more than another, there is difference in the thing itself, but in the instrument whereby it is taken. As if so be that a heap of money is set before any man, from whence it may be lawful for every one to take as much as he is able to hold in his hand; the larger and stronger are anyone’s hands, so much the more may he take from the money set before him: even so, seeing our faith, by which we comprehend Christ is greater and stronger than was that of the Jews, so we take more of Christ than those in the old time did. But you will say, “How can our faith be greater than the faith of the Jews?” Here it is necessary to answer warily. For there were some among the Hebrews endowed with excellent faith, namely, the prophets and patriarchs, of which many gave even their lives for the sake of religion. Neither is there any more believed by us than was by them, seeing that there Church and ours is all one, & Christ is ours alike. But the difference is in the perpecuity of the things believed. For to us in these days all things are more clear and manifest than they were to them. Unto us Christ is born, is dead, is risen out of the grave, and is taken up into heaven: all which things they also had, but more obscurely, and as it were in a shadow.

Seeing therefore that these things are more bright and manifest to us, our faith also may be called greater and more sure, because it is more stirred up by things that are clear, than by things that are obscure. For this reason in the past the faith in Christ was barely [“verie smallie”] advanced beyond the borders of Jewry, whereas at this day it is spread over all the world. And when I say that our faith is greater than the faith of the Jews, I mean that conerning their universal state, and as it happened for the most part and in most places generally. I do not mean it concerning particular persons. For I dare not affirm that the faith o fany man was more steadfast than the faith of Abraham, of David, of Isaiah, and men like them. For Christ testified of Abraham that

Old Posts on the Mosaic Covenant / the New Reformed Paradigm


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

Why I was drawn into this.

Dr. Robert Strimple on Republication and the Mosaic Covenant

It isn’t about disctinctions it is about dichotomy

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

The Marrow of Modern Divinity and the Recent Republication Issue

The Covenant of Grace, the Sinaitic and the New

OPC Special Committee Report

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

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

WCF 19

Republication Beeke / Jones

Lutheran and Reformed Differences in the Divines.

Mosaic Covenant and the modern justification / sanctification controversy

The Mosaic Covenant same in Substance as the New Covenant

THe Modern Day Controversy justification / Sanctification

Depraved Christianity might be antinomian Christianity

Samuel Rutherford the Covenant of Life opened.

James Durham the Covenant of Works and the Mosaic

Vindication of the Law and Covenants Anthony Burgess

Skirting the Issue  / Clark

Dr. R. Scott 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)

“Two Kingdoms” Propositions and some Responses

Modern Day Reformed Thought and Two Kingdoms

Sundry Quotes from Solid Reformed Men on Law and Gospel



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.