Why Republication Matters

What exactly is so threatening about this?

Every Reformed minister loves preaching from Romans and Galatians. Presenting the Mosaic law as teaching a works principle really helps in explaining Paul’s doctrine of justification: what sin is all about, why people can’t rely on their own law-keeping, how faith is radically different from works, how Christ fulfilled the terms of the law so that we may be justified. That’s the gospel as I see it, but you can’t explain the gospel without understanding the law. Or take all of those Old Testament passages that call for Israel’s obedience and promise blessing and threaten curse in the land depending on their response. For example, the beginning of Deuteronomy 4, which tells Israel to follow the law so that they may live and take possession of the land. Or Deuteronomy 28, which recounts all sorts of earthly blessings in the land if the Israelites are careful to obey and all sorts of earthly curses if they aren’t. I don’t want a congregation to think that God was holding out a works-based way of salvation here, and I also can’t tell the congregation that this is the same way that God deals with the New Testament church when he calls her to obedience, for there’s nothing equivalent in the New Testament, no promise of earthly blessing for the church today if we meet a standard of obedience. Saying either of those things might by simple, but of course they’d be misleading, and damaging for the church to hear. (The Law is Not of Faith, 5)

Could it be that this view seems to allow Christians to think that law-keeping does not contribute to their salvation? Well, if the law requires “personal, perfect, and perpetual conformity and obedience thereunto, in the frame and disposition of the whole man, soul and body, and in performance of all those duties of holiness and righteousness which he owes to God and man: promising life upon the fulfilling, and threatening death upon the breach of it,” who is up to that challenge? Don’t be bashful.

809 thoughts on “Why Republication Matters

  1. I heard from our OPC RE back from GA about republication ‘issues’ causing a committee to be formed….I have read Dr. Leonard Coppes tract against the ‘new’ 2k and the ‘new’ republication controversey, but apart from that and a few blogs, I really can’t identify the antirepublication position. It seems to me to hover around whether we must consider the sinaitic covanent a CoW or a CoG. Is it really that simple? Can you help me to understand the opposing side?
    Thank you

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  2. It’s not “threatening,” it’s just that it begs some important questions. Is this the only view that “seems to allow Christians to think that law-keeping does not contribute to their salvation?” Is this the view that the Scriptures teach? Calvin thought no. Turretin thought no. Berkhof thought no. Most Reformed theologians thought no.

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  3. Not to belittle genuine theological controversy in the OPC nor her desire for theological precision, but methinks this is a tempest in a teapot.

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  4. David,
    I wasn’t sure if you were commenting on mine.if so, I am glad it is not threatening, since I am somewhat sympathetic to the republication POV, at least so far as I understand it. I did see that Berkhof wrote against republication in his ST, but did so in connection with dispensationalism. Is that not a different beast from what this admirable blog is referring to? I just do not understand how one can argue against the idea that the mosaic covenant contained a republication of the CoW, in some sense. I also cannot understand how one argues that the TEN are a publication of the CoG, unless it is immediately followed by ‘in some sense’. That sword cuts both ways.
    I am interested in what exactly a non republication view looks like.
    Thank you

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  5. I have begun reading TLNF, and have inquired about what it (Republication) means before this post, so this discussion is appreciated.

    In my mind and to my understanding, I understand that Christ has fulfilled ‘all things’ for us already through his active obedience, and now He is conforming me to His image, or in shorthand, helping me to follow Him in His example of active obedience to the Law, though imperfectly rendered in this life. I see this as ‘reaching for the stars’, but I know it’s a fallible analogy because of God’s mysterious way of working His will, but somehow it helps.

    Because Christ has completely fulfilled the Law/Covenant of Works already on my behalf, the work is already done, and I can *rest in His completed work (Justification), while at the same time He is conforming me to it in my (Sanctification). I am not privy to God’s secret counsel/will, but knowing the Gospel, I can *rest in Him.

    It is not bothering me at all if I am on a trajectory of ‘walking out’ (after Christ’s example) conformity to the Covenant of Works in this life. Master and Apprentice model. That’s the way I see it. And I am not bothered or thinking about rewards. The reward for me is to know Christ, and to live for Him in this rebellious and tortured soul and body, where even the smallest daylight of seeing His goodness and grace means more than life itself.

    * Denotes the Pietist’s freak-out word

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  6. Brian, the question isn’t whether the doctrine of the covenant of works was restated for pedagogical purposes under Moses. There are a number of issues and I tried to give my opinion on the state of the question in this thread (you’ll have to scroll down to the tenth comment on the page).

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  7. Perhaps back in the days of Nixon– before I had dissipated all of my neuroplasticity learning about multivariable calculus, wave equations, Krebs cycle, synaptic junctions, upper motor neuron disorders and erythropoiesis– I could have grasped the significance of this debate.

    Would somebody please let me know when they publish the Classics Comicbook version?

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  8. David R., what about Paul? You keep citing Reformed theologians as if you have a Ph.D. in historical theology or as if Reformed Protestantism has popes. I have yet to see you cite one passage of Scripture. And the way you read the Standards does not give me hope about the way you read Calvin and Turretin (not to mention that you don’t show much wiggle room in this matter of interpreting texts — your interpretation is the only one allowed, or you are the umpire of all interpretations).

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  9. Brian, My understanding is that everyone in the Reformed world believes the Mosaic Covenant was part of the Covenant of Grace. The question is how the law functions in the Covenant of Grace and whether the Mosaic covenant is decisive for all iterations of the covenant of grace. I find it hard to believe that the Mosaic covenant is decisive for the way Christians understand the law because of that fellow Paul.

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  10. Berkhof wrote: “But the covenant of Sinai was not a renewal of the covenant of works; in it the law was made subservient to the covenant of grace.” (p. 298 in Systematic Theology) However, he goes on to write, “It is true that at Sinai a conditional element was added to the covenant, but it was not the salvation of the Israelite but his theocratic standing in the nation, and the enjoyment of external blessings that was made dependent on the keeping of the law, Deut. 28:1-14.” (ibid.)

    I like how Kline explained it in his Old Testament Hermeneutics class: On the foundational level of individual salvation the Sinai covenant was a continuation of the one covenant of grace, pointing to faith in the promised Messiah as the only way of salvation. But on the superadded, corporate level of national theocracy the Sinai covenant was a covenant of works, requiring total loyalty and obedience for retention of their standing in the promised land.

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  11. I’ve been re-reading The Marrow of Modern Divinity and have been struck by the fact that Fisher and Boston teach a form of republication. As the writers of TLNF point out, republication is not a new idea.

    Fisher says, “in that long course of time betwixt Adam and Moses, men had forgotten what was sin… therefore, ‘the law entered,’ that Adam’s offense and their own actual transgression might abound, so that now the Lord saw it needful, that there should be a new edition and publication of the covenant of works, the sooner to compel the elect unbelievers to come to Christ, the promised seed, and that the grace of God in Christ to elect believers might appear the more exceedingly glorious.” (p. 83)

    And here is part of Boston’s lengthy note entitled “Two Covenants Delivered at Sinai”:

    “Wherefore I conceive the two covenants [i.e., of works and grace] to have been both delivered on Mount Sinai to the Israelites. First, the covenant of grace made with Abraham, contained in the preface, repeated and promulgated there unto Israel, to be believed and embraced by faith, that they might be saved; to which were annexed the Ten Commandments, given by the Mediator Christ, the head of the covenant, as a rule of life to his covenant people. Secondly, the covenant of works made with Adam, contained in the same ten commands, delivered with thunderings and lightnings, the meaning of which was afterwards cleared by Moses, describing the righteousness of the law and sanction thereof, repeated and promulgated to the Israelites there, as the original perfect rule of righteousness, to be obeyed; and yet were they no more bound hereby to seek righteousness by the law than the young man was by our Saviour’s saying to him, ‘If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments — Thou shalt do no murder…’ (Matt. 19:17-18). The latter was a repetition of the former.
    “Thus there is no confounding of the two covenants of grace and works; but the latter was added to the former as subservient unto it, to turn their eyes towards the promise, or covenant of grace… Hence it appears that the covenant of grace was, both in itself and in God’s intention, the principal part of the Sinai transaction: nevertheless, the covenant of works was the most conspicuous part of it, and law most open to the view of the people.
    “According to this account of the Sinai transaction, the ten commands, there delivered, must come under a twofold notion or consideration; namely, as the law of Christ [i.e., the law as the believer’s rule of life under Christ the Mediator], and as the law of works [i.e. the covenant of works]” (pp. 77-78)

    (these quotes are from the 2009 edition by Christian Heritage)

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  12. David R., here is why you don’t make sense and (sorry) why I don’t trust you and think you are being purposefully perverse:

    You say this is the state of the question:

    5. whether a works principle of inheritance (in any sense) can subsist within a gracious covenant (which is affirmed by those republicationists who deny #3),

    But then you ask or assert the following many times,

    that sinners do merit in the CofG:

    So do sinners merit in the covenant of grace or don’t they? Here you seem to imply that they don’t.

    So I am wrong to imply that sinners don’t merit in the CofG.

    or this:

    I don’t think you don’t believe the moral law applies to you. But Calvin thinks the principle of inheritance is the same.

    So the principle of inheritance is the same between Moses and me, and that identification warrants your saying the moral law applies to me (the good news is you think I’m a believer, I guess).

    or this:

    Calvin thinks those passages are about us. You agree?

    So you think Leviticus applies to Christians in the same way it applied to the Israelites. So the law is of faith.

    or this:

    The external economy of the MC, which is legal and pedagogical, has the same promise and condition as the CoW. But the internal economy, which is gospel, administers the covenant of grace. I think this is consistent with what I’ve been saying all along.

    So you think law and grace are complimentary in the Mosaic Covenant and the CofG — law and faith go together.

    And then for general confusion this:

    Kline: “It was rather something to be merited by the Israelites’ works of obedience to the law.”

    Belgic: “… what would we merit? Rather, we are indebted to God for the good works we do, and not he to us, since it is he who “works in us both to will and do according to his good pleasure” …

    Were the Israelites indebted to God for the good works they did? Did God enter into a covenant with them on an impossible condition?

    You think Kline is affirming merit as part of the CofG when he is precisely opposing it and does so by distinguishing the type (inheritance of the land by merit) from the substance (inheritance of eternal life through a second Adam who would keep “all that God had commanded.” Here the really confusing thing is that you fault Kline for affirming merit when you yourself then turn around and say that Christians are in a position similar to the Israelites, trusting in Christ nets eternal life but blessings in this life come through imperfect personal obedience boosted by grace.

    David, you are all over the place. You don’t make sense. Your criticism of repub is incoherent. Hence, something personal is going on. Man crush on Dennison?

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  13. Ok. Sorry if my questions are more basic than not, but I am happy to see a new thread about repub (RPB?) since the other ones are not alive to converse on.
    I have read a few things on it recently since our elder came back from the OPC GA talking like it was going to be the next ‘big thing’ since FV and NPP. I am hoping y’all can help me get a better handle on it all.
    If one is a RPB fan, is that a denial that the mosaic covenant contains a part of the CoG?

    Whose position, if any claims that it contains both COG and CoW components? And what is a problem with it being stated that way?

    Is it NOT RPB if one thinks the CoG is there, but “made subservient” to the CoG?

    Is this ultimately about law/gospel distinctions?

    It am getting a sense that law/gospel, 2K, and RPB are all tied together, and possibly amil as well, is this inaccurate?
    Thank you

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  14. Republication appears to be a threat to those who are eternal members of the Tin Foil Hat Brigade and/or scholars insanely bitter and jealous that Hart/Clark/Horton are able to write edifying books under real publishers that Reformed people talk about.

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  15. Republication seems to further confirm/verify/authenticate The Good News. And it should be hopeful for churches struggling with whether they are being obedient enough to merit God’s blessing – removes that element from the Old Testament altogether. I hope that people will read this post and begin THINKING and QUESTIONING ministries like EMBERS TO A FLAME.

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  16. @ Brian: yes, Law/Gospel in the area of sanctification is the practical prize here.

    This is evidenced by the charge and countercharge leveled by each at the other: antinomian and neonomian.

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  17. David R. are you David Robertson, also known as the self proclaimed wee flea? I ask this because if you are for me at least it would explain why you get involved in these posts. I also ask if you are David Robertson because if you are then your staunch defence elsewhere forTim Keller, John Piper and Stuart Townsend’s ecclesiology shows why you have a personal interest in these posts. I also wonder if your extensive knowledge is on display to really engage with others or to demonstrate some kind of theological prowess. I do know that the wee flea can be a crafty debater and rather unkind in his choice of words; the denomination I am a member of (the EPCEW) didn’t have a kindly commendation from him.

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  18. D.G,

    But then you ask or assert the following many times,

    that sinners do merit in the CofG:

    So do sinners merit in the covenant of grace or don’t they? Here you seem to imply that they don’t.

    So I am wrong to imply that sinners don’t merit in the CofG.

    No. What you are wrong to affirm is that they can merit in the OT administration of the CoG. I’m the one affirming they don’t, remember? You think they can. Sheesh….

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  19. You think Kline is affirming merit as part of the CofG when he is precisely opposing it and does so by distinguishing the type (inheritance of the land by merit) from the substance (inheritance of eternal life through a second Adam who would keep “all that God had commanded.”

    Opposing it by affirming it. A neat strategy….

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  20. I have tried mightily over the years to understand Reformed Covenant theology, but it seems like trying to nail Jello to the wall. There seems to be a tendency to retreat into scholasticism. I read this post:

    Semper Reformanda
    Posted August 30, 2014 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    and think I understand it and agree. Is his understanding correct?

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  21. D.G.,

    David R., what about Paul? You keep citing Reformed theologians as if you have a Ph.D. in historical theology or as if Reformed Protestantism has popes. I have yet to see you cite one passage of Scripture.

    I don’t have a Ph.D. In exegetical theology either, but I think you’re just huffy because Calvin, Turretin, Vos, Berkhof et. al. disagree with your interpretation of the same two passages in Paul that you keep citing like it proves something.

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  22. David R., and you’re the one affirming the similarities between us and the Israelites. Your position is fundamentally contradictory. You’re also the one who says the Israelites inherit the type (eternal life) through imperfect obedience.

    You are affirming things all over the place in order to what, not be repub?

    You are also the one saying that we are required to be obedient to obtain salvation — full stop. You’re inner Shepherd has lots of mojo working.

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  23. To anyone invoking the name of VanTil, Kline, Hegel, Kant, et al.

    If you honestly don’t have the academic chops to invoke them, PLEASE STOP IT!!

    You are totally out of your league in doing so, making a total ass of yourself.

    All those around you in life are ashamed of this horrible habit and wish you would stop doing this, especially during deacon-coffee after church fellowship.

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  24. Dan, it might be better to revolve around the idea that the Law is NOT of faith. There’s a purposeful setting off of grace and faith over against law and works by which the redemption through Christ in the gospel is placarded as GOOD NEWS such that saving faith is primarily characterized by receiving and resting upon Christ. It is finished. No, this doesn’t say everything, but this a primary point of tension. Semper seems to be on the right path.

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  25. David R., if you distinguish the law as one way of inheriting the land (which is impossible because the law can’t be followed perfectly and that’s why the law was a teacher to point to Christ who keeps the law) from grace as the way to inherit eternal life (by Christ’s doing what Adam did not and Israel could not do), then you can understand Paul who says the law is not of faith. Otherwise we are left with David R. (contra Paul) who tells us that the law is of faith — you know, obedience is required for salvation.

    Confused? Perverse? You make the call.

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  26. The external economy of the MC, which is legal and pedagogical, has the same promise and condition as the CoW. But the internal economy, which is gospel, administers the covenant of grace. I think this is consistent with what I’ve been saying all along.

    So you think law and grace are complimentary in the Mosaic Covenant and the CofG — law and faith go together.

    I was simply summarizing Turretin. That you disagree with him is no evidence that I’m “all over the place.”

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  27. Sean (and Semper), thank you. Before I could even read, my mother read the 23rd Psalm and John 10: 27-30 to me at bedtime many, many nights. I guess she thought that was what was most important. The older I get, the wiser she seems.

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  28. Calvin thinks those passages are about us. You agree?

    So you think Leviticus applies to Christians in the same way it applied to the Israelites. So the law is of faith.

    Have you read Calvin’s comments on Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28? Guess what, no works principle so far as he’s concerned. And yes, he interprets those passages as if they’re about us. But that’s because he understands them to speak of the same promise, eternal life, inherited in the same way, by grace through faith.

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  29. Dan and Sean,

    I really appreciate your encouragement and what you shared. The WSCAL Transforming Grace Conference in January of this year was tremendous, and when I went home, I felt as though I really understood Sanctification and was not troubled about it anymore like before. All of the sessions were awesome, but David’s spoke to me outright. There was something about how he unpacked the topics of Sin, The Law, Justification, and Sanctification in terms that I could really grasp. Three things still stand out to me from his presentation – even now – The Big Ugly Monster, The Club, and the Law is your Friend. I had never heard it explained to me like that before. You can watch or listen, here’s the link:

    http://wscal.edu/resource-center/resource/sanctification-of-the-justified

    It is difficult to write about what God does, but it’s so encouraging when others like yourselves offer reinforcement and affirmation.

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  30. David,

    Darryl is exactly right in suggesting that Kline is opposing merit in the cov. of grace by affirming it in Moses. The very statement that the merit Israel was required in the MC was typological IS affirming that it is typological of something genuine, real, saving, (unlike the type), and that is the merit of Christ. If we say the animal sacrifices typified Christ, we are at the same time affirming that the animal sacrifices were NOT Christ and NOT efficacious. You may not grant this because you do not see the law-gospel contrast between Abraham and Moses like we do, or dare I say Paul does, but why do you think Klineans have been the most vocal opponents of Shepherd? Because we go the exact opposite direction you suggest our theology goes. In drawing a direct line from Israel to Christ, (opposed to your line from Israel to the visible church), we see Christ fulfilling all merit required of Israel, thus leaving no room for works as a condition of covenant blessing (yes, works are necessary evidences one is a recipient of the COG, but not a condition of blessing as per Deut 28.) As for Calvin, Berkhof, etc., no one is suggesting Kline follows them in every way on their understanding of the MC, and on their interpretation of Deut 28 and Gal 3:12 we believe many of the older writers were wrong, but when they end up explaining how the MC points to Christ and justification, we are all on the same page against legalists, neo-nomians, antinomians, etc. That is why up until the Dennison project nobody on either side of the debate was suggesting one is outside of reformed theology for holding either view of the MC, if one ended up with a proper understanding of justification and the necessity of obedience.

    On a related note, our friend Gary North is warning the church against that evil fiend Kline as he seeks from the grave to covertly destroy conservative denominations.

    http://teapartyeconomist.com/2014/08/30/baptists-beware-presbyterian-attack-creationism-headed-way/

    I’m pretty sure Kline was somehow involved with 9-11 also.

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  31. David R., funny how Calvin and Turretin believed the Bible was authoritative. When do you ever address Paul who spent a lot of time (almost as much as you) figuring out the relation of Moses to Abraham.

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  32. Clarification for earlier post, where I said

    “removes that element from the Old Testament altogether”

    I meant to say

    ” removes that element (Sinaic/Sinaitic Covenant) from the New Testmament altogether”

    My apologies

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  33. Yes, Dr. Hart, Absolutely.

    David Van Drunen is the principal author/general editor of
    The Law Is Not of Faith

    and David R. is not.

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  34. Dan,

    I can identify with what you expressed about trying to understand all of this, too (Reformed Theology). It is still a struggle, but a lot of the concepts have been set now in my mind and thinking, and I have really become so persuaded/convinced.

    My journey to begin to understand Reformed Theology began when I was in my late 40’s, and now I am in my mid 50’s. I became a Christian as a teenager in high school, so I practically spent 30 years without really understanding ‘The Good News’, and also, as Dr. Rod Rosenbladt says, that “the Good News is for Christians, too.

    When I began listening to and reading Reformed materials, it was hard, even when the message was good – like, too good to be true. And there was also the aspect for me of wondering if I was truly being taught the truth, or that there was some fine print somewhere – must be a catch to this……….

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  35. Semper, I guess I’ve been fortunate in that the Church I grew up in and the Church I joined in college and still belong to at least tried not to beat the sheep with a heavy dose of legalism. I have always been suspicious of Reformed Covenant theology because I think many of its adherents are sneaking law in as somehow part of salvation. Trying to read the two Testaments together can be tricky business, though it is necessary. What helps me is maybe too simple, but it works for me: Scripture has one author, God, and its subject is truth, Jesus.

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  36. Isn’t David R. really David M.? My Reformed pastor asked me about two years to listen to D. Murray’s audios he gave in South Africa about biblical covenants. I must tell you – even as someone who was fairly clueless about covenants back then – it was the biggest load of rubbish I have ever listen to (ok, ok… since leaving the evangelical mess).

    He kept on inserting ‘grace’ into the definition of the covenant of works, which basically turns it into a covenant of grace… what?

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  37. Todd,

    Darryl is exactly right in suggesting that Kline is opposing merit in the cov. of grace by affirming it in Moses. The very statement that the merit Israel was required in the MC was typological IS affirming that it is typological of something genuine, real, saving, (unlike the type), and that is the merit of Christ.

    Again, I don’t think Kline said that Israel’s obedience typified Christ’s (though I understand you disagree). He (like Vos) said that Israel’s obedience typified the godliness of the saints in heaven.

    You may not grant this because you do not see the law-gospel contrast between Abraham and Moses like we do, or dare I say Paul does, but why do you think Klineans have been the most vocal opponents of Shepherd?

    I keep hearing this but I don’t know if I buy it. True, Kline was a vocal opponent of Shepherd, but I can easily think of non-Klineans who have also been vocal defenders of the doctrine of justification, and some of them are critics of republication. And on the six member OPC justification committee, I believe only two of them were Klineans. But even granting your claim, opposing Shepherd doesn’t prove that one isn’t heterodox in some other way (though apparently many want to think otherwise). And what I’ve been seeing here amounts to opposition to standard Reformed theology.

    As for Calvin, Berkhof, etc., no one is suggesting Kline follows them in every way on their understanding of the MC, and on their interpretation of Deut 28 and Gal 3:12 we believe many of the older writers were wrong, …

    Thank you for forthrightly admitting that you think the older writers were wrong.

    … but when they end up explaining how the MC points to Christ and justification, we are all on the same page against legalists, neo-nomians, antinomians, etc.

    True, but let’s face it: You think their position ultimately opens the door to Shepherdism. And in trying to defend their position on the MC here, I’ve gotten nothing but push-back.

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  38. Dan,

    I’m glad for you having that background. What a mercy and a comfort. I knew other believers (especially in college) who had a similar background as yours.

    The suspicion you mentioned about Reformed Theology is a healthy one, because there are plenty of adherents out there who are sneaking Law back into the Good News, making it the ‘Bad News’. I think understanding covenants is critical to being able to rest in what God has done for us in and through Christ, so this topic-post by Dr. Hart is excellent for learning and understanding what it’s all about. What is amazing to me is how some theologians can refer to themselves as Reformed (I’m tracking with your suspicions here) and quote correctly from the Scriptures and the Confessions (like they are singing along on the same page) but eventually they ‘tell on themselves’.

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  39. …for y’all grammar nazigators… I meant to say “…it was the biggest load of rubbish I have ever listened to…”.

    I still mean to say that.

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  40. Perhaps my questions from my last post are not relevant to the topic at hand. Would someone be able to direct me somewhere they might be more appropriate because I am very interested in learning more about this issue.
    Thank you

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  41. David R., let’s be clear about a big dose of the push-back: ” I don’t think Kline said that Israel’s obedience typified Christ’s (though I understand you disagree). He (like Vos) said that Israel’s obedience typified the godliness of the saints in heaven.”

    Obedience? In the words of Allen Iverson, we’re talking about OBEDIENCE. Of friggin’ Israel? What obedience? When did Israel obey anything?

    And this may be a common problem among the anti-repubs — the capacity to overestimate obedience, like when David argues for partial obedience as the way of inheriting the land (when the Israelites and God said it was going to be “everything commanded” or like when the confession talks about personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience. And what goes with this is an underselling of sin — as in good works become good works minus the filthy rags of human sinfulness, or the sense that Christians really can be good.

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  42. David R: Would you say that the believer’s good works are a non-meritorious ground for inheriting eternal life?

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  43. David R.,

    Thank you for forthrightly admitting that you think the older writers were wrong.

    Was Calvin wrong as to the role of the magistrate in the church? Were the Divines wrong on the same subject? Again, the issue gets back to exegesis of Scripture not the older guys… And that again is what I appreciate about TLNF guys. They interact very much with the older guys AND Scripture. David Murray even admits that is the weak point of the critics of TLNF. They don’t do much by way of interacting with the relevant passages of Scripture.

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  44. Sidenote:

    Dee Murray was Elton John’s bass player – and the best bass player ever. Just listen to ‘Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding in My Hand’ from the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album.

    Not the same D. Murray referenced in this post, but worth mentioning for the benefit of those who like strident riffs……

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  45. I’m looking forward to T. David’s (another David! – oh my…) yet-to-be published book on covenant-historical reasoning in Galatians: Promise, Law, and Faith.

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  46. @ SR: I’ll take your Dee Murray and raise you a Chris Squire. But point taken.

    You know what album has aged really gracefully, though? CSNY’s Deja Vu.

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  47. “I keep hearing this but I don’t know if I buy it. True, Kline was a vocal opponent of Shepherd, but I can easily think of non-Klineans who have also been vocal defenders of the doctrine of justification, and some of them are critics of republication. ”

    Well, Kline pointed out Shepherd’s dangers before anyone else did, but your point actually makes my point. Why did Klineans and non-Klineans together see the error of Shepherd? Because they agreed on justification and the nature of the CG. They ended up at the same place.

    “But even granting your claim, opposing Shepherd doesn’t prove that one isn’t heterodox in some other way (though apparently many want to think otherwise). ”

    Of course not. My point is more limited than that. The irony is the people you accuse of positing merit are usually the most vocal against anyone positing merit in the Cov of Grace. This alone should cause you to temper your accusations.

    “And what I’ve been seeing here amounts to opposition to standard Reformed theology.”

    I don’t think your particular view is “the” standard view, but apparently you do, so I’ll leave it there.

    Thank you for forthrightly admitting that you think the older writers were wrong.”

    You’re welcome

    “… but when they end up explaining how the MC points to Christ and justification, we are all on the same page against legalists, neo-nomians, antinomians, etc.

    “True,”

    Thanks for admitting this. If this is not about an errant view of the cov. of grace, why are your knickers in such a twist?

    “but let’s face it: You think their position ultimately opens the door to Shepherdism.”

    Not true. Remember I said we all have happy inconsistencies. Calvin, Bolton, Berkhof, Hodge, Kline, etc. did not all agree on how to describe the MC, and some obviously did better than others, but they all agreed on the CG. To go the Shepherd route you have to purposely want to distort the doctrine of justification.

    “And in trying to defend their position on the MC here, I’ve gotten nothing but push-back.”

    First, I still do not believe most of us understand your view yet. However, you came on this blog with accusations against Kline, certain seminary professors within our reformed denominations, and pastors in good standing in our reformed churches. You really didn’t expect pushback?

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  48. @ David: Good. Very Good.

    Ok, so you would say, though (following Vos), that the nation’s obedience was a non-meritorious ground for land retention?

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  49. D.G.,

    David R., let’s be clear about a big dose of the push-back …

    That’s what you call clear? I simply state Kline’s position on what Israel’s obedience typified and you respond with a rant about how thats “a common problem among the anti-repubs.” How you get from explaining Kline to underselling sin I can’t imagine but as long as it’s “clear” to you….

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  50. Darryl: ” …..And what goes with this is an underselling of sin — as in good works become good works minus the filthy rags of human sinfulness, or the sense that Christians really can be good.”

    Me: thought about that strain the other day when reading this: WCF Chapt 9 “4. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin; and, by his grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so, as that by reason of his remaining corruption, he doth not perfectly, nor only, will that which is good, but doth also WILL that which is evil.

    5. The will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to good alone, in the state of glory only.

    Simul justus et peccator

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  51. Jeff, as I recall, Vos doesn’t explicitly say “ground.” I believe he says “connection.” What I think I’ve been saying is that their obedience was “necessary” for them to remain in the land.

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  52. David R.,
    Are you saying that Kline is underselling sin?

    Would you please summarized in a couple sentences or so what you mean by Kline is “underselling sin?”

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  53. David R., obedience is required? You affirm this, right? So obedience has to be imperfect given our remaining corruption. But that’s no biggie. The law doesn’t require personal, perpetual, perfect obedience. That’s something Kline made up.

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  54. Jack, please just go back and read the comment I’m responding to and then read mine again and try to understand. No, I’m not saying that.

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  55. David R: What I think I’ve been saying is that their obedience was “necessary” for them to remain in the land.

    OK, I’ll go with that. Vos does use the term “ground”, but it’s not clear whether he is disputing that term or simply restating it when he speaks of an “indispensable (but not meritorious) condition for receiving the inheritance.”

    So to restate using Vos’s exact language, would you say that “obedience is an indispensable (but not meritorious) condition for inheriting eternal life”?

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  56. David R.,
    Obviously I wan’t sure. But I reread your comment several times before I asked. It’s still not clear to me what you’re saying. But at least I’m glad you’re not saying what I that Kline is…

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  57. Jeff,

    So to restate using Vos’s exact language, would you say that “obedience is an indispensable (but not meritorious) condition for inheriting eternal life”?

    You tryin’ to trick me? Vos’s “exact language” was wrt to “holiness as the indispensable (though not meritorious) condition of receiving the inheritance.”

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  58. @ David R:

    No, no tricks. I’m trying to understand what condition you think was necessary for Israel to retain the land. Clearly one has to state that condition very precisely …

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  59. @ David C Noe: Very, very impressive. Not my style of music (I like Eric Johnson or Joe Satriani over Steve Vai, for example), but I am quite impressed.

    Interesting that the Wiki article on Billy Sheehan mentions his connections to King’s X.

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  60. Jeff, I understand Vos to be saying much the same thing as Calvin was when he spoke of good works as “inferior causes,” and also in the same vein as WLC 32 which speaks of obedience as “the way he hath appointed them to salvation.”

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  61. David R.,
    Jack, perhaps you should also read the comment I’m responding to several times.

    Wow, thanks for being so helpful. I never would have thought of that. How could I possibly misunderstand your crystal clear response to Darryl? – not.

    never mind…

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  62. Sorry, David. I just never went through an awkward, uncool, overcompensate, couldn’t get a girl phase. What’s it like? Well, there was Calvary Chapel for two years, followed by therapy, but other than that! But really, who couldn’t figure out Rob Halford was gay and Roth probably experimented and was running from himself and everybody else had corresponding mommy and daddy issues? That or somebody went to the state institution and said; “give me all your savant borderlines and I’ll dress them in tights and put them on stage and let them self-medicate. What could go wrong!”

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  63. No, no tricks. I’m trying to understand what condition you think was necessary for Israel to retain the land. Clearly one has to state that condition very precisely …

    As I’ve said, I think they had to maintain corporately a measure of obedience appropriate for typifying the state of consummate holiness.

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  64. David R: As I’ve said, I think they had to maintain corporately a measure of obedience appropriate for typifying the state of consummate holiness.

    Yes, you have said that, and I recognize the Vos in it. One of the reasons I’m confused is that you have said these things:

    JRC: So in what sense do [Deut 28 et al] express the covenant of works?

    DR: In that they promise eternal life (typified by temporal blessings) on the condition of obedience to the law and threaten death in the event of transgression, they restate the demands of the CoW. (Same condition, same promise.)

    and

    DR: But otoh, if by “demand,” you simply mean the relative obedience that was required in order for Israel to remain in the land (as opposed to the perfection which the law actually requires), then yes, in that sense it was a type. So, there’s a distinction that needs to be made here….

    but

    DR: One difference is that the old view posits a material republication of the original covenant of works (i.e., the same condition of perfect obedience, and the same promise of eternal life); not a modified works covenant in which less-than-perfect (“typologically legible”) obedience constitutes the meritorious ground for inheriting merely temporal blessings.

    So I don’t understand yet what you view as the promise to the nation and the condition required of the nation for that promise. Was it eternal life on the condition of perfect obedience? Was it staying in the land on the condition of relative obedience? Was it staying in the land on the condition of perfect obedience? Was it staying in the land on the basis of faith?

    I understand this is just a blog, so I’m not trying to ding you here as if you have failed to meet standards of consistency. I am assuming you have a clear picture in mind.

    A second part of the confusion is that it is not obvious to me that Deut 28 is talking directly about eternal life. It looks like it’s talking about retaining the land (which we agree is a type of eternal life.) Can you explain why you think Deut 28 is talking about eternal life and not land?

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  65. Still ‘Dee Murray’……….John Entwhistle as runner up (Won’t Get Fooled Again)

    You all are making me interested to look into your favorites ~

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  66. David C. Noe
    Posted August 30, 2014 at 5:18 pm | Permalink
    Best bass player ever: Billy Sheehan.

    Dee Murray? Chris Squire? They couldn’t carry his amplifier.

    The joke among the rest of the band–who are actually trying to make music–is what’s the only thing worse than a bad bass player?

    –A great bass player.

    ____
    Amish Ambush
    Posted August 30, 2014 at 9:07 pm | Permalink
    Um. Paul McCartney. That baseline on Dear Prudence on the White Album? Sick.

    As they say around here, ding ding. Also the long instrumental in “She’s So Heavy.” Lennon came up with those cool chords and arpeggios, and then Paul topped it my turning them into the bass melody.

    And if you listen to the first 4 years of the Beatles, George and John are playing simple chords, and Paul’s bass is the only real music happening.

    And if melodic bass ain’t your thing, it was Entwhistle who pretty much invented playing your ass off. Squire and Sheehan are epigones.

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  67. David R., reading comprehension alert. Here’s the exact language of WLC 32:

    and requiring faith as the condition to interest them in him, promiseth and giveth his Holy Spirit to all his elect, to work in them that faith, with all other saving graces; and to enable them unto all holy obedience, as the evidence of the truth of their faith and thankfulness to God, and as the way which he hath appointed them to salvation.

    Obedience is not a condition. It’s evidence, but this is precisely the problem that kept tripping Shepherd up.

    If you can’t read the catechism aright, what about Calvin or Vos?

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  68. Jeff to David R., “A second part of the confusion is that it is not obvious to me that Deut 28 is talking directly about eternal life. It looks like it’s talking about retaining the land (which we agree is a type of eternal life.) Can you explain why you think Deut 28 is talking about eternal life and not land?”

    Exactly.

    So it turns out that the critics of repub are confused? Wouldn’t have thought of that.

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  69. Dr. Hart,

    I do believe that your post above, where you describe the critical point and heart of the matter – obedience as evidence, and not as a condition – from WLC 32, defines the essence of the ongoing problem in Reformed circles today for pastors, elders, individual believers, and the church at-large.

    Understanding the covenants is so critical:

    Very quickly, our understanding of Christ’s finished and completed Work gets diluted, or diminished, if this is not thoroughly understood, and we are back to the Do This and Live basis of the Law………..and this is where it can get very tricky, depending on what each individual believer understands or knows:

    – it can manifest itself as working to earn God’s favor or blessing in each believer’s personal life, or family, or church, or nation (especially the new Israel, the United States of America)

    or

    – it can, most probably, and most certainly does – fully morph into working for one’s salvation and Eternal Life

    These are the ‘unspoken’ (until now) – and seldom, rarely/never taught – ‘theological points of distinction-instruction’ that practically never see the light of day in Reformed churches of today.

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  70. David Gordon—These various biblical covenants are not merely numerically distinct; they are different in kind, although they each contribute to God’s single purpose to rescue the human race in Christ, the last Adam. Covenants only conflict with each other if they propose different means for attaining the same ends; provided that their ends and means differ, there is no conflict.

    David Gordon—People often say, for instance, that God “graciously” chose Israel to be a party to the Sinai covenant, when in fact God “sovereignly” chose them. But neither I nor the Israelites consider this sovereign election to be necessarily gracious. Recall that the Israelites thought they were better off in Egypt
    :
    Numbers 14:2 And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! 3 Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?”

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  71. D.G.,

    David R., come on, you can’t answer a question about your leading assertion — obedience is required? For what?

    Because it is “the evidence of the truth of their faith and thankfulness to God, and as the way which he hath appointed them to salvation”? How’s that for reading comprehension.

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  72. All of this arguing over the place of obedience in the life of the Reformed Christian (to the point that we’re naming Boys after the concept) seems moot. If we affirm election we affirm that some will receive the gift of faith in Christ from God and those who receive the gift of faith will in some measure life a life of obedience to God’s Commandments. Since faith precedes obedience, why make obedience the focal point? It makes no sense.

    For those who clearly live lives of disobedience — to the point that their sins become gross and evident even to pagans — we have church discipline and barring from the Lord’s table.

    If obedience is your warp & woof go back to the Arminian Baptists from whence you came.

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  73. Warning, Turretin quote to follow (non-members of the fan club, beware):

    For these two things ought always to be connected–the acceptance of the covenant and the keeping of it when accepted. Faith accepts by a reception of the promises; obedience keeps by a fulfillment of the commands. “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” And yet in this way legal and evangelical obedience are not confounded because the legal is prescribed for the meriting of life, the evangelical, however, only for the possession of it. The former precedes as the cause of life (“Do this and you shall live”); the latter follows as its fruit, not that you may live but because you live. The former is not admitted unless it is perfect and absolute; the latter is admitted even if imperfect, provided it be sincere. That is only commanded as man’s duty; this is also promised and given as the gift of God.

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  74. This is also the problem with attempting to carve out a portion of the law from the entire biblical context and create a “ministry” around it. You can’t help but distort it and create and idol. Some of the biggest idolaters in the church are the ones who at first glance appear to be the most pious.

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  75. Chortles,

    I possess a massive level of boredom with and immunity from various Presbyterian & Reformed stick makers (and stick carriers) of various stripes. They can do what they like with their sticks, but I do have a suggestion…

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  76. The problem with all these movements is that they generally devolve to charismatic, authoritarian leaders with sycophantic followers and an eventual downfall of said leaders (usually involving sex), followed by sycophantic followers finding a new guru to follow. Lather, rinse, repeat.

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  77. One more time:

    Are good works necessary to salvation? We affirm.

    II. There are three principal opinions about the necessity of good works. First is that of those who (sinning in the defect) deny it; such were formerly the Simonians and the modern Epicureans and Libertines, who make good works arbitrary and indifferent, which we may perform or omit at pleasure. The second is that of those who (sinning in excess) affirm and press the necessity of merit and causality; such where the ancient Pharisees and false apostles, who contended that works are necessary to justification. These are followed by the Romanists and Socinians of our day. The third is that of those who (holding the middle ground between these two extremes) neither simply deny, nor simply assert; yes they recognize a certain necessity for them against the Libertines, but uniformly reject the necessity of merit against the Romanists. This is the opinion of the orthodox. (Institutes 17.3.2)

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  78. David R. joins the long line of Old Life detractors who have only one goal: to make us all question our salvation.

    Well, if the most ‘biblical’ Richard Smith failed, what makes others think they’ll do better?

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  79. David R., where’s the thanks? You wouldn’t have been able to quote LC 32 if I hadn’t brought it to your attention.

    Remember, this was your first try with LC 32:

    I understand Vos to be saying much the same thing as Calvin was when he spoke of good works as “inferior causes,” and also in the same vein as WLC 32 which speaks of obedience as “the way he hath appointed them to salvation.”

    Evidence of faith and thankfulness is a long way from “obedience is required for salvation.”

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  80. Beware the Bible decoder ring. If you’re supposed to believe Deut 28 doesn’t mean what it means and pretend the NT treats the Mosaic Covenant as highly as it speaks of the Abrahamic Covenant, well that’s a Bible decoder ring.

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  81. John Murray—The Covenant of Grace—-It may plausibly be objected, however, that the breaking of the covenant envisaged in this case interferes with the perpetuity of the covenant. For does not the possibility of breaking the covenant imply conditional perpetuity? . . . .

    Murray– Without question the blessings of the covenant and the relation which the covenant entails cannot be enjoyed or maintained apart from the fulfillment of certain conditions on the part of the beneficiaries. For when we think of the promise which is the central element of the covenant. ‘I will be your God, and ye shall be my people’, there is necessarily involved, as we have seen, mutuality in the highest sense. Fellowship is always mutual and when mutuality ceases fellowship ceases. Hence the reciprocal response of faith and obedience arises from the nature of the relationship which the covenant contemplates (cf Gen. 18:17-19; Gen. 22:16-18).

    Murray—The obedience of Abraham is represented as the condition upon which the fulfillment of the promise given to him was contingent and the obedience of Abraham’s seed is represented as the means through which the promise given to Abraham would be accomplished. There is undoubtedly the fulfillment of certain conditions and these are summed up in obeying the Lord’s voice and keeping His covenant. It is not quite congruous, however,TO SPEAK OF THESE CONDITIONS AS CONDITIONS OF THE COVENANT.. For when we speak thus we are distinctly liable to be understood as implying that the covenant is not to be regarded as dispensed until the conditions are fulfilled and that the conditions are integral to the establishment of the covenant relation. And this would not provide a true or accurate account of the covenant. The covenant is a sovereign dispensation of God’s grace. It is grace bestowed and a relation established. The grace dispensed and the relation established do not wait for the fulfillment of certain conditions on the part of those to whom the grace is dispensed.

    Murray— How then are we to construe the conditions of which we have spoken? The continued enjoyment of this grace and of the relation established is contingent upon the fulfillment of certain conditions. For apart from the fulfillment of these conditions the grace bestowed and the relation established are meaningless. Grace bestowed implies a subject and reception on the part of that subject. The relation established implies mutuality.

    Murray— But the conditions in view are not really conditions of bestowal. They are simply the reciprocal responses of faith, love and obedience, apart from which the enjoyment of the covenant blessing and of the covenant relation is inconceivable….viewed in this light that the breaking of the covenant takes on an entirely different complexion. It is not the failure to meet the terms of a pact nor failure to respond to the offer of favorable terms of contractual agreement. It is unfaithfulness to a relation constituted and to grace dispensed. By breaking the covenant what is broken is not the condition of bestowal but the condition of consummated fruition.”

    John Murray—The covenant does not yield its blessing to all indiscriminately. The discrimination which this covenant exemplifies accentuates the sovereignty of God in the bestowal of its grace and the fulfillment of its promises. This particularization is correlative with the spirituality of the grace bestowed and the relation constituted and it is also consonant with the exactitude of its demands. A covenant which yields its blessing indiscriminately is not one that can be kept or broken. We see again, therefore, that the intensification which particularism illustrates serves to accentuate the keeping which is indispensable to the fruition of the covenant grace.”

    mark—Would it be too simple to summarize Murray’s position as “the more conditionality, the more grace.” ?

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  82. Jer. 31:31“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke</b?, although I was a husband to them," declares the LORD. 33"But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.…

    Heb. 8:9 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.

    Even though the Mosaic covenant was a temporary administration of the covenant of grace, there was definitely something very different about the Mosaic covenant, and not the Abrahamic covenant, in contrast with the New covenant…

    Scott Clark:
    Finally, the book of Hebrews, chapters 7-10, explicitly describe the Mosaic covenant as the “old covenant.” The “better promises” of the new covenant are not contrasted with Abraham but with Moses and the Mosaic priesthood. Hebrews 8:5 makes this contrast explicitly. From 8:6 Hebrews interprets Jeremiah 31:

    But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.

    When v. 7 says “first covenant” it means the Mosaic, not Abrahamic covenant. This is confirmed by what follows:

    For he finds fault with them when he says: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”

    The writer to/pastor of the Hebrew Christian congregation gives us a divinely inspired interpretation (Heb 10:15 claims this explicitly) of the prophecy of Jeremiah. It speaks to the contrast and comparison between the old, Mosaic covenant and the new, better, covenant. The comparison and contrast is not between Abraham and the new covenant but between Moses and the new covenant. The covenant that God made with Abraham was a covenant of grace, the covenant he confirmed with the “blood of the eternal covenant” (Heb 13:20).

    The Mosaic covenant, the old covenant, is, in the language of 2 Cor, fading. According to Hebrews 8:13 it is “obsolete.” These things are not said about Abraham’s faith or the promise of salvation given to and through Abraham.

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  83. Turretin:

    Legal = meriting of life, cause of life, Do This And Live, not admitted unless perfect and absolute.

    Gospel = possession of life, fruit of life, admitted if sincere even if imperfect.

    The Mosaic Covenant was a covenant of grace wrapped in a legal cloak.

    Does that mean that there was an accidental merit principle in the Mosaic Covenant?

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  84. TBR, if the texts were actually THIS difficult, I’m pretty sure I’d quit and take up golf on sundays. Sacred text NOT being perspicuous is RC territory, and although that’s a heck of a lot more sincere than the adult high school group parading as church that I was compelled to attend this morning, thanks to my baptist relatives, it’s ultimately not worth the time either.

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  85. Does that mean that there was an accidental merit principle in the Mosaic Covenant?

    Jeff, yeah, I think that works.

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  86. David R., well you did say LC teaches that obedience is required. If you interpret my pointing out that you misread LC 32 as my not liking the LC, then your interpretations look all the more dubious. But keep displaying your diminished reading skills. I give you credit for gumption.

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  87. @ David R:

    OK, good.

    Now the accidental merit principle would then have the condition of obedience — perfect or relative? — and the promise of — eternal life? temporal life in the land? Other?

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  88. Question: Does the Law hold forth a works principle only to those who receive it wrongly? Or does it hold forth a works principle to all, to be satisfied by Christ in those who believe?

    We hold the latter, as did Ursinus and Calvin:

    III. IN WHAT DOES THE GOSPEL DIFFER FROM THE LAW?

    The gospel and the law agree in this, that they are both from God, and
    that there is something revealed in each concerning the nature, will, and
    works of God. There is, however, a very great difference between them :
    1. In the revelations which they contain; or, as it respects the manner
    in which the revelation peculiar to each is made known. The law was
    engraven upon the heart of man in his creation, and is therefore known to
    all naturally, although no other revelation were given.
    “The Gentiles have the work of the law written in their hearts.” (Rom. 2: 15.) The
    gospel is not known naturally, but is divinely revealed to the Church alone
    through Christ, the Mediator. For no creature could have seen or hoped
    for that mitigation of the law concerning satisfaction for our sins through
    another, if the Son of God had not revealed it.

    “No man knoweth the Father, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.”
    “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee.”
    “The Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” (Matt. 11 : 27 ; 16: 17.)

    2. In the kind of doctrine, or subject peculiar to each. The law teaches
    us what we ought to be, and what God requires of us, but it does not give
    us the ability to perform it, nor does it point out the way by which we may
    avoid what is forbidden. But the gospel teaches us in what manner we
    may be made such as the law requires : for it offers unto us the promise of
    grace, by having the righteousness of Christ imputed to us through faith,
    and that in such a way as if it were properly ours, teaching us that we are
    just before God, through the imputation of Christ s righteousness. The
    law says,
    “Pay what thou owest.”
    “Do this, and live.” (Matt. 18 :28. Luke 10 : 28.)

    The gospel says,
    “Only believe.” (Mark 5: 36.)

    6. In the Promises

    The law promises life to those who are righteous in
    themselves, or on the condition of righteousness, and perfect obedience.
    “He that doeth them, shall live in them.”
    “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Lev. 18 : 5. Matt. 19 : 17.)

    The gospel, on the other hand, promises life to those who are justified by faith in Christ,
    or on the condition of the righteousness of Christ, applied unto us by faith.
    The law and gospel are, however, not opposed to each other in these
    respects : for although the law requires us to keep the commandments if
    we would enter into life, yet it does not exclude us from life if another
    perform these things for us. It does indeed propose a way of satisfaction,
    which is through ourselves, but it does not forbid the other, as has been
    shown.

    4. They differ in their effects. The law, without the gospel, is the letter which killeth, and is the ministration of death :

    “For by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
    “The law worketh wrath ; and the letter killeth.”

    (Rom. 3: 20; 4: 15. 2 Cor. 3: 6.) The outward preaching, and simple knowledge of what ought to be done, is known through the letter : for it declares our duty, and that righteousness which God requires ; and, whilst it neither gives us the ability to perform it, nor points out the way
    through which it may be attained, it finds fault with, and condemns our
    righteousness.
    But the gospel is the ministration of life, and of the Spirit,
    that is, it has the operations of the Spirit united with it, and quickens those
    that are dead in sin, because it is through the gospel that the Holy Spirit
    works faith and life in the elect. “The gospel is the power of God unto
    salvation,” &c. (Rom. 1: 10.)

    Ursinus, Comm Heid Catech, Qn 19.III, “In what the Gospel differs from the Law”

    3. But in order that a sense of guilt may urge us to seek for pardon, it is of importance to know how our being instructed in the Moral Law renders us more inexcusable. If it is true, that a perfect righteousness is set before us in the Law, it follows, that the complete observance of it is perfect righteousness in the sight of God; that is, a righteousness by which a man may be deemed and pronounced righteous at the divine tribunal. Wherefore Moses, after promulgating the Law, hesitates not to call heaven and earth to witness, that he had set life and death, good and evil, before the people. Nor can it be denied, that the reward of eternal salvation, as promised by the Lord, awaits the perfect obedience of the Law (Deut. 30:19). Again, however, it is of importance to understand in what way we perform that obedience for which we justly entertain the hope of that reward. For of what use is it to see that the reward of eternal life depends on the observance of the Law, unless it moreover appears whether it be in our power in that way to attain to eternal life? Herein, then, the weakness of the Law is manifested; for, in none of us is that righteousness of the Law manifested, and, therefore, being excluded from the promises of life, we again fall under the curse. I state not only what happens, but what must necessarily happen. The doctrine of the Law transcending our capacity, a man may indeed look from a distance at the promises held forth, but he cannot derive any benefit from them. The only thing, therefore, remaining for him is, from their excellence to form a better estimate of his own misery, while he considers that the hope of salvation is cut off, and he is threatened with certain death. On the other hand, those fearful denunciations which strike not at a few individuals, but at every individual without exceptions rise up; rise up, I say, and, with inexorable severity, pursue us; so that nothing but instant death is presented by the Law.

    That the whole matter may be made clearer, let us take a succinct view of the office and use of the Moral Law. Now this office and use seems to me to consist of three parts. First, by exhibiting the righteousness of God,—in other words, the righteousness which alone is acceptable to God,—it admonishes every one of his own unrighteousness, certiorates, convicts, and finally condemns him.

    — Calv Inst 2.7.3, 6

    So it is to be rejected as erroneous, the view that the merit principle of the Moral Law is a Covenant of Works only to those who receive it wrongly.

    Rather, it must be correctly stated: The Moral Law presents and republishes a Covenant of Works, to be fulfilled in ourselves or by another. Having been fulfilled by the other, who is Christ, the Moral Law can now serve a different function, as a rule of life.

    We must first die to the Law before we may live in Christ.

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  89. Jeff,

    Très Amen! Let’s hear that again:

    So it is to be rejected as erroneous, the view that the merit principle of the Moral Law is a Covenant of Works only to those who receive it wrongly.

    Rather, it must be correctly stated: The Moral Law presents and republishes a Covenant of Works, to be fulfilled in ourselves or by another. Having been fulfilled by the other, who is Christ, the Moral Law can now serve a different function, as a rule of life.

    We must first die to the Law before we may live in Christ.

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  90. Question: Are the temporal blessings and curses under the Old Testament Law of the same nature and type of the blessings and disciplines of believers under the New Testament? Or are they of a different nature?

    Ans: They are of a different nature. For while it is true that God may bless our obedience or discipline our failure, His blessings and disciplines of us are not intended as a type of blessedness to come. And indeed, our obedience in the New Testament is attached not to blessing only, but to persecution and suffering. Further, when we pray for our daily bread, we are not promised it “if we have kept the Law, turning neither to the left nor to the right.” Instead, we appeal to God who is our Father by the Spirit of adoption.

    The unskilful, not considering this analogy and correspondence (if I may so speak) between rewards and punishments, wonder that there is so much variance in God, that those who, in old time, were suddenly visited for their faults with severe and dreadful punishments, he now punishes much more rarely and less severely, as if he had laid aside his former anger, and, for this reason, they can scarcely help imagining, like the Manichees, that the God of the Old Testament was different from that of the New. But we shall easily disencumber ourselves of such doubts if we attend to that mode of divine administration to which I have adverted—that God was pleased to indicate and typify both the gift of future and eternal felicity by terrestrial blessings, as well as the dreadful nature of spiritual death by bodily punishments, at that time when he delivered his covenant to the Israelites as under a kind of veil.

    — Calv Inst 2.11.3.

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  91. Jeff,

    Rather, it must be correctly stated: The Moral Law presents and republishes a Covenant of Works, to be fulfilled in ourselves or by another. Having been fulfilled by the other, who is Christ, the Moral Law can now serve a different function, as a rule of life.

    I agree. I would just qualify that the republcation is material, not formal, but I agree with what you posted.

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  92. Now the accidental merit principle would then have the condition of obedience — perfect or relative? — and the promise of — eternal life? temporal life in the land? Other?

    Perfect obedience / promise of eternal life.

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  93. For while it is true that God may bless our obedience or discipline our failure, His blessings and disciplines of us are not intended as a type of blessedness to come.

    Agreed. As you’ll recall, this was on my list of things not in dispute.

    And indeed, our obedience in the New Testament is attached not to blessing only, but to persecution and suffering.

    But this was true for OT saints as well. Think of Joseph in Potiphar’s prison, Daniel in Babylon purposing to remain faithful, Jeremiah the “weeping prophet,” etc. And we’ve already looked at the OT background to Romans 8:36.

    Further, when we pray for our daily bread, we are not promised it “if we have kept the Law, turning neither to the left nor to the right.” Instead, we appeal to God who is our Father by the Spirit of adoption.

    But likewise, this was true for OT saints as well.

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  94. D.G.,

    David R., well you did say LC teaches that obedience is required.

    So your view is that the LC teaches that obedience is not required, correct?

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  95. Jeff,

    So it is to be rejected as erroneous, the view that the merit principle of the Moral Law is a Covenant of Works only to those who receive it wrongly.

    No one denies that the moral law republishes the matter of the covenant of works. But what is being criticized is the view that God actually entered into a covenant of works with Israel (or any other sinner(s)). Which is why it is pointed out that the Confession and catechisms characterize the moral law not as a CoW but as a “perfect rule of righteousness” with several uses, among them the pedagogical.

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  96. DR, you brought up LC 32 in support of the idea that obedience is required. LC doesn’t come close to affirming what you say, unless you put on some kind of neonomian spectacles, you know the kind Shepherd wore.

    And you have yet to explain how your general and unnuanced insistence that obedience is required is orthodox. Please do remember the old adage about glass houses.

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  97. David R., again, reading comprehension alert. Who says God ACTUALLY enters into a covenant of works with sinners. Repub is all about a “works principle” — follow me here, that is not C-O-V-E-N-A-N-T-O-F-W-O-R-K-S — and the Mosaic Covenant is a republication “in some sense” — follow me again — that is not A-C-T-U-A-L-L-Y.

    Tilt at windmills much?

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  98. David R: I’m glad that we’re back in a season of agreement.

    So in our Hiding Behind Kilts days, you said this: If what you are saying is that Deut 28-30 presents the demands and sanctions of the covenant of works, then yes! I agree. If you take Deut 28-30 in and of itself, apart from its redemptive context, it is the covenant of works. If you enter into a covenant with God with Deut 28-30 as your charter, then you are under a covenant of works. But, as I thought you had agreed with me above, Deut 28-30 is not is not the charter of the covenant and only those who ignored the true end (pedagogue unto Christ) and devised a false one (covenant of works) found themselves under a works principle.

    Alright, more questions. Again, this is not “gotcha”, but trying to get a clear picture. I myself am long past thinking that I understand all of the ins and outs here, so I’m just going to poke.

    Based on your statement that Deut 28-30 presents the demands and sanctions of the CoW,

    (1) Do you believe that Deut 28-30 is part of the gracious substance or of the legal cloak?
    (2) Does Deut 28 promise land retention or eternal life, or both in different ways?
    (3) How does relative obedience as a requirement for land retention figure in here? Does Deut 28-30 taken as a whole require strict obedience or relative?

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  99. David R., again, reading comprehension alert. Who says God ACTUALLY enters into a covenant of works with sinners. Repub is all about a “works principle” — follow me here, that is not C-O-V-E-N-A-N-T-O-F-W-O-R-K-S — and the Mosaic Covenant is a republication “in some sense” — follow me again — that is not A-C-T-U-A-L-L-Y.

    That might be crystal clear if it weren’t self-contradictory. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and–follow me–where there’s a works principle, there is A-C-T-U-A-L-L-Y a covenant of works “in some sense.”

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  100. @David R.

    D.G.,
    David R., well you did say LC teaches that obedience is required.
    So your view is that the LC teaches that obedience is not required, correct?

    I’ve always understood the relationship between obedience and salvation to be like gray hair and age. Gray hair is not required in order to get old, but when we get old our hair goes grey.

    Obedience is something that we do as a consequence of our sanctification rather than something that causes our sanctification…or so I’ve understood. Are you saying that obedience is causal?

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  101. @David R.
    Thanks for the clarification. I’m just trying to get a handle on where the disagreement really lies. I’m just a layman, so I’m sure there are all kinds of subtleties I’m missing here. Is the crux of the matter glorification then? My understanding is that glorification is when our obedience will be perfected and our flesh utterly and completely mortified.

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  102. sdb, again, I agree (and I’m a layman too, btw). And implied in your explanation is an affirmation of the necessity of obedience. But D.G. seems insistent on denying that necessity.

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  103. @ David: I think you’re misreading DGH. Having seen the Oldlife buzzsaw in action before, I would say that he’s trying to get you to consistently nuance “necessary.” Anteriorly necessary, as in ground, or posteriorly necessary, as in consequence?

    The appeal to glorification muddies the waters – it makes it seem as if you are saying that our obedience will be the cause of our glorification, which I would trust you would not believe.

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  104. David R., really, really lame. Words matter. Type, anti-type, republication are all ways of saying that something is not actually something else.

    But since you seem intent on getching repub, “in some sense” becomes A-C-T-U-A-L-L-Y even when you arbitrarily neglect the same conclusion with others.

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  105. David R., you keep insisting but it’s like just your opinion. This is what the LC says is required to escape God’s wrath and curse:

    Q. 153. What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse due to us by reason of the transgression of the law?
    A. That we may escape the wrath and curse of God due to us by reason of the transgression of the law, he requireth of us repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, and the diligent use of the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation.

    No mention of obeying the law.

    So you think there will be a Judgment Day 2. On Day 1, Jesus’ righteousness gets me in. On day 2, I need my obedience?

    Say hello to Wesleyanism, Mr. Standard Reformed Theologian.

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  106. Uh oh, I read this in Resurrection and Redemption. Something about Union and final justification. It’d be nice if we could all just cut to the chase.

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  107. And just a little before LC Q. 153 is:

    Q. 149. Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
    A. No man is able, either of himself, or by any grace received in this life, perfectly to keep the commandments of God; but doth daily break them in thought, word, and deed.

    This kinda puts our “necessary” or consequent obedience which evidences true faith in a context worth keeping in mind…

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  108. Jeff, I’ve already done a little explaining and quoting. If the Old Life buzzsaw would like to give his view of the necessity of obedience or lack thereof, I’m all ears, but so far, all I hear is denial. If you think appealing to glorification muddies the waters, I’ll take solace from the fact that I’m in good company. And obviously, our present obedience is not a consequence of our glorification. (But in my view this is a rabbit trail.)

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  109. @ DGH: Weelll, someone (I hope not David) is going to trot out the argument that diligent use includes obedience to the Law (WLC 160). So law-keeping turns out to be one of the means by which Christ communicates the benefits of his redemption. Ta-da!

    I have indeed encountered this position.

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  110. David R., you keep insisting on the necessity of obedience even when folks here notice from church teaching the impossibility of perfect, perpetual obedience — which is what the law requires. Do you then qualify? No. You use it somehow to show something even though you don’t really say that that is.

    Meanwhile, you talk about obedience the way Shepherd did and you still won’t back away.

    And now glorification?

    What A-C-T-U-A-L-L-Y is the point your comments here?

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  111. Jeff, and that person would then need to figure out why the Divines, third use and all, put their discussion of the Decalogue before the question on how to escape the wrath and curse of God.

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  112. Q. 91. What is the duty which God requireth of man?
    A. The duty which God requireth of man, is obedience to his revealed will.

    Q. 92. What did God first reveal unto man as the rule of his obedience?
    A. The rule of obedience revealed to Adam in the estate of innocence, and to all mankind in him, besides a special command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, was the moral law.

    Q. 93. What is the moral law?
    A. The moral law is the declaration of the will of God to mankind, directing and binding every one to personal, perfect, and perpetual conformity and obedience thereunto, in the frame and disposition of the whole man, soul, and body, and in performance of all those duties of holiness and righteousness which he oweth to God and man: promising life upon the fulfilling, and threatening death upon the breach of it.

    Q. 94. Is there any use of the moral law since the fall?
    A. Although no man, since the fall, can attain to righteousness and life by the moral law; yet there is great use thereof, as well common to all men, as peculiar either to the unregenerate, or the regenerate.

    So obedience is our duty, yet our obedience, even as believers, doesn’t meet the perfection of righteousness required by the moral law. Yet before the judgment seat, God will ask for a perfect obedience if one is to receive the promise of life and avoid the curse of death. Who’s obedience will the believer be talking about and offering at that point? Perspective…

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  113. David R: If you think appealing to glorification muddies the waters, I’ll take solace from the fact that I’m in good company. And obviously, our present obedience is not a consequence of our glorification. (But in my view this is a rabbit trail.)

    I’m glad that it is obvious to you (and me), but it is not obvious to all. You say “good company”, I say “mixed company.”

    It is commonplace that it is necessary to be careful with the word “necessary” as regards our works.

    I’m just asking you, in the current pastoral context of the PCA and OPC, to be explicit, early and often, about the sense in which you mean “necessary.”

    Can I please have an answer about Deut 28-30 now? Sorry to be impatient, but that strand of conversation was more fruitful than this.

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  114. Meanwhile, you talk about obedience the way Shepherd did and you still won’t back away.

    No, actually I simply cited some sources, including the LC.

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  115. Jeff,

    Can I please have an answer about Deut 28-30 now? Sorry to be impatient, but that strand of conversation was more fruitful than this.

    I agree, and I appreciate the question. I’ll get to it but I’m still trying to figure out how to clarify.

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  116. D.G.,

    David R., really, really lame. Words matter. Type, anti-type, republication are all ways of saying that something is not actually something else.

    Okay, so you’re saying a works principle “in some sense” means a works principle not at all. Is that right?

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  117. David R., yes, you talk about obedience the way Shepherd did and you merely wave at the Standards.

    Yeah, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man….

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  118. DR, not A-C-T-U-A-L-L-Y. It means that I am simply reading what Moses wrote: “if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statues which I command you this day, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.”

    That can’t mean eternal life. So it has to mean the land. Not that hard until you started in. And now glorification? Holy smokes.

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  119. D.G.

    So according to your interpretation of that verse, Israel was, or wasn’t, under a covenant of works in some sense?

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  120. Or maybe your view is tha the MC was a subservient covenant with a works principle for land? (But now we’ve come full circle once again….)

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  121. Scott Clark, today, with a measured comment responding to a question on Kline and the view that he taught on republication:

    http://heidelblog.net/2014/08/seven-short-points-about-republication/#comment-439097

    Clark’s conclusion:
    If you look at the quotes from Hodge, Berkhof, and Shaw linked above in the Republication category one can see arguably some precedent for what MGK was saying. Hodge wrote:

    …the promise was national security and prosperity; the condition was the obedience of the people as a nation to the Mosaic law; and the mediator was Moses. In this aspect it was a legal covenant. It said, “Do this and live.”

    and Berkhof wrote:

    It is true that at Sinai a conditional element was added to the covenant, but it was not the salvation of the Israelite but his theocratic standing in the nation, and the enjoyment of external blessings that was made dependent on the keeping of the law, Deut. 28:1-14.

    Unless we’re willing to write out/off Berkhof and Hodge (and I’m not) then I don’t see how we can say that this approach is beyond the pale.

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  122. David R., isn’t it the case that everyone is under a covenant of works? God requires perfect, perpetual and personal obedience to his moral law. That’s what SC 39 seems to teach. So yes, in one sense the Israelites and everyone is under the covenant of works unless they have trusted Christ who has fulfilled all the demands of the cofw.

    But in a temporal sense, to inherit the land, the Israelites were under a CofW arrangement, that the life might be long in the land the Lord was giving them.

    What is so threatening about this?

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  123. David R., qualify. Qualify necessary in view of faith and Christ’s imputed righteousness. Qualify obedience in view of remaining corruption.

    What’s so hard about that?

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  124. “It is a wonderful read, and comments greatly on the the discussions of this posting.”

    Semper channels blog spam. (three of my words could be nouns or could be verbs)

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  125. Gaffin—- where Calvin brings in the proposition, “faith without works justifies”- he says …although this needs prudence and sound interpretation. For this proposition that faith without works justifies is true, yet false … true, yet false… according to the different senses which it bears. The proposition that faith without works justifies by itself is false. Because faith without works is void. But if the clause, “without works,” is joined with the word, “justifies,” the proposition will be true. Therefore faith cannot justify when it is without works because it is dead and a mere fiction. Thus faith can be no more separated from works than the sun from its heat…. Notice what Calvin says. It needs prudence and sound interpretation. It is true yet false. Now there is a paradox. True yet false, depending on the way it is read.

    Gaffin: “Typically in the Reformation tradition the hope of salvation is expressed in terms of Christ’s righteousness, especially as imputed to the believer…however, I have to wonder if ‘Christ in you’ is not more prominent as an expression of evangelical hope…” p 110 , By Faith not by Sight

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  126. Gaffin, lectures on Romans, on 2:13:—-As that judgement decides, in its way, we’re going to wanna (sic) qualify that deciding, but as it decides the ultimate outcome for all believers and for all humanity, believers as well as unbelievers. That is, death or life. It’s a life and death situation that’s in view here. Further, this ultimate judgement has as its criterion or standard, brought into view here, the criterion for that judgement is works, good works. The doing of the law, as that is the criterion for all human beings, again, believers as well as unbelievers. In fact, in the case of the believer a positive outcome is in view and that positive outcome is explicitly said to be justification. So, again the point on the one side of the passage is that eternal life… depends on and follows from a future justification according to works. Eternal life follows upon a future justification by doing the law.

    Gaffin, By Faith, Not By Sight, p 38—From this perceptive, the antithesis between law and gospel is not a theological ultimate. Rather, that antithesis enters not be virtue of creation but as a consequence of sin, and the gospel functions for its overcoming. The gospel is to the end of removing an absolute law-gospel antithesis in the life of the believer

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  127. David R., qualify. Qualify necessary in view of faith and Christ’s imputed righteousness. Qualify obedience in view of remaining corruption.

    What if I say I affirm everything in WCF 11 and 13? But it really wouldn’t matter because you’d just conclude I must be a closet repub.

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  128. David R: What if I say I affirm everything in WCF 11 and 13?

    Doesn’t work for me. Not because I don’t believe you – I do! – but because the issue is not “what you believe” but “how we explain this to congregations.”

    And I guarantee that a congregation that hears “works are necessary for our salvation” will take it in directions you do not intend…

    But it really wouldn’t matter because you’d just conclude I must be a closet repub.

    Technically that was me being Wamba the Witless.

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  129. Doesn’t work for me. Not because I don’t believe you – I do! – but because the issue is not “what you believe” but “how we explain this to congregations.”

    Then if you don’t mind, let’s just skip it and get back to repub. I hadn’t planned on the detour….

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  130. David,
    I think Jeff’s question is pertinent and is very much part of the repub discussion. Could you venture some thoughts as to his question? I think it would help unpack how you see this issue playing out pastorally, i.e. where the rubber meets the road. Only a request.

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  131. Jeff,

    I can attempt a more elaborate answer if it might be helpful, but for right now, here are some thoughts:

    Based on your statement that Deut 28-30 presents the demands and sanctions of the CoW,

    (1) Do you believe that Deut 28-30 is part of the gracious substance or of the legal cloak?

    Legal cloak.

    (2) Does Deut 28 promise land retention or eternal life, or both in different ways?

    On the face of it, it promises land retention. But land retention is merely an accident of the covenant by which the substantial promise of eternal life is conveyed, typically and sacramentally. I view this as analogous to OT passages that typologically represent the condition of the covenant, for example, Leviticus 4:20: “And he shall do with the bullock as he did with the bullock for a sin offering, so shall he do with this: and the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them.” On the face of it, the promise is made there that forgiveness of sins will be granted on the grounds of a sacrifice being offered. And yet the writer to the Hebrews tells us that it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (10:4) and that forgiveness only comes through Christ’s offering of Himself once for all (10:10. I don’t think that most of us would want to say that the sacrifices actually merit anything (though I think Todd might dissent).

    So I think that just as with the condition of the covenant, the type means nothing apart from what it signifies, so it is with the promise of the covenant. Deuteronomy 28-30 offers the promise of land inheritance. And passages like Joshua 21:43-45 appear to indicate that God’s promises were all fulfilled with the initial conquest under Joshua. And yet Hebrews includes even David, who had been given rest from his enemies on every side (2 Samuel 7:1), among those who “received not the promise (11:39)” and who “desire a better country, that is, an heavenly” (11:16).

    So to answer your question, I think the substance of the promise was eternal life. And I think this for precisely the same reason that I think the substance of the condition wasn’t sacrifices, but rather was Christ’s active and passive obedience.

    (3) How does relative obedience as a requirement for land retention figure in here? Does Deut 28-30 taken as a whole require strict obedience or relative?

    I would say it requires strict obedience, as that is always what the law requires, rendered either in their own persons (which of course is impossible) or in that of the Mediator (Christ, that is, not Moses….).

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  132. “I don’t think that most of us would want to say that the sacrifices actually merit anything (though I think Todd might dissent).”

    No, I don’t dissent, that has actually been my point, they do not actually merit anything. Now apply that same principle to the Israelites and Deut. 28.

    Nice to see you dealing with the Scriptures though.

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  133. Jack, I believe the last question Jeff asked was regarding Deuteronomy 28-30, so I’m not quite sure what you’re asking. But if you’re asking how I understand conditions in the covenant of grace, or how I think we should teach these things to congregations, well, I’m not a pastor, but I don’t know if I can think of anything that I’ve personally found more pastorally helpful than Calvin’s Institutes. (I cited some stuff earlier.)

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  134. David R: Thanks.

    I would agree with you on (1).

    (2) is an interesting and intriguing take.

    It does raise a question about the difference between corporate and individual salvation. Given that the ten tribes were exiled corporately pretty much forever, and the two southern were exiled for 70 years, how does the outward sign line up with the salvation of individual believers such as Daniel?

    That is, given that he was saved and yet was removed forcibly from the land, it would seem that he was placed in an impossible position: treated as an unbeliever (excommunicated) with regard to the cult, yet in point of fact a believer and actually in God’s favor, even outwardly.

    That’s not an argument against your position, but it does call for clarification: Does national retention or exile say something sacramentally about the salvation of individual Israelites? Or does it rather point to the meaning of salvation in the manner that baptism does?

    DR: (3) I would say it requires strict obedience, as that is always what the law requires, rendered either in their own persons (which of course is impossible) or in that of the Mediator (Christ, that is, not Moses….).

    OK, strict obedience makes sense in light of Deut 28.13 – 15. Connecting some dots, you might say that the requirement was absolute, but for the sake of Christ, God did not enforce the full requirements?

    This does raise a question: Why does God attribute his forbearance to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob rather than to Christ?

    But I do want to understand what you meant then by this: National Israel’s relative obedience was “the indispensable (though not meritorious) condition” of retaining the typological inheritance of Canaan.

    Are there two things going on here: strict obedience for eternal life, relative for land retention? Or do you have something else in mind?

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  135. The Reformed one-hit wonder is indeed one of the more endearing features of our movement. Shares many similarities to athlete’s foot, the guy driving in the fast lane at 35 mph, and the neighbor having their dumpster emptied at 4 a.m. outside your bedroom window. You know, the things in life that make you look forward to assuming room temperature and going to heaven.

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  136. Yowza. I’m pretty sure, maybe, somewhere, somehow, in some way, there is a benefit to parsing the exact nature of the MC and pulling it apart and stacking it into it’s allotted piles but I’m pretty sure I understand why Paul drew the lines from Abrahamic to NC and used the MC as a foil to put in bold relief the NATURE of the NC as contrasted to the OC. Yeah for Paul.

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  137. While we’re on annoying topics – I DVR’ed CNN’s program on “The Sixties”. Will we still hear about the glories of the 60s (Mostly 1967-69) after the Boomers are gone? What must your life consist of when you look back at THAT as the pinnacle of your lives? Yeah, we took drugs and danced naked at Woodstock. Then we sold out, took corporate jobs, and are now looking forward to retirement and bankrupting Social Security, Medicare, and our kids.

    What a legacy.

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  138. Erik, that great big sucking sound you hear every morning? That’s the boomers refusing to die and surrender the positions by which they continue to torment what’s left of their parent’s generation and all the generations that came after their own. They’re all overdue for a drive by. Except the ones I happen to make use of, of, of, of.

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  139. If you’ve got 4 hours some weekend watch D.A. Pennebaker’s “Monterey Pop” followed by The Maysles’ “Gimme Shelter” to see exactly how long it took sixties idealism to turn into a steaming pile of dung. Hint: Not long.

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  140. We got Boomer President Clinton, followed by Boomer President George W. Bush, followed by young Boomer President Barack Obama, followed by … Boomer President Hillary Clinton. After that we’ll probably have 25 trillion of debt and Boomer President Al Gore.

    They’re not going away peacefully…

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  141. Jeff, DR, and Jack,

    How exactly is this a promise:

    “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 28:1 ESV)

    compared to this:

    “I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:6-8 ESV)

    When I promised fidelity to my wife, I didn’t say “if you stay healthy and make money.”

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  142. Does national retention or exile say something sacramentally about the salvation of individual Israelites? Or does it rather point to the meaning of salvation in the manner that baptism does?

    I think that the typological aspect is first and foremost, that is, the communication via a system of types and shadows–an intrusion of heavenly realities, in Klinean terms–of the covenantal promise of heavenly blessedness, the possibility of exclusion from it, and the prerequisite of righteousness and holiness. But in terms of the sacramental aspect, and making the analogy with NT sacraments, perhaps we could say that there were unworthy partakers (e.g., Manassah), and there were worthy partakers who were providentially hindered (Daniel) and yet grace and salvation wasn’t inseparably tied to the sign. I’m kind of out on a limb here but maybe that helps….

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  143. Eric, I get it. But flattery’ll get you nowhere…. Btw, apple cider vinegar may help the athlete’s foot problem.

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  144. And I guarantee that a congregation that hears “works are necessary for our salvation” will take it in directions you do not intend…

    Jeff, it depends. If the point has to do with what is the ground of salvation then it could be a way to emphasize the active obedience of Christ–which is ours through faith alone. I for one think there is much need for this emphasis in a time that tends to over-emphasize the passive obedience of Christ. If the point has to do with the consequence of salvation then perhaps (as Darryl once helpfully put it around here at one time) it would be better to say that works are inevitable to salvation.

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  145. Darryl, that was the line I fed Clark when he said we(Xers) and Y’s and Millenials(dolts) were a bunch of egalitarians. I tolla him to go look in a mirror.

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  146. I am coming in to this a little late (Labor Day and all of that has kept me mostly offline) but I am wondering if someone from the Republication camp could define the original covenant of works?

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  147. sean, I’m still a victim. You don’t know how hard it was living through the assassinations of the Kennedy’s, King, the suicides of Joplin and Morris, the Six Day War and the return of Jesus, the urban riots and mayoral responses from hyphenated Roman Catholic mayors (Dailey and Rizzo).

    And I’ll be glad for you to come push me around in the nursing home, thank you very much.

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  148. Sean,

    Thank you.

    Would it be fair to summarize the Covenant of Works like this: God made the covenant of Works with Adam wherein God required perfect obedience of Adam and wherein God promised eternal life for perfect obedience and promised death for disobedience.

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  149. Jeff, it depends. If the point has to do with what is the ground of salvation then it could be a way to emphasize the active obedience of Christ–which is ours through faith alone…. If the point has to do with the consequence of salvation then perhaps … it would be better to say that works are inevitable to salvation.

    And what if the point has to do with good works being necessary to salvation? (Rhetorical question, no need to respond.)

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  150. Darryl, I’m good with it. I’m used to bailing you guys out, my two older siblings have learned me well. Course I’ve learnt a little too good, when I’m done tapping y’all for what you can do for me, that wheelchair, occupant and all, might mysteriously find itself in rush hour traffic. All depends how much money is in that medical savings account.

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  151. “works are necessary for our salvation” (from Zrim’s post above)

    – Congregation that understands that it is Christ’s Works/Active Obedience/Finished Work, and it is His Work to produce the fruit/rewards in our lives is understanding Reformed Theology well

    – Congregation that hears/understands that our works are necessary for our salvation (overemphasis on how we are being saved, and our fruitfulness-rewards are the evidence and do matter – Book of James) has missed it and lapsed into works-righteousness, and does not understand Reformed Theology at all

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  152. Jeff,

    Trying my best to put a stake in the heart of the topic. When I see you go into these 500 comment debates with people, complete with mathematical formulas, my fondest wish for you is that you go enjoy some butterflies.

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  153. Back to David R. — I personally believe that each and every Reformed one hit wonder has one great 800 page book in them written in unreadable font. This is my fondest hope, at least.

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  154. Following is evidence from the Westminster divine, Francis Roberts, that you don’t need repub to clearly distinguish law and gospel and preach Christ’s meriting of our salvation in His active and passive obedience. Isn’t this really all the repubs are after?

    3. I add therefore, for the unfolding of this mystery more clearly, and for answering of this objection more fully, these few considerations touching the law or Sinai covenant, and the condition of life and happiness therein revealed, viz.

    (1) That, the Sinai covenant was purposely so dispensed as to tender life and happiness upon two opposite and contrary conditions, viz., works, and faith, perfect doing, and believing. This is clear by Paul’s epistles beyond dispute. Upon perfect doing all in the law, Romans 10:5, Galatians 3:12 with Leviticus 18:5, the curse being denounced against the least failing, Galatians 3:10 with Deuteronomy 27:26. Upon believing in Jesus Christ the Messiah promised, Romans 3:21, 22; 10:6-12, compared with Deuteronomy 30:11-15. See also Romans 10:4, Galatians 3:22, 23, 24. To deny this, which is so clear, will but tend to weaken Paul’s authority, to darken many Scriptures both of Moses and Paul, and to strengthen the objection.

    (2) That, in this Sinai covenant these opposite conditions, of perfect doing under pain of curse and death, and of believing in Christ, are very differently required and revealed. Believing in Christ is revealed very sparingly and obscurely, perfect doing, very frequently and plainly if the series of the text be heedfully observed and considered. Whence (as Calvin notes), “Though the whole ministration of the Sinai covenant belongs to Moses his office, yet that function most properly and peculiarly seems to be ascribed to him, which consisted in teaching what the true righteousness of works was, and what rewards or punishments attend upon the observers or breakers of the law.” Upon which account Moses is compared with Christ, “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

    (3) That, though these two conditions of perfect doing, and believing, be thus differently revealed and required in the Sinai covenant, yet believing in Christ unto life and righteousness was therein chiefly and ultimately intended, and perfect doing only urged upon Israel’s subordination and tendency to that believing.

    That believing in Christ unto righteousness is chiefly and ultimately intended in the Sinai covenant is plain, [1] from all the former arguments whereby I have demonstrated the Sinai covenant to be a covenant of faith, [2] from the many testimonies of the apostle Paul, declaring Christ, and faith, and justification by faith to be the very chief scope and intent of the law or Sinai covenant (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:19, 22-24), [3] from Moses himself drawing the righteousness of faith from the Sinai covenant (Deuteronomy 30:11-15; Romans 10:6-11).

    That perfect doing upon pain of curse and death was urged upon Israel only in subordination and tendency to believing and the righteousness of faith, is also evident. For, [1] Hereby God brought Israel to see the need of a Mediator, and to desire him, which desire the Lord highly commended, giving them Moses as a typical, and promising Christ, as a true Mediator. [2] To the moral law, the impossible rule of perfect doing, God added the ceremonial law, revealing Christ, the object of believing, and the “end of the law for righteousness to every believer.” [3] The Scripture, peculiarly the law, “hath hereby concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ may be given to them that believe” (Galatians 3:22). [4] By the law requiring perfect doing under a curse, they were “shut up unto the faith that should afterwards be revealed” (Galatians 3:23). [5] The law moral and ceremonial in this respect was to the Jews, “a schoolmaster to bring them to Christ, that they might be justified by faith in Christ” (Galatians 3:24).

    (4) That, the condition of perfect doing under pain of curse and death, convincing the sinner of his sin and misery, leaves him hopeless in himself, not to trust in his own works for righteousness. But the condition of believing gives him hope, without himself, in Jesus Christ, to trust to him alone for justification.

    (5) That, the Sinai covenant tendered life and happiness upon these two opposite conditions of perfect doing under penalty of curse and death, and of believing in Christ, because both these conditions were necessarily required to the sinner’s happiness, in the sinner, or the sinner’s Surety. [1] Perfect doing of all God’s law upon pain of death was required to the sinner’s happiness, because God’s covenant of works at first made with Adam and with all his posterity in him, but broken by them, cannot be eluded or evaded. They must do it, or die. Otherwise God himself should not be just and true. Do it, in their own persons they could not, because the “flesh was weak” (Romans 8:3), therefore they lie under the curse and death. This covenant hereupon (such the contrivance of God’s infinite wisdom and grace) reveals the sinner’s Surety Jesus Christ, who alone could satisfactorily bear this curse upon himself, and perform the duty of the law to the uttermost, for the sinner’s redemption and righteousness. [2] Believing in Christ is also necessary to the sinner’s happiness, because without faith his Surety’s perfect doing and enduring cannot become his by imputation.

    (6) That, perfect doing on pain of death, and believing in Jesus Christ are so required and conditioned in this Sinai covenant, as to let all men see, that the penalty and duty of the covenant of works, have their plenary accomplishment in the covenant of faith through Jesus Christ alone. For, [1] Herein perfect obedience is exacted from sinners under a curse, which obedience is as impossible, as the curse intolerable, unto sinners. [2] Herein Jesus Christ the Mediator and sinner’s Surety, is set forth, as bearing the penalty of the curse, and fulfilling all obedience for them most exactly. [3] Herein they are directed unto Jesus Christ by faith, for life and righteousness. Thus according to the tenor of the Sinai covenant, the covenant of works hath its perfect accomplishment in Christ, by doing and enduring, all which becomes ours, by believing. Thus the covenant of works is digested into, incorporated with, and wholly swallowed up by the covenant of faith. Thus perfect doing is attained, by believing.

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  155. David R., I’m not sure why the question is rhetorical, but that’s the active obedience point–yes, works are necessary to salvation, there is no hope without them. Of course, it all turns on whose.

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  156. Jeff, DR, and Jack,

    How exactly is this a promise…

    DG, let me ask my wife…

    Zrim, works are necessary to salvation, there is no hope without them. Of course, it all turns on whose.
    Indeed! – just who is going to be leaning one whit on their own imperfect obedience on that Day? Yes, it is our duty to obey. Is our obedience necessary to securing our salvation? When it comes to salvation, obedience isn’t graded on a curve. We need the perfect obedience of Another, even as we in this life seek to walk, ever so feebly, in the direction of obedience to him.

    LC Q. 39. Why was it requisite that the mediator should be man?
    A. It was requisite that the mediator should be man, that he might advance our nature, perform obedience to the law, suffer and make intercession for us in our nature, have a fellow-feeling of our infirmities; that we might receive the adoption of sons, and have comfort and access with boldness unto the throne of grace.

    Q. 55. How doth Christ make intercession?
    A. Christ maketh intercession, by his appearing in our nature continually before the Father in heaven, in the merit of his obedience and sacrifice on earth, declaring his will to have it applied to all believers; answering all accusations against them, and procuring for them quiet of conscience, notwithstanding daily failings, access with boldness to the throne of grace, and acceptance of their persons and services.

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  157. Erik, the next better step than the badly scanned 800 pager with “ff” instead of “s” is….

    the archive.org claim that it has scanned this book into “text” for your reading pleasure…

    hee hee hah hah…

    those Puritans loved to fluff up 800 pages with about 650 pages being needless rambles of pieties and acclamations that they love the Trinity. You do???

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  158. The 800 page mystery came to light when I saw “the likely lads” of the Reformed world all giving 5 stars to the ENTIRE works of Goodwin, Flavel, that 700 page job on Colossians 3:11, Owen (and what Owen REALLY meant), and seven others.

    They wouldn’t be able to have read all that decently with 200 lifetimes at their fingertips.

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  159. This topic started out so well. Now it’s gotten to the point where I’d rather hear sports guys talking about Micheal Sam.

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  160. and once again i’m let down by those telling me there is absolutely Blutarskian zero-point-zero Law at all in Sinai?

    wish i could buy stock in an investment that none of them will come up with a decent argument until they incorporate WCF 19 and Galatians 3 and 4 in their answer….

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  161. Sean, according to my inside sources they wanted him to wear those horse blinder things but then all the horse jokes got out of control.

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  162. David R., then in that case one rhetorical question deserves another–who is clearly superior in upholding ye olde Protestant formulation of justification sola fide and article of faith on which the church is said to stand or fall, the repubs or the anti-repubs?

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  163. Dr. T. David Gordon in his book “Why Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers” (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2009)

    “Some of the neo-Puritans have apparently determined that the purpose of Christian preaching is to persuade people that they do not, in fact, believe. The subtitle of each of their sermons could accurately be: “I Know You Think You Are a Christian, but You Are Not.” This brand of preaching constantly suggests that if a person does not always love attending church, always look forward to reading the Bible, or family worship, or prayer, then the person is probably not a believer…”

    The hearer falls into one of two categories: one category of listener assumes that the preacher is talking about someone else, and he rejoices (as did the Pharisee over the tax collector) to hear “the other guy” getting straightened out. Another category of listener eventually capitulates and says: “Okay, I’m not a believer; have it your way.” But since the sermon mentions Christ only in passing (if at all), the sermon says nothing about the adequacy of Christ as Redeemer, and therefore does nothing to build faith in Christ.

    “It is painful to hear every passage of Scripture twisted to do what only several of them actually do (i.e., warn the complacent that not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven). And it is absolutely debilitating to be told again and again that one does not have faith when one knows perfectly well that one does have faith, albeit weak and imperfect…”

    “So no one profits from this kind of preaching; indeed, both categories of hearer are harmed by it. But I don’t expect it will end anytime soon. The self-righteous like it too much; for them, religion makes them feel good about themselves, because it allows them to view themselves as the good guys and others as the bad guys – they love to hear the preacher scold the bad guys each week. And sadly, the temperament of some ministers is simply officious. Scolding others is their life calling; they have the genetic disposition to be a Jewish mother.” (pp. 83-84)

    and here’s a case in point, http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2014/09/preaching-piety-are-we-donatis.php—-T. David Gordon’s book, Why Johnny Can’t Preach provides some valuable insight into why so much preaching today is poor. But, if I am not mistaken, he did not make a big deal of the fact that “Johnny is not godly.” This was a serious omission, I believe.

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  164. D.G, since you’re in an answering mood (sort of), what do you think of the Francis Roberts quote? Do you think it “allow[s] Christians to think that law-keeping does not contribute to their salvation?”

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  165. @ David R:

    Based on our agreements so far, I would like to put forward a thesis and get your comments.

    (1) The land sanctions in Deut 28 – 30, as well Lev 20 and 26 are of a different kind from the temporal blessings and disciplines experienced by believers (under any dispensation)

    Warrant:

    (a) The land sanctions were a part of the legal cloak of the Mosaic Covenant. That cloak was not operative from Adam to Moses, and even if it is operative “in some sense” for the NT visible church, per Hodge, the temporal blessings and disciplines experienced by believers do not generally fall within its scope.

    Thus, the land sanctions cannot be of the same kind as the blessings and disciplines of believers.

    (b) The land sanctions, being a part of the legal cloak, had two purposes: To expose sin, and to drive to Christ. That is, because the nation was driven out for unfaithfulness, it showed to them the need for a Savior in a justifying sense. The blessings and disciplines received by believers do not have such an end in view, and are therefore different in kind from the land sanctions.

    It was never the intent of God that the Deuteronomic sanctions would be fulfilled. Rather, his intent was pedagogical (Gal 4). It is by contrast the express intent of God that blessings to believers will carry forward into eternity.

    (c) The land sanctions applied to all within the nation indiscriminately. The entire nation was exiled; the entire nation was restored; the entire nation was destroyed (speaking here of the theocracy, the object of those sanctions). Both believers and unbelievers within the nation partook of the blessings and curses.

    By contrast, when good works of believers are rewarded, they are rewarded because they are in Christ by faith (WCF 16.6 and esp 16.7), while the “good works” of unbelievers do not proceed from faith and cannot be rewarded.

    (d) The rewards given to believers are given on the basis of good works whose merit is found entirely in Christ on the ground of justification, of imputed righteousness. The disciplines that fall to believers are given on the basis of sonship through faith (Heb 12.4 – 13), for the purpose of restoration and strengthening. In all cases, whether reward or discipline, justification through faith is the ground.

    By contrast, the sanctions announced in Deut 28, being a part of the legal cloak, are operating under an accidental merit principle. The only grace seen is patience on the part of God from exacting the strict standard, and in delaying the judgment that fell upon Israel until the full measure of its unbelief was manifest. This grace in delaying judgment was “for the sake of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” — and possibly typologically, “for the sake of the seed of Abraham.” And the purpose of the delay was the preservation of the remnant, and the purpose of the judgment, when it finally fell, was destruction.

    For these reasons, we must reject the notion that the land sanctions are “just like” the temporal blessings and disciplines experienced by believers today. Their aim was different (teaching v sonship); their end was different (failure v glorification); their mechanism was different (accidental merit v imputed righteousness).

    There is an analogy between the two, of course. We understand from the Israelites who were “baptized in the cloud” that not all who are within the church necessarily stand. We understand from the fifth commandment that God is pleased to reward those who honor father and mother.

    But we must not overlook the meritorious character of the land sanctions, belonging as they do to the legal cloak, and confuse them with the rewards given to believers on the ground of imputed righteousness.

    Now to anticipate some objections.

    Obj: In order for the Israelites to have fulfilled the land sanctions, they would have to have received God’s blessings by faith. Likewise, the blessings we receive must be received by faith. This shows that the land sanctions are of the same kind as the blessings to believers.

    Reply: It is hypothetically true that the Israelites would have to obtained blessings by faith (and indeed, by being in Christ). But they did not, and it was never God’s intent that the nation would succeed under Moses. A better covenant was planned from the beginning.

    So it is no objection to argue that if circumstances were entirely different, then the mechanism of receiving blessing would have been entirely different as well. They were not, and it was not.

    As it stands, Deut 28 is clear that reward was grounded in antecedent obedience. And as all parties recognize, this passage is located within the legal cloak and is therefore operating under a merit principle belonging to the accidents of the covenant.

    Obj: God’s grace in withholding and delaying judgment shows that Deut 28 was operating under a principle of grace and not merit.

    Reply: The grace of being in Christ results in a complete transfer of judgment and imputation of righteousness. No judgment remains for those in Christ. By contrast, a withholding of judgment is not possible for those in Christ, save for those externally attached and who remain under the covenant of works and are still alive to the Law per Rom 7.

    And this simply proves the point: if judgment is delayed but not rescinded, this shows that one is still under a works principle.

    Obj: The punishment that eventually falls upon Israel is for their unbelief, and not because they failed to merit.

    Reply: This objection wrongly attributes a genuine fact as a spurious cause. It is quite true that branches broken off were broken off for unbelief (Rom 11).

    But for the theocracy as a whole, it was judged because it sinned. The theocracy is not the sum of its members, for if it were, then God would indefinitely withhold judgment as long as “ten righteous men remained.” (argument from lesser to greater: if for Sodom, then how much more for Israel?). The theocracy was a nation that stood or fell together, and when it ultimately falls (70 AD), its destruction is total.

    Further, as we know, all those who are not of faith are judged by the law for the wickedness of their deeds — that is, they fall under the merit principle of the CoW.

    So the true cause of “failure to obtain” is unbelief, but the true cause of judgment is unrighteousness judged by the moral law.

    Obj: Excommunication is still operative for the NT church. This shows that temporal judgments still occur in the external economy of the church.

    Reply: It is true that excommunication operates visibly within the external economy of the church, but excommunication is not a temporal discipline per se with land or health or success attached. It is rather of a spiritual nature, declaring the excommunicant to be outside the church as far as the eye can see.

    Obj: Proverbs teaches that wisdom and folly carry a reward in all dispensations.

    Reply: True, but those consequences fall to all men equally and thus are a part of the common grace economy.

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  166. Sean,

    To follow-up then on the covenant of works, can you describe where at Sinai God makes a covenant with Israel requiring perfect obedience and where he promises eternal life as a reward for that obedience?

    Perhaps within the answer you could address why the blood of the covenant (Ex. 24: 1-10) is sprinkled on the people by Moses signifying the washing/cleansing of sins.

    Thank you,

    B

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  167. B, just to stay on the biblicist path, we would turn to the NT to interpret the OT. So, on that score, Gal 3 & 4, Rom 4, Rom 9 and Heb 10, should be more than adequate to explain Paul’s understanding of those covenants much better than my attempts. Just for a headstart, in more than one of those passages lev 18:5 is used by Paul to highlight the animating principle of the Siniatic covenant. So, maybe more could be said, but at least we DO know how Paul said it.

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  168. Galatians 3:10-13 teaches that Christ died by the law to save Christians.

    10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” (Deuteronomy 27:26)

    11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall LIVE by faith.” (Habbakuk 2:4)

    12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall LIVE by them.” (Leviticus 18:5)

    13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— (Deuteronomy 21:23)

    14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith

    If “covenant conditionality” notices here that “the legal adoption” is before the giving of the Spirit, it can still insist that staying adopted (the not yet aspect of adoption) is conditioned on our being transformed by the Spirit..

    Galatians 2:21 for IF righteousness were through (our keeping) the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

    Galatians 3:18 For IF the inheritance comes by (our keeping) the law, it no longer comes by promise

    Galatians 3:21 For IF a law had been given that could give life , then righteousness would indeed be by (our keeping) the law.

    A “pastoral way” to get smoothly past this Galatians text is to say that God loves everybody and that Christ has done something to make an offer of love to everybody. And then you wait five seconds, and then the fine print— except we do need to do something and keep doing something to accept the conditions, so that we will be changed. Christ has changed everything, yes, but five seconds later, it does not work unless we change enough and keep doing so….Because in the end it’s not “ENTIRELY” about what Christ did, or even about what we have done yesterday, but about what we have done lately. And tomorrow…

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  169. Sean,

    I agree to a large extent. If the Israelites looked at Sinai as a Covenant of Works (CoW) they were hopeless. If instead they viewed it as an unfolding of the Covenant of Grace and the manner in which they could bring glory to the God who redeemed them from bondage (Exodus 20:1), than their trust was in Jesus Christ alone and they were not in bondage to the law.

    The New Testament texts, Galatians as the primary example, teach us that Sinai as a Covenant of Works was exactly the opposite purpose of Sinai. The moral law was good, the Jews had distorted it and made it into a Covenant of Works. Sinai was never meant to be a Republication of the Covenant of Works and any way of looking at it that way was a distortion of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Galatians) – the same gospel in Exodus as in Galatians.

    It seems to me that viewing Sinai as a republication of Cov. of Works in Exodus is more closely a republication of Dispensational teaching. Similar, in that God institutes two methods of salvation. Can you help me understand how a view of Sinai as republication of CoW is not a republication of Dispensationalism?

    Thank you for the interaction Sean,

    B

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  170. Thanks, B. I don’t buy the misunderstood/misuse interpretation. It’s generally born of prior commitments to continuity, graciousness in the law, and faulty views of merit and justice and therefore bypasses the polarity that Paul describes in Galatians. As someone more astute than I has said, maybe Paul could’ve said more about the relationship but let’s not do away with what he has said. So, as far as dispensationalism, I don’t believe the OT saints were saved in a way different than the NT saints and that being by faith in Christ alone. I also believe Christ has torn down and done away with the ethnic distinction, as regards salvation, between Jew and gentile. I’m a bi-covenantalist on this score and comfortable with the legitimate discontinuity.

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  171. B, if you’re looking for COG continuity with the NC, the line is from Abraham to the NC and the MC line while not gracious as we’re using it, is still evangelical/pedagogical

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  172. It was necessary for Jesus to be born under the law. If the law was grace it seems there was not much point in Jesus dying under it.

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  173. Jeff,

    Thanks for your work on the last comment. I would be happy to go through it point by point, but wanted to make a few quick comments up front:

    1. There is a good amount I agree with in your argument, and that agreement I think is mostly because we both agree that the OT temporal sanctions were typological and that types don’t continue into the NT.

    2. I do think there is a basic problem with your argument, and this is partly my fault. You had asked me earlier how I interpret the temporal sanctions and my response was “legal cloak,” but now upon further reflection I think I may need to revise that somewhat. The legal cloak restates the CoW, but doesn’t account for typology, which I think is an additional feature of the MC. So your argument, or parts of it, may need revision on that account (more details on this in #3 and #4).

    3. Elaborating on #2, it seems to me that as we look at the big picture of the Mosaic covenant, we need to account for three basic features: (1) a typological intrusion of heavenly realities designed to reveal (a) the reward of eternal life promised to the elect, (b) the exclusion and damnation of the reprobate, and (c) the connection between holiness and blessedness in the consummate state, (2) a pedagogical restatement of the demands of the covenant of works, i.e., perfect and personal obedience, designed to drive sinners to Christ as well as reveal the legal condition to be fulfilled by Christ as Mediator/second Adam, and (3) the types and ordinances of the ceremonial law, designed to prefigure Christ and His benefits and thereby administer the covenant of grace.

    4. So I think a problem with your argument surfaces when we observe that, in accordance with the typological feature I referenced just above, the requirement for Israel to remain in the land was not the perfect obedience required in the CoW, but rather general corporate obedience (we can even say “evangelical” obedience). Hence, it was not an impossible condition for them to meet (contrary to the “legal cloak”), nor (contrary to your argument) was it even a condition that they never actually met (though I agree that generally, and increasingly, apostasy was the rule).

    5. Of course the big question under debate has to do with whether #4 (just above) constitutes a meritorious condition or not.

    6. I am wondering about your reason for proposing this thesis. I realize that it touches on some of our past discussion, but I am wondering what you believe it would accomplish if you were able to prove it. For example, do you believe it would prove that the repub position is correct? (Personally, I think that it doesn’t get to the heart of the issue–which is simply the question of the compatibility of a works principle with the covenant of grace.)

    7. Another problem with your main thesis: You propose that “The land sanctions in Deut 28 – 30, as well Lev 20 and 26 are of a different kind from the temporal blessings and disciplines experienced by believers (under any dispensation).” However, those land sanctions led directly to the temporal experiences of OT believers, and (as I’ve pointed out) those OT sanctions are, in the NT, connected directly with the suffering/cross borne by NT believers (for example, Paul’s citation of Psalm 44:22 in Romans 8:36). Did you deal with this question?

    Again, these are a few quick thoughts and I realize this is just scratching the surface of what you’ve written, but I thought I needed to make a few observations, and I also didn’t want to wait forever (until I had a more thorough answer) before responding. I’ll read through your piece again and comment further as needed, and if you’d like me to interact with anything specific, just let me know. In the meantime, I am of course interested in your comments on what I’ve said here.

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  174. Sean,

    Again, thank you for the interaction, I appreciate it the dialogue we are having.

    To go between Exodus 24 and blood of the covenant being sprinkled on the people and of course looking forward to Christ’s own blood being shed and so clearly articulated in Hebrews, how can we view the Mosaic Covenant out of the line of the Abrahamic Covenant? The blood of the animals is sprinkled on the people in Exodus 24 signifying the payment of their sins by another, even Christ, to whom Moses looked forward too (Hebrews 11:23-29) even as did Abraham (John 8:56).

    It seems to me in the Republication framework, one would have to argue that Moses and the Israelites saw the Mosaic Covenant as a Covenant of Works when Scripture, especially the NT, seems to me to argue the opposite. There were certainly temporal earthly blessings associated with the Theocracy established arguably at Sinai but the believers looked for a better country, that is a heavenly country. Their ultimate hope was never the immediate land which had the possibility to be temporary…it was something far greater…even eternal life with Christ.

    God Himself at Sinai defines the relationship and it is the same relationship as with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. “I am the Lord thy God that brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” The relationship is established by God, now listen to the Lord God and fear Him. …”Thou Shalt have no other gods before Me; Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image…” etc

    Every time I read through Exodus and Galatians, and Hebrews, and Acts, etc… the covenant of grace overflows throughout the Sinai Covenant. My conviction of the graciousness of the Sinai Covenant is not simply because the WCF says it is, I believe it because Scripture teaches it throughout and I believe the WCF clearly summarizes this in Chapter 7.

    Can you help me to understand in light of the Scripture mentioned, how the republication framework handles the establishment of the relationship at Sinai by God Himself and the sprinkled blood upon the people outside of the Covenant of Grace so well articulated with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?

    Thank you,

    B

    ps. No need to disclose this if you do not want to, but would you mind telling me which denomination you are a member in? I am in the OPC. Thanks again.

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  175. B, you’ll have to understand I’m not going to do dissertation work in a combox, particularly when my betters have done this elsewhere. You can pick up Kingdom Prologue, or read T David Gordon or read Todd Bordow(he prolly has something at Kingdom Kompilations) or Lee Irons or Heidelblog or West West and all the others I left out. What I was trying to shorthand before, was an answer to your question. The MC(mosaic covenant) served an evangelical/pedagogical purpose to the COG. Or as Paul would say, it was our tutor, taskmaster, prison guard. It’s roll was to prepare us in conscience(guilt) and typically(sacrifices, theocracy, kings, ceremonial) for the reality of the incarnate Christ. This is evangelical and pedagogical work. Again this is why, of ALL the things Paul could’ve said, he uses the MC as a foil to bring out the graciousness of the NC as contrasted with the works principle inherent in the MC-Lev. 18:5. We can complain that he should’ve said more or should’ve dealt with every other possible OT text bearing on the nature of the Abrahamic and Siniatic BUT this is what he chose to highlight. I’m eager to maintain his dichotomy. I’m in the PCA, taking names and brooding.

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  176. @ B: Here’s one way to think about it.

    Take a believing Israelite living under David. This Israelite sins.

    With regard to actual forgiveness, he is justified by faith. Yet he still owes a sacrifice. Why? Because as a member of the nation, he is under the law. The sacrifice does not of itself provide forgiveness, but pictures it. Yet unlike in the NT, where the sacraments are administered from the church to the man at no cost, here the man is required by threat of law and cutting off from his people, to provide his own sacrifice at a cost to himself.

    So we have two layers: actual salvation by grace, typological pictures of salvation by law.

    Does that help?

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  177. Jeff, to be fair to you, I really need to revise my answers to the questions you had asked me earlier regarding Deuteronomy 28-30. I’ll try to do that.

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  178. B, where is the threat to Abraham if he fails to do everything God has commanded (and what did God command Abraham to do other than circumcise his yute and slaves)? Where is the threat in Romans 8, no separation, no condemnation? Where does Paul say, “do this or else”? And where does God promise Israel through Moses that his burden is light?

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  179. Sean and DGH,

    I appreciate DGH’s call for Scripture over theologians and I appreciate Sean bringing Paul into the picture early on as this is a significant angle.

    I am persuaded, with others, that Galatians is speaking of two things: 1) Primarily, the ceremonial laws as opposed to the moral law (10 commandments) given with the Sinai Covenant in Exodus 20-24; and 2) a distortion of the Sinai Covenant that would change it into a republication of the covenant of works as opposed to its proper place in the unfolding of the covenant of grace.

    Galatians aside, Paul summarizes the Sinai Covenant in Titus 2: 11-15. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
    13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”

    Titus 2 seems to me to be a republication of Mt. Sinai in NT terminology. Isn’t Titus 2: 11-15 what is going on in Exodus 20-24? The grace of God appeared to the Israelites in redeeming them from Egypt and with that came teaching (10 commandments) how to live, always looking forward to that blessed hope of Jesus Christ who would give Himself for them that He might redeem them from all iniquity and make for Himself a peculiar people zealous for good works. [Good works because they have been redeemed not in order to be redeemed]

    The unity of the OT and NT, Moses and Christ, seems so apparent from passages like this. Can you help me understand why someone in the pew should view Sinai differently than Titus 2?

    Thank you both again. Also, if you sense offense in my writing let me know, I am trying to be fair in the dialogue.

    Have a good evening,

    B

    P.S. Todd, I was going to ask for a republication sermon so I will try to listen to one or both in the . My work schedule is rather hectic right now, but I will try to do so. Are futurethey available in script form as well as audio?

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  180. B – The unity of the OT and NT, Moses and Christ, seems so apparent from passages like this. Can you help me understand why someone in the pew should view Sinai differently than Titus 2?

    Erik – Israel disobeyed, so they did not get to stay in the land.

    If you disobey, do you not get to go to heaven?

    If you say that Israel, really, really disobeyed but you only slightly disobey, are you not being lenient with yourself? How do you know your standard of judgment is correct?

    It seems to me that this is how Roman Catholics think.

    For them, Israel not getting the land is not all that troubling since they themselves are probably looking at a lengthy sentence to Purgatory. They don’t “get the land” either — at least not without enduring considerable punishment for their earthly sins first.

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  181. B,

    Was the Spirit poured out on Sinai to enable them to obey the Mosaic commandments? Do you see a difference between Sinai and Pentecost? That is the point of II Cor 3 – the letter (Mosaic Law) kills, the Spirit, given through the gospel, gives life. If Sinai is grace why does Paul call it the ministry of death?

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  182. B, couple of quick things. Titus? Just because there are indicatives in the NT doesn’t then make it Siniatic in nature. Galatians is just tough to sidestep, the law is NOT of faith. That’s a statement speaking to nature, innateness, role, purpose, function, essence. Then he doubles down with lev. 18:5, then he cordons off the whole administration with a start and end date; 430 years later until Christ comes. Then he juxtaposes law and flesh with spirit and faith. Then ties inheritance of Abraham with faith NOT law. And the law is what? NOT of faith. Then just in case we missed all that, he goes Hagar and Sarah on it and tells you to throw out the slave woman and her son. Now, I’m not the only reader in the world but I’m pretty good at nuance and gist and I’m even better when the teacher goes; “look here, dummy. This is what I mean.”

    B, on the other issue you brought up, you’re not offensive, necessarily, but you’re at least a little leading.

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  183. @ David R: Thanks, I will await your revisions while I await the copy of Turretin in the mail.

    Food for thought as you ponder. These questions don’t need point-for-point answers, but they give you a sneak preview of coming objections.

    DR: The legal cloak restates the CoW, but doesn’t account for typology, which I think is an additional feature of the MC.

    What if the legal cloak does account for typology? The sacrifices were certainly a huge part of that legal cloak, and they were typological to boot. What if the entire legal cloak, or even much of it, taught by means of type? Isn’t that Vos’s insight?

    DR: we observe that, in accordance with the typological feature I referenced just above, the requirement for Israel to remain in the land was not the perfect obedience required in the CoW, but rather general corporate obedience (we can even say “evangelical” obedience). Hence, it was not an impossible condition for them to meet (contrary to the “legal cloak”), nor (contrary to your argument) was it even a condition that they never actually met (though I agree that generally, and increasingly, apostasy was the rule).

    * What of Josh 24?
    * Is it really true that Israel ever, once, met the condition of keeping all the Law and turning neither to the left nor to the right? That is the standard articulated in Deut 28. Perhaps there is a different explanation for their staying in the land than that they met the standard in a general corporate sense.
    * Evangelical obedience requires actual justification, for the works of evangelical obedience require the merit of Christ to cover their imperfections, and the work of the Spirit to be produced in the first place. Given that not all Israelites were justified, in what sense possible?

    And if the argument will be that Deut 28 was given to force them to first recognize their need for justification, then aren’t we back in legal cloak territory, with Deut 28 acting pedagogically?

    But even more, is it not clear that God’s purpose was never that they be able to retain Canaan, since it was only a shadow of the heavenly city?

    DR: You propose that “The land sanctions in Deut 28 – 30, as well Lev 20 and 26 are of a different kind from the temporal blessings and disciplines experienced by believers (under any dispensation).” However, those land sanctions led directly to the temporal experiences of OT believers…

    Yes and No. And that was the point of bringing up Daniel: his experiences in Babylon showed on the one hand, being under discipline despite his faith; and on the other, being blessed for his faith apart from the general nation under exile.

    So it is true that national failure led to temporal consequences for Israelites, but those temporal consequences were poorly correlated with the faith of the individual Israelites. Everyone was exiled, even the remnant. Everyone was brought back, even the unbelievers. And indeed, as they are brought back, the promise is made: It is time for a new covenant, not like this one.

    You asked, I am wondering about your reason for proposing this thesis.

    I have several, and one is to put the finger on the sore spot: There is evidently a real difference between the way God treats the nation as a theocratic unit, and the way that God treats individual Israelites. Rewards for evangelical obedience are given to justified individuals; the sanctions in Deut 28 are for the nation.

    To make the two strictly equal is a category error.

    Again, I don’t need responses to all of these. I just wanted to give some grist for the mill.

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  184. Todd and Sean,

    Thank you for the responses.

    I am a little confused by your responses as they seem to suggest more at Sinai than I am arguing. I am not arguing an equivalent to Pentecost or an equivalent to the New Covenant. The OC and NC operated under different administrations, no question there, but they were one covenant of grace. The NC is clearer, the antitype has come, no doubt about it. Why would the OC have to be equivalent to the NC in order for Sinai to be an unfolding of the Covenant of Grace instead of a republication of the Covenant of Works?
    <p
    It is interesting to me that there seems to be a suggestion that Galatians is so clearly in favor of Republication, yet it seems to be a newer interpretation that suggests Galatians is talking about the view of Sinai as presented by God in Exodus. In Exodus, the law is not given at Sinai for salvation. Is the law against the promises of God? God forbid! (Galatians 3:21). The law sweetly complied with the covenant of grace in Exodus as it does when properly understood today. WCF 7. Galatians is condemning the false view of the law, that is salvation can come through our works of the law. This was never the case with Sinai as presented by God in Exodus. Paul goes through OT history and shows that the law was never intended to save. But, the Jews in their sin and rebellion against the grace of God had made the law to be an ends of salvation which it was never intended to do nor was it able to do. The Galatian Jews had said that justification came by works of the law. This was a lie in the NC and the OC. Galatians 3:11 is a quote from the OT. The Just Shall Live by Faith! OC and NC…no difference there.

    God is still our God, the God of true Israel. As our God, He still calls his people who He has redeemed to serve Him and Glorify Him. Again, I will come back to Titus 2.

    Perhaps there needs to be a greater discussion on Galatians than on Sinai. If Galatians is speaking of Sinai as presented by God in Exodus, Republication would make a lot more sense to me.

    Instead, I would argue, that God in Galatians is condemning the false view of Sinai and the Mosaic Covenant that the Galatian Jews had made up and were teaching. God through Paul was not opposing the actual gracious unfolding of the Covenant of Grace that God had presented some 1500+ years before with Moses at Sinai. Otherwise, God would be contradicting Himself. God through Paul is reminding the Galatians and us today of the actual gracious Sinai Covenant and warning against this false view of the Jews that made Sinai into righteousness through works.

    Thanks again for the dialogue. I will probably stop here as readers can see the positions a bit better and I am not sure how much further we can get in blogs. Far better in person and in Presbyteries/GAs.

    B

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  185. B, your responses do point to one thing that Repubs need to make clear: “Republication of the Covenant of Works” does not and cannot (should not) mean that God was once again giving the law as a means for salvation.

    I can see from what you have written that this is your concern, and you can rest easy on that score. No-one is saying, and everyone would repudiate, the idea that God gave the Law to Moses in order to re-establish the covenant of works for the Jews.

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  186. B, I see nothing in Paul comparable to this:

    “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. (Deuteronomy 28:1-6 ESV)

    “But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field. Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Cursed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.
    (Deuteronomy 28:15-19 ESV)

    Is the gospel conditional? No. Is Moses? Everywhere.

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  187. Jeff, but B also needs to make clear, when he asserts that the law sweetly complies with grace, that he is not saying faith + works = salvation.

    It’s the repubs who are clear on that one. It’s the critics of repub who are not (which may explain the book you and David R. are writing).

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  188. DGH,

    I believe in almost every post I have made clear that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone. To establish that further and reaching back to the Reformers, Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone found in the Scripture alone all to the glory of God alone. The just shall live by faith in the OC/OT and NC/NT.

    Now that we have established salvation, I would point you to Titus 2: 11-15 and Ephesians 2: 8-10, for how the Christian should live after salvation. Christ Himself and Christ through Paul spend so much time speaking of life after effectual calling/regeneration, but when we talk about that life afterwards the question arises: prove this is not faith + works. God, in His Word answers that question well.

    I think it is actually this result of the gospel that leads many to scratch their heads with the Republication Paradigm. It sometimes sounds like, and please take this the way it is, I am not accusing, just expressing what it sounds like, that Ephesians 2:10 and Titus 2: 12-15 and similar passages do not exist in the Republication framework. I understand the constant worry about faith + works = salvation, but neither Paul nor I are making such a heretical claim. There are many who teach Roman theology as a new perspective in the protestant camp, but that is not happening here and I think that is clear.

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  189. Wow, Karlberg is blunt.

    I don’t agree that RTS is anti-repub, though. I learned repub first from Muether and then again from Jeff Jue at RTS.

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  190. B – God through Paul was not opposing the actual gracious unfolding of the Covenant of Grace that God had presented some 1500+ years before with Moses at Sinai.

    Erik – If Sinai was an “actual gracious unfolding”, why was Israel kicked out of the land? Because they lacked faith? Or because they lacked works?

    What was particularly gracious about Sinai?

    How is “do this and you will live” and “do this and you will die” gracious?

    People who view law in this way completely overlook the penalties of death, cursing, and exile that are attached to it.

    It becomes Sowers-esque pretty quickly.

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  191. “Wow, Karlberg is blunt.”

    And the Pope is Catholic.

    I do agree with Jeff, the RTS’s, as far as I have seen, do not seem to take a stand for or against – there is freedom to disagree, though I may be wrong…the same btw is true at WSC, where Bob Strimple, a follower of Murray, and a good friend and former tennis partner of this Klinean, taught for years.

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  192. The practical problem with this viewing of the Law as gracioius is that people start to grade themselves on a curve, make up legalistic rules to assist them in keeping them law, and learn how to paint a picture of themselves that looks good to others. Then everyone is shocked, SHOCKED, to learn that they’ve been messing around with the nanny or sleeping with multiple women in the congregation. Oops, maybe the law was a little more difficult to keep than we thought…

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  193. The other thing you get is Mark VDM, Kloosterman, and even R. Scott Clark on certain days being impressed with outward expressions of righteousness and moral uprightness in the broader culture, As in, “as long as everything looks relatively decent and no one of the same sex is getting married, God won’t curse us.” It’s the whole national Israel paradigm imported to the 21st Century U.S. If I went back far enough in the archives I could find Mark & Kloosterman talking about the value of outward compliance with the moral law — by pagans, even — without regards to the heart. It’s goofy.

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  194. B, it’s pretty straightforward. None of the Repubs I’ve read deny third use of the law, or imperatives or progressive sanctification. We struggle with outright denials of sola fide, missing the rather explicit explanation of the covenants by Paul, prior commitments to justice, continuity, and abiblical covenantal understandings that obscure bi-covenantalism(just to keep it simple). So, whether it’s explicit, like Shepherd, or logical presuppositions or commitments that put one on Shepherd’s course, we object. We’ve seen the show before and somehow have been stuck with front row seats for the same show, different actors, for years now.

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  195. Those who want to advocate for a mixing of (gracious — whatever that means) works with faith in order to receive salvation have some staunch competition from a fellow who lives in Rome and heads up a far bigger church than the OPC (as Jeremy Tate reminds us whenever he has the opportunity). The CREC is also several steps ahead of the OPC on this issue and is ready to receive her members if the OPC doesn’t come around quickly enough for those who want to work the steps but are not yet ready to go to Rome.

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  196. B, but what you don’t seem to understand is that Eph 2 and Titus 2 are a long way from the sound and character of Deut 26-28. It seems to me that Paul is commending obedience. I have no problem with that. But to draw parallels between the Israelites under Moses and Christians under Christ not only flattens the freedom of gospel and the bondage of the law, but makes the world safe for Shepherd.

    So if you want to assert that salvation is by faith alone and not of works or obedience, then it does seem that you need to qualify the nature of NT obedience and not draw (as some do) parallels between Moses and Paul. And the solution to this is Paul himself who says the law is not of faith.

    Repub is doing justice to Paul. He’s the guy, after all, who likens the law/Sinai to Hagar, not the repubs (on their own).

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  197. B, according to the SC what is required (faith, repentance, using the means of grace) is not obedience to the law. I don’t see how the catechism could be any clearer about this since the law is what is require of man, not to escape the wrath and curse of God.

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  198. Oh, don’t worry, I can handle the law/grace mix and get the proper balance of good conscience in my righteousness during progressive sanctification.

    As for the rest of you… well….. i don’t think you are going to be smart/clever/witty enough to understand it as perfectly as I do.

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  199. DGH,

    The limitations of conversations on blogs…you need to move towards the South so we have opportunities to talk in person. Greenville isn’t too far away from me 🙂

    I agree with your answer completely. My question was not looking for the law as an answer, I was looking for the catechism answer.

    You said at 6:20am “Is the gospel conditional? No.”

    Just now you implied their are requirements to salvation: faith, repentance, means of grace. I want to use “conditions” carefully as we are talking about conditions that are free gifts of God but never-the-less God does require things and those things He wholly and entirely gives of His free grace. I just want to be clear on this.

    I hear very often people say, “the CoG is not conditional.” I always ask what they mean by that. In the worst extremes I have had someone tell me that faith or repentance is not needed to be saved because grace is unconditional.

    Election is unconditional. While grace is Irresistible, God does require His free gifts of Repentance, Faith, and Means of Grace to be had by the believer to escape the wrath and curse of God. The Spirit is the sole giver of those requirements and they are not earned or merited.

    My question was only for clarification, thank you.

    B

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  200. DGH,

    My concern is that republication aims to do justice to Paul and instead does injustice to both Paul and Moses. With God as the author of both Exodus and Galatians, there is a compliance between the two that Republication seems to me to be missing. I will not argue difference in tones and difference in administrations in OC and NC. I agree with this. My argument is that the Covenant made by God at Sinai with a focus on the response to redemption is an unfolding of the Covenant of Grace as outlined and begun with Exodus 20:1 and concluded in Exodus 24 with the sprinkling of the blood of the covenant on the people.

    Perhaps we can have more dialogue in person in the future and thank you for your time via blog.

    B

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  201. In other news, I read in yesterday’s WSJ that the American missionary doctor who was sent to Liberia to replace the American missionary doctor who was evacuated now has Ebola. No evacuation this time — yet another American missionary doctor was sent to treat the stricken American missionary doctor.

    I see a pattern developing.

    Does anyone stop to ask why Liberia still needs doctors and Christian missionaries in the 21st century?

    African disfunction, Western guilt, and American evangelical do-gooderism make for an interesting cauldron of soup.

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  202. How about just viewing Sinai as a vivid picture that God painted to show us how incapable we are of keeping the law and saving ourselves? Period.

    The poster boy for spinning the law to think you are keeping it is Bill Clinton and his “I did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinski.”

    If you define “sex” as “sexual intercourse”, that’s true. If you define “sex” as oral sex, genital stimulation, or even looking at a woman lustfully (as Jesus does when he explains what adultery is), his assertion of lawkeeping becomes laughable.

    This is the slippery slope of self-deception that viewing law as gracious leads to.

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  203. B, but because Paul is writing after Moses and after the fulfillment of Moses in Christ, doesn’t doing justice to both Paul and Moses miss what Paul is trying to do, and what he sees in relation to the epoch-making significance of the work of Christ?

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  204. I’m afraid to look Erik, so I’ll have to trust you on this.

    Did one of the naysayers pull out John 3:16 and scream WHOSOEVER 15 times while reading it, trying to shake my unwise Calvinistic Republican ways?

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  205. It seems to me that what is gracious about the OC is that God made a covenant with Israel at all, when it was known they would fail, and that Jesus was born under and fulfilled it. What the Israelites failed to do typologically Jesus did really.

    I’ve seen it said that the imperfect obedience of Israel staying in the land could not in any sense be acceptable to God who demands perfect obedience. But since when is type a perfect representation of the antitype? David was a man after God’s heart and messianic type, but he was also an adulterer and murderer. If imperfect typological obedience cannot be grounds for remaining in the land, how can David be a type of Christ, a man after God’s own heart, a murderer and adulterer?

    I haven’t followed the entire thread so If I’m wacked that may explain it.

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  206. Mark G, it wasn’t a perfect representation of anything because Israel failed. It was a further reminder of the impossibility of keeping the covenant of works and the need for someone who could (even though the land was a type of Eden and “a better country”).

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  207. This would appear to explain the logic of the obedience boys:

    Fundamental to the position of [anti-repubs] is aversion to the works-inheritance principle, that which is antithetical to the faith-inheritance principle. With respect to the idea of the principle of works operating on the symbolico-typological level of temporal life in Canaan, Gaffin asserts: “the abiding demands of God’s holiness preclude meritorious obedience that is anything less than perfect, and so the impossibility of a well-meant offer to sinners of the covenant of works in any sense.” This view implicitly rejects the long-standing Reformed teaching that after the fall there remains the hypothetical principle of salvation-by-works, antithetical to the principle of salvation-by-faith (grace) alone. Of course, the demand of God’s law, subsequent to Adam’s fall into sin, can only be met by Adam’s federal substitute, Christ the Second Adam. In terms of the doctrine of New School Westminster, the real question, however, is whether perfect, meritorious obedience was required of the First Adam in accordance with the probationary test given him in the original Covenant of Works at creation. . . . leading spokesmen . . . vehemently deny this to be the case. Had Adam kept covenant with God, not yielding to the temptation of Satan in assuming equality with God (specifically in regards to the knowledge of good and evil), he would not have “earned” or “merited” divine blessing. . . . Only the Second Adam, we are told, can merit the reward of the covenant made with his Father on behalf of God’s elect by his own obedience. Hence, [the anti-repub] renunciation of the Reformed-Protestant law/grace antithesis, what is essential to teaching concerning the Gospel of justifying grace.

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  208. What do they (whomever “they” are) mean when they say Adam could not have merited salvation?

    Before God entered into the CoW with Adam, Adam’s obedience would not have earned him salvation because it was what he owed to God: there was no arrangement for a quid pro quo. After God had entered into Covenant with Adam, Adam’s obedience would have earned him eternal life as that was the arrangement.

    What am I missing?

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  209. Is it the anti-Republicationists who deny Adam’s merit-reward situation or the Republicationists? Why would the so-called Obedience Boys deny Adam could have merited eternal life?

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  210. Jeff,

    Back to Deuteronomy 28-30. In a nutshell, my (revised) answer to your question is that what Deuteronomy 28-30 requires of Israel is repentance and faith and the diligent use of the ordinary means of grace.

    It is true of course that the moral law requires perfect obedience, but that condition of the covenant was to be met by Christ the Mediator, not by the people.

    It is also true that Israel was required to maintain a relative level of corporate obedience in order to retain possession of the land, but that was due to the OT mode of revealing the promised reward (and threatened punishment) typologically. That is, it was an accident of the OT administration and not the substantial promise of the covenant.

    I’m happy to try to clarify as necessary….

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  211. Alexander, so Adam, created in the image of God, is no different from my cat Cordelia, until God enters into the covenant.

    But do remember that the anti-repubs love Van Til and Van Til said that creation was fundamentally covenantal. So it’s a little difficult to turn God’s relationship with man into a higher life scheme, you know, justified, and then obedience and holiness makes sanctification complete.

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  212. Alexander, do you hear yourself?

    Before God entered into the CoW with Adam, Adam’s obedience would not have earned him salvation because it was what he owed to God: there was no arrangement for a quid pro quo.

    You’re anti-repub and you don’t even know it.

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  213. Holy @#$@#$%(%%&!

    what Deuteronomy 28-30 requires of Israel is repentance and faith and the diligent use of the ordinary means of grace.

    Talk about flattening revelation. There goes kosher food, circumcision and no real need for Paul to work out how Gentiles come into relationship with God. It’s all there in the Pentateuch.

    David R., read sensitively much?

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  214. Alexander is a one trick pony. All he can do is repeat the last few words of his “opponent” and mock or play the fake piety card.

    When he has to give a new angle it is totally trash.

    He makes a good Evangelifish

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  215. Jeff,

    A couple of additional thoughts: Did Israel ever actually attain to the obedience required for them to retain possession of the land? Yes, I think so. Recall Vos:

    “This did not mean that every individual Israelite, in every detail of his life, had to be perfect, and that on this was suspended the continuance of God’s favour. Jehovah dealt primarily with the nation and through the nation with the individual, as even now in the covenant of grace He deals with believers and their children in the continuity of generations. There is solidarity among the members of the people of God, but this same principle also works for the neutralizing of the effect of individual sin, so long as the nation remains faithful. The attitude observed by the nation and its representative leaders was the decisive factor. Although the demands of the law were at various times imperfectly complied with, nevertheless for a long time Israel remained in possession of the favour of God.”

    You brought up Joshua 24, but there was also Joshua 23:1-11 (for example). Yes, it is true that apostasy was the general rule, and increasingly so, but there were also bright spots.

    Was Israel’s obedience (when they obeyed) meritorious? No. It was evangelical obedience, which by definition isn’t meritorious. But wasn’t it merit by pactum? No. The only pactum merit in any administration of the covenant of grace is that accrued by Christ’s obedience.

    But what of the fact that God’s dealings with the nation as a unit (i.e., by way of temporal sanctions) was different from His dealings with individual Israelites (i.e., by way of eternal sanctions)? I would say this is somewhat of an artificial distinction in that throughout, God was dealing with individuals by way of temporal sanctions typifying eternal sanctions. This was simply the OT mode of revealing eternal sanctions by means of types, but I don’t see that it necessarily entails a works principle.

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  216. Jeff,

    Following is some corroboration from Calvin for my opinion that the requirement for retaining possession of the land was not an impossible one for sinners to meet. From his comments on Leviticus 26:3:

    I have indeed already observed, that whatever God promises us on the condition of our walking in His commandments would be ineffectual if He should be extreme in examining our works. Hence it arises that we must renounce all the compacts of the Law, if we desire to obtain favor with God. But since, however defective the works of believers may be, they are nevertheless pleasing to God through the intervention of pardon, hence also the efficacy of the promises depends, viz., when the strict condition of the law is moderated. Whilst, therefore, they reach forward and strive, reward is given to their efforts although imperfect, exactly as if they had fully discharged their duty; for, since their deficiencies are put out of sight by faith, God honors with the title of reward what He gratuitously bestows upon them. Consequently, “to walk in the commandments of God,” is not precisely equivalent to performing whatever the Law demands; but in this expression is included the indulgence with which God regards His children and pardons their faults.

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  217. That’s the trouble with Dave and his ilk.

    They don’t like the answer given and attack but they have nothing to improve on the 2k position.

    And with this fake zealous attitude they are backed into a corner because their hostility has ruined any hope of a decent discussion.

    And they love seeing their words on the internet, nobody else does

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  218. Dr. Hart- Well, Adam had an eternal soul and your cat doesn’t; Adam was given the moral law, your cat wasn’t; Adam was created a rational, reasoning, righteous, holy and wise being; your cat wasn’t. Basically what you’re saying is there is no inherent superiority of humans to animals or even difference, so far as I can see.

    i’m not anti-Repub, if you mean what the Westminster Confession says. Boston says Sinai was both covenant of works and grace, that’s fine with me. I don’t know what more you and the likes of Clark are wanting to add to that doctrine, but clearly it’s something or else there wouldn’t be all this debate. I’m genuinely irterested in knowing what you’re saying which is beyond what WCF 19:2 says.

    But Fisher’s Catechism and John Brown of Haddington say that from between Adam’s Creation and the formation of the Covenant of Works Adam was under obligation to obey but was not promised eternal life upon that obedience. Are they anti-Repubs?

    and i’m afraid I really don’t know what you mean by higher life &c. Please can you keep the rhetoric at a minimum and then there might actually be some fruitful discussion. I don’t see why you react so aggressively when I’m only asking you questions.

    Kent- you do realise that you do exactly what you accuse others of doing. The only posts I ever see from you are posts attacking and ridiculing other people. Where did I mock Dr. Hart? I asked him a question. Is he above being asked questions?

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  219. A relevant comment posted on another thread on this very same question/topic:

    Take a passage like Deut. 28 with the blessings and curses. What are your options? Well, if you are Kline, you explain it as part of the typological-works principle that was unique to Israel. But if you don’t go that route, then you almost have to take this as part of an ‘evangelical obedience’ principle that would be true in any covenant of grace arrangement. And when you try to make something ‘all of grace’ that actually propounds a legitimate ‘works’ principle, the ground is ripe for Shepherd’s error. Or as Kline quipped, “He who finds grace everywhere will ultimately find it nowhere!” Shepherd, of course, would be his Exhibit A on that point.

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  220. And when you try to make something ‘all of grace’ that actually propounds a legitimate ‘works’ principle, the ground is ripe for Shepherd’s error.

    First of all, “actually propounds a legitimate ‘works’ principle” begs the question. Secondly, I would explain Deuteronomy 28-30 (as I have) as part of the typological-intrusion principle that was unique to Israel, which is something other than a works principle (again, see Vos). Thirdly, no one denies that the moral law itself articulates a works principle.

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  221. DR –
    First of all, “actually propounds a legitimate ‘works’ principle” begs the question.

    I don’t think so in this context. The commentor is simply saying where there is a legitimate ‘works principle’ and yet make it about grace, then you get a problem, i.e collapsing law and grace…

    My view: to exclude any works principle on a national/typological level in Deut. 28-30 just doesn’t do justice to the obedience/conditionality of the text, in my humble plough-boy theologian opinion…

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  222. David R., only for the reading challenged. Flatten holy writ, lots of misreads follow.

    On your reading of Deut. 26ff, why don’t we have the reception of new church members include a vow to “do everything you have commanded”?

    I can’t imagine any reading, doctrine, or practice in the Reformed world — other than a neonomian penchant — that would get WSC 88ff out of the Pentateuch.

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  223. Alexander, all of that stuff you say about Adam was true at creation, not with stage two of the CofW.

    So if you follow Fisher and Brown OF HADDINGTON (well, then), then did Christ merit anything? Be careful. If you disentangle the first and second Adams (why call them the same name?) then you may turn out like Nathaniel Taylor.

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  224. Jeff,

    Thanks. So in your revised answer, is Deut 28 a part of the gracious substance or the legal cloak?

    It’s part of the legal cloak, which is pedagogical. But for those who partake of the substance of the covenant, the law is a rule of life. Obviously Calvin, for one, understands the passage in terms of evangelical obedience (third use).

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  225. On your reading of Deut. 26ff, why don’t we have the reception of new church members include a vow to “do everything you have commanded”?

    I’m not sure of your point, but I assume your Bible has the Great Commission?

    I can’t imagine any reading, doctrine, or practice in the Reformed world — other than a neonomian penchant — that would get WSC 88ff out of the Pentateuch.

    But only a (quasi?) dispensationalist would deny that God required those things of Israel. Btw, the prooftexts for WLC 153 include Proverbs 2:1-5 and 8:33-36.

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  226. Jack, I have to disagree with “Nothing about law-keeping obligations.”

    Therein might be part of what I would term “problematic.” It seems that if you are reading ‘law-keeping obligations’ into those two passages, then you are also doing the same with Q. 153. I’ll paraphrase Kline, He who imports law into grace will ultimately find grace nowhere…

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  227. Please… in view of the fact that Kline imported law (works principle) into grace?
    Not.

    The Mosaic Covenant is not the Covenant of Grace. So to have a works principle in the MC (it’s an administration of) doesn’t undermine the Covenant of Grace nor import law into grace. By that reasoning Owen would have to be neonomian…

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  228. David R: “Jack, I disagree with everything you said there.”

    Well, at least there’s progress on one front. Boundaries are good.

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  229. Questions:
    If the MC is the Covenant of Grace, then the C of G is a ministration of death with a fading glory? Are the promises of the New Covenant better than those of the C of G? Is the C of G found with fault like the Old Covenant? The Old Covenat (Mosaic) sacrifices couldn’t cleanse away sin – same for the sacrifice promised in the C of G?

    No works principle in the MC? So you disagree with Boston, Hodge, Owen, Berkhof, Buchanan, Olivianus, Shaw, Polanus, Perkins…………………….

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  230. Your first paragraph argument doesn’t follow unless the contrast involves substantial rather than administrative differences (which it doesn’t). Your last sentence is just plain incorrect (imo).

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  231. DR, I think you’re equivocating. I wrote that the MC is Not the C of G. You wrote that you disagree with that. Now you want to qualify? As to my last sentence – all those I listed hold that there was a covenant of works principle (in various senses) in the Mosaic covenant.

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  232. Jack, I’m not qualifying what I said. I’m saying you are incorrectly understanding those texts to speak of substantial differences.

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  233. As DGH would say, your opinion…

    All I said was “The Mosaic Covenant is not the Covenant of Grace. So to have a works principle in the MC (it’s an administration of) doesn’t undermine the Covenant of Grace nor import law into grace.”

    You disagree with that statement. And those theologians I listed disagree with you. My opinion… And by the way, the WCF does sort of say that the Law, i.e. the MC, was an administration of the C of G. Not that it was the same as the C of G. Distinctions…

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  234. David,

    Still waiting for Turretin to arrive. Meanwhile, you seem to be arguing now that the standard required in the Law for land-keeping was a lesser standard than complete obedience, citing Calvin for support. But earlier you seemed to argue that the standard required in the Law was complete obedience. Can you clarify?

    For my part, I find Calvin on Deut 30.11-14 to be helpful. He, as it turns out, does not argue for a lesser standard, but a standard that is met in the Gospel. That’s a profound difference.

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  235. Jeff,

    Meanwhile, you seem to be arguing now that the standard required in the Law for land-keeping was a lesser standard than complete obedience, citing Calvin for support. But earlier you seemed to argue that the standard required in the Law was complete obedience. Can you clarify?

    The standard required in the law in order to inherit eternal life is perfect (i.e., legal) obedience, to be fulfilled by Christ (“met in the gospel,” as you say below). But the standard of obedience (i.e., evangelical) accepted by God (and rewarded) from His children is obviously much less than that, right? And the latter standard is the one that Calvin (and I think Vos agrees) connects with Israel’s retention of the land.

    For my part, I find Calvin on Deut 30.11-14 to be helpful. He, as it turns out, does not argue for a lesser standard, but a standard that is met in the Gospel. That’s a profound difference.

    I wonder if there’s a good index somewhere for searching Calvin’s harmony of the law. It’s always a pain hunting for a particular text…. Anyway, I did find it and he’s speaking there of the standard for inheriting eternal life.

    I’m gratified that this conversation moved you to order Turretin! You won’t regret it.

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  236. Jack,

    All I said was “The Mosaic Covenant is not the Covenant of Grace….

    You disagree with that statement. And those theologians I listed disagree with you.

    I have a feeling this will be futile, but let’s just take Berkhof:

    The covenant of Sinai was essentially the same as that established with Abraham, though the form differed somewhat. This is not always recognized, and is not recognized by present day dispensationalists. They insist on it that it was a different covenant, not only in form but in essence. Scofield speaks of it as a legal covenant, a “conditional Mosaic covenant of works,” under which the point of testing was legal obedience as the condition of salvation. If that covenant was a covenant of works, it certainly was not the covenant of grace.

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  237. BTW, Jeff, the Pope is Catholic comment was an inside joke for those who read Karlberg’s writings during the Shepherd controversy years ago.

    David, I’m still not understanding your position. How exactly do the Deut. 28 blessings and curses apply to us today?

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  238. Todd, if it’s okay, for the moment I’d rather stick with the question of how it applied then, as we seem to have our hands full with that one.

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  239. David, I though you wanted to “agree to disagree and leave it at that?”

    I have no problem with the Berkhof quote, especially as he is writing in the context of a dispensationalist view vs a Reformed covenantal view. But even in this abbreviated quote he points to distinctions which he fleshes out elsewhere.
    If you are saying that to disagree with you as to the nature of a works principle necessarily makes one dispensational, then you are correct, this is indeed futile. The Berkhof quote ought to be put into the context of other parts of his teaching:

    At Sinai the covenant became a truly national covenant. The civil life of Israel was linked up with the covenant in such a say that the two could not be separated. In a large measure Church and Sate became one. To be in the Church was to be in the nation, and vice versa; and to leave the Chuch was to leave the nation. There was no spiritual excommunication; the ban meant cutting off by death.

    The Sinaitic covenant included a service that contained a positive reminder of the strict demands of the covenant of works. The law was placed very much in the foreground, giving prominence once more to the earlier legal element. But the covenant of Sinai was not a renewal of the covenant of works; in it the law was made subservient to the covenant of grace. This is indicated already in the introduction to the ten commandments, Ex. 20:2; Deut. 5:6, and further in Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:24. It is true that at Sinai a conditional element was added to the covenant, but it was not the salvation of the Israelite but his theocratic standing in the nation, and the enjoyment of external blessings that was made dependent on the keeping of the law, Deut. 28:1-14. The law served a twofold purpose in connection with the covenant of grace: (1) to increase the consciousness of sin, Rom. 3:20; 4:15; Gal. 3:19; and (2) to be a tutor unto Christ, Gal. 3:24.

    I’m content to agree with your initial comment to agree to disagree…

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  240. @ David: I don’t agree. Think about context … What passage are we in?

    Calvin concludes that section with this: “But this is the peculiar blessing of the new covenant, that the Law is written on men’s hearts, and engraven on their inward parts; whilst that severe requirement is relaxed, so that the vices under which believers still labor are no obstacle to their partial and imperfect obedience being pleasant to God.”

    So he is clearly talking about evangelical obedience. But now two things are of note, and one of them is crucial.

    The first thing that is of note is that Calvin considers evangelical obedience to be a peculiar blessing of the new covenant. He doesn’t elaborate, and I haven’t seen that theme developed elsewhere, so I can’t say whether he means that absolutely.

    If he does, your hypothesis is severely damaged.

    But if not … And I’m assuming not … Then we would still have to say that evangelical obedience is limited to those who, as in the New Covenant, are in Christ.

    And that’s the second and crucial point. In order for imperfect good works to be pleasing to God and receive reward, they must be covered by the merits of Christ. This is a sine qua non.

    You by contrast have believers and unbelievers alike in Israel benefitting from a “lesser standard.” That’s not evangelical obedience, but something else entirely.

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  241. Jack, is it not odd that David R. accuses Kline of importing law into grace, and then David turns around and says that WSC 88 is no different from Deut 26-28.

    Can you believe this guy?

    Drum roll —- I can’t.

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  242. David R., “the standard of obedience (i.e., evangelical) accepted by God (and rewarded) from His children. . .”

    I thought you said there was no merit in grace.

    You’re all over the place.

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  243. I have no problem with the Berkhof quote …

    Good, then you now agree that the MC is the CoG. If you don’t, then further discussion of this issue is certainly futile.

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  244. DR,
    Have you considered that you might be making conversation futile by insisting on what I must believe (because you are so obviously “right”) or else? Fine. But some would say that’s not such a good way to win friends and influence people. cheers…

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  245. Nick Batzig weighs in:
    With so much confusion floating around at present about the precise relationship between the Covenant of Works, the Law and the Mosaic Covenant, I thought that it might be helpful to set out what Geerhardus Vos wrote about some of the related issues in his Reformed Dogmatics and in Grace and Glory. In his section in Reformed Dogmatics on “The Covenant of Grace,” Vos gave the following explanation about the relationship between the Covenant of Works, the Law and the Covenant of Grace:
    http://feedingonchrist.com/covenant-works-law-sinai/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=covenant-works-law-sinai

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  246. Jack, thanks. Here’s a quote from Vos (hold on to your seats for David R.’s spin):

    The covenant with Israel served in an emphatic manner to recall the strict demands of the covenant of works. To that end, the law of the Ten Commandments was presented so emphatically and engraved deeply in stone. This law was not, as Cocceius meant, simply a form for the covenant of grace. It truly contained the content of the covenant of works. But—and one should certainly note this—it contains this content as made serviceable for a particular period of the covenant of grace. It therefore says, for example, “I am the Lord your God.” Therefore, 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. This ministry of the law had a twofold purpose: 1) It is a disciplinarian until Christ. 2) It serves to multiply sin, that is, both to lure sin out from its hidden inner recesses as well as to bring it to consciousness (cf. Gal 3:19; Rom 4:15; 5:13). Paul teaches expressly that the law did not appear here as an independent covenant of works in Gal 3:19ff. That the law is also not a summary of the covenant of grace appears from the absence of the demand of faith and of the doctrine of the atonement.

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  247. David R:

    Good, then you now agree that the MC is the CoG.

    This is unacceptably sloppy. The MC is not simple, but has two parts. The substance is CoG, and even there, not fully revealed. The accidents are not the CoG, but administrative of it. They are in fact a reflection or shadow of the CoW.

    It is not possible to accurately (over)simplify this structure to “the MC is the CoG”

    If you don’t, then further discussion of this issue is certainly futile.

    Hmph.

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  248. Unnecessary quibbling. The point is that certain sections of the Law are (1) a part of the MC and yet are (2) a part of the legal cloak and not the gracious substance. You yourself have said this.

    So the MC is not identical to the CoG, but instead is an administration of the CoG. Jack is exactly right, and you are hassling him uncharitably. Not cool.

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  249. More Vos via Nick:

    “He then went on to explain why it was that God included the “content of the covenant of works” in the covenant of grace:

    When we say that it is a Covenant of Grace, then we must consider specifically the relationship of guilty man before God in this covenant. When one considers the Mediator of the Covenant, then naturally no grace is shown to Him. Considered in Christ, everything is a matter of carrying out the demands of the Covenant of Works according to God’s strict justice, though in another form. Grace never consists in God abandoning anything of His justice, taken in general. But He does in that He does not assert His justice against the same person against whom He could assert it. God shows grace to us when He demands from Christ what He can demand from us. Considered in Christ, everything is strict justice; considered in us, everything is free grace.2

    “Picking up on the significance of Christ’s relationship to the Law in the Covenant of Grace as our Mediator, Vos noted:”

    The Son, who as a divine Person stood above the law, placed Himself in His assumed nature under the law, that is to say, not only under the natural relationship under which man stands toward God, but under the relationship of the covenant of works, so that by active obedience He might merit eternal life. Considered in this light, the work of Christ was a fulfillment of what Adam had not fulfilled, a carrying out of the demand of the covenant of works.3

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  250. D.G., you left out this from Vos:

    How is the covenant at Sinai to be assessed?

    On this question, the most diverse opinions are prevalent. We first give the correct view. The Sinaitic covenant is not a new covenant as concerns the essence of the matter, but the old covenant of grace established with Abraham in somewhat changed form. The thesis that it must be a new covenant is usually derived from the fact that Paul so strongly accents the law over against the promises as different from them (e.g., Gal 3:17ff.). But thereby one thing is forgotten. Paul nowhere sets the Sinaitic covenant in its entirety over against the Abrahamic covenant, but always the law insofar as it came to function in the Sinaitic covenant.

    Also, where does Vos imply in what you quoted that Israel was under a works principle for land inheritance?

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  251. David R., but look at all that you left out.

    And then you say that God rewards imperfect obedience but you deny a works principle. Which is it oh speaker who employs both sides of his mouth.

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  252. Jeff,

    You by contrast have believers and unbelievers alike in Israel benefitting from a “lesser standard.” That’s not evangelical obedience, but something else entirely.

    It is a relative level of corporate obedience suitable for the symbolic purpose. But any obedience acceptable to God from sinners post-fall is wholly a matter of grace and not works.

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  253. And then you say that God rewards imperfect obedience but you deny a works principle.

    I’m tired of hitting softballs so I’ll just let this one pass.

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  254. David R.

    Good, then you now agree that the MC is the CoG.

    In a nutshell, my (revised) answer to your question is that what Deuteronomy 28-30 requires of Israel is repentance and faith and the diligent use of the ordinary means of grace.

    Sound familiar?

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  255. Jeff,

    Unnecessary quibbling. The point is that certain sections of the Law are (1) a part of the MC and yet are (2) a part of the legal cloak and not the gracious substance. You yourself have said this.

    No I haven’t said this, at least I didn’t mean that. It’s not that certain sections of the law are legal and others are not. The entire law is legal, revealing our sin and misery as well as the condition to be met by Christ as Mediator of the covenant. But under the veil of ceremonies, the gospel substance was revealed to the OT people of God, to be received by faith.

    So the MC is not identical to the CoG, but instead is an administration of the CoG. Jack is exactly right, and you are hassling him uncharitably. Not cool.

    To say that the MC is an administration of the CoG is to say that it is substantially the CoG. The same is true in the case of the NC. The NC is not the MC. But they are both the CoG. Analogously, Jeff standing is not Jeff sitting. But in neither case would I be incorrect to say, “That is Jeff.” And conversely, Jack would be incorrect to say, “That is not Jeff.”

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  256. D.G., yup. And you read that as an “assertion that WSC 88 is merely a reiteration of Deut 26-28”? Interesting….

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  257. D.G., you didn’t answer my question. Here, I’ll repeat it: Where does Vos say (in that section you quoted) that Israel was under a works principle for retaining possession of the land?

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  258. David R.,

    The covenant with Israel served in an emphatic manner to recall the strict demands of the covenant of works.

    If the Mosaic Covenant involved inheriting the land, which it did, I don’t see how you can think — well, actually I can — that the Covenant with Israel did not involve a works principle. As has been said many times, the CofG involves a works principle — the works of a mediator who keeps the law perfectly. The MC also involves a works principle if it is going to show the Israelites that they can’t keep the law and sends them into exile for not keeping the law.

    What exactly are you tilting at? Don’t you have errands to run?

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  259. G Vos via David R: The Sinaitic covenant is not a new covenant as concerns the essence of the matter.

    It’s a good thing that we all agreed to this point many years ago.

    Now if we can only all recognize that we have all agreed to this point, the conversation has a chance of breaking the logjam and becoming genuinely edifying.

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  260. JRC: The point is that certain sections of the Law are (1) a part of the MC and yet are (2) a part of the legal cloak and not the gracious substance. You yourself have said this.

    DR: No I haven’t said this, at least I didn’t mean that.

    !!!! You have said (1) and (2) multiple times in this conversation. !!!!

    DR: It’s not that certain sections of the law are legal and others are not.

    Of course not. It’s just that we have been discussing certain sections (Deut 28-30 e.g.) but not others. I was being specific, not exclusive.

    However, the Mosaic Covenant is not coextensive with the law, either. It has both Law and Gospel within it. So again, the Mosaic Covenant is not the same as the covenant of grace. It is in substance the covenant of grace, with various legal accidents.

    It is the covenant of grace in legal clothing. That’s irreducible simplicity.

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  261. Jeff, again, to say that “the MC is not the CoG” is akin to saying “Jeff sitting isn’t Jeff,” or “Jeff with a haircut isn’t Jeff,” or “Jeff in Tahiti isn’t Jeff.” It’s simply not a true statement (assuming the MC is an administration of the CoG).

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  262. If the sitting and standing are relevant to the discussion at hand, then one does not count for the other just because they are both “Jeff.”

    Here, the discussion at hand is the function of Law in the Mosaic Covenant. You have argued “The Mosaic is the Covenant of Grace just as is the New Covenant; therefore, obedience to the Law functions the same way in the MC as it does in the New, as evangelical obedience only.”

    Jack replies, in essence, that the legal character of the Mosaic Covenant means that we may not assume that law and obedience function in the same way in both covenants.

    In the context of our discussion, a “covenant of grace with a legal cloak” is to be understood differently from a “covenant of grace, end of story.”

    If our covenant of grace is “legaling”, then it seems silly to argue that it’s actually “gracing.”

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  263. On to better things. I think one of the issues here is found in this exchange:

    JRC: Thanks. So in your revised answer, is Deut 28 a part of the gracious substance or the legal cloak?

    DR: It’s part of the legal cloak, which is pedagogical. But for those who partake of the substance of the covenant, the law is a rule of life. Obviously Calvin, for one, understands the passage in terms of evangelical obedience (third use).

    And there’s the problem. This will be hard to articulate correctly, so work with me. The issue is that a works principle and a grace principle are antonyms with regard to function, but not antonyms with regard to justice. In other words, “Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.” (Rom 3.31).

    You on the other hand have taken a works principle and a grace principle to be antonyms with regard to justice, so that if justice is demanded, then grace cannot be in operation. The problem, however, is that your argument is Fuller’s argument against the Law/Gospel distinction! He argues right down the line with you that Lev 18 is all about covenant obedience, and that this carries forward even to today. Clearly, since you don’t want to be there, then we have to distinguish your view from Fuller’s by something more than “all these arguments, but then Law/Gospel too.”

    And what repub offers in the insight that law and gospel function side-by-side (never commingled) because of the way that Law and Gospel uniquely function. The Law demands. And the Gospel justifies because another fulfills those demands.

    So let’s look first at the Decalogue.

    * We agree that the Decalogue expresses and republishes the content of the CoW by way of material republication.
    * We also agree that this material was not republished with the aim of Israel achieving their salvation by keeping the Decalogue, but rather that they would be driven to Christ.
    * And we also agree that when Christ lived, He fulfilled the Law on our behalf.
    * And we agree that this is the basis for our living under grace.

    So how does the grace principle work? By resting on the works principle right there in the law! To be saved, there must be a merit principle — the merit of another.

    That’s why every single Reformed Confession speaks of the “merits of Christ.” What were those merits? Well, he kept the Law. In so doing, he kept the CoW.

    If there is no merit principle in the Law, then there is no merit of Christ for us.

    So we must restate the idea that merit principle and grace principle are antonymic. It is better to say that we either receive reward on our own merit, or on that of another, and never both. We receive righteousness by faith or by works, but not by both.

    Here’s where this matters: You have waffled on the notion of an accidental merit principle. First you denied, insisting that an “accidental merit principle” had to be a distinct covenant (Hiding Behind Kilts, p. 8); then you affirmed that there is an accidental merit principle in the MC (p. 3 of this thread); now you are denying again.

    What is causing this back-and-forth? I think you have two incompatible goals.

    (1) On the one hand you wish to affirm Turretin’s basic structure of “legal cloak = meriting, do this and live ; gracious substance = possession of life, obedience rewarded even if imperfect”

    (2) On the other hand, you want to assert that a grace principle and a merit principle cannot coexist without two separate covenants.

    One of those two desires must go unfulfilled. For Turretin is clearly saying that the legal cloak operates by a merit principle that coexists together with the grace principle — one at the level of accident, the other of substance. You cannot continue to hold to Turretin and at the same time continue to assert that an accidental merit principle is impossible.

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  264. David,

    You’ve also expressed reluctance to make a hard distinction between the national and the individual within the Mosaic Covenant. However, I think this distinction is both legitimate and also helpful.

    It is legitimate because God treated the nation of Israel as a unit, regardless of the justified status of its citizens. I’ve mentioned Daniel a couple of times, so I won’t again. But consider also Israel during the time of Elijah and Ahab.

    All of Israel was placed under drought by God, even though we know that 7,000 Israelites had never bowed the knee to Ba’al. Even those 7,000 were under the drought. Why? Because of the disobedience of Israel’s leaders. There is a federal solidarity of the nation under its king such that his behavior affects the whole nation (see also: David and the census, Mannasseh, Hezekiah, etc.).

    That this is so is recognized by all of Vos, Berkhof, and Hodge.

    But this national aspect of the covenant is also a helpful concept in addition to being true. It untangles much of our discussion.

    Consider the question of judicial law, which you’ve been reluctant to touch. Why is it that the judicial law operates strictly according to behavior?

    Take two men in Israel, one a believer and one not. Both steal two sheep from their neighbors. Does one receive a different penalty than the other because his sins are forgiven in Christ? Not at all. Both receive justice, according to the demands of the law.

    (That’s according to the command, although we both know that the law was poorly administered in Israel).

    How do you account for this function of the law, a strict merit pactum principle?

    I account for it like this: Since both men are citizens of the nation of Israel, they are subject to the outward, legal stipulations of justice required of the nation of Israel. The penalty received by each has nothing to do with justification or evangelical obedience.

    Without that national/individual distinction, I can see no reason why the justified man and the unjustified receive the same treatment under the Divine Law. Under a human law, I could understand. But under the Divine Law?

    With the national/individual distinction, the fog is cleared: justified individuals operate coram deo according to a principle of evangelical obedience. Thus Naomi and Ruth. Meanwhile, the nation operates according to a legal principle, never with respect to justification but only with respect to outward and typological elements, always with the goal of pedagogy.

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  265. David R., If it’s simply “not a true statement (assuming the MC is an administration of the CofG),” then how does Paul come up with “the law is not of faith”? So far, you have not addressed Paul. Lots of Turretin, Fisher and blah blah blah.

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  266. Jeff: a works principle and a grace principle are antonyms with regard to function, but not antonyms with regard to justice. In other words, “Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.” (Rom 3.31).

    mcmark: because they don’t have the same function, works and grace don’t contradict each other
    Ephesians 2: 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, in order to create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 in order to reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

    In Ephesians 2, Paul is not dividing the Mosaic covenant from its curse, or saying that the curse of the Mosaic covenant has been abolished. What has been abolished is “the law of commandments expressed in ordinances”. The Mosaic covenant itself has been abolished. Paul speaks in Ephesians 2 the opposite of the way he would have to speak if he thought that the curse and the Mosaic covenant were two different things.

    Romans 3:31 accentuates the curse function of the Mosaic covenant, The emphasis in Ephesians 2 is the Mosaic covenant itself.

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  267. Machen: “The law itself brought about death … Since Chrisst died that death as our representative, we too have died that death. Thus our death to the law, suffered for us by Christ, far from being contrary to the law, was in fulfillment of the law’s own demands. “

    It is impossible to maintain that only the curse divides the two groups in Ephesians 2, since both groups are under the curse. The curse divides God from humans. What stands between jew and gentile is the covenant mediated by Moses. Think of the parallel in Colossians 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

    The “record of death” against us is the same as the “legal demands” against us. It is difficult to see how the Mosaic covenant and its curse can be separated, when the Apostle integrates them together in this way. The demands are hostile to us. It is more than the removal of the curse that Christ’s law-work at the cross achieves. The cross brings about in some sense the abolition of the Mosaic covenant itself.

    The curse does not attach only to the Mosaic ceremonies. Rather, the ceremonies picture the way out from the curse. If you say that “law” in these texts is only the ceremonies, then you have ceremonies that damn rather than ceremonies that prefigure Christ and the cross.

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  268. Francis Watson’s “Paul and the Hermeneutics of Faith” (2004):

    Paul is acutely aware of the tension between the unconditional Genesis promises and the conditional offer of “life” that derives from the law given at Mount Sinai. In the promise, God commits himself unconditionally to future saving action on behalf of Abraham and his seed — an action that will bring blessing to the entire world. In the law, “life” is now conditional on observance of the commandments. (pp. 276-77)

    http://www.upper-register.com/blog/?p=95

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  269. I have said that Kline in his mature thought did not believe that the New Covenant threatened any curses. In response someone may object, “But isn’t excommunication a covenant curse?” The mature Kline would say, “No, because the New Covenant is not a covenant of works in which blessings and curses are conditioned upon obedience or disobedience.” The church’s act of putting someone outside of the visible church is not itself a punitive act, or a covenant curse, or the exercise of the wrath of God. It is merely a fallible judgment that a particular community of believers does not regard this person as a fellow believer. If the church’s judgment is correct, the person in question will indeed face covenant curse and divine wrath at the day of judgment — but not from the New Covenant per se…

    … So excommunication from the church of the New Covenant is not a covenant curse. It is merely an administrative act of being removed from the New Covenant by the officers of the visible church. Barring repentance and restoration, such apostates will indeed suffer an eschatological curse, but the curse comes from a separate covenant, the Adamic covenant of works. The New Covenant has Christ as its mediator and surety (Heb 7:22; 8:6); therefore, properly speaking, it threatens no curses, but offers nothing but blessings. Even an excommunicated person may repent and return to the covenant fold, lay hold of Christ and his righteousness, and receive the blessings. In a covenant of works, by contrast, restoration is impossible once the covenant has been violated. In the New Covenant, the message is grace, grace, infinite grace. It is ever and always a message of blessing offered freely to all who will believe — even to the poor, the wretched, the repeat offender, and yes, even to the apostate:

    “The one who comes to me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37).

    “We beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God!” (2 Cor 5:20).

    “Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost” (Rev 22:17).

    Indeed, so far from being a covenant curse, excommunication may even be the means that God uses to reclaim the offender and bring them back to the fold.

    http://www.upper-register.com/blog/?p=44

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  270. Jeff,

    G Vos via David R: The Sinaitic covenant is not a new covenant as concerns the essence of the matter.

    It’s a good thing that we all agreed to this point many years ago.

    Now if we can only all recognize that we have all agreed to this point, the conversation has a chance of breaking the logjam and becoming genuinely edifying.

    Now if we can all not just claim to agree with it, but also actually speak consistently with our claim to agree with it, then yes, the conversation genuinely has that chance….

    Jack replies, in essence, that the legal character of the Mosaic Covenant means that we may not assume that law and obedience function in the same way in both covenants.

    In the context of our discussion, a “covenant of grace with a legal cloak” is to be understood differently from a “covenant of grace, end of story.”

    You roundly rebuked me over my rejection of Jack’s formula, “The MC is not the CoG,” accusing me of being “uncharitable,” and asserting that Jack was “exactly right.” I responded that for one to affirm that “The MC is an administration of the CoG” is to implicitly reject the (contradictory) proposition that “the MC is not the CoG.”

    I don’t think you’ve dealt with this (and I’m not asking for an apology) but you’ll need to do so more adequately if we’re to make progress. To affirm that the covenant of grace when clothed with the form of a covenant of works “is not the covenant of grace” is to affirm a falsehood. Just as it is not true that marble clothed with the form of a human being is not marble, and it is also not true that Jeff poised over his keyboard is not Jeff; in like fashion it is not true that the MC was not the CoG. (Sorry to belabor this but I think it’s important.)

    Of course, this will also have implications for how we understand the (moral) law to have functioned during the Mosaic period, to wit, precisely as it functions under all administrations of the CoG.

    Otoh, if you want to deny that the MC was the CoG; you’re welcome to do so, but then you will have (by implication) adopted a “third covenant” position (and we can then argue over the ramifications of that if we wish….).

    You on the other hand have taken a works principle and a grace principle to be antonyms with regard to justice, so that if justice is demanded, then grace cannot be in operation.

    No, I do not hold that position (assuming I understand you). In the CoG, Christ as Mediator fulfills the terms of justice so that we sinners can be received on gracious terms. (You affirmed this in what followed and I completely agree with everything you said in those paragraphs.) So I would certainly not say that “if justice is demanded, then grace cannot be in operation.” In the gospel, “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85:10). As Francis Roberts put it:

    How sinners are at once justified, by perfect doing, and by believing. By perfect doing, in Christ’s person, to whom the Law drives them, by exacting impossibilities of them. By believing, in their own persons, whereunto the law allures them, by representing Christ as the scope and end of the law to them. Thus it’s no paradox for sinners to be fulfilled, in the sight of God, both by works, and faith. By Christ’s works, by their own faith.

    (I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the broader repub contingent are really just wanting to affirm the above thought rather than repub proper.)

    The problem, however, is that your argument is Fuller’s argument against the Law/Gospel distinction! He argues right down the line with you that Lev 18 is all about covenant obedience, and that this carries forward even to today.

    But I hold that Leviticus 18:5 speaks in terms of legal obedience (not evangelical), that it restated the terms of the CoW in a manner subservient to the CoG. I also hold to a stark law-gospel antithesis between the principles of works/grace inheritance.

    And what repub offers in the insight that law and gospel function side-by-side (never commingled) because of the way that Law and Gospel uniquely function. The Law demands. And the Gospel justifies because another fulfills those demands.

    No, it’s not repub that offers that insight. That insight is actually offered by standard Reformed covenant theology. Repub offers something else, namely, the notion that Israel was under a works principle demanding relative corporate obedience for land retention.

    So we must restate the idea that merit principle and grace principle are antonymic. It is better to say that we either receive reward on our own merit, or on that of another, and never both. We receive righteousness by faith or by works, but not by both.

    As you now will have seen, I agree with this.

    Here’s where this matters: You have waffled on the notion of an accidental merit principle. First you denied, insisting that an “accidental merit principle” had to be a distinct covenant (Hiding Behind Kilts, p. 8); then you affirmed that there is an accidental merit principle in the MC (p. 3 of this thread); now you are denying again.

    No, I have not waffled on this. When you initially claimed (if I understood you) that the notion that Israel was under a works principle for land retention was “accidental merit,” I denied that this is possible on the grounds that a works principle cannot exist apart from a legal covenant (and that principle would be of the substance of that covenant). But when you later asked (if I understood you) whether the law’s demand for perfect obedience, in its pedagogical use, could be construed as an “accidental merit principle” in relation to those whom it drove to Christ for salvation; I responded that, yes, I thought that might be true. (And btw, this would be true in the New Covenant as well, as I think you’ve sort of acknowledged.) These are obviously two different things.

    (2) On the other hand, you want to assert that a grace principle and a merit principle cannot coexist without two separate covenants.

    I think this is for the most part true. Most Reformed theologians speak of Christ’s merits in terms of the pactum salutis (or covenant of redemption), a covenant distinct from the CoG (different parties, conditions and promises), and they then understand the CoG to be the historical administration of the PS. But even if you would prefer not to divide these into two covenants, you are still dealing with three distinct parties, God, Christ as Mediator, and man, each of them bound by differing stipulations. So the principle would still hold that the same party can’t be under both a grace principle and a works principle in the same covenant.

    You’ve also expressed reluctance to make a hard distinction between the national and the individual within the Mosaic Covenant. However, I think this distinction is both legitimate and also helpful.

    I happily acknowledge a distinction such as you describe, but what I want to guard against is the idea that there are two distinct covenants being worked out rather than the one covenant of grace, which, though outwardly administered to the entire visible church, was substantially entered into only by the elect. “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.”

    All of Israel was placed under drought by God, even though we know that 7,000 Israelites had never bowed the knee to Ba’al. Even those 7,000 were under the drought. Why? Because of the disobedience of Israel’s leaders. There is a federal solidarity of the nation under its king such that his behavior affects the whole nation (see also: David and the census, Mannasseh, Hezekiah, etc.).

    The temporal sanctions were simply the mode, during that period of redemptive history, by which (1) the promise of the heavenly inheritance, (2) the possibility of exclusion from it, and (3) the connection between righteousness/holiness and consummate blessedness, were revealed to the people of God. Today, under the gospel, that promise of eternal reward is proclaimed freely, but during that period it was communicated by means of a typological “intrusion” (Kline’s term I believe) of heavenly realities. This however does not entail a works principle of inheritance.

    In terms of the principle of corporate solidarity you mention, I agree that the federal relation of leaders and people typified that of Christ and the elect.

    Btw, here is a way that this period of redemptive history connected with Eden: In both situations, by means of a typological “holy land” (Eden and Canaan respectively), the promise was communicated of eschatological consummation to be attained via the obedience of a federal head (Adam and Christ respectively). This is one reason Vos observed that the doctrine of last things is an older strand of revelation than is the doctrine of salvation.

    Consider the question of judicial law, which you’ve been reluctant to touch.

    Well, we haven’t discussed it much, but that needn’t necessarily indicate reluctance….

    Why is it that the judicial law operates strictly according to behavior?

    This was an additional aspect of the same typological phenomenon I attempted to describe above. To be “cut off from [one’s] people” by death typified final judgment (as you know), much as did the national exile from Canaan.

    How do you account for this function of the law, a strict merit pactum principle?

    This isn’t pactum merit (which was only possible for man in the state of innocence).

    With the national/individual distinction, the fog is cleared: justified individuals operate coram deo according to a principle of evangelical obedience. Thus Naomi and Ruth. Meanwhile, the nation operates according to a legal principle, never with respect to justification but only with respect to outward and typological elements, always with the goal of pedagogy.

    I agree. I just deny that this legal principle entails merit or a works principle (as I explained above).

    Let me know if I missed something here you’d like me to comment on….

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  271. D.G.,

    So far, you have not addressed Paul. Lots of Turretin, Fisher and blah blah blah.

    You’ve forgotten already? Let me help:

    “The covenant of Sinai was essentially the same as that established with Abraham … The reason why it is sometimes regarded as an entirely new covenant is that Paul repeatedly refers to the law and the promise as forming an antithesis, Rom. 4:13 ff.; Gal. 3:17. But it should be noted that the apostle does not contrast with the covenant of Abraham the Sinaitic covenant as a whole, but only the law as it functioned in this covenant, and this function only as it was misunderstood by the Jews.”

    Sound neonomian to you?

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  272. JRC: And what repub offers in the insight that law and gospel function side-by-side (never commingled) because of the way that Law and Gospel uniquely function. The Law demands. And the Gospel justifies because another fulfills those demands.

    DR: No, it’s not repub that offers that insight. That insight is actually offered by standard Reformed covenant theology.

    … which explains why I believe that republication is, in fact, standard Reformed covenant theology.

    DR: Repub offers something else, namely, the notion that Israel was under a works principle demanding relative corporate obedience for land retention.

    To be precise, I have offered the notion that Israel was under a typological, pedagogical works or merit principle demanding what amounted to relative corporate obedience for land retention.

    As we unpack this, it appears that you hold to the notion that Israel was under a typological, pedagogical legal principle demanding relative corporate obedience for land retention.

    Yes?

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  273. David R: [Is it the case that] the law’s demand for perfect obedience, in its pedagogical use, could be construed as an “accidental merit principle” in relation to those whom it drove to Christ for salvation; I responded that, yes, I thought that might be true.

    JRC: (2) On the other hand, you want to assert that a grace principle and a merit principle cannot coexist without two separate covenants.

    DR:I think this is for the most part true.

    This is entirely opaque to me. You clearly agree with Turretin that the legal cloak operates on a merit principle. You clearly believe that the grace principle and merit principle cannot coexist without two covenants. You clearly believe that the Mosaic Covenant is one covenant and not two. You very definitely believe that the Mosaic Covenant is the Covenant of Grace simpliciter.

    How can all four of these things be true at the same time? How can the first three be true at the same time?

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  274. As we unpack this, it appears that you hold to the notion that Israel was under a typological, pedagogical legal principle demanding relative corporate obedience for land retention.

    Yes?

    Rather, I would say that the pedagogical legal principle promised eternal life on the grounds of perfect and personal obedience. There was nothing typological about it (except that the promised reward was typified by land). The same pedagogical legal principle is operative under the NT (as explained in WLC 95 and 96).

    However, the principle by which the nation retained the typological inheritance via relative corporate obedience was gracious. As witnessed by Calvin, “Consequently, ‘to walk in the commandments of God,’ is not precisely equivalent to performing whatever the Law demands; but in this expression is included the indulgence with which God regards His children and pardons their faults.”

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  275. D.G.,

    How can you possibly this:

    And then you say that God rewards imperfect obedience but you deny a works principle. Which is it oh speaker who employs both sides of his mouth.

    and then this:

    Jeff, your heavenly crowns are becoming more numerous and shinier as you interact.

    without employing both sides of your mouth?

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  276. DR:I think this is for the most part true.

    This is entirely opaque to me. You clearly agree with Turretin that the legal cloak operates on a merit principle. You clearly believe that the grace principle and merit principle cannot coexist without two covenants. You clearly believe that the Mosaic Covenant is one covenant and not two. You very definitely believe that the Mosaic Covenant is the Covenant of Grace simpliciter.

    How can all four of these things be true at the same time? How can the first three be true at the same time?

    Okay, I think maybe I see what the problem is. I am viewing the covenant in terms of its essence, i.e., parties, promise and condition. What you are calling an accidental works principle, I view not as something that is truly part of the covenant (substantially), but rather something that is simply the mode of dispensing the covenant. It has actual “existence” only within its own covenant, that is, the covenant of works. But the law functions pedagogically in all administrations of the CoG, not just the Mosaic. I don’t know, does that help?

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  277. David, how do you deconstruct John 1?

    “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

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  278. Muddy, why would I need to deconstruct? How does John 1 prove a typological works principle for land inheritance? Why not rather understand it in terms of the standard Reformed view that at Sinai the law was delivered as a perfect rule of righteousness, declaring “the will of God to mankind, directing and binding every one to personal, perfect, and perpetual conformity and obedience thereunto, in the frame and disposition of the whole man, soul and body, and in performance of all those duties of holiness and righteousness which he oweth to God and man: promising life upon the fulfilling, and threatening death upon the breach of it”?

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  279. David R., I didn’t say Jeff’s good works are required for his salvation. You’ve repeatedly asserted that obedience is required for salvation.

    I don’t suspect you to see the difference. Either you were jilted by a Klinean or you can’t think.

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  280. David R: Okay, I think maybe I see what the problem is. I am viewing the covenant in terms of its essence, i.e., parties, promise and condition. What you are calling an accidental works principle, I view not as something that is truly part of the covenant (substantially), but rather something that is simply the mode of dispensing the covenant. It has actual “existence” only within its own covenant, that is, the covenant of works … I don’t know, does that help?

    Dear David, this is what I’ve been arguing all along.

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  281. David R: But the law functions pedagogically in all administrations of the CoG, not just the Mosaic.

    This sentence I didn’t understand. Wait, maybe I do. So in the OT, all three parts of the law function pedagogically; in the NT, the moral law?

    If so, I agree.

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  282. JRC: As we unpack this, it appears that you hold to the notion that Israel was under a typological, pedagogical legal principle demanding relative corporate obedience for land retention. Yes?

    DR: Rather, I would say that the pedagogical legal principle promised eternal life on the grounds of perfect and personal obedience. There was nothing typological about it (except that the promised reward was typified by land). The same pedagogical legal principle is operative under the NT (as explained in WLC 95 and 96).

    Certainly we would be in agreement with respect to the moral law here.

    However, the principle by which the nation retained the typological inheritance via relative corporate obedience was gracious. As witnessed by Calvin, “Consequently, ‘to walk in the commandments of God,’ is not precisely equivalent to performing whatever the Law demands; but in this expression is included the indulgence with which God regards His children and pardons their faults.”

    I’m choking on “was gracious, full stop.”

    For one thing, you’ve already said several times that Deut 28-30 was a part of the legal cloak and not the gracious substance.

    For another, it’s a strange kind of grace that destroys its object. And we must not lose sight of the fact that the theocracy is ultimately destroyed.

    For a third, the text of Deut 28-30 is clearly (a) full of demand and sanction, and (b) speaking with reference to land and not eternal life.

    So how is this?

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  283. Well, David, I should’ve just listened to RJ and let others deal with the MC. I just see you repeatedly bulldoze distinctions with your precommitments to what you see as positions we all must hold (or else!). One should read each particular historical covenant, concretely determine its agreements, conditions & consequences and only then proceed look to categories like law & grace to see how the particular covenant is best characterized. But you bring the allegedly mandatory categories in so early you don’t see the particulars, hence get tripped up when you have to account for the particulars.

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  284. One should read each particular historical covenant, concretely determine its agreements, conditions & consequences and only then proceed look to categories like law & grace to see how the particular covenant is best characterized.

    If you’d care to demonstrate, I’m all ears.

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  285. This sentence I didn’t understand. Wait, maybe I do. So in the OT, all three parts of the law function pedagogically; in the NT, the moral law?

    Right.

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  286. “If you’d care to demonstrate, I’m all ears.”

    I’ve seen this conversation. It’s like when you go to bed with your head spinning, then you wake up expecting something different but it’s still spinning. I can only deal with the head spinning thing for so long. Although longer than most probably. The point is, you can’t even read Deut 28 without bulldozing it as you read it. In this case, the initial assessment of a 12 year old reading that chapter will probably be closer to the mark than yours because you’ve committed to the meaning before you’ve read the text.

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  287. For one thing, you’ve already said several times that Deut 28-30 was a part of the legal cloak and not the gracious substance.

    Right, but I also pointed out that the legal cloak is pedagogical (thus, not a CoW). And that for those who partake of the (gracious) substance of the covenant, the law is a rule of life.

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  288. David,

    The a priori commitment Muddy speaks is your assumption that God cannot enter into a covenant of works with post-fall sinners. This makes you unable to read Deut. 28 and accept what it clearly says. What you have not yet demonstrated is the why. If God can bind post fall man, as you noted “to personal, perfect, and perpetual conformity and obedience thereunto…,promising life upon the fulfilling, and threatening death upon the breach of it,” to show them their inability to obey and show their need for Christ, then why can’t he also do this on the typological level for the same reason?

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  289. Dr. Hart-

    That was precisely my point that those things were true of Adam at Creation. But only when God entered into the CoW was Adam promised reward for his obedience. At Creation Adam was capable of obeying the law perfectly, but he wasn’t promised reward because his obedience was only what was due to God as his creator. Then God entered into covenant and said: if you obey perfectly you will inherit/earn eternal life. The difference is not in what Adam was able to do but in what he would receive for doing what he was able to do.

    The need of Christ is in relation to the covenant of works. Because Adam is our federal head we are all under the covenant of works and therefore, because we cannot meet those conditions, we (Man) are all under God’s wrath. Christ, however, can and did meet the demands of the law and so those who are in the covenant of grace have his perfect righteousness and obedience imputed to them. If Adam had passed his probation then there woulddn’t have been the need for another to redeem Adam’s fallen seed: because there wouldn’t have been a fallen seed.

    So Christ merited the salvation of His people, the elect, those in the covenant of grace by meeting the demands of the CoW: which all men are under but only to the elect will Christ’s atonement be credited. I’m not sure what I said that would imply otherwise. Why did you capitalise “of Haddington”?

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  290. Ephesians 1: 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with EVERY spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

    “The hireling flees, because he is an hireling, and cares not for the sheep (John 10.13).” The hireling does not become a hireling by fleeing; he flees because he is a hireling.”But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you (John 10.26).” The individual was a hireling, and consequently acted as a hireling. Sheep believe because they are sheep. They bring forth the fruit of believing after their kind.

    Those not His sheep will be rewarded, not for what they did, but for what they are (and were born being). Their deeds were but a manifestation of their nature. Their works are all fruits from a corrupt tree. “Every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit (Matthew 7.16-18).”

    Revelation 22 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.” 12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.

    Jesus Christ dos not say, “Your recompense is with me,” but “My recompense is with me.” Matthew 20:15— “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with MINE OWN? “…Behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him (Isaiah 62.11).”

    God the Father had given all authority to Jesus to reward both sheep and goats according to their judicial standing. The works of the non-elect did not cause their condemnation; if so, we would all be condemned. Good works by God’s children do not cause their election; their election caused their good works. Humans are rewarded by God on the basis of their calling.

    Of what sort are our works? We do not work to gain assurance of our justification. We gain assurance of our justification in order to work with the proper motives of thankfulness to God, at the same time fearing God so that we know that no work of ours gives us anything extra before God because every blessing is given us by Christ’s work.

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  291. For another, it’s a strange kind of grace that destroys its object. And we must not lose sight of the fact that the theocracy is ultimately destroyed.

    You asked me about the principle whereby they retained the land. If you asked me about the principle whereby they lost it I would give a different answer.

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  292. For a third, the text of Deut 28-30 is clearly (a) full of demand and sanction …

    Well, that’s the nature of law, isn’t it? But believers are delivered from it as a covenant of works.

    … and (b) speaking with reference to land and not eternal life.

    Sure, but again, that’s how the promise of eternal life was revealed in the OT.

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  293. Alexander: “but he wasn’t promised reward because his obedience was only what was due to God as his creator. ”

    Me: This is an abstraction based on the philosophical considerations of the freedom of God and a creature’s dependency but makes a-covenantal and a-biblical presumptions as to the way/nature of the biblical God’s dealings(necessarily covenantal) and further bypasses the idea of an imago dei creation inherently crowned with sabbatical enthronement in distinction from all other creatures. The fall is likewise particular to the inherent nature of an Imago Dei creation. IOW, you’re trading on extra-biblical considerations of a transcendent deity.

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  294. The a priori commitment Muddy speaks is your assumption that God cannot enter into a covenant of works with post-fall sinners.

    I have yet to see anyone else in this thread share your assumption that He has. Not to mention your insistence on the idea that this “covenant of works” He has entered into with sinners is the covenant of grace.

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  295. Dr. Hart-

    Yes. Because any movement of God towards Man in Man’s favour is gracious. Otherwise, from the moment God created Man, He was in debt to Man. How can that be? How can God be in debt to anything unless He first, sovereignly, makes Himself a debtor? The two covenants are not the same; there is far more grace in the covenant of grace than in works. But remember these terms are extra-biblical. There have been numerous terms used by the Reformed for both covenants. But the substantive difference is that in the CoW Man had to justify himself; in the CoG the spiritually dead, Hell-deserving sinner- unable to justify himself- is justified by the work of another freely and graciously imputed to him.

    Sean- I recognised most of the words but have no idea what they were saying.

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  296. Alexander, I’m saying that you’re letting philosophical abstractions as to the nature of a transcendent god, drive too much of your formulation. The encouragement is to let the scriptures dictate our understandings.

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  297. Sean- I recognised most of the words but have no idea what they were saying.

    It’s Kline-speak. Just nod and smile.

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  298. I’ve seen this conversation.

    Me too. And my guess is you wouldn’t be satisfied that I’ve been “faithful to the text of Scripture” unless my conclusions involved Gordon’s “difference in kind” and Kline’s “works principle in the typological upper stratum.”

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  299. David, at least is succinct and biblical. Some Heb 4 for the uninitiated:

    ……although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5 And again in this passage he said,

    “They shall not enter my rest.”
    6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

    “Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts.”
    8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God[b] would not have spoken of another day later on. 9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

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  300. “I have yet to see anyone else in this thread share your assumption that He has.”

    God established a typological cov. of works with Israel as a nation for Israel to remain in the land and receive his blessings listed in Deut. 28. No one has said that? What am I missing here?

    “Not to mention your insistence on the idea that this “covenant of works” He has entered into with sinners is the covenant of grace.”

    That has never been my insistence. I said the typological cov. of works furthers the purposes of the covenant of grace.

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  301. God established a typological cov. of works with Israel as a nation for Israel to remain in the land and receive his blessings listed in Deut. 28. No one has said that? What am I missing here?

    Well, I for one would be interested in a show of hands from those who are happy with that formulation. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few others. But what continues to boggle my mind is how you can affirm that while also denying that what you’re describing is substantially different from both the CoW and the CoG.

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  302. “Well, I for one would be interested in a show of hands from those who are happy with that formulation.”

    I’d be interested in hearing why you think this is unusual? I am simply summarizing Kline – shorthand of course.

    “But what continues to boggle my mind is how you can affirm that while also denying that what you’re describing is substantially different from both the CoW and the CoG.”

    It is not substantially different from the CoW with Adam. It is the CoW utilizing typology. I thought we covered this already.

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  303. Jeff,

    Dear David, this is what I’ve been arguing all along.

    But you had said: “You clearly believe that the grace principle and merit principle cannot coexist without two covenants.” I then responded that the works principle “has actual ‘existence’ only within its own covenant, that is, the covenant of works.”

    So are you saying that you agree with me that a grace principle and works principle can’t coexist in the same covenant? (I’m not quite clear on what you’re saying you’ve been arguing all along….)

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  304. Some Heb 4 for the uninitiated:

    Right, the typological intrusion of heavenly realities shared by both Eden and Canaan involves holy time as well as holy space. And yes, they also both feature a works principle of inheritance, but only for the two federal heads (imo).

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  305. David R., “I’ve been faithful to Scripture.” Funny, unless I missed the Obedience Boys Authorized Version with sections of Turretin and Calvin and notes supplied by Mark Jones.

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  306. David, which exactly makes the point, vis a vis the discussion with Alexander. And your pre-commitment to limiting even the hypothetical consideration in repub. leaves you explaining away Paul’s authoritative interpretation. At least as best as I’ve followed. I haven’t tried to keep up with every curve in the road you and Jeff have traveled.

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  307. David R., there goes my hand.

    And there goes another indication that you haven’t had the slightest comprehension of republication. And you were a great adherent of it before your Hagar Road conversion to Kerux. Pssshaww.

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  308. Sean, I’m still not clear on what you think I’m limiting but given that I was mislabeled as a Murrayite from my first comment, I’m not surprised at what anyone here imagines my precommitments to be.

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  309. David, fair enough. I haven’t stayed engaged the entire way through, so I don’t know every clarification you’ve made. I was primarily trading off the misinterpretation view, which you espoused to explain Paul which, last I read, was Murrayite.

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  310. Sean, no problem. Perhaps it depends on the nature of the misinterpretation or “misconception.” I’m not familiar enough with Murray to know precisely what he was arguing against, but it’s clear enough that Reformed theologians in general have argued that Paul’s opponents mistook a gracious covenant for a legal one (as we’ve seen from Berkhof, etc.). But that doesn’t mean those same theologians didn’t understand Leviticus 18:5 to teach the righteousness of the law.

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  311. D.G.,

    David R., there goes my hand.

    I can’t tell whether they allow poker up there on the glory crown assembly line or if you’re merely indicating assent to Todd’s view of the MC as a CoW.

    And there goes another indication that you haven’t had the slightest comprehension of republication. And you were a great adherent of it before your Hagar Road conversion to Kerux. Pssshaww.

    Since I’m unclear on the above, I’m also unclear on the cause of your additional insight into my profound ignorance; hence I can’t respond.

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  312. David R: So are you saying that you agree with me that a grace principle and works principle can’t coexist in the same covenant? (I’m not quite clear on what you’re saying you’ve been arguing all along….)

    I’ve been arguing along that the works principle seen in the law (hence the MC) is administrative, non-substantial, typological, reflective of the CoW, pedagogical …

    How many ways need it be said?

    But no, I don’t agree with your principle as stated … Nor do you agree with yourself. On your view (and mine) the MC is one covenant, within which are a grace principle that is substantial and a works principle that is accidental (that, is the mode of administration only).

    So the principle needs tweaking before your own view can be consistent with it.

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  313. JRC: … and (b) speaking with reference to land and not eternal life.

    DR: Sure, but again, that’s how the promise of eternal life was revealed in the OT.

    Along with this, you have mentioned previously that possession of Canaan was “sacramental.”

    Could you spell out carefully what your view is of land possession (and land non-possession, since that works on a different principle in your view). Would you say that land possession conveyed eternal life in a sacramental manner when partaken by faith? Are there Reformed authors that take a sacramental view?

    Thanks. For better or worse, this particular construction is new to me.

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  314. In reaction to the Zionists and to the premills (and to Harold Camping), not many of us seem to talk much anymore about Christ’s second coming. I agree with John Fesko that there will be no more extra judgment on that resurrection day for those who are already justified. Since every blessing for those who are justified is given by Christ’s finished work, none of Christ’s sheep will get extra crowns that other of Christ’s sheep don’t get. I am not saying that glorification means that we won’t envy the difference. I am saying there will be no difference, because Christ Himself is our great reward.

    http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/35/35-2/JETS_35-2_159-172_Blomberg.pdf

    JT— “reward” (which is always in the singular in the NT) refers to entering eternal life. And the greatest joy of heaven will be seeing God face to face (Rev. 22:4). Every believer longs for the
    day when “we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2), when we shall “enter into the joy of [our] master” (Matthew 25:21, 23). Five proof-texts reference believers receiving a “crown” (1 Cor. 9:25; 1 Thess. 2:19; 2 Tim. 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Pet. 5:4). Though it is popular to see these as different types of reward (crown of righteousness, crown of gold, crown of life, etc.) a majority of commentators believe these are different ways of referring to the one reward of eternal life.

    Christ is eternal life. Knowing Christ is eternal life. Justification in Christ results in eternal life.

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  315. For the most part, I’ve been an observer on this debate, and pulled out my copy of TLNF to continue reading it.

    I would say that next to holding to the Reformed view of Justification, this issue is paramount for the church to grasp and understand.

    I can clearly see from this conversation why I had so much trouble being assured of my salvation through the years – it was the mixture of theology that contributed to it that was so prevalent in evangelical and Reformed circles. Also, on a corporate level with respect to churches, you can see why SO MANY REFORMED CHURCHES have gotten it wrong. They are actually in the land of Canaan again binding themselves to a contract, thinking that their piety is going to bring about God’s blessing. I sincerely wonder if this is the reason for heavy-handed discipleship and an abuse of church discipline (sin in the camp, God’s hand of blessing withdrawn until it’s dealt with). No wonder the PCA is in trouble. This would explain the reason for much of what is known as ‘discipleship’ today – it’s fear & obedience-based instead of love-based – fear of God’s wrath and displeasure on the individual and the flock, so obedience is prioritized over resting in Christ. As we rest, we are active, because we are given His desires, for others to know the Good News, and to minister to others – our family, neighbors, and fellow believers.

    Just from watching and observing on this post, I see two dynamics at work:

    – those who argue for ‘obedience’ as essential for salvation seem to me to be like I was for so many years – anxious, uncertain, unable to rest, unable to trust in Christ’s total and finished work, and are very concerned about rewards – otherwise, there would not be such a push for trying to authenticate ‘obedience’ as a biblical requirement for salvation. Among those not able to rest in Christ’s complete work, Republication is but one issue of contention among many – because of the inability to rest and trust Christ alone for salvation.

    – those who argue for complete trust in Christ’s work are already resting in it, are desirous to always be changed by Christ, and seek to honor God’s Law in the 3rd use sense, but are not troubled about their imperfect obedience, because they know that they are unable to perfect themselves, and they are also not concerned about rewards – in the sense of seeking after them, earning them, etc. Christ is truly the author and finisher of their faith.

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  316. David,

    Given Jeff’s struggle that you have not seemed to hear what he is saying all along, and given your surprise that I describe the MC as a covenant of works when I have been calling it a typological covenant of works all along, and given your not understanding what Sean meant by it being hypothetical when we have said all along it is hypothetical even on the typological level because the Lord announced from the beginning that they would not be able to keep the conditions of the covenant and would be exiled, is it possible DGH is correct that you may not understand the view you are criticizing? Have you actually read “The Law Is Not Of Faith,” or just the critiques?

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  317. Dr. Hart-

    What on earth are you talking about? For a start, I said God is not obligated to do anything unless He makes Himself so. Ergo, before the CoW there was no requirement to reward Adam for his obedience because it was what he owed God; after the CoW was made there was the requirement to reward Adam because God said He would reward Adam. You’ve just switched it around in your comment about your cat.

    Second, these references to your cat are just plain stupid and totally inappropriate to the matter being discussed. You need to learn to discern the difference between someone being polemical and someone trying to have a conversation. You are always on the offensive and it just gets tiring after a while. You come across as the Bayly brothers: unwilling to engage people’s questions because you assume they are doing what you typically do: just out to attack.

    Sean-

    I get your concern, but these things have to be ironed out. God is logical; faith is logical: we need to logically explicate these doctrines.

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  318. Alexander, I don’t think your two-stage view of creation and covenant does justice to God. If he is loving and caring — which he is — why would he create a creature in his own image and have to decide whether to enter into a covenant with him?

    Sorry, but you hurt God more than you hurt me or Cordelia.

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  319. Jeff,

    Could you spell out carefully what your view is of land possession (and land non-possession, since that works on a different principle in your view …

    Before I attempt that, let me just verify: Your main thesis has been (throughout this discussion) that under the terms of the MC, Israel was required to merit their retention of the land inheritance by their corporate obedience. Additionally, you argue that this is the position of historic Reformed covenant theology. Is this a fair construction?

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  320. Dr. Hart-

    Well God DID go into covenant with Adam. We don’t have an alternative reality where this didn’t happen to look and see what that might be like. God did create Adam; Adam did owe obedience to God; God did enter into covenant with Adam.

    But just because it seems, to us, unloving or uncaring for God to create Adam in the way I’ve described doesn’t mean it is. Since when did the Reformed view Man’s way of looking at things as determinative? If there’s any point in discussing the doctrine of God we have to discuss it objectively as well as subjectively. We have to be clear who and what God is. Are the doctrines of divine impassibility and simplicity “hurtful” to God because they paint Him in an abstract fashion?

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  321. Alexander, what is the point in maintaining that “before the CoW there was no requirement to reward Adam for his obedience because it was what he owed God”? A cursory read of even the confessions and catechisms doesn’t reveal they’re all that interested in this rather arbitrary point. Maybe because God is a personal and relating God and actually has a meaningful point in creating beings in his image. The way you hang onto this point makes God out to be closer to a distant and arbitrary deity.

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  322. Todd,

    … given your surprise that I describe the MC as a covenant of works when I have been calling it a typological covenant of works all along …

    Nice try…. I was not at all surprised that you describe the MC that way, as that is indeed consistent with what you have been saying all along. What I actually commented on though was what you said here: “The a priori commitment Muddy speaks is your assumption that God cannot enter into a covenant of works with post-fall sinners.” At least one person on “your side” of this debate has affirmed agreement with my “assumption.” I was merely curious to see where others stood on that specific question.

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  323. Zrim-

    Well, the point in maintaining it is that’s it true. Again, the reason I “hang onto” this point is that it’s true.

    I think you mean “why do I keep going on about it” and the answer is: because Dr. Hart keeps coming back at me on it. If I’m going to be continuously challenged and asked questions on a particular point I may well keep answering them. You have your minutiae, I have mine: why are you getting all up in my grill about mine when I don’t about yours?

    Furthermore, it was a point made by both Fisher and John Brown of Haddington in their catechisms on the SC. They obviously felt it was important. And, actually, question 12 of the Shorter Catechism makes the point:

    Q. 12. What special act of providence did God exercise towards man in the estate wherein he was created?
    A. When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death.

    The covenant was made after God created him (Genesis 2:16-17).

    Reformed theology is full of “minutiae” and the like. Why are you taking issue with me? Why are you not having a go at Jeff for making the same points over and over again?

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  324. Alexander, no. The estate wherein Adam was created included the covenant. You can read it that way as much as your way. And your way is at odds with Van Til and Kline for starters.

    Or think about God creating man in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. Wasn’t that image of God in man there from the very start. Creation of man was covenantal.

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  325. The presence of a heavy layer typology of works-covenant material bound up with the Sinai administration IS a major proof (or, it WAS a major proof in bygone days!) that there had been made a thoroughgoing Covenant of Works–merit and reward of eternal life–between God and man in Eden.

    There was an unquestionably work-like character to the Mosaic administration. Act.15:10 well expresses the burdensome nature of it. How can one read that text–Peter’s sentiment–along with the Pauline characterization found in Galatians, and John’s Prologue, and Hebrews 8… and not “play up” the discontinuities?

    Yes, there is but one covenant of grace; and the Old Covenant was an administration of it. But there was a “glory overlay,” and a “veil” (2Cor.3:14) put in place by God himself to blind the reprobate. Faith alone could penetrate all the distraction–including the 613 laws!–to discover the God of grace. Up-front, OT religion was intentionally a “theology of glory.” Which is to say: works encrusted the Old Covenant.

    It is no wonder, then, that so many under the OC treated obedience to the commandments as meritorious for salvation, or adopted a kind of congruent-merit view–either personal, or liturgical (ala Jer.7:4). The legal-presentation of the law (in the absence of good teaching) lent itself to that interpretation.

    If to that reality is added an Eden-like promise that legal obedience will prolong national life in the land (as in the Garden), and disobedience will bring expulsion, the shape of the first Covenant (of Works) ought not be missed. It doesn’t mean that the CoW has been “reestablished,” as much as the still-terrible doom of the original CoW is allowed to overshadow the national tenure. It is a “burden,” because every individual sinner should be painfully aware that he is so far from helping the cause of staying in the land; but he is rather an existential threat to the tenure.

    The CoG and CoW aspects in Moses are not strictly parallel, or equal partners. I happen to disagree with Kline that they are “upper/lower register;” to me, those distinctions are much too esoteric. The CoG (theology of mercy) is fundamental and essential to Moses; David gets that, Ps.32:1. But the legal glory-overlay (theology of glory) gives Moses an overpowering works cast or character. It was meant to be so, in order that we might see that “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

    I am adamantly against anyone bringing human works into play anywhere in the Covenant of Grace. I cannot imagine the horror of standing for review in the last day clad in a single thread of my own creation. The language of some today, that “my works are necessary for my salvation,” meant in any sense, is subversive of the Reformed faith. How can we speak like this, who understand the theology of the cross: that I have been crucified with Christ; that I have died and been buried with him? The glory-overlay is GONE. The burden has been lifted.

    “I cry out to you; save me, and I will keep your testimonies.”
    We love him, because he first loved us.

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  326. Jeff, in addition to the above, you also argue that, at no point in their history did Israel actually attain to the level of relative corporate obedience requisite for them to merit retention of the land. Correct?

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  327. @ David,

    My thesis, giving some redundant stuff for clarity, is

    * During the Mosaic Covenant, salvation was by grace through faith, the merits of Christ being applied to his people.

    * Additionally, the Law was proclaimed as a republication of the Covenant of Works. The republication was material and not formal, inasmuch as the demands of the CoW were restated, but were not enforced as in the Garden.

    * The functions of the Law lay alongside grace, never commingled with it in substance.

    * The Law served the traditional three functions of pedagogy, restraint, and rule of life.

    * With regard to individuals, the Moral Law (given expression in the Decalogue) was pedagogical in that it demanded what no-one could deliver and exposed sin by means of transgression. This function was not typological in nature, inasmuch as it holds in all eras. Likewise, for believers in all ages, the Moral Law functions as a rule of life. This would have been true of all justified individuals in Israel, but not of the unjustified individuals.

    * The Ceremonies were pedagogical in two ways: (1) the meaning of the ceremonies pointed to Christ, while (2) the legal demand of the ceremonies showed that sin demands sacrifice. Both of these ways were typological, and the legal demand of the Law fell upon both justified and unjustified alike. The (2) legal demand was administered according to obedience, not according to faith. However, for those who (1) sacrificed by faith, the sacrifices were sacramental in a manner similar to communion today.

    * The Judicial Law was a type of God’s judgment upon sin and fell upon individual Israelites as members of the nation regardless of their faith or justified status. As such, it operated according to obedience and not by faith: The justified and unjustified alike were punished for their behavior, up to and including destruction.

    Hence, the Judicial Law never formed a part of the “rule of life” for believing Israelites. I could only condemn.

    * With regard to the nation, the land sanctions were a part of the judicial law applied to the nation as a corporate unit. The land itself is a type of future heaven, and the land sanctions showed the holiness that is necessary to enter God’s final rest. The land sanctions served only a pedagogical purpose: You are not able to serve the Lord your God, and when you do not, you will be destroyed (Josh 24). In that way, the people were driven to Christ depicted in the sacrifices.

    At no point did the Israelites meet the standard of “Obeying all that I have commanded, turning neither to the left nor to the right.”

    However, the land sanctions were not enforced strictly. Rather, for the sake of “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”, judgment was repeatedly delayed and rescinded. This also occurred federally under the headship of other typological mediators: Hezekiah, Moses (Ex. 32-34, esp 32.14), Joshua, the Judges.

    For this reason, it is often said (truly) that God expected relative obedience for land possession. This is true in the pragmatic sense of how it turned out. However, as I think we’ve agreed, the mechanism for this relative obedience was First, the absolute demand of the Law, followed by Second, a delay or withdrawal of judgment on behalf of a mediator.

    ALL of the land sanction framework operated pedagogically and typologically ONLY. The land was not God’s final rest, but a type thereof. The intercession obtained by Moses was not a remission of sins (how could it be?) but a type thereof. The exile to Babylon was not hell, but a type thereof.

    It operated pedagogically in that it demonstrated that salvation could not come through obedience, for obedience was not possible.

    All of this, so far, is as far as I know it, boilerplate Reformed theology with an eye particularly on Calvin, Hodge, and Vos.

    What is unquestioned is that God required obedience as the pre-condition for staying in the land. What is now debated is whether we should call that situation “merit.” This is Kline’s addition to the conversation. I think it’s defensible, but I wouldn’t go to the stake for it.

    I *don’t* think that the charge that Kline is commingling works and grace can stick, however. It is abundantly clear that the Law demanded obedience for keeping the land. If that demand was administered graciously, that does not lessen the demand, but fulfills it in another.

    Your turn …

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  328. David R: Jeff, in addition to the above, you also argue that, at no point in their history did Israel actually attain to the level of relative corporate obedience requisite for them to merit retention of the land. Correct?

    I would say that what the Law demanded was perfect obedience, or something very close to that. There’s a whole lot of “do not depart from my Law” everywhere throughout the Law and Joshua.

    However, the Law’s demands were often remitted on behalf of another, such as Moses. Thus, the practical effect was that God required relative obedience to stay in the land.

    Did Israel ever stay? Certainly. Did they ever stay because God said, “You have done well, my faithful nation, at least in a relative sense?” I cannot think of a single passage where this is said. Can you? What I see is Jeremiah 31.

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  329. Alexander, I already said why I am taking issue with your pre-covenant point–because it neglects the necessarily covenantal and relational nature of God with his people, which in turn makes him a demigod. When we took this up a few repub threads ago and you were making this very same point, I said the same thing in response. It’s true that God fundamentally deserves obedience, but as a creature I need more incentive than that. I want something in return. Maybe you think that impious, but I think that is how we were made in the first place and it is part of what makes Christianity distinct from any variety of paganism. The former treats human beings with dignity, the former as chattle.

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  330. Jeff,

    With all that you said there I am still unclear as to whether or not you would agree or disagree with the way I formulated your thesis. Can you comment on that (all three points)?

    Regarding all the points you just enumerated, I don’t see anything that I particularly disagree with, though I might want to ask a clarifying question or two.

    The one thing you said that really touches on the debate is: “What is now debated is whether we should call that situation ‘merit.’ This is Kline’s addition to the conversation. I think it’s defensible, but I wouldn’t go to the stake for it.” If that question is not one you are fighting for, then I wonder if we are spinning our wheels.

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  331. Dr. Hart-

    If I disagree with Van Til then I’m doing something right. The guy doesn’t even know how many persons there are in the Trinity (it ain’t four VT). The Genesis text clearly shows God making the covenant with a living, breathing Adam: he had already been created. I’m with the older Reformed: much safer ground.

    Zrim-

    But you’re not Adam. You’re not inherently righteous and holy. Maybe you are partly right: after all, Adam rebelled against God. But I don’t take Man’s view of things as determinative of God.

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  332. Alexander, but I do have Adam’s hard wiring, which includes notions of fellowship and reward and judgment and punishment. I want the former and not the latter, because God made it that way. If opposable thumbs are what distinguish me from the ape, then these notions are what distinguish me from the robot in perpetual prostrate position.

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  333. David, was this your statement? (Confused … I only see two points here)

    Your main thesis has been (throughout this discussion) that under the terms of the MC, Israel was required to merit their retention of the land inheritance by their corporate obedience.

    The main thesis would strike “merit” and replace “obtain.” The minor subthesis would be “and obtaining by obedience as precondition is a subspecies of merit.”

    Additionally, you argue that this is the position of historic Reformed covenant theology. Is this a fair construction?

    Yes, save for the use of the word “merit” here — but not the concept of requirement to obtain by obedience over against obtaining by receptive faith.

    In other words, I view Calvin et al as putting forward Deut 28 – 30 as a straightforward portion of the Law that Israel was under, not like NT believers today. If one wishes to say, “Yes, but that isn’t merit exactly”, then I won’t argue. If one wishes to say, “No, Deut 28 – 30 is according to grace and not according to works”, then I will.

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  334. Jeff,

    The main thesis would strike “merit” and replace “obtain.”

    If that is your main thesis, then I really don’t see that I disagree.

    The minor subthesis would be “and obtaining by obedience as precondition is a subspecies of merit.”

    If this subthesis presupposes the historic definition of “merit,” then you would clearly be incorrect. But if you define “merit” along Klinean lines, that is another story.

    Additionally, you argue that this is the position of historic Reformed covenant theology. Is this a fair construction?

    Yes, save for the use of the word “merit” here — but not the concept of requirement to obtain by obedience over against obtaining by receptive faith.

    I think I can agree, as long as you grant that “obtain by obedience” is not antithetical to “obtaining by receptive faith” (as would be the case if the obedience required was perfect and personal). Otherwise, how do you explain Calvin: “Consequently, ‘to walk in the commandments of God,’ is not precisely equivalent to performing whatever the Law demands; but in this expression is included the indulgence with which God regards His children and pardons their faults”?

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  335. I’m glad that we’re somewhere. A major goal in my interaction has been to establish that republication is not (necessarily? Primarily?) a sub-cov view, that when Todd and I say that the Mosaic Covenant was one and not two, that we are serious and clear-minded about that.

    The larger, pastoral goal has been to expose some of the inconsistencies in the anti-repub position – not against you personally, but the position – because I view it as spiritually perilous to make a strict equivalence between Israel’s situation and ours, to say that their requirement to obey to keep the land was just an instance of third use of the Law.

    For in the end, they were under the Law in a way that we are not. Further, the land sanctions were types that have expired. And most importantly, all of Israel, justified and unjustified, were treated alike under the land sanctions. This is why Jer 31 announces the coming of a new covenant that is not like the Mosaic.

    So to make a strict equivalence of the two situations is really to put us back under the Law. And to do so for the reason of “combatting antinomianism” is a classic blunder.

    That’s my hand. Now, how about land and sacrament?

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  336. Mark Jones, p 24–“There was a perfect synergy involved in Jesus’ human obedience and the Holy Spirit’s influence…Following this pattern, although man is completely passive at the moment of regeneration, he cooperates with God in sanctification.”

    The Christology of Mark Jones consists of equating the justification of Christ with the sanctification of a sinner. Like the Galatian false teachers, Jones equates “living by faith’ with obeying the law.
    Jones argues from the fact that Christ obtained salvation “bestowed on conditions” to the idea that we too must obtain “sanctification” in the same way, bestowed on conditions.

    Instead of talking about the merits of Christ, he speaks of Christ’s living by faith, which was obeying the law, to get to the idea of our also living by faith, which then comes to mean our obeying the law.
    On p 24, Jones argues from the fact that Christ “was not left to His own abilities but was enabled by the Spirit” to say that we Christians are enabled by the Spirit “to cooperate with God in sanctification.

    God gives the elect the Holy Spirit as Christ’s gift. It is not the Holy Spirit who gives us Christ.
    Accusations of antinomianism against those of who give priority to imputation do not prove the reality of our being against the law. To say that only Christ has satisfied the law “to obtain blessings on conditions” is to properly fear God.

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  337. Machen (Christianity & Liberalism):
    According to modern liberalism, in other words, Jesus was the Founder of Christianity because He was the first Christian, and Christianity consists in maintenance of the religious life which Jesus instituted. But was Jesus really a Christian? Or, to put the same question in another way, are we able or ought we as Christians to enter in every respect into the experience of Jesus and make Him in every respect our example? Certain difficulties arise with regard to this question…

    But there is another difficulty in the way of regarding Jesus as simply the first Christian. This second difficulty concerns the attitude of Jesus toward sin. If Jesus is separated from us by his Messianic consciousness, He is separated from us even more fundamentally by the absence in Him of a sense of sin…

    Once affirm that Jesus was sinless and all other men sinful, and you have entered into irreconcilable conflict with the whole modern point of view…

    The religious experience of Jesus, as it is recorded in the Gospels, in other words, gives us no information about the way in which sin shall be removed.
    Yet in the Gospels Jesus is represented constantly as dealing with the problem of sin. He always assumes that other men are sinful; yet He never finds sin in Himself. A stupendous difference is found here between Jesus’ experience and ours.

    Jones (Antinomianism):
    Christ is our mediator, our union with him means not only that we must be holy (i.e., necessity), but also that we will be able to be like him (i.e., motive)…

    In other words, whatever grace we receive for our holiness first belonged to the Savior (John 1:16)…

    How and in what power was Christ made holy? And what relation does his own pattern of holiness have to his people?…

    He, like us, relied upon the Holy Spirit for his holiness (Isa. 11:2)….

    Since Christ was rewarded for his good works, his people can rejoice that they too will be rewarded for their good works. In this way, the role of good works and rewards finds its Christological basis, which is crucial to any discussion of applied soteriology…

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  338. There is a name that escapes me right now for the belief that Jesus was a human being who became divine when indwelt with the Holy Spirit at his baptism.

    This is not that, but it’s too close for comfort.

    Separately, I had a professor, not at RTS, who taught that Jesus’ miracles were done as a human being through the power of the Holy Spirit, just as the miracles of the apostles were done. He and I didn’t get on well.

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  339. The congregation in which Mark Jones is the professional will always know that he’s the one with the “classical” view, and that those who disagree with him are idiosyncratic. But what they need to see is how antinomian Mark Jones is—by factoring into the not yet aspect of a future justification our continuing faith, and by redefining this faith as our works of obedience to the law, Mark Jones has lowered the perfect standard of God’s law, which is satisfied by nothing less (or more) than Christ’s righteousness.

    His most recent Reformation 21 essay asks republicationists for more definitions, but Mark Jones has not bothered to define even the word “merit”. But he’s against it. When Mark Jones rejects the idea of Christ’s merits, he is saying that Christ Himself was saved by grace.

    OPC Report on Philippians 2 (lines 796 ff)–James Jordan argued that this passage actually
    rules out the notion of merit in regard to Christ’s obedience, because in 2:9 Paul uses the
    word echarisato, which etymologically derives from the word for “grace,” charis, to describe God’s giving the name above every name to Christ. This indicates, he claims, that the Father exalted the Son not meritoriously but graciously.This argument as it stands fails, however.

    http://www.upper-register.com/papers/redefining_merit.pdf

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  340. Gaffin, lectures on Romans, on 2:13:—-As that judgement decides, in its way, we’re going to want to qualify that deciding, but it decides the ultimate outcome for all believers and for all humanity, believers as well as unbelievers. That is, death or life. It’s a life and death situation that’s in view here. Further, this ultimate judgement has as its criterion or standard, brought into view here, the criterion for that judgement is works, good works. The doing of the law, as that is the criterion for all human beings, again, believers as well as unbelievers. In fact, in the case of the believer a positive outcome is in view and that positive outcome is explicitly said to be justification. So, again the point on the one side of the passage is that eternal life… depends on and follows from a future justification according to works. Eternal life follows upon a future justification by doing the law.

    Gaffin, By Faith, Not By Sight, p 38—From this perceptive, the antithesis between law and gospel is not a theological ultimate. Rather, that antithesis enters not be virtue of creation but as a consequence of sin, and the gospel functions for its overcoming. The gospel is to the end of removing an absolute law-gospel antithesis in the life of the believer

    http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2014/06/an-apologie.php

    Mark Jones—Returning, then, to Mastricht: his point about good works having “in a certain sense” an “efficacy” is immediately explained: “in so far as God, whose law we attain just now through the MERIT alone of Christ, does not want to grant possession of eternal life, unless [it is] beyond faith with good works performed. We received once before the right unto eternal life through the merit of Christ alone. But God does not want to grant the possession of eternal life, unless there are, next to faith, also good works which precede this possession, Heb. 12:14; Matt. 7:21; 25:34-36; Rom. 2:7, 10

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  341. John Piper used to follow Daniel Fuller in rejecting the law/faith antithesis—“They thought that obeying the law is not a matter of faith, but a matter of works. Note very carefully, ‘works’ is not synonymous with obeying the law. That’s plain because Paul says you can pursue obedience to the law either by faith or by works. But God never meant for obedience to be pursued by works. That’s clear from the little phrase, ‘as though it were by works.’ ‘As though’ means obedience is not by works but by faith. So works is not simply efforts to obey the law of God. Works is a way of trying to bring about the fruit of obedience without making faith the root.” (The Pleasures of God, pg. 251)

    Piper continued to follow Dan Fuller in his book Future Grace. Fuller defined all sin as “not believing the gospel”. 1. That means you don’t need law to define sin. 2. But this confuses, turns the gospel into law, because the gospel becomes that which condemns and defines sin and duty.

    But in his response to NT Wright, The Future of Justification, Piper has turned against Daniel Fuller

    Piper— Romans 9:32 does not exclude the meaning that there is a subordinate, short-term aim of the law that may suitably be described as “not of faith,” as in Galatians 3:12 (“But the law is not of faith, rather `The one who does them shall live by them'”).,,,
    Paul is not dealing here with a programmatic analysis