The Covenants of God 7. ³The Covenant of Works² As we proceed through our study we shall note that although covenants are always initiated unilaterally byMessage 1 of 1 , May 20, 2012View Source
FW: The Covenants of God, Part 7: The Covenant of Works
The Covenants of God
7. “The Covenant of Works”
As we proceed through our study we shall note that although covenants are always initiated unilaterally by God who never asks man if he wants to be a part or allows man’s input, there are always provisions in the covenants that require conformity on the part of man. God’s covenants, as we have seen, are in the pattern of covenants customarily made by lords involving their vassals. Archaeologists have found a number of these covenants, especially at Hattusas the Hittite capital. We speak of covenant blessings if the vassal obeys and covenant curses if he does not.
In the creation covenant we noted several provisions regarding marriage, Sabbath-keeping, labor, government of creation, and the negative commandment regarding the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The continuance of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden was conditioned on their obedience, and that obedience was not to be partial but perfect. As Adam is the progenitor and federal head and representative of the entire human race, obviously God conveyed to Adam that his descendants would continue to live in the garden forever if his obedience was forthcoming. However, Adam disobeyed one commandment, the probationary negative. We are not told about the other provisions, but we assume that he kept them. But, as James says, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it” (James 2:10).
Although Scripture does not specifically speak of a covenant of works, we may certainly infer from the structure of the Genesis account that their continuing to live in the garden and stand before God was conditioned on their perfect obedience. When they sinned, they were driven from the garden and lost their access to God. They now fell under the curses of the covenant, and Eve would bear children in pain, Adam’s labor would be difficult, and they would now experience death and return as dust to the earth (Gen. 3:14-19).
If perfect obedience is necessary for righteousness before God in the creation, why would we think it would not be necessary in days to come? Indeed, it is true that man is saved by works. Man is saved by perfect obedience. But as Adam brought sin into the world, and all men sinned and are declared sinners through Adam’s one act of disobedience (Rom. 5:12-19), one man’s obedience is now required for anyone to be declared righteous, and it can never be ours, given our sinfulness. Yes, we are saved by works, but not our own. We are saved by the perfect works of obedience of the second Adam, Jesus Christ. When we place our trust in Him, when we lay hold by faith alone on the one person to have kept all God’s laws perfectly, his righteousness is imputed to us as all our sin is imputed to Him. In this way God remains faithful to His original covenant of works as it continues through God’s redemptive workings in successive covenants to reach its final culmination in Jesus Christ!
-Soli Deo Gloria
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