The Covenant with Adam

The Westminster Confession, bulwark of  Reformed and Presbyterian churches states in chapter 7, “The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam, and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.”

Herman Hoeksema, theological father of the Protestant Reformed Churches states in his Reformed Dogmatics, ” Adam had life but not eternal life.  Nowhere do we find any proof in Scripture for the contention that God gave Adam the promise of eternal life if he should obey the particular commandment (not to eat of the forbidden tree). A command is no covenant.”

But was it not just continued blessed earthly life that would have been Adam’s had he not fallen?  He was earthy (I Cor.15:47). Only since, have Christians interpreted it as ETERNAL LIFE. There was no way he could attain immortal heavenly life. Hence Goodwin, one of the Westminster delegates, and others deny the possibility of eternal (spiritual) life for Adam if he obeys, and how long would he have to obey before the reward? Scripture is silent on this hypothesis.

But Adam had friendship with God which is the essence of every divine and unconditional covenant. When he sinned he incurred separation from God which is death and would physically die in time to come. He transgressed the covenant (Hosea 8:1).

A condition, posited by followers of WCF, implies ability and any covenant of works like they posit this is, as was also the Sinaitic covenant taken on it’s own (no grace behind it) is doomed to fail because man cannot keep God’s law whether it’s “Don’t eat from that tree” or “Keep my (10) commandments and live.” In the first case because he was fallible and in the second because he is a slave to sin. Man can never merit with God as Paul points out in Romans 4:4.

Yes Adam was federal head and stands in federal headship to all humanity just as Christ does to saved humanity but I deny he failed in a covenant of works that Christ then obeyed perfectly. He transgressed a covenant of grace which would be superseded by another gracious one in which God would rekindle the friendship and put his law and Spirit in Adam’s heart that would last eternally because of Christ. THEN he possessed eternal life.

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Sure and steadfast

Many of us men were at one time in the Boys’ Brigade but it’s fair to say we knew little of what their motto really meant! It is taken from Hebrews 6.

Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” Hebrews 6:17-20.

An anchor  that is properly stuck fast, is something fixed and immovable guaranteeing that the ship will remain where it is. Our hope in Christ, who is already in heaven, indeed Christ himself, is our hope, our certainty that one day we will be with him. He is fixed there, reigning in glory and all the blessedness in him is promised, indeed sworn to be given us, as it was to Abraham thousands of years ago (v18).

Covenant (a summary for those not well aquainted).

Based on Calvin’s writings.

Calvin and God’s covenant

“The Psalmist, “calling to remembrance” God’s covenant promises, especially “I will dwell in the midst of you,” and “trusting to that sacred and indissoluble bond,” does not hesitate to portray all the godly, no matter what their earthly miseries may be, “as partakers of this celestial glory in which God dwells.” Resting in the indissoluble bond of the covenant, the believer knows that all God’s “suffering” people will dwell with Him eternally in heavenly bliss, nay, are already “partakers of this celestial glory in which God dwells” (cf. John 17:20-23; Eph. 2:6). The covenant assures us that God dwells in us and we will dwell with God both now and forever.” Calvin’s commentary on Psalm 102:12.
Calvin explains God’s “spiritual covenant” as our being “join[ed],” “bound” and “united” with Him, so that we “cleave” to Him and enjoy a “real participation” in His blessedness.
Calvin considers “the very formula of the covenant,” which, he observes, is the same in every age: “For the Lord always covenanted with his servants thus: ‘I will be your God, and you shall be my people’. This covenant formula, Calvin notes, is frequently used in the Old Testament as a summary of all of salvation: “The prophets also commonly explained that life and salvation and the whole of blessedness are embraced in these words.”
For he (God) did not declare that he would be a God to their bodies alone, but especially to their souls. Still, souls, unless they be joined to God through righteousness, remain estranged from him in death. On the other hand, such a union when present will bring everlasting salvation with it.
In the Protestant Reformed Churches the truth of the covenant, as a bond of friendship and fellowship between God and His elect in Jesus Christ, has been developed and maintained most fully, consistently, antithetically and systematically. This has resulted in increased insight into and/or practical help regarding, for example, the living fellowship within the Holy Trinity, the covenant with Adam, Old Testament history, sovereign grace, infant baptism, Reformed worship, the unbreakable bond of marriage, Christian schooling, and the Christian life as one of God’s friend-servants keeping His covenant.
For Calvin, the covenant promise to be our God, applies not only to us in body and soul and in this world and the next, but it also applies to our (elect) children.
Even in the Old Testament, God’s covenant promise for body and soul, for time and eternity and for us and our children, was through Jesus Christ, the mediator
The saving benefits found in the covenant include: Christ as redeemer, salvation, eternal life, adoption, redemption, gospel, union with God, eternal salvation, life, blessedness, inheritance, privilege, access to God, reconciliation, pardon, forgiveness of sins (justification), adoption into salvation, regeneration or sanctification, resurrection, and the believer’s future and eternal happiness, all of which is due to God’s covenantal mercy and grace.
As Calvin eloquently puts it, “Since therefore this covenant contains solid and perfect blessedness, it follows that all who are excluded from it are miserable.
God has joined these two things together, viz., that he will be propitious to his sons [i.e., justification], and will also renew their hearts [i.e., sanctification]. These benefits are joined together by an everlasting and indissoluble bond, so that those whom he illumines by his wisdom, he redeems; those whom he redeems, he justifies; those whom he justifies, he sanctifies. I Cor. 1:30.
Calvin describes the sacrament of baptism (the New Testament equivalent of circumcision) as a sign and seal of both justification and sanctification: Calvin refers to the blessings of both justification and sanctification through believing partaking of the Lord’s Supper, for it is “a mirror in which we may contemplate Jesus Christ crucified to take away our offences [i.e., justification] and raised again to deliver us from corruption [i.e., sanctification].” And mentions the  third which depends on the second, and that is the illumination of the mind as to the knowledge of God” (Comm. on Heb. 8:10).
All by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, from the scripture alone and to the glory of God alone.

Full articles here:

Passover (3)

Sung Psalm 34:16-22

Read Numbers 9:1-14

This is the third repetition of the command to keep the Passover (first Ex.12, second Lev.23:4-5).

The date 14/1/1 when they left Egypt in the Exodus.

Second Passover was in wilderness of Sinai 14/1/2 with a number of differences e.g. no houses, no blood on door posts. We reckon they kept it in their tents. Where did they get bread or grain to make it? Perhaps bought, perhaps plundered, perhaps brought out of Egypt.

This second Passover took place in two groups. First the vast majority and then a month later (14/2/2) for the men defiled by a dead body who would have needed at least one week to become ceremonially clean.

The Tabernacle was erected 1/1/2 so just a fortnight before and the priests consecrated (Lev.8).

First numbering of people 1/2/2 (Numbers 1).

According to my reckoning Sinai and the giving of the Law was 1/3/1.

Failing to keep the Passover (v13) was the equivalent of church excommunication. We were unsure if it mandated the death penalty or just being put completely out of the camp. Foreigners could partake as long as they were circumcised (typifying the entrance of Gentiles into the church).

Covenantal thought.

My most loved Scriptural doctrine which permeates the whole Bible is that of the COVENANT. This book, written by a faithful local pastor from Crumlin is full of gems in tracing  covenant theology through the ages……e.g.” The origin of  this grace and the benefits enjoyed by those in covenant were always rooted in the election of God. The evidence of the covenant of grace depended on God alone. He answered for both parties in the covenant and worked both willingness and enabling in man by the Holy Spirit…God everywhere reserves to Himself and exercises the right independently of fixing the terms of the relation between Himself and man.” Fellow Christian seek out the truth of the covenant, God’s friendship with man.

Articles

Oh that so many in Roman Catholicism and other false religions would grasp this truth that underlay the Reformation namely salvation from sin is by GRACE ALONE, through FAITH ALONE, in CHRIST ALONE, revealed in SCRIPTURE ALONE and to the GLORY OF GOD ALONE.

Upcoming conference

O Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways.

 

Isaiah 63:17                                                                                                                                          “O Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear?…. These are the words, not of wicked men among the Jews, charging all their errors, hardness of heart, and wickedness they were guilty of, upon the Lord, as if he was the author and occasion of them, and led them into them; but of the truly godly, lamenting and confessing their wandering from the ways, commands, and ordinances of God, the hardness of their hearts; their want of devotion and affection for God; and their neglect of his worship; not blaming him for these things, or complaining of him as having done anything amiss or wrong; but expostulating with him, and wondering at it, that he, who was their loving and tender Father, that he should suffer them to err from his ways, and to wander from his worship, by withholding his grace and withdrawing his presence from them; by leaving them to the corruptions and hardness of their hearts; by chastising them sorely, and suffering the enemy to afflict them in such a severe manner as laid them under temptation to desert the worship of God, and cast off the fear of him.” John Gill Commentary.

Featured picture the broad and narrow ways of Pilgrim’s Progress.

 

The Master Builder

 

You need the right tools for every job in D.I.Y. and building. It makes everything so much easier. In like manner, God, in building his church, needs to have prepared and deployed the right tools, his servants, for the jobs in his church, some are unique special tools for the few special jobs, some are commoner but none-the-less necessary tools for everyday use, and others multi-purpose tools for several ministries. We all are tools in his hands with which he accomplished his ends.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10.

Passover (2)

Sung Psalm 34:16-22 (note ref to bones)

Reading Ex.12:1-14, 21-28, 43-51.

Here we have the details of Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread:

The date: Abib 10th select animal, sacrifice 14th, feast of unleavened bread 14-21, use hyssop to sprinkle/paint blood (c.f. Ps.51), meal in house with family, roast lamb (fire of God’s wrath), a sacrifice (Ex.23:17-18), unleavened bread (sinless Saviour), bitter herbs (Egyptian slavery), be ready for children’s questions, circumcision essential (strangers) (NT church baptism/membership), no broken bone (John 19:33, 36, Ps.34:20).

Deut.16:1-8 repeated plus possibility of bullock being used (herd) part of feast of unleavened bread (Num.28:17-19).

Development/change: change of place (not a house but a city i.e. Jerusalem, national, solemn, priests in charge, an altar, one of three pilgrimage feasts which every male should attend.

Passover in Josiah II Chron. 35:1,7-9,17

Demon possession today?

The gospels are the main source of references to people being possessed by devils. The effect on those possessed varied: dumbness (Luke 11:14), epilepsy (Mark 9:17), running around naked, living in tombs and self harming (Luke 8:27), telling the future (Acts 19:13). It was a phenomenon especially associated with the earthly ministry of Christ just as miracles were more or less confined to the Exodus, prophets Elijah and Elisha, and Christ and the apostles. The victory Jesus won over Satan and the demons was shared with his disciples when he told them to carry on a ministry of  exorcism (Luke 9:1, 10:17). Even those outside Christ’s immediate circle practiced this (Matt.9:38). Are people possessed today? The occult is very strong in some countries and some of the rituals of voodoo and shamanism are frightening and would appear demonic but I reserve judgment.

Mostly taken from The New Bible Dictionary IVP 1962.

 

 

 

War of Words (9)

CPRC Men’s Bible Study       War of Words       Chapter 9 “Citizens in need of help.”

We are all citizens of the Kingdom needing help and called to give it.

Why might we need to confront another believer?

  • If they were committing obvious sin or keeping bad company.
  • If they were believing and sharing false doctrine.
  • If they had offended you.

In confronting, exhorting or comforting someone remember:

PITFALLS PROPER AIMS
Pride-we are no better! Humility/meekness (willing to take abuse)
Being indiscreet (e.g. doing it in public) Reconciliation
Being bitter/wanting revenge/in anger Love for person (wanting their best)
Wrong information Repentance/confession
Matters of no great import (adiaphora) Rom.14 Submission to will of God
Unloving accusation Encouraging/guiding
Judging motives Glory of God

 

Process of backsliding (Heb.3:12-13). Sin leads to unbelief leads to turning away leads to hardening.

Need wisdom if and when to confront or just pray (II Tim.2:25).

The ONE ANOTHER verses:

Exhort (Heb.3:13, 10:25), Be subject (I Peter 5:5), Minister (I Peter 4:9-10), Have compassion ( I Peter 3:8), Pray for and confess faults to (James 5:16), Do not speak evil (James 4:10-11), Provoke (Heb.10:24), Edify ( I Thess.5:11, Rom.14:19) meaning spiritual conversation, Comfort (I Thess. 4:18), Teach and admonish (Col.3:16, Rom.15:14), Prefer (Rom.12:10), Love (John 13:34-35, I John 2 !0), Peace (Mark 9:50), Forgive/confess asap/seek restoration and acceptance after (Eph.4:26, II Cor.2:7), Be kind (Eph.4:32), Forbear (Eph.4:1), Rebuke false teachers (Titus 1:13), Entreat elder (I Tim.5:1).

Lies we believe: “He/she’ll never change”, “I can’t forgive”, “humility leads to being trodden underfoot/drudgery”. Remember God’s omnipotence and promises.

A mnemonic to help in these situations SLAB (for building)

S          use SCRIPTURE

L          LISTEN

A         ALLOW A RESPONSE

B          BUILD UP/ENCOURAGE

 

 

We shared a few examples where we had been confronted and also certain besetting sins that keep us humble but which we seek to kill ruthlessly according to Job 31:1, Rom.8:13 and Matt.5:29.

Next study (DV) Sat. 28th October 2017 8pm on chapter 10 “On the King’s Mission”.