covenantal Apologetics: Everyone in covenant with God?

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Puritan Board Freshman
I am reading through K.Scott Oliphant's "Covenantal Apologetics" which I am really enjoying. I know that as creator of everyone, God is over them and their LORD and they are responsible and accountable to Him even if they do not acknowledge such.

But Oliphant takes it a little further and says that everyone is actually in covenant with God. I thought in the New Covenant only believers were in covenant with God. Would this go back to Paul's argument in Romans that everyone is either in Adam or in Jesus? Those in Adam are in the covenant of Works and will ultimately perish unless brought into the covenant of Grace through Jesus. Correct?

For His Glory-
Matthew Wilson

Stephen L Smith

Staff member
everyone is actually in covenant with God.
One is either in covenant with God through the covenant of works or the covenant of grace. So yes it would seem to me that all are in covenant with God. Do you think that is what Oliphant is getting at?

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
God entered into a covenant of works with Adam as the federal head of humanity. Adam sinned and the guilt of that first sin was imputed to all mankind descending from Adam by ordinary generation (meaning everyone but our Lord Jesus), together with the loss of original righteousness and the corruption of our whole natures (whence all actual sins come).

Christ came, as promised in the covenant of grace (Gen. 3:15), to fulfill on behalf of his own what Adam was required to fufill in the covenant of works (but failed to do) and to pay for our having violated that covenant. The Spirit of Christ applies the purchased redemption to all the elect so that, even though all outside of Christ remain in Adam (and in Adam all die), all those in Christ (who are brought into faith-union with Him) live, enjoying justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification, finally.

Yes, then, we are all covenant breakers in Adam or covenant keepers in Christ, our Lord Himself having kept covenant perfectly for us. This is what Scott is getting at in this great book. I cannot urge strongly enough all the members of this board to procure and read this volume right away if you have not already done so. This is an outstanding book.



Puritan Board Doctor
Thanks for the recommendation, Alan.

I would only add, in order to clarify possible later confusion, that under our Presbyterian understanding, at least, that someone can have the privilege of being in the administration of the CoG, by profession or birth, and yet still at heart be in Adam and not have moved from death in the CoW to the true, new life and salvation of the CoG.

The law of the CoW still applies to and binds the unsaved sinner, as also the negative sanctions including Hell still apply, but since Adam sinned the positive sanction of eternal life is purely hypothetical for sinners via the CoW and impossibly out of reach. Yet this doesn't sadly stop us from trying, until we are enlightened by the Spirit to the CoG in Christ.

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Puritan Board Senior
I was presented a copy of this book recently and haven't been able to begin it yet. It's just sitting on my shelf, gazing sadly at the stacks of commentaries, exegetical works, and counseling reading which must precede it... :)


Puritan Board Freshman
Hebrews 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. 13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
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