Reformed Covenant Theology in The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology

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ralphmnj

Puritan Board Freshman
I have been recently studying reformed covenant theology (as opposed to Baptist covenant theology) and came to understand that:

1. The Covenant of Works is seen in the covenant made with Adam and with Moses at Sinai. It is a covenant reliant upon obedience of man to the laws and commands of God. For most of the OT, this is specific to Israel (in terms of the Mosaic covenant). The Mosaic Covenant was a temporary covenant of types and shadows finding its fulfillment in Christ's perfect obedience. God's mercy shown to Israel throughout its history in Israel's disobedience was not consistent with the Mosaic Covenant but was actually given for the sake of the covenant made with Abraham (that the promise may be realized with the coming of Christ from the Jews).


2. The Covenant of Grace is seen in the covenant made with Adam and Eve ("the seed of the woman will crush the head of the serpent"), the covenant of Noah, the covenant of David, but most significantly the covenant with Abraham. This Abrahamic covenant was actually the Covenant of Grace in it's first administration (the second being the New Covenant found in the NT). It is an everlasting covenant through which those who believe in Christ (either his promise looking forward or his work looking backward) are justified through faith alone. Though the Abrahamic covenant included temporal fulfillment in the possession of land, it finds its ultimate fulfillment in the possession of the new heavens and the new earth.

In this regard, it has been my understanding, that the "Old Covenant" contrasted with the "New Covenant" in Jeremiah 31 and the NT is contrasting the New Covenant (or second administration of the Covenant of Grace) with the Mosaic Covenant and not the Abrahamic Covenant. In other words, it would be improper to consider the Abrahamic Covenant as being included as the "Old Covenant."

That was how I understood everything until I started reading Denault's "The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology" where he seems to say paedobaptists believe the term "Old Covenant" lumps together the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants. For example he says,

"Since the paedobaptists saw the Old Covenant as an administration of the Covenant of Grace in harmony with the New Covenant, according to them the opposition between the law and grace did not mean an opposition between the Old and the New Covenants, but rather an opposition between the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace."

According to my understanding, a paedobaptist would agree in saying there exists an opposition between the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace (which Denault allows) but they would also say that this opposition is exactly what it means to have opposition between the Old and the New Covenants (which Denault does not allow).

Either I haven't understood the reformed positions in covenant theology up to this point or Denault is confusing the reformed position.

Are there any paedobaptists who can shed light on this issue? I am studying my positions on all this and I don't want to continue reading a Baptist "counter-argument" if either I don't understand the true paedobaptist position or the author doesn't. Or at least, I'd like some clarity on which it is so I can be aware as I continue. :)

Sorry for the long post!
 

SeanPatrickCornell

Puritan Board Sophomore
This is from the Westminster Confession of Faith.

CHAPTER 7
Of God's Covenant with Man

1. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God's part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.

2. 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.

3. Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein he freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life his Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.

4. This covenant of grace is frequently set forth in Scripture by the name of a testament, in reference to the death of Jesus Christ the Testator, and to the everlasting inheritance, with all things belonging to it, therein bequeathed.

5. This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the gospel: under the law, it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come; which were, for that time, sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation; and is called the old testament.

6. Under the gospel, when Christ, the substance, was exhibited, the ordinances in which this covenant is dispensed are the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper: which, though fewer in number, and administered with more simplicity, and less outward glory, yet, in them, it is held forth in more fullness, evidence and spiritual efficacy, to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles; and is called the new testament. There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations.

The bolded part is CERTAINLY referring to the Mosaic Covenant.

Indeed, it is very much so that standard Presbyterian / Reformed Covenant Theology counts the Mosaic Covenant as an Administration of the Covenant of Grace.
 

ralphmnj

Puritan Board Freshman
So, I have three questions:

1. Would a paedobaptist say the Mosaic Covenant was a temporary covenant made as an administration of the Covenant of Abraham (one through which God would "carry his people along to Christ" so to speak?) and

2. Would they say the Old/New Covenant contrast in Hebrews is only contrasting the OT administration of the Covenant of Grace (Mosaic) with the NT administration of the Covenant of Grace (New Covenant)?

3. If those things are so, does a paedobaptist still mean only the Mosaic Covenant when they say "Old Covenant?"

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ralphmnj

Puritan Board Freshman
I discovered the root of my confusion. I launched into learning covenant theology from Michael Horton's book. Apparently I waded into the republication debate unawares. :)

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Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
1) The Mosaic Covenant is not a temporary covenant, it is an administration of the Covenant of Grace [see Ezekiel 37 describing the New Covenant (everlasting) which is the fullest expression of the Covenant of Grace as it describes the New Covenant as in some sense combining the Abrahamic (land promises), Mosaic (ordinances), and Davidic (King promises) Covenants together].

The Mosaic Covenant is not an administration of the Covenant of Abraham. Both the Abrahamic and Mosaic (as well as Adamic, Davidic, and New Covenants) Covenants are administrations of the one Covenant of Grace.

2) No. The Old and New Covenant contrast in Hebrews is specifically about the forms (not the actual covenant, but the forms for the nation state of Israel) of the Mosaic Covenant that were always intended to be transcended by Christ (New Covenant). That's what Hebrews is about. The Mosaic Covenant PROPER is found in Ex. 19, which you'll see are the same promises you would find in the New Testament for the New Covenant like in 1 Peter for example.

3) They are not so.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor

ralphmnj

Puritan Board Freshman
I discovered the root of my confusion. I launched into learning covenant theology from Michael Horton's book. Apparently I waded into the republication debate unawares. :)

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YES!
THIS!!!! STAY FAR AWAY FROM KLINE, HORTON, VANDRUNNEN...

Here's a good audio by Ligon Duncan for a beginner: https://itunes.apple.com/us/course/covenant-theology-dr.-j.-ligon/id668706261 #7 and following from that list.
Thank you for the resource, I'll definitely give it a listen! So, would you (or any other) care to give a summary of how classic covenant Theology differs from what Horton (and Kline) propose? I'm also seeing a lot offered by the esteemed Dr. Clark which seems to be in line with this same line.

I realize this thread is slowly moving away from the original topic. I haven't really participated much here so I'm sorry if this is against any rules.

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Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
I would stay away from anything/anyone from Westminster West (including Dr. Clark) until you have grasped classic covenant theology. Where it differs generally surrounds Creation and the Covenant, as well as the Mosaic Covenant.
 

ralphmnj

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for the advice, it looks like I've done it in reverse. :) But I have found some other threads here which are helping to provide some clarification on the issue. I'll keep the search.

As a form of closure to my original post, I actually had the misunderstanding (which isn't surprising). Thanks!
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I'm bothered by the way personalities have been tossed into this discussion. What? Even if one agrees with 90% or more of the covenant theology of WestCal, that last 5-10% means you can't learn anything from those guys? What a bunch of nonsense. And, I'll just say it: RScottClark is a great guy to listen to; you could learn a whole lot.

I have differences with some of those formulations, and MGK isn't my favorite. But folks need to listen to what's being offered up, put it into context, and recognize that people on the left/right wing of your side are still on your side. You don't have to buy into a package, but you should recognize that the guy on the opposite side of the table has another angle on the subject from yours.

Now, in the interest of balance, let me offer some answers of my own.

Is Sinai the CoW as made with Adam, just reset? No, because the basic condition of the men involved are not the same. But if Sinai is pure grace, through the CoG, then how can Paul accurately set Moses in contrast to Abraham? There's something to the observation that "in some sense" one finds an obey=reward/disobey=punishment contract set forth at Sinai. Just how this is fully explained is the job of Covenant Theology to unfold.

So, as WCF7 says, the CoG goes through various phases of its administration; and one of those is the days of Israel-under-Law. The CoG has to be fundamental to that engagement, because man comes into that moment already a sinner, already in need of grace to live. What about the fact that laws/statutes/judgments make up so much of that covenant-exhibit? Not to mention all the ceremonies to be exactly performed, the separation regulations, and the rest of the elaborate religious ritual? Again, understanding what that was all about is the job of CT to explain.

MOST of that stuff were elements in the temporary arrangements of the Mosaic covenant--temporary in the sense: that despite lasting a millennium and a half, it was not intended for a permanent arrangement. Meanwhile, it had many different functions to perform, including being an ongoing reminder of the first covenant God made with man in Eden, with its strict standard of justice and life-or-death sanctions. The threat of becoming outcast from the milk-and-honey land was an intentional parallel with the reality that partly fulfilled the original threat and sentence carried out at the beginning.

But, it is also more than passing significance that the sacrifices and priesthood was at the center of the Law as given to Moses. As if to say (again, one aspect among so many): if you penetrate to the deepest level past all this external stuff (even this typology of sacrifice), you will discover a grace that is greater than all your sin.

2Cor.3&4 is another one of the vital Pauline passages that helps us see what was going on with God giving the Sinai covenant. We learn that the visible glory of the Mosaic covenant was deliberately blinding to the reprobate among Israel. To be preoccupied with that glory was to miss penetrating to the true glory of grace, which is hidden--whether behind glories of an earthly sort, or (for instance in the case of Naaman the Syrian) behind humble things, despised things.

Thus, to the extent that Sinai is treated as a substantial CoW, it most certainly leads to failure. It led to failure in that sense almost instantly after it was inaugurated, ala the golden calf. If one seeks favor with God through his efforts to keep the law; OR if he spurns divine favor by flouting the law: either way he's doomed. But, if the law drives the Israelite away from his own efforts; EVEN while he loves God's law and God himself, and desires to obey him from the heart: then the promises God makes to Abraham and to his children-of-faith become the hope of the believer.

Indeed, the mercy of God is not strictly consistent with the legal-absolutes of the Mosaic covenant. However, it is important that there not be so hard a wedge driven between Abraham and Moses; such that we fail to reckon with the fact that those participants embedded in the Old Covenant era (from Sinai to Christ) had access to the Promise to Abraham through and by means of nothing but the instrumentation erected by Sinai!

There was no proper way for an Ishmaelite (for example) or an Edomite to say, "I, too, am a child of Abraham; moreover, I believe as he did and have faith in the promises he was given. Which makes me too a child of God; and I need not join with the covenant community of Israel to have this status." The Israelite could not judge his Temple apostate, ignore its mediation (typological), and trust only in his relationship with Abraham. Otherwise, he would be "cut off from his people."

When descriptions of the Sinai covenant are so bifurcated from the organic connection it bears to Abraham, and it is seen only through the lens of the CoW, one may rightly fear that such a view leads to the idea that the Pharisees were the folks who finally "got it right," as far as Moses went. They bent their minds, and finally discovered a method--hard though it was--for some extraordinary few to supply the necessary obedience to this covenant which would fulfill it, and lead to better things for them, and perhaps even for all.

This is a very wrong view, because the Pharisees were just wrong about theirs, or anyone's (other than the Christ's) ability to fulfill the law. They did not "get it right," but they were terribly, tragically, and viciously wrong. They treated the Law in a substantial way, as a CoW, and they tried to draw near to God by using it that way. They neglected the Abrahamic background to Moses. They took pride in their connection to Abraham, but that was the extent of their appreciation for God-in-covenant with Abraham. They recast Abraham as one who obeyed the Law even before Moses received it on the Mount (in spite of the biblical evidence that he was a great sinner). Abraham, they said, was the first one who obtained God's favor by legal obedience.

So, it is technically improper (in the WCF sense) to say that the Sinai covenant is no administration of the CoG, or that the NC is but the "second" administration after Abraham. The NC is the fulfillment of the CoG made with Abraham; but it was continuously administered, even in "the time of the law." The old/new covenant contrast Jeremiah speaks of is, actually, the contrast between the covenant made coming out of Egypt, and the realization of all the promises made to God's people starting in a way with Abraham; but really going back to Adam and Eve, and embracing those made later to Israel and David, etc. And it is the functioning of a permanent Mediator which sets the greatest contrast.

But, there is a great deal within the Mosaic covenant that IS temporary. How anyone should think the Mosaic covenant proper is discovered in Ex.19, I don't know (and note the conditional, 19:5, "If you will obey..., then..." and the people's vow, v8). The "Book of the Covenant" is Ex.20:22-23:33; and it is sworn to in solemn, blood-sprinkled assembly in ch.24. There is more added on and clarified in other places; but the essence is all there, expanding the Decalogue (the basis) to cover numerous specifics for national life. The many other laws (613 by one well-known count) become codicils and amendments to the whole. The Sinai covenant is called the Law for a reason.

Hopefully, grasping the above helps unravel Denault's statement. I'm sure listening to L.Duncan will be of great benefit to you. Listening to RScottClark could also be beneficial. There are some fine distinctions between CT as classically expressed, and lots of 20th century peculiarities. The big problems come when we make the last Big Name in theology (or our favorite seminary professor) our personal touchstone to truth. It actually takes a long, long time to sort out who are the most reliable voices from the past.
 
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Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
I'm bothered by the way personalities have been tossed into this discussion. What? Even if one agrees with 90% or more of the covenant theology of WestCal, that last 5-10% means you can't learn anything from those guys? What a bunch of nonsense.

I was speaking of Classic Reformed Covenant Theology. I never said you can't learn from the WSC guys. However, for someone starting out trying to figure it out (even from a Baptist background), I would never point someone to Horton/Kline because it can just so confusing to one coming from that context. That's all I was communicating. No need to exaggerate anything I said. I believe any clarification is found in my post #8.
 

ralphmnj

Puritan Board Freshman
I appreciate the response. I have found all of this very helpful and have a clearer (yet not absolutely clear) understanding of the relationship between these things. How deep are the treasures of God's word!
 

ralphmnj

Puritan Board Freshman
I was speaking of Classic Reformed Covenant Theology. I never said you can't learn from the WSC guys. However, for someone starting out trying to figure it out (even from a Baptist background), I would never point someone to Horton/Kline because it can just so confusing to one coming from that context. That's all I was communicating. No need to exaggerate anything I said. I believe any clarification is found in my post #8.

Maybe it came from a misunderstanding, but I actually found Horton's introduction to be a little easier and less nuanced than the classic view. Having a more distinct relationship between the Abrahamic and the Mosaic covenants was clearer at first than the two being more closely connected. Through the posts I've seen here and some other reading, I'm beginning to see (and I think agree) with the more classic view but I think the baptist in me made Horton's views more palatable than the classic view.
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
I'm bothered by the way personalities have been tossed into this discussion. What? Even if one agrees with 90% or more of the covenant theology of WestCal, that last 5-10% means you can't learn anything from those guys? What a bunch of nonsense.

I was speaking of Classic Reformed Covenant Theology. I never said you can't learn from the WSC guys. However, for someone starting out trying to figure it out (even from a Baptist background), I would never point someone to Horton/Kline because it can just so confusing to one coming from that context. That's all I was communicating. No need to exaggerate anything I said. I believe any clarification is found in my post #8.

Andrew,

How exactly is what you stated...
I would stay away from anything/anyone from Westminster West (including Dr. Clark) until you have grasped classic covenant theology. Where it differs generally surrounds Creation and the Covenant, as well as the Mosaic Covenant.

...and the cogent response by Rev. Buchanan an exaggeration? What do you see in his response as actually exaggerating your statement?

Giving your statement the best charity possible per the ninth commandment, your anything and everyone, including Dr. Clark is at best infelicitous. There is nothing that a neophyte looking into understanding covenantalism would find as being worthy of "staying away from" by reading Dr. Clark. As Rev. Buchanan rightly implied, there is ripe harvest to be gleaned from others, especially Dr. Clark, even when we disagree on all that they have to say.

You were doing well in explaining your original infelicitously worded post in your response to Rev. Buchanan. But when you were overcome with passion, your claim to having been exaggerated undid you.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Wow Patrick, some of those words are big. LOL

I think I see where Andrew feels like he is being misrepresented. I don't believe he said you can't learn anything from the guys at Westminster West. I think his words were well thought out advice to be given to someone who desires to understand Reformed Covenant Theology. Even the definition of the Gospel has been truncated by them. https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.c...ianity-might-be-antinomian-christianity-pt-3/ Even the OPC report acknowledges that some of the views being taught now days are contrary to our standards. They call one view Substantial Republication. It is being taught in strange way with Chapter 19 or our Confession. https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.c...chapter-19-the-law-and-the-covenant-of-works/ That view is contrary to the Standards. Kline is read a few different ways and one way is definitely not in accord with our Standards. Unfortunately the gentlemen Andrew is speaking about do teach a Substantial Republication view. It has deep roots at Westminster West. Anyone opposing them or their understanding has an uphill climb if they go there. I am only a third hand witness but I know many first hand guys who will attest to this. The names named above are guys who advocate a form of Covenant Theology that historically is found in a minority of theologians and not found in most of the Reformed Church or Presbyterian Circles for the most part. Dr. Clark and Dr. Horton are two of those guys unfortunately. I would advise others to stay away from their new paradigm concerning their theologies. After all it was Van Drunen who desires to liberate the Church from Kuyper. Van Drunen's subtractions and redefinition of Natural Law is based somewhat on the hermeneutic that these guys fall under. I certainly would state the facts the same way that Pastor Andrew has. So do many other good Pastors and Theologians I personally know. I don't think I need to drop any names but they are big and deserve to be heard. In fact they have written on these topics. Am I emotionally charged in this. Well, probably just about emotionally charged as your accusing Andrew of responding passionately. I think your challenge to Andrew may reveal your passion more than it reveals his awareness of the dangers that may be present in this new Reformed Thought. We have seen the ramifications of this teaching up front and close. It isn't necessarily passion as much as an awareness maybe. You may be mistaking or misreading our hearts in this issue. And it is just fodder for misunderstanding. I think Bruce was correct in one sense that the personality issue is troublesome. I have hit the golden calf a bit and felt the anger of some.

Dr. Clark has participated here before. https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.c...cott-clarks-7-point-summary-of-republication/ He has made his positions concerning the Mosaic Covenant known. They are contrary according to the Standards of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. That does mean their views are contrary to the OPC Standards. There is a reason for that. I have personally dealt with this issue for going on more than 5 years now. There are threads on this forum that go back much farther on the Puritanboard that have dealt with this problem. So it isn't like this has been under a blanket or something that is not understood.

Anyways,

Ralph, I was a Reformed Baptist for 30 years. I am good friends and very close to some of the guys who are doing the acedemic work that is so needed in that camp today. In fact I am still supporting Reformed Baptist works and a Church plant close to my town. I became a Reformed theologian years ago because of some of the problems I had seen resulting from the Republication issue. I gave a summary here (Why I Was Drawn Into The Nuanced Republication and Mosaic Covenant Study) on why I became interested in the topic and where it resulted. You may gain some insight there or I may even confuse you more. If I can clear anything up for you please ask me. I don't get on here as much as I use to but I will check back in.

The Mosaic Covenant, Same in Substance as the New?
https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/the-mosaic-covenant-same-in-substance-as-the-new/
 
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PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
There is nothing that a neophyte looking into understanding covenantalism would find as being worthy of "staying away from" by reading Dr. Clark.

I would disagree with the above also Patrick. I do believe there are some things that need to be avoided when we refer others to learn. Especially when it leads to the weird Natural Law / Two Kingdoms stuff and the dichotomous hermeneutic of law and grace. Distinctions are good. Dichotomy is not so good. Even my Reformed Baptist buddy Richard Barcellos has agreed with me on that. There are other issues at hand also as I note in a final statement on one of my blogs and as I have noted on the PB also.

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

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

On another plank allow me to recommend a new work that Rich Barcellos has done. It is wonderful. It is the third part of a series on Recovering a Confessional Heritage. It should be read by everyone in my estimation who desires to understand Reformed Baptist Confessionalism.
Not sure when it will be published. I know it has been at the printers.

http://www.rbap.net/drs-fesko-and-g...-works-its-confessional-and-scriptural-basis/
 
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PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
When I woke up today I thought I would mention a few things that helped me as a Reformed Baptist concerning Leviticus 18:5 and Romans 10:5, the passage in 2 Corinthians 3, and Jeremiah 31 and Hebrews 8 .

Paul’s Use of Lev. 18:5 in Rom. 10:5Pastor Patrick Ramsey
The following is (I trust) a simple but not simplistic explanation of Paul’s use of Leviticus 18:5 in Romans 10:5.
In 9:30-10:5 Paul explained the reason the Jews did not attain righteousness even though they pursued it. They mistakenly pursued it by works (9:32). Hence, they stumbled over the stumbling stone (9:33). They sought to establish their own righteousness (10:3). Ignorant of the right way to righteousness, although they should have known better, they zealously pursued life on the basis of their own obedience to the law.

In Rom. 10:5 Paul describes this wrong way of pursuing life (righteousness) from the OT, namely Leviticus 18:5 (see also Neh. 9:29; Eze. 20:11, 13, 21): “For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.” Now the fact that Paul appeals to Moses to describe the wrong way, or if you will, the Pharisaical way of pursuing righteousness, is somewhat perplexing. As a result, this verse, along with its counterpart in Gal. 3, is quite controversial among commentators and theologians.

Here is the difficulty from three different perspectives. First, in 9:32, Paul had said that the law itself did not teach that righteousness was based on works or obedience to the law. The Jews pursued the law as if it led to righteousness. The Jews, as the NT says elsewhere, misread the OT. And yet Paul seems to be saying in vs. 5 that the OT did in fact teach and exhort the people to pursue life/righteousness by keeping the law. How then can Paul (or the rest of the NT) condemn the Pharisees for seeking righteousness by works if that is what Moses told them to do?

Second, in vs. 8 Paul will quote Deut. 30 and later on he will cite Isaiah and Joel in direct contrast to Lev. 18:5 to describe the right way to find life and righteousness. So then it would seem that Paul pits Moses against Moses and the OT against the OT.

Third, the context of Lev. 18:5 doesn’t seem to support the way Paul uses it in Rom. 10:5. Moses exhorts Israel to keep God’s commandments in the context of redemption and covenant. Verses 1-3 highlight the point that Israel already belongs to God as his redeemed people. These verses are very similar to the prologue to the Ten Commandments, which teaches that salvation precedes obedience. God didn’t give Israel the law so that they might be saved. He saves them so that they might keep the law. In short, the context of Lev. 18:5 speaks against the idea that it teaches legalism or a work-based righteousness. Yet, that is how Paul is using this verse!

Now some have sought to solve this difficulty by saying that there is no actual contrast between verses 5 and 6. The “but” of vs. 6 should be translated “and.” The problem with this, however, is that it doesn’t fit the context of Paul’s argument. The apostle, beginning in 9:30 is contrasting two ways of seeking righteousness—works and faith—and this contrast clearly continues in vs. 5. This is confirmed by the fact that Paul speaks of works righteousness or righteousness based on law elsewhere (Gal. 3; Phil. 3:9) in a negative way.

So then how are we to understand what Paul is saying in vs. 5 (and in Gal. 3)? Well, Paul is citing Lev. 18:5 according to how it was understood by the Jews of his day; and no doubt how he understood it before his conversion. The Jews of Paul’s day saw obedience to the law (which included laws pertaining to the atonement of sins) as the source of life and as the basis of salvation. Keeping the law was the stairway to heaven. The way to have your sins forgiven and to be accepted by God was to observe the law. Lev. 18:5 provided biblical support for this Pharisaical position. And it is not hard to see why they would appeal to this verse since it says that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.

In Rom. 10:6ff Paul refutes this works-based righteousness position including the Jewish appeal to Lev. 18:5. Now he doesn’t do it in the way you or I might think of doing it. We might tend to respond to the Pharisee and say: “Look, you have completely misunderstood what Moses is saying in Lev. 18:5. The specific and general context of that verse indicates that your interpretation is incorrect…” Instead, Paul uses a technique that was quite common in his day. He counters their interpretation of Lev. 18:5 by citing another passage: Deut. 30:12-14. In other words, Paul is saying that Deut. 30 demonstrates that the Jewish understanding of Lev. 18:5 is incorrect. We of course sometimes use this type of argument today. For example, some people today appeal to James 2 to prove that we need to obey the law in order to be justified. One way to disprove that interpretation would be to cite Paul in Romans or Galatians. So Paul is not pitting Moses against Moses in vv. 5-6 or saying that Moses taught salvation by works. Rather the apostle is using one Mosaic passage to prove that the legalistic interpretation of another Mosaic passage is wrong.

A statement was also made how the Mosaic should be viewed as an administration of death. I actually believe the above helps us answer this problem but I also saw this. We as fallen people tend to want to turn the Covenant of Grace into a Covenant of Works. Many people even do this concerning the New Covenant today when they add works to the equation of justification by faith.In light of the passage mentioned in 2 Corinthians 3, which calls the Old an administration of Death, one must also read the prior passages to understand what context St. Paul is referring to the Mosaic Covenant in.

(2Co 2:14) Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
(2Co 2:15) For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:
(2Co 2:16) To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
(2Co 2:17) For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.


Christ and the Gospel were Preached in Moses and the Old Testament. In fact Jesus said as much as did the author of Hebrews.

(Luk 24:27) And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
(Joh 5:46) For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.
(Joh 5:47) But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

(Heb 4:2)
For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
(Heb 4:3)
For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.


The Mosaic was an administration of death the same way the New Covenant is to those who seek to turn the New Covenant into a Covenant of Works. We are so inclined to stumble because we will not believe Moses or Christ. We naturally tend to corrupt the Word of God and the Covenant of Grace by wanting to add our works into our justification before God. In doing so we are refusing the Cornerstone and Saviour. We become like those that Paul is speaking about, “to one they [Paul and the Apostles] are a savour of death unto death.” And how is to be considered that Paul and the Church is a savour unto death? They are because they do what Paul says he doesn’t do in the proceeding verse, “For we are not as those who corrupt the Word of God.” Those who corrupt the word are rejecting the Chief Cornerstone and depending upon their works or acts that contribute to their justification. The book of Galatians, Romans, and Hebrews have warnings and correctives for those who corrupt the word. But when they reject the truth they fall deeper into death. Even St. Paul acknowledged that the Law didn’t kill him. He was already dead and discovered it.

Rom 7:13    Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

Now let's deal with Jeremiah 31. I believe the passage is speaking in the context of the priesthood and how the shadows are fading away for the reality of fulfillment. The inferior type (the thing pointing to) is being replaced by the anti-type (the real thing which is fulfilment).

Hebrews 8 and Jeremiah 32...

The more I read Hebrews 8 the more I think I understand about how the shadows have passed away (v. 5) and how a lot of the modern Church is not reading this text or Jeremiah 31 correctly. There is a Priesthood that is being extenuated here and one that is being exalted. We no longer need the shadows or Levitical Priesthood to mediate and teach us since Christ (the substance) has become the High Priest and removed the shadows. The Substance is here and we can approach God directly through Christ by His Holy Spirit. The veil was torn from top to bottom. As the text repeated from Jeremiah 31 states they all shall know God from the least to the greatest. His Law will be placed in all of our hearts without the need for a Levitical Priest to mediate His word to us. That is the part that is being missed. This is about the transference of priesthood from the shadows and types to Christ our High Priest and antitype. We have a better Covenant with a better Priest who is in heaven now. Christ is a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. We no longer will tell our neighbor to go seek out the local Priest to mediate God’s word for us. For it is now being written and mediated differently since Christ our High Priest has come.

(1 Timothy 2:5,6) For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Rom 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Rom 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
Rom 3:26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Rom 3:27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Rom 3:29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:
Rom 3:30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
Rom 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

My point about this is that I read the text saying that the New Covenant is about a regenerate Church membership when the text isn’t about that but about how the Word of God is mediated and about how we have a better High Priest and Covenant now that the shadows are done away with. Does that make sense?


Another thing I was missing as I read the Jeremiah 31 passage was the fact that there is Jeremiah chapters 30 and 32. I had problems dealing with Jeremiah 32 and trying to make it fit into the interpretation of 31 that I had learned. Especially since the language is the same and children were included in the promise.

Jeremiah 32:36-44
And now therefore thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning this city, whereof ye say, It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence; Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul. For thus saith the Lord; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them. And fields shall be bought in this land, whereof ye say, It is desolate without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans. Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences, and seal them, and take witnesses in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the mountains, and in the cities of the valley, and in the cities of the south: for I will cause their captivity to return, saith the Lord.


As in the passage in 2 Corinthians 3 needs to be read in context of chapter 2 we can't neglect the fact that Jeremiah 31 is also set in a context and surrounded by other passages that help explain things.

I Hope that I have helped you out here. These were things I struggled with as a Reformed Baptist.

Be Encouraged,
Randy
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
The articles on that page are good. Here is Cornel's article as a direct link.

https://d3ecc98b-a-62cb3a1a-s-sites...bayLMU-4-AxNnaTjSyIOc0QkK8y6o=&attredirects=0

Here is the download link for Patrick Ramsey's 'In Defense of Moses' from the Westminster Journal.

https://sites.google.com/site/mosaiccovenant/Ramsey In-defense-of-moses.pdf?attredirects=1


If anyone doubts that the notable authors from Westminster California are teaching contrary to the Westminster Confession in Chapter 7 and 19 please correct us. As I have noted before these things have tentacles into the Doctrines of Christology and Soteriology for sure. It has ramifications in how the Church relates to the world also so it also deals with our ecclesiology and the Church's participation in it.
 

ralphmnj

Puritan Board Freshman
When I woke up today I thought I would mention a few things that helped me as a Reformed Baptist concerning Leviticus 18:5 and Romans 10:5, the passage in 2 Corinthians 3, and Jeremiah 31 and Hebrews 8 .

Paul’s Use of Lev. 18:5 in Rom. 10:5Pastor Patrick Ramsey
The following is (I trust) a simple but not simplistic explanation of Paul’s use of Leviticus 18:5 in Romans 10:5.
In 9:30-10:5 Paul explained the reason the Jews did not attain righteousness even though they pursued it. They mistakenly pursued it by works (9:32). Hence, they stumbled over the stumbling stone (9:33). They sought to establish their own righteousness (10:3). Ignorant of the right way to righteousness, although they should have known better, they zealously pursued life on the basis of their own obedience to the law.

In Rom. 10:5 Paul describes this wrong way of pursuing life (righteousness) from the OT, namely Leviticus 18:5 (see also Neh. 9:29; Eze. 20:11, 13, 21): “For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.” Now the fact that Paul appeals to Moses to describe the wrong way, or if you will, the Pharisaical way of pursuing righteousness, is somewhat perplexing. As a result, this verse, along with its counterpart in Gal. 3, is quite controversial among commentators and theologians.

Here is the difficulty from three different perspectives. First, in 9:32, Paul had said that the law itself did not teach that righteousness was based on works or obedience to the law. The Jews pursued the law as if it led to righteousness. The Jews, as the NT says elsewhere, misread the OT. And yet Paul seems to be saying in vs. 5 that the OT did in fact teach and exhort the people to pursue life/righteousness by keeping the law. How then can Paul (or the rest of the NT) condemn the Pharisees for seeking righteousness by works if that is what Moses told them to do?

Second, in vs. 8 Paul will quote Deut. 30 and later on he will cite Isaiah and Joel in direct contrast to Lev. 18:5 to describe the right way to find life and righteousness. So then it would seem that Paul pits Moses against Moses and the OT against the OT.

Third, the context of Lev. 18:5 doesn’t seem to support the way Paul uses it in Rom. 10:5. Moses exhorts Israel to keep God’s commandments in the context of redemption and covenant. Verses 1-3 highlight the point that Israel already belongs to God as his redeemed people. These verses are very similar to the prologue to the Ten Commandments, which teaches that salvation precedes obedience. God didn’t give Israel the law so that they might be saved. He saves them so that they might keep the law. In short, the context of Lev. 18:5 speaks against the idea that it teaches legalism or a work-based righteousness. Yet, that is how Paul is using this verse!

Now some have sought to solve this difficulty by saying that there is no actual contrast between verses 5 and 6. The “but” of vs. 6 should be translated “and.” The problem with this, however, is that it doesn’t fit the context of Paul’s argument. The apostle, beginning in 9:30 is contrasting two ways of seeking righteousness—works and faith—and this contrast clearly continues in vs. 5. This is confirmed by the fact that Paul speaks of works righteousness or righteousness based on law elsewhere (Gal. 3; Phil. 3:9) in a negative way.

So then how are we to understand what Paul is saying in vs. 5 (and in Gal. 3)? Well, Paul is citing Lev. 18:5 according to how it was understood by the Jews of his day; and no doubt how he understood it before his conversion. The Jews of Paul’s day saw obedience to the law (which included laws pertaining to the atonement of sins) as the source of life and as the basis of salvation. Keeping the law was the stairway to heaven. The way to have your sins forgiven and to be accepted by God was to observe the law. Lev. 18:5 provided biblical support for this Pharisaical position. And it is not hard to see why they would appeal to this verse since it says that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.

In Rom. 10:6ff Paul refutes this works-based righteousness position including the Jewish appeal to Lev. 18:5. Now he doesn’t do it in the way you or I might think of doing it. We might tend to respond to the Pharisee and say: “Look, you have completely misunderstood what Moses is saying in Lev. 18:5. The specific and general context of that verse indicates that your interpretation is incorrect…” Instead, Paul uses a technique that was quite common in his day. He counters their interpretation of Lev. 18:5 by citing another passage: Deut. 30:12-14. In other words, Paul is saying that Deut. 30 demonstrates that the Jewish understanding of Lev. 18:5 is incorrect. We of course sometimes use this type of argument today. For example, some people today appeal to James 2 to prove that we need to obey the law in order to be justified. One way to disprove that interpretation would be to cite Paul in Romans or Galatians. So Paul is not pitting Moses against Moses in vv. 5-6 or saying that Moses taught salvation by works. Rather the apostle is using one Mosaic passage to prove that the legalistic interpretation of another Mosaic passage is wrong.

A statement was also made how the Mosaic should be viewed as an administration of death. I actually believe the above helps us answer this problem but I also saw this. We as fallen people tend to want to turn the Covenant of Grace into a Covenant of Works. Many people even do this concerning the New Covenant today when they add works to the equation of justification by faith.In light of the passage mentioned in 2 Corinthians 3, which calls the Old an administration of Death, one must also read the prior passages to understand what context St. Paul is referring to the Mosaic Covenant in.

(2Co 2:14) Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
(2Co 2:15) For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:
(2Co 2:16) To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
(2Co 2:17) For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.


Christ and the Gospel were Preached in Moses and the Old Testament. In fact Jesus said as much as did the author of Hebrews.

(Luk 24:27) And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
(Joh 5:46) For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.
(Joh 5:47) But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

(Heb 4:2)
For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
(Heb 4:3)
For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.


The Mosaic was an administration of death the same way the New Covenant is to those who seek to turn the New Covenant into a Covenant of Works. We are so inclined to stumble because we will not believe Moses or Christ. We naturally tend to corrupt the Word of God and the Covenant of Grace by wanting to add our works into our justification before God. In doing so we are refusing the Cornerstone and Saviour. We become like those that Paul is speaking about, “to one they [Paul and the Apostles] are a savour of death unto death.” And how is to be considered that Paul and the Church is a savour unto death? They are because they do what Paul says he doesn’t do in the proceeding verse, “For we are not as those who corrupt the Word of God.” Those who corrupt the word are rejecting the Chief Cornerstone and depending upon their works or acts that contribute to their justification. The book of Galatians, Romans, and Hebrews have warnings and correctives for those who corrupt the word. But when they reject the truth they fall deeper into death. Even St. Paul acknowledged that the Law didn’t kill him. He was already dead and discovered it.

Rom 7:13    Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

Now let's deal with Jeremiah 31. I believe the passage is speaking in the context of the priesthood and how the shadows are fading away for the reality of fulfillment. The inferior type (the thing pointing to) is being replaced by the anti-type (the real thing which is fulfilment).

Hebrews 8 and Jeremiah 32...

The more I read Hebrews 8 the more I think I understand about how the shadows have passed away (v. 5) and how a lot of the modern Church is not reading this text or Jeremiah 31 correctly. There is a Priesthood that is being extenuated here and one that is being exalted. We no longer need the shadows or Levitical Priesthood to mediate and teach us since Christ (the substance) has become the High Priest and removed the shadows. The Substance is here and we can approach God directly through Christ by His Holy Spirit. The veil was torn from top to bottom. As the text repeated from Jeremiah 31 states they all shall know God from the least to the greatest. His Law will be placed in all of our hearts without the need for a Levitical Priest to mediate His word to us. That is the part that is being missed. This is about the transference of priesthood from the shadows and types to Christ our High Priest and antitype. We have a better Covenant with a better Priest who is in heaven now. Christ is a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. We no longer will tell our neighbor to go seek out the local Priest to mediate God’s word for us. For it is now being written and mediated differently since Christ our High Priest has come.

(1 Timothy 2:5,6) For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Rom 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Rom 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
Rom 3:26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Rom 3:27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Rom 3:29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:
Rom 3:30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
Rom 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

My point about this is that I read the text saying that the New Covenant is about a regenerate Church membership when the text isn’t about that but about how the Word of God is mediated and about how we have a better High Priest and Covenant now that the shadows are done away with. Does that make sense?


Another thing I was missing as I read the Jeremiah 31 passage was the fact that there is Jeremiah chapters 30 and 32. I had problems dealing with Jeremiah 32 and trying to make it fit into the interpretation of 31 that I had learned. Especially since the language is the same and children were included in the promise.

Jeremiah 32:36-44
And now therefore thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning this city, whereof ye say, It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence; Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul. For thus saith the Lord; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them. And fields shall be bought in this land, whereof ye say, It is desolate without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans. Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences, and seal them, and take witnesses in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the mountains, and in the cities of the valley, and in the cities of the south: for I will cause their captivity to return, saith the Lord.


As in the passage in 2 Corinthians 3 needs to be read in context of chapter 2 we can't neglect the fact that Jeremiah 31 is also set in a context and surrounded by other passages that help explain things.

I Hope that I have helped you out here. These were things I struggled with as a Reformed Baptist.

Be Encouraged,
Randy
This was very helpful. Thank you!

Sent from my LG-H901 using Tapatalk
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Actually if one wants to understand the position from a good source I would refer others to the OPC report. It is reliable.

https://www.opc.org/GA/republication.html

On a side note, I think some aspects of the report missed some major points. One in particular is that under emphasized Kline's merit principle. That's my two cents.

I think that would be a great discussion. After all the Merit issue is what was supposed to be a focal point and what prompted a lot of discussion. It was discussed in contrast to some possible redefinition and how it played out in Adam, Israel, and our Saviour. The issue of creation is noted to have some faulty theology in this also as Kline collapsed Creation and the Covenant of Works into a single entity which confused some issues as our own Reverend Winzer noted years ago.

Further problems arise once this basic departure is discerned. One begins to see a metaphysical reworking of the categories of grace and justice in relation to the "covenant of nature." Instead of a providential dispensation (see Shorter Catechism question 12), the covenant of works is turned into a creational entity which characterises the natural relationship between God and man. Human morality is, in its very essence, made a covenant of works. Grace is only operative where sin abounds.
http://www.puritanboard.com/showthr...Confessional-concerning-the-Mosaic#post887863

I would advise starting a new thread on the topic. It would reveal some things Andrew brought attention to earlier. But start a new thread please.
 
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