Unbelievers still under the covenant of works?

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thistle93

Puritan Board Freshman
Is the covenant of works still in effect for unbelievers, so that all people are under the covenant of works, unless God saves them? If so, would Scriptural basis for this be Romans 5 and that all people are either in Adam (covenant of works) or in Jesus (covenant of grace)?




For His Glory-
Matthew
 

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
Yes, all those outside of Christ remain in Adam and are under the curse of the broken covenant of works (Romans 5: 12-21).

All those in Christ (see also I Cor. 15: 21-22) are partakers of the covenant of grace (because Christ kept the covenant of works perfectly for them and paid the penalty for their having violated it).

Peace,
Alan
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Yes.

The moral law of the covenant of works is still the standard for the salvation of unbelievers if they are to be saved by the CoW.

The penalty of the CoW - the "Curse" of the troubles of this life, death and Hell - still stands. The troubles of this life and death aren't transformed into mere Fatherly chastisements as they are for believers.

The positive sanction of eternal life is however utterly out of reach of unbelievers by means of the CoW and is a purely hypothetical possibility for them.

Christ, however, fulfils the law as a CoW for His true people.

E.g.
What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. (e.g. Rom 6:15)

When we are translated from Adam to Christ and from the CoW to the CoG we are no longer under the moral law as a CoW.

None of this alters the fact that an adult unbeliever who professes faith can be under the visible and outward administration of the CoG, as can unbelieving children of those who profess. They are given these privileges of the administration of the CoG, in God's providence, to encourage them to move from their deep commitment to the CoW into the life of the CoG.

What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? (Romans 3:1-3)
 

thistle93

Puritan Board Freshman



So according to chart the elect are eternally in the covenant of grace, correct? While I could be wrong, I would take issue with this.
I thought the even the elect are described as children of wrath, until the point of their being given the new birth at conversion. This is why we (apart from hyper-calvinist) don't believe in eternal justification. I thought only those who believe are brought into the covenant of grace not they they have always been a part of it per-conversion. Did I misread?

Thank you!

For His Glory-
Matthew
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Hi Matthew,
The elect remain children of wrath until that time they are regenerated. In that, they are under the covenant of works until that time. The two upper segments on my chart show this. The unregenerated elect are in one sense under the covenant of redemption (divided sense) and under the covenant of works (in the compound sense) until that time when they are regenerated. The bottom segment shows the C of W's and where that ended for believers. In Gen 3, it was no longer a works based salvation, i.e. 'Do this and live' and became grace.

So, in regard to your opening post, the answer would be yes; unbelievers remain under a C of W's until that time when they are regenerated.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis

Putting the best construction on this visual, it is still confusing.

The promise of a seed was given in the garden after the fall, and Adam's naming of Eve reflects his faith in the promise, so Adam must have been under the covenant of grace after the fall. It did not commence with Noah.

Placing the covenant of works side by side with the covenant of redemption gives a false signal. There is no parallel. The covenant of redemption, supposing it were separate from the covenant of grace, is made with Christ from eternity, not with men in time. The parallel should be between the covenant of grace and the covenant of works. All men are either under the one or the other.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Here's something interesting from James Fisher's Catechism:

"James Fisher in his catechism explains a few important distinctions between the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace:
"Q. 23. If both covenants, of grace and works, were exhibited on Mount Sinai, were not the Israelites, in that case, under both these covenants at one and the same time?
A. They could not be under both covenants in the same respects, at the same time; and therefore they must be considered either as believers or unbelievers, both as to their outward church state and inward soul frame.
Q. 24. In what respects were the believing Israelites, in the Sinaitic transaction, under both covenants?
A. They were internally and really under the covenant of grace, as all believers are, Rom. 6:14, and only externally, under the above awful display of the covenant of works, as it was subordinate and subservient to that of grace, in pointing out the necessity of the Surety-righteousness, Gal. 3:24.
Q. 25. In what respects were unbelievers among them, under these two covenants of works and grace?
A. They were only externally, and by profession, in respect of their visible church state, under the covenant of grace, Rom. 9:4; but internally, and really, in respect of the state of their souls, before the Lord, they were under the covenant of works, chap. 4:14, 15."

Unregenerates in our local churches, hence, would be externally under the C of G and internally under the C of W's. The regenerates, just the opposite.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Matthew,
Thanks for your helpful observation. I will retool the diagram a bit. Have I mentioned that I have greatly benefitted from your posts, counsel, papers? I quote you often in many of my papers on my website. Amen.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Scott, that is encouraging and humbling. Blessed be the Lord who teaches us to profit!
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Rev Winzer,
I made some changes. Clarified the distinction between the C of R, Works and G; In regard to this portion of your post:

The promise of a seed was given in the garden after the fall, and Adam's naming of Eve reflects his faith in the promise, so Adam must have been under the covenant of grace after the fall. It did not commence with Noah.

I didn't mean to imply that the C of G started with Noah. I was attempting to list the administrations of the C of G. How do you suggest I clarify that?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Scott, I lack imagination, so I don't think I will be any good to you. Sorry. The main thing would be to represent the covenant of grace being initiated with fallen Adam and have the covenant of grace and covenant of works oppose each other.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Scott
Unregenerates in our local churches, hence, would be externally under the C of G and internally under the C of W's. The regenerates, just the opposite.

You mean of course, that the regenerate are both externally and internally under the CoG.

Re "Republication" , it simplifies things if we remember that both under the OT admin of the CoG and under the NT admin of the CoG, it is an important part of God's gracious condescension to sinners to teach them about their relationship to the long ago broken CoW, but not to place them under a renewed CoW, or to encourage them to seek salvation through the CoW broken by Adam or through a renewed CoW.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Scott Bushey said:
I didn't mean to imply that the C of G started with Noah. I was attempting to list the administrations of the C of G. How do you suggest I clarify that?
To show that the CoG was initiated with fallen Adam, maybe you could simply add an "Adamic" blue box under the CoG box?

For showing the CoW is parallel to and opposes the CoG, perhaps you could raise the CoW red box (the one with the red "Adamic" box connected to it) so that it goes in parallel with the CoG box (like you currently have with the CoR and CoW). The tricky thing is showing that the CoW is broken, but perhaps you could just draw a blue line.

Actually, it might just be easier to move the red CoW box above the blue line that it is currently underneath. And then you could add a red CoW box above the current CoG box, keeping the vertical blue line that you currently have (the blue line that currently separates the CoW and CoG administrations) in the location that it currently is.


Edit: Also, you write, "The Covenant of Grace/New Covenant have external and internal distinctions; in the internal aspect, there are the elect of God. In the external aspect are solely reprobates. Hence, the covenant is made up of the elect and reprobate members." From what I understand (as Richard pointed out above), the elect are also externally under the CoG. Perhaps you could write, "In the external aspect are both elect and reprobates."


Edit2: Sorry, I was looking at the old slide, not the new one: http://www.semperreformanda.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Slide1.jpg In this one, having a blue "Adamic" box could suffice.

Edit3: Instead of a blue "Adamic" box (in case that is too confusing), you could continue the vertical line where Genesis 3:15 is cited. You can then attach the vertical line to a blue box with "Adam" written on it in order to give an additional historical marker to the textual historical marker (the "Gen 3:15") you currently have. If you do this, it might be good to drag the left side of the CoG box so that it touches the blue vertical line on the left.
 
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Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
You mean of course, that the regenerate are both externally and internally under the CoG.

Absolutely.

Re "Republication" , it simplifies things if we remember that both under the OT admin of the CoG and under the NT admin of the CoG, it is an important part of God's gracious condescension to sinners to teach them about their relationship to the long ago broken CoW, but not to place them under a renewed CoW, or to encourage them to seek salvation through the CoW broken by Adam or through a renewed CoW.

Agreed.

Raymond,
Thanks for the suggestions; made some add'l changes.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Technically the New Covenant commences with Christ's first advent, unless you have other views on that (?) :2cents:

Maybe you could indicate that the CoW is now hypothetical and effectively defunct for sinners by putting some hatching of something in its colour afer the period of the Adamic Probation (?) :2cents:
 

thistle93

Puritan Board Freshman
Unregenerates in our local churches, hence, would be externally under the C of G and internally under the C of W's.


Thank you Scott for your clarifications henceforth. While again I admit I could be wrong or maybe I am misunderstanding what you are saying here, I would take issue with this statement. Maybe it is the baptist in me coming out but nowhere in Scripture do I see the external and internal distinction with the CofG and CofW that you make. Does this language come from the WCF? Does it have to do with baptism? In Scripture I see that one is either completely in the CofG (in Jesus) or they are completely in the CofW (in Adam). Now do I believe there are unbelievers who are part of the visible church, absolutely! But those unbelievers who may even be members of the church are still under the CofW regardless. They are never part of the true invisible church who is exclusively made up of those in the CofG. Again this may just be a baptist view but I am not convinced by Scripture of the external/internal distinction. If you have some part of Scripture that may help me with this I would be happy to look at it. Or again I may just have misunderstood you. Thank you!
For His Glory- Matthew
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Hi Matthew,
Thanks for reasoning along with me on this important topic.
Thank you Scott for your clarifications henceforth. While again I admit I could be wrong or maybe I am misunderstanding what you are saying here, I would take issue with this statement. Maybe it is the baptist in me coming out but nowhere in Scripture do I see the external and internal distinction with the CofG and CofW that you make.

Take for example all the warning passages in the book of hebrews. Wheat/tares, sheep and goats, etc. Consider that the Epistles present the gospel, i.e. Rom's 10.

Maybe it is the baptist in me coming out

Yes. ;)

Does this language come from the WCF? Does it have to do with baptism?

Yes. Baptism: Well, was Ishmael in covenant? Judas? Esau? Demas? Ananias and Saphira? Yes, they were in covenant, yet externally. Anyone who has the sign placed upon them is in covenant:

Gen. 17:7 **And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. 8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. 9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. 12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. 13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.

I see that one is either completely in the CofG (in Jesus) or they are completely in the CofW (in Adam).

As I mentioned, both covenants have internal and external distinctions: Unbelievers that have the sign upon their flesh are in the C of W's internally and the C of G externally. Believers are in the C of G internally and the C of W's externally. Covenants are perpetual.

Now do I believe there are unbelievers who are part of the visible church, absolutely!

If they are IN the church, there has to be a distinction of how they are considered in, else they would not be in but alongside; and as I have stated, they are technically alongside in God's eyes, but visibly and locally they are in.

But those unbelievers who may even be members of the church are still under the CofW regardless.

Yes. As I have stated....

They are never part of the true invisible church who is exclusively made up of those in the CofG

Agreed. As per my distinction.

Again this may just be a baptist view but I am not convinced by Scripture of the external/internal distinction.

No Baptist would argue with the idea that unregenerate people have been baptized in their congregations. If these people, say, are caught in adultery, are they not treated in the same fashion? Is not discipline administered? Do they not partake of the supper? We all agree, both Presbyterian and Credo that the local/visible expression is made up of wheat and tares. The only fault of the credo is to only acknowledge the invisible distinction. Again, the warning passages in Hebrews. If one cannot fall away, as per Christ's own words, how is it that we are exhorted and warned?

1 John 2:19-20: "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things."

Pet 2:20 20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

Ch 25 of the WCF

I. The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.

II. The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.

The Larger Catechism

Q. 61. Are all they saved who hear the gospel, and live in the church?
A. All that hear the gospel, and live in the visible church, are not saved; but they only who are true members of the church invisible.

Q. 62. What is the visible church?
A. The visible church is a society made up of all such as in all ages and places of the world do profess the true religion, and of their children.

Q. 63. What are the special privileges of the visible church?
A. The visible church hath the privilege of being under God’s special care and government; of being protected and preserved in all ages, notwithstanding the opposition of all enemies; and of enjoying the communion of saints, the ordinary means of salvation, and offers of grace by Christ to all the members of it in the ministry of the gospel, testifying, that whosoever believes in him shall be saved, and excluding none that will come unto him.

Q. 64. What is the invisible church?
A. The invisible church is the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ the head.

Q. 65. What special benefits do the members of the invisible church enjoy by Christ?
A. The members of the invisible church by Christ enjoy union and communion with him in grace and glory.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
In case you were interested in doing some reading in addition to this discussion, Samuel Rutherford's The Covenant of Life Opened has some helpful comments on the external/internal distinction.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Technically the New Covenant commences with Christ's first advent, unless you have other views on that (?) :2cents:

Maybe you could indicate that the CoW is now hypothetical and effectively defunct for sinners by putting some hatching of something in its colour afer the period of the Adamic Probation (?) :2cents:

The Westminster Standards use “Covenant of Grace” and “New Covenant” interchangeably

Scott,
I don't think these quotes from the Westminster standards show that the divines equated the CoG with the New Covenant or with the New Testament.

On the contrary, they speak about the CoG being in two administrations, OT and NT.

On the other hand, there is a real sense in which the accomplishments and power of what Christ did in the New Covenant/Testament worked "backwards" for the OT saints under the OT administration (e.g. Rom 3:25) as well as "forwards" for the NT saints, under the NT administration. So maybe this is what you mean by calling the CoG from the Protoevangelium to the end of the world, "New" ?

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Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Richard,
In what way is the NC, 'new'? I disagree; I believe Westminster saw the NC and the C of G synonymously. Take for example their language. How is the C of G different from the NC? When did the NC begin?
 
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Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
The New Covenant or New Testament administration of the Covenant of Grace began about AD 30 or AD 33, when our Lord was crucified, raised, ascended on high and sent forth His Spirit.

Q. 162. What is a sacrament?

A. A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ in his church, to signify, seal, and exhibit unto those that are within the *covenant of grace*, the benefits of his mediation; to strengthen and increase their faith, and all other graces; to oblige them to obedience; to testify and cherish their love and communion one with another; and to distinguish them from those that are without.

This catechism answer is talking more generally about sacraments, and may therefore be referring more narrowly to baptism and the Lord's Supper, but also circumcision and the Passover.

Quest. 92. What is a sacrament?

Ans. 92. A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ, wherein, by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the *new covenant*, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.

This catechism answer is referring to our own administration of the CoG, i.e. the New Testament or New Covenant administration.

WLC 166
Q: Unto whom is Baptism to be administered?

A: Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, and so strangers from the *covenant of promise*, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him, but infants descending from parents, either both, or but one of them, professing faith in Christ, and obedience to him, are in that respect within the covenant, and to be baptized.

The Covenant of Promise is the Covenant of Grace in its various administrations.

Of God’s Covenant with Man
Chapter 7 Westminster Confession of Faith.

Section V.—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 fore-signifying 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.

Confusingly, In my humble opinion, on what you're saying, you could call the period and covenant administration from Adam to Christ, the New Covenant or New Testament. But Jeremiah 31 makes it future to that prophet.

Someone here who has better knowledge of the background to the divines thinking on this subject, may well show that you are right, and that they didn't mind calling administrations of the CoG prior to the coming of Christ "the New Covenant" or "the New Testament".

We're substantially agreed; Christ died for all the true saints under prior administration(s) of the Covenant of Grace. It seems to be more a question of semantics, and what's most felicitous in describing things.
 
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Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
The New Covenant or New Testament administration of the Covenant of Grace began about AD 30 or AD 33, when our Lord was crucified, raised, ascended on high and sent forth His Spirit.

How is this covenant different from the C of G? In my opinion, when Jesus died, it was consummated or fulfilled.

This catechism answer is referring to our own administration of the CoG, i.e. the New Testament or New Covenant administration.

If the covenant is new, how is it that all the same benefits that apply to NT believers are efficacious and available to the OT believers in the same fashion?

Confusingly, In my humble opinion, on what you're saying, you could call the period and covenant administration from Adam to Christ, the New Covenant or New Testament. But Jeremiah 31 makes it future to that prophet.

The Jeremiah passage is a now and not yet prophesy which dates back to the protoevangelion.

We're substantially agreed; Christ died for all the true saints under prior administration(s) of the Covenant of Grace. It seems to be more a question of semantics, and what's most felicitous in describing things.

:)
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
The Covenant of Grace has different historical administrations. The historical administration known as the New Testament commenced in the first century AD. The previous historical administration of the CoG has come to be known as the OT or Old Covenant. If you call all the administrations of the CoG, "the New Covenant", you are calling the Old Covenant administration, the New Covenant, which seems a bit confusing.

The benefits that Christ obtained for His people in the Covenant of Redemption/Grace were administered differently under the OT and NT.

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Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
The Covenant of Grace has different historical administrations.

Agreed.

The historical administration known as the New Testament commenced in the first century AD.

Agreed. However, the NT is not the C of G.

The previous historical administration of the CoG has come to be known as the OT

Agreed.

or Old Covenant.

I see the Old covenant referring to the C of W's.

If you call all the administrations of the CoG, "the New Covenant", you are calling the Old Covenant administration, the New Covenant, which seems a bit confusing.

See previous statement....
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
WCF ch 7

II. 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.

III. 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 offered 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 life, his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.

IV. This covenant of grace is frequently set forth in the 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.

V. 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 fore-signifying 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.
WCF ch 11

VI. The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these respect, one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I see the Old covenant referring to the C of W

Well that's interesting, and probably explains the confusion.

I never refer to the CoW as the Old Covenant. For me the Old Covenant or Testament was made through Moses.



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Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
I see the Old covenant referring to the C of W

Well that's interesting, and probably explains the confusion.

I never refer to the CoW as the Old Covenant. For me the Old Covenant or Testament was made through Moses.



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Did the law bring death? Does the C of G bring life?

Richard,
Thanks for your interactions. So, you hold to the idea that the 'old covenant' refers to an administration of the C of G?

2Cor. 3:12 **Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech— 13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. 15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

This passage in 1 Cor shows the distinction between the C of W's and the C of G. Those that hold to the law are blinded and the veil remains......that veil is lifted when one 'turns to the Lord'. One is either under the C of W's or the C of G.

Now, I am in no way endorsing republication. However, I do hold to the idea that the Mosaic was a portion of the C of W's but not a republication; a republication would be in toto. See my previous post quoting the WCF.

John 1:17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

John 7:19 “Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?”

This law spoken of is the portion of the C of W's that God gave to Moses on the mount. How is it that the law brings death if it is part and parcel of the C of G?
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Well, I wouldn't say that there was a Republication of the CoW in any sense or degree, but the Israelites were taught about their relationship to the broken CoW and its Curse in a number of ways, including through aspects of the judicial system.

Under the Old Testament for instance there was no animal sacrifice for presumptuous sin (see e.g. Numbers 15), and the sinner had to look beyond the imperfect sacrificial system and throw himself on the anticipated mercy of God in Christ.

The Old Testament system was a relative bondage and tutelage to what we now enjoy in the New Testament as we learn in Galatians, but it was still all of grace.
 
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