Works within the Mosaic Covenant?

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Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
In an article by R. Scott Clark, writing on Covenant Theology, he states this:
In reaction to Murray and Shepherd, Meredith Kline of Westminster Seminary in California has returned to the classic correlation between the Law and Gospel dichotomy and the dichotomy between the covenant of works and grace. To answer the liberals and dispensationalists, he has argued that there is one covenant of grace in the history of salvation, but that the Mosaic covenant, though gracious with respect to justification, had a works element relative to Israel's tenure in Canaan. In this way, the Mosaic theocracy becomes a re-publication of the covenant of works and a foreshadowing of Christ, the obedient 2nd Adam. Though it appears novel in our time, this view is quite traditional. His view that the Mosaic Covenant was a temporary, legal, superimposition upon the covenant of grace, though hinted at in the earlier tradition, is an development of the earlier theology.

Now my question is based upon this particular statement:
the Mosaic covenant, though gracious with respect to justification, had a works element relative to Israel's tenure in Canaan.

Does this mean that the Covenant of Works has been partially re-instituted within the Mosaic Covenant?
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
7:5 This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the gospel (2Co_3:6-9): 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 (Rom_4:11; 1Co_5:7; Col_2:11, Col_2:13; Heb 8:1-10:29): 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 (Joh_8:56; 1Co_10:1-4; Heb_11:13), by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation; and is called, the Old Testament (Gal_3:7-9, Gal_3:14).

I really like this term administered. I think the different Covenants can administer more than one of the primary covenants. I say primary as mentioning the CoW and the CoG as the two Primary Covenants. For instance I believe the Mosaic administered the Covenant of Works and it also administered the Covenant of Grace to those who were truly inheritors of the eternal Covenant of Grace.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
For instance I believe the Mosaic administered the Covenant of Works and it also administered the Covenant of Grace to those who were truly inheritors of the eternal Covenant of Grace.

And how is the Gospel any different? It is clear that the Confession teaches the Old Testament was an administration of the covenant of grace.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
For instance I believe the Mosaic administered the Covenant of Works and it also administered the Covenant of Grace to those who were truly inheritors of the eternal Covenant of Grace.

And how is the Gospel any different? It is clear that the Confession teaches the Old Testament was an administration of the covenant of grace.

I am not sure I understand your question Rev. Can you clarify? I am thinking in a bi-Covenantal setting. Do the two Covenants intermingle?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I am not sure I understand your question Rev. Can you clarify? I am thinking in a bi-Covenantal setting. Do the two Covenants intermingle?

If by mixed covenant is meant that the covenant of works pronounced death to transgressors, and the covenant of grace brought salvation to the elect, then the same may be said of the time of the gospel as well as the time of the law. If this is what is meant by a mixed covenant, no problem. But if the idea is that salvation through personal obedience was taught in the time of the law, then the Confession allows no such thing, and explicitly states the law dispensation was an administration of the covenant of grace.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I am not sure I understand your question Rev. Can you clarify? I am thinking in a bi-Covenantal setting. Do the two Covenants intermingle?

If by mixed covenant is meant that the covenant of works pronounced death to transgressors, and the covenant of grace brought salvation to the elect, then the same may be said of the time of the gospel as well as the time of the law. If this is what is meant by a mixed covenant, no problem. But if the idea is that salvation through personal obedience was taught in the time of the law, then the Confession allows no such thing, and explicitly states the law dispensation was an administration of the covenant of grace.

Rev Winzer, I can't seem to find where the Confession states that the law dispensation was administered by the Covenant of Grace. Please direct me to the chapter. I don't see it in chapters 7 or 19. I do see where the law (as in the Moral law) guides us to know God's will and reproves of sin but that isn't the whole of the Mosaic nor is it set up as a Covenant of Works for the justified. I believe the Mosaic contains much more than just the Bi - covenantal system of Works and Grace. It also administers ceremonial and judicial laws which have been abrogated. I could be wrong. I am still working this out.

And back to the original question. Do you not think the Covenant of Works is reinstated or administered also in the Mosaic? How about the Blessings and Cursings? Do this and thou shalt live, or don't do what is correct and you will be cut off.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Also I don't see a Covenant of Works mixed in with the Gospel. The Covenant of Grace redeems us from the curse placed upon us by the Covenant of Works. Christ fulfilled the CoW. I have no contribution nor attachment to the CoW because of Christ. The only contribution the CoW has upon me was the condemnation it placed upon me before Christ saved me. The Covenant of Grace destroyed the Curse of it. It is not binding nor holds any sway over me because of the Covenant of Grace. There is no requirement of works placed upon me by the Gospel. I don't see that they mix from a purely human standpoint.

(Col 2:14) Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The pertinent section of the Confession was already quoted -- 7:5 -- "This covenant was differently administered under the time of the law." Which covenant? The covenant of grace, as sections 3 and 4 make clear. So it is clearly teaching that the covenant of grace was administered in the time of the law.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
The pertinent section of the Confession was already quoted -- 7:5 -- "This covenant was differently administered under the time of the law." Which covenant? The covenant of grace, as sections 3 and 4 make clear. So it is clearly teaching that the covenant of grace was administered in the time of the law.

That was what I was saying. The Mosaic administered the Covenant of Grace but that wasn't the only thing it administered I am not sure the Mosaic was administered by the Covenant of Grace though. I had a problem with your statement " the law dispensation was an administration of the covenant of grace."

I dont' see the Covenant of Grace administering the Mosaic but I do see the Mosaic administering the Covenant of Grace as well as the Covenant of Works.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The gospel teaches, He that believeth not is condemned already. Hence it pronounces the sentence of the covenant of works on those who are not instated in the covenant of grace. The law taught the same thing. In no sense was the Mosaic administration a revival of the CofW, because at no point does the Mosaic administration address men as upright and able to obtain life by personal obedience.

The CofW was made with Adam, and falls with Adam. The covenant of grace is made with Christ, and stands with Christ. Biblical and reformed covenant theology only knows two representatives of the human race -- Adam and Christ. Moses was not a second Adam.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
The pertinent section of the Confession was already quoted -- 7:5 -- "This covenant was differently administered under the time of the law." Which covenant? The covenant of grace, as sections 3 and 4 make clear. So it is clearly teaching that the covenant of grace was administered in the time of the law.

That was what I was saying. The Mosaic administered the Covenant of Grace but that wasn't the only thing it administered I am not sure the Mosaic was administered by the Covenant of Grace though. I had a problem with your statement " the law dispensation was an administration of the covenant of grace."

I dont' see the Covenant of Grace administering the Mosaic but I do see the Mosaic administering the Covenant of Grace as well as the Covenant of Works.

The Covenant of Grace is an overarching Covenant. The Mosaic covenant is not (Galatians 3:11ish -22). That's why the CoG can administer the Mosaic covenant. Galatians 3 speaks of the Covenants (plural) of the promise (singular). The Mosaic covenant is among the covenants of the promise.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
But what about the Promises of blessing and cursing and the threats of being cut off? Is that not also based upon works. Do this and you shall live. Don't do this and you shall be cut off. etc.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The Covenant of Grace is an overarching Covenant. The Mosaic covenant is not (Galatians 3:11ish -22). That's why the CoG can administer the Mosaic covenant. Galatians 3 speaks of the Covenants (plural) of the promise (singular). The Mosaic covenant is among the covenants of the promise.

Very well noted! :up:
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
The pertinent section of the Confession was already quoted -- 7:5 -- "This covenant was differently administered under the time of the law." Which covenant? The covenant of grace, as sections 3 and 4 make clear. So it is clearly teaching that the covenant of grace was administered in the time of the law.

That was what I was saying. The Mosaic administered the Covenant of Grace but that wasn't the only thing it administered I am not sure the Mosaic was administered by the Covenant of Grace though. I had a problem with your statement " the law dispensation was an administration of the covenant of grace."

I dont' see the Covenant of Grace administering the Mosaic but I do see the Mosaic administering the Covenant of Grace as well as the Covenant of Works.

The Covenant of Grace is an overarching Covenant. The Mosaic covenant is not (Galatians 3:11ish -22). That's why the CoG can administer the Mosaic covenant. Galatians 3 speaks of the Covenants (plural) of the promise (singular). The Mosaic covenant is among the covenants of the promise.
Jacob,
I understand what you are saying about the Covenant of Grace being overarching. It is an over arching theme all through our historical redemptive understanding. But just because Galatians speaks of one promise (singular) doesn't mean that there is only one promise made to Abraham. Galatians is cued in on one promise. The Mosaic is not just based upon one promise. There were more promises made to Abraham that were also fulfilled in the Mosaic.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
But what about the Promises of blessing and cursing and the threats of being cut off? Is that not also based upon works. Do this and you shall live. Don't do this and you shall be cut off. etc.

This is where we have to make the classic distinction between the covenant and its administration. The covenant of grace is administered to men who are naturally under the covenant of works. Therefore condemnation is pronounced against those who are not instated in the covenant of grace. Meanwhile, the promise of blessing is in no sense the reward of personal obedience, because it is stated quite plainly that it flows from calling, grace, and holiness, and is not in any sense presented as an obtaining of these things.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I agree that it is the Covenant of Grace that is administered by the law or Mosaic Covenant. But the Mosaic is also called the ministry of death. The Covenant of Grace is life.

(2Co 3:7) But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:

Therefore I see the Mosaic administering the CofG and the CofW.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I agree that it is the Covenant of Grace that is administered by the law or Mosaic Covenant. But the Mosaic is also called the ministry of death. The Covenant of Grace is life.

(2Co 3:7) But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:

Therefore I see the Mosaic administering the CofG and the CofW.

One needs to take in the various elements of the whole passage to understand what is meant by the law being the ministration of death.

1. By taking it in the nature of the letter alone, without the Spirit, v. 6.
2. By looking at its typological significance, as foreshadowing Christ, which is indicated by the veiled Moses, v. 13.
3. By noting the unbelief of those who hear the Old Testament, and do not behold the glory of Christ, v. 14-16.

In this sense, yes, the Mosaic administration was an administration of the covenant of works. But then the gospel is a savour of death unto death to those who believe not, chap. 2:16, so in this sense the gospel can be called an administration of the covenant of works also. There is no essential difference; the difference is only in the circumstances. But the fact is the Mosaic administration (1.) included the Spirit, (2.) administered the promise, and (3.) blessed believers. Hence it cannot be called an administration of the covenant of works in the proper sense of that terminology.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
In this sense, yes, the Mosaic administration was an administration of the covenant of works.
I think we are crossing up. I don't think the Mosaic administration (Covenant) was an administration of the Covenant of Works. I think it administered the Covenant of Works. The Covenant is separate. Note the word administered as opposed to administration. They are different words. The Covenant of Works and Grace are separate Covenants from the Mosaic in one sense. The Mosaic administers both of them though. It becomes the faucet for them, so to speak. That is what I see the Westminster saying when it uses the word administers.

Time for a bowl of Black Cavendish.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
In this sense, yes, the Mosaic administration was an administration of the covenant of works.
I think we are crossing up. I don't think the Mosaic administration (Covenant) was an administration of the Covenant of Works. I think it administered the Covenant of Works. The Covenant is separate. Note the word administered as opposed to administration. They are different words. The Covenant of Works and Grace are separate Covenants from the Mosaic in one sense. The Mosaic administers both of them though. It becomes the faucet for them, so to speak. That is what I see the Westminster saying when it uses the word administers.

I can't see any validity for this kind of distinction. The Confession speaks of one covenant of grace being administered differently under the law and under the gospel. This means the law is itself is an administration of the covenant of grace. After the fall, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, etc., lived under the administration of the covenant of grace.
 
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