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Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Error of Reformed Covenant Theology: The Covenant of Grace

In Reformed Covenant Theology, it realizes that God made a covenant of works with Adam back in the garden of Eden.

“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.” ~ Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 7, Section 2.

This is true, the Bible says, “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17).

But here’s where the Reformed theologians mess up: they see the covenant God made with Adam after he sinned, and they claim that God’s covenant to Adam was salvation by grace through faith without works in the blood of Christ.

“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 offers 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.” ~ Ibid, Section 3.

Now, it is true that God made a covenant (or agreement) with Adam after he sinned. But it is NOT true that this covenant included salvation by grace through faith without works in the finished work of Christ on the cross. Here’s what this Adamic Covenant (which we are still under as children of Adam) includes:

“And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:14-21).

There is nothing about salvation by grace through faith there. There is a prophecy of Jesus, but it’s a very vague prophecy and doesn’t imply anything about the blood atonement or eternal salvation. Just that the seed of the woman would take vengeance on the serpent.

This basic error is the cornerstone of Reformed Theology. This is where the doctrine that salvation has always been the same comes from: Reformed Covenant Theology, because it places salvation by grace alone right when Adam sins and for all time. This is how the doctrine of replacement theology in Protestant-Catholicism was developed: because if everyone since Adam has been under the same one covenant to “God’s people”, and since God’s people under this covenant was Israel, and since we are under this covenant now, we must be the new Israel. Misidentifying the covenants and not rightly dividing them is the source of much heresy and error.