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I previously wrote this post in Spanish about two months ago since the resources on Particular Baptist Covenant theology are far more scarce in Spanish than in English:

https://1689reformedbaptist.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/la-necesidad-del-pacto-de-obras-para-el-evangelio/

There is a common saying among Christians concerning the doctrine of Justification, “ Justification means just as if it never happened,” but this saying only contains half of the truth; the other half is the imputed righteousness given to believers on account of the perfect obedience of the Lord Christ.  If we don’t have his perfect righteousness we stand before God equally condemned just as the prophet Isaiah when he saw the holiness of God in his vision (Isaiah 6:1-5).

This doctrine of the imputed righteousness of Christ is denied by many who profess to be Christians primarily due to the influence of Dispensational theology.  This has resulted from a denial of the covenant of works because the word “covenant” doesn’t occur until chapter 6 of Genesis which describes the Noahic covenant and therefore there isn’t an Adamic covenant or covenant of works in the Bible.

For example here is a quote from two Dispensational theologians who teach at Dallas Theological Seminary in Texas.  They say that Christ only paid the curse of the law in our place, but he didn’t obtain perfect righteousness on our behalf through his perfect obedience. According to these two theologians, Darrel Bloc and Craig Blaising, Jesus only was obedient because if he had sinned then he couldn’t have died in our place suffering the wrath of God, but they don’t include the necessity of the perfect obedience of Christ imputed to believers.

“In Galatians 3:10-13, Paul explains how the death of Christ fulfilled and thus terminated the Mosaic covenant.  “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.’ “ Christ took the curse of the Mosaic covenant upon Himself so as to completely satisfy God’s demands.  This would not have happened, however, if He was Himself a sinner, needing atonement for His own sins.  But as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” He was completely obedient to the stipulations of the Mosaic covenant.  This is why those who are in Christ are counted righteous (cf. Deut. 6:25; 1 Cor. 1:30) and find the curse of God completely satisfied for them [1] ”.

It isn’t sufficient to only have your sins forgiven to enter heaven because God requires perfect righteousness as Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount,

“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48, NASB)”.

Paul explains the importance of the covenant of Works when he compares Adam to Christ in Romans 5:12-21, if Adam wasn’t our federal head or representative, then according to Paul Christ wasn’t our federal head either.  If Adam fell without representing anyone federally then Christ only died for himself.  Theologian A.W. Pink explains the necessity of the covenant of works to preserve the Gospel because if one denies the covenant of works then it can result in the denial of Adam being a federal head.  The fact that Adam was a federal head, which some believers affirm who deny the covenant of works, assumes that there was a covenant of works in the garden because the word “federal” is synonymous with “covenant”.  Adam had to have a covenant with God to be a federal head, these two facts cannot be separated.

“The disobedience of the first Adam was the judicial ground of our condemnation; the obedience of the last Adam is the legal ground on which God alone can justify the sinner. The substitution of Christ in the place of His people, the imputation of their sins to Him and of His righteousness to them, is the cardinal fact of the Gospel. But the principle of being saved by what another has done is only possible on the ground that we are lost through what another did. The two stand or fall together. If there had been no covenant of works there could have been no death in Adam, there could have been no life in Christ [2]”.

In conclusion, we see the importance of covenant theology for the Gospel.  It is not an abstract system for theologians; on the contrary it is very practical for how we study the Bible and how we understand the Gospel.

Even though this method of interpretation is not consistent for those who deny the covenant of works because the Davidic Covenant doesn’t use the word “covenant” in 2 Samuel 7:8-17, even though no one denies that there was a Davidic Covenant because the components of a covenant are present even through the explicit word “covenant” isn’t used.  Later the Bible calls 2 Samuel 7:8-17 a covenant in 2 Samuel 23:5 and Psalm 89:3-4.  The same principle of interpretation is used for the covenant of works even though in Genesis 2 the word “covenant” doesn’t occur, later in the Old Testament it is called a covenant in Hosea 6:7, Isaiah 24:3-6, and also by Paul in the New Testament in Romans 5:12-21.  The Bible gives us an infallible interpretation of itself and therefore when the Bible refers to another passage in the Bible it is without error even though it occurs in another part of the Bible.  This is because the Bible was not only written by men but also God, He is the primary author by means of the Holy Spirit of all the books of the Bible.

Are we going to trust the inspired and infallible interpretation of the Apostle Paul in Romans 5 explaining the necessity of Adam as our federal head so that Christ can be the federal head of believers (which presupposes the covenant of Works) or are we going to read Genesis 2 solely focusing on the human author without reading Genesis 2 in the context of the entire Bible?  The second option focuses on the argument that the word “covenant” doesn’t occur there (in Genesis 2) and therefore it is impossible that there was a covenant of works, which gives priority to the human author instead of allowing the Bible to interpret itself.  When the Bible interprets the Bible it is an infallible commentary which we should not ignore, rather we should use its infallible interpretation in order to improve our understanding of the Bible.

We can observe all of this material condensed and applied to the proclamation of the Gospel in the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith Chapter 20.1,

The covenant of works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable unto life, God was pleased to give forth the promise of Christ, the seed of the woman, as the means of calling the elect, and begetting in them faith and repentance; in this promise the gospel, as to the substance of it, was revealed, and [is] therein effectual for the conversion and salvation of sinners [3]”.

[1] Blaising, Craig and Bock, Darrel, Progressive Dispensationalism (Grand Rapids, MI.  Baker Books: 2003), 197-198

[2] Arthur Walkington Pink, The Divine Covenants (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1973), 33

[3] 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith 20.1; Genesis 3:15, Revelation 13:8