Here are the first 4 sermons of a series on a Biblical Theology of the Lord’s Day from an Orthodox Catechism Q. 1114-5. I’ll add more links as more sermons are uploaded:
Here are the first 4 sermons of a series on a Biblical Theology of the Lord’s Day from an Orthodox Catechism Q. 1114-5. I’ll add more links as more sermons are uploaded:
The following is a translation of the Spanish post by Pastor Sugel Michelén. He notes on his blog post that the material can be reproduced and transmitted without copyright under the following conditions:
© By Sugel Michelén. Todo Pensamiento Cautivo. You can reproduce and distribute this material, always without lucraticve goals, without altering its content and acknowledging its author and origin.
Here is the link to the original post in Spanish:
I have also translated the post to Portuguese on my blog:
1. Man created in the image and likeness of God has the duty to imitate him, and our God established in His creative work a model of 6 days of work and 1 day of rest (in the 4th commandment of the Decalogue God himself makes this connection between His example and our duty, compare Exodus 20:8-11).
2. Upon finishing His creation God blessed the 7th day and sanctified it, as it says in Genesis 2:1-3. So that the day of rest (Sabbath) was not instituted by God at Sinai, nor was it designed exclusively for the nation of Israel. It is concerned about the ordinance of creation, just as marriage and work, established by God for the benefit of man, as the Lord says in Mark 2:27.
3. The day of rest (Sabbath) supplies two of man’s basic necessities: the necessity that we have to give rest to our bodies and to have communion with God without our own impediments of a life of work in the rest of the week. Therefore, it is about a blessing and privilege, not a straitjacket which would be better to free oneself from it.
4. The day of rest (Sabbath) was included in the Ten Commandments, in the summary of the moral law of God, written on two tablets of stone by the same God. These Ten Commandments posses a unique importance in conjunction with the mosaic laws.
5. Paul teaches in Romans 2:14-15 that even the gentiles that do not know the Word of God have the work of this law written on their consciences. Therefore, this moral law continues to be the divine standard to judge what is and is not sin (compare Romans 3:20; 4:15; 7:7; 1 John 3:4). If this moral law was no longer valid these texts wouldn’t make any sense.
6. One of the central blessings that God promises in the New Covenant is to write His law on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-34). In other words, God did not promise to annul the Ten Commandments, rather to give us the capacity to appreciate and obey them. And in no place in the Old Testament or in the New Testament is the possibility suggested to reduce the 10 commandments to 9.
7. Our Lord Jesus Christ said expressly in Matthew 5:17-20 that he did not come to abrogate the law and the prophets. This expression “the law and the prophets” signifies all of the Old Testament. So that the Lord is establishing clearly that He sis not come to annul, rather to fulfill, the teachings of the Old Testament. Now well, “What does this mean?” Various things. As Robert Martin pointed out this means that Christ came to perfectly obey the moral law of God, to suffer the curse of its disobedience in place of His people, to fulfill all of the ceremonial types of the ceremonial law, to establish the kingdom towards which the civil laws pointed, and to fulfill all of the prophecies that were given in reference to Him. But now note something important. Beginning in verse 18 the Lord says explicitly that the subjects of His kingdom should take very seriously the ethical demands of this law (verses 18-20). What does this imply in relation to the Ten Commandments? The Lord Jesus Christ is extremely clear with respect to this in verses 21-22, and 27-28. Christ did not come to annul these commandments, rather to teach those who belong to Him the true scope of each of them. Someone can say that the Lord didn’t mention the 4th commandment here, but neither did he mention the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 8th, 9th, and the 10th. He chose 2 of the 10 in order to show the true scope of the commandments of the moral law of God.
8. During His earthly ministry our Lord Jesus Christ occupied himself with the 4th commandment more than any other commandments form the Decalogue. instead of annulling it, the Lord purified this ordinance from all of the bonds imposed b y the scribes and Pharisees, and whom made this day a difficult burden to bear.
9. The New Testament teaches that the Ten Commandments conform an unbreakable unit (James 2:8-11); so that you cannot annul one of the commandments without affecting the rest. To pop a globe you don’t have to pinch it in various parts at the same time. It is sufficient to pinch it only on one side to pop it. Likewise the Decalogue is like a globe; whatever commandment that one violates, he violates the entire globe.
10. Paul teaches clearly that the moral law of God resumed in the 10 commandments continues to be the law of the life for New Covenant believers (compare Romans 7:7, 12, 14 – it is spiritual in the sense that it has an divine origin and character, 1 Corinthians 2:12, and in the sense that it regulates our internal conduct, no only our external appearance; 18, 21 – 8:4).
11. The pattern established by God for His people in the New Testament continues with the same frequency of meeting as His people in the Old Testament: once a week.
12. The redemptive work of Christ does not annul the necessity that we have to give our bodies rest once a week, and to occupy ourselves with our relationship with God in a special way, without our impediments from the rest of the week. Until we enter heaven, we need a day of rest.
13. In Revelation 1:10 the apostle John refers to a day of the week as “the Lord’s day”; and it is generally accepted that John is referring there to Sunday, the day in which the church was accustomed to gather to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I write this post as an earnest plea to those who accept the tenets of the Federal Vision (also abbreviated in this post as FV), those attending a CREC church or church with Federal Vision tendencies or sympathies, the official network of churches for the Federal Vision Movement, or those who are trying to consider the issue involved with this crucial topic that relates to the essential Christian Doctrine of the distinction of the Law and Gospel among related issues.
This post is intended to gather as much resources as possible in 1 place on the Federal Vision, so that you can evaluate the sources yourself and see some of the main responses and resources available. Some of these resources are from reformed Presbyterians, while others are from reformed baptists.
Reformed baptists are not immune to the aberrant doctrines of the FV, as a former member of a FIRE church there were some of the elders who openly promoted FV advocates such as Douglas Wilson and James Jordan as orthodox and biblical authors and pastors, recommending their books and resources to the congregation. So within contexts of those holding to a limited view of subscription to a Reformed Confession, it can open the door to threats such as the FV or the New Perspective on Paul.
R. Scott Clark made a historical comment about loose subscription by Scottish Presbyterians, that also serves as an important warning today since loose subscription and system subscription leave a lot of loopholes open that can potentially become serious problems such as the FV,
“In 1900, foreshadowing developments to come in North America, the Kirk of Scotland required only that ministers subscribe with the understanding that the WCF was the confession of the Church of Scotland and that by signing it they were declaring that they “believe the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith contained therein.” Obviously , one could drive a truck through such verbal holes, and that has been done for a century” (R. Scott Clark, Recovering the Reformed Confession: Our Theology, Piety, and Practice, 166-167).
FV Joint Statement of Faith 2011 (Notice how they redefine sola fide just like Richard Baxter to attempt to sound orthodox, but they end up redefining and denying sola fide):
For those unfamiliar with the Federal Vision Movement R. Scott Clark gives a useful overview on his podcast, episodes 55-57, of their basic theological presuppositions:
R.Scott Clark also gives a useful overview of the FV movement on this podcast episode of Echo Zoe:
If you haven’t read my posts on Richard Baxter on Justification, then you should read those first before proceeding with the other resources on this post since they provide important historical background as a precursor to the modern FV movement:
This interview between Michael Horton and Douglas Wilson shows how Douglas Wilson tends to redefine terms to appear orthodox, to make it more difficult to identify his FV views i.e. he denies that the Adamic Covenant was a covenant of works in the interview and tries to make it also a gracious covenant, playing the same semantic games as Richard Baxter did with his responses to orthodox divines in the 17th century:
Here are 2 committee responses by Presbyterian denominations, the URCNA and OPC responding to the Federal Vision. The OPC document is longer since it also has a section responding to the New Perspective on Paul under the same committee study, and it also systematically addresses how the FV and NPP (New Perspective on Paul) not only modify the doctrine of justification, but all of the key areas of theology such as the doctrine of God and Ecclesiology. Although I hold to a 1689 federalism view of covenant theology these two committee reports are still profitable for understanding the FV and providing a biblical response to it.
URCNA (United Reformed Churches in North America) Response to the FV:
OPC Committee response to the NPP & FV:
Here are some additional resources for studying the FV movement from a reformed baptist perspective to provide a biblical response to the aberrant views that it propagates by mixing the law and Gospel:
In contrast to common labels of neonomianism as legalism, this is actually a misnomer in identifying neonomianism because both neonomians and antinomians error due to a deficient view of God’s law. The neonomians reduce the standards necessary for justification permitting imperfect sincere evangelical obedience as sufficient, whereas antinomians deny the third use of the moral law and apply terms referring to justification to sanctification making evangelical righteousness in sanctification unnecessary. In addition to Owen’s three characteristics necessary for a proper understanding of justification: God’s law, God’s holiness and majesty, and man’s depravity; a proper understanding of imputation is also required which relates to Owen’s three primary conditions since a deficient view of God’s law and man’s depravity leaves open the possibility of one’s own evangelical righteousness being imputed to oneself to fulfill the requirements of the Gospel covenant as the neonomians proposed. Benjamin Keach provided a unique critique of the neonomians’ federal theology with his argument for viewing the covenant of grace as threefold in its execution thereby grounding justification in God’s decretive will rather than God’s prescriptive and making the covenant of grace consist solely of the elect, not a mixed seed, the elect and their infants.
The neonomian errors of Baxter and his followers whom Keach responded to shortly following after Baxter’s death have not remained dormant. In Scotland in the 18th century the republication of Edward Fischer’s The Marrow of Modern Divnity by Thomas Boston sparked heated debate in the Church of Scotland, which declared the book as antinomian. Fischer had responded to neonomain errors in the 17th century with his book but it primarily remained unnoticed until it was republished by Thomas Boston with his additional explanatory notes. Thomas Boston along with other supporters of the The Marrow of Modern Divinity were called Marrow men, and they ended up splitting from the church of Scotland later forming the Secession churches. Thomas Boston does reference Richard Baxter once in his notes stating, “We would beware of Mr. Baxter’s order of setting repentance and works of new obedience before justification, which is indeed a new covenant of works.” Edward Fischer and Thomas Boston came to similar conclusions as John Owen and Benjamin Keach regarding the errors of neonomianism such as: 1. placing repentance before faith as antecedent to justification, 2. trusting one one’s own obedience to God’s law for assurance rather than in Christ’s finished work, 3. viewing the covenant of grace as a covenant of works requiring obedience as the precondition for justification, 4. a denial of good works being a fruit of justification rather than antecedent to justification, 5. denying Christ as a Surety for the elect, and 6. denying the necessity of Christ’s active and passive obedience as well as Christ’s imputed righteousness as the sole basis for justification.
The neonomians stand not only as a warning for the errors of making the covenant of grace into a covenant of works and turning towards a Catholic view of justification, but also as a warning of how Christians ought to respond to antinomianism and to be cautious not to make conditions such as repentance or good works necessary for justification rather than being part of sanctification.
“Hence this Article [Justification] is justly styled, by worthy writers, Articulus stantis, vel cadentis Religionis: The very Pillar of the Christian Religion. Other subjects a Minister may preach upon, and that unto the Profit and Advantage of the People; but this he must preach, this he cannot omit, if he would truly Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
 William VanDoodeward, The Marrow Controversy and Seceder Tradition: Marrow theology in the Associate Presbytery and Associate Synod Secession Churches of Scotland (1733-1799) (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2011), 113
 Edward Fischer, The Marrow of Modern Divinity (Ross-shire, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 2009), 161
 1. ibid, 146-148, [Thomas Boston’s notes] 159; 2. ibid, 106; 3. ibid, 108; 4. ibid, 114; 5. ibid, 120; 6. [Thomas Boston’s Notes] ibid, 126
 Benjamin Keach, Marrow of True Justification, 18
I apologize for the long gap between posting this section and the last part.
This is the second to last section covering John Owen’s Doctrine of Justification in response to the Neonomians, and the last post will be the conclusion of all the posts in this series.
An Analysis of John Owen’s Federal Theology & Doctrine of Justification
John Owen begins by discussing the necessary presuppositions for a proper understanding of the doctrine of Justification in his book, The Doctrine of Justification by Faith through the Imputed Righteousness of Christ Explained, Confirmed, and Defended. He gives three primary presuppositions necessary for a biblical doctrine of justification: a clear understanding of Man’s depravity, the guilt of sin, and God’s majesty and holiness. John Owen’s understanding of Covenant theology and the necessary antithesis between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace, the law-gospel distinction is crucial for John Owen’s articulation of the doctrine of justification since no one can merit the perfect obedience demanded by the covenant of works based on his own personal righteousness. This is why due to man’s original sin it is impossible for any man to be justified by the covenant of works, Christ alone as the Surety for the elect must perfectly fulfill the law in their place, having his perfect obedience accredited to them as the sole basis for their justification.
Owen denies that faith is reducible to merely an assent and incorporates notitia with assentia within the three elements of justifying faith: noticia, assentia, fiducia. He defines justifying faith as, “the heart’s approbation of the way of justification and salvation of sinners by Jesus Christ proposed in the gospel, as proceeding from the grace, Wisdom, and Love of God, with its acquiescence therein as to its own concernment and condition.” He makes it clear that this justifying faith is preceded by the work of conviction without which there can be no justifying faith. Owen clearly defines repentance and obedience as consequent to faith, therefore denying repentance and obedience as preconditions for the covenant of grace as the neonomians propose. He affirmed that the object of faith is not exclusively Christ, but also includes the Father because the Father sent the son into the world to accomplish redemption according to the covenant of redemption. Owen makes an important statement concerning the fruits of saving faith in response to charges of antinomianism that faith is the root of all other evangelical graces (repentance, obedience, holiness, etc), “Only we say that it is not any other grace, nor any obedience that gives life and form unto this faith; but it is this faith that gives life and efficacy to all other graces, and form to all evangelical obedience; all gospel holiness and good works presupposes faith as their root and principle…”
In response to neonomian objections which attempt to make justification conditional because the covenant of grace is conditional, by faith, Owen responds by saying that if all the conditions of the new covenant such as perseverance are considered conditions for justification, then no one is justified until they reach the eternal state. The second possibility in which they make a distinction of two justifications, the first and a continuation of it, they undermine their argument by applying the condition to another justification (making perseverance a condition of the continuation of justification, 2nd justification, rather than a condition of the first justification). He compares the neonomians’ advocacy of making obedience and other graces necessary with faith as being a golden calf of personal righteousness,
“For after they have given the specious name of a condition and a causa sine qua non, to faith they immediately take all other graces and obedience unto the same state with it and the same use in justification, and after this seeming gold hath been cast for awhile into the fire of disputation, there comes out the calf of personal inherent righteousness, whereby men are justified before God, by virtue of evangelical covenant; for as for the righteousness of Christ to be imputed to us, it is gone into heaven and they know not what is become of it.”
In defining faith in particular Owen argues that faith is the instrumental cause of justification as denoted by the Greek preposition dia, “by, through,” in the genitive. He is careful when he defines faith as the instrumental cause of justification that he doesn’t make believers the efficacious cause of justification which would mean that they justify themselves, and he gives several examples to explain how faith is the instrumental cause of justification such as ministers of the Gospel and the sacraments. Owen observes the connection within the neonomians that those who make the formal cause of justification themselves as a result end up denying the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and faith as the instrumental cause of justification.
He provides an in-depth analysis of the Hebrew and Greek words to understand the terms used to define justification in order to refute the catholic position that to be justified is to be infused with righteousness rather than to be declared righteous. He explains the Hebrew terms used for justification in the Old Testament and points out that the Hiphil denotes a transitive action done to another, and the Hitpael denotes a reciprocal action, and he focuses on Proverbs 17:15 pointing out the declarative use of the Hiphil and he distinguishes the meaning of tsādaq in the Qal from the Hiphil (which occurs in Proverbs 17:15). These arguments by Owen don’t solely apply as responses to Catholics, but to neonomians as well, as observed by Baxter’s challenge that the words for justify and justification refer to inherit righteousness not being declared righteous by God. Owen gives a powerful reductio ad absurdum of proponents who want to make the case for infused righteousness by showing how they don’t apply the same standard for texts discussing condemnation, which is declarative, not an infusing of wicked habits,
“Wherefore as condemnation is not the infusing of an habit of wickedness into him that is condemned; nor the making of him to be inherently wicked, who was before righteous; but the passing a sentence upon a man with respect unto his wickedness; no more is justification the change of a person from inherent unrighteousness unto righteousness, by the infusion of a principle of grace, but a sentential declaration of him to be righteous.”
Owen challenges any possibility of trying to make justification composed of multiple stages affirming that justification is a single completed act, not composed of multiple parts nor a process. He responds to those who make multiple stages of justification as confusing justification with sanctification and attempting to make their good works meritorious, which would include both Catholics and the neonomians. Owen responds to the two-fold view of justification, initial and final justification, which occurs at the final judgment properly identifying the latter as vindication, not a second justification . He makes the argument that by making justification consist of multiple stages it makes justification less than its prior justification splitting it into parts rather than having one complete act of justification, so breaking it into incomplete parts becomes unnecessary. Owen does affirm evangelical righteousness as part of sanctification, but not as a precondition of justification. He strongly affirms that only perfect obedience meets the requirements of the covenant of works, which all are under being under Adam’s headship, so imperfect sincere evangelical obedience can never be sufficient grounds for justification.
Owen defines four types of imputation: ex justitia, ex voluntaria, ex injuria, and ex gratia. Imputation ex justitia refers to either federal imputation, such as Adam’s transgression or natural, man has Adam’s sin imputed to him, as if he committed Adam’s sin. Imputation ex voluntaria specifies when someone voluntarily takes the punishment for another, Owen gives the example of Paul’s statement to Philemon in Philemon verse 18, where Paul says he will take the payment due unto Onesimus. Imputation ex injuria refers to someone treating someone as if they were sinners although the person is not guilty, Owen gives the examples of 1 Kings 1:21 and 2 Corinthians 5:21. The fourth type of imputation, ex gratia, refers to an imputation of grace and favor not merited by any inherent merit to the one whom it is imputed, but to the person it is imputed to he is judged according to it (Romans 4).
Owen views the whole scope of Christ’s life as necessary in accord with his priestly office to merit justification for the elect, from Christ’s incarnation to his resurrection and exaltation, not exclusively focusing on Christ’s death . In Owen’s definition of Christ being a propitiation for the elect he doesn’t limit it to Christ’s passive obedience, bearing the wrath for the elect on the cross, but includes both Christ’s active and passive obedience and that Christ’s suffering prior to the cross were not unnecessary, so Christ’s passive obedience shouldn’t be limited to exclusively referring to the cross. The double imputation is an essential aspect of Owen’s understanding of the atonement that Christ bore the sins of the elect, and that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to them. In describing the righteousness of Christ, Owen makes the crucial distinction between evangelical and legal righteousness, legal righteousness is based on Christ’s prefect obedience imputed to believers credited as their righteousness to the law’s demands, but evangelical righteousness is a fruit of justification, part of sanctification, and in the last judgment believers’ evangelical righteousness is only for their vindication not a second justification. He argues that the imputation of Christ’s righteousness is antecedent to justification because the condition of perfect obedience demanded by the covenant of works must be fulfilled and the penalty of breaking it paid in order for anyone to be justified. Owen responds to those who propose that their faith and obedience is imputed to them as their righteousness since God’s judgments are true and he can’t declare an imperfect righteousness equivalent to perfect righteousness arbitrarily. This imputation is an act of justice not the combination of imperfect obedience with a mixture of grace to deem it perfect when it isn’t.
 John Owen, The Doctrine of Justification by Faith through the Imputed Righteousness of Christ Explained, Confirmed, and Defended (Brandeston: T. Googh, 1823), accessed February 15, 2014, http://books.google.com/books?id=dbnmAAAAMAAJ&num=13, 15
 Joel R. Beeke and Mark Jones, A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012), 493.
 ibid, 493
 “I deny therefore that this general assent to the Truth, how firm soever it may be, or what effects soever it may produce, doth answer the experiences of any true believer, as containing the entire acts of the soul towards God for pardon and justification.” Doctrine of Justification, 48; Joel R. Beeke and Mark Jones, A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012), 494
 Doctrine of Justification, 51
 ibid, 51
 “And wherever this cordial sincere approbation of the way of salvation by Jesus Christ prevails, it will infallibly produce repentance and obedience” ibid, 53
 ibid, 58; Joel R. Beeke and Mark Jones, A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012), 494
 Doctrine of Justification, 60, Owen continues to explain that Faith is alone and cannot be mixed with other conditions i.e. works, “We are justified by faith alone. For no other grace is capable of the office of faith in justification nor can be joined with it, to receive Christ and the promise of life by him, and to give glory to God on their account.” ibid, 60
 ibid, 61
 ibid, 62-63
 ibid, 65
 ibid, 66-67, Owen also identifies the efficacious cause as God alone for justification, “…there is no color of reason from the instrumentality of faith asserted, to ascribe the effect of justification unto any, but unto the principal efficient cause, which is God alone…” ibid, 67
 ibid, 68, “If we are justified through the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, which faith alone apprehends and receives, it will not be denied but that it is rightly enough placed as the instrumental cause of our justification. And if we are justified by an inherent evangelical righteousness of our own, faith may be the condition of its imputation, or a disposition for its introduction, or a congruous merit of it, but an instrument it cannot be.” ibid, 69
 ibid, 83; Owen likewise argues that the use of dikaioō also refers to declaring one justified and not merely to pardon of sins, or infused righteousness; ibid, 84
 See footnote#37 for quote from Baxter about the use of the terms justify, justification, etc. referring solely to inherent/personal righteousness.
 ibid, 85
 ibid, 89
 ibid, 90
 ibid, 91
 ibid, 94
 ibid, 107
 ibid, 108
 ibid, 118
 ibid, 118
 ibid, 119
 ibid, 120
 ibid, 120
 ibid, 78 (cited by Owen: Genesis 3:15, 1 John 3:8, Hebrews 2:13-16, Romans 4:25, Acts 5:31, Hebrews 7:27, Romans 8:34)
 John Owen, Doctrine of Justification, 47-48 (in the footnote marked by propitiation*)
 ibid, 110, 112
 ibid, 115
 ibid, 117
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:
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  ”.
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 ”.
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 ”.
 Blaising, Craig and Bock, Darrel, Progressive Dispensationalism (Grand Rapids, MI. Baker Books: 2003), 197-198
 Arthur Walkington Pink, The Divine Covenants (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1973), 33
 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith 20.1; Genesis 3:15, Revelation 13:8
4 sermons on the Regulative Principle of Worship giving the Biblical support for the Regulative Principle of worship and how it is connected tot he 2nd commandment. The sermons give a useful introduction to the Regulative Principle of Worship.
At the first General Assembly of the Particular Baptists, taking place in 1689, a variety of questions were proposed by churches, then debated and answered by the assembly. One of the questions dealt with the change of the positive law regarding the day upon which the moral obligation of the Sabbath was to be observed. The question and answer was as follows:
This section of my brief blog post series on the neonomian controversy gives a concise overview of particular Baptist Benjamin Keach’s response to Richard Baxter and other neonomians in the 17th century neonomian controversy. Due to the fact that Keach responded to this issue throughout many of his writings the scope of this section is to briefly discuss the contributions and primary responses in each of his writings pertaining to Justification and neonomianism. I do make an observation in footnote 11 that in part of Keach’s covenant theology he departs from a confessional view concerning the relationship of the covenant of redemption to the covenant of grace. For anyone interested in understanding Keach’s writings on Justification I would recommend his short but thorough book, The Marrow of True Justification (1692), as an excellent starting point for articulating a biblical doctrine of justification.
An Analysis of Benjamin Keach’s Federal Theology & Doctrine of Justification
Benjamin Keach holds a unique position within the neonomian controversy being one of only two particular Baptists who directly responded to the neonomians. He also provides a useful analysis of how Baxter’s followers argued for his position after Baxter’s death in 1691, and he responded with a pastoral concern for the congregation that he pastored over the dangers of neonomianism. His first book on Justification, The Marrow of True Justification (1692) is based off of two of his sermons on Romans 4:5. In Keach’s first response to neonomianism in The Marrow of True Justification, he identifies neonomianism as teaching that Christ purchased a lighter law which through imperfect obedience justification is obtained. He proceeds to directly respond to Baxter’s assertions concerning justification and responds to Baxter’s denial of Christ as the surety for the elect affirming the necessity of Christ’s imputed righteousness as the only grounds for justification, “If that righteousness which satisfied the law of Works, doth not justify us, I know not how we can be justified.” Keach undercuts the neonomian argument that good works can be done prior to justification because any works not done in faith are by definition not good works (Hebrews 11:6). He argues against the neonomians that the difference between the conditions for the covenant of works and covenant of grace is not quantitative, perfect vs. sincere obedience, but qualitative, perfect obedience vs. faith in Christ. Keach affirms that God’s law is a reflection of his nature and cannot be changed to accommodate fallen man with lighter terms for justification. He argues that if God knew that Adam would break the covenant of works then he would have just given a lighter law in the first place according to the neonomian position. Keach criticizes evangelical obedience as the means for gaining justification as being deduced from man’s depraved nature and the wisdom of the world. He points out that Paul doesn’t only say that his works in the past couldn’t merit justification, but in the present also are insufficient to merit justification. He affirms with Owen that Christ is not only a believer’s legal righteousness in justification, but also his evangelical righteousness in sanctification.
Keach’s next work on justification was, The Everlasting Covenant, a sweet Cordial for a drooping soul (1693), which directly connected his federal theology to his understanding of justification. He argues against the distinction between the covenant of redemption and the covenant of grace, and argues that the covenant of grace is founded in eternity and executed in time. Keach argues based on corporate solidarity that the elect were represented by Christ as their federal head so that there were not two separate parties addressed in the covenant of redemption and the covenant of grace. He views the execution of the covenant of grace as occurring when Christ died as a propitiation and expiation for the elect, he argues for three stages of the covenant of grace: founded in eternity, revealed in time, and executed by Christ’s atoning death. Keach makes the observation that because covenants are sealed by an atonement and there is no atonement to seal the covenant of redemption it makes sense that the covenant of redemption had Christ’s death in view, therefore connecting it with the covenant of grace. Based on Keach’s articulation of the covenant of grace by connecting it with the covenant of redemption as one covenant he grounds Christ’s redemptive work in God’s decreed will against the neonomians’ view that justification is part of God’s prescriptive will and therefore mutable. He further argues that if the covenant of redemption is distinguished from the covenant of grace, then Christ can obey the covenant of works on behalf of someone without performing the covenant of grace for them, leaving the door open for neonomianism.
Keach’s next work on justification, A Medium Betwixt Two Extremes (1698), contains a response to the view of eternal justification and a response to the neonomian Samuel Clark in the postscript. He makes the distinction between virtual justification based on God’s eternal decrees and actual justification, the application of justification to the elect in time (based on his sermon on Romans 8:1). Based on Romans 3:12, Keach argues that all are born under sin therefore the elect are not born justified. Keach argues that according to proponents of eternal justification, if the elect are eternally justified then they were never under condemnation being in Adam, which contradicts scripture which calls the elect prior to conversion children of wrath. He argues that no one can be simultaneously condemned being in Adam and be justified being in Christ because the latter negates the former. Furthermore Keach demonstrates that proponents of eternal justification would have to change how scripture describes Christ’s redemption because the elect were never under the curse of the law according to them. He is careful to not define faith as the cause of justification, but rather Christ’s righteousness is the sole grounds for justification. Keach denies that faith is a condition for justification in any sense, not even the instrumental cause of justification. His denial of faith justifying a sinner is in response to the neonomians who make faith a part of justifying righteousness, denying legal righteousness through Christ’s atoning work and imputed righteousness to the elect.
Samuel Clark attacked the doctrine of Christ’s imputed righteousness and said that it is faith that justifies sinners. By Clark’s redefinition of faith comprehensively, he mixes justification with sanctification and removes any assurance of salvation. Clark argued that the doctrine of Christ’s imputed righteousness isn’t taught in scripture and Keach challenged him for teaching a law-gospel as the judaizers that Paul responded to in Galatians. He argued that Christ couldn’t fulfill the law on behalf of the elect because that would mean we are justified by the law, but keach points out the distinction Paul makes between being justified by our imperfect deeds in contrast to the perfect obedience of Christ. Keach challenges Clark to show where the scripture commands imperfect obedience and points out that believers being sanctified still only yield imperfect works and Christ commanded perfection (Matthew 5:48).
Keach’s last primary work on justification is, The Display of Glorious Grace (1698), giving his exposition of the covenant of grace from sermons that he preached on it. In it he affirmed the unconditional nature of the new covenant. Keach affirmed that the members of the Covenant of Grace are solely the elect because he affirms that all members of the New covenant inherit all its promises not a mixed group of regenerate and unregenerate, which undercuts Baxter’s baptismal covenant. Keach like most 17th century particular Baptists denied the predominate view in paedobaptist federal theology of one covenant of grace under multiple administrations which gives the grounds for arguing for the continuity of the sign and seal of the Abrahamic covenant with baptism. Keach’s first response to the neonomians in The Display of Glorious Grace, is a direct response to the neonomians denial of Christ as a Surety for the elect and of Christ’s imputed righteousness, active and passive obedience. He responds to the accusation that his position affirming Christ’s imputed righteousness as the ground for justification promotes antinomianism because Christ’s redemption produces a desire in those who have been justified to love and serve him. Keach responds to the view of Samuel Clark that our justification is imperfect until our obedience is perfect, which Keach responds confuses justification with sanctification because no one will ever have perfect obedience, not even a sanctified believer. He points out the flaw in the baptismal covenant of neonomians because it has to redefine sin as not persevering in faith to meet the conditions of the baptismal covenant to be justified, so their hamartiology has to be redefined according to the baptismal covenant’s requirements, anything else isn’t considered sin. Keach argues that Christ is a perfect Mediator and therefore the perseverance of believers is ensured unlike the neonomians where assurance can never be certain because by failing to keep the baptismal covenant they are damned. He affirms that the covenant of Grace is unconditional, based solely on Christ’s imputed righteousness.
 Austin R. Walker, “Benjamin Keach And The ‘Baxterian’ Controversy of the 1690s,” The Reformed Baptist Theological Review 3, no. 1 (2006): 8
 Benjamin Keach, Marrow of True Justification (Birmingham, Alabama: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2007), 38-39
 ibid, 47, “Shall any who pretend to be true preachers of the Gospel, go about to mix their own works or their sincere obedience with Christ’s Righteousness; nay, to put their Obedience in the room and place of Christ’s Obedience, as that in which they trust and desire to be found?” ibid, 50-51
 ibid, 57
 ibid, 61
 “Alas, Sirs, the Law of God is but a Transcript, or written Impression of that Holiness, and Purity that is in his own Nature, and serveth to show us what a Righteousness we must be found in, if we are ever justified in his sight.” ibid, 63
 ibid, 65
 ibid, 70
 ibid, 73 (Philippians 2:7-8)
 ibid, 79-80 (Ephesians 5:25,26; Titus 2:10)
 Benjamin Keach, The Everlasting Covenant, a Sweet Cordial for a Drooping Soul (London: n.p., 1693), Preface (this is stated as the purpose of his book on the title page); Keach is one of two particular Baptists who argues for this distinction against the explicit distinction made in 1689 LBC 7.3, the other particular Baptist is the anonymous author of Truth Vindicated, in Several Branches thereof; and Many Objections fairly and Soberly Answered (London: n.p., 1695), 268. Special Thanks to Sam Renihan for informing me abut this anonomous reformed baptist author who takes a similar view to Benjamin Keach.
 “I cannot see that they are two distinct Covenants, but both one and the same glorious Covenant of grace, only consisting of two parts, or branches; for as that blessed Compact doth peculiarly respect Christ’s person as Mediator…yet seeing God entered into that Covenant with him, for us, as our Head, Surety, and representative, considered, it cannot be anything else but the covenant of grace” Ibid, 6, “I would know whether all the Elect were not considered in Christ, and was it not for us that he entered into that Covenant? Is not the Debtor a party with the Surety, and so the Elect a party with Christ?” ibid, 10
 “It has its application in time after we exist, and are actually in Christ, as part of the promised seed.” ibid, 9
 ibid, 12, Keach points out the irony in identifying a covenant of redemption by which no one is redeemed, “But if by virtue of the Covenant of Redemption we are not Redeemed, call it no more the Covenant of Redemption.” ibid, 13
 ibid, 16, Keach also includes justification with all other aspects of the ordo salutis purchased in the covenant of grace for the elect, “Here is the grace of the Holy Spirit, a new Heart, Justification, Adoption, Regeneration, final perseverance, and Eternal life, and all we want is in this covenant.” ibid, 36
 “I fear it lay a foundation for those errors which are got among us; as if we are to enter into a Covenant with God without Christ’s undertaking for us, as our surety: for say they, Christ did perform the Covenant of works, but doth confirm, not perform the covenant of grace.” ibid, 18
 Benjamin Keach, A Medium betwixt two Extremes (London: n.p., 1698), iii (Preface); according to Keach, the elect are not justified prior to their union with Christ, “So in the second Adam all the elect were fundamentally and representatively justified in him, his Righteousness being imputed to all his Spiritual seed, or off-spring; yet none of them are actually and personally justified until they are united to him…” ibid, 19
 ibid, 13
 ibid, 14-15 (Eph. 2:3, Rom. 8:7, Psalms 5:5, 7:11)
 ibid, 15
 ibid, 16
 “Faith adds nothing to the Merits of Christ’s blood, or meritorious sacrifice, but it is by his life, by his intercession, that it is made effectual or efficacious unto us, who pleads with God for the Spirit, which he purchased also for his elect that so the saving benefits and blessings might be applied to them.” ibid, 18
 “Also they call faith the instrumental cause of justification, which we must leave them to explain (they mean, I think, but as the hand that applies a Plaister is a cause of the cure.) We must say with a late learned Author, Faith is no qualifying condition, nor any procuring cause of our justification; tho with our faith God declares no Man a justified person. Faith does not cause or render the satisfaction of Christ any ways the more satisfactory unto God; for God was as much satisfied in Christ for his elect before faith as after…” ibid, 21-22
 ibid, 23
 “Tis not, according to Mr. Clark, the Object of Faith, not Jesus Christ that Faith apprehends, and we alone trust, but it is Faith that justifieth us comprehensively taken; that is faith, love, charity, good works, and sincere obedience that is imputed to us…” ibid, 37
 ibid, 38“Now I profess, I can see but little difference between this doctrine and that of Bellarmine’s and other Papists.” ibid, 38
 ibid, 41
 Keach quotes Clark’s argument, “…Then we are justified by the Law or Covenant of Works, in a Legal and in an Evangelical way; for then the Law is fully satisfied by Christ our Surety, and we stand recti curin, and the Law has nothing to say to us, or charge us withal; as if a Surety in Bond pay the full Debt the Creditor has no action against the principal Debtor, and there’s no Favour at all show’d him in his Discharge” ibid, 44
 ibid, 47,50
 Benjamin Keach, Display of Glorious Grace, 173
 “It is a Full Covenant; because in it there is the Mediators Fullness Communicated to all such that are united to him as the effects thereof, ’tis not a Creature-Fullness that is in Christ; no, but the Fullness of God: For it pleased the Father that in him all Fullness should dwell;- in him dwelleth the Fullness of the God-head Bodily: The Fullness of the God-head dwells as truly in the Son, as in the Father; and of his Fullness do all Believers partake, Of his Fullness all we receive, and Grace for Grace.” ibid, 196-197
 Compare 1689 LBC 7.3 with WCF 7.3 & SDF 7.3 the 1689 LBC distinguishes the Covenant of Grace revealed first in Genesis 3:15; it doesn’t use the language of different administrations as the WCF & SDF. Also Keach’s understanding of the covenant of grace being founded in eternity rather than being a distinct covenant of redemption make s a strong covenantal credobaptist argument that the covenant of grace is exclusively for the elect.
 “Thus Mr. Baxter, Mr. Williams, Mr. Clark of Wickham, and many others. And thus is Popery revived amongst us, and Justification by Works asserted by these Law and Work-mongers, for I cannot call them Gospel-Ministers; true, they affirm that Christ died for our good, but not in our stead; the Doctrine we maintain, is, that he died for our good; But how for our good? Even so, that he suffered as our Head and Representative in our stead or room, the Just for the unjust, or the Surety for the Principal, or for the Sinner; and this according to the Terms agreed upon in the Covenant of Peace [Grace].” ibid, 76
 “Do we then make void the Law through Faith? God forbid? Yea, we establish the Law; because by Christ we attain a perfect Righteousness, being interested in his most complete and perfect Obedience to the Moral Law, and by his Spirit to live in more exact Conformity thereunto: My Brethren, Is it not our Duty still, and as much as ever it was, To love the Lord our God with all our Hearts, with all our Souls, and with all our Strength, and our Neighbor as our selves; not only sincerely, but perfectly; nay, to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect: Though we are not able to do this, yet the Moral Law still remains, and requires us thus to do; true, we shall not be Damned for want of this perfect Obedience, because Christ hath in our Nature, and stead, kept the Law perfectly for us…” ibid, 78
 ibid, 81
 ibid, 83
 ibid, 84
 “It is not made on Conditions to be performed by us, i.e. which being performed, gives us a Right unto the Reward promised thereupon; because our Right and Title to Heaven, is only by the Righteousness of Christ through his perfect Obedience to the Law.” ibid, 182
Paul Helm posted this useful comparison between the neonomian tenets of Richard Baxter’s theology and N.T. Wright, the leading proponent of the New Perspective on Paul: