Monday, October 4, 2010
The Word became flesh to crush the Serpent's head and destroy death. The heart of the everlasting covenant or Gospel is Christ and Him crucified. The doing and dying of Christ is His work of fulfilling the triune God’s everlasting covenant. The Covenant of Works with Adam was the pre-Fall administration of the everlasting covenant as it applied on earth at that time. Christ came into the world as the new Adam to keep the Covenant of Works and thus destroy His elect’s covenant with death and Satan.
It was during the pre-Fall Covenant of Works administration of God’s everlasting covenant that Adam rebelled against God. This he did by uniting with Satan in covenant against God in whose image we were made. The defiant Adam broke his pre-Fall probation by eating the forbidden fruit. Thus Adam broke the condition of the Covenant of Works which was to love God and your neighbour as yourself.
It is important to note that Adam broke God’s Law, i.e., the Ten Commandments by eating the forbidden fruit. Yes, abstaining from eating the forbidden fruit was an outward commandment given verbally by the triune God to Adam. However, when Adam ate the forbidden fruit he was going against his nature. He was the image of God which (among other things) was that he had God’s Law written on his heart, i.e., internally. Thus the external commandment to not eat the forbidden fruit was a test to see if Adam would keep the internal commandments – that which God had written on mankind’s heart.
Paul speaks of these internal commandments as ‘the work of the Law written in their hearts’ Romans 2:15. To be sure, because the Ten Commandments (as we know them) presuppose sin, pre-Fall they would have been written in positive terms on man’s heart.
The Law written on man’s heart in the beginning (i.e., the Ten Commandments) would have been something like this: 1. Worship God exclusively. 2. Worship God spiritually. 3. Worship God sincerely. 4. Worship God as He will be worshipped. 5. Respect authority. 6. Respect the life and rights of others. 7. Be pure and loyal. 8. Be honest. 9. Be truthful. 10. Be happy and content. (see Francis Nigel Lee quoting Yost, The Covenantal Sabbath, p. 24).
Sin is the breaking of God’s Law. God’s Law is summarised in the Ten Commandments. These are summarised again in love God and your neighbour as yourself. Thus when Adam sinned he broke the law of the everlasting Covenant.
Scripture says that ‘the wages of sin is death’ Romans 3:23. This is the same death that God threatened Adam on pain of his breaking the Covenant of Works pre-Fall. ‘Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you may not eat, for in the day that you eat of eat, you will surely die’ Genesis 2:17. Therefore to be a sinner is to be a covenant breaker under the covenant-penalty of death.
The devil and death figure prominently in the good news or the Gospel. ‘Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage’ Hebrews 2:14-15. Also, ‘Our Saviour Jesus Christ has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel’ 2 Timothy 1:10.
The Gospel is synonymous with the Covenant of Grace. God began to reveal His Gospel or Covenant of Grace immediately after Adam sinned in the garden. Theologians refer to this as the protevangelium found in the following words, ‘The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel”’ Genesis 3:14-14.
The promised ‘Seed of the Woman’ is Christ (Galatians 3:16; 4:4). Every time we sin we are reminded of mankind’s covenant with the devil against God and God’s war with the devil and all who are in league with him. ‘He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil’ 1 John 3:8.
The pre-Fall Adam was on probation. He broke his probation and sided with the devil against God. Jesus is the replacement Adam. The devil tried to tempt Him to side with him by promising Him ‘all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.’ There was a condition to this satanic covenant. The devil said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me’ Matthew 4:9.
Jesus perfectly kept God’s Law in the face of all kinds of adversity from the devil and his seed. His Law-keeping was done as representative of all who would believe in Him for salvation. He did what none of us could do because we belong to the human race – which is fallen and is therefore sinful in the eyes of God.
Jesus was without any sin of His own. However, God imputed our sin to Him and imputed His righteousness to us. 'The LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all' Isaiah 53:6b. And, ‘Righteousness shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offences, and was raised because of our justification’ Romans 4:24-25.
In summary, Jesus (as the last Adam or second Man) kept perfectly the Covenant of Works and also paid its penalty in full (which was death). Therefore the Father released Him from death as proof that His mission on earth was accomplished. His mission was to destroy the works of the devil, our covenant with the devil and with death. ‘The last enemy that will be destroyed is death’ 1 Corinthians 15:26.