Over the last few weeks, I’ve been blogging through the Marrow of Modern Divinity.
Chapter 1 of The Marrow covered the Covenant of Works that God made with our father Adam. The chapter dealt with the arrangement that God made with all mankind through our first father, which Adam subsequently broke and plunged all his descendants into a willful rebellion of sin and misery (Read my post on Federal Theology).
Upon Adam’s fall, God began to reveal his Plan of Salvation by Free Grace which He had purposed in Himself from all eternity. From Adam to Christ, this Plan was revealed in fuller and fuller measures until the full revelation of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, was manifest to mankind.
Part 1 – Promise to Adam
Part 2 – Promise to Abraham
Part 3 – Promise through Moses (foreshadowed in Passover), Part 1
Part 4 – Promise through Moses (Christ foreshadowed in Ceremonial Law), Part 2
Gal 3:16-24 reads…
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ [Abrahamic Covenant], the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after [Mosaic Covenant], cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
Why the Law?
18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. 19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; …
Is the Law Against the Promise of Grace?
21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
A Three-fold Law…
- Drive men to Christ by conviction of Moral Law
- Foreshadow Christ by types and shadows of Ceremonial Law
- Teaching holiness/uncleanness
- Teaching grace/mercy/forgiveness by:
- blood shed of an innocent substitute
- the need of a mediator
- Promising earthly blessing/life for obedience
- as types of the eternal spiritual blessings found in Christ
- As a Civil Law to govern that nation of peoples
The first two types or uses of God’s law were primarily religious in nature and were designed to weary men of their ‘self-righteousness’ and drive them to Christ for mercy and forgiveness. This view of the law has been challenged by some. The question of the use of the law and the relation of the covenants under God’s One Plan of Salvation for mankind is tacked in The Marrow in the section of Chapter 2 dealing with the Promise of God’s Grace as revealed during the Mosaic Dispensation. A few of the questions and (abbreviated) answers from that section are reproduced below:
Did the ‘Israelites at this time did see Christ and salvation by him in these types and shadows?
“I say, there is no question but every spiritual believing Jew, when
he brought his sacrifice to be offered, and, according to the Lord’s command, laid his hands upon it whilst it was yet alive, (Lev 1:4), did, from his heart, acknowledge that he himself had deserved to die; but by the mercy of God he was saved, and his desert laid upon the beast; and as that beast was to die, and be offered in sacrifice for him, so did he believe that the Messiah should come and die for him, upon whom he put his hands, that is, laid all his iniquities by the hand of faith. …
Wherefore, you may assure yourself, that as Christ was always set before the fathers in the Old Testament, to whom they might direct their faith, and as God never put them in hope of any grace or mercy, nor ever showed himself good unto them without Christ: even so the godly in the Old Testament knew Christ by whom they did enjoy these promises of God, and were joined to him. …”
Confer Hebrews 11:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report. …13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had
opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. …24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; 25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. …39 And these
all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
Do the Scriptures promise different ways of salvation in the Old Covenant and the New Covenant?
|Old Covenant||New Covenant|
|Righteousness, life, and eternal salvation, promised through Christ the Mediator, being not yet come||Eternal salvation given through Christ, being already come, and having purchased it for us.|
|Salvation revealed ‘in types and figures’||Salvation ‘sealed and ratified by his very blood’ shed for our sins|
|Temporary and changeable – the types ceased, but substance remains||Unchangeable, the seals of it are commemorative of ‘the Lord’s death until his coming again.’|
|Chiefly offered earthly blessings, signifying Spiritual blessings||Chiefly offers Christ and his blessings, in which are found earthy blessings|
|Faith apprehends the righteousness to come – “shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.”||Faith apprehends the righteousness that has been revealed – “in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit”|
(Cf Heb 8:8-13)
Fisher uses Acts 15:10-11 and Gal 3:6-7 to bolster his view that the two covenants, though differing in administration are one and the same in substance and are therefore two dispensations of God’s Single Program of Grace (or Covenant of Grace) with his elect.
Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. (Acts 15:10-11)
Note: If the pronoun ‘they’ refers back to ‘our Fathers’, this is certain evidence that the Apostles understood and preached that the Patriarchs, under the law, were saved by faith in Christ.
Antinomista “Why, then, sir, it seems that those who were saved amongst the Jews, were not saved by the works of the law?”
Evangelist “No, indeed; they were neither justified nor saved, either by the works of the moral law, or the ceremonial law. For, as you heard before, the moral law being delivered unto them with great terror, and under most dreadful penalties, they did find in themselves an impossibility of keeping it; and so were driven to seek help of a Mediator, even Jesus Christ, of whom Moses was to them a typical mediator: so that the moral law did drive them to the ceremonial law, which was their gospel, and their Christ in a figure; for
that the ceremonies did prefigure Christ, direct unto him, and require faith in him, is a thing acknowledged and confessed by all men.”