The Baptist Covenantal Position, part 1

One of my favorite Christian pastors is Fred Malone of First Baptist Church in Clinton, Louisiana.  He is known for an excellent sermon series on the Bible’s Covenants. Brother Malone was recently a guest on the Iron Sharpens Iron Radio broadcast and I submitted a few questions via email for the host to ask.  In gratitude for my participation, I was sent a free copy of Dr. Malone’s book, The Baptism of Disciples Alone, by Cumberland Valley Bible Book Service (CVBBS).

In the introduction to the book, Dr. Malone briefly summarizes the historic Covenantal position for Believers Baptism, or as Brother Malone calls it, the Baptism of Disciples Alone.  A summary of his initial points, outlining the historic Baptist understanding on Federalism, is presented below…


The Counsel of Redemption

Before the foundation of the world, the persons of the Trinity entered into a Covenant (or Counsel) of Redemption to save an elect people from their sins

  • According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, …In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; …In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will (Eph 1:4-11)
  • [The Gospel] is founded in that eternal covenant transaction that was between the Father and the Son about the redemption of the elect; and it is alone by the grace of this covenant that all the posterity of fallen Adam that ever were saved did obtain life and blessed immortality… (LBC 7.3)

The Covenant of Works

When Adam was created, he was placed into a covenant of lawful obedience, which would have continued perpetually if he kept God’s commandments. This covenant is known as the Covenant of Works. As the covenant (or Federal) head of all humanity, his fall brought sin, death, and condemnation to all men.

  • Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: …through the offense of one many be dead, …for the judgment was by one to condemnation, …by one man’s offense death reigned by one; …Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; …by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners…(Rom 5:12-19)
  • For since by man came death, …For as in Adam all die…(1 Cor 15:21-22)
  • The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself but for his posterity, all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in his first transgression. (Baptist Catechism #20)

The Covenant of Grace

What Federal Theologians have historically called the Covenant of Grace, is the New Covenant. It is the historical working out of that Eternal Counsel of Redemption to save the elect.

  • Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: …But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. (Rom 5:12-19)
  • For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Cor 15:21-22).
  • And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening [life-giving] spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. (1 Cor 15:45-49)

Only Two Covenant (or Federal) Heads

There are two Covenantal (or Federal) Heads of all mankind – Adam and Christ. God decreed to create the world with Adam as the Federal Head (or representative) of every person. God decreed to permit mankind (in Adam) to fall from his state of grace, by his own free choice, into a state of sin and misery. God decreed to send His Son as a Covenant Head to rescue His elect. Therefore, every person, at any point in time, is either fallen in his Covenant Head Adam, or stands in his Covenant Head Christ;

    but is never in covenant relation to both or neither at the same time.

Future posts in this series will examine the promise of the Covenant of Grace during the Old Testament times, the inauguration of this New Covenant, and how the seal of the covenant is only to be applied to those who are effectually called into covenant union with Christ.

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