First Baptist Church, Cobden IL
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
200 South Walker St. Cobden, IL 62920

Study in the Scriptures: Matt Hartline

                 A Study in the Scriptures 
                      -with Pastor Matt


Covenant of Works (Adamic Covenant) Part Four


            My aim in writing this is to wrap up, in Part Four, our study of the Covenant of Works. I hope you have kept all previous studies so that you can go back to review and refresh your memory of them. If you would like a copy of any of the previous studies, please let me know and I will happily get you a copy. But, just to recap Part Three, we answered the question, “Upon the Covenant breaking done by our Federal Head, Adam, what is now the state and condition of fallen man?” We looked how upon the breach of covenant by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil Adam brought upon himself and upon all of his posterity sin, misery, and death. We went into some detail as to what that looks like and what it means for us now. And, we ended by saying that in our last Part on the Covenant of Works, we will look at the mercy granted to fallen man and the promise of redemption. So, let us get right into it.

Mercy Granted to Fallen Man

            Nehemiah Coxe, rightly points out that God, from all eternity, knew that man would fall, and, therefore, from all eternity, God had a “gracious purpose in Himself according to the counsel of His own will, to redeem and save a remnant of lost mankind from the lapsed and fallen state, and by His all-powerful grace, through the merits of Christ, to recover them from misery to the inheritance of a Kingdom and glory far greater than that set before Adam in his integrity.” We had looked at this in our study of The Everlasting Covenant. This “gracious purpose” from all eternity is what is called the Pactum Salutis (The Covenant of Redemption/Everlasting Covenant). By Christ, Coxe writes, “all future transactions [Covenants] managed for the good of man, and all the discoveries of grace and mercy were made to the children of men in and by Him.” The salvation and redemption in Christ of a lost, dying, and fallen people has always been the purpose and plan of God. The cross of Calvary was never a second-thought, or Plan-B in the mind of God. This was put forward so that God may display the full measure of His glorious grace and righteousness for His glory and mankind’s good. And, we see this from the very beginning.

A Promise of Redemption

            Coxe continues, “It was from this design of love and mercy that when the Lord God came to fallen man in the garden in the cool of the day… He did not execute the rigor of the law on him. Instead he held a treaty with him, which issued in a discovery of grace. By this a door of hope was opened to him in the laying of a new foundation for his acceptance with God and walking well pleasing before him.” The Fall, the sentencing, and the Promise is all found in the third chapter of the Book of Genesis. May I suggest that you read this chapter before proceeding.

            Now that you have read the chapter let’s look at this glorious promise. First, we discover that in the sentencing of the serpent there was a promise of redemption and salvation to man. In verse 15 we read, “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.” The Son of God was to come as the seed of the women, and as Coxe points out, “man was to receive the promise by faith and hope in it. In this promise was laid the first foundation of the church after the fall of man.”

            Secondly, we find that there is not only the coming of the Savior and His perfect conquest of Satan and His Kingdom in this promise, but also the “propagating and preserving a church in the world that should be heirs of that salvation,” according to Coxe. The “seed of the woman” is to be understood collectively of Christ and His members, “though” writes Coxe, “it has a principle reference to Christ personally who alone has obtained victory.” And, while Christ alone accomplished this victory, it was not only for Himself but also for His body, the church, of which every true believer is a member.

            Thirdly, Coxe tells us that following the Fall there was an “immediate restraint and modification of the curse in the sentence pronounced on Adam and Eve.” They are as follows: 1) They were subject to many evils and miseries while they lived. 2) They were subject to a temporal death. 3) They were not subject immediately, writes Coxe, “under a sentence of eternal death which was the punishment they had deserved. Fourthly, we see that this “immediate restraint and modification” continues to be the case for all of Adam’s posterity until the Second Advent of Christ.

            Fifthly, we find that the corruptibility of man, all the miseries he is subject to in life, and temporal death are the fruits of sin and of the curse due to it. They are not the full wages, but prove that there is sin in the world. But, notes Coxe, “the limitation of death also proves that there is mercy reserved for some.”

            Lastly, it is important to see that these “natural evils” cannot change as to their “penal nature,” and that, according to Coxe, they have a two-fold purpose: 1) They foretell a “dreadful storm coming on the wicked.” 2) They are all “sanctified to a believer and turned into real blessings.”

            God not only gave Adam a promise of a Redeemer, but also gave him faith in the promise. Therefore, the punishment, says Coxe, came to him as a “fatherly chastisement and not as a fruit of unpacified anger.” It is more than likely that God then instituted sacrifices that were to be offered to Him in faith. This was to serve as a reminder of the promise of the Redeemer to help and confirm his faith in the promise.

            I want to end this section by pointing out that it is important to see and lay hold of the fact that although The Covenant of Grace was revealed to Adam, Coxe shows, that “yet we see in all this there was no formal and express covenant transaction with him.” Adam had only the good of the promise now given. And, as Benjamin Keach rightly points out that “to speak of it as a promise implies that it was not yet accomplished and was not yet in the form of a testament or covenant.”

State and Condition of Adam’s Posterity

            I want to end our study on the Covenant of Works study by looking at the state and condition of mankind after the Fall. Nehemiah Coxe does a fantastic job in summarizing man’s condition and he does it in four succinct points: 1) Mankind is now born in Original Sin. We now have the fallen image of Adam, under a broken covenant, we are by nature children of wrath, unholy, and without strength. 2) We are under obligation of the law to obey, worship, and serve our Creator, though we “have no covenant interest in Him.” 3) The world is now “set under a general reprieve and the full execution of the deserved curse is delayed until the Day of Judgment.” 4) Christ has undertaken the “close of his mediatorial Kingdom” when all of his sheep are brought into the field, raised in an incorruptible state, and prepared for eternal duration. Then He will glorify with Himself all of the elect. And, others will be delivered up by a “righteous sentence to the full execution of the curse on them in its utmost rigor.”


            I hope that this has been helpful and beneficial to you and your understanding of what took place in the garden. It is important as we study the Bible to know these covenants and to have a grid as the narrative of redemption unfolds for us. When we come back next week we will begin the next covenant that is found in Scripture and that is the covenant that God made with Noah, or The Noahic Covenant. I look forward in continuing our study in Covenant Theology. May the Lord bless you and keep you always.  

For the supremacy of Christ in all things,

Brother Matt