The Covenant of Works

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Th Covenant of Works is a theological phrase which speaks of the pre-Fall agreement between God and Adam in which Adam was promised blessing and life upon obedience to the terms of the covenant and cursing and death should he disobey the terms of the covenant. The Bible teaches that in Adam, all broke the covenant (Hos. 6:7) so, in Adam all die (1 Cor. 15:22) Likewise in Christ the elect are granted a restored covenant relationship with God.

"Is the covenant of works still in force? In several important senses it is. First of all, Paul implies that perfect obedience to God’s laws, if it were possible, would lead to life (see Rom. 7:10; 10:5; Gal. 3:12). We should also notice that the punishment for this covenant is still in effect, for “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). This implies that the covenant of works is still in force for every human being apart from Christ, even though no sinful human being can fulfill its provisions and gain blessing by it. Finally, we should note that Christ perfectly obeyed the covenant of works for us since he committed no sin (1 Peter 2:22) but completely obeyed God on our behalf (Rom. 5:18–19)." - Wayne Grudem

"...Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?...If you would enter life, keep the commandments." Matthew 19:15-17 [...but what is impossible with man [repentance, faith, keeping the commandments] is possible with God.]

"For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them." - Romans 10:5

"You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the LORD." - Leviticus 18:5

"But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me." - Hosea 6:7

"For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it." James 2:10

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them." Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous shall live by faith." But the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them." - Galatians 3:10-12 (quoting Deut 21:23, Deut 27:26, Hab 2:4, and Lev 18:5; also see Is 32:15, 44:3; Jer 11:3; Ezek 18:4; Joel 2:38; Matt 5:19; John 7:39; Acts 5:30; Gal 2:6, 4:5, 5:4; Rom 1:17, 4:9, 15-16, 10:5; Heb 10:38; 2 Peter 2:1; Rev 22:3)

"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons." Galatians 4:4

"For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us..." Rom 8:3-4

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." Matthew 5:17 ...
This means that although Jesus was ontologically perfect as God, he still needed to obey the law from our side in order to impute his perfect righteousness as a human to us. Otherwise we downplay the necessity of the incarnation.

"John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.'" Matthew 3:14-15

"In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek." - Hebrews 5:7-9

"For as by the one man’s" disobedience [Adam] the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience [Christ] the many will be made righteous." - Rom. 5:19

(Also see Deuteronomy ch. 30; Romans 5:12-19; 1 Cor. 15:22, 45-49; Luke 22:20; Hebrews 9:15)

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