The Westminster Confession of Faith: Chapter VII – Of God’s Covenant with Man

1. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of him, as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescencion on God’s part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.

>The chasm between Creator and creature is so great that only by “condecencion on God’s part” is any type of relationship possible.

2. The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam, and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.

>Two things are worth noting with respect to this point. First, the actual word covenant is never used in Genesis 2 with respect to God’s relationship with Adam. Second, nowhere in this account does God explicitly promise life to “Adam, and in him to his posterity, upon condition pf perfect and personal obedience.” I am not necessarily contradicting the divine on this point, I just making several observations. Clearly if Adam and the rest of the human race would have completely obeyed God things would have been different. But this is only speaking theoretically for it didn’t happen.

3. Man, by his Fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace: wherein he freely offered unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto life, his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.

>This was the plan all along. We see this clearly in Genesis 3:15.

4. This covenant of grace is frequently set forth in the Scripture by the name of a testament, in reference to the death of Jesus Christ, the testator, and to the everlasting inheritance, with all things belonging to it, therein bequeathed.

>Adam’s sin necessitated the Covenant of Grace.

5. This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the gospel: under the law it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all fore-signifying Christ to come, which were for that time sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation, and is called the Old Testament.

>God executed this Covenant of Grace differently in different dispensations (eras). The OT elect only had signs, allusions, and precursors to the full Gospel we now know through the resurrection of Christ.

6. Under the gospel, when Christ the substance was exhibited, the ordinances in which this covenant is dispensed, are the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; which, though fewer in number, and administered with more simplicity and less outward glory, yet in them it is held forth in more fulness, evidence, and spiritual efficacy, to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles; and is called the New Testament. There are not, therefore, two covenants of grace differing in substance, but one and the same under various dispensations.

>Here we see how God administers His grace in the current dispensation (era). Clearly though, it was this one plan of salvation all along that made God’s grace possible (Rom 3:26). I would also add that inclusion does not presuppose exclusion. In other words, not that God has initiated the Church with Jews and Gentiles it does not mean that God has to be done working with Israel at a national level.