Archive for the ‘Adam’ Category

Sin, Satan, and Satan’s Fall

January 30, 2013

I was recently directed to some questions about Sin, Satan, and Satan’s fall.

Did Satan exist before Adam and Eve? How and when did he fall?

The Scriptures do not specify when God created the angels or when specifically Satan fell.

Jude 6 states: “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.”

2 Peter 2:4 stats: “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;”

Job 4:18 states: “Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly:”

Thus, we know that some of the angels did fall and that this was due to some foolishness and sin on their part. But the exact timing of their creation is not specified.

Isaiah 14 has sometimes been interpreted as referring to the fall of Satan. There are a few reasons that this view has some weaknesses – particularly in that verse 16 speaks about kingdoms, but it is clear that at the latest Satan fell when only Adam and Eve lived.

Nevertheless, vss. 12-15 may be a reference to the fall of Satan, and may be a comparison between that fall and the fall of the king of Babylon (see vs. 4). In other words, God may be comparing the fall of the king of Babylon to the fall of Satan.

We may speculate that Satan and other angels (who are described as having wings) were created with the winged fowl on the 4th day, or that Satan and the other angels being heavenly bodies (and compared to stars) were created with the stars on the 3rd day, or that the angels were created on the first day when God created the heavens and the earth, or that they were created on the 6th day since Satan is described as a serpent. But all this is speculation, since God does not say.

All we know is that all things were made by God in the space of six days (Exodus 20:11), and therefore the angels were created in this time period.

Did sin exist before Adam and Eve?

It seems sin did not exist before the end of the sixth day, because on the sixth day God saw all that he had made and behold it was very good (Genesis 1:1). How could God say that if there was already sin?

Of course, “sin” is not a thing that has its own existence. Rather it is any lack of conformity to (or violation of) God’s law.

It seems clear that Satan’s temptation in the Garden of Eden of Eve and by her of Adam was sinful and an act of rebellion on Satan’s part.

After all, Satan is clearly identified as the serpent in Revelation 20:2 “And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,” and Revelation 12:9 “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

Moreover, his sins of lying and murdering were there:

John 8:44
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

After all, because of Satan’s lie, Eve was deceived and came under judgment of death, making Satan both liar and simultaneously murderer.

Some people may speculate that it was in this very act that Satan fell – namely that the fall of Satan is timed as immediately before the fall of man. Whether this is the case or not, we simply do not know, because Scripture does not say. One reason to think this is that the Serpent is cursed specifically together with Adam and Eve, but prior to the curse of the earth for Adam’s sin (Genesis 3:14).

The only remaining question is how there could be sin before Adam’s sin, when Scripture states:

Romans 5:12
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 just as this does not exclude Eve’s sin before Adam’s sin, so also it does not exclude Satan’s sin before Eve’s sin. For Adam was made the head of the physical creation. In Adam (not in Eve or in Satan) all mankind fell, and that in context is what Paul is describing.

Scripture tells all we need to know. John assures us that we can read the gospel of John and believe and have eternal life (John 20:31) and the Scriptures teach us that they thoroughly equip us for living the Christian life (2 Timothy 3:17). Nevertheless Scripture does not promise to answer every question we may have about everything. Some things we simply cannot be dogmatic about. We should, therefore, cease to be dogmatic where Scripture ceases revelation.

– TurretinFan

Response to Objections Regarding Merit and the Covenant of Works

August 9, 2008

In Paul’s epistles to the Romans and Galatians, Paul drives home a message of the futility of works to provide merit, and the need for grace. This message is an important aspect of the gospel, for those who seek salvation through works will perish:

Romans 9:31-33
31But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

One of the Reformed criticisms of Catholicism is its emphasis on works, i.e. on legalism. On the other hand, Reformed apologists have had to address those erring in the other direction, the antinomians. The Antinomians acknowledge the futility of works, but then improperly conclude that consequently the law is to be ignored.

Less dramatic than either of those departures from orthodox theology is the Arminian position. One of the consistent Reformed criticisms of the Arminian position is that it converts faith into a work, and makes faith the meritorious cause of salvation. Thus, while Arminians would affirm the futility of works for salvation, they inconsistently undo that affirmation by converting faith into a work. It should be noted that some of the papists have done the same more boldly by substituting “faithfulness” (i.e. obedience) in place of faith.

The Arminian error in this regard seems to stem from a lack of appreciation of the relation both between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace, as well as from a lack of appreciation of the difference in the way in which life is received in the two covenants. But it is not Arminians alone that seem to have this problem.

I recently came across comments from two pastors (both of whom signed the Federal Vision Joint Statement – and both of whom apparently are pastors at a PCA church – link) that exhibited something of the same misunderstanding. These men, of course, would not be considered Arminians, and I suspect would be gravely offended if someone were to call them such a name.

Here are their comments:

Jeff Meyers wrote:

If all you mean by “meritorious” is that an act or action fulfills the terms of a particular covenant, then faith is meritorious in the covenant of grace because it is required, according to the terms of the covenant, for attaining eternal life. If Adam’s obedience “would have been the meritorious cause of his obtaining life,” according to the terms of that pre-fall covenant, then our faith is the meritorious cause for obtaining life in the covenant of grace. After all, we’re not talking about “strict merit.” That is one of Mark’s major problems with all this merit talk.


Mark Horne likewise wrote:

Finally, whether or not the Westminster Standards ought to claim faith is a condition of the covenant of grace, the [sic] do so. This means that faith is pactum merit, and would allow us to say that faith is “improperly” meritorious.

(source – same combox)

The parallel these gentlemen are making (1) demonstrates a misunderstanding of the Westminster standards, and (2) undermines the law/grace distinction.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, I’ll provide a quotation:

3. Nevertheless, the good works of sincere believers are, like their persons, in spite of their imperfections, accepted, because of their union with Christ Jesus, and rewarded for his sake. All our approaches to God are made through Christ. It is only through him that we have access to the Father by the Spirit. Eph. ii. 18. “Whatever we do, “in word or deed,” we are commanded to “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Col. iii. 17.
As to the relation of good works to rewards, it may be observed —
1.) The word “merit,” in the strict sense of the term, means that common quality of all actions or services to which a reward is due, in strict justice, on account of their intrinsic value or worthiness. It is evident that, in this strict sense, no work of any creature can in itself merit any reward from God ; because — (a.) All the faculties he possesses were originally granted and are continuously sustained by God, so that he is already so far in debt to God that he can never bring God in debt to him. (b.) Nothing the creature can do can be a just equivalent for the incomparable favour of God and its consequences.
2.) There is another sense of the word, however, in which it may be affirmed that if Adam had in his original probation yielded the obedience required, he would have “merited” the reward conditioned upon it, not because of the intrinsic value of that obedience, but because of the terms of the covenant which God had graciously condescended to form with him. By nature, the creature owed the Creator obedience, while the Creator owed the creature nothing. But by covenant the Creator voluntarily bound himself to owe the creature eternal life, upon the condition of perfect obedience.
It is evident that in this life the works of God’s people can have no merit in either of the senses above noticed. They can have no merit intrinsically, because they are all imperfect, and therefore themselves worthy of punishment rather than of reward. They can have no merit by covenant concession on God’s part, because we are not now standing in God’s sight in the covenant of works, but of grace, and the righteousness of Christ, received by faith alone, constitutes the sole meritorious ground upon which our salvation, in all of its stages, rests. See chapter xi., on Justification.
In the dispensation of the gospel, the gracious work of the believer and the gracious reward he receives from God are branches from the same gracious root. The same covenant of grace provides at once for the infusion of grace in the heart, the exercise of grace in the life, and the reward of the grace so exercised. It is all of grace – a grace called a reward added to a grace called a work. The one grace is set opposite to the other grace as a reward, for these reasons: (a.) To act upon us as a suitable stimulus to duty. God promises to reward the Christian just as a father promises to reward his child for doing what is its duty, and what is for its own benefit alone. (b.) Because a certain gracious proportion has been established between the grace given in the reward and the grace given in the holy exercises of the heart and life; but both are alike given for Christ’s sake. This proportion has been established — the more grace of obedience, the more grace of reward — the more grace on earth, the more glory in heaven — because God so wills it, and because the grace given and exercised in obedience prepares the soul for the reception of the further grace given in the reward. Matt. xvi. 27; 1 Cor. iii. 8; 2 Cor. iv. 17.

(A.A. Hodge, A Commentary on the Confession of Faith, commentary on Sections IV-VI of Chapter XVI of the WCF, pp. 226-28, 1870 ed.)

What A.A. Hodge is explaining is that there is:

a) Strict merit (which man can never have); amd
b) Pactum merit (which Adam had).

Neither is applicable to a believer, because the covenant of grace is all of grace. Thus, it is written:

John 1:16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

And this is essential to the law/grace division, as John’s gospel continues:

John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

But perhaps some more explanation would be helpful:

In entering upon the exposition of this section, it is proper to remark, that, at the period when our Confession was framed, it was generally held by the most eminent divines, that there are two covenants connected with the salvation of men, which they called the covenant of redemption, and the covenant of grace; the former made with Christ from everlasting, the latter made with sinners in time; the righteousness of Christ being the condition of the former, and faith the condition of the latter covenant. This distinction, we conceive, has no foundation in the Sacred Scriptures, and it has long since been abandoned by all evangelical divines. The first Adam is said to have been a figure of Christ, who is called the second Adam. Now, there was not one covenant made with Adam, the condition of which he was to perform, and another made with his posterity, the condition of which they were to fulfill; but one covenant included both him and them. It was made with him as their representative, and with them as represented in and by him. In like manner, one covenant includes Christ and his spiritual seed. The Scriptures, accordingly, everywhere speak of it as one covenant, and the blood of Christ is repeatedly called “the blood of the covenant,” not of the covenants, as we may presume it would have been called, if it had been the condition of a covenant of redemption and the foundation of a covenant of grace. — Heb. x. 29, xiii. 20. By the blood of the same covenant Christ made satisfaction, and we obtain deliverance. — Zech. ix. 11. We hold, therefore, that there is only one covenant for the salvation of fallen men, and that this covenant was made with Christ before the foundation of the world. The Scriptures, indeed, frequently speak of God making a covenant with believers, but this language admits of an easy explication, in consistency with the unity of the covenant. “The covenant of grace,” says a judicious writer [Wilson of London], “was made with Christ in a strict and proper sense, as he was the party-contractor in it, and undertook to fulfill the condition of it. It is made with believers in an improper sense, when they are taken into the bond of it, and come actually to enjoy the benefit of it. How it is made with them may be learned from the words of the apostle, — Acts xiii. 34 : ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David,’ which is a kind of paraphrase upon that passage, — Is. lv. 3 : ‘I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.’ God makes the covenant with them, not by requiring anything of them in order to entitle them or lay a foundation for their claim to the blessings of it, but by making these over to them as a free gift, and putting them in possession of them, as far as their present state will admit, by a faith of his own operation.”
The supposition of two covenants for the salvation of mankind sinners, is encumbered with various difficulties. One is obvious. In every proper covenant, there are two essential parts — a conditionary and a promissory. If, therefore, there be a covenant made with sinners, different from the covenant made with Christ, it must have a condition which they themselves must perform. But though our old divines called faith the condition of the covenant made with sinners, they did not assign any merit to faith, but simply precedence. “The truth is,” as Dr Dick has remarked,” that what these divines call the covenant of grace, is merely the administration of what they call the covenant of redemption, for the purpose of communicating its blessings to those for whom they were intended; and cannot be properly considered as a covenant, because it is not suspended upon a proper condition.” The “Westminster Assembly, in this section, appear to describe what was then usually designated the covenant of grace, as distinguished from the covenant of redemption. But, though they viewed the covenant under a twofold consideration, as made with the Surety from everlasting, and as made with sinners in time, they certainly regarded it as one and the same covenant. “The covenant of grace,” say they, “was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed.” The doctrine of our standards on this deeply interesting subject, may be summed up in the following propositions: —
1. That a covenant was entered into between Jehovah the Father and his co-eternal Son, respecting the salvation of sinners of mankind. The reality of this federal transaction, appears from Ps. lxxxix. 3: “I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant.” The speaker, in this passage, can be no other but the Lord, who is mentioned in the beginning of the Psalm; and it cannot reasonably be questioned, that the words spoken have their ultimate and principal fulfillment in Jesus Christ, and assert a covenant made with him, of which the covenant of royalty made with David, King of Israel, was typical. In other places of Scripture, though the word covenant does not occur, we have a plain intimation of all the essential parts of a proper covenant. In Is. liii. 10, we have the two great parts of the covenant — the conditionary and the promissory; and the two glorious contracting parties — the one undertaking for the performance of its arduous condition — the other engaging for the fulfillment of its precious promises: “If his soul shall make a propitiatory sacrifice, he shall see a seed which shall prolong their days; and the gracious purpose of Jehovah shall prosper in his hands.” — (Bishop Lowth’s Translation.)
2. That this covenant was made with Christ, as the head, or representative, of his spiritual seed. This is confirmed by the comparison between Christ and Adam, which is stated by the apostle, — Rom. v.; 1 Cor. xv. 45, 47; which clearly establishes the truth, that Adam and Christ severally sustained a public character, as the federal heads of their respective seeds. Christ and his spiritual seed are called by the same name (Isa. xlix. 3), — a plain evidence of God’s dealing with him as their representative in the covenant. Christ is likewise called the Surety of the covenant (Heb. vii. 22); and the promises of the covenant were primarily made to him — Gal. iii. 16; Tit. i. 2.
3. That this covenant originated in the free grace and sovereign will of God. The Scriptures uniformly ascribe this transaction to the good pleasure of Him who worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will, and represent it as conducing to the praise of the glory of his grace. — Eph. i. 3-6. On this account this covenant is, with great propriety, called the covenant of grace, because it originated in the free grace of God, and conveys the blessings of salvation to sinners in a manner the most gratuitous.
4. That this covenant was established from eternity. The covenant of grace is called the second covenant, as distinguished from the covenant of works made with Adam; but though the second in respect of manifestation and execution, yet, with respect either to the period or the order in which it was made, it is the first covenant. The Head of this covenant is introduced (Prov. viii. 23), saying, “I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, ere ever the earth was;” i.e., he was set apart to his mediatory office and work, covenant of grace from everlasting. The promise of eternal life is said to have been given us in Christ “before the world began” (Tit. i. 2); and the covenant is frequently styled an everlasting covenant. — Heb. xiii. 20.
5. In the administration of this covenant, God “freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved.” Though Christ, in this covenant, represented only a definite number of mankind, who were “chosen in him before the foundation of the world,” yet, in the administration of the covenant, a free offer of salvation by Jesus Christ is addressed to sinners of mankind indefinitely and universally. — John vi. 32; Is. lv. 1; Rev. xxii. 17. This offer is not restricted, as Baxterians allege, to sensible sinners, or those who are convinced of their sin, and their need of the Saviour; for it is addressed to persons sunk in total insensibility as to their own miseries and wants. — Rev. iii. 17, 18. This offer is made as really to those who eventually reject it, as it is to those who eventually receive it; for, if this were not the case, the former class of gospel-hearers could not be condemned for their unbelief. — John iii. 18, 19.
That God “requires of sinners faith in Christ that they may be saved,” admits of no dispute. The part assigned to faith, however, has been much controverted. Many excellent divines, in consequence of the distinction which they made between the covenant of redemption and the covenant of grace, were led to speak of faith as the condition of the latter covenant. But the term, as used by them, signifies not a meritorious or procuring cause, but simply something which goes before, and without which the other cannot be obtained. They consider faith merely as a condition of order or connection, as it has been styled, and as an instrument or means of obtaining an interest in the salvation offered in the gospel. This is very different from the meaning attached to the term by Arminians and Neonomians, who represent faith as a condition on the fulfillment of which the promise is suspended. The Westminster Assembly elsewhere affirm, that God requires of sinners faith in Christ, “as the condition to interest them in him.” But this is very different from affirming that faith is the condition of the covenant of grace. That faith is indispensably necessary as the instrument by which we are savingly interested in Christ, and personally instated in the covenant, is a most important truth, and this is all that is intended by the Westminster divines. They seem to have used the term condition as synonymous with instrument; for, while in one place they speak of faith as the condition to interest sinners in the Mediator, in other places they affirm, that “faith is the alone instrument of justification,” and teach, that “faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness.” As the word condition is ambiguous, apt to be misunderstood, and is frequently employed in an unsound and dangerous sense, it is now disused by evangelical divines.
6. That God promises his Holy Spirit to work in his elect that faith by which they come to have a special interest in the blessings of this covenant. This implies, that a certain definite number were ordained to eternal life, and that all these shall in due time be brought to believe in Christ. — Acts xiii. 48. It also implies, that they are in themselves unwilling and unable to believe (John vi. 44); but God promises to give them the Holy Spirit to make them willing and able. — Ezek. xxxvi. 26. Faith, therefore, instead of being the condition of the covenant of grace, belongs to the promissory part of the covenant. — Rom. xv. 12. It is the gift of God, who worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure.— Eph. ii. 8; Phil. ii. 13.

(Robert Shaw, An Exposition of the Confession of Faith of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, pp. 88-92, Eighth ed. 1867, commentary on Chapter VII, Section III of the WCF)

I would draw the reader’s attention particularly to the following excerpt from the above discussion:

Many excellent divines … were led to speak of faith as the condition of the latter covenant. But the term, as used by them, signifies not a meritorious or procuring cause, but simply something which goes before, and without which the other cannot be obtained. They consider faith merely as a condition of order or connection, as it has been styled, and as an instrument or means of obtaining an interest in the salvation offered in the gospel. This is very different from the meaning attached to the term by Arminians and Neonomians, who represent faith as a condition on the fulfillment of which the promise is suspended. The Westminster Assembly elsewhere affirm, that God requires of sinners faith in Christ, “as the condition to interest them in him.” But this is very different from affirming that faith is the condition of the covenant of grace. That faith is indispensably necessary as the instrument by which we are savingly interested in Christ, and personally instated in the covenant, is a most important truth, and this is all that is intended by the Westminster divines.

Perhaps I should conclude this post with a last selection:

5. Lastly, The covenant of grace doth so exclude our boasting, as the covenant of works did not. This is clear from Rom. iii. 27. “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.” But if any deed or work of ours be the condition of the covenant of grace, in whole or in part, our beading is not excluded, but hath place therein, as in the covenant of works; the difference being at most but in point of degrees: for, according to the Scripture, it is working, or fulfilling the condition of a covenant, that gives the ground of boasting ; Forasmuch as “to him that worketh, the reward is reckoned of debt:” and life being of or by works in the covenant of works, though not in the way of proper merit, but in the way of paction or compact only, this gave men the ground of boasting in that covenant, according to the Scripture. Therefore, so far as life and salvation are of or by any work or deed of ours, as fulfilling the condition of the covenant of grace, our boasting is not excluded, but hath place therein as in the covenant of works. Wherefore, since the covenant of grace is so framed, as to leave no ground for our boasting, no work or deed of ours, but Christ fulfilling all righteousness, even that alone, is the condition of the covenant of grace: and our life and salvation are neither of works, nor by works, as fulfilling the condition of the covenant: Tit. iii. 5. Not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us. Eph. ii. 9. Not of works, lest any man should boast.

(Thomas Boston, A View of the Covenant of Grace from the Sacred Records, p. 74, 1797 ed.)


Thoughts / Distinctions on Merit and Adam

August 8, 2008

Is the Covenant of Works a covenant based on merit? We affirm.

By the covenant of works, we mean that covenant provided to Adam, which takes the form, “do this and live.” Thus, when we speak of the covenant of works, we are not distinguishing between the New Testament and the Old Testament, but between the Covenant of Works made with Adam and the Covenant of Grace through Christ (under various administrations, prominently the Mosaic and the Apostolic administrations).

By merit we do not mean merit in a strict sense, for merit in a strict sense would require that man give to God something more than God deserves. God, as Creator, deserves perfect obedience. Thus, it is impossible for man ever to have strict merit in the sight of God.

Nevertheless, there is covenantal or “pactum” merit in the Covenant of Works. Thus, God (by virtue of the covenant of works) bound himself to permit man to live if he obeyed. Thus, we do not refer to merited eternal life except upon condition of eternal obedience.

Thus, we do not deal in respect to this question with the issue of whether Adam would have been confirmed in obedience, if he had endured for a period of time in a state of obedience.

Our reasons for believing that there is merit (broadly defined) in the Covenant of Works is as follows:

1) Adam earned/deserved/merited death. Scripture teaches us that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The concept of wages implies merit, for wages are earned.

2) Christ earned/deserved/merited life. God had promised, if a man would keep God’s statutes and judgments “he shall live in them: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 18:5) Christ kept them perfectly, and consequently deserved life.

The two principles serve to explain salvation

1) By Adam’s disobedience we have come under the curse of the law, and have further doomed ourselves by our own personal disobedience. (Romans 5:12)
2) Since perfect obedience is the requirement of the law, it is impossible for the demerit (both Adam’s as our federal head and our own) to be overcome by through our own merit obtained through the law. (Romans 3:20 and Galatians 2:16)
3) But Christ’s death would be a violation of the Covenant of Works, since God promised life to covenant keepers. (Leviticus 18:5)
4) Moreover life for the elect would be a violation of the Covenant of Works, since man deserves death rather than life. (Romans 6:23)
5) Wherefore, Christ voluntarily (John 10:18) took the place (Romans 5:8) of the elect. (Hebrews 12:2)
6) Thereby, He was made sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21); and
7) We (the elect) were made the righteous of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

We refer to this as double imputation. Thus, Christ was slain for us. He is our vicarious, substitutionary atonement. By double-imputation he was punished and we are made free. His merit (and life) becomes our merit, and our demerit (and death) became his.

If the covenant of works is not one of meriting life by obedience (Adam failing), then Christ could not merit life by fulfilling the law. But if Christ did not merit life, then God is not strictly just in giving life to the elect. Yet God is just and the justifier of the elect, namely those who believe in Jesus. (Romans 3:26)

Praise be to our Gracious and Just God,


The Real Turretin and Pictet on: Christ’s Righteousness

August 8, 2008

Turretin writes:

Such is the perfection of the atonement, that it corresponds to the justice of God revealed in the Word, to the demands of the law, and to the miseries and necessities of those for whom it was made. Had it been in its own nature deficient, and derived its sufficiency only from God’s acceptance of it through mere grace, then the victims under the law might have possessed equal efficacy in making atonement for sin, contrary to Heb. x. 4. Its perfection is derived from its own intrinsic fulness of merit. It is perfect: (1.) In respect to parts; because it satisfied all the demands which the law makes upon us, both in relation to the obedience of life and the suffering of death. By enduring the punishments due to us, it has freed us from death and condemnation. And by its meritorious efficacy, it has reconciled God the Father to us and has acquired for us a title to eternal life. (2.) It is perfect in degree; for Christ has not only done and suffered all that which the law claims of us, but all this in a full and perfect degree; so that nothing more, in this respect, can possibly be desired. The perfection in degree is derived from the infinite dignity of the person who suffered and the severity of the punishment exacted. (3.) Hence follows the perfection in its effects. In respect of God, it has effected an entire reconciliation with him; in relation to sin, it has wrought full expiation and pardon; and in relation to believers, its effects are perfection in holiness and complete redemption, both as to deliverance from death, and as to a title to life and its possession.

(Turretin, On the Atonement of Christ, 1859 ed. p. 68)

And Pictet writes:

And not without reason is this office assigned to faith, before all other graces, because it alone, out of all the others, can subsist or stand with divine grace, seeing that it is employed, as it were, in the mere receiving and aprehending of an object which is placed without it, and because, as Toletus a Papist observes, by faith it is more clearly shewn how man is justified, not by his own merit, but by the merit of Christ, and by it alone is “boasting excluded.”

(Pictet, Christian Theology, p. 370)

Witsius Explains the Righteousness of Christ

August 8, 2008
Herman Witsius
The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man
Book II, Chapter V

XI. But we must proceed a step further, and affirm, moreover to that the obedience of Christ was accomplished by him, be believed, that it was in our room, in order thereby to obtain for us a right to eternal life. The law, which God will have secured inviolable, admits none to glory but on condition of perfect obedience, which none was ever possessed of but Christ, who bestows it freely on his own people. This is what the apostle declares, Rom. v. 16: “But the free gift of Jesus Christ is of many offenses unto justification:” that is, though we want those works, for which the reward may be due; nay, though for so many sins we may have deserved an eternal curse; nevertheless, there is something sufficient, not only for abolishing many offenses, but likewise to be the meritorious cause of righteousness; namely, the obedience of one; and it becomes ours by gratuitous gift. More clearly still, ver. 19, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made [constituted] sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made [constituted] righteous.” The former “one man” was Adam, the root and federal head of mankind. By his disobedience, all mankind, as belonging to him, were involved in the guilt of the curse: and as he sustained the person of all, what he did amiss is accounted as done by all. The other is the “one man” Christ, who neither sinned in and with Adam, nor had the dominion of sin and death passed upon him, and who is worthy to be both lord and head, a second Adam, and the origin and source of the inheritance to be devolved on his brethren. He is possessed of an obedience, even to the whole law of God, which enjoined him to have a perfect love for the glory of his Father, and for the salvation of his brethren. By that obedience, the collective body of those who belong to him are constituted righteous; that is, are judged to have a right to eternal life, no less than if every one had performed that obedience in his own person.

*** Emphasis in original. Edited by TurretinFan (2008) to modernize spelling — found at pages 178-79 of Volume 1 of the 1837 edition of this eminent work in systematic theology ***

Was Adam Offered Heavenly Life?

July 21, 2008

More specifically, the question is whether he was offered heavenly life before the fall. Pastor Wes White provides an illuminating discussion (link). Interestingly, this meshes well with another recent post of mine (Turretin cf. Goodwin). Naturally, Pastor White makes good use of Turretin in his explanation.


Real Goodwin Compared to Real Turretin

July 19, 2008

Over at a Thomas Goodwin blog (hosted by someone who enjoys the writings of the historical Thomas Goodwin – and a blog that I enjoy reading and could generally recommend) there is a new post that compares Goodwin and Turretin on the issue of what would have happened to Adam had he continued in righteousness. It is an interesting hypothetical question. Being such an open fan of Turretin, I would not want to suggest to anyone that they should take my word that Turretin makes the stronger case.

On the other hand, the main point that Goodwin makes (as I understand it), namely that no promise of confirmation in righteousness after a time of righteous obedience is promised in Scripture, makes some intuitive sense and provides the reader who is interested in the topic with a reason to peruse in more detail the arguments presented by each side.

I would respectfully submit that in limiting one’s research of Turretin on the issue to Topic 8, Question 6 (as it appears the TG blog has), one may miss some of the other things Turretin said on the issue, particularly in the third topic of the first part of Turretin’s Institutes (around question 13).

Here’s a link to the Thomas Goodwin blog’s article (link).


Why Did Adam Sin? Objections Answered

April 1, 2008

“Orthodox” has objected to my previous post (here) as follows:

You’re totally ignoring the issue.

Adam had a non-corrupt nature. But he defied that nature and sinned.

People today have a corrupt nature. But they can defy that nature and repent.

If you deny the latter, then you cannot wave away the theological problem of Adam and say he was “tempted”. If a person with a good nature can be tempted to sin, then a person with a corrupt nature can be tempted to repent.

You were pushing the line with that video that we are total slaves to cause and effect and our nature. But if that was the whole story, Adam with his good nature would not have sinned.

There are several answers that need to be given:

1) As to “totally ignoring the issue,” that hardly seems reasonable. In any event, since the objections are now being answered, even if they were ignored before, that particular criticism is moot.

2) Orthodox’s claim “Adam had a non-corrupt nature. But he defied that nature and sinned” doesn’t represent the matter well.

Adam had a nature that was not corrupt, yes. Nevertheless, as repeatedly pointed out and apparently overlooked by “Orthodox,” Adam had a fallible nature. Adam was acting within that nature (not in defiance of it) when he sinned and fell.

4) Orthodox’s argument from analogy (“People today have a corrupt nature. But they can defy that nature and repent.”), therefore, collapses. Furthermore, we have direct Scriptural evidence that Orthodox’s conclusion is incorrect.

Jeremiah 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.

Luke 6:43 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

5) Orthodox continued with the argument that, “If you deny the latter, then you cannot wave away the theological problem of Adam and say he was “tempted”.” Orthodox’s justification for this claim was that, “If a person with a good nature can be tempted to sin, then a person with a corrupt nature can be tempted to repent.” The “wave away” comment is just rhetoric. Adam in fact was tempted by the tempter, Satan, through the voice of the deceived Eve.

Orthodox’s justification is wrong for similar reasons to those already discussed above. Orthodox appears to have wrongly imagined a symmetry between Adam’s not corrupted nature and our corrupted nature.

If human nature had not been corrupted by the influence of the fall, the symmetry between temptation to sin and “temptation” to repentance might be fair. The problem is that human nature was corrupted. As a result, there is a lack of symmetry.

Adam was not constrained by his nature either to do good or ill. His nature permitted him to sin.

Our natures (prior to regeneration) are corrupt and constrain us (internally) to sin. In fact, our wills delight to sin, and sin (not righteousness) is appealing to us. Our natures do not permit us to do righteousness, because it is antithetical to us. We are not born neutral to God, but as His enemies.

This is not symmetrical to Adam’s condition. Adam was not created with a nature that was only capable of loving God. Instead, he was created with a nature that was capable of falling – of loving the creation above the Creator.

6) Orthodox’s final argument is this: “You were pushing the line with that video that we are total slaves to cause and effect and our nature. But if that was the whole story, Adam with his good nature would not have sinned.” “Slaves” again is rather rhetorical than substantive. Since all that is not God is subject to cause and effect, “slaves” is an inappropriately pejorative term. To say that the only choices are to be gods or to be slaves is rather akin to Satan’s delusion than to the reality of the matter.

Furthermore, Orthodox’s argument relies on the already-debunked theory that Adam’s nature was symmetrical to our fallen nature. It is not. However, rather than just repeat that an umpteenth time, perhaps it is easier to draw the lines of symmetry:

State 1 – Adam before the Fall
Posse Peccare – Able to Sin. Adam had a fallen nature that was capable of sinning.

State 2 – All men in Adam before Regeneration
Non Posse Non Peccare – Not Able Not to Sin. To phrase it more positively: unable to avoid sinning. As a result of Adam’s fall, all mankind descending from him naturally have a corrupt nature that hates God and loves sin. As a result of his nature, fallen man is unable to love what is good.

State 3 – Regenerate Men before Death
Posse Non Peccare – Able Not to Sin. As a result of regeneration, men are enabled to what is good in God’s sight, though men still have a war in their members. Thus, regenerate men still sin, but are able to do such things as repent and believe.

State 4 – The Elect in Glory
Non Posse Peccare – Not Able to Sin. As a result of glorification, the souls of believers (and later their bodies, if they die) are made perfect, so that they become naturally (i.e. as to their nature) unable to sin.

States 1 and 3 are roughly symmetrical and States 2 and 4 are roughly symmetrical.

Thanks be to God, who saves us by grace alone from the condemnation that we deserve,


Why Did Adam Sin?

March 29, 2008

One reader (“Orthodox”) asked:

So why did Adam sin? Because God made him bad?
Adam ate the forbidden fruit because he listened to his wife, rather than God.

Genesis 3:17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

Adam did not take it because he was deceived by the serpent (though the woman was deceived by the serpent):

1 Timothy 2:14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

Adam explained his own action this way:

Genesis 3:12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

So, in the end, what is the easiest answer we can give?

Adam loved the gift more than the giver. He loved his wife more than he loved God.

Adam was placed in a situation in which he was tempted to sin, and Adam did not resist the temptation.

God made Adam good, but God also made Adam fallible. At the appointed time, Adam fell – and in him all those whom he represented: his wife and all his natural descendents.

Then, in the fullness of time, God sent His only-begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to be the second Adam. All those who obtain life from Adam, die with Adam, but those who die with Christ from him receive life everlasting.

Praise be to God!


P.S. As an aside, it’s worth noting that philosophically we understand Adam as having a free will that was not bound by a corrupt nature. That is to say, while Adam might have had certain external constraints, he had different internal contraints than Cain, Abel, and Seth had. His will was not a slave to sin until he fell. Adam before the fall is not similar to us before grace. We are born in bondage to sin, slaves to sin. We are born not as the sons of God, but as enemies of God. It is only by the exceeding mercy of God that any of us are saved.

The Real Turretin on: the Fall

March 18, 2008

The Reformed Reader has some very brief excerpts from the real Turretin on the faith of Adam before compared to after the Fall (link).


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