Audio: Nine Points (Part 6) The Difference Between the Covenants of Works and Grace

Nine Points of Synod Schereville (part 6)

This talk is part of the ongoing series in the adult class at the Oceanside URC, Carlsbad, CA. Today we looked at points 3 and 4 of the Nine Points of Synod Schereville (URCNA; 2007).

“Synod affirms that the Scriptures and confessions teach the doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone and that nothing that is taught under the rubric of covenant theology in our churches may contradict this fundamental doctrine. Therefore Synod rejects the errors of those:

  1. who confuse the ground and instrument of acceptance with God before the fall (obedience to the commandment of life) with the ground (Christ who kept the commandment of life) and instrument (faith in Christ) of acceptance with God after the fall;
  2. who deny that Christ earned acceptance with God and that all His merits have been imputed to believers (BC 19, 20, 22, 26; HC 11-19, 21, 36-37, 60, 84; CD I.7, RE I.3, RE II.1);”

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    • No.

      Reformed orthodoxy teaches and the Reformed churches confess that believers are elect in Christ from all eternity. Here is where the pactum salutis comes into view. See CJPM on this.

      Sent from my iPhone

  1. So you follow the ‘Covenant of Redemption’?

    So basically you’re saying that the Father and the Son work out and write the ‘script’, and then the Son enters stage right and ‘acts’ out the cues provided by the pre-written script?

    If, crudely this is so, how does Reformed orthodoxy avoid a ‘two-wills’ shape to their theology; or do they?

    • Bobby,

      There’s an entire, detailed (exegetical, historical, and theological) chapter on the pactum salutis in CJPM. There are extensive footnotes to the literature on the subject. See also Mark Beach’s work on the PS. There was a diss. on the PS at Calvin Theol Sem not long ago too. Info is on WorldCat.

  2. Btw, Scott,

    I just gained access to that chapter on the CJPM, I’ve only skimmed it thus far; but this only confirms the problems that I have with this approach, and only assures me that we have “two-wills” at play in this construct (which is a problem from my vantage point).


  3. Sorry for coming late to this and thankyou for the references on PS, Scott.

    Just in reply to Bobby’s point – Can I suggest that there are two questions worth considering:

    – how is the one will of the Godhead expressed at the level of person?
    – how does the Triune God make contingent decisions?

    As regards the first, the major theologians of both East and West have often spoken as if the divine will were a set of wants which is existentially expressed in the persons in perfect harmony – thus they have “one will” but they also have their own “wills” (Of course it gets more complicated than this!).

    In relation to the second issue, we have to make a decision about what it is that decides to create and redeem etc. Is it a unipersonal entity – the Triune God? Or is it the persons of the Trinity? Medieval Western theology often found itself talking as if it were the first, but the great thing about PS is that it shows how it can be the latter.

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