The Covenant of Works

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This is the third book in the series Recovering our Confessional Heritage. The series is sponsored by the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies in cooperation with RBAP. The Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies is a graduate theological school which aids churches in preparing men to serve in the Gospel Ministry. For more information please visit irbsseminary.org.

The purpose of the series . . . is to address issues related to the Second London Confession of Faith of 1677/89 (2LCF). . . . The series will include treatments of various subjects by multiple authors. The subjects to be covered are those the series editors (along with consultants) determine to be of particular interest in our day. The authors will be those who display ample ability to address the issue under discussion. Some of the installments will be more involved than others due to the nature of the subject addressed and perceived current needs. Many of the contributions will cover foundational aspects of the self-consistent theological system expressed in the Confession. Others will address difficult, often misunderstood, or even denied facets of the doctrinal formulations of the 2LCF. Each installment will have a “For Further Reading” bibliography at the end to encourage further study on the issue discussed. ~ from the series editors, James M. Renihan and Richard C. Barcellos

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“Moses, writing after the historical acts of creation, utilizes the covenantal name of God, Yahweh, while discussing Adam’s Edenic vocation (Gen. 2:4ff.). Isaiah utilizes concepts that started with Adam to explain the universal guilt of man, while using the word “covenant” (Isa. 25:5-6). Hosea, looking back upon previous written revelation, makes explicit what was implicit in it. The prophet’s inspired words give us God’s infallible knowledge of one of the similarities between ancient Israel and Adam. Both had a covenant imposed on them by God and both transgressed their covenants (Hos. 6:7). Paul, while reflecting on Adam’s Edenic vocation, contrasts the disobedience of Adam and its results with the obedience of Christ and its results (Rom. 5:19). The term “works” in the phrase “covenant of works” contrasts with “grace” and “gift” in Romans 5:17. Paul asserts that Adam was a type of Christ (Rom. 5:14). Adam sinned and fell short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Christ did not sin (Heb. 4:15) and, upon his resurrection, entered into glory (Luke 24:46; Acts 26:19-23; 1 Pet. 1:10-12), a quality of life conferred upon him due to his obedience (Rom. 5:21). This is the life he confers upon all believers.

These scriptural realities, understood by the utilization of the hermeneutical principles of the Holy Spirit as the only infallible interpreter of Holy Scripture, analogia Scriptura, analogia fidei, and scopus Scripturae, led to the confessional formulation of the doctrine of the covenant of works.” ~ Richard C. Barcellos

138 pages


A proper understanding of Adam’s state in the garden is fundamental to a coherent doctrine of salvation, which is why this little book on the covenant of works is so important. Richard Barcellos mines the riches of the Reformed Baptist theology and explains the covenant of works with exegetical fidelity and theological clarity. Anyone who wants greater insight into the covenant of works and Reformed Baptist confessional theology should definitely read this book.

J. V. Fesko, Ph.D.
Academic Dean
Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology
Westminster Seminary California

No document more amply demonstrates the clear lines of continuity between Reformed Baptist thought and our Christian creedal and Reformed confessional heritage than the Second London Confession of Faith of 1677/1689. And in that Confession we see the biblical teaching on the covenant of works clearly and cogently expressed. It is in breaking that covenant that Adam became a covenant-breaker, and brought down upon us the covenant curse of death (spiritual, physical, and eternal); and it is in keeping that covenant that the Second and Last Adam, our Lord Jesus, became The Covenant Keeper in our place, and brought down to us the covenant blessing of life eternal. I warmly commend the exceptionally fine work represented by this book.

Dr. Liam Goligher
Senior Minister, Tenth Presbyterian Church
Philadelphia, PA

About the Author

Richard C. Barcellos, Ph.D., is pastor of Grace Reformed Baptist Church, Palmdale, CA. He is author of The Lord’s Supper as a Means of Grace: More than a Memory, Christian Focus/Mentor and Getting the Garden Right: Adam’s work and God’s rest in light of Christ, forthcoming from Founders Press.

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