The Doctrine of Republication (of the Covenant of Works)
The Law Is Not of Faith by Bryan D. Estelle, J.V. Fesko, and David VanDrunen (Editors)
[Hodge says] "God entered into a covenant with Adam", "the promise annexed to that covenant was life," "the condition was perfect obedience," and the penalty of this covenant was death." The covenant of works predicated on the command "This do and thou shalt live,"(Lev. 18:5) required perfect obedience by Adam and established a principle of strict justice or merit... The Work of Christ is a real satisfaction, of infinite merit, to the vindicatory justice of God; so that he saves people by doing for them, and in their stead, what they are unable to do for themselves, satisfying the demands of the law on their behalf, and bearing its penalty in their stead." -
...The law of Moses was, in the first place, a re-enactment of the covenant of works [but that is not its only function]. A covenant is simply a promise suspended upon a condition. The covenant of works, therefore, is nothing more than the promise of liffe suspended on the condition of perfect obedience.
...As the gospel contains a renewed revelation of the law, so the law of Moses contained a revelation of the gospel. It presented in its priesthood and sacrifices, as types of the office and work of Christ, the gratuitous method of salvation through a Redeemer. This necessarily supposes that faith and not works was the condition of salvation.
To affirm that in some sense the covenant of works is republished at Sinai is not to say that there is a different way of salvation in the Old Testament from the New. The Doctrine of republication is not in any way dispensationalism...Reformed theology, in the doctrine of republication merely points the redeemed sinner to Christ as the one who has fulfilled the broken covenant of works and has redeemed him from the curse of the law.
[Amandus Polanus (1561-1610)] cites four reasons for this repetition of the covenant of works in the Mosaic covenant:
1. That God by all means might stir up men to perform obedience.
2. That every mouth might be stopped, and all the world might be made subject to the condemnation of God for not performing perfect obedience (Rom 3:19)
3. That he might manifest man's sin, and naughtiness (Rom 3:19:20; 7:7-11)
4. That he might thrust us forward to seek to be restored in the covenant of gracer (Gal 3:22, 5:23).
When we come to the pages of the NT, Jesus does not emerge on stage divorced from antecedent redemptive history. In fact, it is against the backdrop of the theme of the probation and exile of God's son that so many of the seemingly disparate statements about Jesus cohere and make sense....Unlike God's disobedient son [Adam], Jesus was perfectly obedient to the will of his Father. in fact, one of the exegetical flags that alerts the reader that Jesus is retracing Jesus steps, especially as it relates to the Mosiac covenant, is that, in his temptation, Jesus responds with three quotations from Deuteronomy (6:13, 16, 8:3) Jesus obedience, however, was not merely in his wilderness temptation, but was throughout his life and culminated in his crucifixion. It was because of this obedience unto death that Jesus' heavenly Father gave him the name that is above every name (Phil. 2:5-11). In terms of the antecedent preredemptive and redemptive history, or Adam's and Israel's failure, Jesus the faithful Son successfully passed the probation, yet though he was faithful and obedient, he nevertheless suffered exile on behalf of his bride, the covenant people of God (Heb. 13:11-12)...
We should not miss the implied comparison between Adam and Israel (Rom 5:12), in that both transgressed expressly revealed commands, whether Adam's transgression of the prohibition to eat from the tree of knowledge or Israel's transgression of the Torah, the stipulations of the Mosaic covenant.
Calvin writes, "The covenant made with all the patriarchs is so much like ours in substance and reality that the two are actually one and the same. Yet they differ in mode of dispensation" (2.10.2). "We cannot gainsay that the reward of eternal salvation awaits complete obedience to the law, as the Lord has promised (2.7.2). The problem, however, with this covenant of obedience is, because of man's sinfulness, "righteousness is taught in vain by the commandments until Christ confers it by free imputation and by the Spirit of regeneration" (2.7.2).
Salvation has always been by grace through faith in Christ ...all of God's people, whether in the OT or the NT, participate in the same spirituale foedus ... the outward OT adminstration of the spiritual foedus is marked by shadows and types of Christ. The foedus legale is based upon a works principle but no one is able to fulfil its obligations except Christ....
Hodge appealed to Christ's and the apostle Pauls's own examples: "Our Lord assured the young man who came to Him for instruction that if he kept the commandments he should live [eternal life]. And Paul says (Rom. ii. 6) that God will render to every man according to his deeds...""This deliverance [by Christ] did not stem from the abbrogation of the law or "by lowering its demands". Freedom from the law came by the work of Christ. "He was made under the law that He might redeem those who were under the law." Through his passive and active obedience, "he endured all that the law demands..."
While Christ ... offered the rich young ruler an impossible offer of salvation by works to humble him, in the old covenant ... the purpose of this hypothetical offer was to meet and break down pride, since the Israelites "swelled with mad assurance in themselves saying, 'All that the Lord commandeth we will do,' and be obedient, Exod. xix 8"
"...Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?...If you would enter life, keep the commandments." Matthew 19:15-17
"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