Conditional Promises, by W J Berry

God is not Obligated to Man by Conditional Promises

Religious teachers for hundreds of years have been putting forth the idea that God made a conditional covenant with Adam, thereby leaving the eternal destiny in the hands of the creature, the man Adam. This was not true.

It is either true or false. If it is true, then the eternal destiny of the Adamic race rested entirely on the conditional act of Adam. If it is false, then the popular religious teaching, including that of Christendom, is guilty of teaching and preaching a far-reaching error.

Referring to the creation of Adam, the word says, “the creature was made…by reason of him [God] who has subjected the same in hope.” (Rom. 8:20) When God created and formed the first man he was made upright and without sin, but he did not possess immortal life; nor is it intimated anywhere in Scripture that by his first disobedience he would lose immortality or eternal life, as he had neither.

When God placed Adam in the garden, He subjected him to the fall, and informed him that when, or in the day he committed this offense of the divine command, he would die; that was the death of the Adamic man which “passed upon all men.” (Rom. 5:12)

It is prevalent teaching, based on the first error, that when Adam fell he disobeyed a conditional commandment and lost the immortal life he regains in Christ. This is not true. Christ, the Son of God said: “I am come that they would have life, and that they would have it more abundantly.” (John. 10:10)

Speaking of His sheep (v. 28) He said: “I give to them eternal life.” Referring to this same life Paul wrote: “To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.” (Rom. 2:7) This word means deathless, incorruptible LIFE. Adam in his best estate did not possess this
kind of life.

God the Creator did not make any such conditional covenant with Adam with a promise of life—either temporal or eternal FOR his obeying a command. Neither did God ever promise any of Adam’s posterity any life, blessings eternal FOR his obeying a commandment or law given since Adam’s fall. It was then, and remains God’s absolute sovereign right to both command and punish His creatures in consequence of any failure. He is never obligated any time or in any sense to His creatures.

Religious work-mongers continually quote as conditional such scriptures as Isaiah 1:19: “If you be willing and obedient ye shall eat the good of the land.” This gracious promise was given to a sinful, rebellious, unworthy people, to be bestowed out of pure grace, and not in payment for any service
to God the Giver. So with all of God’s promises, commands, blessings, mercies and savings.

It must and should therefore be clearly understood and freely acknowledged by every sin-convicted redeemed (no others can) that from Adam to the end, there are none in nature or grace—that could ever, by word or deed, be able to earn the very least favor of Almighty God. Our Lord Himself made all this plain when He said: “Does he thank the servant because he did the things that were commanded him? Likewise ye, when ye shall have done all these things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do.” (Luke 17:10)

How presumptuous then, is it for depraved sinners of Adam’s race to believe and teach others to expect they will or can receive any favor of God—either in providence or in grace—apart from His own good will and unconditional right to bestow it. This being so, how utterly pharisaical and confusing, is the whole present work-monger system of men. It is difficult to believe those who teach this error, have yet to see themselves for what they are before a holy sovereign Almighty God.

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3 Comments on “Conditional Promises, by W J Berry”

  1. MARK MCCULLEY Says:

    Tobias Crisp: The new covenant is without conditions whatsoever on man’s part. Man is tied to no condition that he must perform, that if he does not perform, the covenant is made void by man.

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Mike Horton: To be claimed as part of God’s holy field comes with threats as well as blessings. Covenant members who do not believe are under the covenant curse. How can they fall under the curses of a covenant to which they didn’t belong? If faith is the only way into membership (693), then why all the warnings to members of the covenant community to exercise faith and persevere in faith to the end?

    God promises his saving grace in Christ to each person in baptism, whether they embrace this promise or not. Yet they must embrace the promise in faith. Otherwise, they fall under the covenant curse without Christ as their mediator. The word proclaimed and sealed in the sacraments is valid, regardless of our response, but we don’t enjoy the blessings apart from receiving Christ

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/09/13/kingdom-through-covenant-a-review-by-michael-horton/

    I am glad that not all “Reformed” agree with that reading of “covenant”. Some teach that infants are to be presumed born justified. Some “Reformed” would not agree with either of those two views.

  3. markmcculley Says:

    When you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’” (Luke 17:5-10)

    What deed could Adam possibly do that was not something God required of Adam in the first place? Remember, Adam could earn nothing by doing what Adam was required to do. Adam had life before Adam was given the duty of not sinning. Adam could not earn life, but Adam could earn death.

    Eric Dorman–The law that says, “We must use our time this way,” is the same one that says we must be taken seriously. The truth is that we aren’t worth taking seriously. We’re sinful, neurotic creatures who can’t seem to make it through a day without simultaneously beating and building ourselves up.

    I start a new job with 90 days of probation on Monday

    but even after that 90 days is off, we are all still addicts to failure, and in terms of the world and other people, we have to justify our living another day by what we do with the day


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