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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 19: Of the Law of God - Commentary

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Chapter 19: Of the Law of God

Introduction

What is the relationship of the Christian and the Law? Do we have to obey the Law? What is the threefold division of the law? Are we saved by the Law? What are the threefold uses of the Law? What is the Moral Law and is it binding on all people? What are the Ten Commandments? Were the Ten Commandments known before Sinai? What is the relationship between the believer and the Ten Commandments? What is the doctrine of the Law and the Gospel?

There is a lot of work to be done in this chapter and I think that this is a crucial chapter, one that I want to study myself. I do believe what is confessed here, but I do also want to be able to make a biblical case for it. The case that I will lay down is obviously convincing to me, I will not be able to address every objection that may come up. What I want to lay down here is the binding authority and nature of the Decalogue on all people, whether saved or unsaved; what the relationship of the Christian is to the Law and such questions.

Defining Our Terms

Natural Law

The Natural Law is the Law of God as revealed in creation and which man knows by virtue of the fact that he’s a creature made in the image of God. Natural Law may be discovered by reason and by innate knowledge. The Reformed Baptist theologian Richard Barcellos writes the following concerning the substance and form of the Moral Law:

Protestant Scholasticism taught that the Decalogue summarily contains the Moral Law and is the inscripturated form of the natural law, as to its substance. A distinction was made between substance and form. Substance is one; form (and function) may vary. For example, when the Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 98 says, “The Moral Law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments,” it refers to the fact that the substance (i.e., the underlying essence) of the Moral Law is assumed and articulated in the propositions of the Decalogue as contained in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. The form (and function) fits the redemptive-historical circumstances in which it was given. The substance, or underlying principles, are always relevant and applicable to man because he is created in the image of God. The application may shift based on redemptive-historical changes, such as the inauguration of the New Covenant, but its substance and utility never changes.[1]

Moral Law

The Moral Law on the other hand is the Law which is revealed and summarized by God in the Ten Commandments, the Decalogue, which is the substance of the Natural Law. Richard Muller is quoted in Barcellos on the definition of the Moral Law, saying:

[S]pecifically and predominantly, the Decalogus, or Ten Commandments; also called the lex Mosaica …, as distinct from the lex ceremonialis …and the lex civilis, or civil law. The lex moralis, which is primarily intended to regulate morals, is known to the synderesis [the innate habit of understanding basic principles of Moral Law] and is the basis of the acts of conscientia [conscience–the application of the innate habit above]. In substance, the lex moralis is identical with the lex naturalis …but, unlike the natural law, it is given by revelation in a form which is clearer and fuller than that otherwise known to the reason.[2]

And then Dr. Barcellos adds:

As noted above, the Moral Law is summarily comprehended in the Decalogue, not exhausted by it. Though the formal promulgation of the Decalogue had a unique redempti...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 7: Of God's Covenant - Commentary

...learn more about the antitype from the type (the sacrifical system, the temple, the people of God), but we may also learn about the type from the fulfillment. The parallels between Adam and Christ in Romans 15:12ff strongly point us to the direction that had Adam obeyed he would have have eternal life and blessings thanks to his obedience and works. But that is not the case. Adam brought us ruin and misery and the Lord Christ by His obedience and works takes us where the first Adam failed to take us.

The Law of Creation

It is important to mention something about that which is called the Law of Creation or the Moral Law here. What I mean by that is the Moral Law of God that is put in us by virtue of us being in His image (see chapter 4 on the image of God). This Law of Creation was given to Adam and Eve from their creation. The Lord put into their minds and hearts certain basic laws which all humans have. This basic Law was summarized in the Ten Commandments and given at Sinai. You don't have to know the Ten Commandments to know, for example, that stealing, coveting, lying, murdering and dishonoring God are wrong. You know it intuitively. You know it by virtue of the fact that you are a creature of God, in covenant with Him either in Adam or in Christ. All this means that the Ten Commandments were not new commandments, but were a summary of the basic Moral Law which is on the mind and heart of every image-bearer. Of the fact that everyone has the basic Moral Law, we read in Romans 1-2. I would like to look at Romans 2:12-16:

For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. 

We could go all ways into this passage, but let me focus on what I want to prove, namely, that every human has the basic Moral Law stamped upon them. This is clear from reading the passage. What we must realize is the two-fold way that Paul is using the word law. When in reference to Jews, he's using it as the complete revelation of God's Law given under Moses, the written law of God. But when speaking of the Gentiles, they do not have such a revelation of God, but they sure know Him and His Law (Rom. 1:18ff, 32). Gentiles do not have the written law, but they, by nature, do what the law requires. Why? Because the law contains the basic moral precepts for all humans and everyone knows right from wrong. Obviously, let us not suppose that this means that everyone does what is right because men are sinful and our consciences can be weakened. The work of the Law, or the summary of the Law, is written on their hearts and in their consciences. From there they also know the God they deny and that is the basis of their condemnation.

To not go more than necessary, I summarize, every image-bearer knows the Law of God and the Lawgiver and they are obligated to obey, their disobedience and rejection of the true God lead to their demise. The Ten Commandments s...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 22: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day - Commentary

...’s appointment, be set apart for the worship of God. This is also evidenced by the feasts and religious days that all religions have had. But this says nothing how long or when this proportion of time should be. That is revealed by His Word as, for example, is the acceptable way of worshiping Him revealed only by His Word (paragraph 1). The Confession then goes on to talk about the day of worship. The commandment is said to be a positive moral, and perpetual commandment. What do these words mean? Positive is something which is added to the law of nature or the Moral Law. It is not intuitive or part of that which is written in the hearts of men. That which is written in the hearts of men is that a proportion of time should be set apart for the worship of God. But as to when this time is, is revealed by His Word. It is also a moral commandment. It has its ground in God and its essence is written in the hearts of all men. Lastly, it is said to be a perpetual commandment, i.e., one which will not go away but remain with man forever. What does this commandment do? It is said to be binding on all men, in all ages that one day in seven is a sabbath to be kept holy unto Him (Ex. 20:8-11). This is the essence of the Sabbath commandment: one day in seven is a Sabbath unto the Lord. Finally, the Confession goes on to identify the specific day of the Sabbath under the Old Testament and the New Testament. Prior to the resurrection of Christ, it fell on the last day of the week. But from the resurrection of Christ, it was changed into the first day of the week (John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; 1Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10). The first day of the week is also called the Lord’s day in Scripture and history (see the sections below). The Lord’s day is to be continued as the Sabbath under the New Covenant, hence it is called the Christian Sabbath. The observation of the last day of the week has been abolished with the resurrection of Christ and the change of the specific day of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first (or eight).


Introduction

My Study

This is a topic that has fascinated me for some time. When I first read the Confession, I could remember that I had general agreement with what was said here, but I couldn’t have made a biblical case for it. At some times I thought that the Sabbath was abolished, other times I thought it was not. I was not sure. A desire came in me a while ago to study this subject and to understand why Reformed Christians observe the Christian Sabbath. By the grace of God, I was and am convinced that the Lord’s commandments are not burdens, but a path of joy and liberty. I could never understand those who limit the Old Testament times to law and legalism. I can’t read the Psalms (e.g. 1, 119) and say, “Yes, poor fellas. They didn’t know what grace was and they were trying to gain righteousness through the law.” I knew that these people were saved by grace through faith, the same way that I have been saved by God and they praised God and His Laws. They were not a burden to them, as they seem to be to modern Christianity. Therefore, if the Sabbath commandment is still binding, I knew that God designed it for my good and not to be a burden of legalism to me. Furthermore, it is clear that the Pharisees were, in fact, legalists concerning not only the Sabbath but many other matters. Yet, they were rebuked by our Lord on many points, including the Sabbath.

I was familiar with the usual idea of “only nine of the Ten Commandm...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator - Commentary

... of the “we” in v. 5. Paul is writing to a largely Gentile audience about the dangers of placing the Jewish traditions and laws above the Gospel of Christ. The way that I understand this is in the same way that I understand Romans 2:12-14 (see here and here). Both Jews and Gentiles are under the Law and posses it, yet in a different sense. Jews possess the fullness of the written Law, while Gentiles only have the Moral Law written on their hearts. Therefore, the way that I understand Galatians 4:4-5 is that the Lord Jesus was indeed born under the Mosaic Law to redeem those who were under the Law. But the Law of Moses is itself an expansion of the Law of Creation given to us through Adam our federal head. In essence, it is the same as the Mosaic and has the same Moral Law as the Decalogue. Therefore, both Jews and Gentiles could properly be said to be under the law and thus were redeemed through Christ.

The Lord Jesus fulfilled the Law on our behalf. This is part of His active obedience. The Lord Jesus, the federal head of the New Covenant people of God was fulfilling the Law for us and in our place. Since we could not fulfill the Law, we were doomed, but when Christ fulfilled the Law for us both in its commandments and curses, we were set free! The purpose of Christ’s coming was not to destroy the Law but to fulfill it.

Matt. 5:17-19 “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. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 

Perhaps in the context that the Lord as the new Moses was giving a Law to His people on the mountain, people might have gotten the idea that He was doing away with the Mosaic Law. The Lord is emphatic. He by no means is destroying, abrogating or doing away with the Law. Rather He is come to fulfill the Law. To do it and to be the true representation of it. To be a true keeper of the Law of God and work the Law in the hearts of His people. The Lord also speaks of the Scriptures in the phrase “Law or the Prophets.” He has come so that the many types, shadows, and prophecies from the Old Testament may have their fulfillment in Him and His people. He had to identify Himself with His people and that is why He was baptized. To identify Himself with His people who needed to repent. He tells John that it was “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15). Christ summarized the Law with two things, 1) loving God and 2) loving your neighbor. Who but Christ the Lord has perfectly fulfilled this? Therefore, He truly did fulfill the Law and demonstrated what it truly means to obey the Law. Christ did not only actively fulfill the Law, that is by obeying God, but He also passively obeyed the Law by being the subject of its curses. For more on Matthew 5:17-19, see here.

The Penal Substitutionary Atonement of Christ

This office of Mediator the Lord Jesus most willingly accepted and took upon Himself for the sake of His people. Mediatorship was part of the priesthood. He is the High Priest of God's people. He is the High Priest to Whom all the high priests pointed. Of His High Priesthood, we have written in paragraph 1. We just ...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 9: Of Free Will - Commentary

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The difference is between the thinking and the meditating upon the actions. The desire, the understanding of good and evil, etc. They do not have an understanding as us humans, created in the Imago Dei, do and act upon that. They do things simply by their nature and instinct, not by premeditated understanding and desires as humans. Edwards notes a difference between us and the Supreme Being. The difference lies in the moral inducements which arise from the difference of circumstance. He differentiates between the moral agency of a ruler and a subject. God is not capable of being influenced by the Moral Law, its sanctions and threatenings as we the subjects are, though both moral agents and the Supreme Being are influenced by a knowledge of the law. The law of God is simply a reflection of His own nature. It is not something outside of Him, constraining Him or hindering Him from some actions or choices. 

And therefore the moral Agency of the Supreme Being, who acts only in the capacity of a ruler towards his creatures, and never as a subject, differs in that respect from the moral Agency of created intelligent beings. God’s actions, and particularly those which he exerts as a moral governor, have moral qualifications, and are morally good in the highest degree. They are most perfectly holy and righteous; and we must conceive of Him as influenced, in the highest degree, by that which, above all others, is properly a moral inducement; viz. the moral good which He sees in such and such things: and therefore He is, in the most proper sense, a moral Agent, the source of all moral ability and Agency, the fountain and rule of all virtue and moral good; though by reason of his being supreme over all, it is not possible He should be under the influence of law or command, promises or threatenings, rewards or punishments, counsels or warnings. The essential qualities of a moral Agent are in God, in the greatest possible perfection; such as understanding to perceive the difference between moral good and evil; a capacity of discerning that moral worthiness and demerit, by which some things are praiseworthy, others deserving of blame and punishment; and also a capacity of choice, and choice guided by understanding, and a power of acting according to his choice or pleasure, and being capable of doing those things which are in the highest sense praiseworthy. And herein does very much consist that image of God wherein he made man, (which we read of, Gen 1:26-27, and Gen 9:6) by which God distinguished man from the beasts, viz. in those faculties and principles of nature, whereby He is capable of moral Agency. Herein very much consists the natural image of God; whereas the spiritual and moral image, wherein man was made at first, consisted in that moral excellency with which he was endowed.[26]

God is not under the Moral Law as men are under the law, as He is the Supreme Being and the Lawgiver, which is a reflection of His nature. God is not able to do that which is contrary to His nature and we praise Him for that. The Psalmist sings,  “You are good and do good; teach me your statutes” (Ps. 119:68). God's good actions spring from the fact that He is good (Matt. 19:17).

Glossary of Edwards

Moral Agency

  • A moral agent is a being that is capable of those actions that have a moral quality, and which can properly be denominated good or evil in a moral sense, virtuous or vicious...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 21: Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience - Commentary

...nness; animal sacrifices; dietary laws; feasts; ceremonial Sabbaths and so on. These things have been fulfilled in Christ thereby have been done away with. Therefore, anyone obligating the people of God to obey those laws is intruding upon the liberty which God has given His children from the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament and is therefore anti-Gospel. This was the law which the Judaizers wanted the Gentile Christians to follow and about which Paul said that it functioned as a dividing wall between Jew and Gentile (Eph. 2:14-16). As Christians, we are freed from the rigor and curse of the law (point 3 above), we are freed from the ceremonial law, but we are not freed from the Moral Law. In fact, the Moral Law is enforced in chapter 19 of the Confession. Therefore, we should not understand obedience to God’s Moral Law to be something that is intruding on our liberty, but rather, something which we, having liberty, are called to walk in.

2. Greater boldness of access to the throne of grace

This point is similar to point 10 above. The Epistle to the Hebrews says:

Heb. 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

We have confidence in Christ Jesus to find grace from God. We no longer fear God as a judge who will condemn us, but we love and know Him as our caring and beloved Father who has saved us, although we hated Him. Calvin notes concerning this passage:

Let us therefore come boldly, or, with confidence, etc. He draws this conclusion, — that an access to God is open to all who come to him relying on Christ the Mediator; nay, he exhorts the faithful to venture without any hesitation to present themselves before God. And the chief benefit of divine teaching is a sure confidence in calling on God, as, on the other hand, the whole of religion falls to the ground, and is lost when this certainty is taken away from consciences.[3]

We know and we are confident that if we go to God through Christ we will find Him sitting on the throne of grace from which He will pour His grace upon His needy children. We strive to love God and obey Him, not because we fear His punishment, but because He has displayed amazing grace and love to us and therefore we strive to show our thankfulness and love for Him. We love Him as our Father, and as His children, we seek to do that which is pleasing in His sight.

3. Fuller communications of the free Spirit of God

The work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the believers after the ascension of Christ is greater than His work prior to that event. John says that the Spirit “dwells with you [the disciples] and will be in you” (John 14:17). He is at the present with them and around them, but in the future, He will be in them. Furthermore,

John 7:39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Albert Barnes notes:

For the Holy Ghost was not yet given. Was not given in such full and large measures as should be after Jesus had ascended to heaven. Certain measures of the influences of the Spirit had been always given in the conversion and sanctification of the ancient saints and prophets; but that abundant and full effusion which the apostles were permitted afterward to behold had not yet been given. See Acts 2:1-12; Acts 10:44; Acts 10:45.[6]

It was necessary ...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures - Commentary

...e Scripture in our hands today, is established. We must preach the Gospel, which is revealed in Scripture, for people to be saved. That is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16).

Moving beyond the subject of the necessity of special revelation, the Scripture is necessary for our spiritual growth. We need special revelation to know the will of God more certainly and more clearly. Certainly, we know the law of God by virtue of us being made in the Imago Dei, and therefore, we know some things concerning the will of God and right and wrong. But as we noted above, just like general revelation has been corrupted through the Fall, so likewise our perception of the Moral Law is corrupted and not clear. Therefore, it pleased God to reveal His perfect law to us in the Bible with words, so that His people would more clearly know what He said and what He meant (see chapter 19). The Scripture is necessary for us as Christians because it is our spiritual food. Our Master, as the God-Man, repeatedly appealed and relied on Scripture, how much more should we? When tempted by Satan, the Lord famously said:

Matt. 4:4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Notice that even in upholding the necessity and authority of Scripture, the Lord Christ appeals to Scripture (Deut. 8:3). We do not truly live by physical bread and food alone, but we are to live by every word of God. Notice how the Scripture is here described. It is said to be “word[s] that comes from the mouth of God.” It has its origin with the God of the world and it is Him speaking by His mouth to us. We are to feed and live on this Word. The Lord does not say that we should feast on the Word, implying that we read and study it occasionally. But the Word ought to be like bread to us—every day’s food. We are to read and study Scripture daily so as to grow in our faith and in our relationship with God.

In 1 Peter 1:23-2:2, the Apostle Peter speaks about the “imperishable…[and]…the living and abiding word of God” (v. 23), which “remains forever” (v. 25; cf. Isa. 40:8) and which is “the good news that was preached to you” (v. 25). He goes on in chapter 2 to speak of us as “newborn infants” who “long for the pure spiritual milk” (2:2), which is the word of the Lord about which he is writing. Just like newborns cannot survive without the milk of their mothers, in the same way, Christians are dependent upon the Word of God.

The subject of mediation and delight of the Psalmist is “the law of the LORD” (Ps. 1:2). He does not occasionally think about the Word of God, rather, “he meditates day and night” on the Word of God. It is an essential part of his life. It is the light in which he walks (Ps. 119:105). He stores up God’s Word in his heart and has the desire to learn more from God (Ps. 119:11-12, 18, 20). His delight is in God’s Word (Ps. 119:16) and on it he meditates (Ps. 119:15, 23, 27, 48, 78, 148). And so goes the 119th Psalm praising God for giving us His Law and His Word as a guide and self-revelation. A Christian cannot be spiritually healthy without the Word of God.

Although general revelation reveals that there is a God, yet it is not enough to save us. General revelation condemns. That’s why special revelation is necessary for salvation and special revelation inscripturated in Holy Writ is necessary for Christian discipleship and spiritual growth.

Scripture Is The Self-Revel...


1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

... 23
  • Col. 2:14, 16-17; Eph. 2:14-16
  • Heb. 10:1; Col. 2:16-17
    1. To them also he gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any now by virtue of that institution; their general equity only being of moral use.
      1. Luke 21:20-24; Acts 6:13-14; Heb. 9:18-19 with 8:7, 13; 9:10; 10:1
      2. 1 Cor. 5:1; 9:8-10
    1. The Moral Law doth for ever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof, and that not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it; neither doth Christ in the Gospel any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.
      1. Matt. 19:16-22; Rom. 2:14-15; 3:19-20; 6:14; 7:6; 8:3; 1 Tim. 1:8-11; Rom. 13:8-10; 1 Cor. 7:19 with Gal. 5:6; 6:15; Eph. 4:25-6:4; James 2:11-12
      2. James 2:10-11
      3. Matt. 5:17-19; Rom. 3:31; 1 Cor. 9:21; James 2:8
    1. Although true believers be not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned, yet it is of great use to them as well as to others, in that as a rule of life, informing them of the will of God and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their natures, hearts, and lives, so as examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against, sin; together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ and the perfection of his obedience; it is likewise of use to the regenerate to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin; and the threatenings of it serve to shew what even their sins deserve, and what afflictions in this life they may expect for them, although freed from the curse and unallayed rigour thereof. The promises of it likewise shew them God's approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof, though not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works; so as man's doing good and refraining from evil, because the law encourageth to the one and deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law and not under grace.
      1. Acts 13:39; Rom. 6:14; 8:1; 10:4; Gal. 2:16; 4:4, 5
      2. Rom. 7:12, 22, 25; Ps. 119:4-6; 1 Cor. 7:19
      3. Rom. 3:20; 7:7, 9,14, 24; 8:3; James 1:23-25
      4. James 2:11; Ps. 119:101, 104, 128
      5. Eph 6:2-3; Ps. 37:11; Matt. 5:6; Ps. 19:11
      6. Luke 17:10
      7. Matt. 3:7; Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 2:40; Heb. 11:26; 1 Peter 3:8-13.
    1. Neither are the aforementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but do sweetly comply with it, the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely and cheerfully which the will of God, revealed in the law, requireth to be done. 
      1. Gal. 3:21; Jer. 31:33; Ezek. 36:27; Rom. 8:4; Titus 2:14

    Chapter 20: Of the Gospel, and of the Extent of the Grace Thereof [Return] [Commentary]

    1. The covenant of works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable unto life, God was pleased to give forth the promise of Christ, the seed of the woman, as the means of calling the elect, and begetting in them faith and repentance; in this promise the gospel, as to the substance of it, was revealed, and [is] therein effectual for the conversion and salvation of sinners.
      1. Gen. 3:15 with Eph. 2:12; Gal. 4:4; Heb. 11:13; Luke 2:25, 38; 23:51; Rom. 4:13-16; Gal. 3:15-22; Rev 13:8
    1. This promise of Christ, and salva...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 31: Of the State of Man after Death and Of the Resurrection of the Dead - Commentary

    ...s diagram of Dispensational eschatology:

    Dispensational Problems

    In addition to the problems with Historic Premillennialism, which are common with Dispensationalism, I see the following problems with this system.

    It is obviously a recent innovation starting with John Nelson Darby in the 1830’s and is certainly not confessional. Dispensationalists reject Covenant Theology (chapter 7), the abiding validity of the Moral Law of God (chapter 19), the Christian Sabbath (chapter 22), and the eschatology of the Confession (chapter 31) among other things. But the biblical problems are greater.

    Two Peoples Of God

    First of all, its novel idea that the Church and Israel are a separate people of God. From the earliest times of the Church, the Church saw itself as coming in place of Israel as the people of God. Dispensationalists derogatorily refer to this as Replacement Theology. Call it what you want, the Scriptures teach that the Church, Jewish and Gentile believers, are the Israel of God and the history of Christian theology up to Darby proves this. If you would read the old commentators, they would always refer to the Old Testament prophecies of restoration and prosperity as relating to the Church as the singular people of God. No doubt, a lot of the commentators saw also a latter day restoration of Israel (e.g. John Gill does this very often), but not as a separate people of God. But there came a change with the prominence of Dispensationalism, and the promises of God to His Church were taken away and given to an earthly and fleshly people, i.e., only to physical descendants of Abraham. They contended that we must separate Israel and the Church. They are not one people, but two different peoples of God, one heavenly and the other earthly with two separate plans. To defend this novel teaching, Dispensationalists do not allow the New Testament to interpret the Old. It is our belief that the New Testament should take precedence over the Old, not because the Old was not inspired or the New is more inspired. Rather, it is our belief that there is a greater clarity in the New Testament than in the Old. The Old was filled with types and shadows, but in the New we have the reality in Christ. Moreover, the interpretation of the Apostles of the Old Testament is the correct interpretation of the Old Testament, not the “literal” interpretation of Dispensationalists. Let me give you a few examples.

    In Galatians 3, the Apostle Paul interprets the Abrahamic Covenant to have had promises made to Abraham to his singular Offspring who is Christ (Gal. 3:16). Then he goes on to say that “if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:29). Also,

    Gal. 3:7-9 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

    It is the teaching of Dispensationalism that the Abrahamic Covenant forms the basis that Israel must remain as the people of God and is always entitled to the Promised Land, and that Israel has not yet attained to the (complete) fulfillment of that promise. But this is contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture that all the promises were indeed fulfilled to Israel (e.g. Josh. 21:43-45) which were made to the physical...


    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 4: Of Creation - Commentary

    ...

    Besides the law of God which was written in their hearts, they receive a positive commandment (Gen. 2:16-17). Something which is not grounded in the nature of God. The Ten Commandments, for example, are things which are grounded in the nature of God. They are commanded because they are good and reflect God. Positive commands, on the other hand, are good because they are commanded. Examples of positive commands are the Lord's Supper and Baptism. They do not have their ground in the nature of God neither in man. But since they are commanded by God, they are good and they are to be obeyed. So also, in addition to the Moral Law of God in their hearts, God gave Adam and Eve the command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17) and while they kept it, they were happy in their communion with God. Not only that, but this obedience to God and His command made it such that Adam and Eve had dominion over the creatures. Their obedience did not only affect their vertical relationship, but also the horizontal so much so that all other creatures helped them to fulfill or was obedient their God-given commission to subdue the earth and have dominion over the other creatures (Gen. 1:28).


    Not only was the Law written on their hearts, but they also had a positive command delivered to them verbally so as to cast away any doubt or excuse. The command was simple and to the point:

    Gen. 2:15-17 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” 

    But our parents did disobey God's command and brought condemnation to all men. But all those who trust in Christ are justified because of what Christ did on their behalf by His perfect life and on Golgotha (Rom. 5:17-21). Our parents, at the moment of their rebellion, lost holy and sinless communion with God for themselves and for all their descendants when they took and ate of the forbidden fruit, and thus bringing condemnation and death upon all men. See chapter 7 for more on the Covenant of Works and chapter 6 for more on the Fall.

     

    In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 

    (Genesis 1:1)

    Footnotes

    1. ^ Many Scriptural references have been supplied by Samuel Waldron's Modern Exposition of 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith which was apparently supplied by the Westminster Confession of Faith 1646.
    2. ^ See more at Creation Ministries International. For example Jonathan Sarfati. How could the days of Genesis 1 be literal if the sun wasn’t created until the fourth day?
    3. ^ What Luther Says. A Practical In-Home Anthology for the Active Christian, compiled by Ewald M. Plass, Concordia, 1959, p. 93.
    4. ^ John Calvin. Institutes of the Christian Religion. 3.21.4.
    5. ^ Louis Berkhof. Systematic Theology. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Banner of Truth Trust. 1963). p. 203.
    6. ^ John M. Frame. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2014). p. 785.
    7. ^ J. I. Packer. Concise Theology: A Guide To Historic Christian Beliefs. (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993). p. 71.
    8. ^ Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994). p. 444.
    9. ^ Richard C. Barcellos. Getting the Garden Right: Adam's Work and God's Rest in Light of...