23 March 2003
Genesis 2:16, Romans 5:12-14 & Luke 10:25-28
The Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 12. What special act of providence did God exercise towards man, in the estate wherein he was created?
A. When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon pain of death.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English:
Q.12. What did God’s providence specifically do for man whom He created?
A. After the creation God made a covenant with man to give him life, if he perfectly obeyed; God told him not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil or he would die.
1. What is a covenant?
A covenant is a bond in blood, sovereignly administered. When God enters into a covenantal relationship with men, he sovereignly institutes a life-and-death bond. A covenant is a bond in blood, or a bond of life and death, sovereignly administered.
2. Why was it called the Covenant of Life?
It was called the Covenant of Life because it was a plan by which the human race could achieve eternal life by works, that is, by perfect obedience to the will of God.
3. Who were the parties in the Covenant of Life?
The parties were God, who established the covenant, and Adam, the head and representative of the entire human race.
4. Why did God forbid Adam and Eve to eat of the fruit of the tree?
He forbade them because this was a test of obedience to the will of God. The fruit was good in itself but to partake of it was contrary to God’s commandment.
5. What was the promise and penalty attached to the Covenant of Life?
The promise was life everlasting and the penalty temporal, spiritual and eternal death.
6. What may we learn from this doctrine of the Covenant of Life?
We are taught that eternal death came by the breaking of the Covenant of Life by the first Adam and that eternal life comes only by fulfilling the same covenant by the second Adam (Romans 5:19). Adam was our representative in the Covenant of Life; Jesus Christ is our representative in the Covenant of Grace.