Reformed theology is often referred to as covenant theology – based on the covenants between God and man revealed in Scripture and the view that God deals with us primarily through covenants. One of our old Baptist brothers, C. H. Spurgeon, had this to say about the importance of understanding the covenants of Scripture: “The doctrine of the covenant lies at the root of all true theology. … I am persuaded that most of the mistakes which men make concerning the doctrines of Scripture are based upon fundamental errors with regard to the covenants of law and grace.” He went on to say: “The covenant of works was, “Do this and live, O man!” but the covenant of grace is, “Do this, O Christ, and thou shalt live, O man!”” As we will see, the differences we have with our Presbyterian brothers has to do with these two covenants. Pascal Denault, in The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology describes them thusly: The Covenant of Works is revealed by the light of nature; nature’s light teaches self-righteousness (Rom 2:15). The Covenant of Grace is revealed by the Spirit of God; He reveals Christ’s righteousness.
The entire message with all the slides mentioned can be downloaded or listened to here.
My understanding is that the covenant of works ended in Gen. 3 when Adam end Eve sinned and the covenant of grace began in Gen. 3:15 with the promise of the redeemer. It was only in the garden before sin that “works” viz. perfect obedience to God could actually accomplish salvation.
That would be a paedobaptist view. In fact, both main covenants unfold as redemptive history was revealed, becoming more clear as the revelation of God became complete. There is no biblical basis for seeing Sinai as grace.
What else does the following from Galatians 4 (among myriad other Scriptures) mean if Sinai is not of works?
Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.” Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.
Well … i am not a paedobaptist but i think i see where you’re coming from. My view is that, as Paul says, the law was added so that sin might be revealed, but even in the OT, people were saved by grace through faith, not by keeping the law. So clearly, the COG could not have only begun after the death of Christ.
The chart shown above and the message both point out that the covenant of grace was revealed to man in Gen 3:15. It and the covenant of works were revealed with more and more clarity as Scripture was given. We also agree that no human has been or will be saved other than by faith in the Christ. The covenant of works was not ended when the covenant of grace was revealed – it still governs those who are not in Christ.