Chapter 2 of Belcher’s book and chapter 2 to Covenant Theology are identical treatments of the covenant of works. Belcher begins by adducing evidence for a covenant in Genesis 1-3. He observes that though the word covenant is not used in these chapters, the elements of a covenant are present: two parties, conditions, blessings and curses, a covenant representative, and a covenant sign (the tree of life). Belcher also argues that Hosea 6:7 refers to Adamic covenant. He is aware of the three proposed translations (“like Adam,” “like mankind,” and “at Adam”), and he prefers “like Adam.” Nonetheless, he notes that the Adamic covenant could be in view with any of the three translations, observing that some interpreters think that Hosea is punning in his reference to a broken covenant at Adam such that the breaking of the Adamic covenant is also in view.
Belcher also defends the label “covenant of works,” noting that this terminology is foundational for understanding the work of Christ that is imputed to us for our salvation. While wishing to reserve the term grace for God’s redemptive work, Belcher is willing to say that in a wider sense the covenant of works was graciously given.
Belcher argues that the covenant of works is foundational to the gospel. First, all people are born sinners and are in need of the gospel because of Adam’s violation of the covenant. Second, it established the principle of “do this and live” which no one can attain, showing the need for the gospel. Finally, Christ fulfilled the covenant of works so that we can be saved.
Belcher closes by examining four deviations from the standard view, starting with the terminological differences of O. Palmer Robertson and moving through John Murray and W. J. Dumbrell to the serious errors of the Federal Vision.