Friday, September 01, 2006

What Can You Give to the God Who Has Everything?

One of the objections mentioned in my previous post to the concept of a pre-fall "covenant of works" is from the impossibility of enriching God or adding to his own glory. Did not Jesus himself teach us to say, after we have done all our duty, that we are still "unprofitable servants" who deserve no praise or pats on the back (Luke 17:10)?

While it is true that we can never out-do ourselves or go beyond our covenant obligations (God doesn't need any favors), it does not follow from this that Adam's works could not have been meritorious or praiseworthy. After all, it is precisely by obeying God's commands that he is said to be pleased:
"By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit" (John 15:8).

If "the chief end of man is to glorify God," and if one of the ways we accomplish this is by doing what he says, then it would seem to follow that the objection that Adam could never have added to God's eternal blessedness is beside the point. If God says that our obedience makes him happy, then it would be a prudent course of action to just obey him rather than to ponder how an already-full glass of water can have more added to it.

Kline summarizes this well:
"Just as disobedience earns a display of God's negative justice in the form of his curse, so obedience earns a manifestation of God's positive justice in the form of his blessing. This is simple justice."

As I'll demonstrate in my next post, it's the opponents rather than proponents of traditional covenant theology that are often guilty of a subtle rationalism that gets in the way of the biblical text.

How's that for irony...?