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What Is God’s Voluntary Condescension?

Westminster Confession 7.1 enshrines some of the most beautiful covenant theology in the history of the church. And that text teaches that God made Adam in a natural religious relation to himself, but Adam could not have God as his blessedness and reward on the basis of that natural relation alone. Why?

To expand, Adam owed God everything, and God owed Adam nothing in terms of that natural relation. The creature can lay no claim on the sovereign self-contained Creator. But God, by a special act of providence that is temporally simultaneous to that work of special creation, condescended in a covenant and promised Adam advancement of estate for perfect and personal obedience, and the fruition of his obedience—the substance of his inheritance—would be God himself.

The beauty of the Confession of Faith is that Adam’s inheritance is nothing creaturely, but it instead is God himself. This lays the groundwork for what the Psalmist says in Psalm 73:25, “Whom do I have in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire in heaven besides you” and Paul’s language in Romans 8:17, that in Christ, we are heirs of God— inheritors of the living and true, self-contained, triune God in union with Christ.

All of that is entailed by this wonderful presentation of Westminster Confession 7.1—that says, by a special providential act of covenantal condescension, temporally synchronous with Adam’s special creation, God offered himself to Adam as Adam’s fruition, blessedness, and reward, and by extension, to his natural posterity. In Jesus Christ, the second and last Adam, the church inherits this God as joint heirs of Christ, Romans 8:17.

Adapted from a transcription of the video.


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