Read: Romans 5:1ff.
Image bearer, office bearer, rational moral creature, Adam was fully equipped to serve God in God’s creation. But he was also God’s covenant friend.
Things have become very mixed up over the years on this matter of Adam as God’s covenant friend, for most theologians want to define this covenant between God and Adam as a covenant of works. A covenant of works is a covenant in which God promises Adam eternal life in heaven if Adam will be obedient to God in not eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but eating instead of the tree of life. God also threatened Adam with death if Adam disobeyed. To this, Adam agreed, and so a covenant was established.
This notion of the covenant has no foundation in Scripture and as closely as one examines Scripture, one cannot find anything like this. The whole notion of a covenant of works is based on Genesis 2:16, 17, but these verses do not say a thing about a covenant; they only give the command of God to Adam to eat of all the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. A command and a threat of death are not a covenant.
I briefly mention a few questions which the covenant of works forces on us. How long did Adam have to be obedient before he would merit heaven? Would his generations merit heaven with him? Was it possible that somewhere in his generations, one would sin by disobeying God? What would happen then? Is it possible that an earthly man, made of flesh and blood, created to life in this material world, could somehow inherit the heavenly creation? Paul says that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (I Cor. 15:50). The covenant of works claims he can.
But Adam did live in a covenant relation to God. That covenant was not a covenant of works that was made with Adam after his creation, so that before the covenant was made, there was no covenant. No, God’s covenant was made with Adam by virtue of his creation. He could be nothing else but a covenant friend of God. And so the covenant then as now is a relationship between God and Adam of friendship and fellowship in which God and Adam lived together in joyful communion.
But Adam’s creation had one more aspect to it that we have to know. Our teacher here in this class on the HC does not speak of it specifically, but he does imply it in Lord’s Days 3 & 4. And that is that Adam was created as our covenant head. He was the head of the whole human race from which the human race came, but he was also the representative head of the human race, so that what Adam did, he did on behalf of all his generations that would follow. Adam fell!