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Baptism discuss Difference between the promises to covenant and non-covenant children? in the Theology forums; I'm still somewhat new to the practice of covenant baptism (have only seen two of them so far). Sometimes I find the terminology confusing. Could ...

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    Davidius is offline. Inactive User
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    Difference between the promises to covenant and non-covenant children?

    I'm still somewhat new to the practice of covenant baptism (have only seen two of them so far). Sometimes I find the terminology confusing. Could someone answer the following question for me?

    We say that we should baptize our children because they are "covenant children," and there are some kind of promises made to them by God. However, what is this promise, exactly? That they will receive the realities of the baptism if the believe? If so, how is this any different from the promise that is made to everyone else? Anyone who exercises faith will receive the realities signified in baptism. What then, makes "covenant children" different from the children of the world? Is there some kind of statistically higher chance the the children of believers are elect?

    I found this response in another thread from Bruce:

    I tell my children "we" are Christians. I "command" my children to keep the way of the Lord (Gen. 18:19). We discipline them in the fear and admonishon of the Lord. I inform them of Christ the only way of salvation, of the necessity of the Holy Spirit, and of the Father's forgiveness. We pray with and for them, directing their attention to the God of the Scriptures. We tell them they have God's sign of ownership upon them (baptism). This is a great privilege: being counted in the church, but also an awful responsibility.
    But how does this make our children special? The children of believers are pouring out of the Church. How can we call them Christians without assuming an ontological difference between them and other children? How can God own them, how can he be their God if they don't have the relationship that David speaks of? He said in Psalm 22 "From the womb you have been my God." What does that mean? And does "being our God" mean the same thing in Psalm 22 as it does when God promises to be a God to us and our children? If so, in what way is God's relationship to us different from his relationship to our children, considering He says that He is our God and our children's God side by side?
    Davidius
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    I think that God's promise to covenant children is that he will be their God, and they will be his people, just as that same promise is toward us. This promise contains blessings and curses. If the child is faithful, God will bless, if not, God extends curses.

    I think that part of the confusion on the part of many is that the invisible/visible distinction is not kept in mind when we speak of our children. Nobody can truely know the heart, and we don't pretend to do so with our children either. However, we can judge the visible church, by their fruit. The hard part comes in when the fact is realized that infants do not exhibit fruit in the same way adults do. However, God has stated that our children our by his grace a part of the visible church from infancy. You would judge all those who are a part of the visible church to be saved right? So we too judge our children to be saved (either presently or in the future depending on the position you take) based upon God's Word stating that they are members of the church.

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    Davidius is offline. Inactive User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff_Bartel View Post
    I think that God's promise to covenant children is that he will be their God, and they will be his people, just as that same promise is toward us. This promise contains blessings and curses. If the child is faithful, God will bless, if not, God extends curses.

    I think that part of the confusion on the part of many is that the invisible/visible distinction is not kept in mind when we speak of our children. Nobody can truely know the heart, and we don't pretend to do so with our children either. However, we can judge the visible church, by their fruit. The hard part comes in when the fact is realized that infants do not exhibit fruit in the same way adults do. However, God has stated that our children our by his grace a part of the visible church from infancy. You would judge all those who are a part of the visible church to be saved right? So we too judge our children to be saved (either presently or in the future depending on the position you take) based upon God's Word stating that they are members of the church.
    My basic question goes back to what you said at the end of the first paragraph: If the child is faithful, God will bless. If the children repent and believe, they will be saved. How does this give covenant children a special place? It's the same deal that everyone gets. How is it any different to have God as your God, if it just means that you will be blessed if you believe? My unsaved friends will be blessed if they believe, but God isn't their God.
    Davidius
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    David,

    I think that you are forgetting the vast amount of benefits that are associated with being a member of the church! Every member of the church is presented with the same conditions (blessings/curses), yet would you not admit that christians (members of the church) are different from the world?

    Even Paul recognized the benefits that the unbelieving Israelites had:
    Rom 9:3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen[1] according to the flesh,
    Rom 9:4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises;
    Rom 9:5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.

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    WCF 28.4 "...but also the infants of one or both believing parents, are to be baptized."

    The promise is made first to the parents, who are believers. God will save them, and anything of theirs that is predestined to life. God lays claim to them and everything of theirs--including their children. As in Abraham's case, God's promise to be a God eternally, "to you and to your children after you," is ever contingent on those children being children of the same Spirit and faith as Abraham possessed.

    Nothing of theirs (including their heirs) that has a nature consonant with this world (and administrations thereof) will continue into the world to come. Such is the visible/invisible distinction. And we submit to the wisdom and goodness of God on this point.

    And yes, I do believe there is a correlation between those believing parents who believe God's promise and consequently use his ordained means (believing is for living), and a godly seed, elect children--the same God who elected them to life also gave them godly nurture as that means. Why would this be unexpected? Would this not rather be expected? If you couldn't expect it, what meaning would the promise have? Unbelievers--of everything, or of this or that promise--do not benefit from promises they reject or ignore.

    When you see (as I see in churches all around) precious few young people or rising generation of the faithful, shouldn't we conclude that this indicates a massive failure on the part of the church and parents to use ordained means, rather than on an "ineffective" promise?

    At the end of the day, all we have is the promise of God. That's it.
    "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved--you, and your house."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Contra_Mundum View Post
    WCF 28.4 "...but also the infants of one or both believing parents, are to be baptized."

    The promise is made first to the parents, who are believers. God will save them, and anything of theirs that is predestined to life.
    But God says that He will be a God to us and our children, not that He will be a God to us and anything of ours that is predestined to life. Below you mentioned the passage from Acts where God says that if we believe, we will be saved along with our household. It doesn't say "and whoever in your household happens to be predestined to life." This reminds me also of Zaccheus, and how salvation had come to his household. These are the kinds of verses that have troubled me for some time now as a Reformed believer because they do not seem to fit my paradigm. I find myself having to qualify what I read every few verses because of a system I transport from the outside.
    Davidius
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    Did Abraham have a similar problem? Did he understand there was something implied in those words? Something about those children needing a share of his faith? And did he not know, or have some inkling that not all of them would, despite the sweeping surface declaration of the promise?

    I think that if you and I are left with the impression that Abraham could have been asking the same question's we are, then perhaps we are in the right place. Sort of like Romans 9 in reverse.
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    Pilgrim's Progeny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davidius View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Contra_Mundum View Post
    WCF 28.4 "...but also the infants of one or both believing parents, are to be baptized."

    The promise is made first to the parents, who are believers. God will save them, and anything of theirs that is predestined to life.
    But God says that He will be a God to us and our children, not that He will be a God to us and anything of ours that is predestined to life. Below you mentioned the passage from Acts where God says that if we believe, we will be saved along with our household. It doesn't say "and whoever in your household happens to be predestined to life." This reminds me also of Zaccheus, and how salvation had come to his household. These are the kinds of verses that have troubled me for some time now as a Reformed believer because they do not seem to fit my paradigm. I find myself having to qualify what I read every few verses because of a system I transport from the outside.
    Can you elaborate on these two things as you understand them?

    What is your paradigm?

    What is the system you transport from the outside?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pilgrim's Progeny View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Davidius View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Contra_Mundum View Post
    WCF 28.4 "...but also the infants of one or both believing parents, are to be baptized."

    The promise is made first to the parents, who are believers. God will save them, and anything of theirs that is predestined to life.
    But God says that He will be a God to us and our children, not that He will be a God to us and anything of ours that is predestined to life. Below you mentioned the passage from Acts where God says that if we believe, we will be saved along with our household. It doesn't say "and whoever in your household happens to be predestined to life." This reminds me also of Zaccheus, and how salvation had come to his household. These are the kinds of verses that have troubled me for some time now as a Reformed believer because they do not seem to fit my paradigm. I find myself having to qualify what I read every few verses because of a system I transport from the outside.
    Can you elaborate on these two things as you understand them?

    What is your paradigm?

    What is the system you transport from the outside?
    My paradigm is that every person is responsible for his own relationship with God. Individuals are are brought into some kind of external relationship toward Him through the faith of their parents and through baptism, but are not "saved" by baptism (see Peter) or saved because of the household into which they are born. Paul says in Romans that we are saved if we believe with our hearts and confess with our mouths that Jesus is lord, and that God raised him from the dead. In Acts we hear "believe and you will be saved along with your household." As I understand it, there must either be an equivocation of the word "saved," or we must say, for the second passage, that it's not really all of our household that will be saved, or we have to say that the children of believers have some kind of real participation in the benefits of God's covenant by nature of their birth.

    *****

    As an aside, are there any believers, not one of whose children have continued in the faith? What ramifications does this have on the promise?
    Davidius
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    David,
    In your last line there, do you mean by "real" a "spiritual" participation in the saving benefits of God's covenant? But this would violate the visible/invisible distinction, would it not?

    Did you read my #7 ?
    Rev. Bruce G. Buchanan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davidius View Post
    As I understand it, there must either be an equivocation of the word "saved," or we must say, for the second passage, that it's not really all of our household that will be saved, or we have to say that the children of believers have some kind of real participation in the benefits of God's covenant by nature of their birth.
    I would agree with the latter per 1Cor. 7:14.
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    Davidius is offline. Inactive User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Contra_Mundum View Post
    David,
    In your last line there, do you mean by "real" a "spiritual" participation in the saving benefits of God's covenant? But this would violate the visible/invisible distinction, would it not?

    Did you read my #7 ?
    Yes, I do understand that it would violate the visible/invisible distinction, hence my frustration with the appearance of such texts. What do you do when a verse appears to violate a system you've formed from other places? Which principle has to give?

    I read #7, and I understand that Abraham was informed that Ishmael was not the son through whom the promise would be fulfilled. I guess this is what I'm thinking: Abraham was told that God would be a God to him and his seed. At first Abraham may have thought this meant all his physical offspring, but the seed was Christ. Why, then, should we apply that promise to any of our children? Isn't it a little redundant to say that God will be the God of our children if we only mean that He'll be the God of our elect children? It seems like that conclusion would follow from the general premise of the way salvation works to begin with. What good is it to say that God is the God of them all, if not all of them are His children?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pilgrim's Progeny View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Davidius View Post
    As I understand it, there must either be an equivocation of the word "saved," or we must say, for the second passage, that it's not really all of our household that will be saved, or we have to say that the children of believers have some kind of real participation in the benefits of God's covenant by nature of their birth.
    I would agree with the latter per 1Cor. 7:14.
    In the sense that Bruce fleshed it out above? A "real" and "spiritual" participation?
    Davidius
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    David,
    But the promise in Christ is not the ONLY fact being stated to Abraham. It isn't until Gen 22:18 that the explicit singular is used. The rest of the time, and of particular interest is Gen 17, the sense is plainly plural. So clearly there is a broad application to his descendants. Furthermore, why only consider Ishmael and Isaac. Abraham's sons include many nations, genetically as well as his spiritual nation. Saul and David are both his sons too.

    Abraham had to live with this tension, the seen and the unseen. If we have to as well, why would this be too much for us?

    As for redundancy (did you mean this word?), how are we supposed to operate in this world? Does God typically give us the identities of the elect or non-elect? No, he only promises "in my covenant, I will be God to you, and to your children after you." And there is an outward, visible manifestation of that covenant, which is imperfect, but which is still to be acknowledged and followed in this fallen world. And there is the eternal, spiritual aspect, the perfect. And the two do not perfectly coincide.

    Some who experience outward tasting of blessing later apostatize. Like rebellious Israel ate manna, and were filled--but whose bodies littered the desert for their persistent unbelief. Eating and drinking condemnation to themselves. That is not the language of "real, spiritual participation in the saving benefits of God's covenant."
    Rev. Bruce G. Buchanan
    ChainOLakes Presbyterian Church, CentralLake, MI

    Made both Lord and Christ--Jesus, the Destroyer
    Acts 2:36 - 1 Cor. 10:9-10 & 15:22-26 - Hebrews 2:9-15 - 1 John 3:8 - James 4:12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Davidius View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Contra_Mundum View Post
    David,
    In your last line there, do you mean by "real" a "spiritual" participation in the saving benefits of God's covenant? But this would violate the visible/invisible distinction, would it not?

    Did you read my #7 ?
    Yes, I do understand that it would violate the visible/invisible distinction, hence my frustration with the appearance of such texts. What do you do when a verse appears to violate a system you've formed from other places? Which principle has to give?

    I read #7, and I understand that Abraham was informed that Ishmael was not the son through whom the promise would be fulfilled. I guess this is what I'm thinking: Abraham was told that God would be a God to him and his seed. At first Abraham may have thought this meant all his physical offspring, but the seed was Christ. Why, then, should we apply that promise to any of our children? Isn't it a little redundant to say that God will be the God of our children if we only mean that He'll be the God of our elect children? It seems like that conclusion would follow from the general premise of the way salvation works to begin with. What good is it to say that God is the God of them all, if not all of them are His children?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pilgrim's Progeny View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Davidius View Post
    As I understand it, there must either be an equivocation of the word "saved," or we must say, for the second passage, that it's not really all of our household that will be saved, or we have to say that the children of believers have some kind of real participation in the benefits of God's covenant by nature of their birth.
    I would agree with the latter per 1Cor. 7:14.
    In the sense that Bruce fleshed it out above? A "real" and "spiritual" participation?
    Yes, I would say in a "real" and "spiritual" sense. Would you say that the author in Heb. 6: 4-8,
    For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
    5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
    6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
    7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:
    8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.
    is speaking of those who have some kind of "real" or "spiritual" participation in the economy of God's covenant.
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    Men could be content to have the kingdom of Heaven; but they are loathe to fight for it. They choose rather to go in a feather bed to Hell than to be carried to Heaven in a ‘fiery chariot’ of zeal and violence. Thomas Watson Heaven Taken by Storm
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    There is a certain irony here that we only tend to have these kind of conversations when it comes to election and the nature of our children.

    Everybody intuitively understands that a child's behavior and education are directly correlated to the parenting received. It's becoming popular today to dissect our children into a collection of genes and use the DSM-IV to give excuse as to why Johnny tortures kittens or prefers boys over girls but this is the province of fools to think in such ways. When I see a child out of control in the grocery store, I don't think to myself: "I wonder what it is about his ontology that is causing that behavior."

    There is something that we all intuitively understand about the solidarity that exists within a family. Even Baptists recognize that their children have no choice but to be brought up in the faith just as a Muslim child is going to go to school every day and learn how to hate Jews and Americans. If election were completely indeterminate then we would expect just as many Christians spontaneously generating in Saudi Arabia as in a Baptist Church but it is no surprise to me that nearly every child that grows up in a Baptist Church is baptized by the time they are 18.

    I have repeatedly enjoined that we ought to stick to the things revealed David. As Bruce noted, God doesn't give us the identities of the elect. Once we get that firmly fixed in our minds some of these questions disappear.

    Abraham was never told that Ishmael was not elect. Isaac was never told Esau was not elect. These are the kinds of things that God knows. We are commanded to raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Full stop. No information concerning election of each child - just duty and hope.

    Hence, the promise to a covenant child is not ontological (we're not Roman Catholics). There is a generic promise to the world at large but that is only known by special revelation. A child in Saudi Arabia knows nothing of the Promise for how can they believe in Him unless a preacher is sent?

    Yet, the blessing of a Covenant child (and the curse if they repudiate it) is they are placed in the visible assembly where the Good News is heralded every week. He is discipled in these things, prays to this God, learns all about how this God will save those who have faith and the judgment that awaits those who reject the Son. Read Romans 10 again if you think that "...but what if they're not elect?" is an appropriate excuse to give for denying responsibility to respond to that News.

    Hence, in asking the question on the plane of human activity (What is the blessing of a Covenant Child?), the answer can never be ontic or speak definitively of election. On the one hand, salvation is not an ontic thing but it is an ethical restoration. On the other hand, our responsibilities don't rest on our knowledge of the election of any man or woman or child but upon what God commands in His revealed Word. Just remember, you have no more information about the election of your future bride than you do about the election of your future children but you have duty to both. That duty will be within the Covenant of Grace that you are blessed to be a part of as are your future bride and children. That duty never comes with the qualifier: "If your wife is elect..." or "If your child is elect...."
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    To clarify this issue, I'd like to post a section of David Engelsma's, The Covenant of God and the Children of Believers. This online version is slightly abridged, and they will send the full text (in pamphlet) to those who email them. The final section (not posted in this post) is titled, "The Call to Believers' Children to be Converted". I think it remarkable for its clarity and simplicity.

    The Inclusion of the Children of Believers in the Covenant

    The children of believers are included in the covenant as children, that is, already at conception and birth. They receive forgiveness of sins through the blood of Jesus the Holy Spirit of sanctification, and church membership -- as children. For they have God as their God, and are His people -- as children. Therefore, they have full right to baptism. Parents must present them for baptism. And the church that would maintain pure administration of the sacraments as instituted by Christ must see to it.

    This is an important feature of the central doctrine of the covenant. It is important to children. Are they God's children or the devil's? It is important to the parents. We love our children and regard the rearing of our children as one of the most important tasks in our lives. May we regard them as children of God? Or are we compelled to regard them as Satan's "little vipers," as must all those who deny that children are included in the covenant and as certain Calvinistic theologians, e.g. Jonathan Edwards. Inclusion of the children in the covenant is important to the church. The church asks, "Are they members of the church or do they stand outside?" Does the church have a calling to them too, to feed and protect them as lambs of the flock of Christ, or are they nothing but heathens, little heathens to be sure, but heathens nevertheless, like all other ungodly people, whom the church at most should evangelize?

    But above all, the place of the children in the covenant is important to God. He said at the beginning of the history of the covenant with Abraham, "I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations... to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee." (Genesis 17:7). He inspired the apostle, on the very day that the covenant became new, to proclaim as the gospel, "the promise is unto you, and to your children... even as many as the Lord our God shall call."(Acts 2:39). Rebuking His unfaithful wife in Judah, in Ezekiel 16:20,21, God exclaims like an aggrieved Husband and Father, "Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter, that thou hast slain My children..." In Malachi 2:15 God condemns the divorcing that was prevalent in Judah, because divorce jeopardizes the "godly seed." (And still today the unchangeable God hates divorce in the covenant community because it is destructive of the children who, as covenant children, are His children.)

    How important our children's inclusion in the covenant is to God is shown in the New Testament (Covenant) by Christ's command, "Suffer little children (infants) to come unto Me...for of such (infants of believers) is the kingdom of God (made up)." (Luke 18:15ff.). "Children, obey your parents in the Lord...and, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."

    In light of our confession of the inclusion of the children of believers in the covenant (about which fact there is no dispute among Reformed people or churches), we must now answer the question, what exactly do Scripture and the Reformed confessions mean when they say that our children are included in the covenant?

    The Reformed creeds are clear and emphatic about children's being included in the covenant of God. The Heidelberg Catechism teaches that infants must be baptized "since they, as well as the adult, are included in the covenant and church of God; and since redemption from sin by the blood of Christ, and the Holy Ghost, the author of faith, is promised to them no less than to the adult..." (Question & Answer 74).

    Our question (what this means) is occasioned by the incontestable face that not all children of believers are saved. Both parents and church experience the hard, painful fact that some of our children grow up ungodly, unbelieving, and disobedient, and perish. God is not their God; and they are not His people. Scripture prepares us for this bitterest of all parental and ecclesiastical sorrows. Abraham had a grandson, Esau, who was a profane reprobate. (Cf. Genesis 25:19-34; Hebrews 12:16 and 17; Romans 9:6-13). Deuteronomy 21:18ff. prescribed the procedure by which the Israelite parents of gluttonous, drunken, rebellious, and stubborn sons were to bring these children to the elders to be excommunicated and stoned. Hebrews 10:29 speaks of the baptized son of believers in the time of the new covenant who treads under foot the Son of God, counts the blood of the covenant, with which he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and insults the Spirit of grace.

    We cannot presume that all our children are regenerated and elect. To presume this is contrary to the Scripture and experience. Nor may we parents be bitter about this. For it is pure mercy that any of our children are saved.

    But what then does the Reformed faith mean by the inclusion of the children of believers in the covenant of God?

    Although all our children are in the sphere of the covenant and therefore receive the sign of the covenant and are reared as covenant members, the covenant of God, the relationship of friendship in Jesus Christ, is established with the elect children only. The promise of the covenant is for the elect children only. The promise does not depend upon the faith of the child, but the promise itself works the faith by which the child receives the grace of the covenant in every child to whom God makes the promise. It is the elect children among our physical offspring who constitute our true children, even as the seed of Abraham was not all his physical descendants, but only Christ and those who are Christ's according to election. (Cf. Galatians 3:7,16,29).

    Our grounds for this explanation of the inclusion of children in the covenant are the following.

    First, only this view harmonizes with the rule of faith in Scripture. God's saving, covenant mercy is particular, i.e., for the elect alone. (Romans 9:15). Predestination makes distinction not only between the visible church and the world but also within the visible church itself (Romans 9:10-13). God's salvation never depends upon the will or action of the sinner (Romans 9:16). Christ's death is efficacious (Romans 5:6 to 11). The promise of God is sure to all the seed. (Romans 4:16).

    Second, Scripture itself gives exactly this explanation of the precise matter under discussion. It does this in Romans 9:1ff. The concern of Paul is that so many physical children of Abraham perish in light of God's promise to Abraham to establish His covenant with Abraham's seed (vss. 1-5). The chief difficulty of the apostle is not that dear relatives perish (although he could wish himself accursed for these brothers -- v. 3), but that it might seem that "the word of God hath taken none effect," that is, that the promise of God has failed to establish the covenant with many to whom the promise was given (v. 6). But it is not the case that the promise has proved to be a powerless failure in even one instance. Why not? Because the seed of Abraham, to whom the promise was given, never was all the physical children of Abraham. "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed" (vss. 6 to 8). There is a distinction between two kinds of children of believing Abraham: children of the flesh and children of the promise. This distinction is determined by election and reprobation, illustrated plainly by the history of Esau and Jacob (vss. 9-23).

    Paul's difficulty is exactly our problem. By promise, God includes our children in His covenant of salvation, but not all of our children are saved.

    Scripture's solution of the apostle's difficulty solves our problem as well. The children of believers to whom God graciously promises membership in the covenant are not all the physical offspring of believers. They are rather the "children of God" among our offspring. And the children of God are those who are chosen in Christ. These are the ones whom God counts for the seed when He says, "I will be the God of your seed." These and these only are "the children of the promise." To them, and to them only, is the promise given. In every one of them is the promise effectual to work faith in Jesus Christ.

    God realizes His covenant in the line of generations. He gathers His church from age to age from the children of believers. As the Puritans were fond of saying, "God casts the line of election in the loins of godly parents." For the sake of the elect children, all are baptized.

    It is the covenantal election of God that determines the viewpoint believing parents and the church take toward their children that governs their approach in rearing them. We do not view them as unsaved heathens ("little vipers"), though there may well be vipers among them, any more than we view the congregation as a gathering of unbelievers because of the presence of unbelievers among the saints. But we view them as children of God.

    Viewing their children as God's covenant children, believers must approach them as elect children in their teaching and discipline, even though there may indeed be reprobate and unregenerated children among them. Election determines the approach. All the children must receive the instruction that the regenerated must have and will profit from. By means of this rearing in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, the covenant promise will work the fruit of conversion in the elect children.
    Steve Rafalsky
    Member, Queens Presbyterian Church, Astoria (PCA)
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    AV1611 is offline. Puritanboard Senior
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    As an aside, what do you make of this.

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    Davidius is offline. Inactive User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Semper Fidelis View Post
    Abraham was never told that Ishmael was not elect. Isaac was never told Esau was not elect. These are the kinds of things that God knows. We are commanded to raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Full stop. No information concerning election of each child - just duty and hope.
    I thought that Abraham was told that Ishmael was not elect. Or does that verse just mean that Abraham was told that Ishmael would not be the line through which the promised seed would come? That would make more sense, especially in light of what you're saying about us lacking the knowledge of election.

    Hence, the promise to a covenant child is not ontological (we're not Roman Catholics). There is a generic promise to the world at large but that is only known by special revelation. A child in Saudi Arabia knows nothing of the Promise for how can they believe in Him unless a preacher is sent?

    Yet, the blessing of a Covenant child (and the curse if they repudiate it) is they are placed in the visible assembly where the Good News is heralded every week. He is discipled in these things, prays to this God, learns all about how this God will save those who have faith and the judgment that awaits those who reject the Son. Read Romans 10 again if you think that "...but what if they're not elect?" is an appropriate excuse to give for denying responsibility to respond to that News.

    Hence, in asking the question on the plane of human activity (What is the blessing of a Covenant Child?), the answer can never be ontic or speak definitively of election. On the one hand, salvation is not an ontic thing but it is an ethical restoration. On the other hand, our responsibilities don't rest on our knowledge of the election of any man or woman or child but upon what God commands in His revealed Word. Just remember, you have no more information about the election of your future bride than you do about the election of your future children but you have duty to both. That duty will be within the Covenant of Grace that you are blessed to be a part of as are your future bride and children. That duty never comes with the qualifier: "If your wife is elect..." or "If your child is elect...."
    Okay, but that still doesn't give me the warm fuzzies that most on this board seem to get when talking about their children as covenant children (I don't use the term "warm fuzzies" pejoratively. I want to have them!). I'd like to stick close to the language of God's promise to be a God to us and our children. If all that God means when He says that He is our children's God is that they come to church each week, how does that make them different from an interested outsider who wants to come to church and see what it's all about? Does God then become that person's God, too? Furthermore, if that's all it means for God to be our children's God, how does the definition of God's parenthood change halfway through the sentence? God is my God, and I know that means more than just that I sit in church each week. I have fellowship with the Father through the Son. We're fine with saying this. But the promise goes on and says that God is our children's God. What makes the definition change here other than the qualifications of a system created through systematic theology through which such a promise (or half of the promise) then has to be filtered?

    Is it possible that the promise could be ontic, but temporary, based on God's decree? Peter speaks about people falling from grace and denying the Lord who bought them. The author to the Hebrews talks about really taking part in the Spirit but falling away, and also about spurning the blood of the covenant which brought sanctification. Since we know that all the elect will persevere, can some experience the things talked about these authors really, and really have God as their God, but end up being cut out of the tree (Romans 11) or taken off the vine for their fruitlessness (John 15), because the decree of God concerning election was not for them what it is for those of us who persevere? This does include ontology, but it's not the same as Romanism, which views the falling away or perseverence as completely dependent on the working of the individual apart from God's decree.

    Davidius
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    Semper Fidelis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davidius View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Semper Fidelis View Post
    Abraham was never told that Ishmael was not elect. Isaac was never told Esau was not elect. These are the kinds of things that God knows. We are commanded to raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Full stop. No information concerning election of each child - just duty and hope.
    I thought that Abraham was told that Ishmael was not elect. Or does that verse just mean that Abraham was told that Ishmael would not be the line through which the promised seed would come? That would make more sense, especially in light of what you're saying about us lacking the knowledge of election.
    I'll just acknowledge this part. I'm tempted to answer the rest but it's midnight and I do need some sleep. I'll ask others to pitch in for the rest.

    There is nothing in the language of the Scriptures that indicates that either Abraham was told that Ishmael was reprobate nor can we be certain that he was. He was at Abraham's funeral.

    The only thing that Abraham was told was that God would not establish His covenant through Ishmael.

    I think sometimes when we read back into the past of Scripture's history, we forget that the actors don't know as much as we do and we're all thinking: "What are you doing Isaac, don't you know that God hates Esau?!"
    Rich
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    Jeff_Bartel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davidius View Post
    If all that God means when He says that He is our children's God is that they come to church each week, how does that make them different from an interested outsider who wants to come to church and see what it's all about? Does God then become that person's God, too? Furthermore, if that's all it means for God to be our children's God, how does the definition of God's parenthood change halfway through the sentence? God is my God, and I know that means more than just that I sit in church each week. I have fellowship with the Father through the Son. We're fine with saying this. But the promise goes on and says that God is our children's God. What makes the definition change here other than the qualifications of a system created through systematic theology through which such a promise (or half of the promise) then has to be filtered?
    God doesn't call our children "his people" merely because they attend church each week, but because they are MEMBERS of his church! There is a big difference! An outsider may attend the worship of God, yet is not entitled to all of the benefits that a member has. Also one must keep in mind that while God's promises to us are in the visible realm, there is a strong corrolation between the visible and invisible.

    II. The visible church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion;[2] and of their children:[3] and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ,[4] the house and family of God,[5] out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.[6]
    2. I Cor. 1:2; 12:12-13; Psa. 2:8; Rev. 7:9; Rom. 15:9-12
    3. I Cor. 7:14; Acts 2:39; Gen. 17:7-12; Ezek. 16:20-21; Rom. 11:16; see Gal. 3:7, 9, 14; Rom. 4:12, 16, 24
    4. Matt. 13:47; Isa. 9:7; Luke 1:32-33; Acts 2:30-36; Col. 1:13
    5. Eph. 2:19; 3:15
    6. Acts 2:47
    There is not an equality between the invisible/visible church, however, there is a great relationship between the two, and that cannot be forgotton. I think that sometimes Calvinists do this because they learn of election, and the fact that some in the church are not elect. This is true, but we cannot use this understanding to undermine the relationship that God has ordained between the visible/invisible church! Both are Christ's! God is a God to both (one can say in slightly different senses)! In this same sense God is spoken of as being a God to Israel in the OT, physical and spiritual.

    I think that a greater understanding of the visible church, and its importance in God's plan of redemption is really what is needed here IMHO.

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    Davidius is offline. Inactive User
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    I guess I still don't understand what the big difference is. They're members, but not full members. What benefits pertain to the baptized children of believers that do not pertain to regular visitors who are not baptized members? If there is no ontological difference, as with the visitor; if the children don't receive the Lord's supper, as with the visitor; if both are exposed to the preaching of the Word and are acquainted with spiritual people who can teach them and call them to repentance, how is a covenant child different in God's eyes? If I say to my child, "You are God's," what am I saying? It sounds like I'm just saying that my child is on the non-communicant membership roll at church.

    I appreciate systematic theology, and I appreciate the visible/invisible paradigm. It just sometimes feels like a very painful stretch to strain some passages in the bible through it. Please don't take that statement the wrong way. I just remember coming to Reformed theology and finally being able to make sense of so many passages about God's sovereignty and election. It was a relief not to have to skip them or twist them through some framework. Now I'm having a similar frustration with certain passages dealing with the covenant that have always confused me and which I've had to brush aside in reading and conversations with others, claiming that they don't say what they appear to say, like when I used to say "I know that looks like it teaches against free will, but it really doesn't."
    Davidius
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davidius View Post
    Is it possible that the promise could be ontic, but temporary, based on God's decree? Peter speaks about people falling from grace and denying the Lord who bought them. The author to the Hebrews talks about really taking part in the Spirit but falling away, and also about spurning the blood of the covenant which brought sanctification. Since we know that all the elect will persevere, can some experience the things talked about these authors really, and really have God as their God, but end up being cut out of the tree (Romans 11) or taken off the vine for their fruitlessness (John 15), because the decree of God concerning election was not for them what it is for those of us who persevere? This does include ontology, but it's not the same as Romanism, which views the falling away or perseverence as completely dependent on the working of the individual apart from God's decree.

    I would love to see an answer from someone on the above question. I too am unclear on this point. Is Christ talking of those who are merely tied onto the branch, like with a piece of string, and therefore are not drawing from the sap? I would say yes, at first, but then you have the spiritual participation that we see in Hebrews which indicates some kind of drawing from the well of God's grace.
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    MOSES is offline. Puritanboard Freshman
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    A non covenant visitor to a Church has not had this:

    . Baptism is a sacrament of the new testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible church; but also, to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins. . .

    6. The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God's own will, in his appointed time.
    WCF Chapter 28

    A covenant Child has had that...and is therefore a full member of the visible Church and is visibly united to Christ.

    Personaly (though many may disagree)...The baptized covenant child of God is regenerate and a full member of the Church.

    Children of pagans, non-christians, visitors, etc...are not (though if they repent and believe they will be).
    Shawn
    Orthodox Presbyterian
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davidius View Post
    I guess I still don't understand what the big difference is. They're members, but not full members. What benefits pertain to the baptized children of believers that do not pertain to regular visitors who are not baptized members? If there is no ontological difference, as with the visitor; if the children don't receive the Lord's supper, as with the visitor; if both are exposed to the preaching of the Word and are acquainted with spiritual people who can teach them and call them to repentance, how is a covenant child different in God's eyes? If I say to my child, "You are God's," what am I saying? It sounds like I'm just saying that my child is on the non-communicant membership roll at church.

    I appreciate systematic theology, and I appreciate the visible/invisible paradigm. It just sometimes feels like a very painful stretch to strain some passages in the bible through it. Please don't take that statement the wrong way. I just remember coming to Reformed theology and finally being able to make sense of so many passages about God's sovereignty and election. It was a relief not to have to skip them or twist them through some framework. Now I'm having a similar frustration with certain passages dealing with the covenant that have always confused me and which I've had to brush aside in reading and conversations with others, claiming that they don't say what they appear to say, like when I used to say "I know that looks like it teaches against free will, but it really doesn't."
    David,

    This is a very important distinction to make though. It deals with MUCH more than simply covenant children and their relationship to the church. If you lose this distinction altogether, you might very well lose the reformed faith (at least eventually). I am not accusing you of this, but merely expressing it's importance to reformed theology as a whole.

    I would highly recommend Matt's book on the subject, The Two Wills of God. I think it would help iron some things out for you!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by MOSES View Post
    A non covenant visitor to a Church has not had this:

    . Baptism is a sacrament of the new testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible church; but also, to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins. . .

    6. The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God's own will, in his appointed time.
    WCF Chapter 28

    A covenant Child has had that...and is therefore a full member of the visible Church and is visibly united to Christ.

    Personaly (though many may disagree)...The baptized covenant child of God is regenerate and a full member of the Church.

    Children of pagans, non-christians, visitors, etc...are not (though if they repent and believe they will be).
    Umm....

    That's more than even presumptive regeneration - are you saying that all covenant children are regenerated? Am I reading that wrong?
    Scott - Dallas, Texas - Faith OPC

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    MOSES is offline. Puritanboard Freshman
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theoretical View Post
    Umm....

    That's more than even presumptive regeneration - are you saying that all covenant children are regenerated? Am I reading that wrong?
    By the very defintion "covenant child", we are saying that that child is a child of the covenant of Grace.

    Personally, I don't have the ability to read God's mind, and know his eternal decrees in election. I don't know the "invisible" things, but he has given the Church "visible" thngs (i.e., the sacraments).

    So, visibly speaking...all I can say is that "covenant child" who is baptized IS Regenerate. (who am I to say otherwise, Christ only gave me visible things)
    Shawn
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    Davidius is offline. Inactive User
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    Quote Originally Posted by MOSES View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Theoretical View Post
    Umm....

    That's more than even presumptive regeneration - are you saying that all covenant children are regenerated? Am I reading that wrong?
    By the very defintion "covenant child", we are saying that that child is a child of the covenant of Grace.

    Personally, I don't have the ability to read God's mind, and know his eternal decrees in election. I don't know the "invisible" things, but he has given the Church "visible" thngs (i.e., the sacraments).

    So, visibly speaking...all I can say is that "covenant child" who is baptized IS Regenerate. (who am I to say otherwise, Christ only gave me visible things)
    This is how Paul seems to act in the Epistles. He talks about all the spiritual blessings that those in the Church have in Ephesians 1, in a letter addressed children as well as adults, and which was circulated to multiple churches (visible church). He couldn't have known the elect status of every person to whom he wrote, and he doesn't feel the need to make all kinds of qualifications as he speaks.
    Davidius
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    David, you said,

    Is it possible that the promise could be ontic, but temporary, based on God's decree? Peter speaks about people falling from grace and denying the Lord who bought them. The author to the Hebrews talks about really taking part in the Spirit but falling away, and also about spurning the blood of the covenant which brought sanctification. Since we know that all the elect will persevere, can some experience the things talked about these authors really, and really have God as their God, but end up being cut out of the tree (Romans 11) or taken off the vine for their fruitlessness (John 15), because the decree of God concerning election was not for them what it is for those of us who persevere? This does include ontology, but it's not the same as Romanism, which views the falling away or perseverence as completely dependent on the working of the individual apart from God's decree.
    No, it is not possible "that the promise could be ontic [actual], but temporary..." Those Peter spoke of in 2 Pet 2:19-22 (Calvin has some good remarks on this passage) and Paul in Heb 6 & 10 are not the elect, although they were under the ministry of the Spirit, and in the case of the Hebrews passages, may well refer to covenant children who were not elect, separated from the world in the sphere of the covenant and yet at enmity with the Spirit of Christ. God was not really their God -- the root of the matter was not in them -- despite a fair profession for a while, if that.

    They were fruitless as they were not in the vine, ever.

    The way Engelsma puts it, and I believe his view is right, we proceed as if all our children in the sphere of the covenant are children of the promise; with all our hearts we proceed thus, loving, nurturing in the fear and admonition of the Lord, praying for them, etc. We do this even though we know that not all our children may be children of promise -- i.e., the elect. We do the same with adults who make a credible profession of faith, we treat them and reckon them the people of God, even though we know some may turn out false. As the church, we say these are the people of God, not, "This is no doubt a mixed bag of believers and unbelievers." We continue so until any show they are not of God, by their testimony and deeds.
    Steve Rafalsky
    Member, Queens Presbyterian Church, Astoria (PCA)
    Queens, New York
    USA

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    power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness...
    " (Colossians 1:11)

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    Quote Originally Posted by MOSES View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Theoretical View Post
    Umm....

    That's more than even presumptive regeneration - are you saying that all covenant children are regenerated? Am I reading that wrong?
    By the very defintion "covenant child", we are saying that that child is a child of the covenant of Grace.

    Personally, I don't have the ability to read God's mind, and know his eternal decrees in election. I don't know the "invisible" things, but he has given the Church "visible" thngs (i.e., the sacraments).

    So, visibly speaking...all I can say is that "covenant child" who is baptized IS Regenerate. (who am I to say otherwise, Christ only gave me visible things)
    If they are regenerated, then only two options seem possible for the children of believers: (1) they are all saved or (2) they can become unregenerated.
    Are we saying these options are valid?
    Charles Plauger
    Grace Reformed Church
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    Quote Originally Posted by moral necessity View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by MOSES View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Theoretical View Post
    Umm....

    That's more than even presumptive regeneration - are you saying that all covenant children are regenerated? Am I reading that wrong?
    By the very defintion "covenant child", we are saying that that child is a child of the covenant of Grace.

    Personally, I don't have the ability to read God's mind, and know his eternal decrees in election. I don't know the "invisible" things, but he has given the Church "visible" thngs (i.e., the sacraments).

    So, visibly speaking...all I can say is that "covenant child" who is baptized IS Regenerate. (who am I to say otherwise, Christ only gave me visible things)
    If they are regenerated, then only two options seem possible for the children of believers: (1) they are all saved or (2) they can become unregenerated.
    Are we saying these options are valid?
    The second option is exactly what FV/RC theology says, whether by means of "covenant unfaithfulness" or of losing one's justified standing through the committing of a "mortal sin".

    It is unhelpful to say that because we cannot know God's mind on something that we should therefore presume its reality.
    Archlute

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    Pilgrim's Progeny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moral necessity View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by MOSES View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Theoretical View Post
    Umm....

    That's more than even presumptive regeneration - are you saying that all covenant children are regenerated? Am I reading that wrong?
    By the very defintion "covenant child", we are saying that that child is a child of the covenant of Grace.

    Personally, I don't have the ability to read God's mind, and know his eternal decrees in election. I don't know the "invisible" things, but he has given the Church "visible" thngs (i.e., the sacraments).

    So, visibly speaking...all I can say is that "covenant child" who is baptized IS Regenerate. (who am I to say otherwise, Christ only gave me visible things)
    If they are regenerated, then only two options seem possible for the children of believers: (1) they are all saved or (2) they can become unregenerated.
    Are we saying these options are valid?
    #1 is valid, but presumed?

    #2 is impossible?

    So the covenant theologian calls his children to conversion with the presumption they are regenerate while all the while knowing that this could prove to not be the case. Yet, we act upon the promise of God to be their God and we raise our children in a diligent to make their calling and election sure?
    Paul Woods
    Reformed Baptist
    Pastor
    Lighthouse Bible Church
    Missouri

    Men could be content to have the kingdom of Heaven; but they are loathe to fight for it. They choose rather to go in a feather bed to Hell than to be carried to Heaven in a ‘fiery chariot’ of zeal and violence. Thomas Watson Heaven Taken by Storm
    From my latest read

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    Pardon, but this is a little exasperating.

    When God says to ME! to ME, a member of long standing, and an officer, and everything--when he says "I will be your God..."

    OK, cut it off right there. Is THAT promise conditional or unconditional? Think about it. Sure, if I'm elect, I won't finally apostatize, and that promise is certain and unconditional. But there is a condition to it, from the earthly vantage point. I have to KEEP BELIEVING that promise!

    Abraham had to KEEP BELIEVING that promise, not just in God's promise to save him a posterity. So there is an implied condition in God's initial promise just to the man himself. Faith, and more faith.

    And we are getting "confused" (?) because there is this implicit condition in the second half of that promise statement? That those children have to believe as well for this promise to see fulfillment?

    Friends, we don't know OUR OWN hearts well enough to make guarantees about ourselves! ALL the promises of the Bible are for PERSEVERING Christians, for those who hold on to their faith the way Abraham held on to his.
    _____________

    Now, on this other topic, about our children, etc. We call our stance the "judgment of charity." The promises are issued inside the earthly context of covenant administration. That is where the promises reside, that is were they are objective.

    I do not think it is wise to make explicit subjective applications even to our own children--like saying "this one is regenerate, and this one, and this one," all on the basis of a baptism. That just seems to go patently further than the general statements of Scripture admit. For all we know, the Spirit has begun to work on the specific infant, but we aren't confessing the Spirit's invisible action. Rather, we are confessing the objective promise, which is a general promise, and the specific earthly application is always a contingent promise appropriated by faith.

    I treat my children like disciples. Take this verse, Gal 4:19 "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you." Isn't that just what a parent would say? I make a lesser presumption that the Spirit is at work in my child (as in the adults in the congregation) giving ears to hear my gospel, and to heed my Christian discipline. I do presume that life exists which makes saving hearing possible, though I do not know this to be certain. I rest in the promises of God. Do I "presume" the regeneration of the grown up professors in the pews? Yes, but I do not say to any single one of them, "You are regenerate," as though I could see their heart. My presumption is in the covenant, in the collective profession, some which are particularized, and the youth which are not yet.

    What I don't understand is why we are talking about Scriptural statements as if they were intended to tell us things of certainty pertaining to named individuals, things that we cannot see, just because those people belong to a visible class? Friends, this has NEVER been the case! It wasn't the case for Abraham, or any OT saint--who were given the original commandments to apply a covenant-sign without reference to its individuated salvific import for any marked person.

    They were to bear in their body the outward mark of ownership, the outward mark of covenant with God. These same people died by the thousands in the wilderness, and later in the Promised Land, as faithless, unsaved rebels, who were never saved. That had no bearing on the promise itself. And the promise had no effect on their faithless hearts. But they did earn a severer justice.
    Rev. Bruce G. Buchanan
    ChainOLakes Presbyterian Church, CentralLake, MI

    Made both Lord and Christ--Jesus, the Destroyer
    Acts 2:36 - 1 Cor. 10:9-10 & 15:22-26 - Hebrews 2:9-15 - 1 John 3:8 - James 4:12

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    MOSES is offline. Puritanboard Freshman
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    Quote Originally Posted by moral necessity View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by MOSES View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Theoretical View Post
    Umm....

    That's more than even presumptive regeneration - are you saying that all covenant children are regenerated? Am I reading that wrong?
    By the very defintion "covenant child", we are saying that that child is a child of the covenant of Grace.

    Personally, I don't have the ability to read God's mind, and know his eternal decrees in election. I don't know the "invisible" things, but he has given the Church "visible" thngs (i.e., the sacraments).

    So, visibly speaking...all I can say is that "covenant child" who is baptized IS Regenerate. (who am I to say otherwise, Christ only gave me visible things)
    If they are regenerated, then only two options seem possible for the children of believers: (1) they are all saved or (2) they can become unregenerated.
    Are we saying these options are valid?
    Why limit your "two options" to the children of beleivers? There is only ONE covenant community.

    You could ask the same question to adult "believers" if we call them regenerate.
    (1) they are all saved or (2) they can become unregenerated.


    If you can call a baptized adult regenerate based on the promises of God...then you can call a baptized child/infant regenerate based on the promise of God.

    Concernining the eternal decree of God..who am I to say that that adult is NOT regenerate. If he is baptized and a member of the covenant community, then visibly, he is in union with Christ.
    Shawn
    Orthodox Presbyterian
    Denver, Colorado

    Open my eyes Lord, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. Psalm 119:18

  34. #34
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    MOSES,
    Are you taking the position of the judgment of charity, or are you making an objective claim about an individual? Are you telling John Smith, "Sir, you have been baptized, therefore, you ARE regenerated." Your statement has to include a provisional sense if you are going to individuate it. I can't think there would be a pastor so careless as to not guard his meaning when speaking to the flock on this subject, so that they made no unsafe assumptions.

    Otherwise, intentional or not, what you say regarding the fact of a person's heart (excepting the term "visible" you use in the last line) sounds no different from the many, many incautious statements made by the FV folks.

    I don't think we are on different pages here, however, I think I would neither say to John Smith the adult, and especially with reference to baptismal rites, "Sir, you are regenerated," nor regarding the infant John Smith, Jr. would I so boldly say it.

    I would rather say "Sir, do you believe the gospel? Do you believe what baptism teaches? Then I say to you: in that case, you would be regenerated; you are justified, then. Believers in Jesus get regeneration, adoption, etc., and their children are accounted privileged. Claim the promise of Gen 17:7 as well. And hold it tight, should your son die before he shows you his faith."
    Rev. Bruce G. Buchanan
    ChainOLakes Presbyterian Church, CentralLake, MI

    Made both Lord and Christ--Jesus, the Destroyer
    Acts 2:36 - 1 Cor. 10:9-10 & 15:22-26 - Hebrews 2:9-15 - 1 John 3:8 - James 4:12

    When posting friends, kindly bear those words of earthly wisdom in mind:

    Oh, that God the gift would give us
    To see ourselves as others see us.
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  35. #35
    MOSES is offline. Puritanboard Freshman
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    NOTE: Before anyone starts throwing stones.
    NO, I am not an FV proponent...and I am extremely hostile to the RC doctrine of baptism.
    Shawn
    Orthodox Presbyterian
    Denver, Colorado

    Open my eyes Lord, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. Psalm 119:18

  36. #36
    moral necessity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MOSES View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by moral necessity View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by MOSES View Post

    By the very defintion "covenant child", we are saying that that child is a child of the covenant of Grace.

    Personally, I don't have the ability to read God's mind, and know his eternal decrees in election. I don't know the "invisible" things, but he has given the Church "visible" thngs (i.e., the sacraments).

    So, visibly speaking...all I can say is that "covenant child" who is baptized IS Regenerate. (who am I to say otherwise, Christ only gave me visible things)
    If they are regenerated, then only two options seem possible for the children of believers: (1) they are all saved or (2) they can become unregenerated.
    Are we saying these options are valid?
    Why limit your "two options" to the children of beleivers? There is only ONE covenant community.

    You could ask the same question to adult "believers" if we call them regenerate.
    (1) they are all saved or (2) they can become unregenerated.


    If you can call a baptized adult regenerate based on the promises of God...then you can call a baptized child/infant regenerate based on the promise of God.

    Concernining the eternal decree of God..who am I to say that that adult is NOT regenerate. If he is baptized and a member of the covenant community, then visibly, he is in union with Christ.
    I suppose I took your statement that "a covenant child who is baptized is regenerate" as if it were a theological statement of fact. I didn't really understand what you meant by "visibly speaking." If you are merely saying that you consider them as such, then that changes my reflection upon your thougths.

    Blessings!
    Charles Plauger
    Grace Reformed Church
    Woodstock, VA

  37. #37
    MOSES is offline. Puritanboard Freshman
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    Quote Originally Posted by Contra_Mundum View Post
    MOSES,
    Are you taking the position of the judgment of charity, or are you making an objective claim about an individual?
    Neither...I am making a subjective claim.
    (e.g., I am completely convinced that my baptized children are regenerate based on the promise of God, and his "confirming" or displaying that promise in the visible sign and SEAL of baptism)

    Note: If Christ wanted to leave me in the dark, in a state of doubt and not knowing...Then he would not have givem me and my children (or the church) the VISIBLE sign of baptism.

    Quote Originally Posted by Contra_Mundum View Post
    Are you telling John Smith, "Sir, you have been baptized, therefore, you ARE regenerated."

    If John Smith is an adult, a new convert that has come to be baptized...I am not going to say that baptism will make him regenerate (in the john 3 sense)...rather, I already, subjectively know that John is regenerate and that is why he confesses Christ.
    imo, Christians don't get regenerate. Rather sinners do. Sinners are regenerated and THEN become believers (Christians).

    Note: I am completely open minded on this topic, and open to correction as well.

    -- I hope I'm using the word "subjective" properly. Please correct me If I am not.
    Shawn
    Orthodox Presbyterian
    Denver, Colorado

    Open my eyes Lord, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. Psalm 119:18

  38. #38
    Contra_Mundum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MOSES View Post
    If John Smith is an adult, a new convert that has come to be baptized...I am not going to say that baptism will make him regenerate (in the john 3 sense)...rather, I already, subjectively know that John is regenerate and that is why he confesses Christ. [bold is mine, BGB]
    This shouldn't be your commitment.
    I *think* I understand what you intend to express, but the fact is that such knowledge is hidden from you. You cannot subjectively possess this knowledge, as in "this is true for me." Therefore it is foolish to commit yourself in this fashion. Our knowledge of regeneration is fairly limited to a rather imperfect understanding of one's own individual heart.

    Regenerate people DO confess Christ, and regeneration is the beginning of that confession.
    However, we know that Unregenerate people ALSO confess Christ. You rejected the "judgment of charity" as an option; I don't know why, since I *think* you would prefer that position to either the claim that objectively, John Smith's regeneration is certain, or that subjectively, his regeneration is true for you. You never want to make truth into a subjective quality.

    We all agree that water baptism doesn't regenerate. I think we are back to the principle that we should *judge* our friend John with love, "hoping and believing all things" for him, operating on the premise that he is acting in essentially the way we would expect any genuine Christian to behave.
    Rev. Bruce G. Buchanan
    ChainOLakes Presbyterian Church, CentralLake, MI

    Made both Lord and Christ--Jesus, the Destroyer
    Acts 2:36 - 1 Cor. 10:9-10 & 15:22-26 - Hebrews 2:9-15 - 1 John 3:8 - James 4:12

    When posting friends, kindly bear those words of earthly wisdom in mind:

    Oh, that God the gift would give us
    To see ourselves as others see us.
    --Robert Burns, 1786 (modernized) ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ Click to get: Board Rules -- Signature Requirements -- Suggestions? -- Sermons

  39. #39
    Iconoclast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davidius View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by MOSES View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Theoretical View Post
    Umm....

    That's more than even presumptive regeneration - are you saying that all covenant children are regenerated? Am I reading that wrong?
    By the very defintion "covenant child", we are saying that that child is a child of the covenant of Grace.

    Personally, I don't have the ability to read God's mind, and know his eternal decrees in election. I don't know the "invisible" things, but he has given the Church "visible" thngs (i.e., the sacraments).

    So, visibly speaking...all I can say is that "covenant child" who is baptized IS Regenerate. (who am I to say otherwise, Christ only gave me visible things)
    This is how Paul seems to act in the Epistles. He talks about all the spiritual blessings that those in the Church have in Ephesians 1, in a letter addressed children as well as adults, and which was circulated to multiple churches (visible church). He couldn't have known the elect status of every person to whom he wrote, and he doesn't feel the need to make all kinds of qualifications as he speaks.
    David,
    I think your reading of Eph1 is accurate,and your op and this post are getting at the truth of who is described as being in the church.
    When you read Eph1 without considering the issue of infants, the passage is very clear, isn't it? I was reading this thread and was trying not to comment but after seeing posts stating that every covenant child is regenerate I have to say that i do not think that is really them normal Presbyterian understanding of this issue.
    David I have posted several times on this issue and do not want to be repetitive. To a certain extent I understand the language of the visible /invisible distinction/ but I openly have discussed my struggle with many aspects of this teaching that I believe lead to false conclusions.
    My contention is that most of the verses speaking of the church are speaking of the elect or invisible members of the church, when they actually assemble in a visible assembly . That is to say the called out assembly.
    Read the verses that speak about the church [without] trying to force "covenant children into the verses" and see how the texts read.

    Jeff- you said this;
    God has stated that our children our by his grace a part of the visible church from infancy.
    what verse or verses where you thinking when you said this?
    Anthony D'Arienzo
    Hope Reformed Baptist Church:
    Medford, N.Y.
    All that die have not the plague, and all that perish eternally are not guilty of the same profligate sins.The covetous are excluded from the kingdom of God no less severely than fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, and thieves, 1 Corinthians 6:9,10.

  40. #40
    MOSES is offline. Puritanboard Freshman
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    Side Note:

    The WCF states absolutely, making an objective claim, that there are some infants who are regenerate. And it is not a statement of charity, but of fact.

    WCF Chapter 10.3

    ...I know, it is a stretch...but it does boldly state that some infants are regenerate.
    Shawn
    Orthodox Presbyterian
    Denver, Colorado

    Open my eyes Lord, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. Psalm 119:18

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