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Difference between the promises to covenant and non-covenant children?

Discussion in 'Baptism' started by Davidius, May 22, 2008.

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  1. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    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:

    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?
     
  2. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    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.
     
  3. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    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.
     
  4. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    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.
     
  5. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    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."
     
  6. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    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.
     
  7. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    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.
     
  8. Pilgrim's Progeny

    Pilgrim's Progeny Puritan Board Sophomore

    Can you elaborate on these two things as you understand them?

    What is your paradigm?

    What is the system you transport from the outside?
     
  9. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    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?
     
  10. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    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 ?
     
  11. Pilgrim's Progeny

    Pilgrim's Progeny Puritan Board Sophomore

    I would agree with the latter per 1Cor. 7:14.
     
  12. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Yes, I do understand that it would violate the visible/invisible distinction, hence my frustration with the appearance of such texts. :um: 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?

    In the sense that Bruce fleshed it out above? A "real" and "spiritual" participation?
     
  13. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    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."
     
  14. Pilgrim's Progeny

    Pilgrim's Progeny Puritan Board Sophomore

    Yes, I would say in a "real" and "spiritual" sense. Would you say that the author in Heb. 6: 4-8,
    is speaking of those who have some kind of "real" or "spiritual" participation in the economy of God's covenant.
     
  15. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    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...."
     
  16. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    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.​
     
  17. AV1611

    AV1611 Puritan Board Senior

  18. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    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.

    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 perseverance as completely dependent on the working of the individual apart from God's decree.

    :think:
     
  19. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    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?!"
     
  20. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    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.

    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 In my humble opinion.
     
  21. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    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."
     
  22. Pilgrim's Progeny

    Pilgrim's Progeny Puritan Board Sophomore

    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.
     
  23. MOSES

    MOSES Puritan Board Freshman

    A non covenant visitor to a Church has not had this:

    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).
     
  24. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    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! :book2:
     
  25. Theoretical

    Theoretical Puritan Board Professor

    Umm....

    That's more than even presumptive regeneration - are you saying that all covenant children are regenerated? Am I reading that wrong?
     
  26. MOSES

    MOSES Puritan Board Freshman

    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)
     
  27. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    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.
     
  28. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    David, you said,

    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.
     
  29. moral necessity

    moral necessity Puritan Board Junior

    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?
     
  30. Archlute

    Archlute Puritan Board Senior

    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.
     
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