"Reformed" Baptist becomes Reformed

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Roldan

Puritan Board Junior
I thought this was pretty interesting. Read patiently.

Infant Baptism

Question
I'm studying the paedobaptism issue, and I'm using many traditional and popular works from both credobaptists and paedobaptists. To date I find the Reformed Baptist stuff to be the most biblical. It just seems to fit better than the paedobaptism reasoning, but I'm open to change. How one understands the covenants and their fulfillment, etc., would appear to be crucial. Any thoughts?



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Answer
I know this can be a really tough subject -- I myself was a Baptist for 25 years or so! In fact, most Presbyterians I know used to be Baptists. I also agree that much of what has been written over the years fails to address some of the concerns that I thought were most important when I was a Baptist. For example, R.C. Sproul basically argues from church history. While I love R.C. (I used to work for him at Ligonier), I just don't find this argument very compelling from a sola Scriptura perspective. Many other authors argued from assumptions carried over from the old covenant, but I had not yet come to the solid conclusion that the old covenant was the same covenant as the new covenant, and most authors do not present or defend this fact. Then too, they nearly all mentioned the probability that infants were present in the household baptisms.

For me, the most critical interpretive questions that I needed answered were:

Why doesn't the Bible explicitly teach either paedobaptism or credobaptism?
What would the assumptions of the original audience have been in the absence of any explicit teaching on this subject?
Does the Bible anywhere demonstrate what the original audience assumed?
The most critical theological questions that pertained to the issue were:
What does baptism symbolize?
Can the new covenant be broken?
What finally turned me into a Presbyterian were the answers to these questions. First, I came to conclude that the new covenant was simply a renewal of the old covenant, not a completely different covenant. I also came to conclude that the Bible taught that the new covenant could be broken (from many of the same texts from which people erroneously argue that salvation can be lost). Since salvation cannot be lost, and since the new covenant can be broken, then there must be people in the new covenant who are not saved. For me, this removed the objection that any covenant sign ought only to be applied to believers. The implication became that it ought to be applied to all covenant members. Then, it became easy to assume that the same covenant rules which applied to the old administrations of the covenant still applied in the new administration of the covenant. (There is a related point on which I still differ from many Reformed thinkers: I do not believe that any portion of the law has been abrogated, but that Jesus continues to fulfill on our behalf those portions which we are no longer to do ourselves, such as animal sacrifice, etc. My view of the Law presents an even stronger case for paedobaptism that some of the more traditional statements on the Law do.)

As I looked at the New Testament for help, I was a bit surprised to find that it nowhere explicitly teaches that baptism is "an outward sign of an inward change." I still believe this is one valid aspect of its symbolism (implied in texts such as Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21), but not that its symbolism is limited to this. Colossians 2:11-12 was a text I thought the Presbyterians used unfairly at first, but in time I came to agree that the implication of that text is that baptism now accomplishes what circumcision used to accomplish, and thus that it really is the new covenant sign. As a covenant sign, I came to believe that baptism symbolizes the entire covenant, not just one particular covenant blessing, and not even all covenant blessings alone. Rather, the implication would be that, like circumcision, it symbolizes both covenant blessings and covenant curses.

Finally, on the hermeneutical front, I was struck by Lydia's household baptism in Acts 16:14-15. This was not because I assumed there were children present (though it does seem odd to me to think that there were no children present in any of the households that were baptized), but rather because of Luke's choice of words. That is, Luke says that Lydia believed, and indicates that on that basis her household was baptized. In saying that the household was baptized, Luke never differentiates believers from unbelievers. Regardless of the age of those in the household, they were apparently all baptized. Because Luke does not distinguish between believers and unbelievers in the household, it indicates to me that he assumed that their belief or unbelief was immaterial to the question of whether or not they should be baptized. The important issue was the belief of the head of the household.

Two more theological points that impact the discussion, particularly with regard to breaking the new covenant, are the way the new covenant and its blessings are revealed and applied to believers, and the conditionality of all covenants. Ultimately, the covenant will become unbreakable, but only when Jesus returns and gives us all the covenant blessings. Until then, we partake of blessings only partially, and the covenant remains breakable. A good book on this idea is The Coming of the Kingdom by Herman Ridderbos.

On the point that all covenants are conditional, there has been much confusion because of the unfortunate teaching that has existed within the Reformed tradition that some covenants were unconditional (Noahic, Abrahamic, Davidic) while others were conditional (Adamic, Mosaic). Meredith Kline popularized this view, but did so on faulty data. As is reflected even in good study Bibles, for many years research seemed to indicate that in the ancient Near East there was such a thing as an unconditional "royal land grant treaty." The conclusion that these were unconditional, however, was based on covenant boundary marker stones that sounded unconditional and contained no curses. More recently, though, they dug up these stones to study them further. What they found was that on the portions of the stones buried under the ground by time, these treaties contain stipulations and curses, indicating that these treaties really were conditional. But this is perhaps a point that will continue to be debated as people discover more data, reinterpret existing data, etc.

More importantly, the Bible itself lists explicit stipulations and curses in conjuction with the supposedly unconditional biblical covenants (e.g. uncircumcision results in being cut off from Abraham's people in Gen. 18; death penalty for murderers in Gen. 9; fidelity to God in 2 Chron. 6:16; etc.) Thus, there really is no good case that any biblical covenant was unconditional. This is most obvious in the case of the new covenant, where Jesus himself had to die in order to receive the covenant curses due us in order to gain the covenant blessings for us. To me, it is somewhat curious that the view that some covenants were conditional (Adamic, Mosaic) and others unconditional (Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic) has become ingrained in a tradition (Reformed) that claims there is really only one covenant in various administrations. How does the same covenant ping-pong between being conditional and unconditional?

Anyway, baptism is certainly an issue that is not so clearly presented in Scripture that believers cannot reasonably disagree on it. And you can see from what convinced me that my own views are not entirely identical to those of others in the paedobaptism camp. Different arguments convince different people. The ones I have mentioned are just the ones that convinced me, and are largely based on implication and assumption (as are, by the way, credobaptism arguments). I still know, respect and love a great many Reformed Baptists, and it seems to me that the same issues that prevent them from being paedobaptists are things like the assumption that the new covenant cannot be broken and that baptism is only an outward sign of an inward change. I also know a great many paedobaptist who seem to hold to paedobaptism for insufficient reasons, but I love them too.

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

[Edited on 2-18-2004 by Roldan]

[Edited on 2-18-2004 by Roldan]
 

turmeric

Megerator
Paedo? Credo? Don't know

Maybe you can help me understand this, I am sure it's been addressed before, but the arguments usually scare me, they start to sound Arminian, and I don't want to get within a mile of Auburn - but how can you break a covenant written on your heart? Isn't that the distinctive of the new covenant, i.e. not like the old...which covenant you broke...but this is the new covenant I will make with you in those days, I will write my laws on your hearts...THIS IS NOT A COMPLETE QUOTE!!
But isn't that the point, that it's unbreakable, unlike the old one which was broken? This time I'll try to pay attention.
 

Roldan

Puritan Board Junior
[quote:61f3024ed6][i:61f3024ed6]Originally posted by turmeric[/i:61f3024ed6]
Maybe you can help me understand this, I am sure it's been addressed before, but the arguments usually scare me, they start to sound Arminian, and I don't want to get within a mile of Auburn - but how can you break a covenant written on your heart? Isn't that the distinctive of the new covenant, i.e. not like the old...which covenant you broke...but this is the new covenant I will make with you in those days, I will write my laws on your hearts...THIS IS NOT A COMPLETE QUOTE!!
But isn't that the point, that it's unbreakable, unlike the old one which was broken? This time I'll try to pay attention. [/quote:61f3024ed6]

"Two more theological points that impact the discussion, particularly with regard to breaking the new covenant, are the way the new covenant and its blessings are revealed and applied to believers, and the conditionality of all covenants.Two more theological points that impact the discussion, particularly with regard to breaking the new covenant, are the way the new covenant and its blessings are revealed and applied to believers, and the conditionality of all covenants. [b:61f3024ed6]Ultimately, the covenant will become unbreakable, but only when Jesus returns and gives us all the covenant blessings. Until then, we partake of blessings only partially, and the covenant remains breakable.[/b:61f3024ed6] A good book on this idea is The Coming of the Kingdom by Herman Ridderbos.


The final fullfilment of Jer. 31 will be at Christ Return for now it has been inaugurated but will reach its completion with the parousia, for who now can say they abide by the law perfectly?

Now of course those TRULY regenerated will never break the Covenant but we have members of the Visible chuch who have agreed to the Covenant who will eventually Break the agreement they made before God nominally.

Grace and Peace

[Edited on 2-18-2004 by Roldan]
 

pastorway

Puritan Board Senior
[quote:7318eebbea]Ultimately, the covenant will become unbreakable, but only when Jesus returns and gives us all the covenant blessings. Until then, we partake of blessings only partially, and the covenant remains breakable. [/quote:7318eebbea]

This is auburn theology. It speaks of an eschatological justification that depends on us enduring until Christ returns to finally justify us.

The covenant is not fluid. It is not one thing today and another when Christ returns. In God's eyes [i:7318eebbea]it is finished[/i:7318eebbea]. It is done. Rom 8:30 is past tense.

His covenant is what it is and it, like God Himself, does not change.

Phillip

[Edited on 2-18-04 by pastorway]
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
[quote:889b262e03][i:889b262e03]Originally posted by pastorway[/i:889b262e03]
[quote:889b262e03]Ultimately, the covenant will become unbreakable, but only when Jesus returns and gives us all the covenant blessings. Until then, we partake of blessings only partially, and the covenant remains breakable. [/quote:889b262e03]

This is auburn theology. It speaks of an eschatological justification that depends on us enduring until Christ returns to finally justify us.

The covenant is not fluid. It is not one thing today and another when Christ returns. In God's eyes [i:889b262e03]it is finished[/i:889b262e03]. It is done. Rom 8:30 is past tense.

His covenant is what it is and it, like God Himself, does not change.

Phillip
[/quote:889b262e03]

Phillip,

This is not Auburn theology. Ridderbos here is making a Biblical distinction between the already and the not yet. There is an eschatological dimension to the covenant. To deny that is to lump every Reformer and (non-baptistic) puritan and Presbyterian (including me) in with that heresy.

There is a careful distinction to be made, but the problem comes (in my humble opinion) from the way you define covenant. We have spoken on this before. I say this not to reopen that discussion, or dismiss your view, but to gently warn you to be careful in lumping together what you view as a mistaken dimension of the covenant that has been held by orthodox divines for centuries with a novel heterodoxy.

Notice that Ridderbos is speaking of those in the visible church, not the elect. This is the very important distinction that Wilson et al reject.

This is why the federal vision is so dangerous. It resembles orthodoxy, but is not.

[Edited on 2-18-2004 by fredtgreco]
 

pastorway

Puritan Board Senior
Fred, let me ask for my own understanding - if a person is elect, are they ever in a breakable covenant? Is a redeemed person ever in a situation where the covenant he is in is partial now and permanent only later?

What about Rom 8:30 being written in the past tense?

This view of the covenant, as being conditional and breakable, leads to either a works sanctification and eschatological justification, or to the possibility of losing your salvation and being thrown out of the covenant altogether. That is all pure auburn.......

Does not the WCF and catechisms teach that only the elect are in the covenant of grace? If so, then it is not temporary, conditional, or breakable, for men cannot undo the salvation of God.

And if only the elect are in the CoG, then being an unregenerate church member, while it may expose you to the benefits of the covenant, in no way puts you IN the covenant. To be in the covenant community is not the same as being in the covenant.

Of course that is my position as a Baptist......and perhaps paedos need to be a little more clear about which covenant they are talking about. Their own confessions say that only the elect are in the CoG, then they assume (presume) that any in the church are in the covenant. It cannot be both!

Phillip
 

Roldan

Puritan Board Junior
[quote:2fedf51adb][i:2fedf51adb]Originally posted by pastorway[/i:2fedf51adb]
[quote:2fedf51adb]Ultimately, the covenant will become unbreakable, but only when Jesus returns and gives us all the covenant blessings. Until then, we partake of blessings only partially, and the covenant remains breakable. [/quote:2fedf51adb]

This is auburn theology. It speaks of an eschatological justification that depends on us enduring until Christ returns to finally justify us.

The covenant is not fluid. It is not one thing today and another when Christ returns. In God's eyes [i:2fedf51adb]it is finished[/i:2fedf51adb]. It is done. Rom 8:30 is past tense.

His covenant is what it is and it, like God Himself, does not change.

Phillip

[Edited on 2-18-04 by pastorway] [/quote:2fedf51adb]

WOW, Again my point is made. Covenant theology is not understood by our passionate and loving baptist brothers.

I think this piece of an article by Richard Pratt on Jer. 31 is helpful at this juncture.

"It is well known that the NT teaches that Christ fulfilled OT promises about the restoration from exile. But these fulfillments take place in a manner unanticipated by OT prophets. Instead of happening completely and all at once, the restoration expectations were fulfilled and are being fulfilled over a long stretch of time. Jesus explained this process of fulfillment for the Kingdom of God after the exile in the parable of the mustard seed (Matt. 13:31-32). He explained that the grand kingdom would begin very small, slowly grow, and finally reach full maturity. It helps to think of this NT perspective on the fulfillment of restoration prophecies in three stages: the inauguration of fulfillment in the first coming of Christ; the continuation of fulfillment between the first and second comings of Christ; and the consummation of fulfillment at the return of Christ. The NT repeatedly explains that OT predictions of the glorious state of blessing after the exile began to be fulfilled at Christ's first coming, continue to be fulfilled in part today, and will finally be realized beyond imagination when Christ returns.
Because the NT does not explicitly apply this threefold fulfillment pattern to Jeremiah's prophecy of the new covenant, the fulfillment of that particular prophecy is often misunderstood. Often interpreters approach this text as if the new covenant had come in its fullness when Christ first came to earth, but this is a significant error. Christ has not yet completed the restoration, and thus we have not yet obtained the promised blessings in full. The new covenant was inaugurated in Christ's first coming; it progresses in part during the continuation of Christ's Kingdom; but it will reach complete fulfillment only when Christ returns in the consummation of all things. We must approach Jeremiah 31:31-34 as we approach all prophesies regarding the restoration after exile: with the understanding that the restoration of the kingdom and the renewal of the covenant will not be complete until Jesus returns.
When we apply the basic pattern of NT fulfillment to Jeremiah's prophecy of the new covenant, it becomes clear that his expectations provide no basis at all for opposing infant baptism. To illustrate that this is the case, we will return to the three common objections often raised by Jeremiah 31:31-34.
In the first place, Jeremiah announced that the new covenant couldn't be broken. In the consummation of Christ's Kingdom, this prediction will be completely fulfilled. Once Christ returns it will not be possible to break the new covenant and thereby to enter into another exile. Before that time, however, participants in the new covenant can break the new covenant. In addition to the numerous warnings against apostasy in the NT, we should give special attention to Hebrews 10:28-31:
"Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' and again, 'The Lord will judge his people.' It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
This passage makes it plain that until Christ returns it is possible for the new covenant to be broken. The writer of Hebrews acknowledges that covenant breakers under Moses were executed for capital offenses (Heb 10:28) and then argues, from the lesser to the greater ("how much more" [Heb 10:29]), that even more severe punishment is deserved by people who have "trampled the Son of God under foot ... treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified [them] ... and ... insulted the Spirit of grace" (Heb 10:29). The three objects in focus - Son of God, blood of the covenant, and Spirit of grace - are features of the new covenant. Flagrant violation of these new covenant realities is quite possible and leads to severe punishment.
In fact, the writer of Hebrews applied the warning "the Lord will judge his people" from Deuteronomy 32:36 - a warning to the covenant people under the Mosaic covenant - to this new covenant situation, thus equating the circumstance of the new covenant prior to the return of Christ to the situation Israel faced under the old covenant. Judgment was and is possible for both the old and the new covenant communities, and judgment flows only from covenant breaking, not from covenant keeping. If judgment is a possibility under the new covenant, then so is the covenant breaking that leads to that judgment.
As the NT indicates, until Christ returns it should never be thought that the new covenant cannot be broken. On the contrary, the NT expects some participants in the new covenant to break that covenant. Therefore, the rejection of infant baptism on the basis that infants may prove to be covenant breakers is not well founded.
In the second place, we have seen that the new covenant is internalized. This feature of Jeremiah's prophecy may appear to stand against the idea of bringing infants into external blessings in the new covenant through baptism. This objection to infant baptism also falls when we think more carefully about how this expectation is fulfilled.
We can have confidence that when Christ returns in glory, everyone in the new creation after Christ's return will have the law of God written on his or her heart. We will all love and delight in his ways, just as Christ already does (2 Cor. 3:16-18; 1 Thess. 3:11-13). In this sense, we expect Jeremiah's prophecy to find complete fulfillment when Christ returns.
At the present time, however, this expectation is only partially fulfilled. There is a sense in which the hearts and minds of believers have been renewed by God's grace (Rom. 12:1-2). At the same time, however, we are also commanded by NT writers to observe guidance from the Scriptures and to watch for corruption in our thinking (e.g. Rom. 1:18-2:29; Eph. 4:17-32; 2 Pet. 3:17). The NT speaks this way because the promise of complete internalization of the law of God has begun within believers, but it has not yet been completed.
For this reason, it should not surprise us to find that even in the NT some people are blessed simply to be involved in the more external dimensions of the new covenant community. This kind of circumstance occurs regularly in the NT, but a striking example appears in Paul's discussion in 1 Cor 7:14:
"For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy."
When discussing the responsibilities of believers married to unbelievers, Paul made a remarkable observation. He argued that the unbelievers (a;pistoj) are set apart from the world or sanctified (a`gia,zw) by their association with their believing spouses. This language recalls the expression of Hebrews 10:29 that one who turns from Christ "treat as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him." Sanctification in this sense parallels the OT concept of "consecration" (vdq)) which is applied both to people and things as they are set apart from ordinary life for special contact with the presence of God. These people are not necessarily "saved" or "regenerated" (to use common theological categories). The new covenant has not been internalized for them, but they are sanctified by external associations nonetheless. From Paul's use of this language for unbelieving spouses in 1 Corinthians 7:14, we see that prior to the return of Christ, it is appropriate to speak of association with the external dimensions of the new covenant. Such association sanctifies even those who have not been transformed by God's grace in their minds and hearts.
Interestingly enough, in 1 Corinthians 7:14 this concept of sanctification is not only applied to unbelieving spouses but also to the children of such marriages. As Paul put it, "your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy." Again, applying the old covenant designation of "unclean" to indicate unacceptability within the vicinity of the holy presence of God (e.g. Lev. 10:9-10; Num. 5:2-3), Paul asserts that the sanctification of the unbelieving spouse renders even their children holy or consecrated.
Until Christ returns in glory it is not only permissible and helpful, but also necessary to speak of certain people as consecrated or sanctified to God by their close associations with the people of God and with the activities of true believers. For this reason, it is quite appropriate to speak of the children of believers as sanctified or consecrated by their involvement in the more external dimensions of life in the new covenant even though they may not be regenerated. The internalization promised in the new covenant by no means opposes to the baptism of infants.
In the third place, we saw that many evangelicals object to infant baptism because the new covenant distributes salvation to all of its participants. As with the previous objections, this point of view is correct insofar as it relates to the complete fulfillment of the new covenant in the consummation. When Christ returns he will separate the just and unjust, the sheep and the goats, true believers and unbelievers in the church. The promise that the new covenant will grant salvation to all who participate will be fulfilled by the removal of the unbelievers at the time of judgment. Only true believers will be left, and thus all who are in covenant will be saved.
Yet, prior to the judgment that Christ will render at his return, the new covenant community is not restricted to believers only. If it were, there would be no separation of people at Christ's return. We have already mentioned Hebrews 10:28-31 which speaks of judgment coming against some who have been "sanctified by the blood of the covenant." We should add to this passage those that warn the members of church communities (often called "brothers") to be sure to pass the test of perseverance (e.g. 1 Cor. 9:27; 2 Cor 13:5; 2 Pet. 1:10; Rev. 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21; 21:7). The familiar explanation of apostasy found in 1 John 2:19 summarizes the situation well:
"They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us."
As the parables of the Ten Virgins and Talents (Matt 25:1-30) illustrate, there are many in the new covenant community who will prove themselves not to be truly regenerate. Consequently, there is no need to withhold baptism from infants on the basis of Jeremiah's new covenant expectations. Until the consummation the new covenant will continue to be mixed with true believers and sanctified unbelievers.

Conclusion
As we have seen in this study, Jeremiah's prophecy of the new covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34 has been the basis of a number of objections to the practice of infant baptism. We have looked at this prophecy in connection with the many other OT expectations for the return from exile. Moreover, we have noted how the NT understands the fulfillment of restoration prophecies in three stages. All followers of Christ look forward to the day when this age of sin and death will be entirely replaced by the new world of blessing. At that time, there will be no bearing of children and the question of infant baptism will be moot. [b:2fedf51adb]Yet, until that day we live in a time when the new covenant still includes people who become covenant breakers, who benefit only from the external dimensions of the new covenant, and who have never been regenerated.[/b:2fedf51adb] Until that time, we continue to have children to multiply and to fill the earth. As a result, we baptize our children as believers circumcised their sons in the OT. We baptize them as the expected heirs of the new covenant, those blessed with a heritage of faith and special privileges and responsibilities before God."

Please let us not confuse centuries of Reformed Covenant theology with modern heretical garbage.

In Search of Clarity, Roldan
:saint:

[Edited on 2-18-2004 by Roldan]
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
[quote:ef4fc148f9][i:ef4fc148f9]Originally posted by pastorway[/i:ef4fc148f9]
Fred, let me ask for my own understanding - if a person is elect, are they ever in a breakable covenant? Is a redeemed person ever in a situation where the covenant he is in is partial now and permanent only later?

What about Rom 8:30 being written in the past tense?

This view of the covenant, as being conditional and breakable, leads to either a works sanctification and eschatological justification, or to the possibility of losing your salvation and being thrown out of the covenant altogether. That is all pure auburn.......

Does not the WCF and catechisms teach that only the elect are in the covenant of grace? If so, then it is not temporary, conditional, or breakable, for men cannot undo the salvation of God.

And if only the elect are in the CoG, then being an unregenerate church member, while it may expose you to the benefits of the covenant, in no way puts you IN the covenant. To be in the covenant community is not the same as being in the covenant.

Of course that is my position as a Baptist......and perhaps paedos need to be a little more clear about which covenant they are talking about. Their own confessions say that only the elect are in the CoG, then they assume (presume) that any in the church are in the covenant. It cannot be both!

Phillip [/quote:ef4fc148f9]

Phillip,

The quick answer is found in the visible/invisible church distinction. Only the elect are in the covenant of grace, but various administrations of the covenant of grace admit both elect and non-elect.

This is vital. For example, Isaac was in the covenant of grace (elect) but Ishmael was not. But Ishmael [b:ef4fc148f9]was[/b:ef4fc148f9] in the Abrahamic covenant, and received its sign. The same with the Mosaic covenant. (I know, I know, you view the Mosaic differently, but you are still wrong :D ) That is why Paul can say, not all of Israel are Israel.

But to answer another point - I do not believe that the elect can ever fall from covenant with God - that is where the Federal Vision gets murky. They want to talk about an election that is not eternal. But every man is in covenant with God. Some to glory and salvation, others to death and destruction.
 

pastorway

Puritan Board Senior
So (to prove I understand Covenant theology but am trying to challenge it) one in the church who is not elect is in the outer/visible covenant of grace but not in the inner/invisible covenant of grace. Hence he will not meet the conditions of the CoG since to meet the conditions one must be in Christ. Therefore he is ultimately a covenant breaker and will receive the penalty for his sin and suffer covenant curses.

I guess that is why those who are only in the [i:81bfe05267]outer[/i:81bfe05267] administration of the covenant are eventually cast into [i:81bfe05267]outer [/i:81bfe05267]darkness! :eureka:

Sure I understand. I just reject it because it is compounding what the Bible says about the "Covenant of Grace!" (Then again, I am a Baptist, so of course to you I am wrong!) Let us just not say that because we disagree that we misunderstand each other!

That said, I do say that the Bible does not teach that to be in the visible church automatically puts you into a covenant relationship with God. Only the elect are in the CoG. Period. No one else is in any way in that Covenant! Again, to be int he covenant community is not the same as being int he covenant.

And without explanation, the quote I mentioned in my earlier post easily leads people astray from truth. God's covenant with His elect is neither breakable or temporary. Otherwise He has lied to us and to His own Son!!

Phillip

[Edited on 2-18-04 by pastorway]
 

Roldan

Puritan Board Junior
Fred: "The quick answer is found in the visible/invisible church distinction. Only the elect are in the covenant of grace, but various administrations of the covenant of grace admit both elect and non-elect.

[u:365aa6ebdc][i:365aa6ebdc][b:365aa6ebdc]This is vital[/b:365aa6ebdc][/i:365aa6ebdc][/u:365aa6ebdc]."

YES indeed, this is where, I think, the misunderstanding is, once this is embraced as biblical (and it is:bigsmile:) the rest fall into place.

Grace and Peace
 

Roldan

Puritan Board Junior
Pastor, what about this:

Fred said "This is vital. For example, Isaac was in the covenant of grace (elect) but Ishmael was not. But Ishmael was in the Abrahamic covenant, and received its sign. The same with the Mosaic covenant. (I know, I know, you view the Mosaic differently, but you are still wrong ) That is why Paul can say, not all of Israel are Israel."

How do you explain that? After all that was the Covenant of Grace right?
 

pastorway

Puritan Board Senior
See, you do not understand the Reformed Baptist position do you? :tongue:

To answer your question, no, it was not the covenant of grace! Beside, Ishmael was not in the Covenant, period (Gen 17:19-21).

The Covenant of Grace, according to the LBCF, is the New Covenant. The Abrahamic and all others forshadowed the CoG/NC. The NC fulfilled the shadows. It alone in the New Covenantin Christ's blood - meaning to be in it you have had Christ's blood shed for you. And if you believe in particular redemption/limited atonement then it is easy to see that the NC is made only with the elect.

We need no visible/invisible distinction. God either sent Christ to die for you and inititate you into the CoG, or He did not and you will be judged!

Phillip
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
[quote:794f4d1708][i:794f4d1708]Originally posted by pastorway[/i:794f4d1708]
See, you do not understand the Reformed Baptist position do you? :tongue:

To answer your question, no, it was not the covenant of grace! Beside, Ishmael was not in the Covenant, period (Gen 17:19-21).

The Covenant of Grace, according to the LBCF, is the New Covenant. The Abrahamic and all others forshadowed the CoG/NC. The NC fulfilled the shadows. It alone in the New Covenantin Christ's blood - meaning to be in it you have had Christ's blood shed for you. And if you believe in particular redemption/limited atonement then it is easy to see that the NC is made only with the elect.

We need no visible/invisible distinction. God either sent Christ to die for you and inititate you into the CoG, or He did not and you will be judged!

Phillip [/quote:794f4d1708]

Now, now, Phillip. The 1689 does not teach that the covenant of grace [b:794f4d1708]is[/b:794f4d1708] the new covenant. It teaches that the covenant of grace began with Adam in the garden, and that it received [b:794f4d1708]its fullest expression[/b:794f4d1708] in the new covenant (which is, by the way, the WCF position.

[quote:794f4d1708]This covenant {of grace, cf 7.2 - FTG} is revealed in the gospel; first of all [u:794f4d1708]to Adam in the promise of salvation[/u:794f4d1708] by the seed of the woman, and afterwards [u:794f4d1708]by farther steps[/u:794f4d1708], until the [u:794f4d1708]full discovery thereof[/u:794f4d1708] was completed in the New Testamentand it is founded in that eternal covenant transaction that was between the Father and the Son about the redemption of the elect; and it is alone by the grace of this covenant that all of the posterity of fallen Adam that ever were saved did obtain life and blessed immortality, man being now utterly incapable of acceptance with God upon those terms on which Adam stood in his state of innocency (LBCF 7.3) [/quote:794f4d1708]

I know what your position is, and you are still wrong! :p

But the 1689 is clear. It does not say that covenant of grace = new covenant. Rather it says that the new covenant is a [b:794f4d1708]revelation of[/b:794f4d1708] the covenant of grace.

[Edited on 2-19-2004 by fredtgreco]
 

pastorway

Puritan Board Senior
Oh but Fred....lots of us RBs understand the LBCF to be Biblical when it does NOT say that the CoG existed in differing administrations throughout Scripture but instead was [i:6dfbdd2796]revealed[/i:6dfbdd2796] in further steps until it is fully discovered in the New Covenant.

Those other covenants were not the CoG, but revealed it in types and shadows until the final revelation was found in the establishment of the New Covenant in Christ's blood, which is what was forshadowed....hence it is the CoG.

That is my position and the position of many many RBs. So that is our take on the CoG and why we react like we do when paedos are not CLEAR about which aspect of their covenant construct they are talking about!!!

We keep it simple! You are in or out. Not visibly in but invisibly out!

Phillip

[Edited on 2-19-04 by pastorway]
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Phillip....

[quote:41b9afd19d]Oh but Fred....lots of us RBs understand the LBCF to be Biblical when it does NOT say that the CoG existed in differing administrations throughout Scripture but instead was [i:41b9afd19d]revealed[/i:41b9afd19d] in further steps until it is fully discovered in the New Covenant.[/quote:41b9afd19d]

This does damage to the English language. It is not as if we're translating the 1689 from Latin or something. It was written in English and it cannot mean how you have interpreted it.

Do you have some divines from the time explain this in writing? I think this is a novel interpretation in the last 150 years, but is not the original intent of the LBCF.

I know you usually refuse to answer this, but I'll try it again. Would you please treat Matthew 7:21-23? These are clearly in the church, but are not saved. Who are they? This is a primary place where the visible and invisible church comes into play.

In Christ,

KC
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
[quote:28906041af][i:28906041af]Originally posted by pastorway[/i:28906041af]
Oh but Fred....lots of us RBs understand the LBCF to be Biblical when it does NOT say that the CoG existed in differing administrations throughout Scripture but instead was [i:28906041af]revealed[/i:28906041af] in further steps until it is fully discovered in the New Covenant.

Those other covenants were not the CoG, but revealed it in types and shadows until the final revelation was found in the establishment of the New Covenant in Christ's blood, which is what was forshadowed....hence it is the CoG.

That is my position and the position of many many RBs. So that is our take on the CoG and why we react like we do when paedos are not CLEAR about which aspect of their covenant construct they are talking about!!!

We keep it simple! You are in or out. Not visibly in but invisibly out!

Phillip

[Edited on 2-19-04 by pastorway] [/quote:28906041af]

Phillip,

This really is not the historic Baptist understanding of the covenant of grace. It is also not necessary to reject paedobaptism. As you know, I am not really interested at this point in convincing you of paedobaptism - that can wait for another day! But what is important, I think, is the structure of the covenant of grace and its relation to the Biblical manifestations of that covenant (Gen 3:15, Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, New) .

This is a matter of first magnitude, as has been said:

[quote:28906041af]
The doctrine of the Covenant lies at the root of all true theology. It has been said that he who well understands the distinction between the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace is a master of divinity. I am persuaded that most of the mistakes which men make concerning the doctrines of Scriptures are based upon fundamental errors with regard to the covenants of law and the covenants of grace. May God grant us now the power to instruct and you the grace to receive instruction on this vital subject. [b:28906041af](Charles Spurgeon)[/b:28906041af][/quote:28906041af]
Let me quote from two excellent reformed baptists (who need not ever be suspected of trying to view the covenant in such a way as "sneak" paedobaptism in:

"Presbyterians have often spoken as if the covenant with Abraham were the covenant of grace, but this identification ignores its typical elements and its beginning in the lifetime of Abraham, not immediately after the Fall. [i:28906041af][b:28906041af]The New Covenant has sometimes been equated with the covenant of grace.[/i:28906041af][/b:28906041af] {emphasis added - FTG} As the Confession remarks, 'the full discovery' of the covenant of grace 'was completed in the New Testament'. However, it is clear that the New Covenant was inaugurated in the events surrounding the first advent of Christ (Jer. 31:31; Heb 8:13). Thus is its crucial to maintain a clear distinction between the covenants of grace and the biblical, divine covenants. The divine covenants undoubtedly suggested this terminology, but no one of them ought to be equated with it... The [i:28906041af]organic unity[/i:28906041af] {emphasis in original} of the covenants means that they all depend on and grow out of each other. The divine covenants are not self-contained entities. They are all [b:28906041af][i:28906041af]phases in the growth of the same plant.[/i:28906041af][/b:28906041af] {emphasis added}... The Mosaic covenant is organically dependent upon the covenant with Abraham. The specific blessings of the Abrahamic covenant (Gen 12:1-3; 15:1-7, 18-21; 17:1-8) began to be fulfilled under the Mosaic covenant (Exod. 1:6-7; 2:23-25; 6:2-8; Deut. 1:8-11) .... How impossible it is to call the with Abraham a covenant of grace and the Mosaic covenant a covenant of works! they are inseparable. (Samuel Waldron, [u:28906041af]A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Confession[/u:28906041af], p. 108-109 )[/quote]

[quote:28906041af]It is nothing new for baptists to adhere to Covenant Theology... We believe that every covenant made with man since the Fall is unified in its essence. In all ages there has been one rule of life - God's moral law. God's standard of righteousness was the same before Moses received the Ten Commandments, and it is the same today. there has been but one way to salvation in all historic covenants since the Fall. the Gospel by which Adam was saved is the same as that by which we are saved. Genesis 3:15 declares a salvation that is wholly of grace through faith in Christ. the basic differences between the covenants of history in these essential matters are those of Biblical Theology. The promises of the Gospel have become more clear with each succeeding age of revelation, [b:28906041af]though the promises have been identically the same[/b:28906041af]. (Walter Chantry, "Baptism and Covenant Theology" p 4-5)[/quote:28906041af]

That is what the 1689 teaches. It is what Spurgeon taught, what Al Martin, Al Mohler and others teach now. It is exactly what I believed when I was a reformed baptist. It is critical.
 

luvroftheWord

Puritan Board Sophomore
Fred,

This is off subject, but given your comments earlier about your extended family being Roman Catholic, I was just wondering, you yourself also a former Roman Catholic?
 

pastorway

Puritan Board Senior
Matthew 7:21-23

Proves nothing about covenantal church membership. Jesus said He [i:dcef2760ca]never[/i:dcef2760ca] knew them no matter what they had done, or what they thought they had merited (salvation). He was never is relationship or covenant with them. They were not "His people", no was He "their God." He [i:dcef2760ca]never[/i:dcef2760ca] knew them.

as for the rest - I know we disagree Fred. That is fine. It is not the gospel we are arguing about. It is about a man made confessions and our understanding of the "elements" of the covenant of grace.

I have stated what I believe. I know what you believe. And my point in light of this thread is that I wanted to be sure and say that I do not see anywhere in the Scriptures where God's covenant with His elect is breakable, conditional, or rescindable.

That's all I wanted to say.
Phillip

[Edited on 2-19-04 by pastorway]
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Phillip....

[quote:47e7fdb0ab]Matthew 7:21-23

Proves nothing about covenantal church membership. Jesus said He [i:47e7fdb0ab]never[/i:47e7fdb0ab] knew them no matter what they had done, or what they thought they had merited (salvation). He was never is relationship or covenant with them. They were not "His people", no was He "their God." He [i:47e7fdb0ab]never[/i:47e7fdb0ab] knew them.[/quote:47e7fdb0ab]

Unfortunately you have not answered the main question once again. We are not asking who these people are in God's eyes. Obviously, He doesn't count them in His covenant and they are not known to Him. But is that where it stops? By no means.

Who are they to us? They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. We cannot tell them apart from anyone else.

And, God does bless them by being with us. They partake of the same blessings as you or I. We disciple them. We baptize them. We give them the Lord's Table. They are communicant members in good standing. Yet, they are not God's own. In that day, He will tell them to depart from Him.

Now clearly, this presents us with a dilemma, and it is not a false one. To our eyes, they are no different than the ones in the ancient church. They are in the covenant community, but they are not in the covenant. This is the invisible/visible church distinction.

If you don't believe this, then you are basically saying that all those under your leadership are in the covenant of grace, and that is simply untrue. Some of these are not.

If you do not know who is and who is not then how do you administer any of the ordinances of Christ? You claim that it is sin for you to do so. How do you know when you sin and when you don't?

This is the whole reason for the visible/invisible church distinction. Why do you not think a distinction should be made? On the basis of the covenant? Since you didn't extend it to anyone and since you cannot enable anyone to stay in it, why should you protest the inclusion, externally, of those you cannot determine the status of. Let God be God and every man a liar.

Your basic premise is that you want your ministry to be marked by truly covenant people. That is a great aim. But you will never know until judgment who was a sheep in your particular flock and who was a goat. This does not mean you should remain indifferent to who you allow in your flock. You condemn sin and put away the evil from among you. But that does not mean you got it all or that there is not some evil still remaining in your flock. There will always be goats in the sheep. There is NOTHING you can do about it.

As far as you are able, be at peace. But do not forsake the teaching of the reformation on this point. It is true, there is a visible and invisible church in the NT age. I suggest you embrace it and see how it fits with your theology instead of denying what is clear from Scripture.

In Christ,

KC
 

Tertullian

Puritan Board Freshman
[quote:e4b976d55a][i:e4b976d55a]Originally posted by kceaster[/i:e4b976d55a]
[quote:e4b976d55a]Matthew 7:21-23

Proves nothing about covenantal church membership. Jesus said He [i:e4b976d55a]never[/i:e4b976d55a] knew them no matter what they had done, or what they thought they had merited (salvation). He was never is relationship or covenant with them. They were not "His people", no was He "their God." He [i:e4b976d55a]never[/i:e4b976d55a] knew them.[/quote:e4b976d55a]

Unfortunately you have not answered the main question once again. We are not asking who these people are in God's eyes. Obviously, He doesn't count them in His covenant and they are not known to Him. But is that where it stops? By no means.

Who are they to us? They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. We cannot tell them apart from anyone else.

[/quote:e4b976d55a]

KC,

I cannot speak for Pastor Way, but as another Reformed Baptist, I have no problem making a distinction between those who appear to be in Covenant and those who are actually in Covenant, you seem to be fiting a square where a circle belongs, for we, Reformed Baptist do not deny that distinction.

Our arguement is that from God's perspective the New Covenant is unbreakable... and we quickly add God's perspective (since it is more than the prespective of a man is the true determiner of reality) is in reality the only one that matters in this debate...

Is the New Covenant breakable, God says No, it only appears to us to be breakable.- A Reformed Baptist couldn't agree more.

To the Glory of Christ-Tertullian

Persoanlly I think this whole issue is a diversion since you can be a Paedo and agree that the Covenant is unbreakable and you can be a Reformed Baptist and agree that the Covenant is breakable... so this is not really what seperates Reformed Baptist from Reformed Paedobaptist.


[Edited on 2-19-2004 by Tertullian]
 

Tertullian

Puritan Board Freshman
I am a little confused about Ridderbos. I was told that he has made that same Covenantal error that Reformed Baptist are accused of making in this discussion, in fact Fred Malone actually utilizes Ridderbos throughout his whole book because of Ridderbos's stance on the Covenant. Here is a few quotes that Malone pulled from Ridderbos in his book,

[quote:e80a24f4b7] The term "The children of the kingdom" indicating Israel "according to the flesh" (Matt. 8:12), is now used to the new sense of the "good seed" (Matt. 8:38). [i:e80a24f4b7] The special relation to God that was first applied to the totality of Israel, is now restricted (and extended) to those who respond to the preaching of the kingdom with faith and repentance and have been elected by God to this end. This change, noticeable in the gospel, finds its basis already in the Old Testament (Jer. 31)[/i:e80a24f4b7].... In the light of the whole gospel they are people who have accepted the preaching of the gospel in faith and conversion. It is they, and no one else, who receive the salvation of the kingdom. They are "Israel," 'God's people," and it is to them that all the promises of the covenant apply... the circle in which it is granted and [i:e80a24f4b7] where God's people are found, is no longer that of the empirical Israel, but it is that of those who are given remission of sins in Christ's death, and whose hearts have been renewed by the Holy Spirit [/i:e80a24f4b7] (Emphasis, Dr. Fred Malone]. (Ridderbos, Coming of the Kingdom, 200, 202. See Ridderbos' excellent discussion of the New Covenant, 192-202)

The reference to Jeremiah 31 is so important because according to this prophecy, the Lord God himself will accomplish the fulfillment of the condition for the maintenance of the new covenant. For he will write his law in the hearts of his people. To this end he will forgive their iniquity and no longer remember their sins (Jer. 31:33,34). According to these words at the last Supper, this fellowship of grace between God and his people is guaranteed by God himself and is consequenty [i:e80a24f4b7] unbreakable [/i:e80a24f4b7], and finds it foundation and strength in Christ's substitutive suffering and death (Emphasis, Dr. Fred Malone) (Ibid, p. 201)

God's people are those for who Christ sheds his blood of the covenant. They share in the remission of sins brought about by him and in the unbreakable communion with God in the new covenant that he has made possible (ibid p. 202.) [/quote:e80a24f4b7]

So I am not sure that it is right to accuse Ridderbos of saying that new Covenant is breakable... or is there any counter factuals that show that Ridderbos either renounced his quotes above.

Also to my freind and brother Roldan,

you seem to say that the New Covenant blessings have not been realized, but surely that does not follow if the promises are being fullfilled partly now as we would expect in the Now and then model, after all has not Christ forgiven your sins, now? (Which was a promise of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31) Has not God regenerated your heart, now? (Which was a promise of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31) Has not God kept his word or has He failed to give his Covenant promises ot those He established the Covenant with? Of course, the New Covenant blessings have not fully come in (ex. we are only regenerated and being santified), but that does not mean that God has not kept his promise to some of the Covenant members- the Kingdom has really been inaugurated... Therefore, If God regenerates and imputes Christ righteousness to all His Covenant members like he promised (Heb 9:15) than how can anyone fall away. Surely Christ the Covenant High Priest is not going to fail to mediate the blessings of the Covenant to anyone whom He is in Covenant with. That is why we ought to agree with the Westminster on this point and say the Covenant has only been made by God with Christ and the elect.

Some might object and say that New Covenant promises are conditional upon Covenant obedience, but if our regeneration is conditioned upon Covenant obedience, then nobody would be saved because it is impossible to please God by obeying his laws if we are not first regenerated, hence if God waited to regenerate us upon the condition of Covenant faithfulness nobody would be regenerated.

To the Glory of Christ-Tertullian

[Edited on 2-19-2004 by Tertullian]
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Tyler....

[quote:9eb43fe601]KC,

I cannot speak for Pastor Way, but as another Reformed Baptist, I have no problem making a distinction between those who appear to be in Covenant and those who are actually in Covenant, you seem to be fiting a square where a circle belongs, for we, Reformed Baptist do not deny that distinction.[/quote:9eb43fe601]

This distinction is disagreeable to those who claim that the new covenant encompasses only the elect, whereas the old covenant encompassed the elect and non-elect.

It is clear to the paedo that there have always been non-elect associated closely to the covenant. I have explained to you that there is an internal and external reality to the the covenant. Credos do not want to see that reality. If they do see it, they will still not make the logical step of covenant initiation for infants. And others, because they see the logical step of covenant initiation for infants, will reject the entire notion.

If you see that there have always been elect and non-elect associated with the covenant, yet reject the notion of infant initiation into that relationship, then you are not completing the final logical step.

The argument is never about who is actually in the covenant. Both paedos and credos agree that it is only the elect. The argument is about infant inclusion. To this the paedo explains that infants have always been included and there is no abrogation of that. The credos then must claim that the "new" covenant is made only with the elect and contains no one other. Therefore, if that is the case, then infants should be excluded until such time as we can ascertain their election.

It will never be the case of apples to apples as long as the distinction may not be made as to the visible and invisible church.

If you allow this distinction, then you are a credo baptist who will not baptize infants on some other ground than the exclusion of infants in the covenant.

This is very basic, because there are many other arguments that depend upon each other in the theological tapestry of the covenant. I use tapestry because it symbolizes the whole of the saving knowledge of Christ. If we focus too much on one particular part (baptism) then we lose sight of the whole beautiful design.

As such, I look at paedos as the ones who stand back to see the whole thing. The credos, therefore, are standing closer, looking at the tapestry in miniture. I do not say this in a prideful way. For I am only a paedo by God's appointment. This is where He has placed me, given the limited knowledge I have. I am, at this point, comfortable with my surroundings knowing that the reformers believed the same.

[quote:9eb43fe601]Our arguement is that from God's perspective the New Covenant is unbreakable... and we quickly add God's perspective (since it is more than the prespective of a man is the true determiner of reality) is in reality the only one that matters in this debate...[/quote:9eb43fe601]

This is completely amenable to me. God put us there, He is the only one who can keep us there. Our lives are monergistically His. We are covenant keepers or covenant breakers by His decree. Those whom He has placed in the mystical internal essence of the covenant cannot break it. He upholds them.

[quote:9eb43fe601]Is the New Covenant breakable, God says No, it only appears to us to be breakable.- A Reformed Baptist couldn't agree more.[/quote:9eb43fe601]

To break the new covenant is to trample on its external aspect. This is the warning from Hebrews and the final result in Matthew 7. The breakers were never in the internal essence of the covenant. As such, the new covenant may not be broken by any internal member of it for they are given the grace and faith to believe and obey. For them there is no curse. The curse comes from the law. Christ is our freedom from that law. But for those who are only in the external administration of the covenant, the curse of the law is upon them. And in the external sense, they have broken the new covenant.

This is no difference from that of the OT.

Therefore, we are free to say that the OT covenant is but an administration of the one covenant of grace and be in agreement with reformed orthodoxy on that point.

In Christ,

KC
 

Roldan

Puritan Board Junior
Tert: "you seem to say that the New Covenant blessings have not been realized,"

ME: NOPE! PLease read the above article again or for the first time by Richard Pratt.

Kceaster posted a very clear and concise explanation of our distinctions and will not taint it with a reply from myself.

But if you have another question I will be glad to help.

Grace and Peace
 

Roldan

Puritan Board Junior
Tert: "Some might object and say that New Covenant promises are conditional upon Covenant obedience, but if our regeneration is conditioned upon Covenant obedience, then nobody would be saved because it is impossible to please God by obeying his laws if we are not first regenerated, hence if God waited to regenerate us upon the condition of Covenant faithfulness nobody would be regenerated. "

Me: This is obvious and basic Calvinism. But what you are not understanding is that Yes there is a condition but that condition is met by Christ for us(Elect).

Was there a covenantal obligation in the OC? If you understand the covenant you would say yes but how was it met? By Faith Alone as it still is in the NC.

So whats the point? When a baptized infant grows older, he or she must meet that obligation that is only by God's redeeming grace and continues in the covenant and is placed, by GOD, in the invisible church and if not then becomes a covenant breaker and commits apostasy of which Hebrews speaks of.

KC has said it best here: "This is completely amenable to me. God put us there, He is the only one who can keep us there. Our lives are monergistically His. We are covenant keepers or covenant breakers by His decree. Those whom He has placed in the mystical internal essence of the covenant cannot break it. He upholds them."

nuff said.

Grace and peace

[Edited on 2-19-2004 by Roldan]
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
[quote:e1d96dd51f]
It will never be the case of apples to apples as long as the distinction may not be made as to the visible and invisible church.

If you allow this distinction, then you are a credo baptist who will not baptize infants on some other ground than the exclusion of infants in the covenant.
[/quote:e1d96dd51f]

I think that one of the keys to understanding the visible/invisible church distinction goes to the specific stipulations of the CoG. Using the LBCF definition of the CoG, the stipulations are:

" Moreover Man having brought himself under the curse of the Law by his fall, it pleased the Lord to make a Covenant of Grace wherein he freely offereth unto Sinners, Life and Salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them Faith in him, that they may be saved [b:e1d96dd51f](The General Call of the Gospel)[/b:e1d96dd51f]; and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal Life, his holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe [b:e1d96dd51f](The Effectual Call of the Gospel)[/b:e1d96dd51f]. "

What is included is the "general call" and the "effectual call". These are defined in the LBCF as follows:

[b:e1d96dd51f]General Call [/b:e1d96dd51f]- "Others not elected, although they may be called by the Ministry of the word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet not being effectually drawn by the Father, they neither will, nor can truly come to Christ; and therefore cannot be saved: much less can men that receive not the Christian Religion be saved; be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, [b:e1d96dd51f]and the Law of that Religion they do profess[/b:e1d96dd51f]." (note that someone who "answers" the general call of the Gospel does make a profession!)

[b:e1d96dd51f]Effectual Call [/b:e1d96dd51f]- "Those whom God hath predestinated unto Life, he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, effectually to call by his word, and Spirit, out of that state of sin, and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and Salvation by Jesus Christ; inlightning their minds, spiritually, and savingly to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his Almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his Grace. "

In comparing the the stipulations of the CoG with the definitions of the general and effectual calling, the distinction between the "Invisible Church" (the elect, the effectually called who are ordained to eternal life) and the "Visible Church" (all those who profess and their children, which includes the effectually called and general called) become more apparent.

At least for me :wink1:
 

Roldan

Puritan Board Junior
[quote:93975f35e2][i:93975f35e2]Originally posted by wsw201[/i:93975f35e2]
[quote:93975f35e2]
It will never be the case of apples to apples as long as the distinction may not be made as to the visible and invisible church.

If you allow this distinction, then you are a credo baptist who will not baptize infants on some other ground than the exclusion of infants in the covenant.
[/quote:93975f35e2]

I think that one of the keys to understanding the visible/invisible church distinction goes to the specific stipulations of the CoG. Using the LBCF definition of the CoG, the stipulations are:

" Moreover Man having brought himself under the curse of the Law by his fall, it pleased the Lord to make a Covenant of Grace wherein he freely offereth unto Sinners, Life and Salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them Faith in him, that they may be saved [b:93975f35e2](The General Call of the Gospel)[/b:93975f35e2]; and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal Life, his holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe [b:93975f35e2](The Effectual Call of the Gospel)[/b:93975f35e2]. "

What is included is the "general call" and the "effectual call". These are defined in the LBCF as follows:

[b:93975f35e2]General Call [/b:93975f35e2]- "Others not elected, although they may be called by the Ministry of the word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet not being effectually drawn by the Father, they neither will, nor can truly come to Christ; and therefore cannot be saved: much less can men that receive not the Christian Religion be saved; be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, [b:93975f35e2]and the Law of that Religion they do profess[/b:93975f35e2]." (note that someone who "answers" the general call of the Gospel does make a profession!)

[b:93975f35e2]Effectual Call [/b:93975f35e2]- "Those whom God hath predestinated unto Life, he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, effectually to call by his word, and Spirit, out of that state of sin, and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and Salvation by Jesus Christ; inlightning their minds, spiritually, and savingly to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his Almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his Grace. "

In comparing the the stipulations of the CoG with the definitions of the general and effectual calling, the distinction between the "Invisible Church" (the elect, the effectually called who are ordained to eternal life) and the "Visible Church" (all those who profess and their children, which includes the effectually called and general called) become more apparent.

At least for me :wink1: [/quote:93975f35e2]

WOW, I didn't realize that the LBCF also distinguishes visible and invisible church distinction with out using the actual terms.

It seem very clear to me then that this is true:

KC: "It will never be the case of apples to apples as long as the distinction may not be made as to the visible and invisible church.

If you allow this distinction, then you are a credo baptist who will not baptize infants on some other ground than the exclusion of infants in the covenant."

And also: "As far as you are able, be at peace. But do not forsake the teaching of the reformation on this point. It is true, there is a visible and invisible church in the NT age. I suggest you embrace it and see how it fits with your theology instead of denying what is clear from Scripture."
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Roldan,


[quote:49030e99dc]
WOW, I didn't realize that the LBCF also distinguishes visible and invisible church distinction with out using the actual terms.
[/quote:49030e99dc]

It certainly would seem that way. This is from the LBCF chapter on the Church:

"The Catholick or universal Church, which (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit, and truth of grace) may be called [b:49030e99dc]invisible[/b:49030e99dc], consists of the whole number of the Elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. "

And:

"All persons throughout the world, professing the faith of the Gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ, according unto it; not destroying their own profession by any Errors everting the foundation, or unholyness of conversation, are and may be called [b:49030e99dc]visible [/b:49030e99dc]Saints; and of such ought all particular Congregations to be constituted. "

Now I'm no LBCF expert, but this sounds pretty close to the invisible/visible church distinction in the WCF (with the exclusion of children).

[Edited on 2-19-2004 by wsw201]
 

Dan....

Puritan Board Sophomore
????????????

Has anyone on this thread denied the distinction between the invisible church and visible saints, or are y'all just debating a straw man?
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Dan,

Not arguing a straw man. But based on the tenor of the thread it appeared that the distinction between the visible/invisible church was not apart of the RB view. If it is, then there can be non-elect as well as elect in the visible church (setting the issue of baptism aside, if that's possible). In CT lingo, external/internal covenant is synonomous with the visible/invisible church.
 
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