The New Covenant Clearly Replaced the Mosaic Covenant, Not the Abrahamic.

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Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
The marriage covenant contains some people that aren't really husbands or wives to their spouses, yet these marriage covenants are real enough in other senses and these husbands and wives are real enough in other senses. :2cents:

Same goes for the CoG. If a person can't "get his head round that", he can't get his head round marriage.
 

Scholten

Puritan Board Freshman
The marriage covenant contains some people that aren't really husbands or wives to their spouses, yet these marriage covenants are real enough in other senses and these husbands and wives are real enough in other senses. :2cents:

Same goes for the CoG. If a person can't "get his head round that", he can't get his head round marriage.

Thanks, Richard. So then, if the Abrahamic covenant is part of the Covenant of Grace then the CoG is not only with the elect. Correct?
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Herb,

There is the inward and outward administration of the Covenant of Grace. God is gracious and there are benefits for both the regenerate and unregenerate in that Covenant inclusion. The inward and outward aspects of the Covenant are something that need to be pursued maybe.
http://www.puritanboard.com/content/circumcision-baptism-compared-60/

(Rom 9:3) For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

(Rom 9:4) Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;


(Rom 9:5) Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

I don't think you can deny that the Abrahamic is an administration of the Covenant of Grace.

Pastor Jerrold H. Lewis discusses this on the PB a bit. Here is his post from a while back.

http://www.puritanboard.com/f31/unbelievers-new-covenant-34859/#post432492
Presbyterian Federal Holiness


By Rev. J Lewis
Lacombe Free Reformed Church

Under the Old Testament administration of the Covenant of Grace, the covenant was largely a physical covenant with a spiritual remnant imbibing in promises and blessings. Under the New Testament administration of the Covenant of Grace, the covenant is not primarily physical with a spiritual component, but primarily spiritual with a physical component (Hodge 130). Hebrews 8 and Jeremiah 31 are very descriptive as to the nature of the New Covenant in contrast with the status quo,

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
Obviously there was a change of administration in the New Covenant as well as a change of emphasis. The Covenant of Grace today is so overtly spiritual, one can almost speak of it exclusively in ethereal terms. Indeed the Westminster Confession of Faith does so by insisting that the Covenant of Grace is made with the elect only (Chapter 7; LC 30, 31, 32). Yet the Westminster Standards also speak of a secondary and subordinate sense of the Covenant of Grace that is objective and physical. Larger Catechism Q & A 166 says,

Q166: Unto whom is Baptism to be administered?

A166: Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, and so strangers from the covenant of promise, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him, but infants descending from parents, either both, or but one of them, professing faith in Christ, and obedience to him, are in that respect within the covenant, and to be baptized. (Emphasis mine)(Westminster Larger Catechism, 256)

Some have contended that the Westminster Larger Catechism holds within itself a tension regarding with whom the Covenant of Grace is made (Baldwin). It is argued that in Larger Catechism Q & A 31, the Covenant of Grace is made with the elect only, while Q & A 166 teaches that the Covenant of Grace is made with the members of the Visible Church. One can see the apparent contradiction.

But is this a valid criticism and a real tension? Or is it the case that the Larger Catechism is speaking about two different aspects of the Covenant of Grace, one spiritual and unbreakable, the other conditional and breakable? To answer this question we may turn to one of the greatest of all Westminster Divines, Samuel Rutherford.

Samuel Rutherford

In his monumental and rarely read book The Covenant of Life Opened (1654), Rutherford discuses the Covenant of Grace in two important ways. First he insists that the Covenant of Grace is only made with the elect in Christ, and that the Covenant is manifestly to be understood in such term (94). After establishing this indisputable fact Rutherford opens up the Covenant in a twofold way, first in abstracto by visible profession, in which the covenant is "professed, visible, and conditional," and then in concreto, where the covenant is, "internal, real, and absolute"(94). It is for this reason Rutherford finds no tension in the Larger Catechism and has no problem saying that the unregenerate, in one way, are in the Covenant of Grace:

It is no inconvenient [sic] that the Reprobate in the Visible Church, be so under the Covenant of Grace, as some promises are made to them, and some promised to them conditionally, and some reserved special promises, of a new heart, and of perseverance belong not to them. For all the promises belong not the same way, to the parties visibly and externally, and the parties internally and personally in Covenant with God.(94)
By in abstracto Rutherford means, " formally, in the letter as a simple way of saving sinners", in which contains only "the will of precept". Rutherford argues for a external and breakable Covenant that is made by baptism and profession only. This is not the true spiritual, real, and unbreakable Covenant of Grace; it is a temporary perceptive membership that is not savingly covenantal (94).

Under the marginal heading, How visible professors are really within the Covenant, & not really within it, Rutherford Writes,

The adverb (really) relates to the real fruit of the fulfilled covenant, and so such as are only externally within the Covenant, are not really within the Covenant, for God never directed, nor intended to bestow the blessing Covenanted, nor grace to perform the condition of the Covenant upon them. But they are really Covenanted and engaged by their confessed profession to fulfill the Covenant. And as the commands and threatenings of the Covenant of Grace lay on a real obligation, upon such as are only externally in Covenant, either to obey or suffer, so the promises of the Covenant imposes an engagement and obligation on such to believe the promise, but some times, we say the promises of the Covenant of Grace are not really made to the reprobate within the Visible Church, because God intends and decrees to, and for them, neither the blessing promised, nor the saving grace to fulfill the condition to believe. (92)

In this way says Rutherford, "all within the Visible Church are in the Covenant of Grace" (94). It is in this same way Rutherford can speak of a Federal Holiness that allows for Larger Catechism 166 to remain non-contradictory with Larger Catechism 31. Federal holiness is not necessarily a saving holiness but a setting apart by covenant promise. Rutherford is very clear that true holiness while set in the context of a federal promise, is truly predicated upon God's secret decree. Observe:

But as touching real holiness, it is not derived from a believing father, or to make the son a believer, Scripture and experience say the contrair. Nor is internal and effectual confederacie with God, that, by which one is a son of promise. 1. For no man is chosen to life in his father, because the father is chosen. A chosen father may have a reprobate son. 2. Election to life is not of nations, or houses, or societies, but of single person. (85)

Needless to say, Rutherford believes that mere Federal Holiness is no true holiness unless regeneration has taken place. Yes, there is a physical aspect to the Covenant of Grace which has blessings and cursing; however, for it to carry any lasting benefit, it must be a personal work wrought by the effectual converting power of the Holy Spirit in a one-to-one correlation between election and regeneration.

James Bannerman

Likewise, another great Presbyterian who wrote extensively on the nature of the Church (and the Covenant) also found no tension in the Westminster Standard's regarding the Covenant of Grace. In his two volume work, The Church of Christ, James Bannerman, taught an important contrast between the members of the Church visible and invisible. "The Church invisible stands, with respect to its members, in an inward and spiritual relationship to Christ, whereas the Church visible stands to Him in outward relationship only" (Bannerman 29).

The visible/invisible distinction according to Bannerman cannot go unnoticed. Observe how he uses visible Church and external covenant synonymously.

The external relationship in which the members of the visible Church stand to Christ, as having been brought into a Church state from out of the world, has been often spoken of by theologians under the name of an external covenant or federal relationship. Whatever name may be given to it, there is no doubt there is a real and important relationship into which the members of the visible Church have entered... (30)
Later he reinforces this same idea when he states, "This relation of the mere formal professor and member of the visible Church to Christ may be called an external covenant and an outward federal union, or not. But under whatever name, it in important to bear in mind that there is such a relationship involving both real responsibilities and real privileges. (Emphasis mine)(32)

Bannerman is equally clear as Rutherford insisting the true, vital, saving, unbreakable nature of the Covenant of Grace as it stands in eternity, is made with the elect alone.

In so far as the Church invisible is concerned, the truth of this statement will be admitted by all. There can be no difference of opinion on this point. The proper party with whom the covenant of grace is made, and to whom its promises and privileged belongs is the invisible Church of real believers. It is this Church for whom Christ died. (30-31)
He goes on to say, "The case is all together different for with the visible Church. It stands not in an inward and saving relationship to Christ, but in an outward relationship only, involving no more than the promise and enjoyment of outward privileges" (31).

In this regard, to suggest that the Covenant of Grace has a works component upon its entry is to misunderstand its function entirely. Every good Presbyterian will agree that salvation is by grace through faith alone, apart from any works of the law. This federal and outward separation that is called "sanctified" and "holy" in 1 Corinthians 7:14, "broken off branches" in John 15;1-8, and "unwise virgins" in Matthew 25, is meant to convey how God sets aside certain people to be objects of physical, covenantal blessings. These outward blessings (which are not saving), such as hearing the Word preached, observing or participating in the sacraments, and involvement in the fellowship of the covenant community, are the means by which God brings the unregenerate soul within earshot of the call of the Gospel; inviting all to come from darkness to light, from the temporal covenant into the Everlasting Covenant. Bannerman says, "To the external privileges of that visible society even sinners are invited,- not that they may rest there, but that they may go on to the invisible and spiritual society within." The visible covenant blessings are meant to cause the sinner to "seek for something higher and more blessed" (33).

The spiritual blessings and promises of the Covenant of Grace must be the dominant theme in all federalist teaching and preaching. Bannerman reminds us that in the separation between Rome and Protestantism the visible/invisible Church distinction, "...lies at the very foundation of the controversy between them. The strong desire and tenancy with Popish controversialists is to deny the existence of the invisible Church; or when they are not bold enough to do that, at least to give the decided precedence to the Church visible"(37).

This should be avoided at all costs. The invisible Church is the true Church, it is the "glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph 5:27).

Conclusion

When we speak of Federal Holiness it should always be in light of its goal- a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, the Elect One. To simply think of Church members as being in confederacy with Christ by baptism and profession is to forget the most vital portion of the equation. Indeed many today are so emphasizing the mere federal element of the Covenant of Grace they are(practically speaking), omitting the weightier matters of the Covenant.

Inward union is the only true union with Christ. Any substitution of Church-ism in place of the internal operation of the Spirit is to supplant the roll of the Visible Church and turn the gospel on its head. We must be diligent in both our understanding and application of every aspect of Christ's Church and of His gracious covenant.

Bannerman's conclusion is a good one:

[N]othing but a clear discernment of the principles that connect and yet distinguish the Church invisible from the Church visible, and a right application of these to explain the statements of the Word of God on the point, will save us from mistakes fraught with the most ruinous consequences both in doctrine and practice. (40)



Bibliography

1. Baldwin, Bill. Several Quick Arguments That The Covenant of Works is Not Gracious. <http://www.upper-register.com/ct_gospel/several_quick.html#note3> 2002.

3. Hodge, Archibald. Commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1965.

2.Rutherford, Samuel. The Covenant of Life Opened. Edinburgh: 1654.

3. Bannerman, James. The Church of Christ. London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1960.

4. Westminster Divines. Westminster Larger Catechism. Glasgow: Free Presbyterian Publications, 1995.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Thanks, Richard. So then, if the Abrahamic covenant is part of the Covenant of Grace then the CoG is not only with the elect. Correct?

There is a duality to the CoG. Likewise you can be in the marriage covenant in one sense and not in it in another.

We are not infallibly privy to who the elect are, although in our own case we can make our calling and election sure. Therefore it is not the elect or the regenerate elect that are admitted visibly to the CoG by baptism, but those who have a credible profession of faith are accepted for baptism and are admitted visibly to the CoG, along with their children in the case of the Presbyterian view.

See Louis Berkhof on the duality of the CoG in his Systematic Theology.

Those adults and children admitted visibly to the CoG, but who are never regenerated, just prove God's faithfulness to sinners:

Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, "That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged." But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) (Rom 3:1-5)
 

Scholten

Puritan Board Freshman
Herb,

There is the inward and outward administration of the Covenant of Grace. God is gracious and there are benefits for both the regenerate and unregenerate in that Covenant inclusion. The inward and outward aspects of the Covenant are something that need to be pursued maybe.
http://www.puritanboard.com/content/circumcision-baptism-compared-60/

(Rom 9:3) For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

(Rom 9:4) Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;


(Rom 9:5) Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

I don't think you can deny that the Abrahamic is an administration of the Covenant of Grace.

Pastor Jerrold H. Lewis discusses this on the PB a bit. Here is his post from a while back.

http://www.puritanboard.com/f31/unbelievers-new-covenant-34859/#post432492
Presbyterian Federal Holiness


By Rev. J Lewis
Lacombe Free Reformed Church

Under the Old Testament administration of the Covenant of Grace, the covenant was largely a physical covenant with a spiritual remnant imbibing in promises and blessings. Under the New Testament administration of the Covenant of Grace, the covenant is not primarily physical with a spiritual component, but primarily spiritual with a physical component (Hodge 130). Hebrews 8 and Jeremiah 31 are very descriptive as to the nature of the New Covenant in contrast with the status quo,

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
Obviously there was a change of administration in the New Covenant as well as a change of emphasis. The Covenant of Grace today is so overtly spiritual, one can almost speak of it exclusively in ethereal terms. Indeed the Westminster Confession of Faith does so by insisting that the Covenant of Grace is made with the elect only (Chapter 7; LC 30, 31, 32). Yet the Westminster Standards also speak of a secondary and subordinate sense of the Covenant of Grace that is objective and physical. Larger Catechism Q & A 166 says,

Q166: Unto whom is Baptism to be administered?

A166: Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, and so strangers from the covenant of promise, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him, but infants descending from parents, either both, or but one of them, professing faith in Christ, and obedience to him, are in that respect within the covenant, and to be baptized. (Emphasis mine)(Westminster Larger Catechism, 256)

Some have contended that the Westminster Larger Catechism holds within itself a tension regarding with whom the Covenant of Grace is made (Baldwin). It is argued that in Larger Catechism Q & A 31, the Covenant of Grace is made with the elect only, while Q & A 166 teaches that the Covenant of Grace is made with the members of the Visible Church. One can see the apparent contradiction.

But is this a valid criticism and a real tension? Or is it the case that the Larger Catechism is speaking about two different aspects of the Covenant of Grace, one spiritual and unbreakable, the other conditional and breakable? To answer this question we may turn to one of the greatest of all Westminster Divines, Samuel Rutherford.

Samuel Rutherford

In his monumental and rarely read book The Covenant of Life Opened (1654), Rutherford discuses the Covenant of Grace in two important ways. First he insists that the Covenant of Grace is only made with the elect in Christ, and that the Covenant is manifestly to be understood in such term (94). After establishing this indisputable fact Rutherford opens up the Covenant in a twofold way, first in abstracto by visible profession, in which the covenant is "professed, visible, and conditional," and then in concreto, where the covenant is, "internal, real, and absolute"(94). It is for this reason Rutherford finds no tension in the Larger Catechism and has no problem saying that the unregenerate, in one way, are in the Covenant of Grace:

It is no inconvenient [sic] that the Reprobate in the Visible Church, be so under the Covenant of Grace, as some promises are made to them, and some promised to them conditionally, and some reserved special promises, of a new heart, and of perseverance belong not to them. For all the promises belong not the same way, to the parties visibly and externally, and the parties internally and personally in Covenant with God.(94)
By in abstracto Rutherford means, " formally, in the letter as a simple way of saving sinners", in which contains only "the will of precept". Rutherford argues for a external and breakable Covenant that is made by baptism and profession only. This is not the true spiritual, real, and unbreakable Covenant of Grace; it is a temporary perceptive membership that is not savingly covenantal (94).

Under the marginal heading, How visible professors are really within the Covenant, & not really within it, Rutherford Writes,

The adverb (really) relates to the real fruit of the fulfilled covenant, and so such as are only externally within the Covenant, are not really within the Covenant, for God never directed, nor intended to bestow the blessing Covenanted, nor grace to perform the condition of the Covenant upon them. But they are really Covenanted and engaged by their confessed profession to fulfill the Covenant. And as the commands and threatenings of the Covenant of Grace lay on a real obligation, upon such as are only externally in Covenant, either to obey or suffer, so the promises of the Covenant imposes an engagement and obligation on such to believe the promise, but some times, we say the promises of the Covenant of Grace are not really made to the reprobate within the Visible Church, because God intends and decrees to, and for them, neither the blessing promised, nor the saving grace to fulfill the condition to believe. (92)

In this way says Rutherford, "all within the Visible Church are in the Covenant of Grace" (94). It is in this same way Rutherford can speak of a Federal Holiness that allows for Larger Catechism 166 to remain non-contradictory with Larger Catechism 31. Federal holiness is not necessarily a saving holiness but a setting apart by covenant promise. Rutherford is very clear that true holiness while set in the context of a federal promise, is truly predicated upon God's secret decree. Observe:

But as touching real holiness, it is not derived from a believing father, or to make the son a believer, Scripture and experience say the contrair. Nor is internal and effectual confederacie with God, that, by which one is a son of promise. 1. For no man is chosen to life in his father, because the father is chosen. A chosen father may have a reprobate son. 2. Election to life is not of nations, or houses, or societies, but of single person. (85)

Needless to say, Rutherford believes that mere Federal Holiness is no true holiness unless regeneration has taken place. Yes, there is a physical aspect to the Covenant of Grace which has blessings and cursing; however, for it to carry any lasting benefit, it must be a personal work wrought by the effectual converting power of the Holy Spirit in a one-to-one correlation between election and regeneration.

James Bannerman

Likewise, another great Presbyterian who wrote extensively on the nature of the Church (and the Covenant) also found no tension in the Westminster Standard's regarding the Covenant of Grace. In his two volume work, The Church of Christ, James Bannerman, taught an important contrast between the members of the Church visible and invisible. "The Church invisible stands, with respect to its members, in an inward and spiritual relationship to Christ, whereas the Church visible stands to Him in outward relationship only" (Bannerman 29).

The visible/invisible distinction according to Bannerman cannot go unnoticed. Observe how he uses visible Church and external covenant synonymously.

The external relationship in which the members of the visible Church stand to Christ, as having been brought into a Church state from out of the world, has been often spoken of by theologians under the name of an external covenant or federal relationship. Whatever name may be given to it, there is no doubt there is a real and important relationship into which the members of the visible Church have entered... (30)
Later he reinforces this same idea when he states, "This relation of the mere formal professor and member of the visible Church to Christ may be called an external covenant and an outward federal union, or not. But under whatever name, it in important to bear in mind that there is such a relationship involving both real responsibilities and real privileges. (Emphasis mine)(32)

Bannerman is equally clear as Rutherford insisting the true, vital, saving, unbreakable nature of the Covenant of Grace as it stands in eternity, is made with the elect alone.

In so far as the Church invisible is concerned, the truth of this statement will be admitted by all. There can be no difference of opinion on this point. The proper party with whom the covenant of grace is made, and to whom its promises and privileged belongs is the invisible Church of real believers. It is this Church for whom Christ died. (30-31)
He goes on to say, "The case is all together different for with the visible Church. It stands not in an inward and saving relationship to Christ, but in an outward relationship only, involving no more than the promise and enjoyment of outward privileges" (31).

In this regard, to suggest that the Covenant of Grace has a works component upon its entry is to misunderstand its function entirely. Every good Presbyterian will agree that salvation is by grace through faith alone, apart from any works of the law. This federal and outward separation that is called "sanctified" and "holy" in 1 Corinthians 7:14, "broken off branches" in John 15;1-8, and "unwise virgins" in Matthew 25, is meant to convey how God sets aside certain people to be objects of physical, covenantal blessings. These outward blessings (which are not saving), such as hearing the Word preached, observing or participating in the sacraments, and involvement in the fellowship of the covenant community, are the means by which God brings the unregenerate soul within earshot of the call of the Gospel; inviting all to come from darkness to light, from the temporal covenant into the Everlasting Covenant. Bannerman says, "To the external privileges of that visible society even sinners are invited,- not that they may rest there, but that they may go on to the invisible and spiritual society within." The visible covenant blessings are meant to cause the sinner to "seek for something higher and more blessed" (33).

The spiritual blessings and promises of the Covenant of Grace must be the dominant theme in all federalist teaching and preaching. Bannerman reminds us that in the separation between Rome and Protestantism the visible/invisible Church distinction, "...lies at the very foundation of the controversy between them. The strong desire and tenancy with Popish controversialists is to deny the existence of the invisible Church; or when they are not bold enough to do that, at least to give the decided precedence to the Church visible"(37).

This should be avoided at all costs. The invisible Church is the true Church, it is the "glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph 5:27).

Conclusion

When we speak of Federal Holiness it should always be in light of its goal- a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, the Elect One. To simply think of Church members as being in confederacy with Christ by baptism and profession is to forget the most vital portion of the equation. Indeed many today are so emphasizing the mere federal element of the Covenant of Grace they are(practically speaking), omitting the weightier matters of the Covenant.

Inward union is the only true union with Christ. Any substitution of Church-ism in place of the internal operation of the Spirit is to supplant the roll of the Visible Church and turn the gospel on its head. We must be diligent in both our understanding and application of every aspect of Christ's Church and of His gracious covenant.

Bannerman's conclusion is a good one:

[N]othing but a clear discernment of the principles that connect and yet distinguish the Church invisible from the Church visible, and a right application of these to explain the statements of the Word of God on the point, will save us from mistakes fraught with the most ruinous consequences both in doctrine and practice. (40)



Bibliography

1. Baldwin, Bill. Several Quick Arguments That The Covenant of Works is Not Gracious. <http://www.upper-register.com/ct_gospel/several_quick.html#note3> 2002.

3. Hodge, Archibald. Commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1965.

2.Rutherford, Samuel. The Covenant of Life Opened. Edinburgh: 1654.

3. Bannerman, James. The Church of Christ. London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1960.

4. Westminster Divines. Westminster Larger Catechism. Glasgow: Free Presbyterian Publications, 1995.


Thank you very much, Martin, for posting this. It gets right at the heart of the Reformed matter of the covenant of grace.

I must press this matter further. The phrase "covenant of grace" is not explicitly found in Scripture. True, nor is "Trinity." So we must tread very carefully in striving to understand doctrines taught implicitly.

When Jer. 31 says that the members of the new covenant will know the Lord etc., how are we then not to conclude that all the members of the new covenant are believers and that the members of the new covenant are distinct from the members of the Abrahamic covenant, since some of them are not elect? When we in our theology teach that the new covenant is part of the covenant of grace and the Abrahamic covenant is part of the covenant of grace, therefore we must teach that there are two types of membership in the covenant of grace. The two are an abstracto or visible membership in the covenant of grace and a concreto or internal membership in the covenant of grace. How do we know that in teaching this we have not added to the Word of God? The Scripture explicitly teaches members of the new covenant "know the Lord" and we teach that reprobates can and are members of that covenant. How does one support this kind of covenant of grace teaching from the Word of God?

---------- Post added at 06:18 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:09 PM ----------

Thanks, Richard. So then, if the Abrahamic covenant is part of the Covenant of Grace then the CoG is not only with the elect. Correct?

There is a duality to the CoG. Likewise you can be in the marriage covenant in one sense and not in it in another.

We are not infallibly privy to who the elect are, although in our own case we can make our calling and election sure. Therefore it is not the elect or the regenerate elect that are admitted visibly to the CoG by baptism, but those who have a credible profession of faith are accepted for baptism and are admitted visibly to the CoG, along with their children in the case of the Presbyterian view.

See Louis Berkhof on the duality of the CoG in his Systematic Theology.

Those adults and children admitted visibly to the CoG, but who are never regenerated, just prove God's faithfulness to sinners:

Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, "That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged." But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) (Rom 3:1-5)

OK, let's flip the original question around. (This is the same issue as the last post I just made.) If the new covenant is part of covenant of grace then the new covenant must contain reprobates, correct? How are we to hold to this teaching when Jer. says the members of the new covenant will all know the Lord; I do not know of any Scripture passage that teach there are visible and internal memberrs of the covenant of grace just like Romans 2:28-29 teaches that there are physical Jews and spiritual Jews.

It seems like we should hold that the Abrahamic covenant is distinct from the new covenant - the former contains all the elect and their children and the latter contains the elect only.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
If the new covenant is part of covenant of grace then the new covenant must contain reprobates, correct? How are we to hold to this teaching when Jer. says the members of the new covenant will all know the Lord;

If taken in this way the passage from Jeremiah would also do away with teaching elders. If read in the light of its fulfilment and exposition in Hebrews 8-10, however, it is clear that the difference is not between "not knowing the Lord" in the old covenant and "knowing the Lord" in the new covenant. The difference is in the medium by which the Lord is known. Under the Old Testament it was mediated through priests. Priests sacrificed on behalf of the people and taught them to know the Lord. As Heb 8-10 explains, the sacrifice of Christ has done away with mediating priests. The Lord is known in Christ. Hence the need to hold fast the confession of Christ.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? (Heb 10:29, ESV)

There are plenty passages that show the duality of the New Covenant, as the above, just as there are plenty, often the same passages, that show the reality of the Visible and Invisible Church being different aspects of the New Testament Church.

The person above who professed faith by baptism and the Lord's Supper, was not in a saving relationship with God, but he was in a different relationship to God than the person who didn't profess faith by baptism and the Lord's Supper. The same applied to unbelieving Israelites, as unbelieving Christians/"Christians".

Jeremiah 31 along with other passages teaches the end of the mediatorial prophetic office.

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jer 31:33-34)

All those who are internally in Covenant with God, and not only externally, are prophets, priests and kings.

There isn't a special school of prophets in the New Covenant:
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. (Joel 2:28)

Moses' prayer is answered in the New Covenant:
And a young man ran and told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp." And Joshua the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, said, "My lord Moses, stop them." But Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD's people were prophets, that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!" (Num 11:27-29)

All true believers are anointed as prophets in the New Covenant, unlike the Old:
But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie--just as it has taught you, abide in him. (I John 2:27)
 

Scholten

Puritan Board Freshman
If the new covenant is part of covenant of grace then the new covenant must contain reprobates, correct? How are we to hold to this teaching when Jer. says the members of the new covenant will all know the Lord;

If taken in this way the passage from Jeremiah would also do away with teaching elders. If read in the light of its fulfilment and exposition in Hebrews 8-10, however, it is clear that the difference is not between "not knowing the Lord" in the old covenant and "knowing the Lord" in the new covenant. The difference is in the medium by which the Lord is known. Under the Old Testament it was mediated through priests. Priests sacrificed on behalf of the people and taught them to know the Lord. As Heb 8-10 explains, the sacrifice of Christ has done away with mediating priests. The Lord is known in Christ. Hence the need to hold fast the confession of Christ.

As far as doing away with teaching elders is concerned, these passages (Jer. and Heb.) do say:

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
and write them on their hearts . . .

Does this teach that there will bo no need for teaching elders? It could be taken to mean that the members of this new covenant will be spiritually awake because God will write His law on their hearts. This being in contrast to many in Israel who had the Law but did not obey it. Also, it seems we could have God's law written on our hearts but still not be totally perfected, still in need of edification. Hence an on-going need for teaching elders.

When Jer. and Heb. say they shall all know me, that strikes me as being quantitative in nature - not some, not many but ALL. This is different than how we come to know the Lord.

---------- Post added at 08:45 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:34 PM ----------

How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? (Heb 10:29, ESV)

There are plenty passages that show the duality of the New Covenant, as the above, just as there are plenty, often the same passages, that show the reality of the Visible and Invisible Church being different aspects of the New Testament Church.

The person above who professed faith by baptism and the Lord's Supper, was not in a saving relationship with God, but he was in a different relationship to God than the person who didn't profess faith by baptism and the Lord's Supper. The same applied to unbelieving Israelites, as unbelieving Christians/"Christians".

Boy, this is interesting. I don't mean to "hijack" this discussion in this regard, but doesn't this passage teach one can fall from grace????? It refers to "has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified" - the word for sanctified being ηγιασθη - doesn't that refer to true holiness or sanctification? As long as I read it that way I have to believe I am misunderstanding it. If that is then the case, I am probably misunderstanding how it applies to the new covenant discussion above as well.

My apologies . . .
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
When Jer. and Heb. say they shall all know me, that strikes me as being quantitative in nature - not some, not many but ALL. This is different than how we come to know the Lord.

The idea of an internalised covenant is irrelevant to the point of a change of priesthood. If internalisation does away with priesthood it also does away with all ministry, including the teaching ministry. That can't be the use that is made of Jeremiah in Heb. 8-10, which is seeking to establish that the Aaronic priesthood has been superseded by Christ. Heb 5 had also acknowledged the place of "teachers" under the new covenant. The point about the law being written in the heart is in opposition to the tablets of stone on which "the law as a covenant" was given to the people. That law-covenant was established in sacrificial blood which required the function of a mediating priest. See Ps. 40:6-8, quoted in Hebrews 10, for the reality of the law written in the heart as preferable to sacrifices and offerings. What was preferred under the old covenant has become an exclusive arrangement under the new.
 

Scholten

Puritan Board Freshman
When Jer. and Heb. say they shall all know me, that strikes me as being quantitative in nature - not some, not many but ALL. This is different than how we come to know the Lord.

The idea of an internalised covenant is irrelevant to the point of a change of priesthood. If internalisation does away with priesthood it also does away with all ministry, including the teaching ministry. That can't be the use that is made of Jeremiah in Heb. 8-10, which is seeking to establish that the Aaronic priesthood has been superseded by Christ. Heb 5 had also acknowledged the place of "teachers" under the new covenant. The point about the law being written in the heart is in opposition to the tablets of stone on which "the law as a covenant" was given to the people. That law-covenant was established in sacrificial blood which required the function of a mediating priest. See Ps. 40:6-8, quoted in Hebrews 10, for the reality of the law written in the heart as preferable to sacrifices and offerings. What was preferred under the old covenant has become an exclusive arrangement under the new.

I am not following this. Perhaps it is due to the lateness of the day (perhaps you have an advantage over me, being in Australia!) What I am trying to get my arms around is whether or not all members of the new covenant are elect and only the elect. How does the above address that?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
What I am trying to get my arms around is whether or not all members of the new covenant are elect and only the elect. How does the above address that?

The "internalisation" argument is used by its advocates to imply a regenerate covenant membership. "Regenerate" and "elect" are functionally equivalent in this approach since only the elect are regenerated and have the law written on the heart. As noted, however, "internalisation" does not establish the point of Heb 8-10. It is not a subjective and individual experience but an objective reality in redemptive history which is the point of the passage. There is a change of priesthood because there is a change of covenant. The change cannot be from the external to the internal but must be an external change which alters the ceremonial aspect of the old covenant because it is fulfilled, abrogated, and superseded by Christ. In (Westminster) confessional terms, the administration has changed.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
In (Westminster) confessional terms, the administration has changed.

As I quoted you earlier in this thread. This is such a good point.

Let's look at what is said to be new. Is forgiveness of sin a new concept? No. But the text says "I will remember their sins no more." What is meant? Hebrews 8-10 tells us that it refers to sacrifice for sin. God will not require a yearly remembrance of sin by means of an annual sacrifice. So clearly the substance of the covenant has not changed. Forgiveness of sin was as much a reality of the old covenant as it is for the new. But the administration of the covenant has changed. Now we do not require a yearly sacrifice.

Let's look at another aspect of the description -- teaching. What is the point of reference? Is it all teaching? That cannot be the case, because the NT specifically speaks of teachers as one of the ascension gifts Christ has poured out upon His church. So when the text says that a man will no longer teach his neighbour, the point of reference cannot be to teaching per se, but must refer to a specific aspect of teaching, namely, the mediatorial function of the priesthood. Men could not come directly into the presence of God under the old covenant, but were dependent upon the ministry of priests to offer sacrifices and prayers on their behalf, and to teach them the significance of the sacrifices. As Hebrews 10 explains, all may now come boldly into the Holiest of all by means of the one sacrifice of our great High Priest, without the use of priestly intermediaries. All believers are priests unto God. So we note that coming into the presence of God was as much a reality for old covenant believers as for new covenant believers. The substance has not changed. What has changed is the administration of the covenant.
 

Scholten

Puritan Board Freshman
Rev. Winzer and Martin, having to think about these last two posts. You guys are beginning to convince this guy.
 

non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
"No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD"

I was taught somewhere that Jeremiah was speaking in the context of Baal worship in Israel. The (false) prophets and priests were teaching the word of Baal in place of the word of the Lord:

"who try to make My people forget My name by their dreams which everyone tells his neighbor, as their fathers forgot My name for Baal." Jer 23:27

"Therefore behold, I [am] against the prophets," says the LORD, "who steal My words every one from his neighbor." Jer 23:30

"Thus every one of you shall say to his neighbor, and every one to his brother, 'What has the LORD answered?' and, 'What has the LORD spoken? "And the oracle of the LORD you shall mention no more. For every man's word will be his oracle, for you have perverted the words of the living God, the LORD of hosts, our God. Thus you shall say to the prophet, 'What has the LORD answered you?' and, 'What has the LORD spoken?' But since you say, 'The oracle of the LORD!' therefore thus says the LORD: 'Because you say this word, "The oracle of the LORD!" and I have sent to you, saying, "Do not say, 'The oracle of the LORD!' therefore behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you and forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and [will cast you] out of My presence. Jer 23:36-39

"For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one [is] given to covetousness ; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely." Jer 6:13

No one will be teaching his neighbor blatant idolatry, is how I take this. The new covenant is better because of the gift of the Holy Spirit, given for the discernment of false teachers. The new covenant also includes the office of the keys, church discipline. Thus,

"They shall all know me..." because false teachers and unbelievers will be excommunicated in the new covenant. But there will still be hypocrites who give themselves out as true believers.
 

Scholten

Puritan Board Freshman
Armourbearer, Puritancovenanter and Non Dignus, these posts have made me think. I have another question. In the paper Dr. Welty wrote he stated that John 6:45 also alluded to Jer. 31. So I checked it out. It turns out, interestingly, that many translations of the Bible state that this passage quotes Is. 54:13, not Jer. Now, this passage in John quotes Christ as referring to the elect, "44No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45It is written in the Prophets, 'And they will all be taught by God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— " It would seem then, that Christ, when He quotes being taught by God is linking that teaching with being called effectively by the Spirit, or salvation. A number of translations say the quote comes from Is., but a few also refer to Jer. 31 (English Standard Version and New American Standard Bible). At any rate, whether the quote comes from Is. or Jer. it would seem that linking the prophets concept of being taught by God to salvation would indicate that what is being stated in Jer. does indicate that all members of the new covenant will be/are saved. I have become convinced that Heb. indicates it is the change in administration that Jer. teaches as advocated above. It seems like John 6 could be indicating that knowing God in a salvific sense is also included.

Comments?
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
At any rate, whether the quote comes from Is. or Jer. it would seem that linking the prophets concept of being taught by God to salvation would indicate that what is being stated in Jer. does indicate that all members of the new covenant will be/are saved.

Someone who is baptised is in some sense in the New Covenant, given that baptism is the sign and seal of entrance into the New Covenant. Do Baptists believe that baptism is the sign and seal of entrance into the New Covenant?

Similarly, someone who has been through a wedding ceremony and exchanged rings is in some sense married, even if her heart wasn't in it.
 

Scholten

Puritan Board Freshman
Someone who is baptised is in some sense in the New Covenant, given that baptism is the sign and seal of entrance into the New Covenant. Do Baptists believe that baptism is the sign and seal of entrance into the New Covenant?

Richard, it is the part I put in bold concerning baptism being the sign and seal of entrance into the New Covenant that I have a question on. From the verses such as Col. 2:11-12 I can see how baptism took the place of circumcision as the sign of the Abrahamic covenant. However, I don't recall biblical material that could be used to reason it is the sign of the New Covenant. If the Abrahamic covenant exists in New Testament times independent of the New Covenant then infants would be baptized for the sake of the Abrahamic covenant. In keeping with this, what biblical basis is there for a baptized infant in some sense being part of the New Covenant?
Thanks!
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Comments?

I am happy to say that the reference is to Isa., but not to Jer. A topical concordance might justify a general allusion to Jer., but as a quotation exegesis will only establish Isa. as the source. Mention is not made of a new covenant in Isa. 54, but only to the unmoveable nature of the covenant of peace and its spiritual application. "All thy children" refers to the children of Israel according to the promise, as Gal. 4, quoting Isa. 54, indicates. This is in contrast to the "children of the married wife," or Israel that is solely after the flesh. All those truly in covenant are taught of the Lord; that is undeniable; but it presupposes there is another kind of "children of the covenant" who are not taught of the Lord. See also Acts 3:25, 26. Isa. 54 therefore gives credence to the external-internal covenant distinction.
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
From the verses such as Col. 2:11-12 I can see how baptism took the place of circumcision as the sign of the Abrahamic covenant. However, I don't recall biblical material that could be used to reason it is the sign of the New Covenant. If the Abrahamic covenant exists in New Testament times independent of the New Covenant then infants would be baptized for the sake of the Abrahamic covenant. In keeping with this, what biblical basis is there for a baptized infant in some sense being part of the New Covenant?

I'd like to offer my thoughts and perhaps get some feedback from my informed brethren to sharpen my thinking on this. From my understanding, the New Covenant is the culmination of the covenant of grace. It's everything that the previous covenants led up to. The figures and types of the OT come to its realization in the new covenant, which is in Christ's blood. This blood sprinkles the elect and does so perfectly. All for whom the blood is shed is saved to the uttermost and the benefits of the New Covenant become objective for him. Thus, baptism, as the sign of one's union with Christ is administered. This union is appropriated by faith. The Baptist is against paedobaptism primarily because there is neither command or example to baptize infants scripturally, but also because all that circumcision was meant to convey is subsumed and accomplished in Christ, who is THE seed of Abraham.

I'm still a little unclear as to whether Reformed Baptists view baptism as a replacement of circumcision in the SAME way as the Reformed paedobaptist does?
 

non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
all that circumcision was meant to convey is subsumed and accomplished in Christ, who is THE seed of Abraham.

I would say that 'all that circumcision was meant to convey' will be subsumed in Christ's glorious return. We are the seed of Abraham in the Seed of Abraham, that is, the Lord is still accumulating image bearers to populate the new heavens and the new earth.

My personal opinion is that infant inclusion is actually rooted in the command in the beginning to 'be fruitful and multiply' in order to fill the earth with the image of God. Christ is fulfilling what Adam failed to do.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
I'm still a little unclear as to whether Reformed Baptists view baptism as a replacement of circumcision in the SAME way as the Reformed paedobaptist does?

It may be a little unclear because my recollection from my reading is that some Baptists see baptism as a replacement of circumcision and some don't. But I think it's safe to say that none view baptism as being a replacement of circumcision in the SAME way as Reformed paedobaptists do (i.e. regarding the subjects) or else they'd be paedobaptists. But I doubt you meant "SAME" to refer to the latter sense.

With regard to placing heavy emphasis on Jer. 31 and Heb 8 (the New Covenant) from my reading (which is admittedly incomplete and even sketchy with regard to certain periods) it seems to me that this is a relatively recent phenomenon in Baptist polemics. (I'd be happy to be pointed to an older source (i.e. pre-1950 and especially pre-1900 that proves otherwise.) I first heard it when sitting under a "Sovereign Grace" ministry that essentially embraced New Covenant Theology, albeit with a few modifications. Dr. Welty I understand is confessional. I've heard James White appeal to Heb. 8. But from what I've read, older Baptists tended to argue against paedobaptism (and specifically the Reformed practice) on these grounds (not an exhaustive list):

1. There is no explicit warrant for the practice---Basically a RPW type argument. (Perhaps widespread Baptist rejection of the RPW in recent years has led to a virtual abandonment of this argument?)

2. A change in administration--not unlike what Rev. Winzer posts in #41 except that the Baptists went further and argued that those who were to be officially considered as being (visible) church members were professing believers. "Believe and be Baptized."

3. Baptism is immersion, which the paedobaptists in their day did not perform ordinarily.

4. An argument from their reading of church history--that infant baptism arose due to ideas that arose in the patristic era such as the idea that baptism was necessary for salvation (baptismal regeneration) and that infants should therefore be baptized lest they perish prior to receiving the sacrament.

5. Infant baptism is the handmaid to state churches, which they of course strongly opposed.

That's not to say that the internalization of which Rev. Winzer speaks wasn't a factor or is never mentioned. But from what I've seen it generally wasn't as prominent as it is now.
 
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PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
The figures and types of the OT come to its realization in the new covenant, which is in Christ's blood. This blood sprinkles the elect and does so perfectly.

There does seem to be some form of sanctification in the Covenant of Christ's blood that takes place in Hebrews 10:29 for those who end up apostatizing.

(Heb 10:29) Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? KJV

(Heb 10:29) How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? ESV
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
4. An argument from their reading of church history--that infant baptism arose due to ideas that arose in the patristic era such as the idea that baptism was necessary for salvation (baptismal regeneration) and that infants should therefore be baptized lest they perish prior to receiving the sacrament.

5. Infant baptism is the handmaid to state churches, which they of course strongly opposed.

Some of these issues were discussed lately. I found this discussion rather intriguing. It seems to refute some of the things I have read and it really puts Tertillian in a light that is true compared to how some take his supposed anti-paedobaptism position. The developement of theology was also discussed in this shorter thread. Here are a few responses from the thread.

As far as Tertullian goes, he was a lone voice, and his view on baptism was unorthodox. His whole reason for writing as he did (against children, not necessarily infants alone) as well as the unwed was because of the fear of post-baptismal sin. Because of teachings like this, some would be led to delay baptism until the death bed (I believe this was true of Constantine, for instance). This is not a teaching you or I would hold to, of course. An interesting question (one I do not know the answer to) is whether Tertullian would have held this position for a dying infant/child. However, he also seems to have denied original sin (admittedly, before the doctrine was hammered out by Augustine), so he may have viewed them to be "sinless" in some sense.

Really, though, Tertullian is of little use to modern anti-pedobaptists. His argument assumes that infant baptisms are indeed valid and efficacious baptisms.

Baptism in the early church cannot be discussed outside one of the major doctrinal disputes of the day: what to do with post-baptismal sins. The stricter side of the Church, represented by Tertullian among others, argued that there could be no repentance, or at maximum 1 repentance, for certain post-baptismal sins. Apostasy was final. This led to the widespread practice of delaying baptism, thereby decreasing a person's chance of blowing it. However, that doesn't mean they were anti-pedobaptist in the sense of thinking that baptizing infants was unbiblical or invalid. The same people who urged delay would in fact baptize their children if they were in mortal danger. Augustine, for example, was not baptized as a child, but he almost was when he became very ill one time. They waited a bit longer and he recovered.

The final resolution to this issue came with the doctrine of penance. Now that there is a way for people to get back in after post-baptismal sins, the need to delay baptism evaporates. That, plus the doctrine of baptism infusing grace, actually led to a strong push for universal infant baptism.

Origen (not a good example of orthodoxy) wrote in the mid 200s, "For this also it was that the church had from the Apostles a tradition to give baptism even to infants. For they to whom the divine mysteries were committed knew that there is in all persons a natural pollution of sin which must be done away by water and the Spirit." In contrast to a "lone voice," the Council of Carthage in 254 A.D. (66 voices) concluded that infants were not to be hindered from baptism. The controversy (seen in the writings of Cyprian) was not over whether paedobaptism was permissible, but whether to baptize at birth or wait until the 8th day. To the best of my knowledge, you don't have anything remotely approaching an antipaedo position like we see today.

There was no Systematic Theology of the Apostles available in the early church. They did not have developed doctrines of ... well, anything. They had the story of Jesus, a handful of pastoral letters, and the practices of the church. Everything after that is theological reflection. Even in the New Testament you have theological reflection. Paul understands how the gospel relates to the Gentiles better than the Jerusalem apostles do, and they have to work it out. They don't just intuitively know what to do.

That said, infant baptism is, as far as I can tell, universally recognized by the Church, even if they can't always articulate why. Even Tertullian doesn't say it's invalid, inefficacious, or a novel idea proposed by heretics. Origen, who is roughly contemporary with Tertullian, says that infant baptism was passed down by the apostles. He also speaks of it as the normal custom of the church. Now, surely he couldn't make a claim like that if it wasn't just about universal in his area, and if it hadn't been so even a generation or 2 before him. Yet, his comment about apostolic tradition may point to his inability to explain exactly why they are baptizing infants. His own explanation at times seems a bit forced, fitting awkwardly in his own theological framework. Yet, despite the difficulties, he doesn't dare deny it.

In my opinion, infant baptism was practiced quite early on, and by 200 was nearly universally understood as the norm. However, at about that time, the Novatian schism and the Montanist presence turned the theological reflection about baptism in the direction of post-baptismal sin. This turn effectively de-railed the conversation and truncated the view of baptism merely to getting rid of sin.

Gregory of Nazianzus, coming later in the East, will explain baptism not just as forgiveness of original sin (a dodgy concept in the East), but as a transferring of the child into the kingdom of God. While still more ontological than we, this concept is not so far removed from covenantal pedobaptism.

In short, pedobaptism was, for much of the early church era, a practice looking for a justification. But that's what makes the evidence for its early date so strong. They practiced it even when they weren't sure why.




http://www.puritanboard.com/f57/baptism-early-church-69573/
 

Scholten

Puritan Board Freshman
Comments?

I am happy to say that the reference is to Isa., but not to Jer. A topical concordance might justify a general allusion to Jer., but as a quotation exegesis will only establish Isa. as the source. Mention is not made of a new covenant in Isa. 54, but only to the unmoveable nature of the covenant of peace and its spiritual application. "All thy children" refers to the children of Israel according to the promise, as Gal. 4, quoting Isa. 54, indicates. This is in contrast to the "children of the married wife," or Israel that is solely after the flesh. All those truly in covenant are taught of the Lord; that is undeniable; but it presupposes there is another kind of "children of the covenant" who are not taught of the Lord. See also Acts 3:25, 26. Isa. 54 therefore gives credence to the external-internal covenant distinction.

Since this was posted I have been studying it further. I have to admit, I have a bit of a problem with the language of Jer. 31 when it talks about "know the Lord" and the concept of writing the law on the heart. That sounds a lot like regeneration. I have looked up Calvin's commentaries for one. The only thing I could find on what he thought about the question of whether members of the New Covenant are all redeemed or not was a reference in his commentary on Heb. 8:11 where he writes, ". . . my answer is this , that the question here is not about persons, but that reference is made to the economical condition of the Church." He states in several places that the law written on the heart has to do with sanctification and the reference to forgiving their iniquity is clearly a reference to justification.

I believe this follows some of your earlier comments, Rev. Winzer. Looking for comments and further input on this. Thanks!
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Herb,

I think the thing that might be confusing is to decide whether there is an either/or choice here as to whether the author is speaking of realities that pertain to union with Christ. Again, I would point out, as I have elsewhere, that the author's thrust in Hebrews is to establish the superiority of Christ's Priesthood over Aaron's. This may seem an obvious point but it flows with the larger point about the excellency of Christ and the New Covenant over the Mosaic administration. It is an extended polemic against any idea that shrinking back in disbelief is an option for a believer. In fact, Hebrews 8 flows into Hebrews 9 and 10, which over and over warn of the fearfulness of falling into the hands of the living God. The argument is the lesser from the greater: our forefathers in the faith were judged by the wrath of God for shrinking back, how much more do you suppose those who shrink back will be judged. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

In other words, it's not as if the possession of spiritual realities and union with Christ are not a present and more intense state of affairs than in the past. It's not as if nothing is said about how Christ's atonement satisfies wrath to the uttermost. It's not as if there is nothing more to marvel at. The issue is this: it is impoosible for the flow of the argument to have any force if the author is simply speaking of a theoretical set of affairs..

Some will argue that, indeed, these warnings keep believers from shrinking back. Indeed, we would agree that these warning passages are used as means of God to keep the regenerate man from apostasizing. We would also see in the author's language a confidence that those who have true faith will not "go there".

But the author is saying more. Simply because he's trying to motivate with a confidence that men will press on does not necessitate the idea that every threat of judgment is all theoretical "make believe". It is common for leaders to speak to groups in such a way that speaks to the group at large and motivates on the basis of the "best in them". Federal Vision proponents refuse to note the idea that a group can be addressed where the author does not know the heart and so he'll refer to the visible Saints in such a way that indicates that the group possesses all the realities of union with Christ. Elsewhere it is clear that not all may possess the reality but that does not mean men should start addressing the Church lke this: "For those of you who are non-elect, you have no part in any of what I'm saying...."

Consequently, unless one ignores the common ways that the Apostles addressed congregations, it is simply not appropriate to conclude that he is making all his warnings theoretical. We would all agree that men who fall away in the terrible way that the author warns against are not "in Christ" in the sense of union, which only comes about by evangelical grace. That said, their profession of faith as well as their possession of knowledge beyond those outside the visible Kingdom places them in a place of judgment, which makes me shudder at the language which Hebrews uses to describe. We do not know the elect from the non-elect and it is our responsibility not to weaken the strength of this argument and make this all about some theoretical New Covenant which only the elect participate in and those whom we cannot know. We must listen to the author and let God be God and to heed the revelation He has given us.
 

Scholten

Puritan Board Freshman
Comments?

I am happy to say that the reference is to Isa., but not to Jer. A topical concordance might justify a general allusion to Jer., but as a quotation exegesis will only establish Isa. as the source. Mention is not made of a new covenant in Isa. 54, but only to the unmoveable nature of the covenant of peace and its spiritual application. "All thy children" refers to the children of Israel according to the promise, as Gal. 4, quoting Isa. 54, indicates. This is in contrast to the "children of the married wife," or Israel that is solely after the flesh. All those truly in covenant are taught of the Lord; that is undeniable; but it presupposes there is another kind of "children of the covenant" who are not taught of the Lord. See also Acts 3:25, 26. Isa. 54 therefore gives credence to the external-internal covenant distinction.

I would like to take another try at this one. Isaiah refers to the covenant of peace. Jer. speaks of the new covenant. Are these two distinct covenants? I looked up Calvin's commentaries again as a starting point. In his commentary on Is. 54:13 he writes, "The Gospel is preached indiscriminately to the elect and the reprobate; but the elect alone come to Christ, because they have been 'taught by God,' and therefore to them the Prophet undoubtedly refers." It seems like Calvin is here saying that being "taught by God" is equivalent to being elect. It would seem logical also to conclude that Calvin sees the members of the covenant of peace in Isaiah as all being elect. A little later in that section he writes, "This passage agrees with one in the Prophet Jeremiah. 'Every one shall not teach his neighbour, nor a man his brother; for all shall know me from the least even to the greatest, saith Jehovah.'" If I am correct in my understanding of Calvin, if all the members of the covenant of peace are elect and Isaiah agrees with Jeremiah, then it would seem to be a logical conclusion that the members of the new covenant of Jeremiah are all elect as well.
When you say, Rev. Winzer, that "Isa. 54 therefore gives credence to the external-internal covenant distinction" are you saying that some of the people spoken of in Isa. 54 as being in the covenant of peace are in the external covenant, or am I taking that the wrong way? I continue to have difficulties with the idea that some members of the new covenant could be reprobates. I hope members of the Puritan Board will help me work through this matter.
Thanks
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I would like to take another try at this one. Isaiah refers to the covenant of peace. Jer. speaks of the new covenant. Are these two distinct covenants? I looked up Calvin's commentaries again as a starting point. In his commentary on Is. 54:13 he writes, "The Gospel is preached indiscriminately to the elect and the reprobate; but the elect alone come to Christ, because they have been 'taught by God,' and therefore to them the Prophet undoubtedly refers." It seems like Calvin is here saying that being "taught by God" is equivalent to being elect. It would seem logical also to conclude that Calvin sees the members of the covenant of peace in Isaiah as all being elect. A little later in that section he writes, "This passage agrees with one in the Prophet Jeremiah. 'Every one shall not teach his neighbour, nor a man his brother; for all shall know me from the least even to the greatest, saith Jehovah.'" If I am correct in my understanding of Calvin, if all the members of the covenant of peace are elect and Isaiah agrees with Jeremiah, then it would seem to be a logical conclusion that the members of the new covenant of Jeremiah are all elect as well.

Calvin's covenant theology doesn't follow a systematic structure so it is not a simple matter to tie Calvin down to some of our modern categories. The best way to proceed would be to look at what Calvin says about the new covenant. Somewhere at the beginning of his discussion on the new covenant in his comments on Jeremiah he draws attention to the difference between form and substance, and specifically refers the newness of the covenant to the "form." That is all that we mean by "administration," although Calvin's statements don't fit into a strict external-internal pattern. Also, I believe when he comes to speak of the promises of the new covenant he allows for hyperbole. I will have to leave it to you to look this up as I don't have time to track down the references. Taken as a whole, Calvin's understanding of the covenant of peace is what we would refer to the internal aspect of the covenant of grace, which only applies to the elect, but the new covenant is a change in the form or administration of the covenant.

When you say, Rev. Winzer, that "Isa. 54 therefore gives credence to the external-internal covenant distinction" are you saying that some of the people spoken of in Isa. 54 as being in the covenant of peace are in the external covenant, or am I taking that the wrong way?

I think that is a misunderstanding. In terms of Isaiah 54, I went back to the first verse, and its application in Galatians, to show two groups of people. My comments were not directly connected to the promise relating to the children being taught. The point is, there are two types of "children" spoken of in the text as a whole, which gives some credence to the idea of a dual aspect to the covenant as far as its administration is concerned.
 

Scholten

Puritan Board Freshman
I would like to take another try at this one. Isaiah refers to the covenant of peace. Jer. speaks of the new covenant. Are these two distinct covenants? I looked up Calvin's commentaries again as a starting point. In his commentary on Is. 54:13 he writes, "The Gospel is preached indiscriminately to the elect and the reprobate; but the elect alone come to Christ, because they have been 'taught by God,' and therefore to them the Prophet undoubtedly refers." It seems like Calvin is here saying that being "taught by God" is equivalent to being elect. It would seem logical also to conclude that Calvin sees the members of the covenant of peace in Isaiah as all being elect. A little later in that section he writes, "This passage agrees with one in the Prophet Jeremiah. 'Every one shall not teach his neighbour, nor a man his brother; for all shall know me from the least even to the greatest, saith Jehovah.'" If I am correct in my understanding of Calvin, if all the members of the covenant of peace are elect and Isaiah agrees with Jeremiah, then it would seem to be a logical conclusion that the members of the new covenant of Jeremiah are all elect as well.

Calvin's covenant theology doesn't follow a systematic structure so it is not a simple matter to tie Calvin down to some of our modern categories. The best way to proceed would be to look at what Calvin says about the new covenant. Somewhere at the beginning of his discussion on the new covenant in his comments on Jeremiah he draws attention to the difference between form and substance, and specifically refers the newness of the covenant to the "form." That is all that we mean by "administration," although Calvin's statements don't fit into a strict external-internal pattern. Also, I believe when he comes to speak of the promises of the new covenant he allows for hyperbole. I will have to leave it to you to look this up as I don't have time to track down the references. Taken as a whole, Calvin's understanding of the covenant of peace is what we would refer to the internal aspect of the covenant of grace, which only applies to the elect, but the new covenant is a change in the form or administration of the covenant.

When you say, Rev. Winzer, that "Isa. 54 therefore gives credence to the external-internal covenant distinction" are you saying that some of the people spoken of in Isa. 54 as being in the covenant of peace are in the external covenant, or am I taking that the wrong way?

I think that is a misunderstanding. In terms of Isaiah 54, I went back to the first verse, and its application in Galatians, to show two groups of people. My comments were not directly connected to the promise relating to the children being taught. The point is, there are two types of "children" spoken of in the text as a whole, which gives some credence to the idea of a dual aspect to the covenant as far as its administration is concerned.

Thank you, Rev. Winzer. It has taken me some time but I was finally able to look up the references to form and substance that you referenced. You state in your post that Calvin is not so easy to fit into a strict external-internal pattern. Perhaps what I'm about to write is an attempt to move in that direction, however, it must be done.
Calvin's comments on the form and substance have been very helpful. Those comments start in my copy of his commentaries about 2 1/2 pages into his 123rd lecture where he comments on Jeremiah 31:31-32.
I have also referenced elements commentaries on Isaiah 54:13 in an effort to get my arms around this passage in Jeremiah and the concept of being taught by God. You have stated earlier that John 6:45 quotes the above verse from Isaiah and not Jeremiah. This brought some interesting things to light. I think the best thing is for me to simply quote a section from this commentary:

Taught by Jehovah . . . now there are two ways in which the Lord teaches us; by external preaching, and by the secret revelation of the Holy Spirit. What kind of teaching the Prophet means is explained by Christ, when he quotes this passage; and therefore we ought not to seek a better interpreter. "It is written in the prophets," says he, "all shall be taught by God. Every man who has heard and learned from the Father cometh to me." (John 6:45.) If this passage were to be understood as relating to external preaching, the conclusion which Christ draws from it would not be well-founded; for it does not follow, "The Gospel is preached, and therefore all believe." Many oppose, others openly scorn, and others are hypocrites. Those only "who have been foreordained to life" (Acts 13:48) are sincerely teachable, and are entitled to be ranked among the disciples. The Gospel is preached indiscriminately to the elect and the reprobate; but the elect alone come to Christ, because they have been "taught by God," and therefore to them the undoubtedly refers.

Two pages further where Calvin comments further on the concept of being taught by God he writes, "this passage agrees with the one in the Prophet Jeremiah. ‘Every one shall not teach his neighbor, nor a man his brother; for all shall know me from the least even to the greatest, saith Jehovah.’ (Jer. 31:34.)" Therefore this knowing God is the same as being taught by God, i.e. refers to the elect.

So what we have here then is the fact that Calvin defines "being taught by God" in Isaiah 54 as being the inner working of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of the elect. Calvin also states that this passage in Isaiah agrees with or teaches the same thing as Jeremiah 31:34. The necessary conclusion then, is that the knowing God in Jeremiah is one and the same as personal salvation for all who are in the new covenant.

And I missing something here?

The above conclusion does not necessarily disagree with Calvin's understanding of form and substance. The substance of the Abrahamic covenant in the Old Testament and its sign, circumcision, is the same as the substance of the Abrahamic covenant which continues into the New Testament and its sign, which is now baptism. The new covenant does differ in form from the old covenant in that its revelation is so much brighter. The essence or substance of the new covenant would then be that it is a covenant made only with the elect.

Again, if I am missing something I would appreciate having that pointed out. I look forward to receiving the responses on this forum.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Again, if I am missing something I would appreciate having that pointed out.

These passages "agree" with Jer. 31. In reference to the elect this is undoubtedly true. But for Calvin, this is not unique to the new covenant, for it is the same in substance with the old covenant. It is only the "form" that is new.

Calvin's Commentaries, 10:2:127: "Let us now see why he promises to the people a new covenant. It being new, no doubt refers to what they call the form; and the form, or manner, regards not words only, but first Christ, then the grace of the Holy Spirit, and the whole external way of teaching. But the substance remains the same. By substance I understand the doctrine; for God in the Gospel brings forward nothing but what the Law contains. We hence see that God has so spoken from the beginning, that he has not changed, no not a syllable, with regard to the substance of the doctrine. For he has included in the Law the rule of a perfect life, and has also shown what is the way of salvation, and by types and figures led the people to Christ, so that the remission of sin is there clearly made manifest, and whatever is necessary to be known."

If this difference between form and substance is clearly kept in view I don't think Calvin can be understood as teaching that the new covenant is unique in its application to the elect. Whatever applies to the elect is the same in substance with what was applied to the elect under the old covenant.
 

Scholten

Puritan Board Freshman
Calvin is clearly not easy to comprehend, especially when he deals with such doctrines as election.

Again, if I am missing something I would appreciate having that pointed out.

These passages "agree" with Jer. 31. In reference to the elect this is undoubtedly true.

So does this mean that all the members of the new covenant, like the members of the covenant of peace are all elect?

But for Calvin, this is not unique to the new covenant, for it is the same in substance with the old covenant.

If it is not unique to the new covenant but the same with the old, does this mean that all the members of the old covenant, the Mosaic covenant, were elect? That can't be.

If this difference between form and substance is clearly kept in view I don't think Calvin can be understood as teaching that the new covenant is unique in its application to the elect. Whatever applies to the elect is the same in substance with what was applied to the elect under the old covenant.

I understand Calvin taught that the old and new were not different in substance. But it seems like the connections I gave in my last post (#40) force me to conclude that all the members of the new covenant are elect. I'm not sure that is correct. Rev. Winzer (and others) do you believe Calvin believed that all members of the new covenant are elect, saved?
 
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