Must Grace Have Been Bestowed on your Children before you can teach them God’s law?

Was Esau born in the covenant of grace, but then later lost his justification in Christ and therefore failed to “enter heaven”?

Hebrews 12: 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 14 Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness—without it no one will see the Lord. 15 Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many. 16 And make sure that there isn’t any immoral or irreverent person like Esau, who sold his birthright in exchange for one meal.

God’s wrath is not an expression of God’s love. God’s wrath is not a response to human bad response to God’s grace. Those who are justified are no longer under God’s wrath. And those still under God’s wrath were born condemned, already under God’s wrath. God’s wrath for the non-elect is not subject to change

For the promise is for you in spite of yourself, as many Jews as the Lord our God will call, in spite of them being Jews, for the elect alone and not for the non-elect. The promise is for your children, as many children as the Lord our God will call, in spite of parents, for the elect alone and not for the non-elect. The promise is for all who are far off, as many non Jews as the Lord our God will call, in spite of them being born outside any covenant, for the elect alone and not for the non-elect

Since our duty is not based on our ability, the soundbite from Augustine (give what you command, and command what you will) is wrong if it’s understood to say that Christians now CAN obey the law at least enough to make it “congruent” or “fitting” (Jonathan Edwards) for God to bless us. The Augustinian soundbite is also wrong if it is used to imply that God in neo-nomian fashion now lowers the standard of the law to the level of what we in the new covenant are now gifted to do IMPERFECTLY.

The law is not the gospel, grace is not the law, and the ability to keep the law is not grace. It’s still too late for justified sinners to keep the law in order to “enter heaven” Those who are already saints are commanded to obey God’s law but not as a condition of covenant blessing.
Romans 5:20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.

Freedom from the law by Christ’s death imputed is necessary before we do any good works or worship acceptable to God

Those who reduce all post-fall covenants to one covenant of grace tend to say that their children need to have been born in grace in order to be taught the law. Like the Arminians who assume that the duty to believe the gospel implies the ability to believe the gospel, these like John Murray work their way from assumptions about the new capacity of regenerate disposition to denial of antithesis between law and grace for those born “in the covenant”

Mark Jones–When I ask my children to obey me in the Lord should I get rid of the indicative-imperative model for Christian ethics?

There is one divine standard, in this new covenant age, according to which both believers and non-believers are accountable. There are not two different standards. The commandment for children to obey their parents shows no distinction of believers and non-believers, and neither does the commandment to parents to raise their children according to God’s Word.

Do Christians and Their Unbaptized Children Pray to the Same God?

Mark Jones—“Divine grace is not MERELY God’s goodness to the elect in the era of redemptive history. … Divine grace is a perfection of God’s nature, even apart from sin. In the garden, the grace of God was upon Adam.”

John Murray, The Covenant of Grace— “The continued enjoyment of this grace and of the relation established is contingent upon the fulfillment of certain conditions. Grace bestowed implies a subject and reception on the part of that subject. The relation established implies mutuality. The conditions in view are not conditions of bestowal. They are simply the reciprocal responses of faith, love and obedience, apart from which the enjoyment of the covenant blessing and of the covenant relation is inconceivable….the breaking of the covenant is unfaithfulness to a relation constituted and to grace dispensed. By breaking the covenant what is broken is not the condition of bestowal but the condition of consummated fruition.”

Richard Gaffin, by Faith not by Sight, p 103–”The law-gospel antithesis enters NOT BY VIRTUE OF CREATION..but as the consequence of sin…The gospel is to the purpose of removing an absolute law-gospel antithesis in the life of the believer…”

Gaffin— Having been called effectively involves having been regenerated, but the two are not identical. The exercise of the Spirit’s energies in calling produces an enduring change… marked anthropologically by a new and lasting disposition inherent in them, what Scripture calls a new “heart.” That is, at the core of my being, I am no longer against God and disposed to rebel against his will but, now and forever, for him and disposed in the deepest recesses of whom I am to delight in doing his will….The Holy Spirit’s work in the justified ungodly does not MERELY consist of an ongoing countering activity within those otherwise only disposed to be thoroughly resistant and recalcitrant. The definitive change MAINTAINED in believers by the Spirit provides a stable basis WITHIN THEM for renewing and maturing them according to their inner selves (2 Cor. 4:16). The Reformed use of “habitual” to describe this irreversible change, seems appropriate and useful. ”

Leithart–“God can and does reward appropriate (albeit imperfect) human response. God’s unmerited love, then, does not nullify reciprocity. . . . God’s love is bestowed prior to conditions and is undeserved, yet there are conditions for its continuance”

Leithart: The big difference between the word and baptism is that the word offers God’s grace to everyone-in-general while baptism declares God’s favor TO ME . Baptism wraps the gift of forgiveness and justification and puts MY NAME on the package. Like the gospel, BAPTISM REQUIRES a response of ENDURING faith. Faith involves believing what baptism says ABOUT YOU…The self-imputation of “righteous” is based on the baptismal declaration that we are “justified from sin” by union with the death and resurrection of Jesus. And I can’t, of course, live a life of unbelief and disobedience, and expect baptism to rescue me at the end. Such a life would betray my baptism…..

Wesley, Working Out Our Own Salvation—“Allowing that all persons are dead in sin by nature, this excuses none, seeing that there is no man in a state of nature only. There is no man, unless he has quenched the Holy Spirit, that is wholly void of the grace of God. No man sins because he has not grace, but because he does not use the grace he has.”

John Piper–How then can I say that the judgment of believers will not only be the public declaration of our differing rewards in the kingdom of God, according to our deeds, but will also be the public declaration of our salvation – our entering the kingdom – according to our deeds? When some deeds are exposed at the judgment as a person’s way of life, they will be the evidence that their faith was not transforming and they will not be saved.” (Future Grace, p 366)

Mike Horton: To be claimed as part of God’s holy field comes with threats as well as blessings. Covenant members who do not believe are under the covenant curse. How can they fall under the curses of a covenant to which they didn’t belong? If faith is the only way into membership, then why all the warnings to members of the covenant community to exercise faith and persevere in faith to the end? God promises his saving grace in Christ to each person in baptism, whether they embrace this promise or not. Yet they must embrace the promise in faith. Otherwise, they fall under the covenant curse without Christ as their mediator. The word proclaimed and sealed in the sacraments is valid, regardless of our response, but we don’t enjoy the blessings apart from receiving Christ.”

Here are several good responses to the related ideas that duty implies ability, or that ability eliminates distinctions between teaching children law and assuming that grace bestowed is necessary to teach children law.

Engelsma: Mike Horton affirms that God promises saving grace in Christ to every baptized baby. This is the same as to affirm that God promised saving grace to Esau in his circumcision. This affirmation implies that God failed to keep His promise. God’s promise failed. Grace is resisted. Grace is ineffectual. The reason, they will say, is the unbelief of Esau. Whatever the reason, grace does not realize itself in one to whom God is gracious. Regardless of the reason for grace’s impotence, the teaching is heretical. If God promises saving grace to both Esau and Jacob, as Horton affirms, but the promise fails because of Esau’s unbelief, then the conclusion necessarily follows that grace succeeded in the case of Jacob, only because of grace causing Jacob to accept grace.”

Tom Nettles—”The idea of universal atonement is not demanded by the Bible at all, but is often assumed as an inference drawn from a no-grace-no-justice assumption…. The piggy-backing of grace onto the command to believe the gospel does not come from the Bible.”

Mark Seifrid— “The Law speaks even to us who are regenerate as fallen human beings. Being a Christian means again and again, in all the trials and temptations of life, hearing and believing the Gospel which overcomes the condemnation pronounced on us by the Law and by our own consciences in which that Law is written….But according to the puritan perspective, Law and Gospel do not address the believing human being in radically different ways, but only in differing degrees according to the measures of “grace” present within them. …. The embedding of the Law within grace qualifies law’s demand—while the Law works the death of sinners, it has a different effect on the righteous. The puritans regards the “flesh” is present as a power that exerts partial influence on us.

Click to access sbjt_102_sum06-seifrid1.pdf

Paul Helm—“One thing that the Amyraldian proposal does is to weaken connection between the plight of the race in the fall of Adam. For the Amyraldians the responsibility of each of the non-elect comes simply from hearing and not receiving the message of grace.”

Lee irons—”Their principle (that all types must typify grace and cannot typify the works principle) would rule out Adam from being a type of Christ. And what about the types prefiguring the day of judgment throughout the OT? For example, Noah’s flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the plagues of Egypt, the conquest of the Canaanites, the expulsion of Israel from the land in the exile. These are not symbols of grace but of wrath.”

Steve Yang– Murray argues that those who crucified their old self with Christ are no longer under the dominion of sin (Romans 6). He says that “it is wrong to use these texts to support any other view of the victory entailed than that which the Scripture teaches it to be, namely, the radical breach with the power and love of sin which is necessarily the possession of every one who has been united to Christ. Union with Christ is union with him in the efficacy of his death and in virtue of his resurrection – he who thus died and rose again with Christ is freed from sin, and sin will not exercise the dominion” (143). Murray further writes, “the Christian] must reckon himself to be dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ his Lord. It is the faith of this fact that provides the basis for, and the incentive to the fulfillment of, the exhortation, ‘Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body…’” (146).

Murray’s usage of Scripture, however, has failed to prove that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit necessarily changes a person in a progressive sense. His usage of Romans, for instance, is unwarranted for the reason that he assumes that by “the dominion of sin” Paul has an ontological change in mind. However, when Paul wrote “so you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11) the verb he chose to use was logi,zesqe, which means to “consider”, to “count”, to “credit” or to “reckon”. Such a verb is not used in an ontological sense, but in a positional sense. Paul also uses this very verb to describe the manner in which Abraham was counted righteous by God God accounted, or declared, Abraham righteous even though Abraham ontologically wasn’t. Murray’s usage of this passage undermines his own assumptions by reaffirming the positional aspect of God’s blessings.

The freedom from the dominion of sin, which Paul speaks of, is the freedom from the condemnation of sin and from the guilt of falling short of the law’s demands. Whereas Murray would seem to suggest that sanctification is conforming to the law (by the Spirit’s help), Paul’s claim is that “we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, IN ORDER TO serve. Whereas Murray would suggest that being freed from the dominion of sin means that the believer has newly attained ability to keep the law, Paul, on the contrary, suggests that such freedom means Christians are absolved from the law’s demands. All the law could do is condemn, kill, and destroy. And it is for this very reason that in Rom. 7:7 Paul anticipates the objection that “doesn’t such a view suggest that the law is sin?” the view that the freedom from the dominion of sin only means that the Spirit aids us in obeying the law would never draw one to raise the objection that the law is sin (in fact, quite the contrary). If one were in line with Pauline theology, one would have to expect answer to similar objections in which Paul faced. The fact that John Murray does not seems to attract such objections only suggests that John Murray is not reading the Apostle Paul correctly.

Stoever, A Faire and Easy Way, p 64 – Cotton professed himself unable to believe it possible for a person to maintain that grace works a condition in him, reveals it, makes a promise to it, and applies it to him, and still not to trust in the work. If a person did not trust in the merit of the work, he would at least be tempted to trust in the right of it to the promise, and he probably would not dare to trust a promise unless he could see a work.

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17 Comments on “Must Grace Have Been Bestowed on your Children before you can teach them God’s law?”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    Storms vs Horton—Horton’s argument is best seen in his treatment of the notoriously difficult Hebrews 6 passage. He contends that the blessings listed in vv. 4-5 are experienced neither by the “saved” nor the “unsaved” but by those persons who belong to the covenant community but who have not been regenerated or come to saving faith in Christ. Horton believes that a “covenant child” (i.e., the child of a believing parent who was baptized as an infant into the covenant of grace and thus is exposed to the “sanctified sphere of the Spirit’s work” can experience everything mentioned in vv. 4-5 without being saved.

    In other words, by virtue of infant baptism, a person can become a “member” of the covenant without “truly embracing the word that is preached” (37). It is to such persons that the warning passages, threatening the consequences of apostasy, are addressed. Such a person “belongs to the covenant community and experiences thereby the work of the Spirit through the means of grace, and yet is regenerate” . He faults the other views for failing to recognize “a category for a person who is in the covenant but not personally united by living faith to Jesus Christ” . Such persons, “born into the covenant of grace….merely to belong to the covenant externally but to embrace the reality that the covenant promises and conveys by the Spirit through the word and sacraments” (37).

    This is evidently why Horton feels no need to exegete in detail the many passages that speak of “falling away” or “making shipwreck of faith” or the like. All such folk who “fall” in this way are unregenerate “members” of the covenant by virtue of their baptism as infants of believing parents who, in the final analysis, utterly reject the promises of cleansing and forgiveness that both baptism and the Eucharist proclaimed.

    Storms– I find this entirely unpersuasive. There is no indication in the New Testament that anyone was regarded as a member of the New Covenant (as promised in Jeremiah 31 and instituted by Christ at the last supper) apart from a personal, conscious act of faith in the redemptive work and resurrection life of Jesus Christ. …
    Horton’s attempt to connect the warnings with the supposed spiritual benefits of infant baptism (one of which he identifies as the “sealing” of the Spirit is perhaps the principal flaw in all forms of traditional covenant theology.

    1. Not all arguments for infant water are based “one covenant with many administrations”. Romanists, Lutherans and others don’t use the argument from circumcision.

    2. All Reformed folks say that “the covenant” includes more than the elect. All Reformed folks deny that election governs the number in “the new covenant” (some say “externally”) But not all Reformed people are “federal visionists” because many make a distinction between “apostasy from the covenant” and “apostasy from election”. Where the “federal visionists” ( from Norman Shepherd to Doug Wilson) have two kinds of election, so that they speak of a “covenant election” which can be lost, other Reformed folks speak of one election and then argue that “non-elect are in the new covenant”. Those of us who teach salvation of all the elect by means of the new covenant and Christ the mediator of the new covenant also speak of one election, but deny that the elect are in a theological construct call “one covenant of grace in substance, with many administrations”.

    —-1. The gospel does not curse. Jesus did not come to condemn. We are born already condemned. No Christian is more justified than another Christian. And no non-Christian is more condemned that another.
    2. There is no “the covenant of grace, with many administrations”. You are simply begging the question. Is the law grace? If you have a covenant of grace and it’s also a covenant of law, how is it a covenant of grace?
    3. I do not deny a distinction between a visible congregation and the future gathering of the elect when Christ comes to earth on Resurrection Day. You call this “the invisible church” and we both agree that there is no exact identity between that called out future gathering (ecclesia) and those now received into membership in visible congregations. But you simply assume what you need to find in the Bible when you call identification with a visible congregation “participation in the covenant of grace” . So for me this is not a quibble.

    Paul does not speak of any such “the covenant of grace” as you assume. I do want to address your questions about the Hebrews warnings, because I agree that chapter 10 is a big part of the argument Horton makes against Wellum. Horton even claims that nobody who does not agree with him about “covenant apostasy” could possibly understand Hebrews 10.

    Is the indicative law or grace?

    When the law promises curse conditioned on the sinner, is that law grace?

    Is all sin against Grace? If God does not have grace to one of God’s creatures, does God have a right to command that creature and to judge that creature as a sinner?

    Do you agree with Horton that we need to have children in the covenant before we can teach them?

    Do you agree with Horton that God promises His saving grace in Christ to each person in water baptism,?

    Do you agree with Horton that for infants to be claimed as part of God’s holy field comes with threats as well as blessings?

    Hebrews 10: 8 If anyone disregards Moses’ law, he dies without mercy, based on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment do you think one will deserve who has trampled on the Son of God, regarded as profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

    The Reformed assumption— the people of God in the new covenant are both believers and unbelievers because some of the people of God end up in hell. The future tensed in Greek indicates that this will in fact happen and so this passage can’t be taken hypothetically. So you have got a problem here the covenant people of God end up in hell….

    1. The particular sin being warned against is the sin of going back to the Mosaic law and the Levitical economy for salvation. And there is (and never was) any salvation to be found in the Mosaic law or the Levitical economy. I am not denying that some people living during the Mosaic economy were justified by grace through hearing and believing the gospel of Christ, the seed of Abraham, the mediator of the new covenant. I am saying that there was never justification ever to be found in law-keeping by sinners, nor was there ever any salvation to be found in the Abrahamic ceremonies and rituals. The types pointed to Jesus, and the way Jesus opened for the elect through His flesh, by His obedience to death. . In context, it seems we have some people who have professed to have believed in the gospel, to trust in Christ, and yet some of them have, or are tempted to, go back to that Judiasm which has rejected the blood of Jesus.

    2. There is nothing “hypothetical” about this warning (or the others in Hebrews). The logic of “there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin” is not that Christ died for every sinner, so that there is grace for every sinner, or a “conditional promise of grace” for every sinner. No. The logic rather is that now and always there has been only sacrifice that really takes away sin, and that’s the sacrificial death of Christ. The old covenants (Noahic, Davidic, Mosaic, Abrahamic) pointed to this one sacrifice of Christ. Now that Christ has come, now that the new covenant has arrived, not only in promise, but in fulfillment, still there remains one (and only one) sacrifice for sins.

    Put it this way— for every sinner, for any sinner, there is only one sacrifice that can take away sins, and it’s Christ’s propitiatory death. This does not at all mean that Christ has died for every sinner. It means every sinner needs Christ’s death. But only the sins of the elect the Father has given the Son were imputed to the Son, and the Son has only made a propitiation for those sins. Christ’s death is not enough for every sinner, because it was never intended for every sinner. The point of Hebrews 10 is—Christ is the only propitiation there is, and if you don’t trust Christ, then there can be no propitiation for you. Go back to Judiasm, (and without getting into the longish question about if apostates can come back to the gospel), and don’t come to Christ, then there “remains no other sacrifice”.

    3. you might read this, and say, well there you have it,mcmark is supralapsarians who can’t make a distinction between covenant and election. And the guy also wants to say “providence” instead of “common grace”!

    I would insist that what I have indicated in the paragraph above is true even on an infralapsarian understanding, unless one is an Amyraldian who thinks Christ obtained some kind of “general fund” of atonement, and then somehow the Holy Spirit causes the elect to exercise faith to unite themselves to the “general fund” . In other words, if you believe in definite atonement, What I write above about Hebrews 10 is a fair reading of the warning—no hope but in Christ’s grace, no mercy except in Christ’s bloody death.

    4. In principle, the Hebrew warnings are no different from those found in places like Galatians and Philippians. It’s not a warning about immorality, but about going to another gospel, about not trusting Christ, but instead trusting Christ PLUS ALSO our “covenantal nomism” ( puritans like Norman Shepherd are not Pelagians —they thank their god for grace) .

    Because if you trust Christ and your Spirit enabled obedience, then you don’t trust Christ! Galatians 2: 21–”If justification were through the law, then Christ died for NO purpose. (not for some purpose, not to provide a “plan” to get started!). Galatians 5:2–If you accept circumcision, Christ will be of NO advantage to you. So this is a serious real, life or death warning. Although Paul does not tell the Galatians that he thinks most of them are lost judiasers, he does not discount the possibility that some who profess to trust Christ and are members of a visible congregation are in reality still in their sins, without grace, without propitiation.

    5. The danger is not hypothetical then or now. Grace does not mean we stop preaching the law and the seriousness of sin and the wrath of God. It means confusing the law of God with the gospel of God which is about Christ’s satisfaction of the law for the elect. Christ preached this gospel in John 5: 24. “As many as hear my word and believe him who sent me has eternal (lasting quality) life! HE DOES NOT COME INTO JUDGMENT

    6. “The covenant” is in verse 29.. Which covenant? The phrases “old covenant” or “Mosaic covenant” are not in verse 26, which says the “law of Moses”, but I think we could agree that verse 26 is about the Mosaic economy. The reference is to the covenantal curses on folks who are Abraham’s sons but not Abraham’s sons (Ishmael, Esau, Judas, etc).

    So which covenant is it in “profaned the blood of the covenant”?
    How can there be a new covenant if there is only one “the covenant of grace” and the old covenant is part of the “substance” of “the one covenant of grace?

    I think Reformed people tend to have three answers at once here:

    answer one: the new covenant is “substantially” the “one covenant of grace”

    answer two: because of the contrast with Moses, the covenant here is “the new covenant” (which of course has always existed along side the old covenant, since the gospel has always existed)

    answer three: it’s not really the “new covenant” which the apostates were in but only the “external administration” of the new covenant

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Benjamin Keach, The Marrow of True Justification: The Biblical Doctrine of Justification Without Works, Solid Ground Books, Birmingham, Alabama USA, 2007, p 80–“Once we are justified, we need not inquire how a man is justified after he is justified. God has not appointed this personal evangelical righteousness, in order to our Justification before Him. By that righteousness of Christ which is out of us, though imputed to us, the Justice of God is satisfied; therefore all Works done by us, or inherent in us, are excluded in our Justification before God..”

  3. markmcculley Says:

    The progressive nature of sanctification does not follow from a change of disposition in the believer. Murray argues that those who crucified their old self with Christ are no longer under the dominion of sin (Romans 6). He says that “it is wrong to use these texts to support any other view of the victory entailed than that which the Scripture teaches it to be, namely, the radical breach with the power and love of sin which is necessarily the possession of every one who has been united to Christ. Union with Christ is union with him in the efficacy of his death and in virtue of his resurrection – he who thus died and rose again with Christ is freed from sin, and sin will not exercise the dominion” (Murray, 143). Murray further writes, “the Christian] must reckon himself to be dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ his Lord. It is the faith of this fact that provides the basis for, and the incentive to the fulfillment of, the exhortation, ‘Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body…’” (Murray, 146).
    Murray’s usage of Scripture, however, has failed to prove that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit necessarily sanctifies a man in a progressive and ontological sense. His usage of Romans, for instance, is unwarranted for the reason that he assumes that by “the dominion of sin” Paul has an ontological change in mind. However, when Paul wrote “so you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11) the verb he chose to use was logi,zesqe. This verb [logi,zomai] means to “consider”, to “count”, to “credit” or to “reckon”. Such a verb is not used in an ontological sense, but in a positional sense. Paul also uses this very verb to describe the manner in which Abraham was counted righteous by God – by faith (Rom. 4:6, 8-11, 22-24). God accounted, or declared, Abraham righteous even though Abraham ontologically wasn’t. Hence, by his usage of this passage all Murray has done is undermine his own assumptions by reaffirming the positional aspect of God’s blessings.

    The freedom from the dominion of sin, which Paul speaks of, is not the ontological change in holiness, as Murray would suggest. Rather, it is the freedom from the condemnation of sin and from the guilt of falling short of the law’s demands. Whereas Murray would seem to suggest that sanctification is conforming to the law (by the Spirit’s help), Paul’s claim is that “we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit” (Rom. 7:6, ESV, emphasis mine). Paul’s claim is that believers are released from the condemnation of the law’s demand. It is freedom from this captivity that Paul has in mind when he says that Christians are free from the dominion of sin.

    Whereas Murray would suggest that being freed from the dominion of sin means that the believer has newly attained ability to keep the law, Paul, on the contrary, suggests that such freedom means Christians are absolved from the law’s demands. All the law could do is condemn, kill, and destroy. And it is for this very reason that in Rom. 7:7 Paul anticipates the objection that “doesn’t such a view suggest that the law is sin?” However, the view that the freedom from the dominion of sin only means that the Spirit aids us in obeying the law would never draw one to raise the objection that the law is sin (in fact, quite the contrary). If one were in line with Pauline theology, one would have to expect answer to similar objections in which Paul faced. The fact that Murray does not seems to attract such objections only suggests that he is not reading the Apostle Paul correctly.

    It s not the case that progressivesanctification follows from the imperatives given to those indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Murray writes: “the sanctified are not passive or quiescent in this process. Nothing shows this more clearly than the exhortation of the apostle: ‘Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12, 13) (Murray, 148). Murray wishes to acknowledge that the commands in Scripture demand human responsibility – not least Paul’s exhortation to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). However, one must ask what relevance the imperatives have in proving the progressive nature of sanctification?

    Unless one is ready to make the Pelagian presupposition that God would not give us a command unless we were able to keep it, one cannot assume that just because believers are given a command that the believer has the ability to keep them. Murray would agree with Berkhof that uncoverted man is commanded to be perfect, to do good, to not sin, to believe and be saved, but simultaneously “cannot do any act, however insignificant, which fundamentally meets with God’s approval and answers to the demands of God’s holy law…In a word, he is unable to do any spiritual good” (Berkhof, 247, emphasis mine).

    If responsibility does not entail ability in the pre-converted state, then it is the burden of proof of Murray to demonstrate that responsibility entails ability in the post-converted state. Murray clearly fails to demonstrate this by his exegesis of Romans 6. One cannot simply assume that God gave the believer commandments and thus man is able – or guaranteed – to keep them.

    Murray would probably indicate that the difference between post-conversion and pre-conversion is the presence of the Spirit in the regenerate man (which is clearly absent in the unregenerate man). Murray would then state that the Spirit then “enables” the believer to perform the requirements of the Law. However, he must demonstrate how regeneration or the presence of the Holy Spirit grants the believer an ability which the unbeliever does not have. One cannot assume, as Murray does, that the Holy Spirit’s presence grants this ability.

    If one cannot assume that the Holy Spirit grants the believer the ability to keep God’s commandments, then Murray might then object by asking me for an explanation on what purpose God gives someone a commandment if one isn’t able to keep it. To this objection, the Apostle Paul responds, “if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would nothave known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet’” (Rom.7:7,). Again, Paul says elsewhere, “Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come…so then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:19, 24,).

    Paul tells us that the law was given so that it would demonstrate that we can’t keep it and, thereby, lead us to Christ as our righteousness. Nowhere does Paul say that commandments are given so that we could keep them. In no way do the commandments of Paul demonstrate ability to God’s covenantal people in the New Testament any more than the commandments of Moses demonstrated ability to God’s covenantal people in the Old Testament. And neither Berkhof nor Murray would be willing to move in the direction of the dispensationalist.

    If the law’s only intent was to lead us to Christ, then, Murray may wonder, whether such a view of sanctification leads to antinomianism. After all, the denial of progressive sanctification only seems to point to the road of self-complacency and moral laxity. John Murray wrote, “truly biblical sanctification has no affinity with the self-complacency which ignores or fails to take into account the sinfulness of every lack of conformity to the image of him who was holy, harmless, and undefiled” (Murray, 145) He quotes the Apostle Paul: “O wretched man that I am” (Rom. 7:24), the prophet Isaiah: “Woe is me…” (Is. 6:5), the blameless and upright Job: “Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job. 42:5, 6).

    To further the point he could even have quoted Paul’s confession that he was the worst of sinners (1 Ti. 1:15) or Peter’s cry, “depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Lk. 5:8). Anyone’s best work still falls short of what God requires. He says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matt. 5:17-18,).

    Someone might read that and think that Jesus is asking his hearers to obey more, to sin less, to become more sanctified. However, that would only be relaxing God’s command of perfection and thereby be guilty of what Jesus is warning against: “Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:19, Jesus is not asking his hearers to put in more effort, to try harder, to sin less, or to be more sanctified – inasmuch as He is setting up the perfect standard of God and thereby demonstrating that they need a greater righteousness than His hearers could ever perform.

    When Jesus says, “For unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20),To argue for ability from this passage seems contrary to Jesus’ antithetical position of relaxing a commandment. Furthermore, by Murray’s understanding of complacency, it would seem as though the non-complacent man that is able to perform the law (to greater degrees) is not lead to cursing oneself, but rather to the encouraging of oneself in order to perform tasks better and more frequently . Murray does not disprove the positional view ofsanctification by claiming that the regenerate man should not be morally-lax.

    “if the law’s condemnation is removed, then what reason is there to obey God? What, then, keeps believers from moral laxity?” However, such an objector fails to realize his question presupposes that the only reason to obey God is fear of the law’s condemnation. But if the only reason to obey God is fear of condemnation, obedience is only done for one’s own sake and thus fails to be “in relation to God, for God’s sake, and with a view to the service of God” (Berkhof, 532), which Berkhof says Biblical sanctification requires.

    The Holy Spirit illumines his mind to see the truth in Christ, reminding him of who Christ is, of what Christ has done for him, reassuring him that he belongs in the family (Rom. 8:15-17), Murray would counter Pelagians and semi-Pelagians in matters of the pre-converted man. Semi-Pelagians believe “God imparts His common grace to all men, which enables them to turn to God and believe” (Berkhof, 247).

    Murray goes unwarranted in thinking that the converted man is given a new faculty/ability to do good works. For Murray, “nothing shows this more clearly than the exhortation of the apostle: ‘Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12, 13) ( 148).

    Murray writes, “in the last analysis we do not sanctify ourselves. It is God who sanctifies (1 Thess. 5:23). Specifically it is the Holy Spirit who is the agent of sanctification” ( 146). , “it is imperative that we realize our complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit” (Murray, 147). He understands that “if we are not keenly sensitive to our own helplessness, then we can make the use of the means of sanctification the minister of self-righteousness and pride and thus defeat the end of sanctification” 147).

    “You’ve got to try, damn it!” To think another is worse for not trying implies that oneself is better for trying. However, this puts credit to the flesh and is thus diagnostic of a functional synergism.

    What relevance does the imperative have in proving the progressiveness ofsanctification, if it’s the Holy Spirit alone who does the work? Murray writes, “what the apostle is urging is the necessity of working out our own salvation, and the encouragement he supplies is the assurance that it is God himself who works in us” ( 149). The means of the imperative would not be used to prove the progressiveness of sanctification, unless Murray was functionally holding a synergistic view of sanctification. The command is irrelevant in respect to the ability of the regenerate

    Murray would respond by saying that “sanctification is the sanctification of persons, and persons are not machines” ( 150).
    But God does sanctify non-sentient entities (e.g., the ark of the covenant, the tabernacle, the temple, etc.).

    “God’s working in us is not suspended because we work, nor our working suspended because God works. Neither is the relation strictly one of co-operation as if God did his part and we did ours so that the conjunction or co-ordination of both produced the required result” ( 149). .

    If conforming into the image of Christ is truly the work of the Holy Spirit alone, then it is difficult to claim a new ability, in the regenerate man. In other words, the regenerate man is not given an improved ability from the Holy Spirit to obey God. This position does not deny that the regenerate man bears fruit. Nor does it deny that the Holy Spirit sometimes enables the believer to overcome sin. However, it not the case that this is an ability found within man. If the Holy Spirit did not grant the grace to perform the good, even the regenerate man can only sin. This is what it ought to mean to “realize our complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit”.

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Hey, we were not talking about antinomian presumption vs neonomian presumption. We were only talking about credobaptists being inconsistent when they pray with children they have not yet watered.

    Lee Irons—“Mark Jones fails to mention this, but the treatise by Flavel wasn’t on justification but was part of a debate over paedobaptism. Philip Cary, the credobaptist, had argued that the new covenant or the gospel covenant is absolute or unconditional—a position that was even held by some paedobaptists, most notably John Owen. Flavel disagrees and argues that the gospel covenant is conditional upon faith. I happen to agree with the paedobaptist (Flavel) against the credobaptist (Cary) in this particular debate.

    Lee Irons—“Flavel’s entire discussion of the various meanings of the word “condition” has to do with paedo- vs. credo-baptist debates over covenant theology, e.g., questions like whether the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision was the same in substance with the new or gospel covenant, and whether the new or gospel covenant is conditional. The precise question of the role of faith (instrumental vs. conditional) in justification is not directly in view (although justification is mentioned several times and Flavel… argues that faith is a condition in the obvious sense that it is necessary for justification).”

    We just wanted to talk about the baptists being legalists. We did not want to get into internal debates between paedobaptists about the nature of the covenants and and the law-gospel antithesis. Mark Jones thinks antinomianism is what we need to worry about, but not many paedobaptists (who are not dutch) think that saying “some of the non-elect begin in the new covenant” leads to “flattening” and a denial of the the antithesis between conditionality on the sinner and conditionality on Christ alone.

    Norman Shepherd—“John 15 is often taught by distinguishing two kinds of branches. Some branches are not really in Christ in a saving way. Some are only in Him externally…The words outward and inward are often used in the Reformed community…to account for the fact that the covenant community includes both elect and non-elect. But when Paul uses the terms Romans 2:28-29 , he is not referring to the elect and non-elect. The terms define the difference between covenantally loyal Jews and disobedient transgressors of the law.”

    Scott Clark –The term covenant of grace can be used broadly and narrowly. When used broadly, it refers to everyone who is baptized into the Christ confessing covenant community. When used narrowly, it refers to those who have received the double benefit of Christ: justification and sanctification. Used in the broader sense, the covenant of grace is not synonymous with election so that all the elect are in the covenant of grace, but not all in the covenant of grace are elect.
    Used in the narrow sense, the covenant of grace refers only to the elect.The internal/external distinction is a corollary of the distinction between the church considered visibly and invisibly.”

  5. markmcculley Says:

    first you water, they say, then you teach—first question–was that water law or gospel?

    Who’s to say whether we can slip a credit card between the moment of effectual calling and the moment of justification?

    mark–We are not the imputers. We can only impute what God has already imputed.

    Romans 6: 11 You too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

    Either God has put the “credit card” (legal solidarity, transfer) before effectual calling, or God has not.

    If effectual calling is given on the basis of the “credit card”, why would God give effectual calling before the “credit card”?

    Did Christ die for some who will not be given the effectual calling?
    Is effectual calling Christ’s gift?
    Is Christ the gift of the Holy Spirit?
    Is effectual calling God’s gift for Christ’s sake?
    Will all for whom Christ died be effectually called?

    Romans 8:32 God did not even spare His own Son
    but handed His Son up for us all.

    How will God not ALSO with HIM grant us EVERYTHING?

    John 3: 16 the Son of Man must be lifted up in order that as many as who believe in Him will have the life of the age to come. For God loved the world in this way. God gave His Only Begotten Son in order that as many as who believe in Him will not perish but have l life. For God did not send His Son into the world in order to condemn

    any folks begin by saying that there is no priority between God’s imputation and God’s regeneration, but they finish by assuming that faith must come before “union” and that ‘faith union” must come before God’s imputation.

    Many folks dismiss the time order of application to individuals, but they spend the rest of their time assuming that Christ’s person must indwell us before God can impute Christ’s righteousness.

    The righteousness of Christ is not the same thing as God’s imputation of that righteousness.

    The imputation of Christ’s righteousness is not justification.

    God’s imputation of Christ’s death is before regeneration.

    Justification is not before regeneration.

  6. markmcculley Says:

    Ursinus– There is, therefore, a double application; one in respect to God, and another in respect to us. The former is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, when God accepts of that righteousness which Christ wrought out, that it might avail in our behalf, and accounts us as righteous in view of it, as much so as if we had never sinned, or had at least fully satisfied for our sins.

    Our application of the righteousness of Christ is from God; for he first imputes it unto us, and then works faith in us, by which we apply unto ourselves that which is imputed.The application of God precedes that which we make, (which is of faith) and is the cause of it, although it is not without ours, as Christ says, “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.” (John 15:16)
    Heidelberg Commentary, pp. 590

    Either Christ’s righteousness is imputed by God before regeneration or it is not.

    Either Christ’s death is Christ’s righteousness, or it is not.

    Either Christ’s righteousness is the legal cause of regeneration, or it is not.

    Either God’s electing love in Christ is the cause of Christ’s death for the elect, or it is not.

    Either thanks for God’s satisfaction of the law is reason enough for our obedience, or we must bring back in threats and fear of condemnation.

    David Garner, Westminster Seminary –If you believe that sanctification grows only from gratitude for your justification, you just might be an antinomian.

    Robert Haldane —The expression, walking not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, in the verse before us, is generally interpreted as referring exclusively to the practice of good or of wicked works. It is supposed that the Apostle in Romans 8:4 is guarding his doctrine of gratuitous justification from abuse, by excluding all claim exemption from condemnation, where there is not purity of conduct… But there are many different paths in the broad way; that is, many ways of walking after the flesh, all of which lead to destruction. Seeking assurance of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit by works, either moral or ceremonial, is incompatible with freedom from condemnation. This way of gaining assurance, is probably that by which the greater number are deceived. There is the fleshly wisdom, under the notion of a zeal for God and of regard for the interests of virtue, sets men on the endeavor of the flesh…in the sense the word flesh is employed in the beginning of the fourth chapter of this Epistle. Flesh, in that place, cannot signify immoral conduct; for that Abraham was justified by wicked works could never be supposed. Flesh must there signify works,
    In the Epistle to the Galatians, the terms flesh and spirit are likewise used in this way ‘Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?’ ‘Having begun your Christian course by receiving the doctrine of justification by the righteousness of Christ, are ye seeking assurance of Christ’s indwelling by works?

  7. markmcculley Says:

    mark–i am glad you are raising the question about what we teach children—beside the problem of assuming that our children are already in grace and thus confusing law and grace, there is your additional problem —having confused law and gospel, we don’t teach our children grace in practical life. Matthew 20: Why have you been standing here all day doing nothing?’ 7 “‘Because no one hired us,’ they said to him. “‘You also go to my vineyard,’ he told them…Some began to complain to the landowner: 12 ‘These last men put in one hour, and you made them equal to us who bore the burden of the day and the burning heat!’ 13 “He replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I’m doing you no wrong. Didn’t you agree with me on the wage? 14 Take what’s yours and go. I want to give this last man the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the sovereign right to justly do whatever I want with what belongs to me Are you jealous because I’m generous?’ 16 “So the last will be first, and the first last.

  8. markmcculley Says:

    So it’s only credobaptist parents who sin, not also credobaptist grandparents? But the baby involved is already in the covenant before water, and therefore still in the covenant without water?

    WCF 28.4-5.
    4. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one, or both, believing parents, are to be baptized.
    5. Although it be a great sin to contedn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it; or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.

    WLC 173 “such as are found to be ignorant or scandalous, notwithstanding their profession of the faith, and desire to come to the Lord’s supper, may and ought to be kept from that sacrament, by the power which Christ hath left in his church, until they receive instruction, and manifest their reformation
    Even if one doesn’t have children and one is a convinced antipedobaptist, one should not be admitted to the Supper in a genuinely Confessional Presbyterian church.

  9. markmcculley Says:

    Is neo-puritanism the mixing in of “anabaptist legalist” discipline as a third mark of the church?
    Sam Logan highlights how it was becoming a custom, largely through the influence of Edwards’s grandfather and predecessor Solomon Stoddard, to minimize the visibility of God’s saving work and thus relax the criteria for admission to the Lord’s Supper. In effect, the visible connection between justification and sanctification was being severed.
    Sam Logan–The Half-way Covenant, championed by Edwards’ influential grandfather minimized the importance of a holy life as necessary evidence of conversion by allowing unregenerate persons to partake of the Lord’s Supper. When Edwards took over for his grandfather in 1729, he began moving back to a more Puritan practice of stressing the need for visible sanctification

  10. markmcculley Says:

    The Westminster Confession (28:6) ‘the efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered’

    1. Since this is so, why not administer water to people after they believe the gospel?

    2. If the efficacy of God using water is not God giving faith in the gospel, why would water be needed before a person believes the gospel?

    3. if the elect are united with Christ before and without being imputed with Christ’s righteousness, is union with Christ not something obtained by Christ’s righteousness?

    4. if the elect are given the Holy Spirit before and without being imputed with Christ’s death, is the Holy Spirit not given by Christ and is regeneration not purchased by Christ’s death?

    Salter , ‘Without faith, of course, the subject of baptism is simply getting wet, nothing more’.

    Gibson—Note what is happening here: the definition of baptism is dependent on the position of its subjects. Without faith, baptism is not baptism. It is just getting wet. In this construction, one form of spirit-matter dualism is overcome by another. For the union of sign and thing signified has become so separate that without the thing signified the sign has actually ceased to exist.

    Calvin–“Augustine says: ‘And hence, he who remains not in Christ, and in whom Christ remains not, without doubt neither spiritually eats his flesh, nor drinks his blood, though with h is teeth he may carnally and visibly press the symbol of his body and blood.’

    Sheaer– We are told that the visible sign is opposed to spiritual eating. This refutes the error that the invisible body of Christ is sacramentally eaten in reality, although not spiritually. We are told, that nothing is given to the impure and profane beyond the visible taking of the sign

  11. markmcculley Says:

    Romans 4: 13 For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants THAT ABRAHAM WOULD INHERIT THE WORLD twas not through the law, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 If those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made empty and the promise is canceled…. the promise is by faith, in order that the promise be according to grace, to guarantee the promise (to all those promised) —not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of Abraham’s faith.

    Isaiah said
    He has blinded their eyes
    and hardened their hearts,
    so that they would not see with their eyes
    or understand with their hearts,
    and be converted,
    and I would heal them.

    John 12: 41 Isaiah said these things because Isaiah saw His glory

  12. markmcculley Says:

    Tianqi Wu–The Bible does not speak of a temporary divine love or non-forgiving divine grace. God does not love the non-elect and has no grace for the non-elect, but the non-elect should also be thankful for God’s creating and sustaining them. This may be counter-intuitive but it is not contradictory. Grace is not the only reason for thankfulness.

    Tiamqi Wu grace forgives even those who failed to be thankful for good, non-grace things. Grace even forgave those who failed to be thankful for grace.

    Tianqi Wu–God gives good things to men, including the non-elect.
    Romans 1:21 Because knowing God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were THANKFUL. But they became vain in their reasonings, and their undiscerning heart was darkened.
    Here Paul accuses sinners of not being thankful to God, in the context of general revelation. Clearly, the reason for this expected thankfulness (which Paul didn’t seem to explicitly state here) has nothing do with salvation (which is only revealed in the gospel) but with something revealed in nature.

    God has done something good for all humans All humens know this by nature, for which they are expected to be thankful.

    Acts 13:15 and saying, Men, why do you do these things? We also are men of like feelings to you, announcing the gospel to you to turn you from these vanities to the living God, who “made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all things in them,” 16 who in the generations which have passed allowed all the nations to go in their own ways, 17 though indeed He did not leave Himself without witness, doing good, giving rain and fruitful seasons to us from heaven, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

    Acts 17:24 The God who made the world and all things in it, this One being Lord of Heaven and of earth, does not dwell in handmade temples, 25 nor is served by hands of men, as having need of anything. For He is giving life and breath and all things to all. 26 And He made every nation of men of one blood, to live on all the face of the earth, ordaining fore-appointed seasons and boundaries of their dwelling, 27 to seek the Lord, if perhaps they might feel after Him and might find Him, though indeed He not being far from each one of us. 28 For in Him we live and move and exist, as also some of the poets among you have said, For we are also His offspring.

    It is exactly the sort of things that some have called ““providence”. It’s the earthly life that all men share in. If we connect the dots between the Acts passages and Romans 1, the conclusion is that all men ought to be thankful for the earthly life that God gave them.

    However, the conclusion might no longer be obvious once we think upon the doctrine of predestination, e.g. Romans 9. Here we learn that God (unconditionally) separated men into two groups unto two diametrically opposite destinations – God loves the first group, willing their salvation, and hates the second group, willing their destruction.

    if God predestined the non-elect for destruction, it still makes sense to say the non-elect should glorify God, but how does it make sense to say the non-elect should be THANKFUL?

  13. markmcculley Says:

    And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant” (Genesis 17:14).

    Richard Bacon– Notice that in this verse, God says that the uncircumcised infant son has himself broken God’s covenant. In fact, the early church father Tertullian opposed infant baptism on precisely the grounds that he believed that the token of the covenant placed the children of believers under too great a burden in the keeping of the covenant.6Tertullian was correct at least insofar as he recognized that circumcision was not merely a national badge, but sealed a child in the covenant and therefore gave him certain covenantal responsibilities. More recently, Geerhardus Vos7made the same point in maintaining that circumcision symbolized the ethical more than the national character of Old Testament religion.

    Click to access revealed-babes.pdf

    R. A. Webb maintains, though infants are not necessarily rational, yet they are salvable sinners “(a) because they are electable by the Father, (b) because they are atoneable by Christ, and (c) because they are vocable by the Spirit” and so should be given all the rights and outward privileges of their callings.

    Covenant children are not only members of the visible church, but by virtue of that membership are to be present in church services on a regular basis. N

    potential conditional curse bestowed on your chilldren

  14. markmcculley Says:

    westminster Confession, Chapter 3: VI.Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

    Dear Michael Horton, You seem to be under the impression that you can teach “the indicative declaration of what Christ has accomplished” (Modern Reformation, September, 1999,p4) without addressing the
    question of the extent of the atonement. But the nature of Christ’s
    righteousness cannot be clearly taught without saying that only the
    sins of the elect were imputed to Christ.

    If Christ bore the sins of every individual, but not each of them is
    saved, then Christ’s blood cannot be taught as that which actually
    satisfies the demands of God’s law in a “complete atonement” (p30). If
    the blood does not “set apart” the elect from the non-elect , then
    something unholy sinners do or decide is that which sets apart.

    In the ambiguity resulting from your failure to SAY OUT LOUD WHAT God and the Westminster Confession teach about the extent and nature of Christ;s propitiatory death (Ephesians 5:2, 25-26) will continue to be seen by many “l evangelicals” as something God has offered to individual sinners, for them to accept or reject. In other words, the universal duty to believe the gospel will from your silence about election in the atonement become a law which conditions salvation not on God’s election and Christ’s death for the elect but on the sinner.

    But the Westminster Confession to which you subscribe rightly
    describes the cross as an offering made to God. God has not introduced a new less strict law by which we may be saved. God has offered to God a righteousness that entitles each elect person to all the blessings of salvation, including the effectual call and faith in the true gospel.

    I would not say that definite atonement is ‘the little point which the
    world and the devil are attacking” (p39). There is no need for Satan
    to attack a doctrine which is not even being taught by “Reformed”
    celebrities like yourself. You spend more time defending Calvin on the sacrament than you do attacking the hypothetical (useless) universal on condition) atonement heresy.

    Why is this so? I think first of the “myth of the influence”. Perhaps
    you think that if you avoid the offense of the cross: (Gal 6:14–it
    saves, and it alone, and therefore all for whom Jesus died will be
    saved), you will be able to persuade those who condition salvation on themselves to talk more correctly about God or about election or union with Christ.

    But election and/or union which enables sinners to meet conditions to
    get in on the “alien righteousness” is NOT a biblical picture of
    election/union and certainly is not the gospel. It is the outside
    righteousness of the cross itself which is the condition which makes
    certain the salvation of the elect. But surely Mike Horton is not
    deceived by the idea that compromise will help you to influence
    others. Better to be confessing Christ’s effectual atonement even if
    it leaves one outside the church catholic!

    So I cannot think that it is only your alliance with Lutherans and
    evangelicals that keeps you silent about Jesus dying for the sheep and
    not the goats. Why then do you “take away with one hand what you give
    with the other”? Why do you preach about the “indicative done” in the
    context of “you” and never in terms of the Westminster Confession:
    “for all those whom the Father has given the Son” ?

    Perhaps, I think, the problem is your sociology: perhaps you think of
    the church as only the regenerate or those who profess to be
    regenerate. Therefore sermons like “Christ Alone” by David McWilliams were addressed only to the elect. But no, that cannot be, you are no sectarian: you know that the covenant community includes the reprobate for whom Jesus did not die.

    But then again, when you accept as Christians those who confess a
    water baptism “where infants find salvation in Christ”, then perhaps
    you really do see every baptized member of the covenant community as
    one for whom Christ died. Surely these infants would not find
    salvation in the water unless they had first been purchased by Christ.

    But finally I do not think the problem is any ecclesial presupposition
    about the ‘you” being regenerate.. Those who disagree about water can still confess together that only the elect are baptized by the Father into the death of Christ. Only those for whom Jesus died have a righteousness which answers the demands of God’s law.

    Being “pastoral” (p 6) gives no preacher the right to assure all his
    hearers that Christ will not be a judge to them. Acts 17:31 should
    warn us against talking about sovereign grace without attending to the righteousness of God. Only the blood of Jesus Christ (not the preacher of the word or the church or the sacrament) has (or has not) silenced the accusations of God’s law.

    The confession of Gal 2:20 (Christ gave himself for me) cannot be
    libeled as that of a rebel seeking to be autonomous and solitary. We
    are not saved collectively: Individually we are effectually called
    into the body of Christ when we obey the gospel. Obeying the gospel is not the condition of salvation, but a blessing made certain for the
    elect by the righteousness of Christ.

    It is not sure that “you” will be saved. Salvation is promised to all
    who believe the gospel of salvation conditioned on the blood alone.
    Salvation is not promised to those who have faith in their faith or
    their church or its water and word. If the word of the church is
    universal atonement, that word is a false gospel which encourages
    people in their darkness.

    Mike, your proper antithesis (not by works in us) will do no good if
    you “flinch at this one point”. If you do not confess particular
    atonement, then the people who hear cannot look outside themselves for
    the righteousness which pleases God. If Jesus Christ died for
    everybody but only “enabled God” to save those who meet further
    conditions, then people will certainly look to themselves for the
    difference between lost and saved.

    The only way you can tell people that the gospel is “outside of you”
    is to tell them that the gospel they must believe to be saved excludes
    this believing as the condition of salvation. The only condition of
    salvation for the elect is Christ’s death for the elect. No debated
    language about “covenant” should be allowed to obscure this gospel
    truth. Unless you preach that Christ died only for the elect, you
    encourage people to make faith into that little something” that makes
    the difference between life and death!

    I am not looking for another discussion about Calvin and Luther on the extent of the atonement. I am not even looking for something
    “classical” enough that you can influence people to sign. I am asking
    you if you believe that the glory of God in the gospel means that all
    for whom Christ died will certainly be saved. Or is that too
    “rationalistic” for you? Would that perhaps take the grace of God out
    of the hands of those who give the sacrament and reserve it for the
    Father who has reserved a people for himself and given them to Christ? (Romans 11:4-6)

    The glory of God does not depend on human decisions, and the gospel must not become a victim of “evangelical” law which in the name of universal atonement conditions salvation on the sinner.

    Maybe a token in the direction of a proper repentance would be for you to stop quoting a pagan like C S Lewis. Talk about taking away with
    one hand what one gives away with the other! You quote Lewis: “The
    Pantheist’s God does nothing, demands nothing. He is there if you wish for him, like a book on a shelf. He will not pursue you.” If you
    really want a reformation, you would quote Lewis on how he conceives of this pursuit continuing into purgatory.

    In the Screwtape Letters, Lewis confessed that ‘the Irresistible and
    the Indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of God’s
    scheme forbids Him to use. Merely to override a human will…would be
    for Him useless. He cannot ravish, He can only woo…”

    Mike, do you and C. S. Lewis have different gods or only different
    doctrines? Lewis not only made an idol of human ability but curtailed
    the demand of the law and the gospel. God will not save those whom God does not teach to trust only in the Righteousness established for the elect at the cross. Romans 10:3 “Those who are ignorant of God’s
    righteousness seek to establish their own righteousness, and do not
    submit to the righteousness of God.”

  15. Mark Mcculley Says:

    Mark Jones—Taking as axiomatic that God loves his elect from eternity, we may say that God loves his elect with a love of purpose, but not with a love of acceptance (Charnock).
    Or we may use the old distinction between God’s love of benevolence ( and his love of complacency. Benevolence is the root of love; complacency is the flower of love.
    Thus God wills well towards his elect before faith but is only well
    pleased with them after faith. Or he loves the elect before faith to
    make them his friends, but after faith they are his friends.

  16. Mark Mcculley Says:

    It was not the spiritual or covenantal status of the mother and/or father of an infant Israelite boy, in itself, that established their right to circumcision, but rather their identification as the “offspring” of Abraham.

    To get from “you and your seed after you for the generations to come” to “those who believe and their children” is not the continuation of an established practice.

    Joshua 5:8 records that the entire nation was circumcised because—as specified by Genesis 17—circumcision was for the entire nation, not just for believers and their children within the nation.

    Nehemiah Coxe– The right of the remotest generation was as much derived from Abraham and the covenant made with him, as was that of his immediate seed, and did not at all depend on the faithfulness of their immediate parents. Thus, the seed of those Israelites that fell in the wilderness under the displeasure of God were made to inherit the land of Canaan by virtue of this covenant with Abraham

    The conditions of excommunication introduced by the Mosaic law
    hundreds of years after the institution of circumcision did not
    redefine the Abrahamic covenant as “those who believe and their
    children,” as would be necessary to establish continuity with
    contemporary paedobaptist practice.

    The “promise” in Acts 2:39 is not covenant membership per se, but the Holy Spirit who has just been poured out, as identified in the immediately preceding clause: “you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” The recipients of this promise are not just “you and your children,” but also “all who are far off” (v. 39). Both these classes of people are in the same position. It is not clear how we might regard children as recipients of the promised Holy Spirit in a different sense than those far off are recipients of this promise.

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