Are the “Two Ways of Being in the Covenant” Hirelings really “For You”?

Philip Cary—Luther points here to the words “for you,” and insists that they include me. When faith takes hold of the Gospel of Christ, it especially takes hold of these words, “for you,” and rejoices that Christ did indeed died for me In this way the Gospel and its sacraments effectively give us the gift of faith. I do not have to ask whether I truly believe; I need merely ask whether it is true, just as the Word says, that Christ’s body is given for me. And if the answer is yes, then my faith is strengthened—without “making a decision of faith,” without the necessity of a conversion experience, and without obeying a command to believe.

Philip Cary– For what the sacramental word tells me is not: “You must believe” (a command we must choose to obey) but “Christ died for you” (good news that causes us to believe). It is sufficient to know that Christ’s body is given for me. If I cling to that in faith, all will go well with me. And whenever the devil suggests otherwise, I keep returning to that sacramental Word, and to the “for us” in the creed, where the “us” includes me.

Lutherans are not the only ones who don’t talk about election. Most Reformed clergymen only talk about some “for you covenant” and never tell the truth that all for whom Christ will receive all the blessings of salvation. They sign their Westminster Confession but they do not preach it.

WCF– To all those for whom Christ has purchased redemption, He does certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same;making intercession for them, and revealing unto them, in and by the word, the mysteries of salvation;effectually persuading them by His Spirit to believe and obey, and governing their hearts by His word and Spirit;overcoming all their enemies by His almighty power and wisdom, in such manner, and ways, as are most consonant to His wonderful and unsearchable dispensation

Doug Wilson: “To see election through a covenant lens does not mean to define decretal election as though it were identical with covenantal election.

Scott Clark— The Federal Vision theology posits two parallel systems: the system of the decree, which they render MERELY THEORETICAL and the system of baptismal union with Christ, which is their operative theology….Some people just don’t understand the Reformed distinction between the divine decree and the external administration of the covenant of grace.

Why do Reformed clergymen “pose” as if everybody listening to their sermon and receiving God’s “sacrament” by means of their “keys” is an exile from the world and a Christian? These pseudo-Reformed are so brave that they refuse “to speak to the church as if were the world” , but they don’t mind using water to baptise the infant world into God’s church. For this the clergymen “have cover”—they are not really doing it, God is doing it. The church is not really doing it. The Church is not deciding who the church is (the church is God’s incarnate body doing it– and the presbytery–in theory–decides who the presbytery is)

But why not use the “for you” to explain and justify splashing water on the heads of infants without professing Christian parents? Why not use the “for you” to open up the possibility of water as the means of salvation to pagans who are not children? Why not go back into Reformed history to say that the Lord’s supper has efficacy as the means of converting those halfway in or out of the “for you”? You don’t have to go back to a “Christian state” to get back to a “Reformed parish” in which everybody gets the “sacrament.”

The Pseudo-Reformed hirelings say, let’s keep the right balance and just preach the texts without talking about election so that we can make EVERYBODY feel guilty for killing Jesus and then after the law has been read, we say “for you and your children”. The Reformed false gospel (not straight universalism but “two ways of being in the covenant”) depends on individuals already “in the covenant of grace” then agreeing with Jesus that Jesus died for them. They think that God’s “for you” even appeals to the part of us which refuses explanations we don’t like.

“Two ways of being in the covenant” thinks of election and definite redemption as two different truths, because it teaches “covenant love for you” and propitiation for the elect as two different truths. Not so the Scripture! John 10 does not say that the good Shepherd loves the goats so that they can become sheep . John 10:12 says that “he who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.

The preacher who teaches two ways of being in the covenant flees from God’s expiation/propiation and God’s election because they are hired hands and care nothing for the sheep.” How do we know the Shepherd loves the sheep? “I lay down my life for the sheep.” Does this mean that the Shepherd dies “for you” as a representative of the goats in the covenant along with the sheep? No. The Shepherd is not only the leader, not only the first to die. The Shepherd dies as a substitute for the sheep and only for the sheep. Because the Shepherd dies, the sheep do not die. John 10 does not separate Christ’s love and Christ’s death. Christ loves those for whom Christ died. Christ died for those He loves.

Christ died “for everybody in the covenant”. No, Christ did not, not if you are not talking about the new covenant but only about some covenant that you can first be in and then be out. John 10 does not say, “If you believe.” John 10:26, “But you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep hear my voice.”

It’s not, if you believe, then those in the covenant in one way will be in the covenant both ways. . Ok, Ok, the “two ways of being int the covenant” explain, we also believe in election. We too know that John 10:29 tells how “My Father has given them to me”. We just don’t happen to talk about that when we are talking about being in “the covenant of grace”, which is something different from Christ’s loving the elect and dying for the elect.. When we talk about Christ’s love, we stay with “for you” and don’t get into the business of them not being able to trust the gospel if they are not elect. Christ knew who was not elect, but we don’t

I agree that we don’t know who is not elect. Just because a person does not now believe the true gospel does not mean that person never will believe. But if they don’t profess to believe the gospel, we can know that they are not yet in the covenant “in some preliminary provisional way”.

Any person who will one day believe the true gospel is already a sheep. Christ already loves them, and Christ already died for them. We can and should say that without leaving the door open for those who teach that Christ died for everybody in the covenant in which there are two ways to be in….

If we do not say that Christ died for the elect and not for the non-elect, those who climb in by being born will be telling people that salvation blessings all depends on “if you trust In Him”. Instead of saying that Christ died only for the elect, they will change that to say that “Christ died only for those who believe”. And if you think those two statements are identical, explain to me why you always say “for those who believe” instead of “for the elect for whom Christ died”. The two statements are not the same, and you need to be honest enough to explain why you prefer to talk about the different statement (those who believe) instead of “all those for whom Christ died”

Westminster Confession of Faith —To all those for whom Christ has purchased redemption, He does certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same
If we don’t talk about Christ’s death and election at the same time, we ourselves will be heard preaching a love that depends on God enabling the sinner to make that Christ’s death work. But the truth is that WE DON’T MAKE CHRIST’S LOVE WORK.

My main point is not the motives of the “two ways of being in the covenant” clergyman. Surely some of them are hirelings who know they won’t be kept long enough to get their pension if they talk about Christ not dying for the non-elect. Most of them “sincerely” share with the Lutherans the same false gospel that teaches Christ’s death as having an universal “intent” conditioned on a sinner’s continuing in faith.

My main point is that Christ’s love always means that Christ has satisfied God’s justice for those God loves! Christ’s love meant Christ’s death for those God loved, and that love is decisive. That love is not one factor among many. Christ’s love is about a death which propitiated the wrath of God against elect sinners for their sins. God’s love is not ever over against God’s wrath. God’s love gave Christ some elect individuals, and not for one moment did that love ever mean some other “possibility” for these elect individuals. There are not two ways of being in the new covenant of which Christ is the mediator.

John 3:16 says “He gave His only Son, that as many as believe in Him would not perish but have lasting life.” God did not give His Son, so that everybody “could” believe in Him. God gave His Son, so that THE INDIVIDUALS WHO DO BELIEVE in Him will NOT PERISH. God did not give His Son for them because they would believe in Him. Nor is the only thing going on in the giving of the Son the purchasing of faith for the elect, even though that is one of the great blessings of the Son’s death. . I Peter 1:21, “who through Him are believers” and II Peter 1:1, “to those who have been given a faith as precious as ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” The death of Christ does not make appeasement of God’s wrath possible if other factors fall into place. The death of Christ is the punishment required by God’s law for the sins of those God has given Christ. Do you reject God’s explanation? God requires the death. Never ever has God loved one individual sinner without God also requiring the death of Christ for that sinner.

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8 Comments on “Are the “Two Ways of Being in the Covenant” Hirelings really “For You”?”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    big laugh, David told Bathsheba that he David also was going to die . Would that comfort Bathsheba,? That can’t be true

    Dordt FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE 17. Since we are to judge of the will of God from His Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature, but in virtue of the covenant of grace, in which they together with the parents are comprehended, godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom it pleases God to call out of this life in their infancy (Gen 17:7; Acts 2:39; 1 Cor 7:14).

    I Cor 7:14 is obvious in teaching that even though the covenant is not governed by election, any kind of holiness including covenantal holiness, will save children who have been baptised and who were born to godly believing parents—How godly are the parents now, and how certain is it that these parents will continue to have true faith and be godly, or does it matter?

    We would never say that the infants who died were elect but then they didn’t die, that they they rejected the covenant and became non-elect. Because the covenant is not governed by election. The covenantal status comforts us with certainty that if our children die, their death will be evidence not only of the covenantal status of the dead infant but also of their election. .

    Even though no depraved sinner is better than another, not all things re equal. God promises the gift of faith to the children God has given faith. Water baptism is God’s effectual gift.

    Was Judas was in the new covenant? If “covenant grace” did not keep Judas in the covenant, what did “common grace” do for Judas ? (sarcasm alert)

  2. markmcculley Says:

    John Murray, The Covenant of Grace— “How then are we to construe the conditions of which we have spoken? The continued enjoyment of this grace and of the relation established is contingent upon the fulfillment of certain conditions. For apart from the fulfillment of these conditions the grace bestowed and the relation established are meaningless. Grace bestowed implies a subject and reception on the part of that subject. The relation established implies mutuality.”

    Murray—“But 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….Viewed in this light that the breaking of the covenant takes on an entirely different complexion. It is not the failure to meet the terms of a pact nor failure to respond to the offer of favorable terms of contractual agreement. It 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.”

    Murray–“It should be noted also that the necessity of keeping the covenant is bound up with the particularism of this covenant. The covenant does not yield its blessing to all indiscriminately. The discrimination which this covenant exemplifies accentuates the sovereignty of God in the bestowal of its grace and the fulfillment of its promises. This particularization is correlative with the spirituality of the grace bestowed and the relation constituted and it is also consonant with the exactitude of its demands.”

    Murray—“A covenant which yields its blessing indiscriminately is not one that can be kept or broken. We see again, therefore, that the intensification which particularism illustrates serves to accentuate the keeping which is indispensable to the fruition of the covenant grace.”

    Peter Lillback—-“One last matter of importance for Calvin’s understanding of the relationship of the Old and New Covenants must be examined in relation to the letter–spirit distinction. If these two are really one and the same covenant that are different only in externals, then does the mass defection of Israel also imply that there can be a mass defection of the New Covenant era saints? …If this is denied, then does not the letter–spirit distinction actually prove that they are two different covenants having a different substance?”

    Peter Lillback–“Does the New Covenant allow for such covenant-breaking as the Old Covenant experienced in light of the former’s being only of the letter and the latter’s being of the Spirit? How can Calvin’s claim that the only difference between the two is with respect to the extent and power of the Spirit’s work explain this dilemma? ” Christianity and Civilization #1 – Failure of the American Baptist Culture. Edited by James B. Jordan and Gary North, “Calvin’s Covenantal Response to the Anabaptist View of Baptism.”

  3. markmcculley Says:

    but they don’t say “they became non-elect”, they say “they rejected the covenant”, but the other way around they say” they were saved because they were elect”—It’s infralapsarianism to the next level, a rejection of the sovereignty of God in favor of what humans say is “fair and just”. And yet I find this to be at the heart of what many “Reformed” people believe—no gospel needed, no faith needed, “my children were watered and in the covenant and they never rejected the covenant”

    his is the beauty of saying “only one gospel therefore only one covenant of grace with different administrations”—that way you can say that the Abrahamic covenant and the new covenant are the same, and therefore agree to “covenant-breaking”

    if their infants die while infants, they are elect, However, if their infants don’t die while infants, they may “lose their covenantal status”. 1. How can this not be a “gospel issue”? 2. How come most paedobaptists still want to say that baptists and federal visionists are the same in connecting salvation with water? Federal visionists are consistent paedobaptists who don’t do the “covenantal status” vs elect two step…

    Jonathan Rainbow—-Augustine the anti-Donatist spoke of salvation as a work of God mediated through the institution of the church and its sacraments. Hincmar squeezed Gottschalk between the objectivity of salvation and the objectivity of sacramental baptism, and Gottschalk squirmed. The predestinarianism of Wycliff and Hus was rightly perceived by the church as a dire threat to its institutionality. The Roman Catholic claim to have Augustine on their side stung the Reformers, but Rome was correct—the Reformers had taken Augustine’s particularism and placed it under the control of forensic justification and assurance. The Will of God and The Cross: A Study of John Calvin’s Doctrine of Limited Redemption, p 184

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Brandon Adams: If Reformed folks were willing to abandon their commitment to the one substance multiple administrations view, all 3 of their problems would be resolved and they would retain the biblical teaching of the unconditional new covenant

    First, it removes the problem of covenant breaking. Scripture never says the New Covenant is or can be broken (though both the Abrahamic and Mosaic can).

    Second, it solves the irreconcilable difficulty of Ishmael. The covenant of circumcision is not the covenant of grace. Being circumcised was not a sign or seal or promise that the individual is sanctified in Christ. Ishmael was circumcised because he was the offspring of Abraham, not because he might be elect and therefore the promise of salvation might apply to him. The Abrahamic Covenant is not the New Covenant and circumcision is not baptism.

    But what are we to make of Romans 9 if the organic principle of an elect kernel and reprobate shell is rejected? Well, there are two Israels. One of the flesh, the other of the promise. Both are considered the people of God, but are so constituted on a different covenantal basis. Israel according to the flesh is constituted a people on the basis of the Mosaic Covenant – typical of the true Israel of God, constituted on the basis of the New Covenant. And both of these covenants and people flow out of the Abrahamic Covenant, as Galatians 4:21-31 says. Hoeksema was right. There is a two-fold seed. But he was wrong that the children of the flesh were outside of any covenant with God.

    Romans 9 would then be Paul applying a typological interpretation of the Old Testament, rather than just correcting a misreading of the Old Testament. When God says he will establish His covenant with Isaac instead of Ishmael, He is not commenting one way or the other on Ishmael’s salvation. He is simply saying that the Messiah will be born through the line of Isaac, not Ishmael.

    Hoeksema attempted to soften the blow by saying that covenant breaking is really the same as law breaking (since the opposite is covenant keeping – ie law keeping), and does not mean the covenant bond was severed. Only once is the expression “covenant breakers” found in the New Testament, in Romans 1:31. But there the expression has nothing to do with the covenant of grace between God and His people, but rather with man-to-man relationships.
    But because of his commitment to the one covenant of grace under multiple administrations view, Hoeksema was unable to draw the obvious conclusion: the old covenant was breakable (and broken) while the new is not

  5. markmcculley Says:

    the question was asked:

    We know that there are at least two categories of people within Scripture, the elect, and the non-elect. However, it might be apparent that there is a third class of people, those who have taken the physical sign of the covenant but are not elect.

    We know that not all of the Jews were literally God’s people, but there were those who took the sign of the covenant although they weren’t elect. Also, we know that not all Christians are saved, even though they profess faith in Christ and have taken on the sign of the new covenant, that of Baptism. Could we then say there is a third category of human beings, those who have placed themselves as covenanted with God, but whom God has not Himself covenanted with?

    Scott Clark–To which I reply:

    There’s no need to think of three classes of people but it is helpful and biblical to think of different ways of relating to the one covenant of grace. Some are in the visible covenant community and believe (from which we know that they are elect).

    Some are in covenant of grace outwardly but do not believe (and let us suppose that they will never believe). These are hypocrites and reprobate but they do participate in the administration o the covenant of grace. They are not united to Christ (contra the FV) but they, like Esau Ishmael, have received the signs and seals of the covenant of grace. They do “taste of the powers of the age to come” but since those signs/seals are not mixed with faith (because they are not elect; Rom 9) the signs/seals ultimate testify to their destruction (though we cannot necessarily know that at the time).

    Then there is a class of folk who have no relation to the covenant of grace at all. They are outside its administration and its substance altogether. These, like those who are involved in the administration but who have not yet believed, are the proper objects of evangelism — though we are all the proper objects of evangelism in some sense. As White Horse Inn guys always remind us, the gospel is for Christians too.

    So, better than speaking of three classes, why not speak of three ways of relating to the one covenant of grace? By recognizing that non-elect folk are actually, really, involved in the administration of the covenant of grace we avoid the Baptist error of excluding all but the elect from the covenant of grace altogether and we avoid the FV error of conflating the administration of the covenant with its substance, i.e. of confusing administration and decree (thus setting up their temporary, conditional union, election, justification, adoption etc.

    Baptists tend to identify the New Covenant/Testament entirely with the elect. They tend not to distinguish between the two (or three) ways of relating to the one covenant of grace. Like the FV (though unintentionally) they tend to conflate the decree of election with its administration.

    This is how they distinguish between Abraham and Moses (whom they lump together, even though Paul distinguishes them) on the one hand and the New Testament on the other. They assign the time for administering the covenant of grace to children to Abraham/Moses and they make NT so spiritual that, as a result, it can be only for the elect. Thus, they restrict baptism to believers so as to keep from administering baptism to any Esaus or Ishmaels whereas Presbyterians see a greater continuity between Abraham and Christ. Just as there was, under Abraham both an administration of the covenant of grace AND a substance (Rom 2:28) so under Christ there remains both administration AND substance.

    No one ordinarily participates in the substance without participating in the administration but participation in the administration doesn’t guarantee participation in the substance. Only election determines whether one who participates in the administration (via baptism) also participates in the substance of the covenant of grace.

  6. markmcculley Says:

    the best thing on the new covenant is the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7
    John Owen, comments on Hebrews 8:6-13—No man was ever saved but by virtue of the NEW COVENANT, and the mediation of Christ in that respect. The Sinai covenant thus made, with these ends and promises, did never save nor condemn any man eternally. The old covenants were confined unto things temporal. Believers in the gospel were saved under the old covenants but not by virtue of the old covenants

    Even though I disagree with him about the Holy Spirit being the one who baptises, Gary Long does believe and teach election and definite atonement.

    Gary Long, p 52—“Jeffrey Johnson’s Fatal Flaw is still somewhat hampered by differentiating between “the covenant of grace” and the new covenant, as do the Reformed Paedobaptists, when he asserts that ‘in the new covenant dispensation, the covenant of grace was manifested in its fullness’. Such teaching can be easily misunderstood to be in harmony with the twofold administration of one overarching covenant of redemption (something not in history)

  7. markmcculley Says:

    Vos–. According to Davenant, all children baptized into the covenant are not only adopted and justified but also regenerated and sanctified. But Davenant distinguishes this justification, adoption, and regeneration from the benefits of salvation, incapable of being lost, that adults share in at their regeneration. For the children, he says, those gifts are sufficient to place them in a state of salvation. If they die in childhood, then on that basis they go to heaven. But for adults it is not sufficient. When a baptized child grows up, it may not be regarded as a living member of the church on the basis of the grace of baptism alone. Not that it has lost its initial grace, but it has lost its status as a child, and thereby its condition is changed. If no true conversion follows, then a baptized person who dies as an adult is lost.

    Vos—Baptism does not exist to effect regeneration, justification, and sanctification. In Davenant baptism becomes, in a Lutheran sense, the means ordained by God for begetting new life. Further, that there would be a partial forgiveness of sins and a partial justification is irreconcilable with Reformed principles. It will not do to say that original sin is taken away but the guilt of actual sin remains. Also, it cannot be that the merits of Christ would be applied to someone for regeneration, justification, and sanctification without the one to whom they are applied being included in election. There is no application (though certainly an offer) of the merits of the Mediator except for those who have been given to Him by the Father. Finally, with the subsequent loss of these gifts of grace one comes into the greatest difficulties. Christ has suffered for that forgiven guilt, for on that basis it is forgiven. But now that forgiveness is lost again, and the person in view is punished for it personally. There is then a double retribution, first borne by Christ and then by the person himself.

    Vos: As far as regeneration, justification, and sanctification are concerned, a child can do with nothing less than an adult. The true spiritual life that is given in regeneration is sufficient for an adult to live for God. It cannot be made insufficient by the development of natural life. One would then have to assume that regeneration was really lost again, and that would be equivalent to teaching an apostasy of the saints. Davenant’s view is not tenable for one who is Reformed.

    Geerhardus Vos, Reformed Dogmatics

  8. markmcculley Says:

    Scott Clark eats cake and still wants to have it—–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.
    There is a just and necessary distinction to be made between those who are in the covenant broadly (externally) and those who are in the covenant both broadly and narrowly (internally).
    The internal/external distinction is a corollary of the distinction between the church considered visibly and invisibly.

    But credos can and do make a distinction between a visible and an invisible church WITHOUT SAYING THAT SOME OF THE NON-ELECT ARE SOMEWAY IN THE NEW COVENANT

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