Archive for the ‘covenants’ category

Why is Un-Circumcision Nothing?

March 7, 2020

Galatians 6: 11 Look at what large letters I use as I write to you in my own handwriting.

14 AS FOR ME, I WILL NEVER GLORY ABOUT ANYTHING EXCEPT THE CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. The world has been crucified to me through THE CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.,and I have been crucified to the world through THE CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. 15 BECAUSE BOTH circumcision AND UNCIRCUMCISION mean nothing. What matters INSTEAD is a new CREATION. 16 Let peace come to all those who follow this rule…..

This is the last part of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. It’s the part that Paul himself wrote down, and not his secretary who had written the rest from Paul’s dictation. It’s the conclusion, the important application.

In this essay I only have two questions, and this time I think I have answers for the two questions.

1. How and Why can Paul say that “uncircumcision” is nothing? I can understand why he would say that “circumcision is nothing”. His entire point has been that the circumcision of the Sinai covenant (and I add, also of the Abrahamic covenant) is nothing by which a sinner can be justified.

a. Circumcision is one part of many parts, and you can’t take one part of a covenant but not take the other parts. Because all the parts of a covenant  (all the commands and all the sanctions) go together. So, if you want to be justified by adding one part, then you will need to add the other parts.

Galatians 5:3 Every man who gets himself circumcised is obligated to keep the entire law.

“The entire law” is not some generic summary of all the laws and all the covenants in the Bible. “The entire law” is all the commands of the Sinai law.

b. NOBODY can be justified by obeying the Sinai law. This is not because sinners are attempting to obey the Sinai law. This is not because sinners are misunderstanding what the Sinai law commands. The Sinai law does require circumcision. The Sinai law does require holy war and holy separation from Gentiles. BUT NOBODY WAS JUSTIFIED BY OBEYING THE SINAI LAW . NOBODY EVER COULD BE JUSTIFIED BY OBEYING THE SINAI LAW.

In theory, every Jew (and every Gentile in the Galatian congregation) knows this. They all know that nobody is justified by obeying the Sinai law.

Galatians 5: 6 For in Christ Jesus NEITHER circumcision NOR UNCIRCUMCISION accomplishes anything

c. So I  think I understand saying “circumcision is nothing”. The Sinai covenant is nothing. It won’t justify. It never justified. And that “nothing” becomes a big big something if you think that nothing could in anyway increase or decrease your justification.

Galatians 5: 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law are alienated from Christ. You have fallen from grace.

Now that faith has come, now that Christ has come, now that the new covenant has come, the Sinai covenant is still nothing, which means that circumcision is nothing.  But even during the temporary time of the Sinai covenant, the circumcised could stay in that covenant and still not be justified before God.

 Paul seems to be saying something more–no longer can you stay in the Sinai covenant, no longer can your circumcision have any historical-covenantal significance. Because Christ is both the fufillment and the end of the Sinai covenant, which means that “nothing circumcision” becomes a very big something when Judiasers tell Gentile converts that circumcision is something.

Paul has an intense and important argument with the troublers who have come to the Galatians congregation. NOW THAT YOU SAY THAT CIRCUMCISION IS A SOMETHING, I am going to agree that circumcision is a something, but not in the positive way you have been saying, but rather placing any gospel importance on circumcision makes it SOMETHING that leaves you not reconciled to God by Christ.  This is not merely a disagreement about ethics, because your behavior in saying that the Gentiles are unclean is not only evidence of unbelief in the cross of Jesus Christ but is itself unbelief in the cross of Christ.
Galatians 5: 2 I tell you that if you get yourselves circumcised, Christ will not benefit you at all.

Unless you agree with Paul that “circumcision is nothing”, then Christ will be of no advantage to you.

This gets me to my first question. Why then say also that “uncircumcision is nothing”? If we are saying that being circumcised means that you are not and will not be justified, doesn’t that mean that “uncircumcision” is a big deal, a something and not a nothing?

If “uncircumcision is nothing”, why spend six chapters writing about not being under the Sinai law and not being circumcised?

Now I will give you the answer. The answer is that you can know that justification is not by circumcision AND STILL NOT KNOW THE GOSPEL. Yes, it’s important to know that justification is not by obeying the Sinai law. If you don’t know that, you miss the gospel. BUT (and this is an important but), I never thought anybody could be justified by keeping law, but I knew that but still without knowing the gospel of justification by means of Christ’s death.

I could give you some analogies. Yes, you need to know that Christ died only for the elect and that only the elect will be justified. If you deny that, you do not yet know the gospel. But also, you can agree with election and the extent of the atonement, AND STILL DO NOT KNOW THE GOSPEL. So denying universal ineffective atonement is “nothing” if you still don’t know that Christ’s death is the entire basis of justification before God.

Yes, you need to know that we sinners don’t have “free-will” (power to the contrary against God). You need to know that we are born guilty and unable to believe the gospel. if you deny that, you do not know the gospel. But also, you can agree with condemnation inherited from Adam, AND STILL NOT KNOW THE GOSPEL. So denying “free will” is “nothing” if you still don’t know that Christ’s death (and not our regeneration by the sovereign God) is the entire basis of justification before God.

One more analogy, and then I will move on to my second question. Yes, you need to know that the Abraham covenant was temporary. God promised Abraham many children and land and that his seed would bless those Gentiles elected to justification before God. But God is no longer promising any child of Abraham that they will have many children or that these children will have land or be justified. And you need to know that the “Zionist” notions that Jewish people are “now God’s people” or “will be justified after they die” are false gospels. If you believe the “all in one covenant now” false gospel, you cannot believe the true gospel taught in the book of Galatians.

But all that being said, denying Zionism is not itself the gospel. Denying Zionism is “nothing” because Denying Zionism is not the gospel (even though you need to deny that there is still a covenant with Abraham in order to know and believe the gospel) .

When the disturbers of the Galatian congregation hang on to the Sinai covenant, that is bad for the gospel. When the Jewish Judiasers command circumcision for Gentiles, that is bad for the gospel. “If you do this, Christ will be of no profit to you.” But Paul at the end of the letter writes “BOTH circumcision AND UNCIRCUMCISION mean nothing. What matters INSTEAD is a new CREATION.”   As he had already written, in chapter 5, “neither one but creation”. 

Second question.  Is “new creation” our regeneration by the Holy Spirit or is “us being the new creation” our new legal standing in Christ, the mediator of the new covenant?


Those who read my essays might  might predict that I would ask. “what is new creation”?   And you might also predict that my answer would be Christ Himself, who is in an important sense of the word “seed”  (the most important sense) of Abraham.  Christ and not the Holy Spirit is the seed of Abraham.  The Holy Spirit did not become incarnate. The Holy Spirit is not now also Jewish. The Holy Spirit is not also human.  And so I asked that predictable question because I already knew the answer I wanted to give. And after all , the final rule of Galatians (written in large letters by Paul) is that I BOAST IN NOTHING EXCEPT THE CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.

(The world has been crucified to me through THE CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST  I have been crucified to the world through THE CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST)

We get it. We got it.   The Holy Spirit did not die on the cross.  The work of the Holy Spirit in us is not “the cross”. The cross happened outside of us, in a different time and space, not now and not here in our hearts. We do not boast at the work of the Holy Spirit inside our hearts.

Can we stop now? 

My first question was, why in Galatians 6:15 did Paul say “UNCIRCUMCISION means nothing”. Was Paul writing riddles and paradoxes? I refer you above for my answer.  When nothing becomes a something, then the people who made it a something are in big trouble, and that not’s nothing.  But don’t forget that it’s still a nothing.   And people who never brought up circumcision, who never made a nothing into a something, might still not know the gospel. 

My second question is, why in Galatians 6:15 did Paul say  “What matters INSTEAD is a new CREATION”?

“Instead of” what?  Instead of physical circumcision.  Romans 2: 5 For circumcision benefits you if you observe the law, but if you are a lawbreaker, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 

Somebody who likes to use the word “imputation” (like me) could say, God then counts their physical circumcision as “uncircumcision” 

Romans 2: 26 Therefore if an uncircumcised man keeps the law’s requirements, will his uncircumcision not be counted as circumcision? 

Not all the uses of the word “imputation” have to do with God counting Christ’s death as the death of the elect sinners. Some uses of the word “imputation” have us “counting God as righteous” (because God is righteous). And this Romans 2 text is a different kind of counting/ imputation.  This one has to do with God and us “declaring who is a Jew”.  Some of this same kind of thinking takes place in Romans 9-11  (see also Colossians 2)

Romans 2: 28.  For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something VISIBLE IN THE FLESH 29 On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one INWARDLY and circumcision is of the mind—by the Holy Spirit.

So how does this text relate to the two Galatians texts–circumcision/uncircumcision don’t matter—new creation matters.  Paul writes to the Galatians that “visible in the flesh circumcision” is a nothing.  It is such a nothing that if  you get it done to your flesh, that means justification by keeping Sinai law, and justification by Sinai law is impossible.  ( Some might call it “hypothetical”, but let’s count it and name it as “empty set”—never happened, not going to happen). 

So what does matter in Romans 2?  “If an uncircumcised man KEEP THE SINAI LAW’S REQUIREMENTS….” 

So is Galatians (or Romans 2 for that matter)  teaching us that becoming “new creation” means that the Holy Spirit causes us to keep the Sinai covenant laws?  Or Is Galatians teaching us that “new creation” means that the Holy Spirit will cause us to keep Christ’s commandments ? 

Galatians 5: 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision accomplishes anything. What matters is FAITH WORKING LOVE.

Galatians 6: 2 Carry one another’s burdens. In this way YOU WILL FULFILL the law of Christ.

I Corinthians 7: 18 Was anyone already circumcised when he was called? He should NOT UNDO HIS CIRCUMCISION

I suppose that “undoing your circumcision” would be “uncircumcision”.  And I think there are medical procedures which actually do this. But then would come the question, what’s the difference between having your circumcision undone and simply never having been circumcised in the first place?  But the answer is ultimately still the same—UNCIRCUMCISION IS NOTHING. 

(One more analogy—the difference between somebody whose parents superstitiously got them watered “just in case” and somebody whose pagan parents never got them watered—and the answer is still the same, watered twice or watered once or watered never, water is not circumcision and water is nothing, so therefore if you allow yourself be watered to begin or to increase justification, then you cannot be justified, but that being said “water is nothing” because “not water” is not the gospel. )

I Corinthians 7: 18 Was anyone called while uncircumcised? He should NOT GET CIRCUMCISED. 19 Circumcision does not matter and uncircumcision does not matter. BUT KEEPING GOD’S COMMANDS DOES MATTER.

Can we now return to my second question, and can we have an answer this time  (not going some place else like Corinthians or Colossians 2 or Romans 2)? 

When Galatians 6 says “new creation”, I can see how that relates to the Holy Spirit causing us to obey commands (inwardly from invisible motives of the heart) but what does that have to do with the rule about ” I BOAST IN NOTHING EXCEPT THE CROSS”?  Is that hyperbole, because the apostle Paul does write about many things, not only about Christ’s death. But does Paul glory in anything else? 

Philippians 3: 2 watch out for evil workers, watch out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God, boast in Christ Jesus, and do not put confidence in the flesh.

Paul serves and obeys by the Holy Spirit. Paul does not boast in the Holy Spirit.

Paul does not put confidence in the flesh (circumcision or “being strong on the local church” or “going by my conscience” or “being reliable”).  But Paul does not boast in his not putting confidence in the flesh. Paul does not boast in his lack of self-righteousness.  Nor does Paul boast in his lack of “other sins”. 

Paul boasts in Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus was raised from the dead, and Christ’s resurrection from Christ’s death is NOT REFORMATION IN CONTINUITY WITH THE PAST.  Christ’s resurrection from Christ’s death is the New Covenant and the end of the Sinai covenant (and the end of the Abrahamic covenant).  The seed of Abraham now risen from the dead brings blessing to the elect from the Gentiles (and from the Jews) .  Resurrection from death is NOT ” he didn’t ever really die”.  Resurrection from death in history is God reconciled by the death of Christ the seed of Abraham come in the flesh for the sins of the elect imputed to Christ.

What is “new creation” ?

Romans 6: 9  Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over Him. 10 For in light of the fact that He died, He died to sin once for all time.  But in light of the fact that Christ lives, He lives to God.

“New creation” is having been raised from the dead.   It’s not having been given a new nature.  It’s not only having been caused to believe and obey the gospel. Believing and obeying the gospel is a result of “new creation”.  Those God has elected and then legally placed into Christ are “new creation”. Instead of talking about a regeneration inside us, to glory in the cross is to glory in Christ’s resurrection from the death that frees those who God places into Christ’s death.  Those who are thus justified are free from still needing to be justified or assured of justification by keeping some of the laws of the Sinai or Abrahamic covenants. 

Galatians 2: 20 I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Sinai law, then Christ died for nothing.

NOTHING.  All or nothing.  Either justification (and life, immortality, freedom from guilt)  by our keeping covenant. Or justification  (and lasting life) by Christ’s death on the cross.  If Christ died for something, then keeping Sinai is nothing. If keeping Sinai is something, then Christ died for NOTHING. 

Saying that the Sinai covenant is something is ANTI-GOSPEL. 

Saying that the Sinai covenant is nothing, however, is not the gospel.

The gospel is Christ having died for the sins of the elect on the cross. 

Christ having once died is EVERYTHING. 

The disturbers of the Galatian congregation want to have the flesh of the Gentiles cut.  Paul responds–circumcision is nothing. But Paul also responds—I wish those who attempt to get you to do this nothing would “cut off their entire organ”.   Galatians 5: 11 IF CIRCUMCISION IS STILL PREACHED, THEN  THE OFFENSE OF THE CROSS HAS BEEN ABOLISHED.  12 I wish those who are disturbing you might also get themselves dis-membered” 

There is an either or here., a big something from all this “nothing” .  The Sinai covenant has been abolished (not only “ceremonial” parts, but entirely). If the Sinai covenant has not been abolished, then we do not boast in the cross.   If circumcision has not been abolished, then we abolish boasting in the cross. 

So have I answered my second question yet? Am I saying that the Holy Spirit is nothing, keeping commandments is nothing, and that Christ’s death on the cross is everything?  Either we are identified with Christ’s death or we are identified with the Sinai covenant? 

Galatians 3: 2 Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the Sinai law or by hearing with faith?  After beginning with the  Holy Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh (obeying the Sinai law)? 

We need to keep thinking about how receiving the Holy Spirit (from Christ) relates to hearing with faith the good news about Christ and His resurrection from death.   Abraham believed the gospel of resurrection. Abraham believed the gospel about his seed in the flesh.  But how does receiving the Holy Spirit have to do with not only Christ’s resurrection but also our believing this gospel? 

Galatians 3: 13  Christ  redeemed us elect Jews  from the curse of the Sinai law by becoming a curse for us.   14. THE PURPOSE WAST was that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles by Christ Jesus, so that Gentiles would receive the promised Holy Spirit.

God promised Abraham not only many children and land, but also promised Abraham that his seed would bring blessing to some Gentiles. And the blessing of Abraham for these Gentiles is not only justification through Christ’s death on the cross but also receiving the Holy Spirit so that they would believe the gospel about Christ’s death and resurrection. 

When we are describing “new creation”, we  are not talking about all Gentiles or about all Jews. 

Galatians 3: 27 For AS MANY OF YOU as HAVING BEEN baptized into Christ have put on Christ like a garment.

This text does not say that the Holy Spirit baptized us into Christ. Nor does this text teach that baptism is water.  But in the “new creation”, there is no Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. 

Those in the new creation are “all one in Christ Jesus.” 29 as many as belong to Christ, they are Abraham’s sons. 

Abrahams’s seed is not only the one person Christ.  Abraham’s seed is also, in another sense, the new creation, those who believe in the gospel.  Abraham believe in the gospel, and as many as believe the gospel are heirs according to one of the promises God made to Abraham. 

Genesis 22: 14 And Abraham named that place The Lord Will Provide. 15 Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven
16 and said…“BECAUSE YOU HAVE DONE  this thing and have not withheld your only son 17 I will make your seed as numerous as the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore…. All the nations will be blessed by your seed BECAUSE YOU HAVE OBEYED MY COMMAND. ”

“The new creation” has to do with the promise God made to Abraham about blessing Gentiles.   Galatians 3: 19 The Sinai law was added … UNTIL the Seed to whom the promise was made would come.

“Them” and “you” gets a bit confusing in Galatians. 

Galatians 3: 13  Christ  redeemed us elect Jews  from the curse of the Sinai law by becoming a curse for us elect Jews.   14. THE PURPOSE WAS that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles by Christ Jesus, so that Gentiles would receive the promised Holy Spirit

Galatians 4: 4 God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the Sinai law, to redeem THEM under the Sinai law, in order that we Gentiles would receive adoption as SONS And because YOU are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into YOUR hearts.

Is the “you” only Jews or only Gentile or both?  Well, what is the “new creation”?  

I suppose you could call me a “dispensationalist” because of what I am answering about “new creation”, but you should not call me “Marcionite” because I am not at all denying that the God who abolished the Sinai law (separations from the Gentile part of creation) is the same God who gave the Jews the Sinai covenant to begin with. 

I stop while agreeing that there is a lot of “not yet answered” in my second answer, but here add on last texts from Galatians. 

Galatians 5: 17 The Holy Spirit desires what is against the flesh. 18 But if you are led by the Holy Spirit, you are not under the law.

I don’t want to go back to nothing is something and something is nothing, but  It is not being led by the Holy Spirit that causes us (or anybody) to not be under the Sinai law.    In which case, many would suggest that we translate “the law” instead of “the Sinai law”, because that will smooth over some questions we don’t want to (or can’t)  answer.  

But I would still stay that those who were never under Sinai law are not justified from being under the Sinai law.  Those who were never circumcised do not need to become “uncircumcised”.   It is not the gospel for antinomians to say “we know we are justified because we know that we are not under the sabbath and or any of the other Ten Commandments”.  Yes, it’s true, you never were under the Sinai or Abrahamic covenants. That does not mean that you are now in the new covenant.   

If you are led by the Holy Spirit, then you know and believe the gospel about the seed of Abraham and why He died on the cross for the sins of the elect. The Holy Spirit caused you to know this gospel.   Your believing this gospel did not place you into Christ’s death. But if you are indeed not under the condemnation of Adam with which you were born, then you are led by the Holy Spirit and you continue to believe the gospel. 

Galatians 5:  The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control…. 24 Now AS MANY AS who belong to Christ Jesus live by the Holy Spirit.  We must also follow the  Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circumcision was a Sanction of the Abrahamic Covenant—-Why I Reject Abrahamic Ecclesiology

March 6, 2020

T David Gordon, Promise, Law, Faith–Covenant Historical Reasoning in Galatians (Hendrickson, 2019) 

I completely agree with Gordon’s thesis that the Sianai covenant is either ratified or revoked in its entirety. Galatians is about being free from all of  the Sinai
covenant, including Sabbath and circumcision. Gordon does much good detailed work to show the distinction between the Sinai covenant and the new covenant. But as Gordon explains the distinction between the Sinai covenant and the earlier Abrahamic covenant, he stops short of asking much about the distinction between the Abrahamic covenant and the new covenant.

I begin with one quotation from a footnote on p 222—“In the most technical sense, Yahweh did later require circumcision (Genesis 17) but this is not a true condition, for two reasons. First, the promises made in Genesis 12 and 15 attached no such conditions. Second, had Yahweh not given Isaac to Abraham and Sarah, there would have no Son to circumcise.

Without beginning a discussion about the meaning of the word “conditions”, I want to look more at Gordon’s two reasons. First, both Genesis 12 and 15 describe imperatives, and include sanctions for disobedience.

Genesis 12 begins with a command.
Go out from your land,
your family
and your father’s house
to the land that I will show you

Did Abram fail to keep this “condition”? No, Abraham did travel out to where the Canaanites are in the land. By means of holy war and holy separation, Abram’s children eventually  take all the land. The Jewish people themselves are involved. But of course it is God who gives the land to Abram’s children and God who takes the land away from the Gentiles. Abram worries about what the Gentiles might do to him. Abram lies to the Gentiles about one of his wives (Sarah) but God keeps Sarah from becoming mother to a Gentile. There are no sanctions for Abram, only for Pharoah, even though it was Abram who did not tell the truth.

So does this prove that the Sinai covenant has sanctions but that the Abrahamic covenant does not have conditions? No. The Abrahamic covenant is not only
about blessing Gentiles some time in the future. The Abrahamic covenant is about Abram having a big family. The Abrahamic covenant is instruction about Abram’s family not co-existing  with or intermarrying other families.

Genesis 14:14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken prisoner, he assembled his 318 trained men, born in HIS HOUSEHOLD, and they went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 Abram and his slaves deployed against them by night, attacked them, and pursued them as far as Hobah to the north of Damascus. 16 Abram brought back all the goods and also his relative Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the other people….

This war is not a “condition” for the promise to Abram that Abram’s seed would bless Gentiles. It’s not even evident that what Abram did was commanded. But what Abram did there at that time was NOT YET “blessing Gentiles” (Then Abram takes some food when Melchizedek (king of Salem) gives Abram food, but Abram takes nothing from the king of Sodom. (The men who fought with Abram take stuff, but Abram only takes back what was his already before)

God uses means. God promised Abram that his seed would one day bless Gentiles. We must not be fatalistic enough to say that God would have kept that promise if Abram had not gone to war for those in his family. But then again, we must not read what did happen in history (providence)  into some conclusion that “God could not have done x if Abram had not done y.”    (Is does not mean Ought. Happened does not mean Ought.)

Gordon agrees–“in the technical sense, God did require circumcision”. But then Gordon argues that circumcision was not a condition for the promises. The problem for Gordon’s too neat distinction between Sinai and Abrahamic (which distinction is very important, and is very present in Galatians 3 and 4), is the sanctions right there in the words of God in Genesis 15.

Genesis 15: 8 Abram said, “Lord God, how can I know that I will possess the land? (Abram was not asking at that point, how will I know that my seed will
bless the Gentiles?)

9 God said to Abram, “Bring Me a three-year-old cow, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 So Abram brought all these to God, split them down the middle, and laid the pieces opposite each other, but Abram did not cut up the birds. 11 Birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.

God did not do everything here. Abram brought the cow, goat, ram and the birds. Abram killed (sacrificed) the three animals.

Genesis 15: 12 As the sun was setting, a deep sleep fell on Abram, and suddenly great terror and darkness descended on Abram

Then what did Abram hear God say?  Genesis 15: 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know this for certain: Your seed will be foreigners in a land that does not belong to them. Your seed will be enslaved and oppressed 400 years. 14 However, I will judge the nation they serve, and afterward your seed will go out
with many possessions….16 In the fourth generation your seed will return here

Again, there are no “conditions” here. God does not say that slavery in Egypt is a sanction of the Abrahamic covenant. And of course slavery in Egypt is not a sanction of the Sinai covenant (which comes after Egyptian slavery) This is “indicative”. This is “what is going to happen”. What happens in Egypt is not all of the promises. What happens in Israel is not “blessing the Gentiles”. But what will happen in Egypt is that Abram’s family becomes larger and Abram’s family STAYS SEPARATE from Gentiles.

Genesis 15: 17 When the sun had set and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch appeared and passed between the divided animals.

This is not the same as what happens at Mt Sinai—do not touch the mountain, and “Moses be the mediator between us and keep God away from us”. But the smoking fire pot and the flaming torch (and the divided animals) of Genesis 15 are not in any obvious way signs of a substitution sacrifice which will bless some Gentiles. The next thing God says is Genesis 15: 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “I will give this LAND to YOUR SEED

When the seed of Abram leave Egypt, they will “go out with many possessions”. Perhaps Abram’s seed are stewards holding those possessions in trust for the future blessing of Gentiles. But at that exodus point in history, possessions and land (which all belong to God in the first place) get handed over by the Gentile socialists in Egypt to the Jewish collective, to the seed of Abram.

Reason one. Circumcision was not a condition. There were no conditions in the Abrahamic covenant.

I will attempt to return to Genesis (and Galatians) and not  stay long with Vos and Kline. Vos–If there were no conditions, there would be no place for threats,
for threatening only makes sense to those who reject the conditions; that is to say here, those who do not walk in the God-ordained way of THE COVENANT. If there were no conditions, God alone would be bound by this covenant, and no bond would be placed on man. Thereby the character of the covenant would be lost. All covenants contain two parts.”

I agree with David Gordon. All the covenants are not one covenant. And the different covenants are not the same. When Vos writes “the covenant”, I agree with Gordon in asking “which covenant”. We must reason in a historically covenantal way.  We must be poly-covenantal.

But I do not agree that there is nothing but contrast between the Abrahamic and the Sinai covenant. And I do not agree that the
Abrahamic covenant is the same as the new covenant.

The Sinai covenant was only for Jews
The Sinai covenant was for all Jews.
Jews by birth belonged to the Sinai covenant.

But what Gordon does not say as clearly (if at all) is that the Abrahamic covenant was only for Jews. Circumcision was for all Jews.
The Abrahamic covenant was for all the circumcised. Jews by birth belonged to the Abrahamic covenant.

In the Reformed world today, if you hear about election at all, what you hear will be about “the covenant”. You will hear that 1. Jews
were elected to be in “the covenant” and 2. that this election is not only a blessing for the Jews, because the elect Jews will be (or are
supposed to be) a blessing for the gentiles, all nations, all people.

But this kind of talk about election and covenant leaves so much out (about both election and covenants) that this kind of talk about “the covenant” has nothing to do with God having elected for whom Christ would die, nor does it have anything to with God having chosen which sinners will be justified before God.

The Sinai covenant includes both elect and non-elect.
The Abrahamic covenant includes both elect and non-elect.

But only the elect come into the new covenant and are justified.

This is why we need to make a historical covenantal distinction not only between the Sinai covenant and the Abrahamic covenant. We need a distinction between the Abrahamic covenant and the new covenant. The Abrahamic covenant has as one of its promised blessings that the seed of Abram will bless
Gentiles.  But Christ the seed of Abraham does not bless all people in all nations. There is no such thing as “common grace” or “natural grace” or “creation grace”.

When God saved Noah and the few, God did so by destroying the many. When Christ the seed of Abram justifies Gentiles, Christ does not justify all Gentiles. Christ justifies only as many as believe the gospel. The blessing of Abraham is Christ giving the Holy Spirit to cause some Gentiles to believe the gospel (and also the blessing of Abraham is Christ giving the Holy Spirit to cause some from Abram’s Jewish race to believe the gospel).

The blessing of Abram is NOT that the seed of Abram dies for each and every sinner, both Jew and Gentile. The blessing of Abram is NOT that some are elect in order that others then become elect. The blessing of Abram is NOT that Jews are elect in order that Gentiles become elect. The blessing of Abram is that Christ (the seed of Abram) died (shed his own blood, not the blood of others, Jew or Gentile) for the sins of the elect (some Jew and some Gentile)

There is so much good to be found in Gordon’s good book on Galatians.  I hope to write several essays with things I have learned in reading. In this essay, I have not yet even arrived at the second reason given by Gordon that footnote on 222.  But I want to pause for Gordon’s excellent comments on
“sovereignty” and “grace” on p 177.

David Gordon—“Even defenders of the so-called Lutheran Paul are too generous to Sinai when they write “this law is a divine gift to Israel, a token of favor”….Yes, sovereign Yahweh elected Israel to covenant with Him. But I would not refer to a curse-threatening covenant as a gift or as an indication of God’s favor. They did not regard it as a gift when they expressed their preference to return to Egypt.

David Gordon, p 295—“Oh how I love your law. It is my meditation all the day.” Psalm 119:97 . Only in this psalm (113, 163, 165) does anyone in the entire Bible talk about loving the law. Considering how central was Torah to Israel, I regard it as surprising that there is only one chapter where anyone expresses any love for Torah. The Wisdom always had sanctions attached to it, and those sanctions were a frightening burden. 


But David Gordon does seem to see the Abrahamic covenant as nothing but gift and favor. His reason one say, there were no conditions. His
reason two says, if God has not given Isaac to Abraham and Sarah, there would been no circumcision

Gordon’s argument overlooks the fact that Abram had two wives, and two sons. Abram’s son Ishmael is born in Genesis 16: 3 So Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar, her Egyptian slave, and gave her to her husband Abram as a WIFE for Abram.. This happened after Abram had lived in the land of Canaan 10 years.

Genesis 16: 15 So Hagar gave birth to Abram’s SON …16 Abram was 86 years old when Hagar bore ISHMAEL TO HIM. .

Genesis 17: 8 And to you and your future seed I will give the land where you are residing—all the land of Canaan—as a lasting possession, and I will be their God.”

Note that “I will be your sovereign (I will be your God) and “I will be gracious to each and every one of you” are NOT THE SAME THING.

Genesis 17: 9 God also said to Abraham, “As for you, you and your seed after you are to keep My covenant.

Genesis 17 does not say that Abraham “keeping the covenant” is a “condition”. First, the covenant does not depend on any one human sinner. If one human sinner refuses circumcision, then that one human sinner could be cut off from the Abrahamic covenant but the Abrahamic covenant itself would continue. Second, if God had not caused Isaac to have been born, then God could have still caused Ishmael to have been born. Third, even if no sons had been born, Abraham HIMSELF (and his slaves) are COMMANDED TO BE CIRCUMCISED.

David Gordon, 138 —“It is not essential to my discussion to address whether there were several covenants with Abraham.”

Gordon, in making a distinction between the Sinai and the Abrahamic but not making a distinction between the Abrahamic and the new covenant, is depending in part on silence in his argument about the first two of the three promises to Abraham.  I will point out another more significant silence. Genesis 17 does not say that circumcision is a condition of the Sinai covenant, BECAUSE the Sinai covenant had not yet been “cut into history”. And so it seems to me
that CIRCUMCISION IS A SANCTION IN THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT,  even when Gordon says “added after chapter 12 and 15”.

Genesis 17: 10 This is My covenant, which you are to keep, between Me and you and your seed after you: Every one of your males must be
circumcised.

Genesis 17: 18 So Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael were acceptable to You!”

Genesis 17: 11 As for Ishmael, I have heard you. I will certainly bless Ishmael. I will make Ishmael fruitful and will multiply Ishmael greatly. Ishmael will father 12 tribal leaders, and I will make Ishmael into a great nation.

Here are some questions. Does Ishmael have part in the Sinai covenant? No.
So does Ishmael have part in the Abrahamic covenant?
What is Ishmael’s part in the Abrahamic covenant?
Is Ishmael a Gentile nation who will be blessed by the seed of Abraham?
Is Ishmael part of the seed of Abraham (who will bless Gentiles)?

How would we know?

Genesis 17: 23 Then Abraham took his son Ishmael and all the slaves born in his house or purchased with his money—every male among the
members of Abraham’s HOUSEHOLD… 24 Abraham was 99 years old when the flesh of Abraham’s foreskin was circumcised, 25 and his son Ishmael
was 13 years old when the flesh of Ishmael’s foreskin was circumcised. 26 On the same day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised

Genesis 17: 13 My covenant will be marked in your flesh as a lasting covenant. 14 If any male is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that man will be cut off from his people. That man has broken My covenant.”

When God says “my covenant”, which covenant is that? If it’s not the Sinai covenant, which covenant is it? Has the man broken himself off “the covenant” or broken “the covenant” so as to terminate the covenant” itself?

Adam’s sin did not terminate the consequences of God’s covenant with Adam. Disobedience to the Sinai covenant did not terminate either the Sinai
or the Abrahamic covenants. So in that sense, neither covenant is conditional on the sinner, but what happens to a specific sinner is conditional . Is there nothing a person in these covenants (after being circumcised) can do which would prevent their being PUNISHMENT BY THE COVENANT THEY ARE IN?

I would hope that this last question would cause us always to make a distinction between justification (or condemnation) before God and still being a church member or still “staying in the covenant”. I would hope that we would say that the new covenant is not like the Sinai covenant or the Abrahamic covenant, even though the new covenant is (indirectly?) a blessing to elect Gentiles by means of the seed of Abraham (as also the Sinai covenant was a result of the covenant promising Abraham seed.)

Meredith Kline–“How Abraham’s obedience related to the securing of the kingdom blessings in their old covenant form is a special question within the broad topic of the role of human works … Abraham’s faithful performance of his covenantal duty is clearly declared to sustain a causal relationship to the blessing of Isaac and Israel. It had a MERITORIOUS character that procured a reward enjoyed by others…Because of Abraham’s obedience redemptive history would take the shape of an Abrahamite kingdom of God from which salvation’s blessings would rise up and flow out to the NATIONS. God was pleased to constitute
Abraham’s exemplary works as the MERITORIOUS ground for granting to Israel after the flesh the distinctive role of being …the matrix from which Christ should come…

Mike Horton—To be claimed as part of God’s holy field comes with threats as well as blessings. Covenant members who do NOT HAVE FAITH are under the covenant curse. How can anybody fall under the curses of a covenant to which they didn’t belong?

Mike Horton—Faith is not the only way into membership in the covenant. If faith were the only way into membership then why all the warnings to members of THE COVENANT COMMUNITY to exercise and persevere in obedience to the end?

The Sinai covenant did not threaten Gentiles. I mostly agree with David Gordon about that (despite the holy wars and the holy divorces of Gentile wives –never really wives, the fathers of their children said.)

But what can or must be said about how the Abrahamic covenant and the new covenant compare and contrast? The new covenant only threatens those outside the new covenant. The Abrahamic covenant threatened those in the Abrahamic covenant..

Genesis 22: 14 And Abraham named that place The Lord Will Provide. 15 Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven
16 and said…“BECAUSE YOU HAVE DONE  this thing and have not withheld your only son 17 I will make your seed as numerous as the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore…. All the nations will be blessed by your seed BECAUSE YOU HAVE OBEYED MY COMMAND. ”

David Gordon, p 138 –Though Paul in Galatians 3:16 refers to the “promises”, the only specific reference Paul makes to Genesis here is the pledge to bless the nations through the seed in Genesis 22:18.

Galatians 3: 19 The Sinai law was added … UNTIL the Seed to whom the promise was made would come

Did God make the promise to those who believe in Christ?
Did God make the promise to Christ?
God God make the promise about Christ to the biological children of Abraham?

Exodus 4: 19 Now in Midian the Lord told Moses, “Return to Egypt, for those who wanted to kill you are dead.” 20 So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey, and returned to the land of Egypt. …. 22 Then you will say to Pharaoh: This is what Yahweh says: Israel is My firstborn son. 23 Let My son go in order that my son worship Me, but you refused to let him go. Now I will kill YOUR firstborn son!”

Exodus 4: 24 On the trip to Egypt it happened that the Lord confronted Moses and sought to put Moses to death. 25 So his wife Zipporah took a flint, cut off her son’s foreskin, and threw the foreskin at Moses’ feet.Then his wife said, “You are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26 So the Lord let Moses alone.

The Abrahamic covenant points to justification through faith in the seed of Abraham. But he Abrahamic covenant is NOT new covenant ecclesiology.

The same people (troublers) in Galatians who wanted to have a Jewish ecclesiology (circumcising children and those who had not been circumcised as children) were also people tempted to “want to be justified by works of law”.  (assured by obeying Sinai)

Even though Paul teaches in Galatians 2:16 that Jews know that justification is not by works, Paul also warns that “Christ will be of no advantage” for those “who want to be justified by works”. Paul is not saying (and probably doesn’t know) if these people are a majority or a minority, but Paul is not ruling out the idea that some of the Jewish “Judiasers” are not only wrong about the covenants but also wrong about the gospel.

The problem is not only that some Gentiles are being persuaded or manipulated into becoming circumcised. The problem is some who were born circumcised
who are insisting on an Abrahamic ecclesiology and an Abrahamic definition of covenant (conflating the new covenant with the Abrahamic covenant)

Galatians 4: 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law are alienated from Christ;. You have fallen from grace.

The righteousness of God does not only mean that those who trust in Christ’s death alone are justified. The righteousness of God also
means that those who DO NOT TRUST Christ’s death alone will not be justified. Therefore the problem in Galatians is not only an ethical problem for people we know who are already justified (because they were born Jews, or because they were born Christians). There is an ethical problem (living in hypocrisy instead of in line with the gospel) but that ethical problem cannot be “segregated” (distinguished) from a doctrinal problem about the gospel.

All Jews were born not only in the Sinai covenant but also in the Abrahamic covenant. Even though Romans 9 and Galatians teach that Abraham had more than one son, and even though these two texts define children of Abraham as those who believe the gospel, if we include that definition of
Abraham’s children but also include (without antithesis) the children of the children (who did not yet believe the gospel), we bring confusion not only to the new covenant but also to the gospel. (Was it important for the prophet Jonah to teach those in the Ninevah that his children and family back in Israel were “elect and in the covenant”? )

Election to justification does NOT MEAN “born justified”
Even God’s elect to justification are born condemned in Adam.
Even God’s elect to justification are not born in the new covenant.

Certainly David Gordon should in no way be held accountable for my conclusions against “Abrahamic ecclesiology”.  Let me end now with a quotation from Gordon which gives us his thesis (not my thesis in response to his thesis) 


David Gordon, p 296—NT Wright’s “the covenant” is virtually identical with what the Reformed tradition ordinarily calls “the covenant of grace” and is no better than that common convention. Such a definition uses a biblical term unbiblically. . In the Bible, a berith or a diatheke is always a historical treaty of some kind, enacted in space and time with particular parties.”

I am NEITHER MENNONITE NOR REFORMED

May 12, 2019

Romans 3:19 law speaks…in order that every mouth be shut and the
whole worl subject to God’s judgment. 20 For no one will become justified in God’s sight by their works of law, because knowledge of sin comes through law…..God’s righteousness has been revealed….that is, God’s righteousness through FAITH IN Jesus Christ to ALL WHO BELIEVE

The doctrine of justification in God’s sight after our condemnation in God’s sight is the doctrine of the true gospel news. It is not the same doctrine as “never condemned in God’s sight”. It’s not the same doctrine as “justified before faith in God’s righteousness”

Even though I think it’s sin (in this new covenant age of Christ as
lawgiver) for anybody to kill anybody, I am not Mennonite. I believe that the God revealed in the Bible imputes Adam’s guilt to us all, so that we are all born guilty in sin before God. This means that we are all born condemned before God and unable to do anything good before God. I believe that the only hope for any sinner is God’s election of some sinners. God’s election is God’s love for a sinner,and that election is not a result of any decision made by that sinner. God’s love to a sinner is not a consequence of that sinner’s worth.

The hope of election is that all sinners Christ has elected have been
died for by Jesus Christ. Election determines non-election, and therefore also designates those for whom Christ did not die. Christ died as a legal substitute only for the elect. This election is not a mere matter of God being sovereign add effective in what God attempts to do. Christ’s death for the elect alone is a matter of God’s justice. God’s nature is not to leave sin unpunished. God’s justice teaches is that every sin imputed to Christ will in time NOT BE IMPUTED to elect sinners for whom Christ died

As a matter of justice, Jesus Christ was not merely a sacrificial offering. Being imputed with the guilt of the elect, by Christ’s nature as just God, Christ by just necessity had to die for all the sins of all the sinners Christ loves. Divine Justice now demands that all those sinners one day be justified before God. Romans 4:25 teaches that Christ died BECAUSE OF sins. Romans 4:25 also teaches that Christ’s resurrection from death was BECAUSE OF justification. .

Justice says that all the elect for whom Christ died either have now
or will be justified. Christ Himself was justified by His death, and
is no longer under sin. God’s law has no more to demand from Christ.
God’s law does demand the eventual justification of all for whom Christ died.

Romans 6:9–-“We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again. Death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all time

2 Corinthians 5:20–“we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is
appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to
God.” 21 God made the One WHO KNEW NO SIN TO BECOME SIN, in order that we would BECOME the righteousness of God in Him.

I Corinthians 1:30– “No one can boast in God”s presence. 30 It is from
God that you are in Christ Jesus who BECAME God-given wisdom for us—our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, 31 in order that, as it is written: The one who boasts must boast in the Lord.

If Jesus never obtained or BECAME the righteousness for the elect, then
there is no news. If Jesus never BECAME the redemption of the elect, there is no news. THE GOSPEL OF JUSTIFICATION IS GOOD NEWS

Hebrews 9:12–“Christ entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus SECURING a permanent redemption

Hebrews 9:28–“Christ having been offered ONCE IN TIME to bear the sins of many, will appear a SECOND TIME, NOT TO BEAR SIN, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.”

Christ was not justified by becoming born again. Christ was justified by satisfying the righteous requirement of divine law for the sins imputed to Christ. Christ was justified by His death. Christ needed to be justified because Christ legally bore the guilt of His elect. This guilt demanded Christ’s death. Christ was not justified because of His resurrection. Christ’s resurrection was God’s declaration of Christ’s justification, and that because of Christ’s death for sins imputed.

No elect sinner has yet been glorified or given immortality, and so sin still has power in justified sinners. Justified sinners still sin. Sin never had any power over Christ Jesus, except for the power of guilt imputed to Christ. Christ’s resurrection demonstrates that imputed guilt no longer has
any power over Christ,

I Peter 1:21 For you were called to this,
because Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an EXAMPLE
so that you should follow in His steps.
22 He did not commit sin,
and no deceit was found in His mouth;
23 when He was reviled,
He did not revile in return;
when He was suffering,
He did not threaten
but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly.

I am a pacifist. God gives life. God takes life, We are not God. The killing done by humans in their death penalty and wars has nothing to do with any God specifically revealed in the Bible. It’s not worship of Jesus which motivates any attempt to overcome evil with evil.

But I am not Mennonite, and not only because of what I think the Bible teaches about the sovereignty of God’s election and the justice of Christ’s atonement. I am not Mennonite because I teach the security of those who have now been justified before God. Divine justice demands that those now justified before God stay justified before God.

Even though the sheep (the elect) were born “already condemned” before
God, just like other humans, in each case, with every INDIVIDUAL who is elect, God by means of the Holy Spirit AND THE TRUTH teaches these unconverted and guilty sinners. In time the condemned before God elect become the justified before God elect.

God effectually calls by the power of the true gospel these elect sinners so that they willingly believe this same gospel. This gospel teaches not only election but also regeneration to believe when God imputes Christ’s righteousness.

Those who have not yet repented of worshiping the false unjust God who fails to save any sinner for whom Christ died give no evidence of being justified yet. In fact, their ignorance and/or unbelief of the gospel is evidence that they are not yet justified before God.

John 3:36 The one who believes in the Son has lasting life,but the one who does not believe in the Son will not see life. Instead, the wrath of God remains on them.

2 Peter 1:1 To those who have obtained a faith of equal privilege with ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ

Romans 8:10–”Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of
sin,the Spirit is life BECAUSE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.

I believe that each and every sinner God justifies (immediately as God imputes Christ’s death to them) CONTINUES TO BELIEVE the true gospel, and that all who truly believe as God’s gift purchased by Christ will remain repentant about false gospels, so much so that they will not regard as Christians those who continue in false gospels which teach that Jesus Christ supposedly died for everybody but where there is no justice.

John 10: the sheep hear his voice. The Shepherd calls his own sheep by individual names and leads them out. 4 When the Shepherd has brought all HIS OWN outside, the shepherd goes ahead of them. The sheep follow the shepherd because they recognize his voice.5 They will never follow a stranger. Instead they will run away from strangers, because they don’t recognize the voice of strangers.”

John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

I am not Mennonite because Mennonites teach that Christ died for everybody, including the goats. They teach that not all for whom Christ died will be saved. They teach that future justification is determined not by Christ’s just death and resurrection but by our own decisions and morals. About this doctrine, the Reformed are not much different. Though many of them will teach that election will cause people to make correct decisions, it turns out that if a person believes in some version of “no election and died for everybody”, the Reformed still think of this as a “close enough” salvation decision.

For their assurance, anyway, the Reformed look to their own improved moral performance, even though they have a different standard for what murder means than the Mennonites do. To the extent that they talk about election, the Reformed use that doctrine either to claim that their own children are born Christians or use the doctrine of election to explain why they are inevitably morally superior (not by themselves but with God’s assistance)

I am not Mennonite. I disagree with their Dordrecht Confession of Faith (1632)—-“The Son of God tasted death and shed His precious blood for all men and obtained forgiveness of sins for all mankind; thus becoming the cause of
salvation for all those who, from Adam unto the end of the world, each in his time, believe in and obey God.”

I disagree with this deceptive false gospel. Christ did not die for all sinners. Christ did not die to make it possible for the Holy Spirit to cause sinners to obey enough in order to be sure of their decision to be saved. All the sinners for whom the true Christ died will be saved, not because of their obedience but because of Christ’s death.

John 10:26 But you don’t believe because you are not My sheep. 27 My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. 28 I give them lasting life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.

Most Reformed people agree with the Mennonites that Christ died for all sinners. The Dordrecht Confession teaches that–“God has declared all men without distinction, who through faith, as obedient children, heed, follow,and practice what the same contains, to be His children and lawful heirs; thus excluding no one from the precious inheritance of lasting salvation, except the disobedient, the stiff-necked and obdurate, who through their own sins make themselves unworthy of lasting life.

Logically, consistently, this means that those who do have lasting life still had Jesus died for them but that their sins made them unworthy. But the Reformed folks argue that logically God saves those with an “inconsistent gospel”. Thus they rationalize that others are being too rational. This comes back to the Reformed saying that God’s sovereignty means that you don’t need to agree on what the gospel is. Believe your own gospel, because in the end they think folks are already justified before they know any gospel.

In the assumption that Jews by sin have removed their children from “the covenant”, the Reformed assume that “election” and “covenant” mean that Christ has died for their own children. But like the Mennonites, the Reformed do not believe that it’s the justice of Christ’s death that saves anybody. They assume that their “the covenant” is the new covenant, but they also teach that some who are brought as infants into that “new covenant” will leave that covenant and then face “even worse sanctions” than those who were never born “in the covenant”.

Though the Reformed children may (or may not) have been taught in some catechism class that Christ died for everybody but also “died for the elect in a special way”. They have NOT been taught that God only imputed the sins of the elect to Christ, nor have they been taught that justice demands that all for whom Christ died will be imputed with Christ’s death (because justice demands that Christ’s death be imputed by God to those sinners for whose sins Christ died)

If there is one practical difference between Mennonites and Reformed that I still notice, it might be that some of the Reformed still superstitiously believe in “eating the body and blood of their Savour”. Since Mennonites do not talk about God at all that much, but instead talk about what they themselves could and should be doing, they lean much less on sacramental mumbo jumbo. Some of the Reformed act as if they need no hope in any second coming of Christ to earth. Not only do they plan to go straight to heaven when they die, but they also believe in the “real presence” of Jesus by which they (if they have a clergyman certified by other clergymen to do the hocus pocus) gives them the ability to climb up to heaven in their “sacrament” and “eat and drink Jesus up in heaven”.

Becoming Reformed these days has NOTHING to do with teaching that Christ died only for the elect. The Reformed clergyman may on occasion teach that election helped you to believe in some Christ who died for everyone. Then they will teach you that this faith (in whichever Christ you believed in) was given to you and caused you to be united to the true Christ.

The Reformed not only don’t teach election in Sunday morning worship. They don’t teach at any time that God only imputed the sins of the elect to Christ. Instead the Reformed teach that Christ’s death has “infinite and sufficient” potential for all sinners. Instead of teaching election, the Reformed teach that even the water administered by the “Roman Catholic Church” can have saving efficacy, not necessarily at the time of the watering, but at some later point.

It is not a problem for Reformed people to accept the infant baptism of the “Roman Catholics” because they teach that they and their children became Christians without hearing and believing the gospel. They take the “sovereignty of God” to mean that God does not need the gospel as a means to effectually call sinners.

Though they accept “faith before regeneration” as one “good enough gospel”, it’s not that big a deal to them, because many of the Reformed think that Christians are Christians already without conversion or gospel. Along with the rest of ritual Christendom, the Reformed teach that water baptism is not something they do but rather something that God does. They believe that God does not save apart from water baptism (apart from “the true church”).

Becoming Reformed these days has nothing to do with the good news of election and atonement. You can agree with all the five points of the Arminians, and still be considered “Reformed” if you agree that “the church” includes those who do not yet believe the gospel. To do this, you have to (implicitly) agree that God’s covenant with Abraham is the very same covenant as the new covenant, and then you have to agree that this “the covenant” is not for the elect alone. This takes thinking about election out of the equation, and puts the accent on finding assurance in children doing the “ordinary” things they are supposed to do, like “regularly be handed the sacrament as a means of grace”.

Was Esau born in “the covenant of grace”, but then later lose his justification in Christ? No. God’s wrath is not an expression of God’s love. God’s wrath is not a response to human negative 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. The promise of the gospel is for as many as who believe the gospel. The promise of the gospel is for as many physical children of Abraham as the Lord our God will call, for the elect among the Jews and not for the non-elect among the Jews. The promise is for your children, as many of those children as the Lord our God will call by the gospel, in spite of parents. The promise of the gospel is for the elect alone and not for the non-elect. Therefore nobody knows if they are elect until after they understand and believe the true gospel. Election by God is not the same thing as justification before God.

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.”

God does NOT promise saving grace in Christ to every baptized baby. God did NOT promise saving grace to Esau in his circumcision. God made not only one promise but many different promises. God’s grace is NOT ineffectual. But many of the Reformed are now teaching a “common grace” that does not save some of those to whom God “wants to be” gracious.

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 only from hearing and not receiving the message of grace.”

The Mennonites teach that Christ only died to eliminate Adam’s sin from being imputed to anybody, and in much the same way the Reformed teach that no infant can be condemned only for sin imputed from Adam. These same Reformed teach the possible regeneration of infants (and adults) who have never heard the true gospel of Christ having died for the elect alone.

Mike Horton, Justification, volume 2,(New Studies in Dogmatics)-“a person can become a member of the covenant of grace without truly beleiving the gpspel All persons in the covenant are to be threatened with the consequences of apostasy. Some belong to the covenant community and experience thereby the work of the Spirit through the sacramental means of grace and yet have never believe the gospel. Thus we Reformed have a category for a person who is in the covenant but this has nothing to do their faith in the gospel.

Horton, p 450—“The Holy Spirit grants us faith to be united to Christ.”

Horton, p 455–“There is no union with Christ which is not union with the visible church”

Horton, p 467–”Calvin goes beyond Luther by stressing the more and more aspect of salvation.”

To justify their false practice, Reformed folks need to flatten out all post fall covenants down into one covenant. Even though they are reluctant to water teenagers and adults who “have not professed” the gospel, they want to keep holding onto their own baby baptisms

Scott Clark — “the Lord gave his covenant promise or the covenant of grace (they are synonyms).”

Since “the covenant of grace” is something invented by the Reformed, “one covenant of grace” turns out to be the false idea that God only made one promise to Abraham. Reformed folks prefer not to talk about election, and would rather talk about “the covenant”. “Election” practically to them means that “my physical children begin life in the covenant” and therefore we never have to talk about non-election.

Romans 9:6 “For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel.” Romans 9 teaches that some of ethnic Israel were predestined to serve in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Those who served this way were not necessarily ”justified before God” and given lasting life. And ethnic Jews not in the genealogy of Jesus are not necessarily “never saved”. Not only is there a difference between being in the genealogy and not being in the genealogy, but also a DIFFERENCE between being elect to justification or not being one of those for whom Christ would die to justify.

God did not make one lump and then leave the rest, God made two lumps.

Romans 11:1 I ask then–has God rejected His people? Absolutely not! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.

Philippians 3 If anyone else thinks they has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised as a child of Abraham the eighth day; of the nation of Israel.

Ethnic Israel as a whole was not chosen for justification before God but some in Israel were chosen to be in Christ’s genealogy. Those in “the Reformed church” are not chosen as a group to be justified. Not only the Mosaic covenant but also the Abrahamic covenant have promises that only have to do with the role of the nation in God’s historical plan. Their election to be children of Abraham was utilitarian, like creation or redemption from Egypt, not like redemption from the guilt of sin before God.

Something in one of the promises to Abraham can be a “type or picture” of some other promise to Abraham. Those who believe the gospel are promised lasting life. Those who escape Egypt are not all promised lasting life. The children of those who have lasting life are not promised lasting life.

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 (693), 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 FAALL UNDER THE COVENANT CURSE without Christ as their mediator. The word proclaimed and sealed in the sacraments is valid, regardless of our response.

To repeat, one last time. I am not Mennonite and I am not Reformed. I believe that the justice of God demands that all for whom Christ died (with their sins imputed to Him) will be justified.

Either you are justified or you are not justified. If you are justified now, you don’t need to be justified in future. If you are not justified now, then you need to be justified. You either are already elect or not, but even if you are elect, if you don’t know the gospel yet, then you are not justified yet.

Becoming Reformed means Accepting Roman Catholics as True Church and not Repenting of Infant Baptism

April 1, 2019

Becoming Reformed these days has nothing to do with teaching that Christ died only for the elect. The Reformed clergyman may on occasion teach that election helped you to believe in the false Christ who died for everyone. But the Reformed not only don’t teach elecction on Sunday morning. They don’t teach at any time that God only imputed the sins of the elect to Christ.

Instead the Reformed teach that Christ’s death has “infinite and sufficient” potential for all sinners. Instead of teaching election, the Reformed teach “infant baptism” The Reformed teach that even the water adminstered by the “Roman Catholic Church” has saving efficaccy, not necessarly at the time of the watering, but at some later point.

it is not a problem for Reformed people to accept the infant baptism of the “Roman Catholics” because even if they don’t agreethat the “Roman Catholics” teach the gospel,the Reformed teach that they and their children become Christians without hearing and believing the gospel. They take the “sovereignty of God” to mean that God does not need the gospel as a means to save sinners.

Though they accept Arminianism as one “good enough gospel”, though they accept Roman Catholicism as gospel, it’s not that big a deal to them, because many of the Reformed think that Christians are Christians already without conversion or gospel. Along with the rest of ritual Christendom, the Reformed believe that water baptism is not something they do but rather something that God does. They believe that, even though God is sovereign, God does not save apart from water baptism. (Even though they say they don’t do the baptism but that God does, the reformed will offer to baptise you, on the condition that you have not already been baptised by some other group –Roman Catholics, Arminians, whatever just so long as they said the word Trinity).

Even though they argue that infant baptism is much better in showing inability and passivity, the Reformed will also boast about “we do baptism for adults also” but only in the cases when the Roman Catholics or somebody else didn’t baptise you as a baby first. Then the Reformed brag about how tolerant and “catholic” they are—-since they teach the potential saving efficacy of infant baptism, they don’t ask for “re-baptism”, but will even offer you “second-rate” adult baptism if you haven’t had the best kind (infant baptism).

So in most cases “becoming Reformed” has nothing to do with election or the nature and extent of Chrsit’s death. “Becoming Reformed” meaans learning a word that is not in the Bible—the word “sacrament”–and then being indoctrinated that water baptism is something that God does to bring salvation.

No, they are not saying that water baptism automatically brings salvation. A few of them, some of the Reformed, will even mumble something about the “grace of baptism” possibily bringing a “greater curse” on those “in the covenant”. Though they are not teaching that water baptism immediately causes their children to become Christian, they do think their children should be thought of as Christians, not because of any evidence that they have heard or believed the gospel, but because the parents and “church” had God Himself baptise them with water.

the song says
Father Abraham had many sons
Many sons had Father Abraham

The Bible says that not all Israel is Israel
Not all the children of Abrahaam are children of Abraham
Many children of Abraham do not believe the gospel
The Bible is very very clear that not all the children of Abraham are children of Abraham .

John 8:37 I know you are children of Abraham, but you are trying to kill me
John 8:56 Your father Abraham was overjoyed that he would see My day; he saw it and rejoiced
John 8:59 They picked up stones to throw at Him. But Jesus was hidden and went out of the temple complex

Abraham is not the father of us all. Abraham is the father of many physical children, and some of those physical children believe the gospel. Some of those physical children were the fathers of Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ Himself was one of the children of Abraham.

Abraham is the father of many physical chudren.
And Abraham is the father (in another way) of all those who believe the gospel.
And Abraham is the father (in yet another way) of one child, who is Jesus Christ (not a person who believes the gospel, but the person revealed in the gospel)

Abrahaam is not exactly like Moses, but like Moses, Abraham is promised children, a land and a nation. So when we say that Abraham is our father, we are not saying that Abraham is the mediator of the new covenant. Abraham was justified before God a long time before Christ died, and it was Christ’s death imputed by God to Abraham that caused Abraham to be justified.

John Owen–We must grant distinct covenants, rather than merely a twofold administration of the same covenant. We must do so, provided always that the way of reconciliation and salvation was the same under both. But it will be said, ‘if the way of reconciliation and salvation is the same under both, then indeed they are the same for the substance of them is but one.’ And I grant that this would inevitably follow, if reconciliation and salvation by Christ were to be obtained not only under the old covenants, but by virtue of the old covenants, then they must be the same for substance with the new covenant
But this is not so; for no reconciliation with God nor salvation could be obtained by virtue of the old covenants, though all believers in the gospel were
reconciled, justified, and saved, by virtue of the promise, while they were under the old covenants

John Owen—“No blessing can be given us for Christ’s sake, unless, in order of nature, Christ be first reckoned unto us… God’s reckoning Christ, in our present sense, is the imputing of Christ unto ungodly, unbelieving sinners for whom he died, so far as to account him theirs, and to bestow faith and grace upon them for his sake. This, then, I say, at the accomplishment of the appointed time, the Lord reckons, and accounts, and makes out his Son Christ, to such and such sinners, and for his sake gives them faith.” 10:26

The new covenant is not the same as the Abrahamic covenant There is only one gospel, but there are many different ccovenants. The elect justified before Abraham was born had Christ as their new covenant mediator, because Christ’s blood (Christ’s death) in the future was the cause not only of their justification but also the cause of their faith in the one and only gospel

Since Abraham had two sons, did you ever consider that there was more than one promise to Abraham and that not all the promises to Abraham were to all of Abraham’s children? Wasn’t one of the promises to Abraham in Genesis 17 a threat about being “cut off from the covenant”?

The song says
I am one of them and so are you
So let’s all praise the Lord.
Right arm!

We can and should teach the gospel to our children without teaching them they are already Christians. It is not an advantage to assure children that everybody singing a song is a child of Abraham, It is necessary at some point to teach our children that not all of us believe the gospel. Those who do not yet believe the gospel should not be assured that they are children of Abraham.

Was Esau born in the covenant of grace, but then later lost his justification in Christ? No. 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. The promise of the gospel is for as many as who believe the gospel. The promsie of the gospel is for as many physical chidren of Abraham as the Lord our God will call, for the elect among the Jews and not for the non-electamong the Jews. The promise is for your children, as many of those children as the Lord our God will call, in spite of parents, for the elect alone and not for the non-elect.

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.”

God does NOT promise saving grace in Christ to every baptized baby. God did NOT promise saving grace to Esau in his circumcision. To say that we are all Abraham’s children is to imply that God failed to keep God’s promises. One reason for this confusion is failure to see that God made not only one promise but many differnt promises. God’s grace is NOT ineffectual. The reason for not being justified, some will say, is the unbelief of Esau. Whatever the reason, many of the Reformed are claining a “common grace” that does not save some of those to whom God is gracious. Regardless of the reason they give for grace’s impotence, the teaching is heretical. If God promises saving grace to both Esau and Jacob but the promise fails because of Esau’s unbelief, then the conclusion follows that grace succeeded in the case of Jacob, only because of grace causing Jacob to accept grace.

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.

the songssay
Father Abraham had many sons
Many sons had Father Abraham
I am one of them and so are you
So let’s all praise the Lord.
Right arm, left arm!

Just because you hear the same preacher, or attend the same visible church, this does not mean that I can say that “you” believe the gospel. And if you do not yet know the gospel, then you are not yet believing the gospel as Abraham did, and you are not yet Abraham’s children.

the song says
Father Abraham had many sons
Many sons had Father Abraham
I am one of them and so are you
So let’s all praise the Lord.
Right arm, left arm, right foot!

Augustine not only taught election but taught the right of the “church” to have heretics killed—- “The field is the world, and the world is the church. Compel them to come into the covenant”

and we who reject infant baptism respond: The earth is the Lord’s, and only the Lord can give life. Your water is not God’s water, and your water does not bring life.

Augustine: We bring both wheat and tares into the broad church, and the Lord in the end will show the difference.

We who will not accept “Roman Catholic” infant baptism respond—The field is the world, and the church is NOT the world. The church is not our children but only those God causes to believe the gospel.

Augustine: But original sin is removed, and regeneration given by infant baptism.

We who reject “infant baptism” in response to the Reformed—–We know that you love Augustine but do not teach water regeneration, but nevertheless you do teach the future saving efficacy of infant baptism. We deny that the Abrahamic covenant aand the new covenant are one and the same covenant. God made some promises to Abraham that God did not make to Moses, but our justification comes from neither the Mosaic nor the Abrahamic covenant because We trust Christ the mediator of the new covenant for our justification. The new covenant is not for those who believe the gospel and their children. The new covenant is only for those who believe the gospel. There is only one gospel, but making all the covenants the same is something you made up so that you would not have to repent of infant baptism and so that you could keep your own “Roman Catholic” baptism.

By baptizing the infants of believers, but not infant grandchildren (to a 1000 generations!) of believers, the Reformed stop halfway between the old and the new covenants. They put the “carnal seed” in the covenant but stop the ethnic inheritance at the second generation. I am reminded of Jonathan Edwards refusing the second generation the Lord’s Supper. The trouble with moderation is knowing when to stop!

Of course not all the Reformed are agreed on the reasons they won’t repent of infant baptism. Some say that “biological descent from Abraham is never a sufficient reason for one to expect new covenant blessings.” But the Reformed still say that Biological descent (household faith) IS ONE REASON to expect that their children will be justified.

Even though “church discipline” sounds to them like a non-objective “anabaptist legalism” kind of thing, some of the Reformed do “believe in church discipline”. They “abhor a nominal church.” Conservative Reformed folks only baptize infants of the first generation. Unlike liberal Anglicans who approve indiscriminate infant baptism, some serious Reformed now attempt to determine if parents are believers before they will baptize their children. In this way, they attempt to avoid a nominal church by looking for conversions but at the same time also avoid John the Baptist’s water.

They will not not repent of their infant baptism, and for them to be baptised as those who now believe the gospel would for them a tragic rejection or tradition and Christendom. In the name of tolerance, they will not tolerate the idea that “Roman Catholic” infant baptism was nothing before God. The Reformed are very much like those who hung on to the idea of everybody being circumcised. Even though the Bible nowhere teacches that infant water baptism comes in the place of circumcision, infant water baptism is the way the Reformed hang on to circumcision and to the idea that all covenants are the same covenant. Instead of circumcision being a type pointing to Christ’s death, they have circumcision as a ceremony pointing to the ceremony of infant water baptism.

The animal sacrifices of the old Covenants were NOT “the means of graace” by which T believers “accessed” Christ’s forgiveness. Christ was not sacramentally present in the blood of bulls andd goats. Nor is Christ “sacrmentally present” in the Lord’s Supper of the new covenant. Sacrifices during the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants served a function different from their role as types of the gospel. God required the physical children to make sacrifices every day and additional sacrifices on special days in order that God would continue to bless them with land and many children . If the sacrifices were not made, the physical children of Abraham would be cursed. If they were made incorrectly, their priests would be killed

Romaans 9: It is not as though the word of God has failed… not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7Neither are they all children because they are Abraham’s children. On the contrary, your children will be traced through Isaac….The children of the promise are considered to be the children…11 For though her sons had not been born yet or done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to election would stand 12 not from works but from the One who calls… 13 As it is written: I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau.
14 What should we say then? Is there injustice with God? Absolutely not! 15 For God tells Moses:
I will show mercy
to whom I will show mercy,
and I will have compassion
on whom I will have compassion.

16 So then it does not depend on human will or effort but on God who shows mercy. 17 For the Scripture tells Pharaoh:
I raised you up for this reason
so that I woul display My power in you
and that My name be proclaimed
18 So then, God shows mercy to those God wants to show mercy, and God hardens those God wants to harden.

The Reformed want to talk about infant baptism. The Reformed don’t want to talk about election. If the Reformed have any practical use for election, it serves to imply (wihout specific argument) that election means that their children are promised something by God that other sinners are not promised.

I am not saying that you need to find out if you are elect before you can believe the gospel. To the ccontrary, I am saying that you need to find out what the gospel is before you can believe the gospel.
I am saying that you are not going to know what the gospel is unless you know that the sins of the elect were imputed to Christ.
If you believe in the Christ who died for everybody, then you do not yet believe in the true Christ revealed in the true gospel

John 3:32 The One who comes from heaven testifies to what He has seen and heard, yet no one accepts His testimony. 33 The one who has accepted His testimony has affirmed that God is true. 34 For God sent Him, and He speaks God’s words…God gives Him the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hands. 36 The one who believes in the Son has lasting life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God REMAINS on them.

John 5: 24 “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes HIM WHO SENT ME has lasting l life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.

The Son loves the Father and shows the Father everything the Son is doing.

John 5:19 Then Jesus replied, “I assure you: The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows Him everything He is doing, and He will show Him greater works than these so that you will be amazed. 21 And as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son also gives life to anyone the Son wants to give life .
John 5: 27 And He has granted Him the right to pass judgment, because He is Son of Man.

God’s Election is not Based on God’s Justice

June 3, 2018

A Calvinist Attempting to Explain God’s election—“God the Son procured His Father’s favor” (Sonny Hernandez, High Calvinism, p 91)

This is wrong. It’s backwards. God’s favor for the elect resulted in God’s redemption given by God the Son In His death as satisfaction of God’s law

God’s election is not based on God’s foresight of Christ’s death for the elect
Christ’s death for the elect is based on God’s favor to the elect in Christ

God’s election is not because of God’s justice
God’s election shows God’s nature
it’s not only God’s justice but also God’s sovereignty that show God’s nature

Romans 8: If God is for us, who is against us?
32 God did not even hold back His own Son
but God gave the Son up for us
how will God not also with giving the Son give us everything?
33 Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect?
God is the One who justifies.

John 3: 16 “For God loved in this way–God gave His One and Only Son, in order that as many as who believe in the Son will not perish but have lasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn but to save through the Son

Since God has never had any love or mercy for the non-elect, the non-elect have no additional guilt for “how they react to God’s love an mercy”. But like the elect were when they elect were born, the non-elect are born already guilty before God

Whatever God ordains is not good, because God also ordains evil. This is why we need to know God’s law, because God’s nature is not only revealed in the gospel but also in divine law. We can’t take “the inductive” approach to history to know what’s good for us to do. Matthew 26: 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed

“As it is written”. Even as prophesy is fulfilled, sin is sin and will be punished as sin by death, either the death of Christ or by the death of the non-elect.

Thomas Boston–The Mosaic covenant could never be said to be a covenant of works when it has such mercy in it to sinful men Mark Mcculley—The Mosaic covenant is not a republishing of the covenant of works because there was never any “covenant of works” with Adam published in the first place. God never proposed (plan a) to Adam that Adam could gain justification and lasting life by works. God the Father never proposed to God the Son that God could gain justification for anybody apart from Christ’s death

God’s election is not based on some idea of “a covenant of works” or “a covenant of grace” between God the Father and God the Son.

If you say that there is only one “the covenant of grace”, and that the Mosaic covenant is an “administration of the covenant of grace”, of course you can’t say that the Mosaic law is a covenant of works—– put most of the Jews out of “the covenant of grace” sure, but never put out infants, let them have water (baptism as “means of grace”) because it’s merely a different form of the grace of circumcision…

1. The Bible never says a time would have come when Adam could stop keeping the covenant of works.

2. The Bible never says a time would come when Christ could stop keeping the covenant of works.

3. Therefore Christ is still keeping the covenant of works.

4. OR there is NO “covenant of works” in the Bible for Christ, because Christ’s death (one act of obedience) purchased all the blessings of salvation for all those for whom Christ died.

Matthew 21: 43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing its[l] fruit. 44 Whoever falls on this stone will be broken to pieces. But on whoever the stone falls, the stone will grind them to powder!”

A backwards dispensational interpretation–The kingdom of God will be taken away from the Americans and given to the nation of Israel.

a Reformed covenant theology—-The only children of Abraham are those in the sacramental church. Abraham has no other children except those watered by the visible church. The kingdom of God has been taken away from Jews merely by natural generation from Abraham, and the kingdom has been given to us, and to our children by natural generation. But when our children by natural generation are watered by the visible church, they are children of Abraham

Matthew 27: 25 All the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!

David Gordon—-“John Murray and his followers believe that the only relation God sustains to people is that of Redeemer. I would argue, by contrast, that God was just as surely Israel’s God when God cursed the nation as when God blessed it. God’s pledge to be Israel’s God, via the terms of the Sinai administration, committed God to curse Israel for disobedience just as much as to bless her for obedience. In being Israel’s God, God sustained the relation of covenant suzerain to her. God did not bless or curse any other nation for its covenant fidelity or infidelity. In this sense, God was not the God of other nations as he was the God of Israel. (p 120 “By Faith Alone”)

Donald Macleod—”It was no part of the work of Christ to make God love us, The very fact of his being on earth at all was proof of the divine love. The business of the atonement, therefore, was to propitiate the God who already loves us: to lay the foundation for an advocacy directed towards him specifically as Father (1 John 2: 1). God unequivocally requires such propitiation, but in the last analysis God also provides the propitiation and God even becomes the propitiation.

The Father elects us in Christ because of the Father’s love for Christ. The Father elects us in Christ because of the Father’s love for elect sinners.

God’s justice in Christ is NOT the cause of God’s love, but it is the necessary means of God’s love.

The death of Christ is not the cause of God’s election in love.
God’s election in love is the cause of the death of Christ.
Jesus, the incarnate Son of God in human flesh, is the foundation of election by being Himself the object of election.

I Peter 1:20 Christ was foreknown /elected before the creation of the world but was revealed at the end of the ages for you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Christ from the dead and gave Christ glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Bavinck—As a reaction against this came the development of anti-neonomianism, which had justification precede faith, and antinomianism which reduced justification to God’s eternal love…But the gospel mentions no names and does not say to anyone, personally: Your sins have been forgiven. Therefore it is not proper for any man to take as his starting point the belief that his sins have been forgiven.

According to Antinomians, justification was nothing else than the love of God which is not concerned about the sins of man, which does not require atonement in Christ, and which only needs to be proclaimed in order to enable man to believe. Faith to the antinomians is nothing but a renouncing of the error that God was ever the enemy of the elect.

Bavinck—If one says that “justification as an act immanent in God” must of necessity be eternal, then it should be remembered that taken in that sense everything, including creation, incarnation, atonement, calling, regeneration, is eternal. Whoever would speak of an eternal creation would give cause for great misunderstanding. Besides, the proponents of this view back off themselves, when they assert strongly that eternal justification is not the only, full, and complete justification, but that it has a tendency and purpose to realise itself outwardly. This amounts really to the usual distinction between the decree and its execution.

The counsel of God and all decrees contained therein as a unit are without doubt eternal “immanent acts”, but the external works of God, creation, preservation, governing, redemption, justification, etc., are in the nature of the case “transient acts.” As works they do not belong to the plan of God’s ordering but to the execution of God’s plan.

There is much that we know that we don’t know (“negative theology”) But we should avoid saying that only God the Father elects, and avoid saying that God the Son does not give law or create or choose. We should not leave out God the Holy Spirit

The history of the execution of God’s reveals who God is

We can’t just “soundbite” —as in, “salvation is really all about God’s purpose”

Any “covenant” is cut in history

The new covenant is not the Abrahamic covenant

Israel is never simply Israel (we have to keep still paying attention to the different senses of the Israel ) and NOT say “well we have our spiritual eyes on now and read the OT in terms of what our “one covenant of grace” system already thinks it know about God (Father Son and Holy Spirit)

I am a “federalist”, but “federalism” does not depend on “the covenant of works” and “the covenant of grace” Federalism does not depend on a covenant between the Father and the Son. Federalism is two Adams, two legal representatives God the Son depends on God the Father to be God the Son in the same way that God the Father depends on God the Son to be God the Father. As God, God the Son is equal to God the Father and in no way subordinate. As human, God the Son is necessarily subordinate to God the Father.

Palmer Robertson—“The eternal intention of God to redeem a people to himself certainly must be affirmed, but to speak concretely of an intertrinitarian ‘covenant’ with terms and conditions between Father and Son mutually endorsed before the foundation of the world is to extend the bounds of scriptural evidence beyond propriety.”

Letham– “To describe the relations of the three persons in the Trinity as a covenant, or to affirm that there as a need for them to enter into covenantal arrangements is to open the door to heresy. The will of the Trinity is one; the works of the Trinity are indivisible. For all the good intentions of those who proposed it, the construal of the relations of the three persons of the Trinity in covenantal terms is a departure from classic Trinitarian orthodoxy.”

Bill Parker–What is Salvation, 29 It is not the doctrine of election
that bars sinners from salvation and going to heaven. It is man’s
unbelief that keeps them from being saved.

Mark puts to question—is it man”s unbelief of the gospel that condemns
them? Or were all sinners already born condemned?

If you think the elect were never condemned, how can it be said that
it’s unbelief of the gospel that causes the non-elect to be condemned?
Many who never heard any gospel to reject are already condemned.

later on p 29, “The truth of election does not teach that some sinners
want to be saved but cannot be because of election.”

One, “want to be saved” does not change the fact that God
never had any love or grace or provision of grace for the non-elect.
Non-election will in fact keep any non-elect person from being
saved.

Two, the problem is that many of the non-elect want to be saved but
not by means of God’s gospel.

Three, the problem is that many of the non-elect want to find out that
they are already justified before and without any faith in the true
gospel. They want justification before God without any repentance from
the false gospel.

I find it interesting that some of the very same preachers who are
teaching “eternal election is eternal justification”are the very same
people who also like to say that “non-election is not condemnation”.
They quote CD Cole—“Election is not the cause of anybody going to
hell, for election is unto salvation Neither is non-election
responsible for the damnation of sinners. Sin is the thing that sends
men to hell, and all men are sinners by nature and practice. Sinners
are sinners altogether apart from election or non-election. It does
not follow that because election is unto salvation that non-election
is unto damnation. Sin is the damning element in human life. Election
harms nobody.’

But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed—witnessed by the law

February 16, 2018

I deny that Adam was “under a covenant of works”. I don’t even say that Christ was “under a covenant of works”? For many Reformed Baptists, my denials are equivalent to saying that justified sinners are to be saved by their own works. At the least, they think denial of “the covenant of works” amounts to saying that God saves sinners without satisfying God’s law.

But here’s the problem with that “either/or” approach to those who deny “the covenant of works”. I do agree that Adam was under law. But I do not think Adam “could have earned life” from the law. I do think that Adam did earn death for all sinners. And I do think that Christ did earn life for all elect sinners. Many who teach “the covenant of works” argue that I can’t say that Christ earned life unless I agree that Adam “could have” earned life.

But here’s the thing I say that people on both sides of the “could Adam merit” question won’t say. I say that Christ earned life for the elect by Christ’s death. On one side, many like Norman Shepherd and John Murray deny that Adam could merit from the law, because they say Adam was under grace even before Adam’s sin. On the other side, many like Meredith Kline and Mark Karlberg deny that Christ could merit life from His death, because they insist that Christ only merited life “by keeping the law”

I do think that Christ kept the Mosaic law. As the person who is now both God and human, Christ keeping the Mosaic law was not optional for Christ. I am not saying that keeping the Mosaic law “qualified” Christ to save. But I am saying that Christ’s death (as the one who has now become also human) is what satisfied God’s law and earned all the blessings of salvation for all those in the new covenant (all those ever in the new covenant are elect).

I am not saying that Christ’s death satisfied “the covenant of works”. I am saying that Christ’s death satisfied God’s law. I don’t equate God’s law with “the covenant of works”. As a matter of fact, those who affirm “the covenant of works” also are not saying that Christ’s death satisfied “the covenant of works”. What they end up saying is that Christ keeping the Mosaic law is what satisfied “the covenant of works”. They say it was not Christ’s death but His acts of obedience (like circumcision) which satisfied “the covenant of works”. Throw in Christ’s water baptism and some other things Christ did (not commanded perhaps in the Mosaic law) and they think that’s the part that gets us to where we are saved not by our law-keeping but by Christ’s law-keeping. In any case, they keep telling us that Christ’s death was not enough to satisfy the “covenant of works” without Christ’s going back to do what Adam should have done. (Strange to say, what Adam should have done sounds like “Adam should have kept the Mosaic law”. But in this process, “the law” gets divided up into “substance and administration accident”, or into “moral vs ceremonial”)

if all this sounds way too complicated for you, ask yourselves what you think the “righteousness” is that God justifies to the elect. Is that righteousness Christ’s death or is that righteousness Christ’s law-keeping? If you don’t want to bother to answer that question, why go on so long about Christ’s righteousness imputed being the gospel?

Romans 1: 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. 17 For in it God’s righteousness is revealed

Romans 3:31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Romans 3:31 is often used to support “use of the moral substance of the Mosaic law” as the standard of conduct for justified Christians. But in context, Romans 3:21-31 is the clearest foundation possible for the doctrine of a definite (not only sovereign but also just) atonement, because Romans 3:31 teaches that Christ’s death was a law-work, a satisfaction of law for the sins of the elect. Christ’s death was a penal substitution, a propitiation. Propitiation means that the law must be faced. Paul’s gospel does not substitute one kind of righteousness for another kind of righteousness. The gospel is not about an “end-run” around the law. The righteousness of the gospel comes by Christ taking the law head-on, satisfying its curse by His death. But folks on both side of “the covenant of works” question don’t think Christ’s death is enough, and mostly on both sides they don’t talk about Christ having only died for the sins of the elect.

Romans 3: 21 But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed—witnessed by the law

Paul cannot let the fact that the gospel is “apart from the law” as regards sinners and the law obscure the equally important truth that Christ’s death is a righteousness that satisfies law. Many Calvinists only talk about election and regeneration and not about Christ’s death as specific only for the elect. And even when most Calvinist talk about the extent of Christ’s death (for whom?), these Calvinists still explain Christ’s death only in terms of God’s sovereignty and NOT in terms of God’s justice. But the nature of Christ’s death under law is such that all for whom Christ DIED must in time be placed under grace and not under law. It would be UNJUST if any for whom Christ be in the end left under condemnation. But most Calvinists either deny or never teach that God imputed the specific sins of the elect to Christ.

I agree with John Owen—“No blessing can be given us for Christ’s sake, unless, in order of nature, Christ be first reckoned unto us… God’s reckoning Christ, in our present sense, is the imputing of Christ unto ungodly, unbelieving sinners for whom he died, so far as to account him theirs, and to bestow faith and grace upon them for his sake. This, then, I say, at the accomplishment of the appointed time, the Lord reckons, and accounts, and makes out his Son Christ, to such and such sinners, and for his sake gives them faith.”. 10:26

Galatians 3: 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— (Deuteronomy 21:23)

Christ is not only God but also human (and Jewish) The Sins of the elect were counted to Christ, then Christ paid the debt owed to the justice of God’s law, and Christ even paid to purchase faith and all other blessings for these elect

I hate to be put on either side of “the covenant of works” debate. Most of those now denying “the covenant of works” are saying that Christ was under grace so they can confuse law and grace for Christians. John Murray and Norman Shepherd have been followed up by Banner of Truth puritans like Mark Jones who tell us we need to pick a side—agree to the covenant of works, or say Christ was under grace. And then Jones (with others) says that Christ being under grace means being under both law and grace because law and grace are not opposites. And then Jones (with others) says that Christ being under both law and grace means that we also are under law and grace.

http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/04/can-humans-merit-before-god-2.php

https://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/is-the-sanctification-of-a-christian-like-the-justification-of-christ/

Jones, p 21— “If Christ is our mediator, our union with him means not only that we must be holy (i.e., necessity), but also that we will be able to be like him (i.e., motive)… “Whatever grace we receive for our holiness first belonged to the Savior (John 1:16). There was a perfect synergy involved in Jesus’ human obedience and the Holy Spirit’s influence…Following this pattern, although man is completely passive at the moment of regeneration, he cooperates with God in sanctification.”

Mark Jones–Man exercises faith in order to receive the saving benefits of Christ’s works of impetration… Good works a necessary part of our perseverance in the faith in order to receive eternal life. Good works are consequent conditions of having been saved.

Nathan J. Langerak –What Mark Jones means by “consequent conditions” is that they are new conditions of salvation imposed on the saved person because the person is now saved. No benefits applied before faith is exercised? Is not faith itself applied before it is exercised? What about regeneration?”

https://rfpa.org/blogs/news/the-charge-of-antinomianism-3-against-an-unconditional-covenant

Mark Jones– Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2). Does this mean “favor” as many English translations suggest? Or should we translate the Greek as “grace”? God may be “gracious” to Jesus – not as though Jesus sinned – because God is gracious to his creatures. How much more to his beloved Son? God showed favor to his favorite Christ’s human nature was sanctified and filled with graces (Gal. 5:22).

http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/04/merit-could-adam-merit-anythin.php

Bavinck: “If humans in general cannot have communion with God except by the Holy Spirit, then this applies even more powerfully to Christ’s human nature” (RD, 3:292).

Mark Jones explains that people like me (who deny Christ’s law-keeping imputed) are like

“Gataker and Vines, who used Anselm’s argument to reject the imputation of the active obedience of Christ. Christ’s death was supererogatory and therefore his death merited eternal life. They argued Anselm’s point that Christ’s obedience is required, but his death is not required. But Goodwin argued that the Assembly must grant the assumption of the Anselmians that Christ, in his humanity, was obliged to fulfill the law. However, for Goodwin, Christ, as the God-man, had a unique dignity and so was not obliged to keep the law in the same way a creature is, especially since his law-keeping was voluntary.

Mark Jones—Daniel Featley also held that Christ’s hypostatical union meant that he was freed from the obligation of the law. True, Christ had a human nature, but he was not a human person. The dignity of the person, which in the case of Christ is infinite, alters his relationship to the law. As a result, Goodwin and Featley argued that since Christ was not obliged to obey the law but did so anyway, he must have been doing so on behalf of his people. Goodwin’s position was that Christ’s obedience to the law was not an ontological necessity but rather a functional necessity by virtue of Christ’s pretemporal agreement with the Father to fulfill the law on behalf of sinners. [“a non-indebted work”] Adam did not come freely, hence his obedience was “indebted,” unlike Christ’s, which was not indebted. Therefore the parallel breaks down at that point concerning merit between the two Adams.

Mark Jones–Merit must be something that is not owed: Christ freely came to obey in our place, hence it was not owed. Adam did not freely make the decision to place himself under the law of the covenant of works. Adam was upheld by the Spirit in the Garden, but it was not his Spirit. Merit should proceed from the powers of the one who deserves it: Christ relied upon his Father’s grace – the grace of the Holy Spirit – but, ontologically speaking, the will and essence of God are one, and therefore Christ’s merit proceeded “from the powers of the one who deserves it.” The rewards given to Christ for his meritorious obedience were of use to him because of the glory that would come to his name. God is jealous for his glory, so when Christ merited glory there was no threat of God sharing his glory. Finally, the rewards given to Christ are proportionate to the work he performed. Adam’s reward would have been far greater, assuming we say that Adam would have been granted heavenly life, than what he “worked for”.

Mark Jones—Adam’s obedience WAS MADE POSSIBLE not because he obeyed simply in his own strength, but also because Adam had assisting grace from God. William Ames argues that Adam persisted in the garden by grace and that “grace was not taken from him before he had sinned.” The acts were Adam’s, but that does not mean that he did not receive power from God

Mark McCulley asks—So Adam did not sin because God took away grace, because God took away grace because Adam sinned? This sounds like Arminius and Amyraut, like Wesley and Andrew Fuller.

Amyraut—“Sin seems to have changed not only the whole face of the universe, but even the entire design of the first creation, and if one may speak this way, seems to have induced to adopt new councels”

Mark Jones– Some Puritans were not altogether keen on the use of “works” and “grace” as the principal designations of these two covenants for the simple reason that “there was very much of Grace and Favor in both.” Personally, I don’t have a problem with the two-covenant schema described as a covenant of works and a covenant of grace, but we shouldn’t assume that the covenant of works was devoid of grace. Patrick Gillespie –Even though in the covenant of works the condition was obedience and the reward resulted from works, even that Covenant was a Covenant of Grace. God freely endued man with all the habits of Grace in perfection”
.
Mark Jones– What does Bryan Estelle mean by meritorious grounds”and how can fallen sinners merit anything, even corporately in relation to temporal blessings? Those who want to affirm “ex pacto merit” should, if they wish to maintain agreement with the Reformed orthodox of the seventeenth century, also be comfortable with (and perhaps insist upon) pre-Fall grace.

Mark Jones– “The definition of grace as God’s favor in the place of demerit is, I believe, wrong-headed because Christ received God’s grace. Christ was also endowed with the habits of grace in order to keep the terms of the covenant. In order to keep the Adam-Christ parallels, we must not abandon the concept of GRACE GIVEN THEM BOTH but actually affirm it. It has been a peculiar oddity that some assume that the parallels between the two Adams means that Adam could not have received the grace of God because Christ did not. But this view is based on the fatal assumption that God was not gracious to Christ in any sense.”

Mark McCulley—Mark Jones is saying that Christ was under grace, therefore it was not strict justice that satisfied God’s law by Christ’s death. Mark Jones is also saying that Adam was under grace, therefore grace failed Adam. I don’t know which one of these two statements is worse!

The gospel is not about an “end-run” around the law. The righteousness of the gospel comes by Christ taking the law head-on, satisfying its curse by His death. But folks on both sides of “the covenant of works” debate don’t think Christ’s death is enough, and mostly on both sides they don’t talk about Christ having only died for the sins of the elect.

Romans 3: 21 But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed—witnessed by the law

Paul cannot let the fact that the gospel is “apart from the law” cancel out the equally important truth that Christ’s death is a righteousness that satisfies law. Romans 3:31 We uphold the law. Many Calvinists only talk about election and regeneration and not about Christ’s death as specific only for the elect. Most Calvinist talk who ever dare talk about the extent for whom Christ died still explain Christ’s death only in terms of God’s sovereignty and NOT in terms of God’s justice. But the nature of Christ’s death under law is such that all for whom Christ DIED must in time be placed under grace and not under law. it would be UNJUST if any for whom Christ be in the end left under condemnation. But most Calvinists either deny or never teach that God imputed the specific sins of the elect to Christ.

Romans 6:7 a person who has died is justified from sin… we died with Christ… we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over Him. 10 For in light of the fact that He died, He died to sin once for all; but in light of the fact that He lives, He lives to God. 11 So you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

https://jamesward.bandcamp.com/track/isaiah-53-he-shall-be-satisfied

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

October 4, 2017

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.

http://www.apoorwretch.com/2014/06/baptist-answers-to-pca-pastor-mark.html

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/leithart/2017/10/baptists-talk-babies/?

http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2014/06/daddy-am-i-really-forgiven.php

http://www.biblicalhorizons.com/rite-reasons/no-20-daddy-why-was-i-excommunicated/

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

https://contrast2.wordpress.com/2016/05/17/does-teaching-someone-the-bible-make-them-a-christian/

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. ”

http://www.opc.org/os.html?article_id=141

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….. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/evangelicalpulpit/2014/11/no-sacraments-no-protestantism/#ixzz3L1NmJLfk

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.”
http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/09/13/kingdom-through-covenant-a-review-by-michael-horton/

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.

If God’s sovereignty causes it to happen, it must be grace-which is why you were born a Christian and an American

February 14, 2017

Douthat–“That’s not who we are.” So said President Obama, again and again throughout his administration, in speeches urging Americans to side with him against the various outrages perpetrated by Republicans. And now so say countless liberals, urging their fellow Americans to reject the exclusionary policies and America-first posturing of President Donald Trump. The problem with this rhetorical line is that it implicitly undercuts itself. If close to half of America voted for Republicans in the Obama years and support Trump today, then clearly something besides the pieties of cosmopolitan liberalism is very much a part of who we are.”

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/kingdom-through-covenant-a-review-by-michael-horton

Mike Horton–Hebrews assumes a category of covenant members who are in some sense beneficiaries of the Spirit’s common work through the means of grace. They are covenant members “who have once been enlightened” (ancient church documents use “baptized” and “enlightened” interchangeably), “who have tasted the heavenly gift [the Supper], and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away” Specifically, they have fallen away from the new covenant… Through their covenant membership they have shared in God’s common grace, and now, if they respond in unbelief, they will bear the curses of the new covenant. A Baptist interpretation cannot account for this category of common covenant beneficiaries of grace who spurn the objective common grace delivered to them and fall away. It is only covenant theology that accounts for this tertium quid between “foreigners to the covenant” and “elect members.” Some non-elect brothers and sisters share the new covenant in common with the elect.

Mike Horton—”Covenant theology does not teach that the covenant of grace itself is “breakable”. God promises his saving grace in Christ to each person in baptism, whether they embrace this promise or not… 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 with all of his benefits. …..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? ”

We did not choose to be born in America, so doesn’t that prove that it’s grace to be born in America?

If God’s sovereignty causes it to happen, it must be grace—This is why you were born a Christian and this is why you need to become a Christian?

Was the election of Obama and Trump an accident OR was it OUR mistake?

If American cannot become some better, isn’t that saying that America is equivalent to what America always was?

We made some bad decisions, but that’s not who we are?

If America did something terrible even one time, does that mean that American could maybe do it again?

When we go to the meetings, we say, We are Americans, it’s been four years since we voted

But we were born here, and so we cannot say that we are not Americans anymore (we are not baptists anymore)

We can watch everybody else, but nobody but us can watch us

having a king was not God’s idea
your idea, God told them, but God is still king
and what will happen now with your king
is not God’s will but then again not against God’s will
call it a “hand over”

Since you did not choose your parents, and you did not choose where to be born
therefore it must be all grace, not a choice

so why do you hear so many sermons commanding you to “become what you are”?

Do this because of who you are now or because of who you will become—Those appeals makes sense.

But become what you are?

If we are x, we do not need to become x unless of course there is some kind of “as if fiction” happening.

Because you are justified, become thankful

If you are justified, you stay justified, unless you are in a covenant where Christ is not the mediator.

if you are justified, you don’t become condemned, unless you are in a covenant which is not governed by election and take as good news an atonement which is not governed by election.

Nobody has always been justified, but those who have been justified are not still being justified, unless they are in a covenant where law is grace and grace is law.

http://www.samstorms.com/all-articles/post/four-views-on-eternal-security

Sam Storms: “The contention is that the blessings listed in Hebrews 6: 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. The contention is that to such persons the warning passages, threatening the consequences of apostasy, are addressed. Other views are faulted for failing to recognize “a category for a person who is in the covenant but not personally united by living faith to Jesus Christ”

Sam 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 ) apart from faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. …

A “synagogue sermon” which scandalizes both exclusivists and inclusivists

December 12, 2016

John 1: 6 There was a man named John
who was sent from God.
7 John came as a witness
to testify about the light,
so that all would believe through him
8 John was not the light,
but John came to testify about the light.

I Corinthians 15: 13 But each in his own order:Christ, the first fruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when Christ hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when Christ abolishes all rule and all authority and power. 25 For Christ must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy to be abolished is death

The age to come has now come, the age to come has not yet come. The day of recompense to come has not yet come, and this explains the discontinuity between the old covenants and the new covenant. Some of us focus on the unbelief of the disciples and John the Baptist, and others of us notice their lack of understanding of the meaning of Christ’s kingdom. The age to come which has now come with Christ is not the same as the ages of the old covenants but it is also not the same as another age to come after this age. That day will be a day of vengeance and recompense. As usual I want to notice what tends to get skipped or not commented on some famous texts

Isaiah 35—The wilderness and the dry land will be glad;
the desert will rejoice and blossom like a rose.
2 The land will blossom abundantly
and will also rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon.
They will see the glory of the Lord,
the splendor of our God.
3 Strengthen the weak hands,
steady the shaking knees!
4 Say to the cowardly:
“Be strong; do not fear!
Here is your God; VENGEANCE IS COMING
GOD’S RETRIBUTION IS COMING; God will save you.”

5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then the lame will leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy,
for water will gush in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
7 the parched ground will become a pool of water,
and the thirsty land springs of water.
In the haunt of jackals, in their lairs,
there will be grass, reeds, and papyrus.
8 A road will be there and a way;
it will be called the Holy Way.
The unclean will not travel on it,
but it will be for the one who walks the path.
Even the fool will not go astray.
9 There will be no lion there,
and no vicious beast will go up on it;
they will not be found there.
But the redeemed will walk on it,
10 and the redeemed of the Lord will return
and come to Zion with singing,
crowned with unending joy.
Joy and gladness will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee.

Isaiah 61: The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me,
because the Lord has anointed Me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim LIBERTY to the captives
and FREEDOM to the prisoners;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s FAVOR,
and the DAY OF OUR GOD’S VENGEANCE

to comfort all who mourn,
3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion;
to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
festive oil instead of mourning,
and splendid clothes instead of despair.
And they will be called righteous trees,
planted by the Lord
to glorify Him.
6 But you will be called the Lord’s priests;
they will speak of you as SERVANTS of our God;
you will eat the wealth of the nations,
and you will boast in their riches.
7 Because your shame was double,
and they cried out, “Disgrace is their portion,”
therefore, they will possess double in their land,
and lasting joy will be theirs.
8 For I Yahweh
will faithfully GIVE THEM RECOMPENSE
10 I greatly rejoice in the Lord,
I exult in my God;
for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation
and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness,
as a groom wears a turban
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth produces its growth,
and as a garden enables what is sown to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.

When Jesus came to his own, his own received Him not. Instead they were SCANDALIZED by Jesus. They were OFFENDED by Jesus. The conservatives who liked the status quo thought Jesus was being too “political”. And those who wanted to overcome the Roman occupation thought that Jesus was being too “spiritual” (instead of political).

I often speak of “synagogue sermons” with contempt. By this I mean sermons which are not about Christ but about morality and charity, sermons which could be given to anybody, anywhere. My reference is to “sermons that think they are universal not sectarian” but which carefully exclude (or fail to attend to) anything which might possibly offend anybody. These are sermons that could be given in a mosque or a synagogue with the same (very little) effect. I hear these sermons in Christian churches, both liberal and conservative.

But there is one “synagogue sermon” which caused its hearers to be angry and to attempt violence against Jesus. Were they angry because they were atheists who did not believe in God? No. Were they angry because Jesus left off the part of the quotation from Isaiah which left out the part about the Day of Recompense? It’s not obvious that this was the case. Were they disappointed that the Age to Come they had expected had not yet come? Perhaps, but’s it’s not clear. Were they scandalized because Jesus talked about including Gentiles as well as Jews? I don’t think so. I think the main offense was that Jesus, like John the Baptist, talked about not all the Jews being included. Jesus was not “new perspective” nor was Jesus teaching a new gospel which was “more not less inclusive”.

Luke 4: 16 Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. As usual, Jesus entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him, and unrolling the scroll, He found the place where it was written:

18 The Spirit of the Lord is on Me,
because He has anointed Me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent Me
to proclaim freedom to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set free the oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
20 Jesus then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down to teach. And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Jesus.21 He began by saying to them, “Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled.”

22 They were all speaking well of Him and were amazed by the gracious words that came from His mouth….Jesus said to them, “No prophet is accepted in his hometown.25 But I say to you, there were certainly many widows in Israel in Elijah’s days, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months while a great famine came over all the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them—but to a widow in Sidon. 27 And in the prophet Elisha’s time, there were many in Israel who had serious skin diseases, yet not one of them was healed —only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was enraged.29 They got up, drove Jesus out of town, and brought Him to the edge of the hill that their town was built on, intending to hurl Jesus over the cliff.30 But Jesus passed right through the crowd and went on His way.

Even though John the Baptist may not have been confused about the exclusion of some Jews from the kingdom, even John was bewildered and doubting about the nature of the kingdom age which had come with Jesus. What the old covenants had taught about the age to come seemed like it was all done at one time, not in two ages, with still another age to come. John the Baptist had already scandalized many, both Pharisees and Sadducees

Matthew 3 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!” 3 For he is the one spoken of through the prophet Isaiah, who said:
A voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
Prepare the way for the Lord;
make His paths straight!
5 Then people from Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the vicinity of the Jordan were flocking to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins. 7 When John saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to the place of his water baptism, John said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance. 9 And don’t presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones! 10 Even now the ax is ready to strike the root of the trees! Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

John the Baptist preached news about Christ as the one who had come to fulfill the law and the prophets. John pointed to Christ as the one who had come to bring the Day of Recompense. John the Baptist preached the law in order to point to Christ as the gospel.

Matthew 11: 2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, John sent a message by his disciples 3 and asked Jesus, “Are You the One who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

4 Jesus replied to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see:5 the blind see, the lame walk, those with skin diseases are healed,the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news.6 And if anyone is not OFFENDED BECAUSE OF ME, he is blessed.”

7 Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind? 8 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothes? Look, those who wear soft clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and far more than a prophet. 10 This is the one it is written about:
Look, I am sending My messenger ahead of You;
he will prepare Your way before You.

Chaplains of the status quo teach us that it was all a big misunderstanding, that some people think that the kingdom is political but it is not. Chaplains of the status quo wear soft clothes and live in king’s palaces. But John, in preaching the law, was negative about the chaplains and the status quo. John was positive about a coming day of wrath and recompense. Even though John the Baptist was wrong about the timing, John was not wrong about God’s law being satisfied in the future. God’s wrath is satisfied not only in Christ’s death which was ordained by God but which was organized by the Jewish political status quo. God’s wrath was shown in that age by the Roman destruction of the temple and will be shown in the destruction of all the non-elect in the Day to come.

But all these events , John’s preaching and even the synagogue teaching of Jesus (Luke 4) all happened before Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension. All that preaching had more repenting in the message than it did “believe and you shall be saved”. Without saying that any one person needs to hear law before gospel, it does seem that for a time what is being heard is law as a preparation for the gospel. Do all the law and you will be saved. But you can’t do all the law, so you won’t be saved. Now you are ready for the gospel. But in some stores. it seems like nobody ever gets to the gospel, because everybody is stuck in law-mode, both those who know they are doomed because they can’t do the law and also those who think they do enough of the law and thank God for giving them the sincerity and ability to do the law, and to “at least” be better than those who killed John the Baptist.

Matthew 14 Herod had arrested John, chained him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 since John had been telling him, “It’s not lawful for you to have her!” 5 Though Herod wanted to kill John , Herod feared the crowd, since they regarded John as a prophet. 6 But when Herod’s birthday celebration came, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. 7 So Herod promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. 8 And prompted by her mother, she answered, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter!” 9 Although the king regretted it, Herod commanded that it be granted because of his oaths and his guests. 10 So Herod sent orders and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 John’s head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother.

God does not teach all the law and gospel to any one person at all time, no matter what ‘”soundbite” they have landed on. God did not teach all the law to Adam or to Moses or even in the Sermon on the Mount. And God did not teach all the gospel to Adam or to Abraham or to David or to the disciples and John the Baptist.

Hebrews 2: We must, therefore, pay even more attention to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away. 2 For if the message spoken through angels was legally binding and every transgression and disobedience received a just punishment, 3 how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was first spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him. 4 At the same time, God also testified by signs and wonders, various miracles, and distributions of gifts from the Holy Spirit according to His will. For God has not subjected to angels the world to come that we are talking about.
7 You made him lower than the angels
for a short time;
You crowned him with glory and honor
8 and SUBJECTED EVERYTHING everything under his feet.
For in subjecting everything to Jesus, God left nothing that is not subject to Jesus. As it is, we do NOT YET see everything subjected to him. 9 But we do see Jesus

The age to come has not yet come.

Stanley Hauerwas—We say that the Psalm Sunday crowd got it wrong because they were wanting freedom in this world and in this age, and then we who either love the status quo or think nothing will change say that Jesus was offering only spiritual freedom, a kingdom after we die, and a death which is not really death. Instead of Passover and resurrection, we teach an inherent immortality that claims that all humans are eternal.

That way we can say the kingdom is in our hearts. Instead of obeying the King who was standing among the disciples and who is coming back to earth, we can say that the Sermon on the Mount is only for after we die, and now go out and buy our guns. All we need to do is be careful not to buy those guns as a church but as individuals.

Hauerwas—-“If Jesus is all about getting us to love one another, then why did almost everyone reject Jesus? They did so, I think, because when Jesus was told by the devil that he would be given the power to turn stones to bread, Jesus refused; when Jesus was offered authority over all the kingdoms of this world, he refused; when he was offered the possibility he would not die, he refused. Jesus refused these goods because God’s kingdom cannot be forced into existence using the means of the devil.

Hauerwas—Jesus’s refusal to play the devil’s game does not mean that the kingdom Jesus proclaims is not political. Jesus refuses to use the violence of the world to achieve “peace.” But that does not mean Jess is any less political or that Jesus is not about the securing of peace. His arrest is often thought to represent the apolitical character of Jesus because Jesus commands Peter to put away the sword Peter had used to cut off the ear of the priest’s slave. Jesus rebukes Peter, but Jesus does so because that is not the “cup” the Father has given him. But the cup from which Jesus must drink is no less political for being nonviolent.

Hauerwas—The character of Jesus’s politics is manifest in his response to the high priest who questions Jesus about his teachings in John 18.19-24. That Jesus is questioned by the high priest may suggest that his mission was “religious” rather than political, but such an account cannot be sustained for no other reason than Jesus’s answer: “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in the synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.”

Hauerwas—They tell me that you are the King of Jews. Is that true?” Pilate’s question is meant to see if Jesus is “political.” Jesus responds by asking if Pilate came up with such a view on his own or did others tell him such was the case. “I am not a Jew, am I?” replies Pilate.. “If my kingdom were FROM this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over. ” This is a response used often to deny that Jesus was political. But Pilate rightly saw that Jesus’ denial that his kingship was not of this world is not the denial that Jesus is king. Jesus denied that his kingdom was just another form of Rome.

John Howard Yoder— the Constantinian shift the meaning of the word “Christian” changes. Prior to Constantine it took exceptional courage to be a Christian. After Constantine it takes exceptional courage not to be counted as a Christian. … After the establishment, Christians knew that God was governing the world in Constantine, but they had to take it on faith that within the nominally Christian mass there was a community of true believers. No longer could being a Christian be identified with church membership, since many “Christians” in the church had not chosen to follow Christ. To be a Christian is transmuted to “inward-spirituality.”

Stanley Hauerwas, Matthew (2006)

Saying Babies are Christians Is Just as Much Against the Gospel as Dispensationalism

October 2, 2015

Instead of different dispensations, paedobaptists are committed to an erroneous “one covenant of grace” that includes more than just the elect.
Along with this error about covenants, paedobaptists teach false notions about about “common grace in the covenant” and about “sacramental grace” (even for the non-elect).

John Calvin—“The integrity of the sacrament lies here, that the flesh and blood of Christ are not less truly given to the unworthy than to the elect believers of God; and yet it is true, that just as the rain falling on the hard rock runs away because it cannot penetrate, so the wicked by their hardness repel the grace of God, and prevent it from reaching them. ” http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/calvin/bk4ch17.html

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 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. ” http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/kingdom-through-covenant-a-review-by-michael-horton/

The Horton quotation suggests that only people presumed to be in the church (or in the covenant) can be addressed with the gospel. Is Horton saying that we need to think of our babies as Christians before we can command them to believe the gospel? If not, what is he saying? Is Horton saying that people who don’t go to church and don’t profess to be Christians can’t be warned about the need to believe  the gospel? Or is Horton saying that the only people who need to be warned to believe the gospel are those put in the covenant without first believing the gospel?

Douglas Bond, Grace Works P and R, 2014 p 92—“There are men today who encourage their congregations to tear out the page between the Old and New Testaments in their Bibles. Zealous to avoid the error of dispensationalism, these men make the continuity of the covenants the foundation of their preaching. But I wonder if it is a foundation that is able to support the scandal of grace. If we care about the distinction between law and gospel…then we will train our ears for those who don’t seem to want to keep the distinction between the old and new covenants.Their insistence on ‘the continuity of the covenants’ may prove to be a code phrase for confusing law and gospel. Where there is a merging of the old and new covenants, it will never be the law diminished by gospel. It will always be the gospel fatally diminished by the law.”

The Abrahamic covenant came before the old covenant (the Mosaic covenant), and therefore the Abrahamic covenant is NOT the new covenant. Abraham had two sons.

If circumcision was for Abraham a seal of the promise to Abraham that Abraham would have children and own a lot of land, then we cannot say that circumcision is nothing but a seal of righteousness that he had by faith. The circumcision is a sign of other things also. Circumicision was a sign of more than one thing.

Paedobaptists tend to read the Old Testament as if the Arahamic covenant and the new covenant were the same, and thus reduce the Abrahamic covenant to being only about the righteousness earned by Christ.

Romans 4:11 teaches that circumcision was a sign to Abraham that he Abraham had the righteousness. The circumcision is a sign that Christ will bring in the righteousness, but not a sign to anybody else but Abraham that they have or are promised the righteousness. The righteousness is promised only to as many as believe the gospel.

Israel is a type fulfilled by Christ, not by a mixed body of justified and non-justified folks we call “the church”. Circumcision is a type of the forensic “cutting off” from legal identity in Adam by means of Christ’s death.

Christ’s death is the legal death of the justified elect, and that death is not water, not regeneration, not “covenant membership” in a conditional covenant.

It’s not water that fulfills the type of circumcision. Christ’s death to the law imputed to the elect is the ultimate thing signified by circumcision. Christ did not become cleansed or regenerated, but His blood was shed to satisfy justice, and that’s the central truth to which circumcision speaks.

Paedobaptists tend to minimize or ignore the other preliminary things signified by circumcision. Deyoung writes “And if this spiritual sign—a seal of the righteousness that comes by faith—was administered to Abraham and his infant sons, then we cannot say that the thing signified must always be present before the sign is administered.”,

For the sake of the gospel, we need to see that 1. in the case of Abraham, the righteousness signified had already been imputed to Abraham before circumcision. and 2. there is more than one thing signified but Deyoung has ignored that and now only focuses on the righteousness. 3. and even in regard to the righteousness which is signified, there is an ambiguity in which paedobaptists have their cake and eat it also.

On the one hand, they tell us we can’t know who is justified, and so the sign is not about an infallible knowledge that this infant will be justified. But agreeing with that, why not then give the sign to everybody? But then, on the other hand, their confessions teach that there is a promise to the children of those who are Christians.

Here there is more ambiguity, since first we can’t infallibly know which parents are justified, and second, there is no promise to Christians that they will even have children, and third, What exactly is this promise to the children of those who are Christians?

There is no promise that specific children will be justified. So at the most, what you have is some idea that they are “in the covenant” and thus perhaps more liable to “covenant curses”. But again, how are these infants different from any other infants, since all infants are born guilty in Adam and all need that righteousness, and none of them is promised that righteousness, and they can only know they have it if God gives them faith in the gospel?

Dispensationalists can’t really see the newness of the new covenant, because they can’t let go of the idea that the Abrahamic covenant promised land unconditionally to ethnic Israel. And paedobaptists can’t really see the newness of the new covenant, because they can’t let go of the genealogical principle of the Abrahamic covenant in which they presume that their babies are born Christians.

Despite Christ’s death as the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant, paedobaptists still think there is a genealogical principle at work in the new covenant. They think the Abrahamic covenant is no different from the new covenant, and that the new covenant is no different from the Abrahamic covenant. This is why they read Colossians 2:11-13 and assume that water baptism is the fulfillment of the sign of circumcision.

Renihan— The new covenant is distinct from the biblical covenants that preceded it in history, particularly the Abrahamic covenant. Simply put, the Abrahamic covenant promised (not only Christ the seed to come but also) earthly blessings to Abraham and his offspring. This covenantal relationship was expanded and developed in the Mosaic covenant and the Davidic covenant (the Mosaic covenant added laws for life in Canaan, and the Davidic covenant provided kings over the people). These three covenants established and governed the kingdom of Israel, comprised of Abraham’s people. The … new covenant is established on better promises, different promises. The new covenant alone is the covenant of grace, distinct from the Israelite covenants.

Throughout Israel’s history, many understood the messianic promises and looked to Jesus in faith prior to his advent (Hebrews 4:2-3; 11:13-16). The people of God, considered according to the federal headship and benefits of Christ, did not begin with the incarnation. The Israelite kingdom and its covenants were typological. Typology sustains two truths: on the one hand a type had significance in its own context while on the other hand a type pointed away from itself to a greater meaning in Christ. The author to the Hebrews states quite plainly that the blood of the Israelite sacrifices could not forgive sins. Why? Because although those sacrifices had meaning in the Israelite context, i.e., purification of the flesh, they were not Christ’s sacrifice and could not purify the conscience (Hebrews 10:1-4, 12-14).

Paul treats God’s dealings with Abraham the same way by calling believers the children of Abraham and finding a greater meaning in the word “offspring” as relating to Christ rather than simply Abraham’s posterity (Galatians 3:7, 9, 16, 27-29). It is not ONE OR THE OTHER, as though promises were made only to Abraham and his natural children or to Christ and his offspring (Abraham included). It is both, each with its particular but related meaning in a typical or antitypical context. And thus the kingdom and covenants of Israel were not the kingdom and covenant of Christ though they were driving towards his birth and revealing truths about him all along the way. Old Testament saints were saved by the promise of one who was to come, and the covenant that he would establish. Consequently we should not use the kingdom of Israel and its covenants as the pattern for churches.

Looking to the parent-child relationship is a misdirected attempt to understand covenantal membership. Redirecting our attention to federal headship brings clarity …. We blame Adam, not our parents, for the curse. The Israelites looked to Abraham, not their parents, for a claim to Canaan and its blessings, and to the conduct of the king, not their parents, for tenure in the land. So also, children must look to Christ, not their parents, for a claim to his covenant….We are born under Adam’s federal headship, and no one escapes the domain of darkness until God transfers them “to the kingdom of the beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:12-14).

http://www.placefortruth.org/placefortruth/article/the-case-for-credobaptism