Posted tagged ‘means of grace’

Sacraments Do Not Dispense Grace

March 16, 2011

I do not agree that, when we hear Christ preached, that we then hear Christ preaching. I do not agree that when we hear an “ordained” “minister” absolving our sins, that we then hear Christ forgiving our sins.

WHO IS HEARING? Are the non-elect not hearing, because they don’t care about their sins? Are the non-elect hearing “you are forgiven”?

Is it “pietism” (or “being a baptist”) to warn people that the New Testament is written only to Christians? It’s ironic to say that Christians doing politics must do so as if they were not Christians, but then not make such a distinction for those “taking the sacrament”.

The assumption, the pretense, the official lie, is that everybody observing the sacrament is an exile from the world and a Christian. Otherwise the sacramentalist would have to speak to the church as if were the world.

And then the sacramentalist would need to think more about water giving salvation to pagans who are not children, and about the supper being converting for those halfway in. Even if there is no faith, is there no blessing?

To the extent sacramentalists use “the covenant” to argue for sacraments, the redemptive-historical political distinction between the old and new covenants collapses. And no attention is given to the differences between the promises of a covenant. Reformed folks tend to focus on one undefined positive promise (is it that my child should assume already that he is a Christian?) and to ignore the fine print about “covenant curses” for those who “participate in the sacrament. Call them “negative sanctions”— God may break you off if you don’t observe the sacramental rituals.

They do not want us to talk about “dead” Christians as if some internal work of the Spirit needed to be done, but rather asks if people are “observant” at the sacraments. I am glad that not all paedobaptists agree with him on that. If you are faking it at the “sacrament”, then God can kill you. That argument in itself does not prove that it is a sacrament or that God is the agent in the Supper or in the water. Those questions have to be answered biblically and not by confessional presupposition.

Now That I have Told You I Used to Be Harsh and Self-righteous, Won’t You Stop Being So Harsh and Comfort Me?

February 28, 2011

How do I know I am elect and now justified? Because I believe the gospel. Did my believing the gospel cause justification to happen? No! Did being imputed with Christ’s death cause me to believe the gospel? Yes.

Suppose the disciple Peter would say that he was operating out of legal fear when he betrayed Jesus. That doesn’t mean that Peter really was. Maybe he wasn’t. Well, you could say, he sure got bad results, since he ended up betraying the Lord three times. That’s why he messed up so bad, because of his legal fears.

But we all still sin. We are still all getting bad results. The justified elect are still habitual sinners. They are still not doing so well in morality, when they are measured by God’s standards for morality.
They are often still harsh, judgmental, and unforgiving.

My concern at this point is not only with sinning, not only with moralistic and self-righteous pride, not only with trying to figure out if you are really sorry this time, not only if you still make repenting of your repenting the future condition of your future salvation.

My concern at this point is if a person is knowing and thinking gospel. Or is a person not understanding and explaining the gospel but still talking about her sins?

I know that the Galatians were not always being motivated by the gospel. But there is a before and after, a beginning to believing the gospel. We can’t say: I was born believing it. We can’t say we were born reconciled and justified.

Conversion is about an in and out. The sheep follow the Shepherd and not the voice of strangers. They do not stay where we they not belong. Ecclesia means: called out, gathered together (here from there), separated by doctrine.

Immediate regeneration in the order of salvation results in a separatist ecclesiology. No church has a monopoly on the “means of grace” so that conversion must come gradually after a period of sacramental preparation.

What is the gospel, and do you believe it? John 20:23–“If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven if you with-hold forgiveness from anyone, it is with-held.”