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#10338 - Monday, January 26, 2004 11:55 AM Re: Covenantal Succession
E_F_Grant Offline
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Registered: Friday, August 31, 2001
Posts: 656
Loc: Go Purdue! So guess at it alre...
Is it possible to say that one can be "in covenant" (by that I mean to be like one of the ethnic Hebrews who were included when Abraham made covenant with God, even before they were born?) and "not elect"?

The word "elect" is another one with which I struggle here. I have always understood that if one is elect, then one WILL be saved, infallibly, as Pilgrim puts it. Perhaps it is a chicken-and-egg thing; which comes first? My understanding is that one is in covenant because one is elect, not the other way around. But if that is the case, then how could God be in covenant with a whole people, and some not be elect? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/help.gif" alt="" />
Please tell me what are the differences between "elect" and "In covenant".
_________________________
Stand Fast, Craigellachie!

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#10339 - Monday, January 26, 2004 12:19 PM Re: Covenantal Succession [Re: E_F_Grant]
Anonymous
Unregistered


Pilgrim and I agree 100% on what I am going to say. The covenant of grace is "established" with Christ and in him the elect. The promise of God is unconditional! The "administration" of the covenant pertains to all who qualify by profession (or birth with respect to baptism and infants born of professing believers). We treat those that make a credible profession of faith as being part of the household of God. No doubt, there is wheat among the tares with respect to the administration of the covenant.

In sum, only those who are elect are truly in the covenant. It is the children of the promise (i.e. the elect) who are counted by God as the true Israel of God.

P&I, also, agree that children are to be called to repentance and faith in Christ. We may even agree that we are to treat them as being in covenant, since Isaac as an infant could have broken covenant by his father's neglect. Where we differ is that since I would treat the infant as being covenant with God and since the covenant is unconditional, I would say to the infant that Christ died for him. Based upon this treatment, I would exhort the infant to repent and believe in order to receive the reconciliation. Again, we both agree that the infant may not be elect and, therefore, never truly repent.

In His Grace,

Ron

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#10340 - Monday, January 26, 2004 1:23 PM Re: Covenantal Succession
Pilgrim Offline

Head Honcho

Registered: Tuesday, April 3, 2001
Posts: 13325
Loc: NH, USA
Quote:
Ron insists:
Again, "saved" is vague until unpacked and "Christian" has no bearing on the matter. You yourself have employed "saved" in this thread as meaning one for whom Christ died, prior to being converted. Hence the confusion.

No sir, there is no confusion. You wanted "Systematic Theology", yet you won't accept the biblical definitions of what a Christian is or what "saved" connotes; e.g., one for whom Christ has atoned for, the Spirit has applied Christ's atoning benefits; regeneration, hence conversion, justification, being sanctified and will infallibly be glorified. (speaking of the living). Likewise, the biblical definition of "Christian" is one who is a disciple/follower of Jesus Christ.

So, the question is a valid one, which I will iterate once again: Do we treat covenant children by virtue of their being born into a home of a believer, as Christians or not? Do we treat covenant children as saved or unsaved? The Bible knows no other category of human being. They are either joined to Christ, and therefore Christian and saved, or outside of Christ and therefore non-Christian and unsaved. I don't understand the problem here? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

Quote:
Just don't contradict the nature of the unconditional covenant. The only solution is that Scripture teaches us to treat children of believers as children of the promise, . . .

Again, I suspect we will be at odds in regard to the "unconditional covenant". For I firmly believe that the Covenant of Grace is unconditional.. based upon the immutable and infallible promise of God to save all who were elected to salvation. This promise was made with Abraham as a believer and to his "seed", which is Christ (Gal 3:16) and those who are "in Christ" (Gal 3:29). To posit that anyone is an "heir of the promise" requires the prerequisite of being a "son", one who has been adopted by grace through Christ (Gal 4:7). Therefore, I cannot "treat" anyone, regardless of birth as a "child of the promise" unless they give evidence of being "in Christ", displaying "fruit of the Spirit", etc.

One cannot be a "child of the promise" yet not united to Christ by faith. It's a contradiction of terms and contrary to all that the Scripture teaches.

In His Grace,
_________________________


simul iustus et peccator


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#10341 - Monday, January 26, 2004 1:33 PM Re: Covenantal Succession [Re: Pilgrim]
Anonymous
Unregistered


Quote:
Again, I suspect we will be at odds in regard to the "unconditional covenant". For I firmly believe that the Covenant of Grace is unconditional.. based upon the immutable and infallible promise of God to save all who were elected to salvation. This promise was made with Abraham as a believer and to his "seed", which is Christ (Gal 3:16) and those who are "in Christ" (Gal 3:29). To posit that anyone is an "heir of the promise" requires the prerequisite of being a "son", one who has been adopted by grace through Christ (Gal 4:7). Therefore, I cannot "treat" anyone, regardless of birth as a "child of the promise" unless they give evidence of being "in Christ", displaying "fruit of the Spirit", etc.

One cannot be a "child of the promise" yet not united to Christ by faith. It's a contradiction of terms and contrary to all that the Scripture teaches.


Pilgrim,

You have a fallacy of reason. Here is your argument:

P1: The covenant is unconditional
P2: To posit that anyone is an “heir of the promise” requires the prerequisite of being a “son”…
Conclusion: Therefore, I cannot “treat” anyone, regardless of birth as a “child of the promise” unless they give evidence of being “in Christ”….

Your conclusion goes way beyond the scope of the premises. You have two propositions in your first two premises, which I agree with. However, your conclusion has not logically been defended by your argument. Your conclusion that we are not to treat anyone who has not made a profession of faith as being a child of promise remains dogma without support. It may be correct, but saying so doesn’t make it so.

Maybe you might tell me what God meant by saying that an infant could break covenant if the parent did not have him circumcised. In other words, as I stated before: As with Scripture, I affirm (with you) that all Israel was not Israel and all the church is not the church. Nonetheless, if an infant was not circumcised he was to be considered a covenant breaker. Accordingly, if he were circumcised was he not then to have been considered a covenant keeper? And if a covenant keeper, one for whom Christ died yet still needed to be converted…

Blessings,

Ron

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#10342 - Monday, January 26, 2004 2:23 PM Re: Covenantal Succession [Re: E_F_Grant]
Pilgrim Offline

Head Honcho

Registered: Tuesday, April 3, 2001
Posts: 13325
Loc: NH, USA
Eleanor,

Ron did a good job in explaining things to you, IMHO. Perhaps I could put it another way, just in case you are still a bit hazy on this matter? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

"Election" is eternal and immutable. It is God's choice (decree) among the race of mankind to save a remnant for Himself by the atoning sacrifice of Christ in their behalf and to bring them to Christ by the inner working of the Holy Spirit. The election to salvation must be realized in time, by regeneration and conversion. Thus, being "elect", although guarantees salvation, doesn't actually save in and of itself. Election to grace must also be accompanied by salvation by grace, i.e., through the means also decreed to that end.

God also decreed to enter into a covenant with mankind with the end that those whom He covenanted with would be infallibly saved. To the "elect", He made a promise to save them by grace. Those who have had the atoning work of Christ applied are said to be "in Christ" and thus "adopted sons" and thus they may then be said to be "children of the covenant". To be "in covenant" with God, speaking specifically now of the Covenant of Grace, means to be in a saving relationship with God; i.e., reconciled to Him in Christ.

Quote:
My understanding is that one is in covenant because one is elect, not the other way around.

No, you are confusing a "decree" of God with a "relationship" with God. Even the "elect" are not "in covenant" until they come to faith in Christ; having been reconciled to God having been at enmity with Him up until that time. Faith and repentance are prerequisites for entering into covenant with God, even though the covenant itself is unconditional. In other words, faith and repentance do not create the covenant, for God alone has established the covenant unilaterally. And since repentance and faith are gifts of God, they cannot be said to be "conditions", i.e., something which the recipient brings of himself. All is of God (gifts of grace). But it is necessary for one to exhibit those gifts before membership in that covenant can be affirmed. To put it very simply, the covenant is made with believers. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Lastly, Ron has also rightly explained our differences. Where he would presume that "Christ has atoned for the sins of all covenant children. He then finds warrant to tell any and all covenant children, "Christ died for your sins.". Whereas I believe that Christ died for only for the elect, of whom I have no specific knowledge as to their identity prior to a profession of faith, I cannot say to anyone until that time of their making profession that Christ died for their sins.

Okay... is all that clear as mud now? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />

In His Grace,
_________________________


simul iustus et peccator


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#10343 - Monday, January 26, 2004 2:29 PM Just curious
Anonymous
Unregistered


Ron,
Maybe it would help if you define exactly what you mean when you say you believe in "treating Covenant children as Christians."

This sounds like you are saying that you are treating them as though they are already Christians.

I think we should treat our children as gifts given to us by God, who we are to teach about God, salvation and the Bible while praying for them and hoping that one day God will graciously shows them mercy, they will put their faith in Christ and be saved. Do you mean more than that here?

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#10344 - Monday, January 26, 2004 2:48 PM Re: Covenantal Succession
Pilgrim Offline

Head Honcho

Registered: Tuesday, April 3, 2001
Posts: 13325
Loc: NH, USA
Quote:
Maybe you might tell me what God meant by saying that an infant could break covenant if the parent did not have him circumcised.

Sure! <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> There was a nationalistic aspect and a salvific aspect. As we both affirm, "not all Israel is of Israel".... yet ALL were of Israel in respect of being part of the nation of Israel. The breaking of the covenant was the breaking of the external relationship to which the person belonged. One who was part of the Covenant of Grace, (spiritual aspect) could never break the covenant. For that would mean that they could lose the salvation which was promised as part and parcel of that Covenant. One cannot be "in covenant" in the salvific sense and then break that covenant. This would be to deny the efficacy of the covenant and promise which God established with the "seed"; i.e., those in Christ.

In His Grace,
_________________________


simul iustus et peccator


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#10345 - Monday, January 26, 2004 2:56 PM Re: Just curious
Anonymous
Unregistered


Quote:
Susan said:
Ron,
Maybe it would help if you define exactly what you mean when you say you believe in "treating Covenant children as Christians."

This sounds like you are saying that you are treating them as though they are already Christians.

I think we should treat our children as gifts given to us by God, who we are to teach about God, salvation and the Bible while praying for them and hoping that one day God will graciously shows them mercy, they will put their faith in Christ and be saved. Do you mean more than that here?


Susan,

I don't believe I ever said that we should treat covenant children as "Christians." What I have said is that we ought to treat covenant children as ones for whom Christ died -- and who need to repent and come to faith in Christ alone. I, with you, "think we should treat our children as gifts given to us by God, who we are to teach about God, salvation and the Bible while praying for them and hoping that one day God will graciously shows them mercy, they will put their faith in Christ and be saved."

Pilgrim has said that because I would tell my children that Christ died for them and that they should place their trust in him in order to apply God's redemption (obviously not in those exact words) that I, therefore, treat them as saved. I deny this charge because to be saved is to be already converted.

To close the loop, I believe that God's promise of salvation is only to the elect alone. This promise is without condition. Just like there are members of many congregations who are not truly children of the promise, we still are to regard them as such if their doctrine or lifestyle does not give us occasion to question their profession. As for children of believing parents, I do not regard them as already converted but I do believe they are to be regarded as sheep for whom Christ died -- again though, that must be converted. At the very least, we are to regard them as being in covenant with God, but what does this mean? The children of Israel were to be regarded as covenant breakers for not being circumcised. This presupposes that they were to be treated as already in covenant by birth. Maybe we should start here. What does it mean for an infant to be in covenant and how does that differ from the status of an infant born of pagan parents?

In His Grace,

Ron

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#10346 - Monday, January 26, 2004 3:13 PM Re: Covenantal Succession [Re: Pilgrim]
Anonymous
Unregistered


Ron Stated: Maybe you might tell me what God meant by saying that an infant could break covenant if the parent did not have him circumcised.

Pilgrim States: Sure! There was a nationalistic aspect and a salvific aspect. As we both affirm, "not all Israel is of Israel".... yet ALL were of Israel in respect of being part of the nation of Israel. The breaking of the covenant was the breaking of the external relationship to which the person belonged. One who was part of the Covenant of Grace, (spiritual aspect) could never break the covenant. For that would mean that they could lose the salvation which was promised as part and parcel of that Covenant. One cannot be "in covenant" in the salvific sense and then break that covenant. This would be to deny the efficacy of the covenant and promise which God established with the "seed"; i.e., those in Christ.

Pilgrim,

This is extremely weak. In fact I’m rather surprised that you would employ such an argument. There was no national aspect to the Abrahamic covenant or the covenant of grace. The promise was a people, a land and redemption, which are fulfilled in the true church, heaven and Christ. Moreover, God commanded circumcision 430 years prior to the formation of the nation of Israel. Even if we were to consider the external people of God under Moses, for an infant to have broken covenant did not merely mean he was no longer part of the nation of Israel. It meant that he was no longer to be treated as part of the spiritual people of God. Given my initial question from above, your response would indicate that you believe that to break covenant under Abraham was to no longer be part of the nation under God – which wasn’t even in existence!

Blessings,

Ron

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#10347 - Monday, January 26, 2004 3:31 PM Re: Covenantal Succession
Pilgrim Offline

Head Honcho

Registered: Tuesday, April 3, 2001
Posts: 13325
Loc: NH, USA
Quote:
This is extremely weak. In fact I’m rather surprised that you would employ such an argument.

Surprise, surprise! <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" /> Weak, in YOUR estimation. Abraham was also promised to be the "father of a great and many nations". So, it was there in seed form.

What is perplexing and surprising to me is that you would insist that one could be in "covenant with God" according to the promise of God; aka: salvation and be able to "break covenant", i.e., to cut off their salvation. And all this just to try and defend your desire to be able to tell an unbelieving child that Christ died for his sins? . . . when in fact you have no knowledge of that fact. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/scratch1.gif" alt="" />

So, you tell you little Bobby that "Christ died for you and paid for all your sins." And then when he shows no fruit of the indwelling Spirit of God, you tell him what? "I guess Christ didn't die for your sins after all."? Or, do you resort to Arminian retorts, such as, "Well, Jesus did pay for all your sins on the cross, but you didn't make take advantage of that."?

Tell me, brother, what is so important that we as believing parents tell our children, "Christ died for you"? Is that supposed to be some encouragementn to the child to believe on Christ? If so, then why not tell EVERYONE that Christ died for their sins? Of course, I am assuming you don't do that, do you? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/evilgrin.gif" alt="" />

In His Grace,
_________________________


simul iustus et peccator


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#10348 - Monday, January 26, 2004 4:26 PM Re: Just curious
Anonymous
Unregistered


Ron,
Quote:
Susan,

I don't believe I ever said that we should treat covenant children as "Christians." What I have said is that we ought to treat covenant children as ones for whom Christ died -- and who need to repent and come to faith in Christ alone.


That is how you phrased it in a previous post.

http://www.the-highway.com/forum/showthr...amp;o=&vc=1

I think that Joe is exactly right when he said that you don't believe in Presumptive Regeneration, but I believe you are instead holding to Presumptive Election, because to regard unconverted children "as sheep for whom Christ died", or "as children of the promise" without knowing they are converted is presuming they are elect, and God hasn't given us that information. Wouldn't it be much better to say to your child instead?, "Christ died for sinners. He has promised to save all those who will come to Him in true repentance and faith." If you decide to do this, then we won't have anything else left to quibble over except Baptism! <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />

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#10349 - Monday, January 26, 2004 6:05 PM Re: Just curious
Anonymous
Unregistered


Susan,

First of all, I appreciate your ability to distinguish the point from that which is not the point. I am glad that this discussion has moved from "presumptive regeneration" to "presumptive election."

You must admit that when the pastor addresses the congregation he treats it according to 1 Corinthians 15; in other words he will say to the visible church that Christ died for their sins – without knowing for sure. I don’t like the pejorative sound of “presumes” though, simply because it sounds as if there is no warrant for the treatment. I’d rather say that the pastor is treating the congregants according to biblical precept that they are among those for whom Christ died. Nonetheless, to use your terminology he does so "without knowing they are indeed converted." Moreover, when the supper is served to individuals, those serving the elements are no less than treating the recipients as if they were in Christ – though “God hasn't given us that information,” to again borrow your terminology. My point is that you yourself cannot get around these strictures. We all treat as believers for whom Christ died those who may not be and probably aren’t. Accordingly, you are “presuming” (again using your terminology not mine) certain people to be converted “without knowing” for sure because “God hasn’t given us that information.” So, it is not a matter of God imparting to us some special knowledge of who is converted or elect, but a matter of following the biblical paradigm set forth in Scripture. Even Judas, whom Christ knew, was treated by the Lord according to his profession and not possession.

Concerning infants, I would never say to an infant born of pagan parents that Jesus died for him, simply because there’s no biblical precedence for this. However, I do see the prophets and apostles addressing the visible community of believers (those marked out by the sign of entrance into the church) as the children of God. So to treat baptized infants in this way is to me very consistent. Again, had an infant of believing parents not been circumcised he would have broken covenant. Accordingly, infants are to be treated as being in covenant apart from our having knowledge of whether they are truly elect or not.

Susan, in short we both treat people according to precept and evidence. You simply require more evidence like a credible profession; whereas I believe that the Bible requires of us less evidence than that. The evidence I believe the Bible requires for us to treat an infant as one of Christ’s sheep for whom he died is birth into a believing household. Certainly we would agree that those born of believing parents have a greater chance of conversion than others. Accordingly, there is evidence. The only question is whether there is biblical precept or not.

In His Grace,

Ron

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#10350 - Monday, January 26, 2004 6:33 PM Re: Covenantal Succession [Re: Pilgrim]
Anonymous
Unregistered


Quote:
What is perplexing and surprising to me is that you would insist that one could be in "covenant with God" according to the promise of God; aka: salvation and be able to "break covenant", i.e., to cut off their salvation.


Even a cursory reading of my posts bears out the fact that I have never suggested that one can lose his covenant position in Christ. You simply will not allow for the distinction between the establishment of the covenant (which is with the elect only), and the formal administration of it (to the elect and the reprobate).

Your whole defense of the issue of circumcised children breaking covenant under Abraham was that they fell away from the national covenant. Again, there was no view toward national covenant when God put forth the stipulations of the Abrahamic covenant; for this covenant was an everlasting covenant. Surely your biblical (Vosian) theology is much better than this. The simple solution is that when infants "break covenant" they fall away from the external status of elect.

Quote:
So, you tell you little Bobby that "Christ died for you and paid for all your sins." And then when he shows no fruit of the indwelling Spirit of God, you tell him what? "I guess Christ didn't die for your sins after all."? Or, do you resort to Arminian retorts, such as, "Well, Jesus did pay for all your sins on the cross, but you didn't make take advantage of that."?


The apostle Paul told the baptized community at Corinth that Christ died for "our sins." Yet some were not converted no doubt. Accordingly, when hypocrites manifest there unbelief the church should say with the apostle John that they went out from us because they were not truly of us. The church often times has to change its declarations. This is no surprise. If we aren’t willing to do this then the church can never say with Paul that Christ died for our sins – for the declaration will on occasion be incorrect.

Quote:
Tell me, brother, what is so important that we as believing parents tell our children, "Christ died for you"? Is that supposed to be some encouragementn to the child to believe on Christ? If so, then why not tell EVERYONE that Christ died for their sins? Of course, I am assuming you don't do that, do you?


Working backwards, of course I don't do that simply because there’s no biblical precedence for it. As for the encouragement to the covenant child, yes I do think it's an encouragement -- but more to the point, there's enormous biblical precedence in my estimation. As for the encouraging aspect, I can only imagine that God is giving his elect children the comfort of knowing this precious truth from birth. I can only wonder whether God on some occasions has ordained reprobation to covenant children by the means of also ordaining that they not be treated as Christ’s lambs by their parents from birth.

That's all I really have to say on the matter. My position is clear and you obviously reject it. I only hope that you would represent it in Christian charity.

Blessings in Christ,

Ron

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#10351 - Monday, January 26, 2004 6:43 PM Re: Covenantal Succession [Re: E_F_Grant]
Anonymous
Unregistered


Quote:
Lastly, Ron has also rightly explained our differences. Where he would presume that "Christ has atoned for the sins of all covenant children. He then finds warrant to tell any and all covenant children, "Christ died for your sins.". Whereas I believe that Christ died for only for the elect, of whom I have no specific knowledge as to their identity prior to a profession of faith, I cannot say to anyone until that time of their making profession that Christ died for their sins.


And even then he cannot know for sure whether they are telling the truth! <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/rofl.gif" alt="" />

Ron

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#10352 - Monday, January 26, 2004 6:44 PM Re: Just curious
John_C Offline

Permanent Resident

Registered: Saturday, September 15, 2001
Posts: 1900
Loc: Mississippi Gulf Coast
Ron & all,

Pardon my barging in, but how do you explain the widespread Christian nominalism in Reformed churches over the past two hundred years? Was parents assuming their children's right standing with God one of the primary reasons for that occurrence?

In addition, how do you recognize that a child is breaking the covenant. Do they have to disavow their faith in God, like a negative write-off. And, do they come under some type of church disicpline for their apostosy?

I think we need to remember that belonging to the covenant is not the end-all. Unless we received Christ Jesus by faith and repentance, our covenant standing will go for naught.


Edited by John_C (Monday, January 26, 2004 6:46 PM)
_________________________
John Chaney

"having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith . . ." Colossians 2:7

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