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Why is covenant succession #10890
Thu Jan 29, 2004 3:59 PM
Thu Jan 29, 2004 3:59 PM

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I guess I maybe don't understand the issue exactly, but I pray with my 2-1/2 year old, and I think that he believes in Jesus Christ and prays to Him, Our Heavenly Father, and the Holy Spirit works in His life, it's an inarticulate faith, certainly. I haven't had him baptized yet (soon to be remedied by the grace of God), but what does "means of grace" mean? I was my half-brother's "God-father" in the Lutheran church when I was 13, I saw him be baptized, I saw him fall far away, be impossibly angry at our father (who divorced his mother when he was 2), but I've seen them begin to be reconciled over the past year by means of the work of God's grace in my life, Who has used me to be an intermediary in their lives, and by God's grace, I've had some conversations with my brother that have forced him to challenge some of his long-held beliefs about who a Christian can be, and that they aren't all limp-wristed, self-righteous wimps.

I've read all of your stuff on Douglas Wilson et al, and I find it hard to reconcile what you write with my experience (and my reason too). (I know that the Bible is a normative book and my reason and experience don't validate it, quite the opposite.) However, I believe that God branded my brother with his baptism, is hounding him as the Hound of Heaven, and is going to hound my son, regardless of any of my failings. I don't know but that people, in trying to address this issue, aren't trying to limit God's sovereignty, but also, some are trying to abuse it to excuse their libertine ways with their children.

So, "rant off," I know I'm the pleb here, but I desire to be consoled about some of these issues. Nevertheless, I acknowledge that maybe I'm the one that wants to run to the quick fixes. Part of this is that I don't feel like anyone really ever answered my "Credenda/Agenda Filter" post, and I start to think that the silence speaks volumes.

Re: Why is covenant succession #10891
Thu Jan 29, 2004 4:08 PM
Thu Jan 29, 2004 4:08 PM

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I'm really sorry to rant in my previous post, I regret having posted it, as I truly haven't examined this issue enough to make any kind of judgment against the better minds here that warn me against heresy in an effort to keep me from failing my children.

Re: Why is covenant succession #10892
Fri Jan 30, 2004 1:31 PM
Fri Jan 30, 2004 1:31 PM

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Greetings Roland,

I'm sorry I missed this request for information from you. Please be assured I have not deliberately ignored you, it's just that I didn't see this post until now.

I think you're asking me if your 2-1/2 years old son is saved? Is that the question you're asking, or is there something else? I'm really not sure of your question, so please be more direct.

Re: Why is covenant succession #10893
Fri Jan 30, 2004 1:34 PM
Fri Jan 30, 2004 1:34 PM

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Let me know if I can help you after you get things sorted out.

Re: Why is covenant succession #10894
Sat Jan 31, 2004 12:34 PM
Sat Jan 31, 2004 12:34 PM

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Roland,
I don't think you were ranting in your post. I think you were asking some good honest questions. I think part of the problem is that some are seeing the visible church as the same thing as the invisible church. They believe that when their children are conceived or baptized, they are then members of the Kingdom of Heaven even before their conversions. They don't believe their child is lost and needs a savior, the same way that an unbeliever's child needs salvation.
I have thought about this since discussing this with Ron D in a baptism thread about God hearing the prayers of the unregenerate, and I believe that the story of Cornelius suggests that God does hear our prayers before our salvation, if we are elect. The unbeliever's child could be elect too. I believe the Holy Spirit works in us prior to our salvation, and if we are elect, the Hound of Heaven is after us!
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Acts 10 v.10:1At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, 2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. 3 About the ninth hour of the day [1] he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, Cornelius 4 And he stared at him in terror and said, What is it, Lord? And he said to him, Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside7 When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, 8 and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

This was all before he heard the Gospel. Skipping ahead to Peter arriving there...
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24 And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, Stand up; I too am a man. 27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. 28 And he said to them, You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.
30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, [3] and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing 31 and said, Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea33 So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.

34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. 44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.


We are to sow the seeds and look to God to prepare the hearts that will receive those seeds in faith.

Re: Why is covenant succession #10895
Sat Jan 31, 2004 1:51 PM
Sat Jan 31, 2004 1:51 PM
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Susan,

I don't believe your citation regarding Cornelius proves your point at all concerning God hearing the prayers of His elect people prior to conversion. It says that he was a God fearing man before he met Peter, indicating that he was a converted man already. This text deals with a man making the transition from Old to New Covenant, not from death to life.

FWIW, I am not outright rejecting the possibility that God hears the prayers of His elect prior to conversion because I have never really thought about that possibility (though intuitively it strikes me as odd), I'm just saying this text does not support it.

As far as this part:

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I think part of the problem is that some are seeing the visible church as the same thing as the invisible church. They believe that when their children are conceived or baptized, they are then members of the Kingdom of Heaven even before their conversions. They don't believe their child is lost and needs a savior, the same way that an unbeliever's child needs salvation.


I truly hope you are not referring here to what Ron or I have written previously on this topic. And if not, who are these people that see the visible and invisible church as the same?

Sincerely in Christ,

~Jason

Re: Why is covenant succession [Re: Jason1646] #10896
Sat Jan 31, 2004 3:48 PM
Sat Jan 31, 2004 3:48 PM

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Jason,
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I truly hope you are not referring here to what Ron or I have written previously on this topic. And if not, who are these people that see the visible and invisible church as the same?

No Jason, even though you know I don't agree with you and Ron about presumtive election, I was thinking primarily of presumptive regeneration when I said that.
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This text deals with a man making the transition from Old to New Covenant, not from death to life.


Could you explain what you mean by that? The reason I don't think Cornelius was saved already was that he didn't have the Holy Spirit indwelling him and Paul says that without the Holy Spirit, we are not God's children. We may be elect, but until we are actually converted and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we are not Christians. Since Cornelius was a gentile, I don't understand how his case is about making a transition between the Old and New Covenant.

I believe that God did answer my prayers while I was reading the Bible through the first time as an unbeliever. I believe His Spirit gave me the desire to read His Word and continued to show me truths, even though I was really dead in my sins at the time and didn't understand the Gospel until much later. I believe that God will use the catechizing of children and Bible Stories in laying a foundation for a future faith in His elect.

Re: Why is covenant succession #10897
Sat Jan 31, 2004 6:42 PM
Sat Jan 31, 2004 6:42 PM
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Hi Susan,

First, I would still disagree that presumptive generation means the visible and invisible church are the same, but in any event ...

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The reason I don't think Cornelius was saved already was that he didn't have the Holy Spirit indwelling him and Paul says that without the Holy Spirit, we are not God's children.


Well, I don't have a lot of time or energy to write a response that would do justice to this topic (perhaps Pilgrim has an article here that deals with this more thoroughly), but the particular form in which the Spirit is operating in that Acts passage does not deal so much with regeneration, it is the fulfillment of the Pentecostal outpouring of the Spirit that resulted in charismatic gifts bearing witness to the apostolic testimony. Acts 1:8 begins with Jesus preparing the apostles for the coming of His promise given in the upper room discourse of John (chapters 14 and 15).

Acts 1:8 "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

Now, we would expect that the apostles were converted men by this time, yet the receiving of the Spirit was a peculiar gift that was to be given to bear witness to the apostolic testimony. They themselves receive the Spirit (in this sense) at Pentecost in Acts 2. As the ministry of the apostles expanded over the territories mentioned in Acts 1:8, we see the Spirit being poured out upon those who receive the apostolic testimony. Notice in Acts 8:

14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.(Acts 8:14 - 17)

The apostles were sent to an area where there were already believers in order to confer this particular gift of the Spirit. It is my understanding that it was only under the direct ministry of the apostles that this gift was given (it was not passed down), and we see another example of it in Acts 19:

Acts 19:1 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" So they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." 3 And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?" So they said, "Into John's baptism." 4 Then Paul said, "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus." 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. (Acts 19:1 - 6)

Other Scriptures support this idea of the peculiar gift of the Spirit accompanying the apostolic testimony, for they are called "signs of an apostle" (2 Corinthians 12:12) and in Hebrews we read that signs and wonders bore witness to what was testified by those who heard Christ:

3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will? (Hebrews 2:3 - 4)

So, if we look at the situation with Cornelius, it fits right into this pattern of miraculous revelatory gifts being poured out to bear witness to the apostolic message rather than the converting work of the Spirit.

I suppose more examples and a fuller outline could be made, but hopefully that gives you an idea as to where I am coming from.

Sincerely in Christ,

~Jason

Re: Why is covenant succession [Re: Jason1646] #10898
Sun Feb 01, 2004 1:47 PM
Sun Feb 01, 2004 1:47 PM

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Jason,
Thanks for your response. Yes, I understand what you are saying here. I know the story of Cornelius was mostly about the Gentiles being added to the church in a miraculous way by the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in order to demonstrate to the Jews that God was including Gentiles.
But, there are some things in Chapter 11 that make me still believe that Cornelius was not saved before this time.


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Acts 11 v.1 Now the apostles and the brothers [1] who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, 3 You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them4 But Peter began and explained it to them in order: 5 I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. 6 Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. 7 And I heard a voice saying to me, Rise, Peter; kill and eat8 But I said, By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth. 9 But the voice answered a second time from heaven, What God has made clean, do not call common 10 This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. 11 And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea. 12 And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man's house. 13 And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; 14 he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life


Jesus told a man that he was not far from the Kingdom of God. I can't help but think that when God is dealing with a person, though they are not yet saved, if they are elect, they are not far from the Kingdom, yet they may still be lost. This man obviously knew much about the Bible, but was not actually in the Kingdom of God yet, as I understand it.

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Mark 12 v.28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, Which commandment is the most important of all? 29 Jesus answered, The most important is, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength31 The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. 32 And the scribe said to him, You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, You are not far from the kingdom of God. And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Re: Why is covenant succession #10899
Sun Feb 01, 2004 10:32 PM
Sun Feb 01, 2004 10:32 PM

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I'd really like to dig into all of this as deeply as necessary, but I've got to adopt the KISS principle in this (as I'm generally too sleep deprived with our 2 kids to think too deeply about anything): I guess what I'm clinging to is that I'm going to have my son and daughter baptized asap because that ratifies the covenant that exists between God and them as a result of my election (I guess the whole rub is what does "covenant" mean, right?), that I'm going to do everything in my power to raise my son and daughter in righteousness, not taking anything for granted, not presuming upon God's grace, relying as much as I can on Christ's love in my life, taking full advantage of the means of grace in my life, but I'm not going to doubt the slightish inclination toward faith that my son and daughter will have because I know that their faith doesn't have anything to do with them or me, but that it's a gift of God, and their salvation is dependent upon God's sovereign work in their life in any event, and I'll try to be a faithful steward in Christ, but there's no way that I'll be able to ever effect salvation in my children no matter how faithful I am in their upbringing. God is totally sovereign, yet I remain responsible for all of my actions, and I think that ultimately this point is what people can't swallow in all of this. I only get it down my gullet (if at all) by the grace of God. How's that?

I don't want to discount any deeper understanding of this at all, but I just don't have the time to acquire it at this particular time in my life. So no disrespect is intended toward what others write here.

Re: Why is covenant succession #10900
Sun Feb 01, 2004 10:46 PM
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I know that their faith doesn't have anything to do with them or me, but that it's a gift of God, and their salvation is dependent upon God's sovereign work in their life in any event, and I'll try to be a faithful steward in Christ, but there's no way that I'll be able to ever effect salvation in my children no matter how faithful I am in their upbringing. God is totally sovereign, yet I remain responsible for all of my actions, and I think that ultimately this point is what people can't swallow in all of this. I only get it down my gullet (if at all) by the grace of God. How's that?

Nicely spoken, IMHO! <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/bravo.gif" alt="" /> There are two certainties which I can and do presume, because they are clearly taught in Scripture and not the wishful fiction of man.

1) Everyone, including my children are born in sin and under the judgment of God. Their salvation is not dependent upon the fact that they are born into a covenant family, nor my faithfulness in rearing them in the truths of God, although I am without doubt held responsible for doing so. Unless they repent and believe upon Christ, they will surely be cast into the Lake of Fire along with every other uncoverted sinner and suffer even more due to their having been given the blessings of the means of grace.

2) Not one of God's elect will perish. But, since God is the sovereign Who had set apart a people for Himself, if my children are predestined to eternal life, they will eventually and infallibly be called and washed in the blood of Christ Jesus.

So, I presume that my children are in need of God's sovereign mercy and grace. And, I presume that God's promise to save all for whom Christ died is immutable. The God of all the earth will do right. (Gen 18:25) And thus, my HOPE rests in HIM and HIM alone, not in any manufactured theory of presumptive regeneration or presumptive election. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />


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simul iustus et peccator

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Re: Why is covenant succession #10901
Wed Feb 04, 2004 10:26 AM
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Roland,
Here is an article by Sinclair Ferguson that is good. Your sleep deprived thoughts about how to raise your children make a lot of sense to me, even though I am a credobaptist. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

http://www.graceonlinelibrary.org/calvinism/full.asp?ID=599

Sorry the link wasn't working earlier! <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />

Re: Why is covenant succession #10902
Wed Feb 04, 2004 3:27 PM
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Roland,

How can you do anything more than the best you can do? How can you have any greater faith than to believe the Word of God is always true and how can you do anything more for your children than teach the messages of God to your children?

The message is very simple - Believe, trust and obey the Word of God.


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