Interesting,but the whole experiential / experimental thing feels somewhat mystical.....don't get me wrong, where our heart lies there we will be....but to quantify it ...at different stages of maturity, etc.... I think the opc pastor seeks to let the Word lead.... I just get caught up in the depth of faith..... How much conviction and devotion and the fruit of faith.....it seems hard to fully quantify.... What about the disabled child with little intellectual understanding?
1. Quantification is hard to nail down to be sure. Acts 2 gives a good indication and example how these things are expressed... Acts 2:37 "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart,
and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" There are a number of such examples in both the O.T. and N.T where the Spirit of God came upon a sinner and gave them a new heart (regeneration) and they are all very similar. NONE saw one good thing within themselves, no good thought, no good deed; nothing that would commend them to God in order to receive mercy nor grace. Sure, such humbling, conviction and felt guilt can be feigned, which you in particular have witnessed in your past dealings in the NRC. Now, whatever the magnitude of conviction and guilt and a genuine understanding of one's need of Christ in order to be forgiven of their sins and to be reconciled to God (something rarely ever mentioned in our day), that increases throughout a saint's life. Look at Paul who exclaimed, Rom 7:18 "For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing:..." As we grow in grace, the Spirit reveals more and more our personal sinfulness and weakness of faith which drives us more and more to love and rest on Christ in all things.
What about the disabled child with little intellectual understanding?
What about such a child? Is a lack of academic brilliance a hindrance to the Spirit to regeneration a sinner... any sinner? This is not to say that the Spirit doesn't work apart from means.
We know Romans 8:29-30 (KJV) "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." ALL whom the Father has given to Christ WILL come to Christ and He will not lose one. Typically, this question is asked of such children and infants who die in infancy. The Westminster divines were given much wisdom in their answer to this question when they wrote WCF 10:1-3:
I. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed time, effectually to call, by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.
II. This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.
III. Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who works when, and where, and how He pleases: so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.