EcclesiaAn outline on the Distinctives of Presbyterianism by Scott Bushey
The Distinctives of Presbyterianism
We are Protestant
a) Protestantism defined
1. the religion or religious system of any of the Churches of Western Christendom that are separated from the Roman Catholic Church and adhere substantially to principles established by Luther, Calvin, etc, in the Reformation
2. the Protestant Churches collectively
3. adherence to the principles of the Reformation
R.C. Sproul writes:
What Do Protestants Protest?
FROM R.C. Sproul Jr. Dec 14, 2013 Category: Articles
Sadly in our day, not much of anything. Luther, of course, began the Reformation by posting his 95 theses. His chief concern was the sale of indulgences. Underscoring that concern were two principle concerns—the singular authority of the Bible, and the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Luther, along with the other magisterial Reformers, argued that the Bible is our alone ultimate authority in binding our conscience with respect to our faith and practice. It denied that the church provided either a compelling interpretation of the Bible, or a second source of infallible information. (For an outstanding exposition of this issue see my friend and colleague Keith Mathison’s The Shape of Sola Scriptura.)
On justification, Protestants protested against what seemed, at the time of Luther’s posting his theses, to be Rome’s perspective that the way a man had peace with God was by trusting in the finished work of Christ, and cooperating with the means of grace as they were poured out by the sacraments. That seeming perspective, however, became crystal clear during the counter-Reformation, specifically at the Counsel of Trent. There Rome declared as settled canon law, that anyone who says a man is justified by faith alone, apart from the works of the law, should be damned. The heresy that was prior to Trent more practical, implicit and consequential became precise, explicit and unchangeable.
What then Protestants protest is the false authority of Rome and her false gospel. We protest not because we are complainers, grumblers, sticks in the mud. We protest precisely because of our dual love for Jesus Christ, and those who are not yet covered in His blood. We do not protest Rome for all she ever was, or ever said. Indeed we protest the notion that Protestantism is something novel. We protest the turning aside from the gospel once delivered. We protest the notion that we are a mere branch of or an offshoot from the true church. We are, insofar as we hold to the glorious gospel truth that we have peace with God through trusting in the finished work of Christ alone, the continuing church, the sons of Augustine, Athanasius, Anselm, the sons of the father of the faithful, Abraham.
We protest that Rome is not catholic, that she in fact shuts out the saints. We, however, are catholic, embracing all those who turn to the living Christ alone. We protest that guarding, defending, proclaiming justification by faith alone is not sectarian, narrow, nor divisive. It is instead a fulfillment of the command that we contend for the faith (Jude 3). We protest against squishy, feel-good ecumenism that imperils souls, that buys the love and respect of men and sells the wrath of God. We protest the beard-stroking, nuance exploring, subtlety affirming of those who refuse to remember that Rome damned and damns justification by faith alone with clarity, forthrightness and immutability.
We protest the notion that we who protest are hidebound, out of step, tilting at long since fallen windmills. We are fighting for the faith. Would that all who take upon themselves the name “Reformed” would join us.”
~Taken from: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-do-protestants-protest/
This ‘protesting’ never ceases. we are called to test and prove all things; example: The recent controversy in the media in regards to Phil Robertson of the Arts and Entertainment channel, ‘Duck Dynasty’. If one tests the waters here, you will find that Robertson is billed as a Christian. Is he? How is one to tell; 7 out of 10 people in this country call themselves Christians. The Mormons consider themselves Christians. This class is about truth. God’s word is truth. There is only one truth. This class is about accuracy. These men we speak of, Calvin, Luther, Beza, Knox, stood for truth. They cry out from the grave. In like manner, we continue to protest when people that are aberrant, who are unorthodox plant a flag. You might say, “Scott, all of the men you mention held to some form of error, i.e. Luther was a consubstantionist, Clavin blows it on the Sabbath!” This is true; however, all of these men, whatever error they held to, did not distort the gospel of Christ. They held to all the main tenets of the faith; we need to make that distinction.
Having said that, out protesting goes on. As pastor Damon mentioned last week, when the PCA’s book of church order tells us to pursue the purity of the church, it adds that we should as well, pursue peace. The book of hebrews dilineates this truth:
Heb. 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.
This passage does not intend to tell us to be tolerant and liberal in light of error. We are not to embark on witch hunts, but we should be onguard. What does the scriptures tell us? The enemy is a roaring lion, wandering about, looking for whom he may devour? What about false teachers? You do understand that Pastor damon rightfully audits this class. He does so to protect the sheep. Just because I state I am orthodox does not make it so. He had to ‘prove’ it, as it were. This is good. I was speaking to a young man recently who came out of a questionable setting; His description of how things developed in that setting were painful to hear. No one was on the same page and there was very little oversight. I know the pastor. He would not approve of some of this stuff; however, the gatherings of these people are so big, it is too much for the leadership to keep their finger on-even at the teaching level. We don’t have that problem here at First Presbyterian. The church size is manageable. Do we have it down to perfection? No! There is much work to be done and we know it. So, in this all, we protest and pursue the purity of the church, in peace, like Calvin et. al.
b) Sola Scriptura; The bible said it, hence I believe it!
This latin term is translated in English as ‘scripture alone’. God’s word is our final authority on all matters. This is not to say that God’s word addresses everything in life, i.e. What car I should buy? It is irrelevant if one is not a believer; all men are responsible to God’s commands. Practically speaking, God’s word is spiritually discerned, hence, it is only efficacious to the regenerate man. Sola scriptura means that scripture is our plum line.
2 Tim 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
c) Luthers hammer and Wittenberg ; Rome ’s response
- When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
- This word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.
- Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various outward mortification of the flesh.
- The penalty of sin remains as long as the hatred of self (that is, true inner repentance), namely till our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
- The pope neither desires nor is able to remit any penalties except those imposed by his own authority or that of the canons.
- The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring and showing that it has been remitted by God; or, to be sure, by remitting guilt in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in these cases were disregarded, the guilt would certainly remain unforgiven.
- God remits guilt to no one unless at the same time he humbles him in all things and makes him submissive to the vicar, the priest.
- The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to the canons themselves, nothing should be imposed on the dying.
- Therefore the Holy Spirit through the pope is kind to us insofar as the pope in his decrees always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.
- Those priests act ignorantly and wickedly who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penalties for purgatory.
- Those tares of changing the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory were evidently sown while the bishops slept (Mt 13:25).
- In former times canonical penalties were imposed, not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.
- The dying are freed by death from all penalties, are already dead as far as the canon laws are concerned, and have a right to be released from them.
- Imperfect piety or love on the part of the dying person necessarily brings with it great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater the fear.
- This fear or horror is sufficient in itself, to say nothing of other things, to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.
- Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ the same as despair, fear, and assurance of salvation.
- It seems as though for the souls in purgatory fear should necessarily decrease and love increase.
- Furthermore, it does not seem proved, either by reason or by Scripture, that souls in purgatory are outside the state of merit, that is, unable to grow in love.
- Nor does it seem proved that souls in purgatory, at least not all of them, are certain and assured of their own salvation, even if we ourselves may be entirely certain of it.
- Therefore the pope, when he uses the words “plenary remission of all penalties,” does not actually mean “all penalties,” but only those imposed by himself.
- Thus those indulgence preachers are in error who say that a man is absolved from every penalty and saved by papal indulgences.
- As a matter of fact, the pope remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to canon law, they should have paid in this life.
- If remission of all penalties whatsoever could be granted to anyone at all, certainly it would be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to very few.
- For this reason most people are necessarily deceived by that indiscriminate and high-sounding promise of release from penalty.
- That power which the pope has in general over purgatory corresponds to the power which any bishop or curate has in a particular way in his own diocese and parish.
- The pope does very well when he grants remission to souls in purgatory, not by the power of the keys, which he does not have, but by way of intercession for them.
- They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory.
- It is certain that when money clinks in the money chest, greed and avarice can be increased; but when the church intercedes, the result is in the hands of God alone.
- Who knows whether all souls in purgatory wish to be redeemed, since we have exceptions in St. Severinus and St. Paschal, as related in a legend.
- No one is sure of the integrity of his own contrition, much less of having received plenary remission.
- The man who actually buys indulgences is as rare as he who is really penitent; indeed, he is exceedingly rare.
- Those who believe that they can be certain of their salvation because they have indulgence letters will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.
- Men must especially be on guard against those who say that the pope’s pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to him.
- For the graces of indulgences are concerned only with the penalties of sacramental satisfaction established by man.
- They who teach that contrition is not necessary on the part of those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessional privileges preach unchristian doctrine.
- Any truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without indulgence letters.
- Any true Christian, whether living or dead, participates in all the blessings of Christ and the church; and this is granted him by God, even without indulgence letters.
- Nevertheless, papal remission and blessing are by no means to be disregarded, for they are, as I have said (Thesis 6), the proclamation of the divine remission.
- It is very difficult, even for the most learned theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the bounty of indulgences and the need of true contrition.
- A Christian who is truly contrite seeks and loves to pay penalties for his sins; the bounty of indulgences, however, relaxes penalties and causes men to hate them — at least it furnishes occasion for hating them.
- Papal indulgences must be preached with caution, lest people erroneously think that they are preferable to other good works of love.
- Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend that the buying of indulgences should in any way be compared with works of mercy.
- Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better deed than he who buys indulgences.
- Because love grows by works of love, man thereby becomes better. Man does not, however, become better by means of indulgences but is merely freed from penalties.
- Christians are to be taught that he who sees a needy man and passes him by, yet gives his money for indulgences, does not buy papal indulgences but God’s wrath.
- Christians are to be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they must reserve enough for their family needs and by no means squander it on indulgences.
- Christians are to be taught that they buying of indulgences is a matter of free choice, not commanded.
- Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting indulgences, needs and thus desires their devout prayer more than their money.
- Christians are to be taught that papal indulgences are useful only if they do not put their trust in them, but very harmful if they lose their fear of God because of them.
- Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the indulgence preachers, he would rather that the basilica of St. Peter were burned to ashes than built up with the skin, flesh, and bones of his sheep.
- Christians are to be taught that the pope would and should wish to give of his own money, even though he had to sell the basilica of St. Peter, to many of those from whom certain hawkers of indulgences cajole money.
- It is vain to trust in salvation by indulgence letters, even though the indulgence commissary, or even the pope, were to offer his soul as security.
- They are the enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid altogether the preaching of the Word of God in some churches in order that indulgences may be preached in others.
- Injury is done to the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or larger amount of time is devoted to indulgences than to the Word.
- It is certainly the pope’s sentiment that if indulgences, which are a very insignificant thing, are celebrated with one bell, one procession, and one ceremony, then the gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.
- The true treasures of the church, out of which the pope distributes indulgences, are not sufficiently discussed or known among the people of Christ.
- That indulgences are not temporal treasures is certainly clear, for many indulgence sellers do not distribute them freely but only gather them.
- Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, for, even without the pope, the latter always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outer man.
- St. Lawrence said that the poor of the church were the treasures of the church, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.
- Without want of consideration we say that the keys of the church, given by the merits of Christ, are that treasure.
- For it is clear that the pope’s power is of itself sufficient for the remission of penalties and cases reserved by himself.
- The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.
- But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last (Mt. 20:16).
- On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.
- Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets with which one formerly fished for men of wealth.
- The treasures of indulgences are nets with which one now fishes for the wealth of men.
- The indulgences which the demagogues acclaim as the greatest graces are actually understood to be such only insofar as they promote gain.
- They are nevertheless in truth the most insignificant graces when compared with the grace of God and the piety of the cross.
- Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of papal indulgences with all reverence.
- But they are much more bound to strain their eyes and ears lest these men preach their own dreams instead of what the pope has commissioned.
- Let him who speaks against the truth concerning papal indulgences be anathema and accursed.
- But let him who guards against the lust and license of the indulgence preachers be blessed.
- Just as the pope justly thunders against those who by any means whatever contrive harm to the sale of indulgences.
- Much more does he intend to thunder against those who use indulgences as a pretext to contrive harm to holy love and truth.
- To consider papal indulgences so great that they could absolve a man even if he had done the impossible and had violated the mother of God is madness.
- We say on the contrary that papal indulgences cannot remove the very least of venial sins as far as guilt is concerned.
- To say that even St. Peter if he were now pope, could not grant greater graces is blasphemy against St. Peter and the pope.
- We say on the contrary that even the present pope, or any pope whatsoever, has greater graces at his disposal, that is, the gospel, spiritual powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written. (1 Co 12[:28])
- To say that the cross emblazoned with the papal coat of arms, and set up by the indulgence preachers is equal in worth to the cross of Christ is blasphemy.
- The bishops, curates, and theologians who permit such talk to be spread among the people will have to answer for this.
- This unbridled preaching of indulgences makes it difficult even for learned men to rescue the reverence which is due the pope from slander or from the shrewd questions of the laity.
- Such as: `Why does not the pope empty purgatory for the sake of holy love and the dire need of the souls that are there if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a church?” The former reason would be most just; the latter is most trivial.
- Again, `Why are funeral and anniversary masses for the dead continued and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded for them, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?”
- Again, `What is this new piety of God and the pope that for a consideration of money they permit a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God and do not rather, beca use of the need of that pious and beloved soul, free it for pure love’s sake?”
- Again, `Why are the penitential canons, long since abrogated and dead in actual fact and through disuse, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences as though they were still alive and in force?”
- Again, `Why does not the pope, whose wealth is today greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build this one basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?”
- Again, `What does the pope remit or grant to those who by perfect contrition already have a right to full remission and blessings?”
- Again, `What greater blessing could come to the church than if the pope were to bestow these remissions and blessings on every believer a hundred times a day, as he now does but once?”
- “Since the pope seeks the salvation of souls rather than money by his indulgences, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons previously granted when they have equal efficacy?”
- To repress these very sharp arguments of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies and to make Christians unhappy.
- If, therefore, indulgences were preached according to the spirit and intention of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved. Indeed, they would not exist.
- Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Peace, peace,” and there is no peace! (Jer 6:14)
- Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Cross, cross,” and there is no cross!
- Christians should be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, death and hell.
- And thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false security of peace (Acts 14:22).
Worms ; January – May 1521: Luther called on to clarify his positions
Are you familiar with this trial? The Roman Church called Luther to the carpet to clarify what he meant as well as give him the opportunity to recant of his charges. Here is Luther’s response to Rome: April 18, 1521
“Since then your sere Majesty and your Lordships seek a simple answer, I will give it in this manner, neither horned nor toothed. Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.”
- Trent ; 1545-1563: Clarification of Rome’s doctrines”The nineteenth ecumenical council opened at Trent on 13 December, 1545, and closed there on 4 December, 1563. Its main object was the definitive determination of the doctrines of the Churchin answer to the heresies of the Protestants; a further object was the execution of a thorough reform of the inner life of the Church by removing the numerous abuses that had developed in it.”
~Taken from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15030c.htm
d) Martin Luther, Calvin, Knox, et. al.
“At birth, Martin Luther’s name was Martin Luder. He later changed it to the more academically respectable Luther. Christopher Columbus set sail when Luther was in grammar school. Michelangelo was completing his Sistine Chapel ceiling as Luther began teaching theology. Luther had probably eight siblings, yet only one of Luther’s brothers (Jacob) and only three of his sisters survived to adulthood. As a schoolboy, Luther preferred music to any other subject, and he became proficient at playing the lute. He gave away his lute when he entered the monastic cloister at age 21. Before he became a friar, Luther was well on his way to becoming a lawyer. He had earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the shortest time possible. While walking back to law school in 1505, Luther encountered a frightening thunderstorm. During the storm he cried out in fear, “Help me, St. Anna! I will become a monk.” He kept his vow. Early on as a reformer, Luther publicly concluded that penance (the church sacrament involving confession of sin) wasn’t a sacrament at all. Yet he continued to daily confess his sins to another person for most of his life. Luther once said he had not even seen a Bible until he was 20 years old.”
The above taken from: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/1992/issue34/3402.html
God used Martin Luther to begin His plans of refining the church. Rome had abandoned truth for their traditions. God hates this. keep in mind, even though the Roman church had prostituted itself, the elect remained in every age. Christ said that the gates of Hell would not prevail against His church and he meant it! So even though, during these dark years, the church local visibly whored itself under every tree, there remained a remnant.
Martin Luther was a German monk and Roman Catholic Priest prior to getting the ax from Rome. His famous stand, as we spoke of above, was rooted in Roman Catholic indulgences; this was the payment of money to the church for special privileges. The plan of Rome was to sell these indulgences to it’s people, essentially embezzling money from it’s people to build St. Peters Cathedral in Rome. The man that Luther challenged was a man by the name of Johan Tetzel. Tetzel was a Dominican friar. This change of heart that Luther had was brought about, surely from above, by Luther’s reading of Romans 1:16-17: Luther also played a part in the translation of the bible into the common language as it was in latin only at that time. As well, LUther wrote many a hymn; the most notable being, ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God’:
1. A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood
of mortal ills prevaling.
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.
2. Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.
3. And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.
4. That word above all earthly powers,
no thanks to them, abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours,
thru him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill;
God’s truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever.
Additional works that warrant mentioning is Luther’s Large Catechism, Luther’s Small Catechism, On the Freedom of a Christian, The Bondage of the Will, A Treatise on Good Works.
Luther was married to Katharina von Bora who was a nun. Luther and Katharina had 5 children.
This is the lynch pin of the Reformation: Rom. 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
This verse plagued Luther, almost driving him mad. Does God’s word obsess you in the same fashion? If not, why? Have you prayed about it?
Lane Keister writes:
“we may say truly that this is not only Luther’s text, but it is the text of the Reformation.”
Luther actually preached his last sermon in the place of his birth, Eisleben, just 3 days before he died.
- John Calvin; born in France in 1509; Born in 1509, died in 1564
As a young child, Calvin has interests in the church. It was his personal plan to become a priest although his father believed he would be better suited as a lawyer, hence he was enrolled at the University of Orleans. Historical documents verify that Calvin was converted under Luther’s teaching. Calvin says of this conversion: “God by a sudden conversion subdued and brought my mind to a teachable frame, which was more hardened in such matters than might have been expected in such a young man.” While in Geneva, Switzerland, Calvin preached; he was much more than just an able theologian. The church he preached in was St. Pierre’s Cathedral. The pulpit was elevated above the peoples; you will notice how in this age, God’s men do not elevate the preaching in this way. This IMO is an error. Much humanism has invaded the church and it is not politically correct to lift oneself up. This is a misnomer. The word of God should be elevated. The people of God in Old testament times stood for the reading of God’s word and worship-sometimes for hours in the sun.
In 1556 Calvin published his works, The Institutes of the Christian religion. If you do not have these works, it would do you well to get them. Much of Calvin’s works are centered on the sovereignty of God and how everything flows out of that vista. when Calvin finished his institutes in 1536 he departed for a time to Italy serving as secretary to Princess Renée of France, soon after departing to Strasbourg due to the Edict of Coucy’. What Luther did with his 95 thesis, Calvin did with the progression of the reformed church which was evidenced in the planting of the the French Huguenots, the English Puritans, the Scottish Presbyterians, and the Dutch Reformed Church. Calvin was ultimately called back to Geneva based on his recent popularity.Calvin’s theology is easily captured in the present day examples of TULIP and the 5 SOLAS. On his deathbed, Calvin instructed everyone that he was to have no memorialized tomb and no special ceremonies. In fact, no one actually knows where Calvin is buried.He died much like he lived. I believe it is important to lay out a distinction in regard to what it means to be Calvinist. I have been challenged in the past by non Calvinist folk that I ‘worship’ Calvin. Thier charge is that I quote Calvin often and I refer to ‘Calvinism’ often. These are the same men who often quote living men. It is important to note that when the reformed quote these venerable dead saints, we do not elevate them above scripture nor do we intend ever, to denigrate scripture. All the reformed understand God’s sovereignty and in light of that, we safely quote men that walked the same way as us. I can understand it being an assault on people who have no idea who Calvin is, or they think we are in a cult because of Calvin’s systematics that we embrace; but that is due to a level of ignorance and it is our responsibility, in love and patience to enlighten men, if so God wills it, so that they can unload this baggage.
e) The Reformation
- Beginning: 1517-1648
- Semper Reformanda
We are Presbyterian
The term has to do specifically with the way the bible describes how the church is to be run. It comes form the Greek word:
4244. πρεσβυτέριον presbuterion; from 4245; a body of elders: —Council(m)(2), elders(m)(2), presbytery(1).
We see the term used in 1 Tim:
1Tim. 4:14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.
The Presbyterian polity consists of teaching elders or pastors and ruling elders. We hold to a three-office system in the PCA. Pastor, elder and deacon. Scripture only shows a two office view. Westminster held to three offices. The struggle can be eased by understanding that the pastor is teaching elder and the elders do the ruling. In Presbyterian government, unlike the credo Baptist realm, the pastor does not Lord it over the people. The Presbyterian pastor is subject to the session. The session is subject to the Presbytery and the Presbytery is subject to the general assembly. It is interesting to note that the pastors of our church are not members of this church. They are members of the presbytery.
Baptists practice congregational government whereby all authority rests with the pastor, elders, deacons, and members of a particular church. There is no authority above the church level. Can you see the difference between the two disciplines?
MY friend Bruce Buchanan writes:
“Presbyterianism is first of all a governmental framework. Its governmental bodies, when called to the work, are a graded system of courts. The individual Christian or church-member is not left solely to dictates or judgments of one or even a few of his leaders, at the congregational level. Depending on how much “church” is contained within a denomination–if for instance there are sessions, presbyteries, and a general assembly–theoretically there exists a “right of appeal” within the justice-system on earth, whereby decisions of fallible men may be reviewed once or even twice, so as to have the whole church speak with clarity to an issue.
The difference would be, that in a congregational church, an individual who has been judged and has no further to take his sentence, has one appeal–to Jesus Christ on Judgment Day. The decisions of pastors and elders or deacons (or perhaps the congregation) is final in his case. If the church is simply a voluntary association, then those who run the place (whether individually, by board, or by a collective whole) ultimately decide who stays and who goes. The single congregation is “the whole church.” No one owes anyone beyond it anything except to Christ on Judgment Day.”
g) Presbyterianism is by and large denominational
To give a name, denote, nominate
“14. Divisions that separate believers into denominations mar the unity of the Church and are due to error and sin. It is the duty of all denominations which are true churches of Christ to seek reconciliation and union. Such organizational unity, however, should be sought only on the basis of truth and of scriptural order. It is the duty of every believer to unite with the branch of the visible church which adheres most closely to the Scriptures. Acts 15:22-29; 1 Cor. 10:17; Eph. 4:4-6; Acts 17:11-12.
15. The Church must have membership requirements based on Scripture, to which every member gives his assent. Those who give such assent and their children are church members. Acts 2:39; 1 Cor. 7:14; Rev. 2–3.
– RPCNA Testimony, Chap. 25, section 14, 15.”
Most people who leave their local church based on this portion of the RPCNA statement, “When the administration is corrupt, and attempts, at its reformation, have proved ineffectual, it is the duty of Christians to separate from it” are redefining the statement based on a personal misunderstanding of it. I say this, generally. How did the writers of this document intend? Surely, never of private interpretation, i.e. ‘In the counsel of many, there is safety’.
(PCA), with about 335,000 members in 1,700 congregations, while the Presbyterian Church, USA (PCUSA), with 2.3 million members in 10,000 congregations
Presbyterians are denominational. I mentioned last week that the PCA was the largest Presbyterian Church in the United States. I still hold to that idea based on the discussion that ensued from that statement. The bible tells us that a church is only a church if it holds to the marks that make it a church. For instance, a biblical church must preach a true gospel message; as well, they must distribute the sacraments and hold fast to church discipline. Does the PC-USA? No. They cannot in light of their ordination of homosexuals and woman leadership. How can they enforce biblical discipline when in fact their actions deny it? In that, I do not, as well as the majority of reformed believers consider them a true church any longer; granted, as I said, it is God who removes lampstands, not I. However, we are called to judge each other within the body and see the fruit that is produced. So, the PCUSA is a church in name only, by their own denomination.
A couple of years ago, the Aquilla report reported that there was a PCUSA church in Salt Lake city that was giving out free copies of the Koran in response to the silliness that was going on in North Florida where the pastor of the church was burning the book. In each copy of the Koran given out a short message was inscribed that read:
‘This book was donated by the leaders of Wasatch Presbyterian Church, who are not afraid of truth wherever it can be found.’
You get that? The PCUSA is saying that the Koran holds truth! The level of silliness never ceases to amaze me. This is blasphemy.
I don’t want to turn this class into a stoning of aberrant groups; you have heard me often speak of groups that are subtle and inviting. We all need to know the difference and make the distinction; and in this case, the reason I bring this to light is because this is a denominating that is biblical. We are called to separate ourselves from heretics. A friend once said in response, ‘Maybe they can give their bibles away as well as obviously, they have quit using them as well’.
Heresy vs error. They are not the same and one needs to distinguish between the two charges. The term heresy is tossed to and fro without regard, irresponsibly.
Two things can be garnered from the term, denominationalism. One, the term is used to create a segregation or division intentionally, and two, it is used to define a group.
One could argue that there is no denominations in scripture-there is some truth to that. We do not see any actual denominations-the closest we can see is how churches are described by where their locations were, i.e. the church of Ephesus. But is that the same thing?
We looked at the timeline of the history of the church last week. The Eastern Orthodox church claims that they have never departed from the original intent of God in that there are no identifiable splits in their history. All splits are not considered aberrant. For instance, our severing ties with Rome were and is biblically warranted and supported. Was Rome’s split from the Eastern Orthodox church warranted? Probably not. From what I understand, it is more politically based than theological; since we are born out of this split, that is a bit indicting.
Listen to what John Frame says of denominationalism:
“First, Christ founded one church and commanded us to preserve its unity. Denominations have no role to play in biblical church government; rather they are destructive of that government. Second, the denominational division of the church has always been the result of sin: either sin on the part of the founders of the new denomination, or on the part of their original denomination, or both. The people involved should have solved their problem by biblical reconciliation, not by denominational division. Third, denominationalism has imposed upon us the burden of subjecting ourselves and our congregations to human organizations, organizations which cannot claim in full the promises and the gifts of God.
Those should certainly be sufficient reasons for us to seek the abolition of denominationalism. Clearly denominations are contrary to God’s will. Those who are servants of God need to know nothing more.
But some will complain, “Wait a minute. Denominations aren’t really so bad in practice. Whatever else can be said, we can live with them. We are able to worship, preach, teach, evangelize, plant churches, share the sacraments, carry out discipline, and support Christian social action in the present denominational structure. Indeed, denominations have often been helpful to the ministry of local congregations, giving them financial assistance, encouragement, fellowship, leadership, mobilizing believers to pray, helping to resolve difficulties. If the system ain’t broke, why fix it?”
This kind of talk is, I think, usually a symptom of ignorance or spiritual immaturity or both. It rejects scriptural principle on the basis of essentially pragmatic considerations. Yet it does have some legitimate force. One might agree that denominations are a problem “in principle” (which many mistranslate “in theory”) but feel at the same time that since denominationalism is not doing much practical damage the problem may be placed on the back burner. Though God has mandated us to reunite the church, someone might say, we may rightly give that project a lower priority than others that are more immediately pressing.”
As I shall indicate later, I do believe that we must make priority judgments even among divine commands, though we certainly may not “prioritize” any of God’s commands out of existence as some might prefer in this case. However, I must reject the premise that denominationalism is not doing any “practical” damage. Indeed it is doing a great deal of damage, and the fact that that damage is invisible to so many people makes it all the worse.”
We are where we are. It is hard to escape these facts.
What of other splits within the reformed framework? Not all of them can be considered biblical. The only time a church should abandon it’s ties and vows should only be for heresy. It should never be for secondary issues. This is where the issue gets a bit sticky; what may be secondary to you at face value, may be primary to another. Well, you might be thinking, “Scott, the scriptures are not contradictory-how could one mistake the intent of scripture on an issue?”. Theology is complex. There are diamonds in the rough. Men are forever straining gnats, and in many cases, valid arguments. It is difficult for the layperson to wrap their brain around things like church government, the sacrament and what it truly means, federal headship, the regulative principle, etc. These are stones that are mined with great sweat. Churches have split over these issues and as Frame illuminates, in most cases, it is sinful.
Frame goes on to say:
“1. Denominationalism has greatly weakened church discipline. Discipline is one of the traditional “marks of the true church” that I shall discuss in a later chapter. A church without discipline is a church without means of maintaining a united gospel testimony. Scripture requires discipline, which includes teaching, exhorting, rebuking, but which in extreme cases can lead to excommunication (Matt 18:15-20; 1 Cor 5; 2 Thess 3:6-15; 2 Tim 4:1-5). In the first century, when someone was disciplined by the church (granting the exhaustion of all possible appeals) that discipline was respected by all believers. Today, that is no longer the case. Sadly, in most of our churches today there is no formal discipline at all. But even those churches which seek to implement biblical discipline are frequently frustrated by denominationalism. Say that Bill is excommunicated from First Baptist as an unrepentant adulterer. Often, Bill will then be perfectly free to go down the street and attend, say, First Methodist, as a member in good standing.”
Membership vows are another good example and the disconnect between fellowships.
h) WCF chapter
i) Discussion & Questions
We are Paedobaptist
a) Paedobaptism defined and defended:
- Origination; Gen 17
- Baptism is a sign in the same way circumcision was a sign
- Biblical passages supporting paedobaptism
John, the baptist???
Matt. 3:1 Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven 1is at hand.” 3 For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said,
“THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS,
‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD,
MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT!’”
4 Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; 6 and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.
What kind of baptist was John?
John was a levite priest. He was the son of Zacharias. He was born to this world 6 months prior to Christ. He was Jesus’ cousin. The scriptures do not elaborate on what John actually did in the temple as a Levite.
We can ascertain from the book of Hebrews that John did perform one ritual:
Heb. 9:6 Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship, 7 but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. 8 The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, 9 which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, 10 since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the 1body imposed until a time of reformation.
‘Various washings’. This word in the Greek is rendered as ‘baptism’.
909. βαπτισμός baptismos; from 907; (the act of) a dipping or washing: —washing(1), washings(2).
This is essentially the same word used to describe the baptism that went on in Acts, chapter 2:
Acts 2:41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.
Was this baptism that was occurring under Peter’s preaching at the Pentecost event the same type of baptism that John was calling people to? No. It was not one and the same.
John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance.
Mark 1:4 John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness ofsins.
Luke 3:3 And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgivenessof sins;
Acts 13:24 after John had proclaimed before 1His coming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
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.” Acts 19:3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Acts 19:4 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.” Acts 19:5 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.
Obviously, John’s baptism was not the same type of Baptism that Peter was calling people to. John’s baptism was NOT in the name of Christ or the trinity. There is a big difference.
Having cleared this up, lets discuss a bit about who John was calling out at the Jordan. Question: Could Jews have any contact with Gentiles?
Eph. 2:14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,
Calvin writes on this passage:
“And breaking down the middle wall of partitions. To understand this passage, two things must be observed. The Jews were separated, for a certain time, from the Gentiles, by the appointment of God; and ceremonial observances were the open and avowed symbols of that separation. Passing by the Gentiles, God had chosen the Jews to be a peculiar people to himself. A wide distinction was thus made, when the one class were “fellow-citizens and of the household” (Ephesians 2:19) of the Church, and the other were foreigners. This is stated in the Song of Moses:
“When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel for the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.” (Deuteronomy 32:8,9)”
John 4:9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, aSamaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
“How dost thou, who art a Jew? This is a reproach, by which she retorts upon him the contempt which was generally entertained by his nation. The Samaritans are known to have been the scum of a people gathered from among foreigners. Having corrupted the worship of God, and introduced many spurious and wicked ceremonies, they were justly regarded by the Jews with detestation. Yet it cannot be doubted that the Jews, for the most part, held out their zeal for the law as a cloak for their carnal hatred; for many were actuated more by ambition and envy, and by displeasure at seeing the country which had been allotted to them occupied by the Samaritans, than by grief and uneasiness because the worship of God had been corrupted. There was just ground for the separation, provided that their feelings had been pure and well regulated. For this reason Christ, when he first sends the Apostles to proclaim the Gospel, forbids them to turn aside to the Samaritans, (Matthew 10:5.)”
So, when John was calling people, he was calling Jews. What would a Levite have to do with Gentiles and Samaritans? This was for the people of God. These peoples included the federal heads of the family. The federal headship understood the gravity of what their job was. They always functioned as a family unit. It was never individual; no one was independent of the federal headship. Federal heads had already placed the sign on their children prior to this event. There is no way that a faithful Jew would have thought for a moment that this washing was a replacement to the covenantal command to circumcise; it was in addition to.
The point is, John was actually a paedobaptist. Paedobaptists function along the same lines as the Old testament saint in regards to the sign. In the Old, there was circumcision, in the new, there is water baptism.
I previously asked in a facebook thread, as well as the one on K. Gentry’s wall in regard to the topic of paedobaptism, if God would destroy the Earth with water again.
Will God ever destroy the Earth with water again? Why or why not?
Obviously the answer is No! Why? Because God is a God of faithfulness and covenant. When God covens w/ His people, that covenant remains forever. This is the first thing that the credo fails to understand. All the covenants are perpetual, in all time frames and men are accountable to all of them. God is faithful; we can believe Him in regards to the Noahic covenant and that He will not destroy the world again with water. Why does the credo not appreciate the Abrahamic covenant in the same way? We have no problem dealing with the covenant of redemption or the covenant of grace. It is a bit nonsensical.
One of the first things that should be noted is that the credo misunderstands covenant and misunderstands the nature of baptism: The sign and the thing signified are not one and the same thing.
The WCF clearly illuminates the idea:
I. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church, but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life: which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in his Church until the end of the world.
II. The outward element to be used in the sacrament is water, wherewith the party is to be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a minister of the gospel, lawfully called thereunto.
III. Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person.
IV. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one or both believing parents are to be baptized.
V. Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it, or that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.
VI. The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in his appointed time.
*Pay particular attention to section 1 and 6. The efficacy of baptism is not ‘tied to that moment wherein it is administered’. It is efficacious as God wills, but not on every occasion.
I have made mention that it is important to understand that a sign is a sign. In the OT, the sign was circumcision, in the New, water baptism. The Old Testament sign was to Abraham and all his seed; it was imperative he obeyed God’s command to place the sign on even foreigners living in his household. The warning in Gen 17 is so that one is not ‘cut off’ from the people of God.
Gen. 17:9 And God said to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; 11 and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. 13 He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”
Cut off??? That is a terrifying statement. Notice it says,
“you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.”
Look what happened to Moses’ failure to comply:
Ex. 4:24 Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that the LORD met him and asought to put him to death. 25 Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and threw it at Moses’ feet, and she said, “You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me.” 26 So He let him alone. At that time she said, “You are a bridegroom of blood” — because of the circumcision.
Calvin’s comments on this passage support the view that God’s anger toward Moses at this time was because of his failure to circumcise his son as commanded.
When does this command end? In glory! We are to place the sign until glory.
Since this command is ‘everlasting’, the present ages after Christ are not free to disregard this command. We see no biblical abrogation of the command-thats because it is perpetual just like all the other covenants. Are we not the seed of Abraham?
As well, if you look at the book of Acts, it is again repeated and endorsed: ”For the promise is unto you and to your children…” You see this trend throughout the book of Acts. What promise is the apostle referring to? The same promise previously cited above, of course. One cannot miss the language. The error in interpretation rests in a skewed hermeneutic. It comes from not taking into account the whole of scripture when you look at this idea. Most of the credobaptists are guilty of this due to their dispensationalism. It is hard to avoid the fact that God does not change and the theme of families and covenant permeate the scriptures. The argument that we see no positive command in the New Testament is flawed. The thinking should be, ‘we see no command to put the children out of the equation’. There is no abrogation of the principle, so hence, we commit to what God has commanded.
Rom. 4:16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all
A sign is a sign. Much like God having the option to change the last day of the week Sabbath to the first day of the week, He changes the sign after the cross. Struggling with this idea must cause one to deal with the Lord’s day Sabbath change. You can’t struggle with one and not the other!
The other important factor that most credo’s miss is that the Covenant of grace begins in gen 3. The Mosaic is an administration of the C of G. The Mosaic is not a republishing of the C of W’s, but the engine that ran the C of W’s. When the scripture speaks of the old, one must consider that the Mosaic cannot be a tablet of death and a tablet of grace at the same time. When the scriptures call it death, it is referring to being outside of the C of G, hence, it is still part of the C of W’s. I repeat, it is not the C of W’s but an integral part of that covenant-the engine.
Having said this, since the C of G starts in gen 3, all men overtime, in Christ, have been saved in the same fashion; justified by faith alone. The Holy Spirit at Pentecost was no more than a ‘amplification’ for the progression of the church during that age. The OT saint had the HS in the same way we have it today.
I want to make mention that the divines of Westminster used the terms, ‘covenant of grace’ and ‘new covenant interchangeably’:
Q. 162. What is a sacrament?
A. A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ in his church, to signify, seal, and exhibit unto those that are within the *covenant of grace*, the benefits of his mediation; to strengthen and increase their faith, and all other graces; to oblige them to obedience; to testify and cherish their love and communion one with another; and to distinguish them from those that are without.
Quest. 92. What is a sacrament?
Ans. 92. A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ, wherein, by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the *new covenant*, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.(1)
(1) Gen. 17:7, 10; Exod. 12; I Cor. 11:23, 26.
*My emphasis added
The OPC website uses the term: ‘new covenant of grace‘
“Under the new covenant of grace man was to receive a greater degree of blessing than that which the Old Testament saints received. These blessings were not to be of an entirely different kind from those experienced under the Old Testament dispensation. They were essentially the same kind of blessings but showered forth in greater abundance and in a higher degree (see Heb. 8:6–11).
Under the new covenant of grace man received a clearer and fuller revelation of grace than that received by the Old Testament saints.”
It is well argued by the Credo that their lynchpin, i.e. Jer 31 reveals a whole new ballgame. However, to think that the converted in Gen 3 did not have a portion of this, ‘now and not yet’ prophesy is at best silly. For instance, what does the credo do with the idea that this passage states that when this occurs, we will no longer need ‘teachers’? We still need teachers, right? Only in glory will we no longer need to teach our neighbors. What about ‘all will know me’ ? All of us know people who have failed to continue the race. The person had been baptized and he or she no longer walks. That’s the point, it is a now and not yet. When we get to glory, all will know him, flawlessly. As well, you will find that at the end of this passage it says:
“36 “If those ordinances depart
From before Me, says the LORD,
Then the seed of Israel shall also cease
From being a nation before Me forever.”
Jer. 31:37 Thus says the LORD:
“If heaven above can be measured,
And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath,
I will also cast off all the seed of Israel
For all that they have done, says the LORD. “
Do you get that? God is threatening the believers in the day of Jeremiah. Why would he do that if the prophesy has nothing to do with present day. How many years before Pentecost was this????
“He had said before that God’s covenant with Abraham’s children could no more fail than the laws of nature: he now says, that if any could measure the heaven, and investigate the foundations of the earth, that is, penetrate into the very center of the earth, then, he says, I will reject the seed of Israel. But God brings before us these strange and impossible things, that we may know that he will at length be reconciled to his people after having justly punished them. And this promise could not have afforded any consolation to hypocrites, because God does not include the whole seed of Abraham, but says, that he would not allow the whole seed of Abraham to perish, for some remnant would continue, according to what is said by Isaiah,
“Though thy people were as the sand of the sea,
a remnant shall be saved.” (Isaiah 10:22)”
Is new really new or is it refreshed? Revitalized? Revamped? What happens at the cross is not new, it is a consummation of time. Christ was the lamb slain outside of time, before the foundation of the world! Yes, He died in time, but the efficacious nature to that sacrifice dates back, as I said earlier to Gen 3. The same gospel that I had preached to me was preached to Abraham. The cross was a fulfillment, a consummation. To think otherwise is dispensational. Since it is a consummation, How is it new?
I will quote Matthew McMahon on the subject:
“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah — “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” I love this passage.
The Dispensationalist will say: Jeremiah is prophesying that the New Covenant to come is going to be different than the Old Covenant in that it is in the heart. The Old Covenant was not in the heart. This is the New Testament writers’ point in Hebrews 8. Those in the New Testament church will be saved and regenerate. The New Testament presumes a regenerate membership in the church when they write. Regenerate people are the only ones in the New Covenant. Jesus will radically bring about a new kind of way in dealing with men. There will be no more need to teach the law because God will teach it to men and write it on their hearts. Pentecost shows us this when the Spirit comes and now dwells in men.
This is nonsensical. Romans 8:9 “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. [b:9cbcf54339]Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”[/b:9cbcf54339] Abraham was as much saved and filled with the Spirit as any Christian.
We ask this question, “Is Jer. 31 speaking of a new covenant?”
One says, “New.” It’s right there in black and white. “New!”
I understand that, but you should always take time to do a word study or two, and be sure of your syntax and grammar. Even though we are talking simplistically about the covenant, we should address the word here. This is a little deeper than how we have been talking, and may be a bit technical. The Hebrew word is not just the simple “new” but “renew” or “refresh.” The word for “new” is an adjective that is used 53 times in the Old Testament. It comes from the verb form of the word. That verb form is its root and its basic meaning. When we trace the verb through the Old Testament, it is used to mean, “renew or repair;” cf. Isa 61:4; 2 Chron. 24:4, 12; Psalm 51:10 (12) Lam. 5:21; 1 Sam. 11:14; 2 Chron. 15:8; Job 10:17; Psalm 104:30; Psa. 103:5; 2 Chron. 24:4; 24:12; and etc. The idea around the word itself as an adjective means taking something already existing and “renewing it” – either repairing it to a previous state or in taking something that was already and making it better. As both a noun and adjective this word refers to things new in this sense, and to things restored. Now some like to think that this word is exclusively meant as “brand new.” But this does injustice to its use in the Old Testament. They will quote verses like, Exodus 1:8. Now there arose up a new king over Egypt,” or Isaiah 43:19. “I will do a new thing.” These surely seem like “new” is “brand new don’t they?
There is more to it than just quoting a verse or two. For example, without going into great detail, is the station of “kingship” new or not? Is having a new king something brand new or a renewal of the class of kingship? How does the Hebrew mind think about this? How does the rest of Scripture demonstrate this? A new king does not make the class of “kingness” new, although a new king is a good element of fulfillment to kingship. What about Isaiah 43:19 – how would you explain new things that God does? Does God do “new” things, or is He eternally immutable? It seems we have a theological conundrum. How would one reconcile the eternal immutably of God, and Him doing “new things?” I mean, after the act of creation and containment of creation, does He change from doing old things to doing new things?
The answer to that is yes and no. For God, no. He never does “new” things. It is not like He had a plan, made a mistake, and decided to do something “new.” But in our eyes, the realities surrounding the fulfillment of anything God does makes it new to us. For instance, if I have an old car, say a 1979 Ford Fairmont, and I buy a new car, that car is a brand new car in relation to the junk car I am giving to the junkyard. But if I take the old Fairmont and “mint it out” then the old car becomes new. It is not really “new” but “renewed.” Yet, when I sit in it, it surely is a new car to me. It puts a smile on my face to drive it.
Think of this: The Lord’s mercies are completely new every morning, but also “renewed” every morning. (Lam. 3:23). Job desired that his glory was “fresh” in him, Job 29:20. This does not mean “new” but renewed. God’s glory cannot be “new,” as in brand new since it always is. A survey of the Old Testament will show that such a “renewing” in Hebrew is considered as new, though its cognate is old, and simply refreshed. It is almost never used of “new, as in “brand new,” even when God says he does “new things” or “new kings” are put on thrones. There is more to the Hebrew mind and language than thinking one dimensionally about words.
Considering the context of Jeremiah 31. Chapters 30-33 have an overall structure that uses a repetition of “Behold” four times. It structures the “Restoration” ideas surrounding “Israel” and “Judah.” (Restoration passages are VERY important.) They were in exile and God is promises to bring them out of exile and renew the covenant He had with them. He is not going to renew it like the covenant he made with Moses – with burdensome Laws, so to speak. Rather, He will fulfill it in Christ. The context of Jeremiah is comparing Abraham’s covenant with the Mosaic Law, the tablets of stone, and the promises of the Lord to Abraham, of which we know Christ is the fulfillment. Abraham’s covenant is not new. It is refreshed, renewed, fulfilled, completed, etc., in Christ (which ultimately points to the use of this passage in Hebrews 8). For instance, we are dealing with the same God, the same law, the same people (the elect), the same fallen status of people (in sin), the same status of God (gracious and longsuffering, but also judicious), the same status of justification (by faith alone), the same stipulation (blood covers sin), the same provision of the stipulation (Christ), and the same reward (peace with God and everlasting life). What is really new?
Now a classic Dispensationalist will say, “I would have said that regeneration is the new thing – the law written on the heart.” But that does not seem to fit well. Was Abraham regenerate??
The greater context does not limit Jeremiah 31 to just “regenerate people.” The restoration ideas do not limit the passage to merely an internal aspect to the covenant. If that were really true, then things like the Lord’s Supper, and Baptism, outward and external sacraments in the New Covenant, would not be necessary. But Jeremiah 31 is not simply speaking about something internal – it is much bigger than that. It includes Israel’s children, and the fulfillment of all the promises to Abraham. Jeremiah 30:20 says, “Their children also shall be as before, And their congregation shall be established before Me; And I will punish all who oppress them.” And Jeremiah 31:17, right before our passage says this, “There is hope in your future, says the LORD, That your children shall come back to their own border.” Listen to what Jeremiah 32:18 says, “You show lovingkindness to thousands, and repay the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them — the Great, the Mighty God, whose name is the LORD of hosts.” And we should not forget Jeremiah 32:39 says, just a chapter after, but in the same context, “then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them.” If it is really just about “a regenerate church membership” then why mention the “good of the children?” Oftentimes Jeremiah 31:31ff is ripped from its context, and misread.
Now we are talking about a “renewed Covenant” or a “refreshed Covenant” in Jesus Christ [i:9cbcf54339]which makes a lot of difference.[/i:9cbcf54339]
Next question: What covenant is in contrast with this renewed or refreshed covenant in this passage? Is it Abraham’s? No. It’s the Mosaic covenant. The covenant here is a renewing, or refreshing of the Abrahamic promise over the scaffolding of the Mosaic covenant.
The covenant made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, one that the Messiah will bring in, is going to be the Abrahamic Covenant fulfilled.
What about writing the law on the heart?
It is clear that the contrast is one of regeneration. But ask, was Abraham regenerate?
Is Paul stupid to use Abraham as the Father of our faith?
We would have to say “yes, Abraham was regenerate.”
Was he saved by grace through faith? Yes.
Did he have the Spirit indwelling him as you and I do? Romans 8:8!!
If this is the case, what makes this renewed covenant in Jeremiah 31 different?
What about Hebrews 8? It quotes this at length surrounding the ministry of Jesus as High priest forever? Is Hebrews wrong? What is wrong is the interpretation of Jeremiah 31 that YOU bring to Hebrews 8. Hebrews 8 quotes the whole passage in Jeremiah. But what if you misunderstand Jeremiah 31? Will you ever understand Hebrew 8? No!
This is a renewed covenant, the scaffolding of the Mosaic covenant is gone, and the writing is on the heart. But this is not new, it is the renewed covenant of Abraham, and that is an important point. What else is different about this renewed covenant?
It says no one will teach his neighbor saying know the Lord for they shall all know me from the least to the greatest. Isn’t this regeneration? But it can’t be that since it is the renewed covenant of Abraham fulfilled in Christ. Many think this meant that those in the New Testament church would be regenerate. That is why “our church only baptizes people on profession of faith.”
It cannot be talking about regeneration and just regeneration. Abraham, as you said, was regenerate and that happened before this promise. So Jeremiah’s “newness” or “renewed” covenant is not just talking about regeneration alone. Let’s ask this question: Do we have teachers today?
Yes, we have teachers today.
But the text says we will not have any more teachers in this renewed covenant. No one will “teach one another saying…”
But we have teachers today. Are we saying the New Covenant is not now?
The New Covenant, or Abrahamic Covenant, is a “now and not yet” covenant. In the Old Testament the Abrahamic Covenant was awaiting its fulfillment. But Abraham was saved. It was a “now” and “not yet” covenant. It was “now and not yet” in promise. Jeremiah, though, is quite plain and we need to take the text as it stands. In the New Covenant there will be no more teachers. The verb “teach one another” is “they teach one another.” It is third person. “No one [they] will teach his neighbor.” In the fulfillment of the New Covenant, the renewed covenant of Abraham, there will be no more teachers. When will everyone, from the least in the kingdom to the greatest in the kingdom, know the Lord? And remember, this is a time when there are no more teachers.
We would have to say in heaven. Only in heaven will everyone know the Lord completely and in heaven there will be no teachers.
The renewed covenant made with the house of Israel and Judah is the Abrahamic covenant fulfilled in Christ. It is set in contrast to the ceremonial and judicial laws given at Sinai because the blood of bulls and goats do not really save. Jesus Christ inaugurates the coming of this new kingdom and renewed covenant. In doing so, the New Covenant is “now” for us, since we are saved; but it is also “not yet,” in that in heaven all people will know the Lord form the least to the greatest. There are teachers now in inaugurating the renewed covenant, but there will be no teachers then. There are saved people now, just as in the Old Testament, but the “knowing” is complete only in heaven. No church, anywhere, is made up of all regenerate people, and is without teachers or pastors. Many people think that the New Testament church is supposed to be made up of only regenerate members. That is why dispensational churches only want to baptize regenerate people, those who simply make a profession of faith, and leave the children out. Although, in reality, they have no “proof” in any way of ensuring the person is saved, but they will baptize them anyway. But Jeremiah is not talking about excluding or including people in this way. In the time of Abraham, even people like Esau were included in the covenant, and the New Covenant, is not consummation with a completely regenerate “membership” until we get to heaven. Only then will we have no more teachers.”
Look at what the great commission tells us to do:
Matt. 28:18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
1) Make disciples
2) Baptize them
3) Teach them
It says nothing of belief or confessions.
It was also posed erroneously on Ken’s wall that infants cannot believe nor have faith. This is preposterous as what do we do with elect infants who die in infancy? The imbecile? Deaf and dumb? God Himself goes to these individuals and brings grace, gospel, faith and justifies.
The other thing to consider as well is that regeneration and conversion are not one and the same things; Infants, many times, have what was referred to as seeds of faith by the reformed. They are regenerated by the inward call of God as He sees fit and will later, under the preached word, be converted.
When John the Baptist was at the Jordan calling everyone out, do you think for a minute that he was not calling all the federal heads of the families? He was indeed! Those federal heads knew that God was a God of faithfulness and family and when He called, the federal heads brought everyone under their households, according to the Abrahamic covenant, to these events. It would be a bit bizarre for them to quit being Jewish, no? God has always been a God of families; if you blow this, you will always end up baptisitic.
In error, the credo assumes that when Pentecost arrived, the people present for a thing of holiness were singular. When the high holy days came upon early Jerusalem, did the family all go or was it individual? The federal head packed up all his family and often animals. The point is, the Jews did not cease being Jews for Pentecost. The call to repent and be baptized is the same call John cried out in the wilderness, where droves of families came.
Look what it says in Malachi:
Because the LORD has been witness
Between you and the wife of your youth,
With whom you have dealt treacherously;
Yet she is your companion
And your wife by covenant.
15 But did He not make them one,
Having a remnant of the Spirit?
And why one?
He seeks godly offspring.
Therefore take heed to your spirit,
And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.
God is looking for godly offspring? At least for another 400 years and then God will no longer look for godly offspring??? Foolishness.
Well the credo might say, ‘we are to apply the sign only to regenerate peoples!’
How can anyone do this as only God knows who are His? Is that what the commission commands? You may reply, “We tell by confession and fruit”. Yes. I understand. If you would have told Peter that Judas was not regenerate you would have been given a hefty rebuke! We are to apply the sign and teach. Let the fruit lie where they fall.
“You are still stuck in Rome!” Ah yes, the Romanist charge. Listen, Rome is not wrong on the covenant. They are wrong believing that in every instance, the baptism saves; it does not and that flies in the face of Justification by faith alone and the doctrine of election. The reformed do not embrace that error.
I would address the oikos issue but I don’t believe it is necessary in light of what I have extrapolated upon already. That is a given that households were baptized.
How about the issue of disciple? What is a disciple?
Lets refer to the words of Christ:
John 6:61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”
John 6:66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”
Judas was a disciple; Demas was a disciple. Ananias and his wife were disciples. Simon the Sorcerer was a disciple.
This makes much more sense in line of the words of the great commission, ‘make disciples’ and ‘teach them’. Not all disciples are regenerated and converted.
The parables raise an interesting point. Why was it that the disciples did not understand them?
Matt expounds on the issue:
“Matt. 13:10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”
Matt. 13:11 He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
“Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’
16 But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; 17 for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
Then later in the passage:
Matt. 13:36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”
Why did Christ have to explain it to His ‘disciples’? Because not all of the disciples were regenerate.
The other distinction that is not easily appreciated by the credo is visible and invisible church. The church is not a new testament phenomenon. It has always existed. Adam was the first elder. Since not all disciples are actually regenerate, they would be considered members of the local church, but in the external expression. No one knows who these people are but Christ. It’s His bride, He knows her! The elect, those regenerated are in the visible expressions.
In the same way, when we place the sign on infants, we place the sign by command on all infants holding fast to God’s promise. Some of these infants are reprobate. We don’t obsess over that fact but hold to God’s command in faith that He will convert our children in His good time. What about those that never come to faith, what does this baptism mean to them? It is a sign of condemnation. The elect have grace and the reprobate condemnation. You might ask, “Scott you quoted 1 Cor recently.
1Cor. 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through 1her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.
You said your children are ‘holy’? How is it that God considers the reprobate child Holy? How can that be? Your elect children are Holy and your reprobate children are holy? Isaac was Holy, but was Ishmael? Scripture tells us differently!”
This is a sticky wicket at first glance, for sure. The distinction needs to be considered when we speak of Holiness. God is Holy. Men seek holiness. The utensils in the temple were holy, but are they holy like God? No! Are the utensils holy like the Levites were? No! There is a difference. The utensils were ‘set apart’ for holy purposes as were the Levites. In the same way, even our unregenerate and reprobate children have been set apart. Whether these children perfect their baptism, time will tell. Lets talk Ishmael. Was Ishmael in covenant? Yes, Ismael was in covenant-the external aspect of it. How was he Holy? He is holy based on being a participant of the covenant blessings that come with it for the external aspect. For instance, would you consider it holy, that Ishmael was born into this family? How about his father’s standing with God? The preached word? The sacraments? Does not God make the statement in Gen 3 that He will be thier God? yes he does. Whether one is reprobate does not change this fact. God is the God of all creation. It just depends upon how that it received by each particular person. The elect receive this by grace alone through faith alone. The reprobate receive it in the flesh alone; none the less, they do receive it.
In the past, I have been charged with eisegesis when it comes to the doctrine of paedo baptism. I am told, “You cannot find paedobaptism in scripture, anywhere in the bible”. This is accurate. A few things need to be said in response: Keep in mind, again I reiterate, when we use the term, we are speaking specifically about God’s covenant with His people as described in Gen 17; Like the Sabbath day change, God has the prerogative to change the sign to whatever he wants, whenever he wants. A sign is just that, a sign. It always points to something. The Paedobaptist comes to their conclusions not based on eisegesis but good and necessary inference. There are numerous doctrines that we have come to over the ages by this process. The following is taken from my website; it is short so I will just post it here in this paper:
The following doctrines are found in scripture by necessary inference; they are biblical doctrines that are seen by certain themes found in Holy writ. You will not find these items literally stated, but drawn out of scripture by the theme the scriptures portray. They are facts that are implied alongside other facts in scripture. Jesus uses this biblical tool of interpretation when speaking with the Sadducees in Matthew 22:
23 The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, 24 saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up children for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother. 26 So too the second and third, down to the seventh. 27 After them all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.”
29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 ’I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” 33 And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.
2) The Trinity
3) The Covenant of grace and redemption
4) The change in the sabbath from the last day of the week to the first day
5) Woman taking the supper
6) The local church vs the Universal Church
7) The Regulative Principle
9) Baptism of adult children belonging to Christian parents
10) Mode of baptism
11) Church Polity
Another anomalous item is the ‘baby dedication’ by the credo’s. Baby dedications are completely eisegetical, anti biblical and aberrant; they only reason you do it is because the image of God in you demands it. This silliness is taken from the book of judges where Hannah dedicate Samuel. The thing that most credo’s fail to acknowledge are two important things: 1) Samuel had the sign placed on him at birth and 2) Hannah leaves Samuel with the Levites for 3 years or so. I have yet to see a credo follow the bible accurately in this regard.
Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.
The problem with this verse is easily reconciled. Are you still thinking like a Jew or are you pressing an American mentality into it? Look at an earlier verse in Acts 2:
Acts 2:5 Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven.
“Devout men”! How were these men devout and in what? Covenant? Yes, covenant. They understood. These were federal heads. Thier families were in tow. No devout man broke responsibility with this mentality after all, God instituted the hierarchical standard in the garden. Christ the head of man, man the head of woman, etc. To think that, out of the blue, these ‘devout’ men abandoned this mentality is silly. To think that when the book of Acts says:
Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost 1had come, they were all together in one place.
Acts 2:14 But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. “
Surely ‘all who live in jerusalem’ included women and children of all ages. To think otherwise is dispensational and a bit bizarre if you ask me. Peter goes on to quote from Joel:
‘AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’ God says,
‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND;
AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY,
AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS,
AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS;
How is it that he mentions ‘sons and daughters’ yet the credo misses this most important facet? Well, you get the point I am sure. As well, this call from Peter in no way contradicts the words of Christ in the Great commission. Peter is consistent and he highly understands covenant. Quit working your presuppositions into the texts! Think like a Jew!
I believe it is important to note that the credo baptist comes out of an individualized attitude that is rooted deep down in their person based on their theology. It is unavoidable. It is not biblical and is due to bad eisegesis on their part. The dispensationalism that is inherent to their discipline is evidenced in how they understand God and covenant. The credo is generally are not confessional, by and large. They are independant of any real oversight this being seen in their polity. This reflects in their understanding of God. God commands the sign. The federal head of the family submits. The wife and children obey. The biblical hierarchical standard is reflected not only in their actions but it is reflected in the polity that they subscribe to at their Presbyterian church. There is no independency per se. In the credo setting, each person is independant of the other. There is no sign binding them to Christ or the church or each other. This is not biblical and problematic. You will notice, as I have alluded to recently, all the crackpots come from within the credo rank and file. This is due to the problematic polity that they have. The credo camp is a mixed bag; some have Calvinists principles onboard, but the masses do not. In fact, the majority of credo’s are dispensational and Arminian. All of the aberrant groups are credo. The JW’s, The Mormons, The Word of Faith movement and TBN, etc. Because of this, the paedo baptist has to yank off the backs of the credo all the different types of baggage before they can even have a conversation about this doctrine. Say one is an Arminian credo; you have to deal with the Arminianism first, right? Well, you get the picture. It is near to impossible to have a conversation based on logic and God’s word with one who is all bound up in error to begin with.
You will never find an intentional Arminian Presbyterian-they do not exist. So, because of this ‘mixed bag’, you get what you get. Independancy is not biblical and God hates it. Independancy is schismatic. Credo baptism is schismatic and independant of God’s covenant; the WCF calls the restriction by credo parents, ‘a great sin’. Nowhere else in the document is language like this used.
Paedo baptism is a reflection of the very essence of God and His character towards His people. To miss this fact is to miss the trees for the forest. That is concerning. I consider the credo baptist a brother in the faith as long as they hold to justification by faith alone; if not, I do not. I consider the credo in error and it would do them well to study the issue of covenant as it stands and falls on this item. Until one understands covenant, they will never truly understand God.
Here is a previous Facebook conversation I had on paedobaptism:
My friend Tim Naab made mention of a few points on the subject:
1. God gave His law to His Covenant People.
2. The Law instructs children to honor their parents.
3. Children are in the covenant.
4. Paul repeats this command in the new testament telling children to obey their parents.
Q #1. Why would Paul include children in the covenant commandments if children were not in the covenant?
Q #2. If it was only for believing children, then does this mean that unbelieving children did not have to obey their parents?
This line of thinking is biblically consistent. To approach them in any other means is dispensational.
Eph. 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
How is it that the apostle is telling Children to ‘obey your parents in the Lord’ if in fact they have no relationship to the ‘Lord’? Think about that.
“In the Lord. Besides the law of nature, which is acknowleged by all nations, the obedience of children is enforced by the authority of God. Hence it follows, that parents are to be obeyed, so far only as is consistent with piety to God, which comes first in order. If the command of God is the rule by which the submission of children is to be regulated, it would be foolish to suppose that the performance of this duty could lead away from God himself.”
What Calvin is essentially saying is that the obedience of the child, ‘the performance’, would be silly to think that it could be accomplished outside of the work of God alone. Believers are commanded to rear their children in the way they should go, teaching them to worship rightly, pray, repent, believe etc. How could this be possible, in light of the way the credo thinks on one hand and how this is practically applied in light of their theology? It is a obvious contradiction in their treatment of their kids; on one hand, they tell them ‘you are a viper in a diaper’ and ‘you are at enmity with God’, but yet they teach them to pray the Lords prayer which is a prayer for believers; ‘Our Father, who art in heaven……’. Is God their father or not? Well, scripture tells us that you are a child of God or a child of the devil:
1John 3:10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.
John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.
Rom. 6:16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.
Rom. 6:20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
Rom. 6:22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
How can one reconcile this idea in light of our understanding of how salvation comes to men? We know that Ishmael was in covenant, but he was in the covenant externally. Was His father the devil or God? Well, in the compound sense, he was a son of the devil, in the divided, he appreciated covenant blessings and responsibilities. As mentioned earlier, all covenant children are called to make perfect their responsibility to the covenant by repenting, believing, accepting, receiving, etc. They are to worship God in spirit and in truth. The covenant has blessing and curses. Blessings to those who obey and curses to those who forsake it. As stated earlier in this paper, 1 Cor 7 tells us that are children are ‘holy’. They are set apart for God and kingdom. Whether they do it is another story. Well, you might ask, ‘Scott, how is Ishmael different from the credo child you just spoke of?’ They are different because they have not been ‘cut off’ as described in Gen 17; They have submitted via their parents faithfulness to the covenant command to place the sign and respond as the years pass, in a holy manner. The sign has set them apart. Thats the difference.
b) Credobaptism defined
- Origination; John the Paedobaptist
- Biblical passages supporting Credobaptism
- Is credobaptism at odds w/ Presbyterianism and Covenant theology?
c) The covenants
- Covenant of Redemption
- Covenant of Works
- Covenant of Grace
- Noahic Covenant
- Mosaic Covenant
- Davidic Covenant
- *New Covenant
d) Different forms of Paedobaptism that are not Presbyterian
- Eastern Orthodox
- Congregationalism (Why it is not Presbyterian in the technical sense of the word)
e) What Paedobaptism is not; The Misunderstanding based upon Rome ’s error
- Baptismal regeneration
f) WCF chapter
g) Discussion & Questions
We are confessional
a) Early Church creeds/Confessions
- The Apostles Creed
- Belgic Confession of Faith
- Heidelberg Catechism
- Canons of Dordrecht
b) WCF; The history
c) Who were the divines
d) Why we hold to a confession
e) The Bible and the confession are not at odds
- 1 Cor 11:2
- Thes 2:15
f) Why confessions are biblical
h) WCF chapter
i) Discussion and questions
a) Presbyterian Ecclesiology
- Congregationalists and how it’s different from Presbyterianism
- Baptist ecclesiology and how it differs
- Non Denominations ecclesiology
- The Pope and Rome ’s ecclesiology
b) What the bible says about the Visible/Local church
c) What the bible says about the Invisible/Universal Church
d) The difference between the Local and Universal Church
e) Christ’s statements that support our ecclesiology
f) Leadership & authority; Presbyterian Polity
g) Membership and what it means
h) The benefit of our ecclesiology
i) WCF chapter
j) Discussion and questions
a) The Regulative Principle and why we worship the way we do
b) WCF chapter
c) Discussion and questions
We hold to the 5 Sola’s
a) The 5 Sola’s; Where it originated
b) Sola Fide
c) Solus Christus
d) Sola Gratia
e) Sola Scriptura
f) Soli Deo Gloria
g) WCF chapter
h) Discussion and questions
The differences; How are we different from:
a) Roman Catholicism
f) WCF chapter
g) Discussion and questions