Sanctified and bought with Christ’s blood but reprobate?

Scripture we believe is perspicuous, that is, clear in its meaning. The Reformed view is that when something is not clear it must be interpreted by what is clear elsewhere in Holy Writ. For example in John 3:16 the word “world” which  has many meanings has to be studied to show that it does not mean every person head for head who has ever lived but the world of the elect, Jew and Gentile from every background. A couple of verses that stymied me are Hebrews 10:29, “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” alongside II Peter 2:1, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” In both these cases it APPEARS that those described are true believers because sanctified and redeemed but in fact they prove to be otherwise. A key example that clears this up for me is Simon Magus (the sorcerer) in Acts 8.  Verse 13 states, “Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.” Hear what John Gill says about this, ” Then Simon himself believed also,…. With an historical and temporary faith, as that Jesus was the Messiah, &c. or at least he pretended, to believe this, and professed that he did believe, what others did, and Philip preached: and when he was baptized; upon profession of his faith, which he so artfully made, that Philip could not discover his hypocrisy: but taking him to be a sincere believer, admitted him to baptism: after which, he continued with Philip; kept close to him, and got into a familiar acquaintance with him; and constantly attended on his ministry, as if he had been a sincere disciple and follower of Christ:”

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Yet he was not a true believer! Gill goes on, “he offered them money; to purchase such a power of conferring the like gifts, on whomsoever he should lay his hands: hence buying and selling spiritual things, or what relate thereunto, are commonly called “simony”: a vice which has greatly prevailed in the church of Rome, and among its popes; and who therefore may be more properly called the successors of Simon Magus, than of Simon Peter. Furthermore to quote Gill again, “for thy heart is not right in the sight of God; he had not a clean heart, nor a right spirit created in him; he had not true principles of grace wrought in him; his heart was full of covetousness, ambition, and hypocrisy; he had no good designs, ends, and aims, in what he said and did; in his profession of faith, in his baptism,  and in his request for the above power, of conferring the Holy Ghost: his view was not the spread and confirmation of the Gospel, or the enlargement of the kingdom and interest of Christ, and the glory of God, but his own applause and worldly interest..” Peter adjured him to pray and seek true repentance and salvation. So sometimes Scripture cannot just be taken at face value!

Are you a member of a true church?

Churches are distinguishable. Some are true, some are false, some are departing from the truth. Every Christian should be a member of a true church.

What are the marks?

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They are:

  1. Faithful Biblical Preaching.
  2. Sacraments properly administered.
  3. Biblical church discipline.

Preaching , the chief means of grace must be faithful exposition of Scripture and according to the creeds.

The sacraments are signs and seals of the message and consist the Lord’s Supper for believing members and the baptism of believers and their children, both overseen by the elders.

Discipline, again the function of the elders, consists the exercise of oversight of the congregation, admonishing of sin and for the impenitent, excommunication.

Churches and denominations must be tested.

The following ought to be disciplined:

Christianizing the World

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” The world is not merely ‘broken.’ It is in bondage to the devil and depraved. This spiritual death is the righteous judgment of God upon a world that has rebelled against him. Movements and masses of optimistic people cannot simply ‘fix’ the world. The need of the world of the ungodly is deliverance from total depravity, from spiritual death. The need of the world of ungodly mankind is not a repair job. Its need is renewal, resurrection from spiritual death. The agent of this resurrection is the Spirit of the Risen Jesus Christ, who alone has, indeed is, the almighty power of the risen Jesus, applying the resurrection life of Jesus. Such deliverance begins with redemption—redemption by the atoning death of the Son of God in human flesh, obtaining the right with God for a world that is not simply in the condition of death but that is under the sentence of death.” (and that redemption is particular, hence only a fraction of humanity WILL be saved-JK)

In this book Englesma brilliantly exposes the folly of common grace, notably that good order in society and creativity are gifts of grace and the misguided goal that one of the church’s main functions is to transform society by linking with it to achieve the goal of giving all the world a “christian” veneer. Was this ever God’s plan?

The quote above is from newly published book by Prof. David J. Engelsma entitled “Christianizing the world- Reformed Calling or Ecclesiastical Suicide” published by RFPA and soon to be available from CPRC bookstall.

RFPA website

The Promise is to you AND to your children.

 

Why is infant baptism Scriptural?

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In Acts when Peter preached to the assembled crowds of Jews and proselytes he commanded them in God’s name to repent and believe but he added a promise, the promise of sovereign salvation to all God would call, both them AND their children.

Since the beginning of time God has been fulfilling his covenant promises to be a God to his people AND their seed. God saves IN THE LINE OF GENERATIONS. Abraham was promised this in Genesis 17:7 (the seminal promise) and the promised land (of heaven) was included for his seed (Gen.32:13).

This unconditional promise to be a God to his elect AND their seed is repeated throughout Scripture (Deut. 1:8, 4:37,11:9). He even promises more specifically to circumcise the heart of the children of God’s people (Deut.30:6) which is salvation! Identical promise in Isaiah 44:3!

David was promised the same. Now we know that in the case of both Abraham and David the promised elect SEED was Christ BUT the verses equally apply to all of their elect seed! (II Sam.22:51).

David repeatedly speaks of these promises in the Psalms (18:50, 37:26, 89:4, 29, 36). Note these promises are eternal because they encompass eternal salvation. The whole point of covenant marriage is to bring forth covenant (elect)godly seed (Mal.2:15). In the New Testament the elect children of believers are called holy (I Cor.7:14) and Reformed churches baptise the children of at least one believing parent because of God’s promises and the fact he never rescinded the command to give the sign of the covenant (ONE EVERLASTING COVENANT) whether circumcision or baptism, to the children of believers. So you ought to see that infant or family baptism, when at least one parent believes (Acts 16:31), is firmly rooted in Scripture and it’s promises.

Protestant Reformed Baptismal Form

 

David hands over to Solomon.

The last chapters of first Chronicles (I Chronicles 28 and 29) are beautiful chapters detailing David’s provision for the building of the temple and has lessons for all of us in the New Testament church of which we are a part. They all start with “P”.

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PERSONAL ADMONITION/PRAYER-it all started with David’s admonition of his son (28:9) and this was followed by his personal prayer (29:19).

PRACTICAL GUIDANCE-v12 The Spirit of God guides practically by giving David the pattern of the building. Likewise the Apostles and their successors, God-ordained office bearers in churches, are given practical guidance.

PROVISION-v14 Hudson Taylor was right, “God’s work, done in God’s way will never lack God’s resources.” Masses of gold, silver etc. were offered.

PEOPLE-v21 from all the tribes who offered themselves willingly, the king had all the personnel he needed to carry on the work of the temple and to keep his kingdom in order.

PREPARATION-29:2 David prepared for Solomon to build.

PERSONAL GIFTS-29:3 David’s love for God meant he gave much.

PRAISE-in a wonderful prayer of David (29:11-14) and of the people (v20). This was the result of all the people’s unity in offering, they recognised that their God provided all and his grace motivated them.

PEACE and PROSPERITY-Solomon’s name means peace and his rule was for the most part peaceful and prosperous above all other times in the history of Israel 29:23.

All these are relevant as Christ, through us, continues his work of building his church till the end of the world. As we prepare prayerfully, we can depend on his practical guidance, his provision, the right people and the personal gifts that will lead to praise, peace and the prosperity of his church!

Your legacy? Your inheritance!

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What will you be remembered for? Will anyone remember you in 100 years? Unlikely. Our lives are vapours that vanish away leaving no trace. Perhaps we will leave children and grandchildren but who knows anything about their great grandparents?

But we as God’s people don’t lay up treasure here, though we might for our children. If our remembrance is for achievements on earth, it will soon be forgotten and even the feats of the great and mighty are known to only a few who read history.

 Though earth holds no remembrance heaven does! Our good works follow us (Rev.14:13), we have eternal reward (I Cor.3:8). Christ gave himself for us and to us, bequeathing all his salvation and graces.

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Even though there will be countless millions in glory there is plenty of Christ to go round──he is infinite! All he has and is belongs to us—we inherit him (Gen.15:1) and all his kingdom (Matt.5:5) and we will have responsibilities in glory commensurate with our stewardship on earth. Eye has not seen! Live for that “well done!”

 

The Covenant of God

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The Reformation brought the church again to the Apostolic faith by emphasizing the 5 “onlys” (Solas) but really there are 6! The one often set aside is central to all the purposes of God namely, the Covenant Alone.

 

We are saved by Faith alone,

by Grace alone,

In Christ alone,

because of the Covenant alone,

which is revealed in Scripture alone,

and all to the Glory of God alone.

The covenant “formula” oft repeated throughout Scripture is “I will be your God and you will be my people”. God dwells in love as three persons and extends that covenant of love to include his people in all of history, through his Son. God’s friendship with elect sinners is its essence. It is a huge privilege to be a covenant friend and child of God! Treasure it!

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Audio Recordings
At this year’s Reformation Day Conference in the CERC (Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore), Rev Andy Lanning gave three speeches under the theme “The Forgotten Sola Of the Reformation: Solus Foedus”.
Was the Covenant a forgotten Sola? Which doctrine of the covenant is true? How does the covenant affect our lives as God’s people?
Click to listen to the 3 RDC speeches!

If you cannot give the time to listening to these speeches to which I highly commend , here are three summaries:

Message One-The Covenant and Reformation History

The 5 “Solas” by their nature rule out all human meriting with God (Pelagianism)

Covenant means relationship, a bond of friendship (Psalm 25:4-where secrets (literally pillow-talk) are revealed). The formula make clear it is made with believers and their seed (gen 17:7). Christian marriage, indeed all marriage, is meant to reflect that covenant (Eph.5:26).

Teaching on God’s covenant relates to marriage, family, infants, worship and church membership.

The Anabaptists (part of the Reformation) anathematised Roman Catholic baptism of infants as the grossest of errors they opposed. They also held to recognizing no civil authority, no military, no oaths, direct revelation by dreams, extreme communal living. Their cause meant great suffering and harm for the true Reformed people who were lumped with them by the RC authorities and severely persecuted with over 100,000 deaths. They were the reason the Belgic Confession was written and providentially no Reformed died in the Dutch lowlands. We see the same bad name given the cause of Christ today by their successors in the  excesses of Pentecostalism and charismaticism. The answer to their erroneous doctrines is the truth of God’s covenant formulated mainly in Zurich by Zwingli and his successor Bullinger. In summary:

  1. The covenant is with God’s people AND their seed (hence each generation get the sign of the covenant applied). Baptism is based on God’s promise NOT man’s ex
  2. The covenant is eternal (it stretches back in the history of Old Testament as well as New Testament).

Is Roman Catholic baptism valid?

Yes according to Calvin and the Reformers as is any baptism that is:

a) Done in the name of the Trinity

b) Done with water.

c) Done by a lawfully called clergyman.

Regarding Adam and God’s covenant with him we can say:

  1. He was typical of Christ. He was a covenant head and was a covenant-breaker. He could never have merited with God. The covenant with him was gracious. We, in Adam, are also covenant-breakers and as  such, we all died in him (Romans 5:12).
  2. Christ as the Second Adam, in contrast to the first Adam, merited for us, and we, his elect, also all died in him. As a result we are brought into covenant friendship with the Triune God on a higher plane than even Adam experienced.

Message Two-The Covenant in Modern Debate

Mutual ownership. “I will be your God and you will be my people”-God belongs to us and we belong to God.

Intimate relationship. The tabernacle and temple were where God dwelt with his people just as a married couple dwell together. Marriage reflects the covenant between Christ and his church. Yet he has no need of us.

Structured. It is his covenant. He orders, He promises, He is Father. We have obligations e.g. the sign to be given, he orders, we are children.

Unconditional. He establishes it unilaterally with the elect of which Christ is the federal head (Gen.17:7). The promise is to the elect seed only (Acts 2:38, Rom.8:30, 9:7-8).

Unbreakable. (Gen.17:7) “everlasting”.

False view is the conditional covenant. Klaas Schilder of Liberated Reformed Churches of Netherlands.

  1. Based on a universal promise to every baptised infant.
  2. Condition is faith. They must believe and obey i.e. salvation depends on man.
  3. Breakable.The resultant heresy is  “Federal Vision” theology held by the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches who teach salvation by faith and works which can be lost and so they deny election.The danger of this to the souls of men and their children is that it eventually leads to Roman Catholicism which is Pelagian, denies the solas, robs God of his glory, is sin (Rom.6:23) and means damnation to those who follow it.Infant baptism is based on this Biblical teaching of the covenant:
  1. Abraham’s children were included in the covenant and church.
  2. Unity of church in all time, therefore sign must be given in N.T.
  3. Household baptisms.
  4. Parent(s) promise to teach and admonish their children.
  5. Is no guarantee of regeneration.

 

Message  Three- The Application of Covenant Theology

  1. Family-marriage reflecting God’s covenant is a GOOD institution as also is the single life. The covenant teaches us our Biblical roles in marriage (Eph.5) The covenant, and therefore the marriage bond likewise, is UNBREAKABLE, lawful divorce does NOT break the bond therefore divorce (only allowed for adultery) does NOT allow remarriage. Only death breaks the bond. The covenant mandates covenant baptism of the infant children of a believer. The covenant mandates Christian parental teaching and admonition.
  2. Church-the key expression of covenant life where Christ speaks to his people and they respond, is public church worship (John 10:27). Church life is covenant life with brothers and sisters in covenant communion (Lord’s Supper and fellowship).
  3. Personally-our priority over all else is our relationship with our covenant head and this is fostered by using the personal means of grace in devotions.

To whom much is given-much is required!

Ezekiel 6:5

 And I will lay the dead carcasses of the children of Israel before their idols; and I will scatter your bones round about your altars.

Luke 12:47-48 

 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

 

 

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595 B.C.                                                                  70 A.D.

These verses it seems to me are a commentary on the history of the people of Israel from their inception as God’s redeemed from Egypt  right up until the second coming. They were highly privileged people to whom were committed the oracles of God but in their rebellious idolatry they brought upon themselves severe chastisement and calamity  including the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity and culminating in the destruction of the city and it’s temple again in 70 A.D. We New Testament Christians are similarly highly privileged to be God’s covenant people-much is required of us principally that we set our affections on things above NOT on things on the earth!