Posts Tagged ‘theology’

We start with Scripture as our highest authority in ALL things not mere reason. That includes apologetics.

“If we truly want to help men’s consciences so that they are not gripped by perpetual doubt, we must derive the authority of Scripture from a higher source than human reasoning, evidence or conjecture. We must, that is, base it on the inner witness of the Holy Spirit.

Although Scripture’s own majesty is enough to command our reverence, it really begins to affect us only when it is sealed in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Being illumined by his power, we no longer believe on the strength of our own or of others’ judgment that Scripture is from God. Above and beyond all human judgment we conclude without question that it is given to us from the mouth of God himself, through the ministry of men. It is as if, in Scripture, we beheld with our own eyes the very essence of God. We cease, therefore, to look for proofs and probabilities on which to base our judgment; instead, we subject our judgment and intellect to Scripture, as to a source so high as to rule out the need for judgment. Not because we are like some who thoughtlessly embrace unfamiliar things only to tire of them once they become better known; but because we are very sure that in Scripture we have the unassailable truth. Nor because we are like the ignorant who are in the habit of surrendering their minds to superstition; but because we feel that in Scripture the express power of deity is displayed, kindling in us the desire to give conscious and willing obedience more powerfully than if only human will or knowledge were involved.

This, then, is a conviction which does not require reasons. Nevertheless it is also a knowledge which is based upon a very sound reason, since our mind has a firmer and surer place to rest than in any set of reasons. It is, finally, a feeling which can only spring from heavenly revelations. Here I am talking of nothing else than what every believer experiences in himself, except that my words do not do justice to so worthy a theme, and are most inadequate as an explanation.

Unless we have a higher and firmer certainty than any human judgement can provide, there is no point proving the authority of Scripture by rational argument: it cannot be established on the basis of the church’s consent nor can it be confirmed by other evidences. For if this foundation is not first laid, it is bound to remain in abeyance. Once, however, we obediently accept Scripture as we should, and place it beyond all doubt, the reasons which before were not strong enough to impart certainty to our hearts will now appear as valuable aids.”

– John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion. p.20-21 (John White’s translation of 1541 version)

The Doctrines of Grace are clearly taught in the tenth chapter of the gospel of John. “sheep” are believers.

John 10

14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

Who did Christ lay down his life for? The sheep. All who will be believers. The elect

24 Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. 26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.[b] 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”

Why didn’t they believe? Because they were NOT of the sheep. Then Christ goes on to explain that all his sheep know his voice and will finally follow and believe and not only that but He will not lose ANY of his sheep and gives then ETERNAL life not temporary life.

We see here Total Depravity (they can’t believe because they are not sheep) Unconditional Election (he knows the sheep by name) Limited Atonement (Christ died for sheep only) Effectual Grace ( all his sheep WILL believe and follow His voice) and Perseverance of the Saints (He will lose NONE of his sheep but gives them ETERNAL LIFE)

Doctrines of Grace in a nutshell

Praise God!!!!

In the reformed community there is a debate that continues on whether we are to refer to Gods outward goodness to the non-elect (reprobates) as “common grace” or as “providence”.

My intention in this short article is not to give a full polemic or a refutation but rather to merely share my own view concerning this topic.

My own studies of scripture and historical theology has helped me come to the conclusion that the term to be properly used is “Providence”, or may I suggest “common providence”, rather than “common grace” for the following reasons:

1. The phrase “common grace” is not found in our reformed confessional standards as correctly noted by the OPC website here.

“First, our confessional standards do not use the term “Common Grace” (nor do they include the 1924 statement of the Christian Reformed Church or CRC), and the concept of Common Grace does not appear to be present in our standards either.” (OPC website Q&A section)

Strikingly, Calvin says that any grace or faith attributed to the reprobate is only “by catechresis”; a tropical or improper form of expression; only because they … exhibit some appearance of obedience to it” (Institutes 3.2.9).

2. The term “charis” used for grace is never once used in Scripture to teach Gods disposition towards the reprobate but only towards the Elect.

“Scripture never uses chen or charis to refer to his blessings on creation generally or on non-elect humanity” (John Frame, The Doctrine of God: a Theology of Lordship (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 2002), pp. 429-30.

“To distinguish the special redemptive work of God from his general providence to all, some have attempted to use terms with more precision. The term “grace” is often restricted to the redemptive work of God toward his elect, and not more broadly of the care of God for all his creatures. The term “common grace” was used by the early reformers in several senses but not as if God works benevolently toward those he has chosen to condemn eternally.” (Dr. Bob Burridge PCA, Effectual calling)

3. It causes grave confusion with many who are stuck between Arminianism and Calvinism as the phrase “common grace” and the idea that God loves all including the non-elect is used by Arminians to justify their Universal Atonement and resistable grace to name a few.

4. The fact that what the non-elect receive from God furthers their condemnation and heap Gods wrath all the more cannot be considered as “grace”. Adding to this concept, the fact that there is a blessing/curse aspect to the covenantal signs and seals absolutely refutes the usage of “common grace” in my opinion.

Calvin writes: “This is invariably true, and is not inconsistent with the fact, that the large benefits which the divine liberality is constantly bestowing on the wicked are preparing them for heavier judgment.” (Institutes of the Christian religion III, ii, 32)

In Romans 2:4-5 it reads:

“4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”

Calvin again writes:

“Not knowing that the goodness of God, etc. For the Lord by his kindness shows to us, that it is he to whom we ought turn, if we desire to secure our wellbeing, and at the same time he strengthens our confidence in expecting mercy. If we use not God’s bounty for this end, we abuse it. But yet it is not to be viewed always in the same light; for when the Lord deals favorably with his servants and gives them earthly blessings, he makes known to them by symbols of this kind his own benevolence, and trains them up at the same time to seek the sum and substance of all good things in himself alone: when he treats the transgressors of his law with the same indulgence, his object is to soften by his kindness their perverseness; he yet does not testify that he is already propitious to them, but, on the contrary, invites them to repentance. But if any one brings this objection — that the Lord sings to the deaf as long as he does not touch inwardly their hearts; we must answer — that no fault can be found in this case except with our own depravity. But I prefer rendering the word which Paul here uses, leads, rather than invites, for it is more significant; I do not, however, take it in the sense of driving, but of leading as it were by the hand.

verse 5. But according to thy hardness, etc. When we become hardened against the admonitions of the Lord, impenitence follows; and they who arc not anxious about repentance openly provoke the Lord.

This is a remarkable passage: we may hence learn what I have already referred to — that the ungodly not only accumulate for themselves daily a heavier weight of God’s judgments, as long as they live here, but that the gifts of God also, which they continually enjoy, shall increase their condemnation; for an account of them all will be required: and it will then be found, that it will be justly imputed to them as an extreme wickedness, that they had been made worse through God’s bounty, by which they ought surely to have been improved. Let us then take heed, lest by unlawful use of blessings we lay up for ourselves this cursed treasure.” (Calvin’s Commentaries)

5. Our reformed confessions of faith also uses the term “providence” to refer to God sovereignty over all things including sin and the restraint of it.

WCF chpt. V Of Providence

“I. God the great Creator of all things does uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by His most wise and holy providence, according to His infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of His own will, to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.”

This takes care of the restraint of sin in the world

“VI. As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous Judge, for former sins, does blind and harden, from them He not only withholds His grace whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings, and wrought upon in their hearts; but sometimes also withdraws the gifts which they had, and exposes them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin; and, withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan, whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God uses for the softening of others.

VII. As the providence of God does, in general, reach to all creatures; so, after a most special manner, it takes care of His Church, and disposes all things to the good thereof.”

This takes care of the general good done to all creatures both elect and non-elect BUT in a “special manner” takes care of His Church aka the Elect.

Heidelberg Catechism
Lord’s Day 10
“27. What do you understand by the providence of God?
The almighty, everywhere-present power of God,1 whereby, as it were by His hand, He still upholds heaven and earth with all creatures, and so governs them that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink,4 health and sickness, riches and poverty, indeed, all things come not by chance,7 but by His fatherly hand.”

Dr. Kenneth Talbot President of Whitefield Theological Seminary Writes: “There is nothing common about the “grace” of our God. However, there is a common goodness of God towards all men. Common grace implies a logical implication of universalism. Ricky you are correct, the common goodness of God towards all men is within the context of God’s providence. Goodness must not be confused with grace. Grace is particular – it is only extended to the elect. Goodness however is extended to all men. Got to run.” (on my facebook page)

I argue then that is within sound scriptural exegesis and confessionally sound to rather reject such a notion and refer to Gods restraining of sin and common gifts to men as “Providence” as all the Reformed Confessions teach. To go beyond this proper term leads to Amyraldianism and Universal Atonement, though many would inconsistently reject this conclusion. Grace in Scripture ALWAYS leads to salvation.

God does not in any portion of Scripture states that He loves the reprobate in any way shape or form. This is one of the main reasons “common grace” is rejected because it goes to the extreme by saying God has some sort of secondary class love for the reprobate which is not justified by scripture. When God gives good gifts to the reprobate it is for their condemnation so then that would be wrath and justice not mercy or grace.

The Well Meant Offer of the Gospel

Another doctrine that is often attached to “common grace” is the concept that the offer of the gospel is even unto the reprobate considered as “grace”. This is also an erroneous assertion made by common gracer’s.

Neo-Calvinists have taken this concept to another level and began to teach that God indeed loves every single individual and sincerely offers even unto the non-elect the option of salvation and desires their salvation to which I thoroughly disagree and affirm that this is neither biblical nor logical.

Grace is infinite eternal and unchangeable and since there are no variables in God, there is no other grace. What I want to know is how can one infer God’s intention from His precepts? Yes, God commands everyone every where to repent and believe, yet He only determines the elect to do so, of that, there is no doubt. However, I say that repentance is the reprobate’s duty, but to the elect repentance is a gift. God grants them repentance. Now, is it God’s intention to save the reprobate when He commands them to repent and believe? No.

God has a will of command and a will of decree, that is not to say though that God has two wills. That concept is preposterous. Rather it is emphasizing different aspects of the working of God’s will. A double minded man is unstable in all of his ways. What about a double minded God. God’s will is one. All of God’s attributes are one. It is a bridge too far to change the nature of God in order to postulate a doctrine that scripture refutes. I have no problem with saying God is in a sense good to the non-elect and allows them to breathe and eat etc.. but I believe people go to far when they start asserting that God actually in a very real desirable way Wills or WANTS the reprobate whom He created for a vessel of Wrath per Romans 9 to be saved. That’s the problem with this version of Common Grace. I believe because God is Providential the reprobate get exactly what God wants them to get and ARE USED FOR HIS GLORY JUST LIKE SATAN IS AND PHARAOH WAS AND JUDAS WAS.

For a full refutation of this version of the “Well Meant Offer” made more popular and postulated by Dr. John Murray see Dr. Matthew Winzer’s “Murray on the Free Offer of the Gospel: A Review

Final Thoughts

We understand the want to use the term “grace” because its undeserved and all that. If you don’t mind me saying, In my analysis of many individuals I have spoken to regarding this they are caught up in the desire to generalize the term “grace” and its definition. The thing is though that while people want to simplify and generalize the definition, Scripture on the other hand gives “grace” a special definition and is reserved specifically for Gods Elect people. Not name calling here but its the same generalizing principle that Arminians do when speaking of the Atonement. They want to simplify Christ atoning death and make it general for all, while we know that Scripture gives the atonement a special definition and is reserved specifically for the Elect. The Amyraldian make the same argument in this regard using common grace and generalizing not only the term “grace” but also generalizing the Atonement for all, Elect and reprobate, but that its effect is only for the Elect. Therefore according to them, the intent of the Cross is for “all” but the effect is for “some”. How do they try to justify this contradiction? The same way those who claim that God loves the reprobate in some way and that God desires the reprobate to be saved but doesn’t save them justify their claim, they quickly pull out the “Two Wills of God” card. The Amyraldians say that God in His Will of Precept intended the cross for all since he desires all to repent and believe but that in Gods Will of Decree did not choose to grant the cross to effect all. Do you see how this abuse of using Gods one will in the divided sense is done from both of these? Yes, God indeed has a Will of Decree and a Will of Command or Precept but this does not entail the above false assertions. We explain this divided sense to Arminians when they object to us Evangelizing to all while maintaining Election among a few things, only then is it proper to use that.

Now, common gracer’s maintain that because the non-elect receive gifts that are underserved that it is obviously “grace”. Ok, we get that. BUT I would argue that the gifts that the non-elect do receive are well deserved, why? Because as we have already maintained, these gifts serve the purpose of hardening them more and adding to their condemnation and destruction. This is the correct way of looking at it biblically. Therefore, if these gifts God gives the reprobate do not serve to whoo them to salvation nor benefit them spiritually in any way but serve to justly condemn them, bringing upon them Gods Holy wrath; brothers and sisters I submit to you that these gifts are curses, wrath and justice WHICH THE NON-ELECT CLEARLY DO DESERVE. I reiterate then that it cannot in any way shape or form be referred to as “Grace”.

I leave you with this scenario:

There is a supervisor of a company that has a constant beef with an employee. Now this employee hates the supervisors with a passion and is constantly acting insubordinate and rebellious, the supervisor in turn also hates the employee because of this malice towards him and everyone else in the company including the employees evidently see this conflict between the two. One morning a company meeting is held and during the meeting in front of everyone the supervisor presents the rebellious employee with a brand new iphone 5. This is to everyone’s shock because they all know about the animosity between the two and cannot for the life of them understand why the supervisor would give the employee who hates him a free gift of that nature or even a gift at all. Everyone leaves the meeting puzzled and scratching their heads as to this issue. The rebellious employee in the meantime continues to enjoy his brand new iphone and making fun of the supervisor who gave it to him and claiming how stupid he is and all that never giving the supervisor any credit or any gratefulness for the gift but nevertheless continues to enjoy the gift. Two days later the rebellious employee doesn’t show up for work and everyone is wondering where he is, as it turns out the iphone that was given to him exploded while he was using it and blew his brains out because the supervisor planted a micro-bomb into the phone before he gave it to the rebellious employee and took out his wrath on him in that way. When the other employees found out about that the supervisor planted a bomb into the phone they then truly understood why he gave the rebellious employee that free gift, it was for his death sentence his condemnation and judgement.

Now, do you think that was such a gracious gift? I for one don’t think so.

What the non-elect receive may indeed seem gracious in the outward perspective looking at it in a temporal manner, but since the scriptures reveal to us the reason and future outcome per Gods Decree for such outward gifts we then should not conclude that these outward gifts are given because God loves the non-elect and desires their salvation in the so called “common grace” of God.

Grace and Peace to the Elect in Christ

Reformed Quotes

Posted: November 8, 2011 by Ricky Roldan in Quotes
Tags: , , ,

‎”Religion, the fear of God, must therefore be the element which inspires and animates all theological investigation. That must be the pulse beat of the science. A theologian is a person who makes bold to speak about God because he speaks out of God and through God. To profess theology is to do holy work. It is a priestly ministration in the house of the Lord. It is itself a service of worship, a consecration of mind and heart to the honor of His name.” ~Dr. Herman Bavinck

The New Covenant’s true meaning

“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.” Jer. 31:31-34

7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.
8 For he finds fault with them when he says:
Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah,
9 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in my covenant,
and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
and each one his brother, saying, Know the Lord,
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more. (Hebrews 8:7-12)

So what’s so new about the new covenant? And what in the world does that have to do with infant baptism or baptism for that matter? Well, as a matter of fact these two passages are being used as proof texts in contra to paedo-baptism or as some in the Presbyterian circles would like to call “Covenant Baptism”. This question really has to do with who are members of the new covenant or who are to be considered as part of the new covenant and recipients of the covenant sign of baptism. Baptist claim that membership in the new covenant is qualitatively different from membership in the old covenant and Heb. 8 it is claimed and asserted that sets forth this clear difference and that in light of this difference the children of believers are not to be recognized as covenant members and receive the sacrament/sign of baptism. THis position suffers from many weaknesses and it is based on poor exegesis. Nevertheless, Paedo’s and Credo’s are in agreement that it is indeed true that there is something new in the new covenant.

The Dispensationalist and “Reformed” Baptist will say that Jeremiah is prophesying that the New Covenant that is to come is going to be different than that of the Old Covenant in that it is in the heart and spiritual. The Old Covenant was not in the heart nor spiritual (depending which baptist you talk to). This is the writers’ point in Hebrews 8. that 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 all and write it on their hearts. They say that in the day of Pentecost this is clearly seen as the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in men.

In the paedo view this view point makes no sense. Romans 8:9 “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His”. 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?

The Baptist says, yes, “New”. It’s right there in black and white. “New!”

We understand that, but you should always take time to do a word study or two, and be sure of your syntax and grammar. Now I do not claim to be a Hebrew or Greek expert by no means but I do have the tools for research. So Even though we are talking simplistically about the covenant, we should address the word here. This is a little more heavy 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 doesn’t do justice 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, even though a new king is a good element of fulfillment to kingship. What about Isaiah 43:19? How would you explain the new things that God does? Does God do “new” things, or is He eternally immutable? It seems we have a theological riddle. 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 obvious and biblical answer to that is yes and no. For God, of course not. 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.  The Lord’s mercies are completely new every morning right? 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.

Now 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 promised 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 then?

Now a classic Dispensationalist baptist 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 of the text 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 only 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 which makes a lot of difference.

Next question then; What covenant is being contrasted with in 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 too 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? Without a doubt (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 Baptists 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? Nope!

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? No! It can’t be 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 Baptist assert “our church only baptizes people on profession of faith.” It cannot be talking about regeneration and just regeneration. Abraham, as Reform Baptist say, was regenerate and that happened before the 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? Of course not!

Already/not yet aspect of prophecy

The New Covenant, or Abrahamic Covenant, is a “now and not yet” covenant despite those Baptist who want to deny this fact. 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, although, 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. Do regenerate individuals not need teaching despite their having the Holy Spirit? Do all regenerate church members “know the Lord” exhaustively and completely? I think not.

We would have to say in heaven. Only in heaven will everyone know the Lord completely and in heaven there will be no teachers. I use this same logic with Full Preterist as they attempt to use Jer. 31 as an already fulfilled prophecy.

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.

Its because of thier backwards hermeneutic. Hebrews 8 stops short of the verse quoted so credos figure that’s all they need to pay attention to as if the writers of Hebrews did not understand the Jeremiah chapters in context. If an Old Testament prophecy about the New Covenant expressly included the children of believers when it was written, the New Testament cannot contradict this meaning. It can expound on it and explain it, but never contradict it, otherwise we are left at best with a hermeneutic of severe discontinuity, and at worst we have a contradictory Bible.

The visible administration of the New Covenant (or more simply put, the New Covenant itself) is made up of believers and their children (Jer. 30-34; Isa. 59:21; Zech 10:6-12; Ezek. 37:24-28). Now, the Baptist may say in response that the New Covenant is made up of only the elect. But even if they say that, given their inward/outward distinction, even if only the elect are in the New Covenant “inwardly”, this has no bearing on the “outward” administration, since I think they believe non-elect persons can be part of the “outward” administration. And given that the OT prophecies of the New Covenant explicitly include our children (just like EVERY covenant before it using the same exact language), Baptists have no grounds to exclude our children from the outward administration of it.

Now the question is how are the children included in the outward administration? Are they brought into the church by means of a covenant sign? Or are they just a part of the church by proximity? Also, I’m curious. When Baptist talk about “professing believers”, do they have in mind only people that have the capacity to utter the sentence, “I confess Jesus as Lord” with their mouths? Or is not faith itself, even if it cannot be professed in intelligible words (I believe infants have faith) enough to be included in the church?

And now that I think about it, where exactly does the New Testament teach that only those who publicly profess faith are to be baptized and included in the external administration of the covenant (which I assume you would say is the visible church – if I’m wrong about that, I apologize)? Now, if you say that this is based upon specific examples of baptism in the New Testament, you are committing an is/ought fallacy because you are establishing a universal requirement with a particular example. The absolute most you can say based upon each baptism example is that it is permissable to baptize professing believers, but you cannot say that this is a requirement. So I ask you again, where is the principle specifically given in the New Testament that baptism and inclusion in the church is limited to those who profess faith?

Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Circumcision is technically not a guarantee that father Abraham had faith or even righteousness, what circumcision guarantees is God’s promise, that righteousness will be credited on the basis of faith alone. Saying this another way is that circumcision is the sign that authenticates the truth of God’s promise, that HE will accredit righteousness to the one who has faith. What is certified is not necessarily truth about Abraham or any one else circumcised, but a truth of God. Circumcision certifies the truth of God’s promise in the gospel, that all who have faith will be accounted righteous.

Therefore becoming the sign/seal of God’s promise. Baptism is the same thing as sign and seal. In both, God, through the signs promises to be the God of that person when that person has faith and also promises that upon faithlessness that person will be cursed and cut off from the people of God, again consider Ishmael in the OT and Simon the Sorcerer baptized by Phillip.

Abraham possesed faith before circumcision to show that circumcision is the sign of promise to all those who believe like Abraham. Baptism becomes a seal when faith is present.

So I don’t need a verse that says “baptize babies”. Thus we are on equal footing. Furthermore, with the other things Scripture teaches us, (according to my view of course) a disciple is a believer and children of believers should recieve the covenant sign as well. So, we both infer. You cannot show a verse that says don’t baptize babies and I don’t have one that says “do baptize babies”. What we must do then is look at how the bible considers children…the WHOLE text…”tota Scriptura”. If we can show that the Bible considers children as covenant members then we don’t have a problem.

Warning passage of Heb. 10:29

In light of all this, can the Baptist make sense of the warning in Hebrews 10? I don’t think so.

A friend of mine on facebook stated: “Also, with regard to Hebrews 10:29, it says, “How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified…” This passage can also be rendered as, “…the blood of the covenant by which He (Christ) was sanctified”. The “he” is not referring to the apostate who is in “covenant”, but is referring to Jesus as the one sanctified. Read John 17:19. Jesus says, “For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.”

But what my buddy here fails to realize is that this rendering of the text doesn’t make any sense of the context. The context is clearly speaking of the same person who has committed apostasy. Sure, did Christ sanctify Himself? No doubt, but in this immediate context this is not the rendering. Either way, you still have a person profaning the blood of the Covenant by which Christ was sanctified. Therefore the apostate is still profaning the blood of the Covenant, for how can a person NOT in the covenant profane the blood of the covenant? It just doesn’t make any sense. What also doesn’t make sense contextually is that the writer of Hebrews is writing about an apostate then in a blink of an eye in one quick sentence is talking about Christ then suddenly turns his attention back to the apostate. These Covenantal warning passages make it clear that there is indeed covenant breakers in the New Covenant just like there was in the Old Covenant. In other words there would be no need to warn regenerated elect members of the new covenant that they have the ability to fall away lest you affirm Arminianism.

Again therein lies the Baptist problem. It is a misunderstanding of what the Covenant of Grace is stemming from the promise made with Abraham. Baptists would have to discontinue the Covenant in order for their view to fit but even then it still doesn’t fit tightly because they cannot account for the Covenantal warning passages to the Church not to unbelievers. This where your dispy comes out.

29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, Vengeance is mine; I will repay. And again, The Lord will judge his people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10

Can a baptist account for this passage? Absolutely not!


The “newness” of the new covenant then specifically pertains to the external apsects, the outward administration, of the covenant of grace. The new covenant is not new in its nature or membership as our Baptist brothers would like to believe. One single covenant of grace exists and Gods’s elect have been justified in the same way throughout redemptive history which is by grace through faith. The usage of the Jeremiah 31 text in the Hebrew 8 passage does nothing to establish a change in the membership of those who are in the new covenant nor are children excluded in the new covenant. Covenant membership still includes believers and their children and those who believe that Heb. 8 particularly verse 11 is teaching the exclusion of the children of believers from membership in the new covenant need to carefully investigate and observe that the word “least” (greek: mikros) in 8:11 is also used elsewhere in the NT to refer to children (Matt. 18:6, 10, 14; Luke 9:48). This is also true of the Hebrew word for “least” qaton (Jer. 6:11-13). The congregation of people of God has included children throughout redemptive history and children are still included in the new covenant (luke 1; Eph. 6). These reasonings the Baptists claim abbrogates the inclusion of children in the new covenant but this exegetical logic holds no weight and lacks explicit change in administration since this excluding children in the new covenant is such a radical idea, we would think that there would be a clear command to do so, don’t you think?

In Christian unity,
Ricky Roldan

A TestimoniYO!

Posted: November 22, 2010 by Ricky Roldan in Topical
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It was a spirit awakening night just about 23 years ago in my one bedroom apartment when I was contemplating my life as I was about to roll a blunt and get high for a second time that day when suddenly I began to have an urge to open the scriptures and investigate further my father and mother’s Christian guidance. As I began to read the book of Romans my soul was struck with an overwhelming sense of guilt and with the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit I then realized how unholy I was as a creature in the presence of a Holy God causing me to fall on my knees and plead to God for forgiveness and asked Christ to take over my life and do with it as He wished. Prior to this night I was involved in gang activity and drugs. I was a very feared individual by those who knew me or heard of me and it was this kind of life that I lived for despite the godly instruction in righteousness that my parents instilled in me growing up. I openly hated God and His law, I never denied that God was real and that Christ was His son and it was only through His atoning sacrifice that one would be saved but I was hostile towards this truth and even said the I didn’t even care and that I would rather be in hell with the true gangstas than go to a heaven filled with a bunch of goodie goodies who were really cowards, trust me I cringe even thinking about my past and my attitude towards God as I sit here thinking, but blessed is He who chose me before the foundation of the world to engraft me into His Covenant and show me divine mercy and grace though I deserved His wrath and justice. Now that I look back at it all, I can most def see how the Lord had His hand over me and my life since day one and I have nothing but unworthy gratitude towards Him and it is with this gratitude that I want to convey to others like me who people look at and see no hope for. As many have said, if God can take a wretched person like me and turn me into a vessel of righteousness then He can do that for anyone, period.

I believe that God has called me to bring the Gospel of reconciliation to the culture that once had a vicious grip on my life and to teach them sound doctrine as I am convinced is more thoroughly defended in Reformed theology. My passion is driven by the need of the true Gospel and doctrine in a culture that is brainwashed by rap music and videos. I have a desire to present the Gospel to this culture accompanied by orthodoxy bringing a reformation hence my 22 yrs of experience using this gift that God has blessed me with, teaching in my local church and using the means of internet to engage in discussions with others around the world and also through my music building relationships with other believers and non believers via internet message boards witnessing the many that have come to Christ and to Reformation theology in which they also now burn with desire to join the cause being obedient to Christ great commission.

Thought I’d share this quick testimonial so you guys would get a better picture of who I am and whats in my heart so I hope and pray that the Lord my be able to use this to either encourage or bring others to also contemplate where there life is headed and reassure cats out there that noone is too bad or in to deep in the streets for God to work His greatest miracle, saving sinners.

Grace and Peace