John 15 and the Federal Vision

John Barach has the most entertaining and rhetorically flourishing comment on this passage. In talking about the branches that eventually cut off, he says “These branches were not stuck to the tree with Scotch tape.” The only problem with this quotation, rhetorically speaking, is that it should have been duct tape. Although, I don’t know if that would have worked rhetorically, come to think of it. Duct tape is too strong. The quote, by the way, is in AATPC, pg. 150, line 47.

Here is the text: 1. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2. Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7. If you abide in me, andmy words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”

It is the contention of the FV folk (and Norman Shepherd: see Call of Grace, pp. 89-90), that the passage makes no ontological distinction between branches that stay in, and branches that get thrown out. Barach, for example, says that “they were genuinely in Christ, but they were taken away because they failed to abide in Christ” (AATPC, pg. 150, lines 47-48). He qualifies this statement in lines 51-52 with this statement: “According to Scripture, not everyone who is in the covenant has been predestined to eternal glory with Christ.” So Barach is not claiming that the temporary “in Christ” status of the eventually-apostatizing-branches is equivalent to decretal election. He does equate this status to covenantal election in lines 68-70 on page 151. So, it would be God’s choosing of Israel/church which is in view. Barach does not limit this covenantal election to corporate status, however. He goes on in line 89 to say that covenantal election applies to individuals as well. So the question boils down to this: what, precisely, are the benefits which in-covenant but eventually apostatizing people have? Are they “saved?” My contention is that FV authors claim too much for this covenantal status. Barach claims that it is fine to say of these people that Christ died for them (lines 149-152 on page 153); Wilkins claims all the ordo salutis benefits for these apostates on page 59 of _Federal Vision_. Christ died only for the elect, and the ordo salutis benefits apply only to the elect, as has been said by the WCF in previous posts.

But we must deal with a critical issue here in the exegesis of John 15. What about the warnings? As Norman Shepherd seemingly wisely indicates: “If this distinction (outward and inward branches) is in the text, it is difficult to see what the point of the warning is. The outward branches cannot profit from it, because they cannot in any case bear genuine fruit. They are not related to Christ inwardly and draw no life from him. The inward branches do not need the warning, because they are vitalized by Christ and therefore cannot help but bear good fruit” (Call of Grace, pp. 89-90). R. Fowler White has the answer to this. It is decisive. He says “The warnings of God’s Word, as a means of grace, retain their integrity because the decree of election is realized through them, not apart from them…when the warnings against apostasy and wrath come, we are not to presume our election and to ignore them; rather we are to prove our election by trembling at the threats of God’s Word and embracing its promises.” In the face of this clear exposition of the value of the warning to the elect, Shepherd’s criticism of the traditional position falls utterly to the ground.

Exegetically speaking, there are several indications that there are ontological distinctions within the covenant, and I am picking my words very carefully here. Some branches are “fruit-bearing,” and others are not. This indicates an ontological distinction. I used to work on an apple orchard. When pruning apple trees, there are branches that grow straight up, but will never bear fruit. These are called “suckers.” they grow differently from fruit-bearing branches. They are pruned away, since, far from growing in any positive direction towards fruit-bearing, they actually steal sap away from the fruit-bearing branches. However it be interpreted, the suckers that are there in the vine are not doing the vine any good whatsoever. They are fundamentally different from the fruit-bearing branches. At the risk of pushing the analogy too far, what is the sap? It is not saving grace. These branches are attached to Christ’s body, the church, not by Scoth tape. They really are part of the visible church. Plainly here, the vine is the visible church, which includes the elect and those who are not. But these branches are fundamentally different. In fact, the branches that do not bear fruit are dead branches. The same is true in the parable of the wheat and tares. They both grow up together in the visible church. But the tares are never wheat! So also here, the branches that do not bear fruit never bear fruit.

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38 Comments

  1. Todd said,

    December 2, 2006 at 1:45 pm

    I like Fowler White’s lines about what the warnings do in the life of the eternally elect. It takes these passaes much more seriously than some FV critics want to do. But, on this view, do they apply to the reprobate at all? If the warnings address the elect, are they speaking to the non-elect as well?

  2. Todd said,

    December 2, 2006 at 1:51 pm

    “They really are part of the visible church.” Right. Really part of the body of Christ, the house and family of God. Members of his body.

    But the metaphor Jesus uses, of course, is union with himself. “In me.” Right?

  3. John said,

    December 2, 2006 at 2:09 pm

    You mean “duck tape,” right? It’s used for ducts, but “duck tape” was the original. =)

  4. greenbaggins said,

    December 2, 2006 at 2:18 pm

    Right, that’s what I mean, John.

    I wouldn’t necessarily interpret the phrase “en emoi” as being “in me,” as in, really and savingly united to Christ. The ESV interprets it seemingly as a dative of sphere “in my sphere,” hence “of mine.” Every branch that does not bear fruit is a goner. Even interpreted as “in me,” however, it needs to be understood that they have no true saving benefits, but only the appearance of it, just as a sucker branch as all the appearance of being a good branch (they grow very fast, by the way), but none of the reality. What about the actual exegesis of the passage, Todd?

    On Fowler White’s interpretation, I would say that there is the same application of the warnings to unbelievers as there is application of the law to unbelievers (the law has such warnings as well): it makes their condemnation all the greater. I’m fairly sure that Dr. White would agree.

  5. John said,

    December 2, 2006 at 2:20 pm

    I should add, more seriously, that I have never claimed that there is no ontological difference between the branches that abide in the tree and bear fruit and those that do not abide in Christ and do not bear fruit and are therefore cut off and burned. The one is abiding and the other is not, and that’s no small difference.

    But all of those branches, including the ones that are later cut off, genuinely were “in Christ,” because that’s what Jesus says: “Any branch IN ME…”

  6. greenbaggins said,

    December 2, 2006 at 2:29 pm

    The question then is, “In what way are they in Christ?” You say “genuinely.” I say “no, not genuinely so as to be “saved” in any way, shape, or form.” As a matter of fact, there is nothing in the text to suggest that they had ordo salutis benefits. They were united to Christ’s body the church outwardly, but inwardly they were tares, not wheat. You claim that there is an ontological difference. That’s good. But it doesn’t go far enough to avoid error. Being genuinely in Christ only pushes us back to the question I rose at the beginning of this comment. The branches are clearly differentiated. They are not the same. Therefore, they cannot participate in the vine in the same way. this follows logically from the text.

    What do you do, by the way, about the parable of the wheat and the tares? Do you claim that the tares were once wheat? There’s one field, to be sure. But the tares were *never* wheat.

  7. John said,

    December 2, 2006 at 2:45 pm

    These branches were not in Christ in such a way that they were bearing fruit. They weren’t abiding him, weren’t fruitbearing, and therefore were cut off. They may have been saved in some Scriptural sense (as all Israel was saved from Egypt). They may have enjoyed for a time many of the benefits of belonging to Christ (I’m thinking of things such as Heb. 6, which I’d include in the WCF’s “common operations of the Spirit”). But they do not persevere, do not abide in Christ, do not bear fruit, do not enter fully into the life of the body of Christ, and therefore do not remain in that body but are cut off from it.

    The parable of the wheat and tares, however, isn’t speaking about the church. Rather, Jesus says, “the field is the world.” Jesus is talking about the presence of wicked people in the world, isn’t he?

  8. greenbaggins said,

    December 2, 2006 at 3:10 pm

    I acknowledge that Mat 13:38 is difficult for my position on that parable. However, what is in my favor (that the parable is about the church) is verse 24: “the kingdom of heaven may be compared…” verse 25 “weeds among the wheat…” verse 27 “your field…” (cf. verse 24 “his field”). The big difficulty with saying that the field is the world understood as not being the church, is that the kingdom of heaven would then be described as the world, whereas it is clear from the parables that the unbelievers out there in the world are no part of the kingdom of heaven. It is quite possible for the church to be described as the world (see Matthew Henry and David Dickson’s commentaries). The church is not limited to any one place. I realize that many modern (if not most modern) commentaries disagree with me here. However, none of them deal with the problem I mentioned above.

    Regarding your first paragraph, I have one question, then: do the ones who will eventually apostatize receive any saving benefits? Let’s just pick one: justification. Are they justified?

  9. Todd said,

    December 2, 2006 at 8:46 pm

    “I wouldn’t necessarily interpret the phrase “en emoi” as being “in me,” as in, really and savingly united to Christ. The ESV interprets it seemingly as a dative of sphere “in my sphere,” hence “of mine.””

    I wouldn’t want to import the “really and savingly,” either. But neither would I want to import other things that you’re so eager to bring in: “They were united to Christ’s body the church outwardly.” The text just doesn’t say these things; you have brought them in. It’s union with Christ language, plain and simple. “Saving” union? Of course not. They’re fruitless and end up in the fire.

    Here’s your biggest fumble, I think: “Plainly here, the vine is the visible church.” In your zeal to make maintain the distinction between the elect and the reprobate, you have lost sight of what the text of God’s word actually says. What Jesus himself actually says! The vine is the visible church? No way. Jesus is the vine. He says it twice, man. Verse 1 and verse 5. You copied it into your post and quickly forgot. I want to encourage you to be more careful. Seriously.

  10. markhorne said,

    December 2, 2006 at 10:42 pm

    Right, but in 1 Cor 12, Paul calls the visible Church Christ, so I think Lane is on to something.

  11. Todd said,

    December 2, 2006 at 11:17 pm

    Excellent, Mark. Maybe I’m not reading Lane in a charitable enough way. But Lane seems to see membership in the church as a very different thing than union with Christ. For the non elect, “United to the visible church, but not really to Christ.” But the NT seems to say, “United to the visible church, and therefore to Christ.”

  12. Lee said,

    December 3, 2006 at 1:56 am

    Gentlemen (and ladies),
    Here is a question I have regarding John 15 and the Federal Vision understanding of union with Christ. Where does the strength for abiding or persevering in Christ originate? Is it the strength of the vine that makes some branches bear fruit or the strength of the branch? Is perseverance or “fully abiding” in Christ a gift from God or Christ, or is that something we do ourselves? If perseverance and abiding are the result of the strength of the branch (us), then how is this not a falling into a semi-augustinianism or worse? If perseverance is a gift from the vine (Christ) that some branches receive and other do not, then why not go the extra steps and agree with Lane? Does it not put you in a similar exegetical position? Lane is saying that the “in me” is not a union that provides saving benefits at all. Yet, if perseverance is a gift the vine gives some branches and not others does it not imply that the non-fruit baring branches are not “in me” the same way the other branches are “in me”? If it does imply that fact, then is not the difference between Lane and the Federal Vision merely a systematic question of what benefits come from being in union with Christ, and not an exegetical one? At least not from John 15.

  13. Todd said,

    December 3, 2006 at 7:40 am

    There’s no “FV understanding of union with Christ.” Speaking only for myself, the chief of nobodies: Of course some branches are not in Christ in the same way the other branches are. They’re fruitless. I agree with Lane: “Some branches are “fruit-bearing,” and others are not. This indicates an ontological distinction.”

    Lane’s claim that the FV guys deny any “ontological distinction” at all between elect and non-elect in the church seems to be a slander. All those guys, Lite or Dark, have happily admitted “onological distinction”–many of the quotations have been provided here on Lane’s blog–but Lane continues to write as if they haven’t. It’s a straw man addiction, perhaps. There’s a cure, you know.

    In John 15, the same union with Christ language is used for both kinds of branches. Any “dative of shere” argument about the reprobate branches would apply equally to the language about the branches that abide, right?

  14. david said,

    December 3, 2006 at 11:11 pm

    I wonder if any of the contributors might want to explore Jesus’ vine parable in the light of the OT passages on Israel as God’s Vine (Psalm 80 in particular, where the Vine is identified as ‘the son whom you made strong for yourself’, etc. It seems that there is a lot of back and forth debate going on about John 15 from a Pauline perspective, and that’s just fine. But it seems to me that beginning with the OT passages that would then show Jesus as the true Israel and his disciples as possible true – or false -members of the nation. It seems to me that such an approach may lift the argument out of the sphere of a debate over the implications of good ordo salutis theology, and bring it back to the matter of the covenant community at the Table with the Savior and preparing to go into the world to bear fruit – as opposed to the non-productive Branches/Vine/Israel that brings forth only ‘wild grapes’ and is thus sentenced to be burned, just as Jerusalem was in 70 AD. Perhaps Isaiah 2-5 should be especially brought the bear on this passage.

  15. pduggie said,

    December 4, 2006 at 9:13 am

    “So Barach is not claiming that the temporary “in Christ” status of the eventually-apostatizing-branches is equivalent to decretal election. He does equate this status to covenantal election in lines 68-70 on page 151.”

    No he doesn’t. The FV *never* make those distinctions. Election is just election.

  16. December 6, 2006 at 1:13 am

    Hi, all. Lane dropped by my blog (mongrelhorde.blogspot.com) since I mentioned him in my Federal Vision post, and he invited me to come join the “fray” here as he goes on vacation. So here I am, with all my Bible juices flowin’.

    Todd said: “Lane’s claim that the FV guys deny any “ontological distinction” at all between elect and non-elect in the church seems to be a slander. All those guys, Lite or Dark, have happily admitted “onological distinction”–many of the quotations have been provided here on Lane’s blog–but Lane continues to write as if they haven’t.”

    Todd, the rear-guard FV apologetic literature will certainly affirm, formally, an ontological distinction. The question is whether or not these affirmations are compatible with the substance of their teachings elsewhere. Flat contradictions in teaching are not “qualifications”. What sense can we speak of “ontological distinction” in the visible and invisible church members if, as Wilson stated, the vital “sap” of Christ’s power is flowing in both?

    What, exactly, does FV have to teach us TR’s, biblically and confessionally, if it is not trying to press a doctrine of undifferentiated covenant membership? If this is not their intention, for what purpose are they disturbing the people of God?

    And what do we do with Barach’s equivocation on the term “elect” (see Beisner’s comments pg2. 317-319 in the Knox Colloquium)? Even if we dismiss the equivocatios as semantic sloppiness, the structure of the argument (attempting to establish certainty in assurance), if sound, would presume an identity in the covenantal and decretally elect. This confirms the contention that the confusion is a matter of substance, not simply the use of non-standard or non-systematic terminology.

    Todd continues: “They were united to Christ’s body the church outwardly.” The text just doesn’t say these things; you have brought them in. It’s union with Christ language, plain and simple. “Saving” union? Of course not. They’re fruitless and end up in the fire”

    But there is nothing illegitimate with “bringing in” sysematic theological considerations to a text. If we are asking “how does this text relate to how we should understand the differentiated (or undifferentiated) nature of covenant membership”, then it is a question of systematic theology as much as exegetical.

    Todd also said: ““United to the visible church, but not really to Christ.” But the NT seems to say, “United to the visible church, and therefore to Christ.””

    If “united” here means “united by covenant” than this is true, but trivial. But the Federal Visionists act as if being “united” in this sense is nothing less than the Cat’s Meow, and we should all be excited about it. But those “united to Christ” in this sense might also be at enmity with Christ, under God’s wrath, a child of Adam and Satan, who hates God and, futhermore, are pouring out greater judgment on themselves through this union. How does this comport?

    The Belgic Confession explicitly binds us confessional folk (I’m a 3 Forms of Unity URC guy, BTW) to the idea of being OUTWARDLY in the church/covenant and inwardly. Article 29 speaks of being “in” the church but not “of” it:

    “We are not speaking here of the company of hypocrites who are mixed among the good in the church and who nonetheless are not part of it, even though they are physically there.”

    Contrary to FV’s downplaying of the visible church, the Belgic actually uses the term “church” to mean the invisible church.

  17. December 6, 2006 at 1:16 am

    Sorry, the 3rd to last paragraph in the last post should read “The Belgic Confession explicitly binds us…to the idea of being outwardly in the church/covenant IN DISTINCTION from being in it inwardly.”

  18. John said,

    December 6, 2006 at 1:48 am

    David writes: “Contrary to FV’s downplaying of the visible church, the Belgic actually uses the term “church” to mean the invisible church.” I don’t know that the FV downplays the so-called visible church. And I also don’t know that the BC uses the term “church” to mean the invisible church.

    The BC says that elders are to be chosen by a lawful election of the church. Is that the visible church (i.e., all the members of the local church) or the invisible (i.e., only the elect)?

    The BC also says that by baptism we’re received into the church. If David is correct and the BC is using the term “church” to mean the invisible church, then the BC is saying that by baptism we’re received into the invisible church. Or is the BC just not making those sorts of distinctions?

  19. pduggie said,

    December 6, 2006 at 10:24 am

    “If “united” here means “united by covenant” than this is true, but trivial. But the Federal Visionists act as if being “united” in this sense is nothing less than the Cat’s Meow, and we should all be excited about it.”

    Gah! and youre not excited about something God has done? We have to disparige God’s covenant as “trivial”? We’re supposed tobe excited by the hebrews 6 stuff, i reckon.

  20. pduggie said,

    December 6, 2006 at 10:25 am

    Maybe the reprobate have the sap in an outward way, but not an inward way. Does that satsify anyone?

  21. December 6, 2006 at 12:40 pm

    Rev. Barach,

    You are right in pointing out my error there. I should have said that the invisible church is the “predominate” meaning in the Belgic. Under Article 27, the church is defined as “a holy congregation and gathering of true Christian believers, awaiting their entire salvation in Jesus Christ being washed by his blood, and sanctified and sealed by the Holy Spirit. ” Article 28 also has the invisible in mind (“gathering of those who are saved”).

    It is true that the Belgic, however, uses “church” sometimes in an indeterminate way, and sometimes to refer to the visible church. The distinctions, admitedly, are not explicitly made. The context, however, should qualify the meaning of the term at any given point.

    “Gah! and youre not excited about something God has done? We have to disparige God’s covenant as “trivial”? We’re supposed tobe excited by the hebrews 6 stuff, i reckon.”

    We should be excited about the Hebrews 6 stuff only if we have BOTH the administrations of the visible church AND the spiritual and inward realities that those administrations minister to us.

  22. Todd said,

    December 6, 2006 at 1:50 pm

    Membership in the body of Christ trivial? Who’s downplaying the visible church now?

  23. pduggie said,

    December 6, 2006 at 3:24 pm

    Including the common operations? Read the WCF chapter on the communion of the saints. I get benefits from all the members of the Body of Christ, including the ones that might not persevere, don’t i?

  24. December 7, 2006 at 12:02 am

    Todd,

    Membership in the body of Christ is certainly not trivial. In context, what is trivial is affirming this truth in the course of this particular debate. It is something everyone can agree on, in other words.

  25. Todd said,

    December 7, 2006 at 10:25 am

    Fair enough, David. I, predictably, have a “next question.” In your view, does membership in the body of Christ imply any kind of “union with Christ”? This is not something everyone agrees on in this debate. At the very least, this is a connection that many are very quiet about.

  26. markhorne said,

    December 7, 2006 at 12:08 pm

    “e should be excited about the Hebrews 6 stuff only if we have BOTH the administrations of the visible church AND the spiritual and inward realities that those administrations minister to us.”

    But this is a category mistake. The sign that people don’t have “the spiritual and inward realities” is that they don’t value, continue int, or trust the promises that God has made in the administration of the visible church.

    The author of Hebrews, incidentally, could have expressed himself as you do, but he told his listeners/readers to add “endurance” to what they had received (Heb 10.36).

  27. March 30, 2007 at 10:19 am

    [...] John 15 and the Federal Vision [...]

  28. Black&TanInTheAM said,

    May 18, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    Lane,
    All do respect, I am not one paragraph into this and it’s a tirade against NS and FV. Please, you, yourself, exegete the passage.

  29. greenbaggins said,

    May 18, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    I am arguing against their interpretation of John 15. Why don’t you read the rest of the post?

  30. Black&TanInTheAM said,

    May 18, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    Ok. I’ll try to be as courteous as possible. The paltry answer to exegeting John 15 was……..I am at a loss.

    You say,
    **R. Fowler White has the answer to this. It is decisive. He says “The warnings of God’s Word, as a means of grace, retain their integrity because the decree of election is realized through them, not apart from them…when the warnings against apostasy and wrath come, we are not to presume our election and to ignore them; rather we are to prove our election by trembling at the threats of God’s Word and embracing its promises.” In the face of this clear exposition of the value of the warning to the elect, Shepherd’s criticism of the traditional position falls utterly to the ground.

    This is far from decisive. I recall someone somewhere quipping something along the lines, “Warnings to decretally elect who cannot ever, no never really fall away is like posting a sign in the ocean, “BEWARE OF FALLING ROCKS. ” Now, I am not at all endorsing that the dercetally elect can fall away, but to say that the warnings are only for them to prove their election. Am I misreading your intent….hold whilst I re-read…..No, I think I am reading correctly. What Fowler is saying and your reason for quoting him is to say, gracious warnings as a means of grace are not for the reprobate but for the elect only. This is untenable. Again, I assert the warnings are real. John 15 is a warning to all who are united to Christ by baptism (Please see my comments on 5.17.05).

    Your last paragraph is incredulous. I am at a loss (for which I am sure you are genuflecting). Perhaps my silence will speak for itself.

  31. Black&TanInTheAM said,

    May 18, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    I have to put something else in the beggining of this to post it. I keep getting repeat offender comments…am i really offending?

    Ok. I’ll try to be as courteous as possible. The paltry answer to exegeting John 15 was……..I am at a loss.

    You say,
    **R. Fowler White has the answer to this. It is decisive. He says “The warnings of God’s Word, as a means of grace, retain their integrity because the decree of election is realized through them, not apart from them…when the warnings against apostasy and wrath come, we are not to presume our election and to ignore them; rather we are to prove our election by trembling at the threats of God’s Word and embracing its promises.” In the face of this clear exposition of the value of the warning to the elect, Shepherd’s criticism of the traditional position falls utterly to the ground.

    This is far from decisive. I recall someone somewhere quipping something along the lines, “Warnings to decretally elect who cannot ever, no never really fall away is like posting a sign in the ocean, “BEWARE OF FALLING ROCKS. ” Now, I am not at all endorsing that the dercetally elect can fall away, but to say that the warnings are only for them to prove their election. Am I misreading your intent….hold whilst I re-read…..No, I think I am reading correctly. What Fowler is saying and your reason for quoting him is to say, gracious warnings as a means of grace are not for the reprobate but for the elect only. This is untenable. Again, I assert the warnings are real. John 15 is a warning to all who are united to Christ by baptism (Please see my comments on 5.17.05).

    Your last paragraph is incredulous. I am at a loss (for which I am sure you are genuflecting). Perhaps my silence will speak for itself.

  32. July 8, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    [...] Baggins posted an excellent discussion at John 15 and the Federal Vision. His introduction of the issue is far superior to what I was going to write, so please go read his [...]

  33. R. F. White said,

    July 8, 2007 at 9:03 pm

    Since my name and Colloquium essay were invoked above, I’ll add my two bits. I would not say that the warnings are issued only for the elect to prove their election. The context from which Lane cited was a discussion of the warnings as a means of grace for the elect. I would agree that the warnings are, ironically, a means of storing up wrath for the reprobate who, by common consent, cannot and will not heed those warnings nor embrace God’s promises.

    In addition, I agree that the warnings are real. (This is what I argued in my Colloquium essay, to which Lane refers.) As I understand it, one of the reasons that we can and must speak of the warnings’ reality is that our faith is not, at its initial confession, fully and finally differentiatable as saving faith distinct from false hope and carnal presumption. If I’ve read the Scriptures correctly, they teach us that such differentiation takes place through and not apart from a historical process that involves our responses to temptation and trial and to God’s promises and warnings.

  34. greenbaggins said,

    July 9, 2007 at 11:02 am

    Dr. White, thanks for the helpful clarification. Are you saying that our faith is not differentiable by looking at it, or not differentiable in principle (in the abstract)? I would assume that you mean the former “from our perspective” viewpoint. For surely you would hold that saving faith is of a different kind than historical, non-saving faith. It is connected to renegeration, whereas the false faith is not. Is this a fair picture of your position?

  35. R. F. White said,

    July 9, 2007 at 11:47 am

    Yes, I mean that, from our perpective (with our creaturely knowledge, etc.), one’s faith is not differentiable apart from its evidences and fruit. Saving faith, since it’s connected with regeneration, is of a different kind than non-saving faith. I hope that’s clearer still.

  36. greenbaggins said,

    July 9, 2007 at 11:57 am

    Very clear, thanks. :-)

  37. January 28, 2010 at 11:50 am

    [...] is one that I made some time ago from Calvin relative to John 15:2 and the vine. Lane also wrote on John 15 and Federal Vision. Federal Visionists turn that passage into a botany lesson at the microscopic level. But in fact, [...]

  38. November 15, 2013 at 7:59 am

    […] union with Christ. Exegetical questions would revolve around John 15, in particular, which has been hashed out before on this blog. For other exegetical discussions, see the […]


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