United to Christ But Not Going to Heaven?

Posted by Andrew Webb

There are so many non-Reformed doctrines floating around in the FV that one hardly knows where to begin addressing them. But the idea that everyone in the covenant is “saved in some sense” regardless of whether they are elect or not is a good place to start discussing their departure from the Standards.

To sum up the FV viewpoint, on this subject let me use Minich’s synopsis “Within the Bounds of Orthodoxy?” because all the FV men seem to be happy with it:

“Wilkins writes, “Covenant is a real relationship, consisting of real communion with the triune God through union with Christ. The covenant is not some thing that exists apart from Christ or in addition to him…rather, the covenant is union with Christ.” [28] Alluding to the way the Apostle Paul addresses the weak Corinthian congregations, (sanctified in Christ, baptized in the name of Christ, brothers, etc) Wilkins continues, “He was not able to speak like this because he had some special insight into the secret decrees of God. He was speaking about what was true of these objectively by virtue of their union with Christ in covenant.” [29] In sum, “All in covenant are given all that is true of Christ.” [30] Thus, according to Wilkins and others, all covenant members are “saved” in some sense. They are Christians. John Barach factors in the doctrine of election, explaining, “God does not make His covenant exclusively with those who have been predestined to eternal salvation. Rather, he establishes His covenant with all who have been baptized, with professing believers and their children. The whole church, head for head, is in covenant with God.” [31] Modifying the way the doctrine of election is traditionally employed, Barach continues, “But what if we tell the church, ‘God chose you and Jesus died for you’ and then some of those people fall away and end up in Hell? Have we lied to them? No! We have spoken to them in a faithful and trustworthy manner in terms of their true covenantal relationship to God.” [32] In short, God “has decreed that some of those whom he has chosen to bring into a covenant relationship with him will enjoy that relationship only for a time. God brings those people into His covenant and unites them to Christ for a time…they really experience His love, but they do not respond with repentance and faith and love.” [33]”

Contra the statements above, the Standards (and scripture) do not teach that the non-elect are ever united to Christ or saved in any sense because the only way we can be united to Christ is via FAITH and faith is the result of Effectual Calling and Regeneration. For instance, Wilkins and Barach above are not just irreconcilable with David Dickson in his commentary on the Confession, Truth’s Victory Over Error he identifies their view as either RC, Arminian, or Lutheran:

ARE all those whom God has predestinated to life, and those only, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually called by his word and Spirit, out of the estate of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation, through Jesus Christ?”
Yes; Rom. 8.30. Rom. 11.7. Eph. 1.10,11. 2 Thes. 2.13,14. Rom. 8.2. Eph. 2.1-5, 2 Cor. 3.3,6.

Well then, do not the Papists, Arminians, and Lutherans err, who maintain, That men not elected are sometimes effectually called?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because faith belongs to the elect only, Titus 1.1.
2d, Because whom he did predestinate, those only, and no other hath he called, Rom. 8.30.
3d, Because though many hear the gospel, yet none believe, but such as are ordained to everlasting life, Acts 13.48.
4th, Because the apostle testifies, that the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded, Rom. 11.7.
5th, Because Christ manifested his Father’s name, to those only whom he choose out of the world, and gave to him, John 17.6.”

A.A. Hodge Builds on this point in expositing a later portion of the same chapter:

“Others not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved

Where he states:

1. That the non–elect will certainly fail of salvation, not because a free salvation is not made available to them if they accept Christ, but because they never accept Christ; and they all refuse to accept him, because, although they may be persuaded by some of the common influences of the Holy Ghost, their radical aversion to God is never overcome by effectual calling. This builds upon the teaching that the grace of effectual calling extends to all the elect, and only the elect.”

If I might also point out, the critical section of the Confession, which is intimately related to the above, and which the FV seem to ignore entirely is WCF 14.1 which explicitly states that the ordinary means of conversion is the Preaching of the Word, and which denies that the sacraments are converting ordinances stating that they serve to build up the faith, not initiate it. Scottish Presbyterian commentator Robert Shaw has an excellent exposition of this that is at one with the Standards and Scripture in his commentary as does Hodge, but again, both are totally at odds with the non-reformed doctrine of Wilkins and Barach above which wants to create “some sort” of salvation, faith, and union with Christ which everyone in the Covenant objectively has. The fact that this means that some who come to Him are not the elect whom the father has given Him and that He will lose some who come to Him (contra John 6:37 and 6:44) doesn’t seem to worry them. They seem more concerned to deny the truth that the church will always consist of a mixed multitude on this side of glory, both people who are real wheat and always will be and people who are real tares and who always will be.

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57 Comments

  1. David R. McCrory said,

    December 12, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    It is good to see all those great men agree w/ me!

  2. Gabe Martini said,

    December 12, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    I thought the Catechism asks “HOW” are the sacraments effectual means of salvation, not “ARE” they?

  3. Andrew Webb said,

    December 12, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    Gabe,

    I was going to start with some exposition on the LQ on that part (J.G. Vos for instance) that illustrates the role of the sacraments in salvation by increasing and strengthening our faith but not converting, but it occurs to me that we should go one step back and deal with a more fundamental issue. Gabe, did Christ die for the sins of everyone who is Baptized in a true Christian church?

  4. Christopher Meredith said,

    December 12, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    So remind me, Who is the vine?

  5. Josh Walker said,

    December 12, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    I am in NO SENSE in favor of the FV movement. I go to school with a few guys that are FV and I am always in dialog and debate with them on these FV issues. With that said, I would like to understand one point you make in your post, which I agreed with on the whole.

    You said, “the Standards (and scripture) do not teach that the non-elect are ever united to Christ or saved in any sense because the only way we can be united to Christ is via FAITH and faith is the result of Effectual Calling and Regeneration.”

    In light of this comment how would you understand John 15:1-17. In this passage Jesus says that branches “of mine” are taken away. Also, it is stated over and over again in this passage that if you do not “abide” you are cast out. In order to abide you must first be in Christ. Do you see my point?

    I am not saying that these branches (the non-elect) are saved or going to heaven or have “covenant justification” (which is a irrational!). Some have opted for a two fold union with Christ, a vital one and a covenantal one. Vital union comes by faith and brings all the blessings of Christ and can never be lost. This union is only given to the elect. Covenantal union is union given to baptized members of the covenant who do not have faith.

    These are a few thought of mine that I would love to hear what you think. I am working through this issue still and would love to have a give and take on this topic. I am not firm on this point and would like to see another perspective.

  6. Gabe Martini said,

    December 12, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    Andy asked,
    “Gabe, did Christ die for the sins of everyone who is Baptized in a true Christian church?”

    No, that is far too limiting. Jesus’ sacrifice and satisfaction for sins is of infinite value and worth, more than sufficient to atone for the sins of the whole world.

  7. David R. McCrory said,

    December 12, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    Josh,

    In answer to your question, the learned Dr. John Gill writes in his commentary on John 15,

    There are two sorts of branches in Christ the vine; the one sort are such who have only an historical faith in him, believe but for a time, and are removed; they are such who only profess to believe in him, as Simon Magus did; are in him by profession only; they submit to outward ordinances, become church members, and so are reckoned to be in Christ, being in a church state, as the churches of Judea and Thessalonica, and others, are said, in general, to be in Christ; though it is not to be thought that every individual person in these churches were truly and savingly in him. These branches are unfruitful ones; what fruit they seemed to have, withers away, and proves not to be genuine fruit; what fruit they bring forth is to themselves, and not to the glory of God, being none of the fruits of his Spirit and grace:

    [The first kind he] taketh away; removes them from that sort of being which they had in Christ. By some means or another he discovers them to the saints to be what they are; sometimes he suffers persecution to arise because of the word, and these men are quickly offended, and depart of their own accord; or they fall into erroneous principles, and set up for themselves, and separate from the churches of Christ; or they become guilty of scandalous enormities, and so are removed from their fellowship by excommunication; or if neither of these should be the case, but these tares should grow together with the wheat till the harvest, the angels will be sent forth, who will gather out of the kingdom of God all that offend and do iniquity, and cast them into a furnace of fire, as branches withered, and fit to be burnt.

    And every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. These are the other sort of branches, who are truly and savingly in Christ; such as are rooted in him; to whom he is the green fir tree, from whom all their fruit is found; who are filled by him with all the fruits of his Spirit, grace, and righteousness. These are purged or pruned, chiefly by afflictions and temptations, which are as needful for their growth and fruitfulness, as the pruning and cutting of the vines are for theirs; and though these are sometimes sharp, and never joyous, but grievous, yet they are attended with the peaceable fruits of righteousness, and so the end of bringing forth more fruit is answered; for it is not enough that a believer exercise grace, and perform good works for the present, but these must remain; or he must be constant herein, and still bring forth fruit, and add one virtue to another, that it may appear he is not barren and unfruitful in the knowledge of Christ, in whom he is implanted.

    I pray this helps.

  8. kjsulli said,

    December 12, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    Gabe, re: 8, you write:

    Andy asked,
    “Gabe, did Christ die for the sins of everyone who is Baptized in a true Christian church?”

    No, that is far too limiting. Jesus’ sacrifice and satisfaction for sins is of infinite value and worth, more than sufficient to atone for the sins of the whole world.

    This is not an answer to the question. Andy asked for whom Christ atoned, not the value or worth of Christ’s atonement.

  9. Gabe Martini said,

    December 12, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    I see, well then John 3:16-17. Whoever believes.

  10. kjsulli said,

    December 12, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    Gabe, re: 12,

    Fine. Who believes?

  11. Gabe Martini said,

    December 12, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    People effectually called.

  12. kjsulli said,

    December 12, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    Gabe, re: 14,

    Great! Now back to the question Andy asked, with a little modification:

    “Is everyone who is baptized in a true Christian church effectually called?”

  13. Gabe Martini said,

    December 12, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    Of course not. Don’t be silly.

  14. David R. McCrory said,

    December 12, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    Gabe,

    Then how can all those quotes you posted eariler favoring baptismal regeneration among our Reformed forebearers have any validity if all who are baptized aren’t regenerated?

  15. pduggie said,

    December 12, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    Is “in him by profession only” exactly the same as “say they are in him, but they’re not”?

    Or is there some kind of distinction?

  16. Gabe Martini said,

    December 12, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    Because we’re baptized with a visible or ecclesiastical regeneration (the laver of regeneration, which is why baptism is a “sign” of regeneration), as many of them said (or what Turretin calls sacramental regeneration). This results in personal regeneration in the elect, but it doesn’t in the non-elect. It brings one into the ministry of the visible Church where salvation is offered, along with all of the benefits of Christ’s mediation, ***BUT*** is only “truly” received in the elect by saving faith.

    With all that being said, I think among Christians growing up in the church (covenant children), regeneration begins with and is ordinarily exhibited by the Holy Spirit through one’s baptism. We should not make the exception (apostates, falling away from the visible church when older, rejecting their baptism and the faith itself) the rule or norm.

    But, like Calvin, I don’t believe regeneration is a “one off event,” but a process that continues throughout a Christians life… this is why it is only BEGUN in baptism for the elect, but the effects of baptism continue throughout a person’s life as they live a life of repentance and faith before God.

  17. Gabe Martini said,

    December 12, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    ** Oh, and that last point I made is what the Catechism calls “improving one’s baptism.”

  18. Josh Walker said,

    December 12, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    I agree with what Dr. Gill said, for the most part, but he seemed to indicate that the branches that were thrown away were “in Christ” in a sense.

    He said, “they…are in him by profession only.”

    Where as you said, “the Standards (and scripture) do not teach that the non-elect are ever united to Christ or saved in any sense.”

    This seems to be at odds, but I am sure that they are not. Could you help clear this up for me.

    (For the record, I am being completely sincere. The net does not show that all the time so I want to make sure it is CLEAR.)

  19. David R. McCrory said,

    December 12, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    “Because we’re baptized with a visible or ecclesiastical regeneration …”

    What is this suppose to mean? Are you saying we must be regenerated in order to become regeenrated?

  20. David R. McCrory said,

    December 12, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    Josh,

    Since we are not saved by our profession of Christ, but by our possession of Him, Dr. Gill can rightly assert that those who merely profess faith are in Christ by profession only, which profession has not attending benefits in and of itself. The qualification in the Standards suggest they’re speaking of a saving union with Christ, not an outward profession.

  21. Josh Walker said,

    December 12, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    Great, thanks…

    Just to make sure I am getting you right, you are saying that the non-elect branches are “in Christ” is a non-saving way, right.

  22. Gabe Martini said,

    December 12, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    No, it means one has been brought into the place where “renewal of the Holy Spirit” occurs (Titus 3.6) by the washing of regeneration (i.e., baptism). The new creation is “the” regeneration (see Matthew 19:28). It is more proper to say one is Baptized into the regeneration, into the new creation, into this place of renewal and restoration. The Church is the place where new creation has begun; the already-not-yet tension, as we await the return of our King. This is what I believe the Scriptures refer to when Jesus says one must be “born again” or when Paul says nothing matters but “new creation” and so forth. It is being transferred from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of light. And, according to the WCF, the Visible Church is that kingdom of God (and baptism admits one into the visible Church), and it is also the Body of Christ (according to the PCA’s BCO, for example).

  23. David R. McCrory said,

    December 12, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    Josh,

    “In Christ” can be a loaded term. It must be qualified, especially in the midst of controversy. Yes, most Reformed scholars would say non-elect branches abide in Christ and then are cut away. The nature of this relationship must be qualified as to say there are no special graces flowing from the Vine to these dead branches.

  24. Gabe Martini said,

    December 12, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    In other words, the Church is the place where salvation is offered to all, but not all in the Church will be saved, because not all truly believe. Effectual calling is grounded in God’s eternal decree and predestination and is for the elect alone.

  25. David Gray said,

    December 12, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    >The nature of this relationship must be qualified as to say there are no special graces flowing from the Vine to these dead branches.

    So you are arguing that the non-elect who are in Christ receive no benefit in any way from being in Him?

  26. kjsulli said,

    December 12, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    Gabe, re: 16, you write:

    Of course not. Don’t be silly.

    That then is the anwer to Andy’s question.

    Andy,

    You have your answer from Gabe! Hope that helps. ;-)

  27. December 12, 2007 at 5:42 pm

    [...] Here’s his follow-up post on the FV doctrine of union with Christ. Blogroll [...]

  28. David R. McCrory said,

    December 12, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    Gabe,

    I prefer to say we’re baptized into Christ, not the church.

    Your whole explanation is a little too churchy and not enough Christ for me.

  29. David R. McCrory said,

    December 12, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    Mr. Gray,

    They can receive common operations of the Spirit. Nothing more.

  30. David R. McCrory said,

    December 12, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    >In other words, the Church is the place where salvation is offered to all, but not all in the Church will be saved, because not all truly believe. Effectual calling is grounded in God’s eternal decree and predestination and is for the elect alone.

    ~ This wasnt up when I posted #30. I don’t think anyone here would disagree w/ this.

  31. Andy Gilman said,

    December 12, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    Gabe Martini, yesterday, contrite and imploring for peace:

    This is all heartbreaking. All of this hatred, bitterness, and schismatic speak is denying that God sent his Son to save us (John 17), it really is.

    Peace be with you,
    Gabe M.

    Theological formulations are worthless if we do not love one another. You are ignoring what I have said, though. I still welcome you to speak with me about anything you wish, so that your knowledge of “FV” or anything of the like can be grounded in an actual, charitable interaction with another human being — and not merely speculation or reading another without charity

    Again, I realize I have acted immaturely on the Internet before (I’m a young guy, after all), especially on the Puritanboard. Much of it was likely misunderstandings or the disadvantage of not being able to hear another person’s tone when conversing with them. The Internet is a dreadful means of meaningful communication. This is why I attempt to stay out of “blogging” and other things as much as possible. However, when I come across posts such as this, so full of misunderstandings and harsh accusations, I can’t help but be heartbroken. I can’t help but plead that we could embrace one another as brothers and sisters in Christ — even IF we disagree in the end, which I concede may surely be the case.

    Gabe Martini today:

    This is hilarious. Thanks for the conversation, fellas. I have bigger fish to fry, and I’ve wasted far too much time on here as it is. Peace.

    Of course not. Don’t be silly.

  32. Robert K. said,

    December 12, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    Gabe and other FVists: Calvin had a rather intense conversion, turning him from the darkness and bondage he’d been in to the light and freedom of the Gospel and the Word of God in general. He had been coming into contact with Protestants who obviously were preaching the Word of God. No matter how early Protestants like Calvin defined regeneration this is the effectual call that Calvin received inwards, this is regeneration, and this is conversion, and this occured within the visible church, which, as DRM rightly states – and Calvin agrees by the way, read Muller’s Dictionary on the visible/invisible church – is the visible church doing what the visible church does. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Calvin writes of this dramatic turn in his life in his preface to his commentary on the Book of Psalms.

    Regeneration is the main thing for any Christian. Bad doctrine is designed to salve the vanity and worldly pride and the self-will that refuses to recognize God as sovereign in creation, providence, and grace. The ‘old man’ demands that man be in control. That ritual performed by man when man wants it performed, to be in control of what only the Word and the Spirit can effect.

    FVists disdain talk of individual regeneration and speak of corporate election and so on. Talk of being born again makes FVists start calling Presbyterian and Reformed Christians ‘baptists’…

    FV doctrine if honest has to mock Calvin’s own description of his being born again. It sounds so Protestant.

  33. David Gray said,

    December 12, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    >They can receive common operations of the Spirit. Nothing more.

    What does that mean to you?

  34. David Gray said,

    December 12, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    >FV doctrine if honest has to mock Calvin’s own description of his being born again. It sounds so Protestant.

    Please support with an example or two.

  35. David R. McCrory said,

    December 12, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    Mr. Gray,

    I defer to the WCF 10.4

    “Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved: much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the law of that religion they do profess. And, to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested.”

    ~ Common operations of the Spirit are the same as common grace.

  36. Robert K. said,

    December 12, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    >Please support with an example or two.

    “On other terms such as “born from above,” “born again,” “reborn,” etc, I would very much like to see a non-circular argument that these refer to an interior transformation worked directly by the Spirit which irreversibly guarantees persevering faith–that is, “great moral change, wrought by the Spirit of God, which must pass upon everyone before he can be in a state of salvation.” The phrase in First Peter 1.3, occurs in a passage with a great deal of common language with the context of Paul’s use of the word “regeneration” in his letter to Titus. More tellingly, it is paralleled by a later reference to baptism in First Peter 3.21. Peter also says his readers have been born again through the Word of God (1.23), but again, where is the proof that this is not simply a metaphor for hearing the Gospel message and being brought into a new family through baptism?” – Mark Horne

  37. David Gray said,

    December 12, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    >Common operations of the Spirit are the same as common grace.

    I thought that is probably what you meant. Although the WCF citation doesn’t actually say that. Thanks.

  38. David Gray said,

    December 12, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    Robert, Thanks. Addressing actually statements from real people like the one you give above is much more effective. Having provided that what in that statement leads you to believe that Pastor Horne would “mock Calvin’s own description of his being born again”?

  39. Robert K. said,

    December 12, 2007 at 6:51 pm

    David, you took a direct hit. For your own soul just step back and contemplate the scenery awhile. Don’t take on baggage you don’t need to take on.

  40. Gabe Martini said,

    December 12, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    As for my “hilarious” comments, none of that was meant to be taken as a negative attitude or mean-spirited. I think it is funny how easily we misunderstand one another on the Internet in forums like this… talking back and forth, back and forth, all the while saying the same thing, apparently. The other part was a personal jab at myself, reminding myself that I don’t need to spend so much time on the Internet responding to blogs; there are far more important things to spend my time on. However, it does appear to me that we have an understanding, based on the latest responses on both this post and the previous FV one. As such, I can say this was actually a fruitful conversation, as far as I’m concerned. But, I’m not so sure that sentiment will be shared. Why? Well, I’m as FV as they come, and you have mostly all agreed with what I’m saying. Again, I came here the other day pleading “misunderstanding” and that was not received so well. Now that we’ve actually proven we’re saying the same thing, what is left to do? I guess I can rejoice that I’ve witnessed one of the only fruitful exchanges in this whole TR vs. FV debacle. :-)

    But seriously, unless someone else has a genuine follow up or clarification questions for me, which I’d be happy to answer, I’ll be on my way. I wouldn’t want to leave in the middle of a conversation and be overtly rude, if we are able to converse civily (which a few of you certainly have been able to do today with me).

    And for the others on here dropping the H-bomb, and being contentious, don’t forget that the PCA’s GA study committee called FV and NPP people brothers in Christ.

    Peace,
    Gabe M

  41. David Gray said,

    December 12, 2007 at 7:10 pm

    >David, you took a direct hit.

    How about answering the question? Or is it harder than just saying:

    “This insistence that Doug Wilson gets the ‘right’ to play this game and be taken seriously was comical years ago. Doug is not a serious man. Nobody who plays with language and speaks as much garbage with such juvenile bravado as he does is a serious man. When his subject matter is biblical doctrine he takes on the stench of hellfire.”

    or

    “He doesn’t particularly care if it leads people to Rome or to Eastern Orthodoxy or to Benny Hinn.”

    When you say:

    “For your own soul just step back and contemplate the scenery awhile. Don’t take on baggage you don’t need to take on.”

    Perhaps you should contemplate what you have said.

  42. its.reed said,

    December 12, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    Ref. 343:

    Gabe: I am grateful for your clarification on what appeared to be flippant responses. Thank you.

    As to your sense that we are saying the same thing, and are therefore in agreement, I must admit I don’t get it.

    I agree with you in terms of priorities. By all means, please do not let response time here “rob” you of spending time in ways that are more pleasing to God.

    But, as He provides your conscious peace, would you mind summarizing, from this thread and others, what exactly you believe we agree on? I’m especially curious in that I believe my response to you on another thread here presented a substantially and stark contrast showing at least one aspect of fundamental disagreement.

    Note as well that I offered the observation that this, IMO, is not a matter of us not getting it, but an actual substantive difference. No disrespect intended, but your observation here of agreement makes me wonder.

    So, would you help me and explain why you think we’re saying the same thing (and therefore we are not really getting what the FV is saying)?

    Thanks for any help.

    reed

  43. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 12, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    Josh Walker (#5):

    In light of this comment how would you understand John 15:1-17. In this passage Jesus says that branches “of mine” are taken away. Also, it is stated over and over again in this passage that if you do not “abide” you are cast out. In order to abide you must first be in Christ. Do you see my point?

    Here’re some thoughts on Calvin’s interp over against Wilkins.

    Jeff Cagle

  44. Josh Walker said,

    December 12, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    Jeff,

    Thank you!

  45. Robert K. said,

    December 12, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    >How about answering the question?

    OK, David, this time I’ll play the endless FV game. You say how does the quote make FVists mock Calvin’s self-described experience of being born again? “Calvin, dude, this is all great and everything, yeah, hey, you probably read the Bible and everything too, huh? but, just for the record, there’s this fallacy called…um, circular reasoning? Every hear of it? Hey, you’re a bright dude, I know you’ll catch on eventually… Oh, and, hey, Calvin, I’m a Calvinist too! Ha ha…”

  46. Gabe Martini said,

    December 12, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    reed,

    I am referring to posts 29 and 32 of this particular thread.

    And, responding to post 30, I would say, “I agree. However, the church is the Body of Christ, so it is not out of the question, in my opinion, to say that the Church is where salvation occurs, and that one cannot have God as Father without the Church as Mother (to quote Calvin and Cyprian).”

    If one is truly united to Christ, that union is “experienced” and “seen” in the ministry of the Church, in the preaching of the Word, prayer, worship, and the reception of the Lord’s Supper. That is where your salvation in Christ is made evident, visible, and confirmed, for all practical purposes.

    I don’t speak of the Church in a “high” way because I think I’m saved by mere formality or a building, but because we are (the Church, all of God’s covenant people) the temple of the living God, and the Body of Christ. That should be the heart of our thinking. It is all about Christ, and this is where we meet with Christ and receive the blessings of his salvation, in the Bride, in the Body of Christ, in the Church.

  47. Robert K. said,

    December 12, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    I regret taking David Gray’s bait above. He asked for a quote stating what I said FVists believe, I gave him a quote, so instead of leaving it at that he has to spin and move goal posts and do everything FV followers do who feel a stronger need to protect their cult leaders than to fear God only (which is the beginning of wisdom).

    Back to my main point: this is about regeneration, foundationally. The proud unregenerate (as opposed to the merely unregenerate) demand to bring God’s Word down to their level and to dictate to God what His plan is and how it is to be effected. Sacerdotalism is man-centered demands played out in a church environment. The devil uses it to keep people in the darkness and bondage of his Kingdom of Death. Regeneration is effected, when it is, by the Word and the Spirit. This incenses man-centered proud, vain false teachers and those who cling to them to have their own man-centered demands met.
    That God would have sovereignty in creation, providence, AND grace is too much for the FVists to ‘agree’ to. To do so means the death of their proud, vain, rebellious spirits. No thanks, they say. And they go further: they say they will change doctrine to fit their demands, and in this case the FVists have entered the Temple where God’s truth is taught pure. Their judgment will be harsh. Much harsher for such brazen and shameless false teachers than for the average rebel against God’s Kingdom.

  48. Gabe Martini said,

    December 12, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

    And posts like that would be the reason my departure from this blog is expedited.

    Peace,
    Gabe

  49. David Gray said,

    December 12, 2007 at 8:19 pm

    >The proud unregenerate (as opposed to the merely unregenerate) demand to bring God’s Word down to their level and to dictate to God what His plan is and how it is to be effected.

    Robert, so you would reject the report approved by the PCA General Assembly?

  50. its.reed said,

    December 12, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    Ref. #49:

    I’m sorry Gabe, but I don’t see how this is an answer to my question. You’ve offered some broader observations which, in other conversations, it has been demonstrated that there is not agreement between pro and anti FV.

  51. Andrew Webb said,

    December 13, 2007 at 12:52 am

    Hi Gabe, et al,

    I’m sorry I was busy all day and missed most of the dialogue, to tell the truth in addition to being an Old School Presbyterian, I’m also an old-school letter writer and debater, not someone who can actually have a meaningful conversation via text messages, IMs, and the kind of bumper sticker communication that predominates on the internet. As such I’m never going to be able to keep up with the flow here, so I hope you’ll be patient with me till I give up entirely. Anyway, let me get to the point or rather points I wanted to make earlier, before all the pastoral ministry stuff got in the way…

    Presbyterians confess that Jesus died on the cross for His Sheep and His Sheep only, that is the Elect. He is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for His sheep. He is their Redeemer. He did not however, pay for the sins of the goats, that is the reprobate, they will suffer the penalty for them in an eternity in Hell. On the cross Christ purchased all the benefits of redemption for the Elect, and only the Elect. This is all part and parcel of the doctrine better known as Limited or Particular Atonement. The Confessions all stress that the reprobate never come to saving faith, and without faith, none of the means of grace are efficacious.*

    Now, the FV presupposes that “All who have been baptized” are “in the covenant” and that “the covenant is union with Christ” and that “All in covenant are given all that is true of Christ.” Thus, according to Wilkins and others, all covenant members are “saved” in some sense.”

    If we attempt to match this doctrine up with Limited Atonement, we have people whom Christ did not die for, whose sins are not atoned for and whom he did not purchase any of the benefits of redemption for, i.e. the Reprobate being temporarily united to Him and temporarily coming to “some sort” of saving faith. We have adoption and union in the case of the reprobates “within the covenant” without the work of redemption. It simply isn’t possible to hold on to a coherent idea of Limited Atonement and reprobates united to Christ (even the phrase is abhorent). How do the unredeemed receive ANY of the benefits of redemption?

    You see, the FV makes sense viewed from the NPP positional salvation viewpoint. There I am finally vindicated because I remained a faithful communicant in the covenant community. I entered by receiving the badges of Baptism and Faith, and if I remain without apostatizing I WILL be saved because I am associated positionally with Christus Rex. Salvation there is ecclesiological. It also can be made to make sense within an Anglo/Catholic point of view with its universal atonement, baptismal regeneration, and possibility of real apostasy.

    Incidentally, hypothetically, if one of these FV reprobates united to Christ were to die in his state of “some sense of salvation” instead of finally apostatizing, would he go to heaven “in some sense”? The truth is the FV posits those in the church as saved and those without as unsaved. If we die in the church we go to heaven, if we leave and then die, we go to hell. Unsaved, baptized, and a communicant in the church, while a real possibility in scripture, in Presbyterian theology, in history and in fact simply doesn’t exist in these objectivist systems.

    Gabe, the confession doesn’t have all these problems because they do talk in terms of regenerate and unregenerate, visible and invisible church and it has no problem speaking of those within the church who are yet unregenerate. It also tells us we can have an assurance of our salvation but NEVER grounds that assurance of salvation on church membership or even the sacraments, because neither of those things belong to the essence of salvation. Rather the Confession points to: “an infallible assurance of faith founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God, which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.”

    * See for instance WSC 29-30
    Q29: How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
    A29: We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us [1] by his Holy Spirit.[2]

    1. John 1:12
    2. Titus 3:5-6

    Q30: How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
    A30: The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us,[1] and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.[2]

    1. Eph. 2:8
    2. Eph. 3:17
    3. I Cor. 1:9

    Q31: What is effectual calling?
    A31: Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit,[1] whereby convincing us of our sin and misery,[2] enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ,[3] and renewing our wills,[4] he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.[5]

    1. II Tim. 1:9
    2. Acts 2:37
    3. Acts 26:18
    4. Ezek. 36:26
    5. John 6:44

    Q32: What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?
    A32: They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification,[1] adoption,[2] and sanctification, and the several benefits which, in this life, do either accompany or flow from them.[3]

    1. Rom. 8:30
    2. Eph. 1:5
    3. I Cor. 1:30

  52. Robert K. said,

    December 13, 2007 at 3:23 am

    Gabe, for the record, when I hear a Roman Catholic who has gone back to his church and talking about it like it’s a real thing in his life I find that I love him as one Christian has that dinstinctive love for the brethren. (I usually sense they have yet to read the Bible, and I don’t say that sarcastically, but having said that, like the reformers, I have love for Christians in that Roman Catholic domain but less so for the ‘teaching church’, as they call the clerical hierarchy. And I have to keep in mind the history and what the RC church does, or has done, when it had the power to do it. I can’t forget that for a thousand obvious reasons, not least of which is the memory of my brothers and sisters in Christ who defeated that power for my benefit.)

    And the above can be said regarding all in whatever church or at whatever level of understanding of their faith. Even if they’ve yet to be regenerated by the Word and the Spirit because that is a condition that we as Christians take a part in effecting a change regarding.

    Now the particular religious emotion I have and many have towards people – the leaders (but also frustration with the students and followers) – of what is called Federal Vision has to do with its dishonesty and game-playing. It’s calling itself one thing and believing something else entirely. And – a big thing – its intellectually criminal use and abuse of language. Its adoption of the same ‘deconstruction’ techniques and say-anything sophistry that one finds in secular academia and in the media and political world; and FVists adopt the absolute *worst* of all that; and show no conscience in doing it.

    I said ‘religious emotion’ above, and I mean that particularly heated righteous anger that a Christian gets when they see this worldly kind of behavior invading the Temple, so to speak. Jesus Himself showed it when He chased certain people out of the Temple. Seeing what is most important being treated with a mocking disdain.

    I just want to define this emotion you all come up against with some of us (others are more diplomatic, of course, yet I don’t mean lukewarm). In my case I’m defending apostolic biblical doctrine, and it is a small part of the small ‘c’ catholic Church that is currently shepherding that doctrine and keeping it available for anyone to come into contact with; so when I see people with the traits outlined above coming into those domains and redefining that doctrine so that it is a mush and no different from a thousand other sources of doctrinal mush the spiritual warrior in me says do your thing in your world all you want, but keep your hands off what you neither understand nor value and that doesn’t belong to you, anymore than the Catechism of the Catholic Church belongs to me.

  53. Robert K. said,

    December 13, 2007 at 3:39 am

    I also think God calls people in ways that we can’t perceive, having to do with time, for instance, yet it’s a constant battle ‘down here’, and we have to play our part in that battle.

    For instance I don’t despair of people who I think, in my limited perception, have been lost, because I know God is in control, and none of His will be lost, and what is not possible with man is possible with God, and the Spirit applies the work of redemption with a power over time and space and everything else that we can’t currently perceive.

    But I know we are called on by God in our time and limitations to defend the faith, and to have sound doctrine, and to evangelize, and what good are we if we allow centuries of the work of Bible-believing Refromed theologians to be left undefended and to be defiled by the world. And we are talking about sound doctrine elucidated by theologians who held the Bible – i.e. the Word of God and not man – to be authority. We’re not talking about the traditions of man or the words of man or the desires and demands of man. We’re talking about doctrine that is unique in the history of time. It is doctrine derived from the authority of the Word of God and no man. And it has been refined and defined and set into valuable documents that have the virtuous effect of being able to bring everybody back into the realm of the foundational basics of the faith. Of course Christians who understand and value those documents aren’t going to allow them to be redefined and treated as common works of literature are treated in secular academia.

  54. December 13, 2007 at 10:38 am

    [...] something contrary to both the Standards and Scripture. Hence, Andy Webb’s post United to Christ But Not Going to Heaven is right on target in its use of absolutes. So is my earlier extensive post on Union with Christ, [...]

  55. Gabe Martini said,

    December 13, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    Andy, I don’t disagree with anything you just said. I agree with the Confession’s position, in regards to the Atonement, effectual calling, etc.

    I think that should be clear from everything I’ve said on here lately. I’ve really gone out of my way to answer everything asked of me, and be as clear as possible.

    Again, thanks to everyone that has been charitable and patient.

    Peace,
    Gabe M

  56. December 19, 2007 at 12:00 am

    [...] 10:53 pm I think it’s good that Pastor Andy Webb is trying to help the FV debate.  But this post of his falls far short of that end.  Notwithstanding Pastor Webb’s claim, whatever problems FV [...]

  57. December 19, 2007 at 9:42 am

    All, I added an evaluation of this post on my blog, here.

    “Veni, Domine Jesu.”

    Jordan


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