Shawn Roberson has given me permission to post his experience with the Federal Vision. It is a wonderful testimony about the power of Scripture. I find it extremely interesting that Shawn was not converted by systematic argumentation so much as exegesis, a study of the Bible. I will be closely monitoring the discussion on this post. Any personal attack on Shawn will not be tolerated.
When He Came to Himself
Shawn T. Roberson
After being introduced to the doctrines of grace and the treasures of reformed theology in 1981, I immediately began to read and study everything reformed that I could get my hands on. I soon began concentrating on a serious study of the covenant as it is presented in Scripture. Since that time, I have been fascinated with the covenantal relationship which was established between God and His people, as He promised, “I will be your God, and you will be my people.”
As I studied, certain questions began to present themselves. What does it mean to be in union with Christ? How does one become a covenant member? Just what does baptism do? How do we account for unbelievers in the church? These questions were answered, to some degree, by the first Federal Vision Conference in 2002. While never being an extremely vocal proponent of the Federal Vision theology, I soon found myself advocating many of its teachings in my writing. I had papers and correspondence published on line which spoke of there being no need for a covenant of works (life) in the Garden of Eden, presented the law as being obeyable, and questioned the doctrine of justification by faith alone. I also had one prominent anti-FV man tell me that I was a false teacher who needed to repent.
So, how did I move from that to being one of the men who contributed to the recent Humble Answers letter and paper regarding objections to the PCA Ad Interim Study Committee Report? What caused the change?
It’s really very simple. Over the last two years, I have taught Galatians, Ephesians, and Romans in the Sunday School class and Bible study which I teach each week. As I have prepared for my weekly lessons, I have been convinced from Scripture itself that there really is none righteous (Romans 3:10-18). Indeed, all have sinned (Romans 3:23). Adam’s breaking of the covenant of works (life) in the Garden plunged man into an estate of sin, misery, and death. He lost eternal life for all men, but Christ, through His active and perfect obedience to the law of God purchased eternal life for all whom the Father gave to Him (Romans 5:12-21). We are saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8) apart from works of the law (Romans 3:28). Our own righteous acts are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), yet there is a righteousness from God imputed to us (Philippians 3:9); and, Christ’s death makes us the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Our good works flow out of our justification (Ephesians 2:10), but they do not ultimately justify us before God. They are simply what is expected of us (Luke 17:10). And, no one can snatch us from the hand of the Father (John 10:29). Therefore, our perseverance in the Lord is assured. Those whom He has called and justified, He will keep.
And, that’s my story – short and sweet. I am convinced from Scripture that the original reformed doctrines, as taught by our fathers in the faith, are true. They are a comfort to us, for they continually remind us of the Creator/creature relationship. God is God, and we are not. He has saved us by His grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone, and to His glory alone; and, this is the heart of the gospel. We did nothing to earn His favor, and we do nothing to keep it. It is a gift. Expensive for Jesus Christ, for it required His death; but, free for us.