• Covenantally and Spiritually Generated

    by Heidi Callahan on January 25, 2019

    by Brandon Ash

    The Bible is an organic whole that works together to reveal the one plan of God for the salvation of His people, through the person and work of His Son. God desires us to worship Him through practicing and enjoying His blessings. A question that may arise is how does God desire us to enjoy His blessings under the New Covenant in Christ? To answer this question, we must look back before time into what theologians call the Covenant of Redemption (CoR).

    The Bible teaches that the Triune God agreed upon a covenant based on the Fathers election of a special people. These chosen ones were those whom the Son was to redeem through the gospel of His life. Louis Berkhof, a Dutch Reformed theologian, defines the CoR as “the agreement between the Father, giving the Son as Head and Redeemer of the elect, and the Son, voluntarily taking the place of those whom the Father had given to Him.” This means that the doctrine of election is paramount to our understanding of the plan of God for salvation as revealed in the Word. Eph. 1:4 says “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” This verse and many others (Eph. 3:11; 2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 2:9; Jas. 2:5; 1 Pet. 1:2, etc.) point to the doctrine of election which logically precedes the CoR. It required someone to come and redeem those whom would fall short of the glory of God.

    John 6:38-40 points to an agreed upon covenant between the father and the Son. It says, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” Likewise, many other verses point to a covenant between the Father and Son (Jn. 5:30; 17:4-12). Jesus agreed to a covenant with His Father whereby He would come and obey particular statutes for the redemption of His people. This makes God the Father the covenant head of God the Son in that he gave Him commandments to obey (1 Cor 15:22-24) and promised blessings for obedience (1 Cor. 15:27; Jn. 17:1-2,5). This covenant made in eternity past (Jn. 5:43) is the foundation for the New Covenant.

    The New Covenant, as Sam Renihan says, “goes no further than the [Covenant of Redemption], not only because Christ specifically said that his mission was purely to redeem the elect, but also because the New Covenant is made in Christ’s blood, redeeming blood whose salvific benefits have never been and will never be applied to any but the elect.” This means that God’s plan of redemption was always meant to effectually redeem all that the Father has chosen without exception. Because of this fact, the New Covenant is therefore the practical outworking of the CoR.

    The Particular Baptist of the 17th century taught that the Old Covenant (Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic) progressively revealed the New Testament through types and shadows (Heb. 8:5; 10:1-4). The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith (2LBCF) says “This covenant is revealed in the gospel; first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation by the seed of the woman, and afterwards by farther steps, until the full discovery thereof was completed in the New Testament; and it is founded in that eternal covenant transaction that was between the Father and the Son”. The New Covenant being founded in the CoR implies that all of the membership of the NC must be believers only, since the Father immutably chose all whom Christ came to redeem. Unlike the OC which had a mixed membership (Gen. 17:9), the NC mirrors the CoR in its membership. This is done through the Father revealing the elect to Christ (CoR) and Jesus reflecting those choices back to the Father through His sacrifice for their sins (NC). The genesis of our redemption is found in the Father’s sovereign choice, revealed in space and time when by faith we are united to Christ and brought into the NC. Before we were ever regenerated by the power of God’s Spirit, all NC members we covenantally generated according to the will of God. The mark of regeneration is an application of the promised redemption in the Son. God desires that all true members of the NC enjoy its promised blessings primarily in the context of a local church. Our Baptist forefathers believed this and as a result they practiced the following:

    1.) Regenerate Church Membership. Reformed Baptist believe that the membership of the NC is made up of believers only, therefore the local church should reflect that as much as possible. We believe that all that God has promised in the CoR will be brought into the covenant of grace through Union with Christ and therefore regenerated (law written on a new heart). R. Stanton Norman, the associate professor of Theology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary says, “The church is to be a holy, spiritual body of people. Only people who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit should be admitted into the membership of the local church. The teaching and pattern of the New Testament overwhelmingly supports this.” Both the CoR and the NC of grace inform us that local churches should seek to protect the heart of our redemption through the practice of regenerate church membership. By practicing regenerate church membership, we open ourselves up to the enjoyment of NC blessings by sharing our spiritual gifts with one another for mutual edification.

    2.) Church Discipline. Historically, Baptist have taught the church that discipline is necessary in order to protect its sanctity. Church discipline is not a Baptist distinctive, but we find that the practice of it is consistent with practicing regenerate church membership. Again, the 2LBCF says, “To each of these churches therefore gathered, according to his [God] mind declared in his word, he has given all that power and authority, which is in any way needful for their carrying on that order in worship and discipline.” When we admit a member into the local church, we are judging them based upon their profession of faith. We are saying “by the testimony of your life” you prove to have a credible profession of faith. Likewise, when we discipline a professing believer out of the church, we are judging the pattern of their life and making a judgement that their profession of faith is no longer credible. We are not making a definite pronouncement on their soul. Again, Stanton says, “Any church that intentionally allows through doctrine or practice, unregenerate persons into membership violates the teachings of Scripture and perverts the very nature of the gospel itself.” We practice church discipline in an effort to enjoy the NC blessing, in the context of the local church, by excising those who disrupt the unity of the church through persistent and unrepentant sin.

    3.) Baptism of Disciples Alone. Baptism is a sign of NC membership. Unlike the OC where the sign of the covenant was given to every son of Abraham no matter their spiritual condition (Gen17:11), we know that all the recipients of baptism should be members of the NC since it is a reflection of the CoR. Baptism is a positive law given under the NC meant to be both a means of grace, and a sign that you have been brought into new life with Christ (Rom. 6:3-4). In the OC, circumcision was the sign of the covenant with Abraham and a promise of new but temporal life in Canaan for physical Israel (Gen. 12:1-3; 17:9-14). Baptist practice credobaptism because we believe it accurately reflects the commandments of the NC and is consistent with a Biblical understanding of covenant theology. Again, God gave Baptism to His people as a means of nourishing our faith and welcoming us into His covenant for the enjoyment of all of His promises.

  • Dear Christian: THINK Before You Jump On The Bandwagon Against Indiana

    by Shawn Merithew on April 1, 2015

    photo-1427348693976-99e4aca06bb9 We are obligated by Scripture to serve, love, and even sacrifice for the sake of manifesting Christ and communicating His gospel to all persons, whether they be homosexuals, racists, liars, murderers, idolaters, fornicators, tyrants, or any other type of sinner. Christ has instructed us to love even those who are our personal enemies, even when they are persecuting us and pouring out hate upon us. (Matt 5:44, Luke 6:27,35) We are to live this way because we ourselves were once murderers, liars, fornicators, racists, homosexuals, and persecutors of Christians (1 Cor 6:9-11). The only difference between us and any other sinner is the fact that we have been forgiven through faith in Christ. And because we now love Him, we are compelled to actively demonstrate His love and communicate the truth of His grace and forgiveness to all of our fellow sinners, without exception. (Titus 3:1-8) (more…)

  • Why are we having special topical and thematic studies in Sunday School?

    by Tom Hicks on January 20, 2015

    StudyOn February 15, we’ll begin having special topical and thematic study classes during the Sunday School hour that will work very much like MIT did on Sunday evenings. After 10 weeks of special studies, we’ll switch back to the expositional model of Sunday School. Later in the year, we’ll introduce another 10 weeks of special studies, and then we’ll switch back again. So, why are we doing this? What are the reasons for the change? Consider these four reasons. (more…)

  • Answering Some Objections to Sabbath Day Observance

    by Tom Hicks on November 19, 2014

    SabbathIn a previous post, I briefly sketched the Bible’s doctrine of the Sabbath day. Like nearly every doctrine of the Christian faith, the doctrine of the Sabbath is controversial among some Christians today. In this post, I’ll try to answer some of the most common objections to Sabbath observance.

    1. New Testament Passages. Those who say Christians are not obligated to observe the Sabbath day often point to four key New Testament passages to make their case: Romans 14:1-9, Galatians 4:10, Colossians 2:16, and Hebrews 4:3-10. Let’s consider these one at a time. (more…)

  • Corporate Prayer and Fear

    by Tom Hicks on September 16, 2014

    FearI have a confession to make. I often feel fearful when I have to pray with other people. Part of my fear comes from the fact that I’m an introvert, which means (among other things) that I like to process thoughts in my mind before I speak. I often find myself thinking about what I’m going to say while others are praying, which can compound my feelings of guilt and fear. Sometimes people who pray before me preempt what I was planning to say; so, I feel like I have to (more…)

  • What God Requires of the Church: Evangelism and Missions

    by Tom Hicks on September 5, 2014

    (This is part four of a series entitled, “What God Requires of the Church.” The posts in this series include: 1. Individualism vs. Christ, 2. The Ordinary Means of Grace. 3. Participation. 4. Evangelism and Missions.)

    Global MissionsThe last couple of posts in this series (here and here) have focused on the “ordinary means of grace” in the church. We’ve seen that when the church practices these ordinary means, “the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and the prayers” (Acts 2:42), our eyes of faith are set directly upon the Lord Jesus Christ. When we appropriate God’s (more…)

  • What God Requires of the Church: Participation

    by Tom Hicks on September 1, 2014
  • What God Requires of the Church: The Ordinary Means of Grace

    by Tom Hicks on August 27, 2014

    (This is part three of a series entitled, “What God Requires of the Church.” The posts in this series include: 1. Individualism vs. Christ, 2. The Ordinary Means of Grace. 3. Participation. 4. Evangelism and Missions.)

    Many churches design elaborate programs and creative ministries to edify the church and reach the community. Most of this church programming is very well-intentioned. But when churches shift their focus to methodologies not revealed in the Bible, they often (more…)

  • What God Requires of the Church: Individualism vs. Christ

    by Tom Hicks on August 26, 2014

    (This is part one of a series entitled, “What God Requires of the Church.” The posts in this series include: 1. Individualism vs. Christ, 2. The Ordinary Means of Grace. 3. Participation. 4. Evangelism and Missions.)

     We live in a time when God’s people are often very confused about what the church is and what it is supposed to do. What does it mean to be a devoted church member? What’s the role of the church in my walk with Christ? What should the church be doing? How do we know the answers to these questions? In today’s culture, many Christians have (more…)

  • Why have a Corporate Prayer Time?

    by Tom Hicks on August 22, 2014

     Beginning this fall, our church will have a regular time of corporate prayer each Sunday. This emphasis on praying together will be a part of a larger vision to do all that the Bible requires us to do without adding time to our Sunday schedule. In a few weeks, we’ll be
    rolling out this vision so you’ll be able to see how all the parts work together. For now, consider the following reasons that we believe our church should be praying together.

    Trinity1. The Trinity. God is not merely “one.” He’s also a community of three persons. Each person of the Trinity communes with each of the other persons of the Trinity. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit all pray to one another (Matt 3:16-17). What does that have to do with corporate prayer in the (more…)

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