The Covenant of Grace and Baptism

Posted in 2013: As I work through Durham’s commentary on Revelation I am reminded over and over about the covenant. When I picked up this work I expected to find a fairly standard commentary except for the classic Post Mil Historicist point of view, but I find it is often devotional and always deeply theological. Durham never fails to open up the scriptures with detailed notes and exegesis well before offering any interpretation of prophecy. This has caused me to revisit and think deeply about Baptist covenant theology, what it means to be a Baptist and is it Biblical. While meditating upon this subject I was reminded of the work quoted below and wanted to share.

A selection from the work of Thomas Patient published in 1654 on the subject of the new covenant of grace and its relation to the ordinance of baptism.

The New Covenant Is Not Entailed Upon Any Fleshly Linebaptism

This New Covenant was never entailed upon any fleshly line or generation as the Covenant of Circumcision was, but was confirmed of God in Christ, and to such souls only in Christ. This you find in the promise to Abraham, Gen. 12:3. “In thee shall all the Nations of the earth be blessed.”

Here you may observe that there is no respect of persons in the matter of these blessings to everlasting life. All Nations in Christ, one Nation as well as another, if in Christ, have those blessings promised to them. This much is employed in that promise that all nations out of Him are accursed.

What Is Meant by the Blessedness Promised to Abraham and His Seed

God here directs His speech to Abraham (some may say) it is true, but with respect to Christ now, Who, as touching the flesh, was then in his loins. This blessedness or justification of life which was confirmed in Abraham as a Father of all Nations, is by the Apostle Paul called the Gospel, Gal. 3:8. The Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the Heathen through Faith, preached the Gospel to Abraham. As it is written, “In thee shall all the Nations of the Earth be blessed:” so this blessedness spoken of in Gen. 12:3 is expounded by Paul, to be justification by faith in Christ, and in Acts 3, this blessedness is there expounded to be a turning of every one of them from their iniquities, Acts 3:26.

The Covenant of Grace in Genesis 15:5

Also, this Gospel promise or covenant is spoken of in Gen. 15:5. Here God bids Abraham look up to the Heavens and if he could number the stars of heaven and the sands upon the seashore, so shall thy seed be. Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness. This promise is quoted by the apostle Paul as the Gospel Covenant in Rom. 4:3 in opposition to the Covenant of Circumcision entailed upon the flesh or fleshly line of Abraham. Circumcision was a covenant in the flesh as the Apostle calls it, which he also expounds in the 1st and 2nd verses, to be a Covenant of Works. More of that hereafter. Only that which I would observe at present is, that the Apostle confirms that Gospel promise in Gen. 12:3 and Gen. 15:5 to be the New Covenant, wherein was given, through faith, the justification of life, excluding in this point the Covenant of Circumcision, called Works, Rom. 4:1,2.

Both Covenants Were Made With Abraham

Both these covenants are made with Abraham in Gen. 17. Here you find the New Covenant made with him to verse 6. From the 7th verse to the 14th the Covenant of Circumcision in the flesh is revealed to him. The New Covenant is expressed in the third verse. Here He says, “As for Me My covenant shall be with thee, and thou shalt be a Father of many nations, or of a multitude of nations, and thy name shall be no more called Abram but Abraham, for a Father of a multitude of nations have I made thee.” This is, by the Apostle Paul in Rom. 4:17,18, held out to be the Covenant of Life. He does clearly hold the Covenant of Life distinct and different from the Covenant of Circumcision. In that place he denies that Abraham or his spiritual seed, had their justification in the Covenant of Circumcision. He brings in this, that Abraham should be a Father of many nations, “and so shall thy seed be,” as that in which Abraham and his spiritual seed, whether of Jews or Gentiles, were and should be justified.

Genesis 18:18

This promise or Covenant is made with Abraham in Gen. 18:18. “In thee shall all the Nations of the earth be blessed.” So long as Christ was, according to the flesh, in Abraham’s loins, the promise runs thus, “in thee,” meaning that through Christ, which then was in Him, should all nations of the earth be blessed.

The Seed in Isaac

But as soon as Isaac was come out of Abraham’s loins, Gen. 22:18, then He says, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed:” whereby seed, most strictly is to be understood of Christ, as the Apostle Paul intimates in Gal. 3:16 where he expounds this word seed, to be not seeds, as of many, but seed as of one which is Christ. So this blessedness in the Seed, Christ, is here expounded to be God’s confirming His Covenant in Christ. Note that this blessedness which David holds out to be the Covenant confirmed of God in Christ, was not entailed upon the flesh of Abraham and his fleshly seed, but made in Abraham as a Father of all the Spiritual Seed in all nations. It was confirmed in the seed, Christ, to all nations.

Here the Jews, after the flesh, have no more interest than any other nation, except it be by faith. Faith only unites to this seed and gives an in-being in the same.

The Elect Were Blessed and the Rest Were Hardened

This blessedness is expounded by David in Psalm 32, last verse, to lie in remission of sins and purgation of the heart from guile and expounded by the Apostle in Acts 3, last verse, “to be a turning every one from his iniquities.” There Peter expounds this blessedness which was confirmed in Abraham and his seed. Though Christ did fulfill this Covenant to the Elect of the Jews, the rest were hardened. They were never in this sense blessed, either in the point of justification or purgation from sin, because they were never in Christ, the true seed, by faith, nor were they ever the spiritual seed of Abraham, walking in the steps of his faith as all his spiritual seed did, Rom. 4:12 and Gal. 3:29. “If you be in Christ, then are you Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Abraham and His Spiritual Seed in Christ Are Those in the Covenant of Grace

I have showed you from the clear light of Scripture that there were two covenants, a Covenant of Grace, and a Covenant of Works. The Covenant of Grace belongs to Abraham and his spiritual seed in Christ. All along from Adam to all the spiritual seed of the Woman, there are those who were born of promise as the Apostle describes the spiritual seed in Rom. 9:8. He says, “such are accounted the seed, that are so born of promise.” So at this day all nations, both Jews and Gentiles who are born again, are the seed and children. They only have an interest in the promise of salvation.

THE Doctrine of Baptism, AND THE Distinction of the COVENANTS; OR A Plain Christian Treatise, explaining the Doctrine of Baptism, and the two Covenants made with Abraham, and his two-fold Seed.

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Public Prayer

by WILLIAM PERKINS (1558-1602)billyperkins

We have been considering the preaching of the Word. Now, finally, something should be said about leading in public prayer. This is the second aspect of prophesying. In it the minister is the voice of the people in calling upon God (1 Sam. 14:24; Luke 11:1).

In this connection we should note the following points:

1. The subject of public prayer should be, first, the deficiencies and sins of the people, and then the graces of God and the blessings they stand in need of (1 Tim. 2:1, 2). Tertullian says, ‘We do all pray for all emperors, that they may obtain a long life, a quiet reign, a safe family, courageous armies, a faithful council, loyal subjects, a peaceable world, and whatsoever things are desired of a man and of Caesar.’ Again, ‘We pray for emperors for their ministers and powers, for the state of the time, for the quietness of their affairs, and for the delaying of their death.’ The Lord’s Prayer covers these areas under six headings: God’s glory, God’s kingdom, and our obedience, the preservation of life, the forgiveness of sins, and the strengthening of the spirit.

2. The form of prayer should be as follows: One voice, that of the minister alone, should lead in prayer, the congregation joining in silently but indicating their agreement at the end by saying, ‘Amen’ (Neh. 8:6; Acts 4:24; 1 Cor. 14:16). This was the practice in the early church, as Justin says: ‘When the president has finished his prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present cry out with a favourable approbation, saying, Amen.’

3. But the one voice which expresses the corporate prayers of the congregation needs to be understood (1 Cor. 14:15). It should not lead in prayer in a jagged and abrupt fashion, but with a steady flow of petitions, so that empty repetitions are avoided (Matt. 6:7).

4. There are three elements in praying: (i) Carefully thinking about the appropriate content for prayer; (ii) Setting the themes in an appropriate order; (iii) Expressing the prayer so that it is made in public in a way that is edifying for the congregation.

To the Triune God be the glory!

Impassibility

Impassibility (from Latin in-, “not”, passibilis, “able to suffer, experience emotion”) describes the theological doctrine that God does not experience pain or pleasure from the actions of another being. – Wiki

Sermons on the subject here.

Okefenokee Sacred Harp Singing

fasola

A fan of traditional Sacred Harp?

This essay explores “Hoboken-style” Sacred Harp singing of the Okefenokee region of southeast Georgia and northeast Florida. It considers the history of this tradition, distinctive characteristics of this variant of Sacred Harp, and how “Hoboken-style” leaders have negotiated rapid change while maintaining core values of memory, legacy, and spiritual meaning. Sacred Harp singing in the Okefenokee dates to the mid-1800s, but, remarkably, local singers rarely sang with outsiders until the 1990s. Two important sound recordings from Florida Folk Festivals (1958 and 2000) serve as sonic benchmarks and as points of analytic departure for understanding the recent hybridization of Hoboken-style singing.

Check out the rest here. Complete with audio samples.

Yours in the Lord,

jm

1689 Federalism compared to Westminster Federalism

“What is the nature of the federal union of an unregenerate person in the covenant of grace to Jesus Christ, and do they remain under Adam’s federal headship in spite of being in the covenant of grace (?) which is to say, can you be in the covenant of works and the covenant of grace at the same time? We would assert that you cannot.”

EVANjellyFISH: The Creedless Christian

B. H. Carroll:
carroll
“…I want to say first of all is that it is a time that men speak disparagingly of creeds. You hear it on every side, ‘I believe in religion but I don’t care anything about theology. I love flowers but I don’t care anything for botany. Let’s have a religion without any dogma.’ Men take great credit to themselves in these utterances that they are free from the enslavement to dogmas. You must not take these people too seriously. They either don’t know what they are talking about, or else know what they say is utterly unworthy of human respect. There never was a man in the world without a creed.”

One example of how a creed or confession finds its foundation in scripture:

“…from the 8th chapter of Romans and the 34th verse. I am showing you how creeds start and confessions of faith start and how absolutely impossible it is to make light of them. Thus says Paul, ‘Who will lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justified. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died,’ (now comes the statement of the creed): ‘yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.’

Now there is a creed. That creed contains four elements:
(1) Christ died;
(2) Christ rose;
(3) Christ exalted to the right hand of the majesty on high;
(4) Up there Christ ever liveth to make intercession for us.

What is the value of that creed? By that creed, accepted in the heart and confessed with the lips, the man who so accepts and confesses is immune from any charge that angel or devil or man can make against him: ‘Who shall lay any charge to God’s elect?’

Now you just might as well proclaim yourself a simpering idiot as to stand there opposing those four things and say, ‘Oh, let’s not have any dogmas, creeds and confessions of faith; let’s have religion.’ How can you have a creedless religion? You had just as well adopt as your god a jelly-fish floated up on the beach, that has no backbone, merely a pulpy mass, as to say, ‘I want a religion without a creed.’ A man cannot have a religion without a creed and the religion he does have is not worth anything unless it is avowed. The avowal of it is a confession of faith. Now Spurgeon in his great sermon on the text I have just read called these four doctrines the four pillars of salvation. On top of these four pillars the superstructure is erected. If you pull down the pillars you pull down that which rests upon the pillars. If you take away the death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, the enthronement of Christ or the intercession of Christ, the house of salvation falls.

Notice again the practical effects of it. In this same 8th chapter of Romans:

‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword? Nay, in all of these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

If my creed was some inarticulate thing, if it was nebulous like a spray of star dust in the skies, or if it was shifting like the change of the shapes of floating clouds, or if it was traceless like the track of a serpent across a rock or the flight of an eagle through the air, I never could say, ‘I am persuaded.’ The persuasion takes possession of my heart and of my soul that no power above nor below, no distress, no famine, no peril, no nakedness, no spirit, no devil, no future, no past shall ever be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A man without a creed cannot have that persuasion.”

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