You know you are in the end times when you get a call from a professional fundraiser representing a Christian organization at 9:00 am on a Sunday morning (yesterday).
Or, when you realize that there are serious Roman Catholics that insist a person can be sure where they currently stand with God (“state of grace”) and serious Calvinists (i.e. vs Arminianism) who do not think it is a big deal whether or not Christians know they have eternal life and peace with God.
(The Gospel is certainty. Christianity is certainty. For we are those who are given and give real peace with God [Rom. 5:1] and real knowledge of eternal life [I John 5:12,13])
Or, when you explain the original reasons for the Lutheran distinction between justification and sanctification (namely, to “to assure true Christians that they were true Christians”, which in general corresponds to comforting sinners who are genuinely terrified due to their sins before God – see here) to a learned Eastern Orthodox gentleman and he responds:
“[if the distinction between justification and sanctification] was made in order to help the weak… [this] leads to the inevitable conclusion that for those who aren’t, the distinction does not obtain. We should not let peoples’ misunderstandings drive our theology and what it should say.”
More on that later this week…
Image credit: http://www.silverbearcafe.com/private/04.11/getready.html
December 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm
I for one certainly never claimed Christians can’t know they are regenerate. But maybe you weren’t talking about me. 🙂
December 3, 2012 at 2:27 pm
No I was not. Content of original post. Glad to know you are secure in the Lord!
December 3, 2012 at 2:29 pm
“So what? Why assume every Christian should be able to say he knows “beyond a shadow of a doubt” that he’s saved?”–original post
December 3, 2012 at 2:35 pm
That was Steve Hays, not me.
And for the record, I agree; a regenerate person (ie, a Christian) who is not living a life that would display to anyone a passionate zeal for God should not know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is saved and headed for Heaven. It’s more complicated than a one-to-one correspondence between regeneration and assurance.
Same thing goes for Lutheranism, BTW, and even worse I’d argue since you wrongly believe you can fall away from Christ.
December 3, 2012 at 2:41 pm
I know it was Steve Hays.
Who determines just what a “passionate zeal for God” looks like?
December 3, 2012 at 3:57 pm
There’s no one definition of passionate zeal. That’s why the NT encourages self-examination, like 2 Corinthians 13:5.
Yes, the statement does refer to Christians; sorry, I’ll be more specific and stay on topic.
A Christian who is entertaining sin and not making war against it, a Christian who is not submitting his thoughts etc to God… it would be understandable if that kind of Christian did not have full assurance of his salvation. It’s not like God gives out infallible certainty about it anyway, to anyone. And God uses that uncertainty to convict people of sin and bring them to Him more closely.
From the other post:
And for Luther, this communication in particular – the living voice of God which proclaimed, “I forgive you – be at peace my child” – was not to be silenced.
You forgot to add “Because you obeyed Me in baptism, I forgive you – be at peace my child.”
This is horrifying stuff.
December 3, 2012 at 2:46 pm
Do you really agree with Steve?:
Why assume every ***Christian*** should be able to say he knows “beyond a shadow of a doubt” that he’s saved?”
Steve’s statement assumes that we are talking about a real Christian not knowing he is saved, does it not (I invite you to look at the actual context).
Also note in my post above:
“…the original reasons for the Lutheran distinction between justification and sanctification (namely, to “to assure true Christians that they were true Christians”, which in general corresponds to comforting sinners who are genuinely terrified due to their sins before God…)
You might want to look at this: https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2011/11/23/forgiveness-free-and-true-the-crux-of-the-reformation-the-essence-of-the-christian-life/
December 3, 2012 at 3:41 pm
Also probably a good post to mention here: https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/we-are-all-antinomians-now-except-the-babies-part-v-of-v/
December 3, 2012 at 4:21 pm
To paraphrase Darth Vader from the beginning of Return of the Jedi: I have dispensed with the pleasantries. Understand behind all of this terseness to follow there is a tender concern for you.
“There’s no one definition of passionate zeal. That’s why the NT encourages self-examination, like 2 Corinthians 13:5.”
Right – there are always those who don’t really believe. Or believe that there good works make them Christians.
“A Christian who is entertaining sin and not making war against it, a Christian who is not submitting his thoughts etc to God… it would be understandable if that kind of Christian did not have full assurance of his salvation.”
If you rightly confront a person such as this with their sin and they resist you, person is not a Christian, period.
“It’s not like God gives out infallible certainty about it anyway, to anyone. And God uses that uncertainty to convict people of sin and bring them to Him more closely.”
No. He does give certainty, period. By definition, Christians are those who know they have eternal life and have peace with God.
“You forgot to add “Because you obeyed Me in baptism, I forgive you – be at peace my child.”
This is horrifying stuff.”
Well, I’d say this is horrifying because you are insisting on attributing words to us that we would *never* say.
December 3, 2012 at 4:26 pm
Right – there are always those who don’t really believe. Or believe that there good works make them Christians.
If you rightly confront a person such as this with their sin and they resist you, person is not a Christian, period.
Oh… you know, I have a hard time with that question. I mean, look, I think that your doctrine is sinful and here I am confronting you, but you’re not repenting of it. But I honestly have a tough time just like that considering you unregenerate.
So I’m more of a case-by-case kind of guy on this question.
No. He does give certainty, period.
Show me in Scripture why anyone should agree, please.
What does 2 Peter 1:10 mean? Why must we examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith as 2 Cor 13:5 says?
I’d say this is horrifying because you are insisting on attributing words to us that we would *never* say.
Shrug. I’m not the one who said “Baptism is Gospel”.
December 3, 2012 at 6:23 pm
“So I’m more of a case-by-case kind of guy on this question.”
Sure – but can we go deeper? Please see this post here: https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2009/10/29/babies-in-church-part-vii-the-%E2%80%9Cchurch-speak%E2%80%9D-that-we-need/
In an earlier post in the same series, I said this:
“This tendency of Lutherans becomes especially clear when we closely examine their ecclesiology. Most serious-minded Lutherans insist that we simply cannot see the Church in terms of individuals who “find themselves to be united with one another”. At the same time, these serious Lutherans nevertheless seem to encourage – even require – the certain belief that one, as an individual, has saving faith (i.e., they are in a state of grace). Others? Only God ultimately knows.”
My job is not to make the final call, but to call you to repentance now, whatever my subjective impression of you as a brother (over the internet, no less!). All sin is serious – and believe me, I think your rejection of God’s gift of baptism – which is given not only to remind us who we are (i.e. not I was baptized but I am baptized), but perhaps more importantly, for the sake of Christian parents of young children – is deathly serious. And yes, as hard as it would be, I’d have to do this for someone like Albert Mohler of course to (God, I love that man).
“Why must we examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith as 2 Cor 13:5 says?”
I think I already answered that. The question is this: where is your hope really? What are you ultimately trusting in? Where do you bet all the chips? Looking at II Cor. 11, where it discusses “another Jesus” (got the right one?) makes this all sensible.
The words that I used to try and convince Andrew Preslar of C2C that he is not really promulgating the RC view of confession/absolution and assurance I can also share with you right now:
“for St. Thomas, presumptive hope would be that which chiefly banks on the ‘grace already received’ in the present, as opposed to God’s “omnipotence and mercy” – i.e. that He will provide all the sanctifying grace we need to merit eternal life. If we think in this way, it seems clear to me that because of the demands of God’s law and the sin which inheres in us, we will lose the true confidence God means for us to possess, and this can potentially leave us with only false confidence not placed where it should be – which is the true “sin of presumption”.
If my take on St. Thomas is right – and you agree with him – it would seem to me that there is less that separates you from Rome than you might imagine.
My ongoing message to you can always and only be: Repent.
Oh, to the conservative Reformation, not to Rome.
Yes, I’m aware that you might find that outrageous….
December 3, 2012 at 6:37 pm
From that other article:
If an unbeliever hears the Word of God, confesses Christ, and plans to be baptized, is that person already “truly Church”, a living member of the “One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church”
No, not necessarily.
If he is regenerated, however, then yes, absolutely.
So can’t we say that they were necessarily a part of the Church during their earthly life?
Yes, I should think so.
while all who truly believe in the Lord Jesus will be saved, we aren’t called to know and proclaim any actual unbaptized person as being “truly Church”.
Well, if someone RESISTS being baptised, I’d agree with you there.
If they’re planning to be, like this Sunday or something, then I figure there’s not a good reason to consider them as not-truly-Church on Saturday, if they have a credible profession, etc.
we are only called to consider and proclaim those in the baptized fellowship with us to be “truly Church”
Baptism is a work. You might as well make the same distinction for those who have not yet had a chance to exercise hospitality, show sacrificial love to a neighbor, give offering, etc.
Entry into the body of Christ is thru repentance and faith which mark out regeneration. You apparently place all the emphasis on baptism. I place it on regeneration.
The Eastern Orthodox say things like “We know where the Church is but not where it is not” or “We know who is in the Church but we cannot be sure who will not be”.
If you’re trying to establish your Reformation credentials, I recommend against future citations of Eastern Orthodox doctrine.
if they truly believe, they would be members of the Church triumphant were they to die now
Your decision not to recognise such a person as Truly Church here on Earth is completely arbitrary, in that case. You’ve killed your own argument.
December 3, 2012 at 6:44 pm
All sin is serious – and believe me, I think your rejection of God’s gift of baptism
But I haven’t rejected it. I *AM* baptised. By immersion. Upon my profession of faith. By Trinitarian, Bible-believing church leaders.
where is your hope really?
That’s a great question for YOU to answer, actually.
My hope is in Jesus the Messiah, really.
Yours seems to be in baptism.
As far as proper objects of hope, Jesus > baptism.
What are you ultimately trusting in?
Where do you bet all the chips?
it seems clear to me that because of the demands of God’s law and the sin which inheres in us, we will lose the true confidence God means for us to possess, and this can potentially leave us with only false confidence not placed where it should be – which is the true “sin of presumption”.
Well, it’s true that there is a strong choice to make here. I could agree with Aquinas, or I could agree with Jesus.
John 14:15“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
18“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19“After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. 20“In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” 22Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?” 23Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. 24“He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.
1 John 2: 9The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
That’s not a hard choice, actually, come to think of it.
it would seem to me that there is less that separates you from Rome than you might imagine.
It’s hard not to laugh at such an absurd statement.
I’m a REFORMED BAPTIST, Nathan. Rome wants no part of me or my profession.
My ongoing message to you can always and only be: Repent.
Of placing my faith in my baptism? No thanks. Jesus is better.
Grace and peace,
December 3, 2012 at 6:45 pm
Sorry, that was supposed to be:
Where do you bet all the chips?
December 3, 2012 at 6:32 pm
You may have a hard time understanding my concern for the visible church. As I say here: https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/the-coming-vindication-of-martin-luther-summary-and-conclusion-part-v-of-v/:
Ideally, the Church should not only be a vehicle for faith but an object of faith, as Richard John Neuhaus once put it (from here). This is easy for children of course (see 1 below). In other words, we should be able to have confidence in the Church and what it teaches at all times. History, however, has shown us that what ought to be is not always what is (see 2 and 3 below) The Lutheran Reformation is all at once an event to be celebrated and a tragic necessity (see 4 below)…
December 3, 2012 at 7:22 pm
I want to keep going but have to wait until tomorrow. Thanks again for the conversation.
Blessings to you,
December 3, 2012 at 8:05 pm
One more quick one today.
“Why must we examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith as 2 Cor 13:5 says?”
I said: “I think I already answered that. The question is this: where is your hope really? What are you ultimately trusting in? Where do you bet all the chips? Looking at II Cor. 11, where it discusses “another Jesus” (got the right one?) makes this all sensible.”
Do you agree with me there then? If I were another Baptist? : )
December 3, 2012 at 8:36 pm
If what you mean is that 2 Cor 13:5 is referring to testing whether one’s faith is in the right Jesus, no, I don’t see how that’s workable.
For one thing, 2 Cor deals a lot with the Judaisers and they didn’t have a different Jesus; they inconsistently affirmed Sola Fide. Sounds familiar.
The immediate context is more general than what you propose as well.
1This is the third time I am coming to you. EVERY FACT IS TO BE CONFIRMED BY THE TESTIMONY OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES. 2I have previously said when present the second time, and though now absent I say in advance to those who have sinned in the past and to all the rest as well, that if I come again I will not spare anyone, 3since you are seeking for proof of the Christ who speaks in me, and who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. 4For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we will live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you.
5Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test? 6But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test. 7Now we pray to God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved. 8For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth. 9For we rejoice when we ourselves are weak but you are strong; this we also pray for, that you be made complete. 10For this reason I am writing these things while absent, so that when present I need not use severity, in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me for building up and not for tearing down.
December 4, 2012 at 1:09 pm
Enjoyed watching that link. Checked out your channel a bit to.
Hey – I don’t need to worry about sullying my Reformation credentials. I am the Reformation. : )
You would undoubtedly talk about how in trusting Jesus’ words, you trust Jesus Himself. Likewise, that man lives by every word that comes from His mouth. His words are Spirit and life. Again, I am trusting Jesus. I am trusting His words – words in this case, that were applied directly to me. I am one called by Him from darkness to light, not then, but now. I am called to perpetual faith and repentance, to daily drowning of sin and the resurrection of the new man that Christ creates by His powerful word. Baptism rightly understood only reinforces that trust in Jesus Christ. I don’t even think that is really paradoxical, much less a contradiction. Speaking in abstract terms, if a man, when correctly confronted with his sin, persists in unrepentance, his soul is in great danger, whether he frantically insists “but I’m washed by the blood of the Lamb!” or “but I’m baptized!”.
Regarding the Judiazers I am not convinced that they didn’t have a different Jesus – I think it is very likely that many of them did (we did not see the follow-up letter, but Paul is quite clear that what they are holding to is a damning thing). Regarding II Cor. 13 again, I appreciate what you’ve brought up here. As can be seen at the end of chapter 2, Paul is talking about the dangers of people who claim to be Christians living in an unrepentant state, evidently having knowledge of their transgressions (here, we see the parallels with Paul’s “sin list” or “evil behavior list” whereby the unrepentant will not enter the Kingdom of God). So, even with your caveat, unless you want to add works to faith as that which makes (and does not reveal) true Christians, I think that we need to say that persons either have a true (saving) faith or not, which also means a genuine Jesus or not (for example, my uncle is an ELCA pastor who says he believes in the Trinity, the Creeds, and that Jesus is fully God and fully man, and yet, I’m 100% sure that we are not talking about the same Jesus – my uncle’s Jesus is not just extravagantly liberal in dealing with sinners, but actually redefines what sin is).
You want to choose Jesus over Aquinas, and I understand that. Yet by quoting what you quote from Jesus you seem to be implying that when we doubt that we are Christians we should look primarily to the good works that we are able to accomplish in order to evaluate whether or not we are Christians (which is actually going beyond what Paul does in II Cor. 13:5, which again, goes hand in hand with his “sin lists” as those things which reveal who will not inherit the Kingdom of God) – which is what Aquinas says also. We’d say that while avoiding evil works is critical, taking an inventory of one’s good works is somewhat useful, but would emphasize the importance of the end of I John 3, and of course the war the Christian experiences in Romans 7 (you say this is Paul as Christian, right?). Luther would say the same.
At the same time, certainly we can say that the evidence from good works will be a prominent part of the final judgment – they will be the evidence which shows who God’s true children are.
Here’s how I recently put it elsewhere:
“Regarding the final judgment, Christians will judge the world as Jesus says and Paul echoes. That said, prior to the final judgment, Christians of course were to judge as God judges: showing mercy – both pity in the form of physical assistance and the forgiveness of God Himself through Christ – to all, first to the believer and then to the terrified unbeliever. Come the separating of the sheep and the goats, Christ and His Church will show mercy to those who have been merciful. In other words, to those who have shown themselves to be His children (after all, sons of God act like sons of God and it is right that they should be found with their father and brother). This means those who have forgiven much – echoing the forgiveness, or reconciliation of God Himself – will be forgiven. This means that those who opened up the Kingdom of Heaven to others will have the Kingdom of Heaven opened up to them. Like Christ, they eagerly gave the promise of paradise to those enemies of God dying to the left of them (and to the right, if they would only have it) who had nothing to give, and could pay nothing back. God’s people, like God Himself, are profligate with pity, mercy, and grace.”
Rhology – as for your response to my article I linked you to, I think you haven’t totally understood me there (it is a bit dense). What I mean here is that the distinction between theory (talking about things in the abstract) and practice here (dealing with an actual concrete individual) is important.
I think it’s best for me (us?) at this point – even if I really don’t have that much time to talk (I might have to do this only in the mornings, or even every other morning, for a while) – to try and learn from our differences. If I may ask, what is it that find particularly offensive or wrong or concerning about the way that I in particular – not your impression of what other Lutherans do – have spoken about baptism? Again, if I ever tell my kids to “trust their baptisms” it would only be in the sense of them doing so to remember their true identity – that is, those who believe in Jesus Christ (and they do).
Again, I agree with you that repentance is absolutely critical. Saving faith in Christ only exists and lives in perpetual repentance. Paul is very clear when he lists certain sins and tells us that if we continue do these things – that is, our unrepentant when confronted – we will not inherit the Kingdom of God. For us, this means that a person needs to turn from their sin and turn to Christ for pardon – that they may live a new life in His power. Certainly those who are unwilling to believe and act thusly show themselves to not have saving faith (perhaps you might question whether they ever really had it – or if God gave them a kind of “false faith”?). Again, anyone shouting out “but I am baptized” at this point is deceived, for what they mean is “I was baptized and how I live does not matter”, instead of “I am baptized, therefore….”
Any true Lutheran, even if they have not thought in these exact terms before, will at the very least recognize the truth of what I say above.
Please know, the importance of God’s law does not go away for us. We live by every word that comes from His mouth. This does not mean we live *by* the law, but the Law of God describes that objective form of life wherein (not whereby) our relationships with God and neighbor are nourished and are brought to fulfillment.
***Focusing specifically on what I have written above***, what do you find objectionable?
December 4, 2012 at 2:33 pm
I am the Reformation. : )
Well, yes, the first half anyway. 😉
I am trusting Jesus
Good. Then why not explicitly proclaim your trust in Him rather than stating that your confidence is in not-Jesus things like baptism or something?
I am one called by Him from darkness to light, not then, but now.
Hmm. Isn’t it the case, rather, that you were once a slave of evil and now you have been set free from evil and have become a slave to righteousness?
Isn’t it the case that there was one moment when you were unregenerate and then the next, you were regenerated? That’s the call from darkness to light.
And yes, of course, the call remains. But it’s not one OR the other. It’s both.
Speaking in abstract terms, if a man, when correctly confronted with his sin, persists in unrepentance, his soul is in great danger, whether he frantically insists “but I’m washed by the blood of the Lamb!” or “but I’m baptized!”.
OK, yes, agreed.
Regarding the Judiazers I am not convinced that they didn’t have a different Jesus
I don’t recall Paul criticising them for a different *Jesus*, but rather a different *Gospel* – adding a work to faith alone.
Perhaps you remember something I don’t.
I think that we need to say that persons either have a true (saving) faith or not, which also means a genuine Jesus or not
I don’t think I can agree. ISTM plenty of people can give a credible profession of faith and even a good systematic orthodox definition of Christology and yet are quite lost and still in their sin.
my uncle is an ELCA pastor who says he believes in the Trinity, the Creeds, and that Jesus is fully God and fully man, and yet, I’m 100% sure that we are not talking about the same Jesus
But why unless he has revealed some other aspect of the Jesus he thinks he believes in that is substantially different from the real one?
my uncle’s Jesus is not just extravagantly liberal in dealing with sinners, but actually redefines what sin is)
I’d probably say in that case we have a different *Gospel*, but this may be straining at gnats.
Yet by quoting what you quote from Jesus you seem to be implying that when we doubt that we are Christians we should look primarily to the good works that we are able to accomplish in order to evaluate whether or not we are Christians
No, let me clarify.
Jesus, not I, identified a distinguishing mark of true believers from unbelievers. This MUST be a part of our own thinking on this matter, I’m sure you’d agree. I haven’t seen yet how you incorporate that into your thinking, however, so I’d like to know how you do so.
Anyway, your misunderstanding comes in thinking that I advocate using those good works as a buffer against doubt. No, rather, it keeps us from doubt. It is also an identification of other people; Jesus is helping me know how to know whether I’m dealing with a fellow believer or a lost person who needs the Gospel and to be born again.
If I doubt I’m regenerate, I should look to other things, which you and I can discuss. Not good works, no. It’s not a remedy for doubting. It’s a buffer FROM doubting. Keeps us from doubt. It also tells us how to live, what to strive for, to remain unsatisfied with our current level of holiness.
Romans 7 (you say this is Paul as Christian, right?)
Yes, most definitely.
certainly we can say that the evidence from good works will be a prominent part of the final judgment – they will be the evidence which shows who God’s true children are.
If I may ask, what is it that find particularly offensive or wrong or concerning about the way that I in particular – not your impression of what other Lutherans do – have spoken about baptism?
That’s easy. “Baptism is Gospel”.
if I ever tell my kids to “trust their baptisms” it would only be in the sense of them doing so to remember their true identity – that is, those who believe in Jesus Christ (and they do).
This is also offensive and wrong. Why not say “trust Jesus”?
I expect you might reply “But that’s what I’m doing when I say ‘trust your baptism'”. Then why don’t you SAY what you MEAN? If you don’t mean “trust your baptism”, why do you say “trust your baptism” instead of “trust Jesus”?
Please know, the importance of God’s law does not go away for us.
Well good. Not in my theology either.
December 4, 2012 at 1:10 pm
“end of chapter 2”
December 4, 2012 at 2:51 pm
December 4, 2012 at 3:06 pm
OK – one more for today….
This might help.
If you say to someone who realizes they are a sinner before God’s Law, “Believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God” and you will be saved, are you speaking for Jesus? Acting as his messenger/ambassador?
Are these Jesus’ words? Is this Jesus speaking? Is this Jesus?
Is this kind of speaking permissible, so long as we point out the importance of context.
Likewise, baptism is Jesus [speaking]. It is not Him just speaking Law, but Gospel – words of promise – the child *is baptized* into the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
And faith comes by hearing the word. Hearing brings faith (see I Thes 2: the word is active in us…). A word connected with the water. A word that children, though filled to the brim with original sin, passively receive.
Then why not just preach to them without water and leave it at that? Because we are told that baptism is for all nations and our children. And not in the least because in Romans 6 and Galatians 3 and Titus, etc. it is very clear that there is baptismal imagery that correlates with what the Gospel is – as persons are transferred from darkness to light, buried and then raised.
As much as I hate to say this to you, it seems to me that anyone who is rejecting this comfort is rejecting what God says.
I believe as we grow and mature as Christian people, faith certainly does get more conscious and active. A question I also asked you on the Faith-ians post: can a person truly come to faith in Christ if they are not told to actively have faith or believe? After all, you do talk about the passive righteousness of faith.
What does that mean to you?
December 4, 2012 at 3:14 pm
OK, one more. 🙂
Yes, I am acting as His ambassador. 2 Cor 5:19-21 says so.
It’s not Jesus speaking. It’s me REPEATING what Jesus said. It’s AS IF He were speaking. That’s why the Scripture says:
19namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has ***committed to us*** the word of reconciliation.
20Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, ***as though God were making an appeal through us***; we beg you ***on behalf*** of Christ, be reconciled to God.
The words of Jesus you claim are in baptism are lousy promises if the baptism doesn’t actually give the child anything. That child can, by your own admission, go to Hell in 70 years.
You say they passively receive it but you have no evidence of that. In fact, you have a great deal of evidence to the contrary; baptised people end up in Hell.
You imply I’m rejecting some sort of comfort. Please elaborate on what you mean. How am I, who believe that I was born into sin, hated God, Jesus died for me and gave me the righteousness He alone merited and took away all of my sin and has risen again because of my justification and will bring me safely to Himself when I die in His timing… I am rejecting some sort of God-ordained comfort? That stuff is not enough for you?
can a person truly come to faith in Christ if they are not told to actively have faith or believe?
I would not say so, no. The proclamation of the Gospel is the means God has chosen to bring His elect to Himself.
December 4, 2012 at 3:23 pm
OK – more later – we take “He who hears you hears me” literally. Of course one properly ordained, for example, may nevertheless reject the Spirit’s work in him to speak for God, but that doesn’t negate this truth.
December 4, 2012 at 3:33 pm
we take “He who hears you hears me” literally.
So much the worse for you then.
The Apostle Paul didn’t.
And why does that rule out my interpretation? It was very common for messengers to be the very voice of the man himself.
Here’s an example of that very thing:
5And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, 6and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.” 7Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9“For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 10Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. 11“I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; 12but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment.
2And a centurion’s slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. 3When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave. 4When they came to Jesus, they earnestly implored Him, saying, “He is worthy for You to grant this to him; 5for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue.” 6Now Jesus started on His way with them; and when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; 7for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8“For I also am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 9Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.” 10When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.
December 5, 2012 at 3:55 pm
OK – I think this has cleared a lot up.
First of all, when I said “I am one called by Him from darkness to light, not then, but now” that was careless. Yes, there is a point of regeneration (that may have been my infant baptism, or earlier), but I just meant that baptism is ongoing – has ongoing significance. Again, I am baptized – not simply that I was baptized. Without true faith – which only lives in ongoing repentance – a baptism may be “valid” but it saves no one.
Second, I think if you stick with a “different Gospel” this inevitably means you get a “different Jesus” (here I refer again to my “law is not of faith like a child” posts). You trust a “Jesus” who saves no one, who is not real (or who is possibly a demon). There are many “Jesuses” – many “Antichrists”. When a person uses the same words you do to describe Jesus but believes that he promotes committed gay sex, this either means that they are using those words differently than you or that perhaps this “Jesus” needs to be described in more detail.
Third, you said: “Anyway, your misunderstanding comes in thinking that I advocate using those good works as a buffer against doubt. No, rather, it keeps us from doubt. It is also an identification of other people; Jesus is helping me know how to know whether I’m dealing with a fellow believer or a lost person who needs the Gospel and to be born again.”
OK – I think that makes some good sense. I also think good works can indeed keep us from doubt – except when they don’t ! (think Luther – not just in his early years with the traditions of men but all through his life he struggled with his sinfulness) And then what? Like I said in the post above, there was an original reason for distinguishing between just and sanc with the Lutherans. It seems that the Reformed made the same distinction but perhaps for different reasons.
OK, key topic now….
We love active faith. When I look at my boys, I want them to own their faith to the nth and for it to be as busy and active as possible. But the Scriptural picture is that faith is first of all passive. Of course our faith is to mature. But even then it fundamentally remains child-like, infant-like (see here: http://cyberbrethren.com/2010/09/08/uncle-buddys-prayer/ ) There always remains a passive component. Like a baby at its mother’s breasts. Sleeping in it’s mother’s arms. At peace.
We are absolutely consistent on this point, as are the Scriptures. We don’t put forward any active human activity here, just passive human activity (like sleeping – now is when you are tempted perhaps to say “Arise sleeper!”). This is the key thing in Galatians 3 and Romans 10. In the midst of our “doing” by which man thinks he justifies himself, the Word descends to us and creates faith in the heart.
Infant baptism is a picture of this. The comfort I have continually been speaking about with you is again primarily for parents of believers, and not ourselves (as Christians are those not focused on themselves but their neighbors). If McArthur’s take on the salvation of infants is anything like Dr. Mohler’s (see here and brief comments: https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2009/12/04/the-murderous-intent-of-a-three-year-old-is-the-same-as-that-of-a-thirty-year-old/ ), that is not enough for me.
I don’t think you understand the importance of this, saying my child might not have faith in seventy years… yes, I know. But we certainly do believe in general that baptism gives children something – namely forgiveness, life and salvation (which passive faith, which is the gift of God that regenerates receives – again, I thought my babies had faith before their baptisms, but baptism gave me solidity here). The serious Lutheran parent needs or wants to be confident that were their child – who is entirely passive and does not make conscious and rational decisions – to die now, they *definitely* would be in heaven.
I simply cannot identify with your lack of concern here – or your unwillingness to acknowledge that what is an either/or to you is a both/and for me (looking to baptism and it’s ***true meaning*** vs looking to Jesus). ***We all “either/or” or “both/and” here and there in life***, even if not everyone understands how this can be (i.e. this is a divergent, not convergent issue). I’d appreciate it if you would at the very least allow me and other Lutherans who clearly are not being careless in the meaning and usage of baptism the right to “both/and” this one (as yes, it should be)
Regarding your most recent post, we believe that whoever speaks should speak the oracles of God, period. Not the Delphic one, but the real one. Be His mouthpiece. My words should be as God’s words and should be God’s very words as well. My hands and feet should be as His feet. And more: in some very real sense that is mysterious to us we really and truly are His body. The flesh of Christ is life-giving in and of itself (it is not just some pipe through which divine operations flow) because it united to the divine nature in the personal union. And Jesus says “I am the vine, ye are the branches” and this does not mean that we are just some pipe through which divine operations flow, but are truly united with God (therefore all of our thoughts, words and deeds take on much greater significance, and we do not, for example, unite Christ with a prostitute not just mentally but really).
Concrete application: One would think that my words “God forgives you” to a brother haunted by his sin would be enough – but for some there is the added comfort that God’s officially authorized representatives in the New Testament who were told that “He who hears you hears me”. Perhaps that added certainty is what the terrified and penitent believer needs.
And when such words are spoken by our brothers to us, we can do nothing but receive. Is faith something we have – an activity that happens inside of the Christian? Yes, but first of all, it is a passive. Sinners simply receive that which is given to us and do not reject it. A la infant baptism, which is the ideal way for every human being to come into the Kingdom (even as parents and the parent’s ongoing nurture go hand in hand with this). Even for an adult, the ideal is that a broken sinner would simply believe that the words “Father forgive them…” from Jesus or “behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” are ***for him***. The call to believe in the Lord Jesus and be saved is not antithetical for this. Still, a person who has been broken by God’s law may in fact believe in Christ – passively receive the Gospel – without ever being told to do so (“exercise their will” in this way). In a similar fashion, if you put a plate of food in front of a person who knows they are starving, they will eat it without being told to do so. But for us who need to be raised from the dead, it’s more like we initially need to be tube-fed to be given life.
There are many Christians throughout history who came into faith later in life – they found themselves believing – they found themselves “caught up” into the Christian message. (C.S. Lewis was one. Marvin Olasky another to give a modern example. Legions more). For the person who begins their Christian life in a more active and conscious way, I’d simply say that only those who are regenerated make decisions for Christ, and *reveal themselves* to be saved.
Really, to suggest anything else is to deny the power of the Gospel. To enter become like an infant. (I’m not saying that you personally would take any credit for the “decision” you made to follow Jesus, but I know that there are some who do)
If you believe that infant faith is a reality, do you think it is active or passive? Are you going to argue it is active? Again, the youngest of infants do not really consciously exercise their will – they are “willing” to be “nothing but given to”. This blog’s first post gets at this point: https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2009/03/10/you-must-have-faith-like-an-infant/
December 5, 2012 at 3:55 pm
…hope to get you any other comments you’ve made at the Faith-ians post later – tomorrow or the day after…
December 5, 2012 at 3:58 pm
December 6, 2012 at 1:52 pm
I could not make my comments at Triablogue.
Here is what I wanted to say there:
Again, a pleasure.
Looking over this, it looks like most of what I would want to say to you I already said on the post at my blog (where I endeavor to show how it is possible that baptism does not need to be construed as a work man does at all – vs your ““Simply throwing out inescapable conclusions based on what the text says is hardly a commendable practice”) we’ve been discussing, so I won’t repeat myself (which I realize you think I’ve been doing anyway!). People should not look to their baptism when they doubt if they are going to look to it in a false way devoid of its true meaning.
“If a child has saving faith, Jesus preserves him/her for their entire life and brings them safely into His kingdom.”
Well, this is another thing that is issue. For a good take on our view, see the materials here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/104908295/The-Lutheran-Doctrine-of-Apostasy
“He chose me in baptism” means that there he forgave my sins, and gave me eternal life and salvation. Faith received that, and because of my parents nurturing me with the Word of God and helping me understand the true meaning of baptism, that faith grew. Yes, I know that this is not always the case with Lutherans. Note that many who make a decision for Christ at crusades don’t end that well either. Did I have [passive] faith before my baptism? Had gone chosen me, and given me faith (and regeneration) me even before that? I would guess yes – I probably did leap in the womb like John when my parents even then gave me the Word that creates spiritual life. Nevertheless, baptism is the concrete moment I can look to, and look to in a way that does not detract from a focus on Jesus or true faith. See here: http://stand-firm.blogspot.com/2012/11/my-testimony.html
Also see this: https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2010/03/09/when-did-you-decide-that-i-was-your-father/
Also, you can tell TUAD that the pastor’s giving false assurance in the example he gave was what was wrong.
Peace in Christ,
December 13, 2012 at 7:28 pm
I don’t want to reply to too much here, as you’re definitely backing off/not saying the statements so alarmed me previously, and there’s no need to rehash that ground.
Just a few things. Again, thanks for the time.
I also think good works can indeed keep us from doubt – except when they don’t !
We don’t put forward any active human activity here, just passive human activity
Just to clarify – in this statement you refer ONLY to infant baptism. Is that correct?
If so, I disagree but the disagreement is not as vehement as if you were also referring to a previously-heathen adult’s conversion.
***We all “either/or” or “both/and” here and there in life***
My main concern has been with the “both/and” of a work (namely, baptism) and faith that I have seen over and over from Lutheran interlocutors, their ad hoc and unconvincing (for reasons I’ve already argued and which you have yet rebutted) objections that “baptism is God’s work, not ours” notwithstanding.
But here again, if you’re referring in this paragraph only to infbap and not to adult conversion, I’m less concerned.
There are many Christians throughout history who came into faith later in life
Myself included; baptised as a baby in the Methodist tradition, atheist by age 13, saved near age 16. Not super-late, but lateR. My wife, too, not too dissimilar story, saved at age 23.
(I’m not saying that you personally would take any credit for the “decision” you made to follow Jesus
Most definitely not, but it IS proper to say I made a decision after I was regenerated, as you said a little before.
If you believe that infant faith is a reality, do you think it is active or passive?
I don’t think infant faith is a reality. 🙂 I’ve known too many young children, baptised or unbaptised. Regeneration produces a transformed heart, a new nature, a nature that desires to do good and serve Jesus. Not too many 2 year olds pursuing holiness out there.
you can tell TUAD that the pastor’s giving false assurance in the example he gave was what was wrong.
I mean no offense, in truth, but I’ve watched him develop his case over the course of numerous convos with many Lutheran commenters, at Triablogue, at my blog, at Beggars All: Reformation Apologetics, at Gene Veith’s blog… He has said nothing that was inconsistent with what the Lutheran interlocutors told him.
Grace and peace,
December 13, 2012 at 7:29 pm
Sorry, I meant:
…not saying the statements *that* so alarmed me…
December 13, 2012 at 7:41 pm
One more thing about TUAD.
I honestly do not see why the false assurance that the Lutheran pastor gave at the funeral was not a central tenet of Lutheran theology as numerous and you yourself have told me: “Baptism is Gospel. Baptism now saves you.”
December 13, 2012 at 8:38 pm
Thanks again. Might be a while again.
December 13, 2012 at 8:39 pm
Merry Christmas. Christ is born; glorify Him!
December 18, 2012 at 1:22 pm
Thank you for the time. Again, it has been a pleasure.
What statements that so alarmed you do you think I am backing off of? In my view, I have simply unpacked those statements so that you can better understand what they mean.
When I said, “We don’t put forward any active human activity here, just passive human activity (like sleeping – now is when you are tempted perhaps to say “Arise sleeper!”)” I meant that this is true for all of us. We all come to faith – are justified – because of God coming to us and giving us faith, which we then exercise actively immediately (making “decisions” to follow Jesus *every day of our life* because of our baptismal identity) if we are adults or only come to exercise more actively if we are children. In any case, infant baptism is the ideal picture of what happens to all of us when we come to faith.
Rhology: “I don’t think infant faith is a reality. I’ve known too many young children, baptised or unbaptized.”
Then I don’t think you take the Scriptures as seriously as you should. I note that there are some folks of Reformed leanings who do not think they can deny this biblical witness.
Rhology: [TUAD] has said nothing that was inconsistent with what the Lutheran interlocutors told him.
I don’t doubt that. Too bad they are wrong. Here’s what I was able to post there this morning (its pending upon approval):
TUAD: “Would God hold a Lutheran pastor responsible for giving false assurance to a Hell-bound unbeliever?”
TUAD: “….they rarely pray, almost never read the Bible except for a few verses they see on TV, and rarely go to Church, and their lives are indistinguishable from an unbeliever. They bore no spiritual fruit….”
Given that we can agree on what fruit looks like, I would say the pastor definitely has no business saying things like “Denise (name changed) is in heaven now because she was baptized in the faith and took holy communion and remained faithful to the church.”
Especially since you add: “[Everyone] also knew “Denise” in real life and that she was more or less pagan or heathen and did not have a credible faith or witness.”
TUAD: “I have former Lutherans and Catholics in my church family who say the exact same things after returning from funerals of loved ones and family who are still in those churches. They are quite concerned for those loved ones who walk around blithely assuming that the fact that they were baptized has bought them an place in heaven no matter what.”
They were right to be concerned. Luther would have been concerned. Baptism does save, but there is such thing as spiritual homicide (parents who “get the kid done” and then leave him on the road without spiritual nurture) and spiritual suicide (even though He is faithful when we are faithless, we also know that we should have great concern for the ongoing spirituality of the baptized, because He will disown us if we disown Him). They should have spoken with the pastor, who was basically being irresponsible in how he preached. Not left the true faith.
December 18, 2012 at 1:23 pm
…and Merry Christmas to you as well.
December 18, 2012 at 10:14 pm
December 26, 2012 at 2:48 pm
Thanks again for the interaction.
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
I’m little jacked up today – sick and on drugs. I’m afraid I don’t have the wherewithal to go back and try to remember what I meant by your “backing off” so maybe I can come back to that.
I am curious about a couple of things.
Please correct me if I’m wrong, but you’d say ‘Denise’, though properly baptised, was not plausibly going to end up in Heaven, and that you come to your probable conclusion because she never showed any signs of true faith, any love for Jesus, any care for the kingdom of God.
Is that correct?
I would agree that a pastor would have no business guaranteeing to anyone that ‘Denise’ is in Heaven now. It sounds to me like she was baptised as a baby and never actually was regenerated, and unregenerate people, upon death, sadly, end up in Hell.
You seem to be basing your probable conclusion on TUaD’s reference to the life she was observed to have lived. She never experienced any sanctification, never struggled against sin, never sought holiness, never read the Word of God with love, etc. At least not that anyone ever saw, and that matters.
But then you criticise me for saying this:
Rhology: I don’t think infant faith is a reality. I’ve known too many young children, baptised or unbaptized.
Then I don’t think you take the Scriptures as seriously as you should
Well, I don’t think you’re being consistent here. A drive toward sanctification, a love of obedience to God’s Word, a desire for holiness, seeking the “sacraments” (aka ordinances) etc – those are signs of a regenerate heart, right? And we know that because…the Scripture tells us that those are the signs of a regenerate heart.
Yet when I tell you that I’ve never seen that in the life of a young child, suddenly I’m not taking the Scripture as seriously as I should?
So I should believe that there exists a class of people who, once regenerated, once indwelt by the Holy Spirit, once their heart has been transformed from a heart of stone that loves sin to a heart of flesh that loves Jesus, are not at all expected to exhibit that love of holiness?
Please explain how that works.
December 26, 2012 at 8:36 pm
I don’t want to fire off quick answers to you, so I’ll chyme in again when I have more time to do your question justice.
Peace to you this Christmas season!
January 2, 2013 at 2:42 pm
Hey there. Happy New Year. First of all, while you talk about Denise never being regenerated, we would talk about actually losing faith and salvation.
“[she] never experienced any sanctification, never struggled against sin, never sought holiness, never read the Word of God with love, etc. At least not that anyone ever saw, and that matters.”
Yes, even though our fruit observation skills are far from perfect.
Re: infants, when I say that I don’t think you take the Scriptures as seriously as you should I am only pointing out that the Scriptures say that infants have faith in God. In fact, they are to be our model! (in Luke, the whole “be like a child” thing is in the context of infants, not just young children).
What kind of fruit do you expect to see from a 6 day old? 6 week old? 6 month old? Well, I would simply contend that while a concern for fruit certainly is appropriate, there are also age appropriate and developmental factors to be taken into consideration here. Still, Scriptures say that children cab have faith. Period.
Blessings to you. Again, I have greatly appreciated and benefited from this conversation.
January 2, 2013 at 6:46 pm
Well, I would suggest that when you say “we would talk about ____” and replace a biblical category with an unbiblical one, you’ve shown your hand.
True believers don’t perish. John 10:28-29 – Jesus said so. Said His sheep will never perish.
And regeneration is most certainly a biblical category. Being born again. Having a heart of stone replaced with one of flesh. The old man passing away, all things being made new. Etc.
Why must we take “be like a child” to mean “have saving faith in God like a child” and not rather “trust God just as implicitly as infants trust their parents”?
You ask what kind of fruit I’d expect to see from an infant. That’s a great question…for you to answer. I don’t think infants are regenerate and so I of course wouldn’t expect to see any fruit in their lives. In my experience, they’re largely whiny, quick to complain and be disturbed, selfish, lying, violent, and otherwise sinful. They have to be taught how to live holy lives. I think they’re born in trespasses and sins and that regeneration is a work of God upon the heart of a person that always and infallibly results in a life marked by fruits of the Spirit, fruits of sanctification.
So, this is not a question for me. 🙂 You need to deal with it, however.
I would simply contend that while a concern for fruit certainly is appropriate
My friend, please, if I may – this is tradition talking.
1) You say infants are regenerate in baptism.
2) The Bible says regenerate people bear fruit.
3) Baptised infants should bear fruit.
It’s really that simple. But since you can’t point to any fruit, what does that say about your infant baptisms?
Scriptures say that children (can) have faith
Maybe we could examine your favorite passage that you think most strongly teaches such.
Grace and peace,
January 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm
Again, for your reference:
January 2, 2013 at 7:09 pm
It may be a while before I get back to you if you respond again today….
A point of clarification: coming into this conversation were you aware that Lutherans believe persons can lose their faith? http://justandsinner.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-lutheran-approach-to-perseverance.html
“But since you can’t point to any fruit.”
No. When I say “there are also age appropriate and developmental factors to be taken into consideration here”, that does not mean no fruit – it means that the fruit will look different.
And you can just say that “well, they might be doing this or that by rote or imitation, etc”… But we can say the same of any adult as well.
“Why must we take “be like a child” to mean “have saving faith in God like a child” and not rather “trust God just as implicitly as infants trust their parents”?”
Why don’t these two ideas belong together?
January 2, 2013 at 7:22 pm
Yes, I was aware of that.
When you get a chance, I’d be interested in knowing what the fruit looks like.
Jesus said “by your fruit you will know them”. Is it possible to tell apart baptised infants from unbaptised infants by their fruit?
Why don’t these two ideas belong together?
Saying that they belong together would be to affirm the former. I deny the former and think the latter is an appropriate interpretation of Jesus’ words.
Grace and peace,
January 2, 2013 at 7:32 pm
“trust God just as implicitly as infants trust their parents”
I think that this is what real faith is.
Seeing as how Jesus says unless we become like little children we will not enter the Kingdom of heaven how can this kind of trust not be connected with saving faith?
Honest question. Trying to figure out what you mean.
January 2, 2013 at 7:39 pm
“Jesus said “by your fruit you will know them”.”
Let us note that when he said this he was talking about false teachers. One’s confession of faith is connected with fruit. Note also Matthew 12:33-37.
January 3, 2013 at 3:41 pm
how can this kind of trust not be connected with saving faith?
If it associated neither with repentance nor regeneration.
Infants show love and a desire for closeness to their parents quite naturally. Yet they also show many negative behaviors, and very often! Jesus is using the positive characteristics of the parent/child relationship to make an analogy and illustrate His teaching. Yet the way a sinner must come to Jesus to be saved is not limited to childlike faith. He must repent, and the Lord must act on Him to regenerate Him before he can repent or have faith.
Let us note that when he said this he was talking about false teachers.
He was actually talking about both good and bad teachers.
Matthew 7:15“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17“So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18“A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20“So then, you will know them by their fruits.
And of course, that’s hardly the only time that bearing fruit was mentioned.
Matthew 3 – Yochanan the Immerser said the same: 8“Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance…
John 3:21“But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
John 13: 35“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 14: 15“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
John 15:8“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
Not to mention Ephesians 4-6 and the entirety of James and 1 John.
This isn’t up for debate.
One’s confession of faith is connected with fruit.
Now you’re arguing my side. 🙂
Infants can make no confession of faith, and I still haven’t seen what sort of fruit you think infants can bear.
Yes, I quite agree. Perhaps I’m not following why you’re citing it.
Grace and peace,
January 3, 2013 at 4:35 pm
The point I’m making is that in Matthew 7 Jesus is talking about teachers – you will know true and false teachers by a very specific kind of fruit – their confession. Obviously, infants aren’t teachers, so this particular text does not apply to them.
Let’s just take two from your list:
“John 13: 35“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 14: 15“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
I think kids do this (at least mine do) And they love to hear about Jesus, confess of him (with their songs), sing to him, and to hear His word read to them.
“how can this kind of trust not be connected with saving faith?”
“If it associated neither with repentance nor regeneration.”
You didn’t come to that conclusion from Jesus’ words. He says that the only way to enter heaven is by becoming like a child. Entering heaven presumes there is repentance and regeneration of course.
“Infants show love and a desire for closeness to their parents quite naturally.”
Yes – utter trust and dependence on the other… see here: https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/learn-to-see-yourself-in-this-way-i-e-utterly-dependent-weak-and-vulnerable/ and http://www.geneveith.com/2012/09/14/the-faith-of-infants/
“Yet they also show many negative behaviors, and very often!”
Yes – starting about 6 months it gets worse! (have a 3 month old right now, and he has close to the best disposition ever I have seen in a kid – took us 5 to get one in whom “Adam has not fallen far”…. just kidding, but we are talking about a very pleasant outward manifestation of behavior here). Seriously, I also have these negative behaviors I can’t seem to shake….
“…the way a sinner must come to Jesus to be saved is not limited to childlike faith. He must repent, and the Lord must act on Him to regenerate Him before he can repent or have faith.”
Of course there must be repentance. But repentance can be understood simply as turning from sin to the Savior in simple trust… And in turning his attention to me, for example, my infant also hears the very words of God spoken to Him…. and you had better believe those words, which are Spirit and life, are powerful – not mere information, but sword wielding words that cut, that heal… that bring forgiveness, life, and salvation through Jesus Christ!
If not, why not?
January 3, 2013 at 5:18 pm
OK, for the sake of argument I concede Matthew 7.
Your kids keep the commandments? If by that you mean that they “love to hear about Jesus, confess of him (with their songs), sing to him, and to hear His word read to them”, then so do my kids, and my kids are unbaptised and as far as I’m concerned probably unregenerate.
So where do we go from here? If infbapregen is indeed true, is there really no visible difference in fruit borne?
You didn’t come to that conclusion from Jesus’ words.
Sure I did, but they were words of His from a different passage or three.
He says that the only way to enter heaven is by becoming like a child.
Sure, and later in other parts of His ministry He explains what that means.
“Become like a child” is not very clear. You mean whining when I don’t get my way, grabbing toys away from other children, and pooping my pants? What precisely?
That’s why I’m glad Jesus didn’t stop there, and that’s why I’m trying to get you to remember that there’s quite a bit more to the NT teaching on regeneration than this one thing.
Entering heaven presumes there is repentance and regeneration of course.
And it’s your claim that infants repent and are regenerated and oftentimes have no recollection thereof?
Seriously, I also have these negative behaviors I can’t seem to shake…
Are you struggling against these sins? Confessing them? Bearing fruit in keeping with repentance?
Now, do infants do any of that?
No, of course they don’t. And that’s what I’m saying.
in turning his attention to me, for example, my infant also hears the very words of God spoken to (him)
He turns his attention to you a lot of the time, I’d wager, and probably a heckuvalot more when you have a bottle for him.
you had better believe those words, which are Spirit and life, are powerful – not mere information, but sword wielding words that cut, that heal… that bring forgiveness, life, and salvation through Jesus Christ
All that sounds agreeably pious, but the Scripture is clear that to the unrepentant, the Word of God brings judgment and wrath because of sin.
Grace and peace,
January 3, 2013 at 6:13 pm
I said: “You didn’t come to that conclusion from Jesus’ words.”
You said: “Sure I did, but they were words of His from a different passage or three.”
I said: He says that the only way to enter heaven is by becoming like a child.
You said: “Sure, and later in other parts of His ministry He explains what that means.”
I’d love to see what you got. But I suppose it might not be necessary when you read this:
“Are you struggling against these sins? Confessing them? Bearing fruit in keeping with repentance?
Now, do infants do any of that?
No, of course they don’t. And that’s what I’m saying.”
I’m not quite sure what goes on in infant’s brains (though see that second link above). That said, insofar as an infant is called out of darkness into the light through the words of the Gospel, there must be repentance. When we turn from darkeness to death-destroying, Satan-binding, sin-expelling Jesus, that is repentance. Conscious realization of actual sins and confession comes with time as we grow.
And yes, I do think my kids do that (even the 2 year old gets it I think). We talk about confession and absolution. We talk about turning from sin. We talk about how when we are made aware of sin and continue in it we put our faith in Jesus in a dangerous place.
January 3, 2013 at 6:14 pm
How about your 3-month old?
January 3, 2013 at 6:16 pm
“the Scripture is clear that to the unrepentant, the Word of God brings judgment and wrath because of sin.”
Yes – thank God for the promise of baptism, for us and our children! In it, we are given all the blessings of forgiveness, life and salvation in Jesus Christ.
January 3, 2013 at 6:18 pm
Conscious realization of actual sins and confession? Nah – doubtful (still, how is it that baby John jumps in the womb?)… but what is he studying and thinking about all the time. : )
Again: Thank God for baptism.
Good to know the little guy is secure in the Father’s arms. Cause even if externally he looks like an angel, he’s still got a devil nature in him.
January 3, 2013 at 6:19 pm
Conscious realization of actual sins and confession? Nah – doubtful
So he’s regenerate but unrepentant.
January 3, 2013 at 6:23 pm
Again, “insofar as an infant is called out of darkness into the light through the words of the Gospel, there must be repentance. When we turn from darkeness to death-destroying, Satan-binding, sin-expelling Jesus, that is repentance.”
Repentance can exist without the conscious realization of it. Perhaps even for adults, who come to faith in Christ, and then realize after the fact how many sins they have to deal with!
God is always finding crap in all the closets of our homes….
January 3, 2013 at 6:23 pm
I don’t base my faith on this and I’m not sure about all the implications anyways, but it is interesting:
Wheaton provost Stanton L. Jones reviews Born Believers: The Science of Children’s Religious Belief by psychologist Justin L. Barrett:
He summarizes creative, sophisticated research establishing that in infancy, babies understand distinctions between mere objects and agents (human and non-human, visible and invisible) which initiate actions that are not predictable and yet are goal-directed or purposeful. Only agents act to bring order out of disorder….
January 3, 2013 at 6:27 pm
Talking about unconscious repentance turns the very meaning of repentance on its head. It means “a change of mind/a turning away”.
One might as well talk about moving without making a movement.
“insofar as an infant is called out of darkness into the light through the words of the Gospel, there must be repentance. When we turn from darkeness to death-destroying, Satan-binding, sin-expelling Jesus, that is repentance.”
I note that this is not found in Scripture.
January 3, 2013 at 6:46 pm
“Talking about unconscious repentance turns the very meaning of repentance on its head.”
Is not one’s mind engaged when they turn from sin to Jesus’ words? I have a hard time thinking about how it could be otherwise.
January 3, 2013 at 8:04 pm
Is not one’s mind engaged when they turn from sin to Jesus’ words?
Yes. You’re making my point for me.
I have a related question: Since repentance is not a co-requisite with regeneration in infants, why is that not the case with adults?
January 3, 2013 at 6:48 pm
By the way Rhology, any solid recommendations about what to do about this?:
January 3, 2013 at 8:05 pm
Recommendation? Sadly, it is: Agitate to change the culture and proclaim the Gospel and resist evil.
January 4, 2013 at 7:41 pm
So we can only talk about the mind when we talk about conscious things? That doesn’t sound right.
Again, I am not saying repentance is not necessary.
January 7, 2013 at 2:20 pm
I said: “Is not one’s mind engaged when they turn from sin to Jesus’ words?”
You said: “Yes. You’re making my point for me.”
I’m not sure how I am doing this. Could you explain what you mean here? I am especially curious since you go on to say:
“Since repentance is not a co-requisite with regeneration in infants…”
January 7, 2013 at 2:23 pm
It makes my point for me b/c you’re arguing FOR infbapreg, but have also said the following about infants: “Conscious realization of actual sins and confession? Nah – doubtful”
January 7, 2013 at 2:42 pm
If a person looks to Christ in faith this can’t not involve the mind – and there is no true faith without repentance (i.e. a turning from sin).
Just because you are not conscious of doing something, does not mean you are not doing it. If children have true faith in God, as the Scriptures indicate, they have repentance. For if we must become like a child to even enter the Kingdom of heaven, we must have repentance.
Repentance then, would grow from simply preferring to turn to Jesus than from sin and our sinful actions, to eventually consciously realizing more and more what God calls sin and agreeing with Him about the faith and love-destroying power of it all.
January 7, 2013 at 2:44 pm
Just because you are not conscious of doing something, does not mean you are not doing it.
Maybe all the Amalekites and Ammonites are in Heaven right now, then?
January 7, 2013 at 2:51 pm
Because they were not conscious of their sin? Is that where you are going?
I have no idea where all of them are. If they turned from their sin and the sins they knew to Jesus Christ as they died their last breaths they will be in heaven. If not, they won’t.
By the way, do you think we are conscious of all of our sin? All of it is damnable, right? “Small sins become large sins when they are considered small” one of our wise teachers said…
January 7, 2013 at 2:54 pm
Because they were not conscious of their sin? Is that where you are going?
It’s not where *I’m* going. It’s where *you’re* going.
Why not consistently apply the same standard to Amorite high priests who sacrificed babies to their pagan deities? And figure that they were in fact really repentant after all?
do you think we are conscious of all of our sin?
No, but that’s not the issue. My children hardly seem conscious of ANY of their sin.
January 7, 2013 at 2:52 pm
Just so you know, I won’t be talking any more today… much to do!
January 7, 2013 at 3:13 pm
One more : ) : “Why not consistently apply the same standard to Amorite high priests who sacrificed babies to their pagan deities?”
Because theology isn’t about the application of principals that are to be applied apart from the consideration of the particular contexts. Its not so much about applying them in an unbending way or in a way that is “one size fits all”. It is about calling persons out in their sin and comforting them with the Gospels (yes, there are some things that are always wrong and always right, by the way).
As serious as the infant sacrifice is, it is far more serious that they are serving other gods.
Look, if you’ve got another god completely, that is not even on the radar.
If this were a believing Israelite priest thinking he should offer something like this to Yahweh (like Japheth, perhaps? or he falls prey to a bad interpretation of Gen. 22?) let’s assume it is possible that he did not know better. His response, when confronted with his error, (by a prophet preaching those who do these things will not inherit the kingdom of God) must not be “but I *really believe* so this is OK!” but “woe is me – I am in the wrong!”.
We know he didn’t go there with Abraham and never desired to go any such place.
OK, I’m out for today!
January 7, 2013 at 3:14 pm
he = God