The judgment of charity

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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
William Perkins:

Here observe a notable practice of Abraham, as a good direction how we ought to judge of all those that live in the church, submitting themselves outwardly to the ministry and regiment thereof. Abraham here hath two sons, Isaac and Ishmael; he circumciseth them both, and instructs them both (for he taught all his household to know God, and to fear and obey him, Gen. 18:19). He judgeth them both to be in one state in regard of God’s covenant, though they were not; but that difference is made by God. Abraham doth not on his own head, and by his own will, put Ishmael out of the church, which was in his family; but God bids him put him out, and then he put him out, and not before; till such time he kept him in, and held him to be within the covenant, as well as Isaac was. Even so must we deal towards those that live in the church: secret judgment must be left to God; and (till God manifest the contrary) in the judgment of charity we must hold them all elect. This is the practice of St. Paul in all his epistles: writing to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:2), he calls them all sanctified; and to the Galatians (Gal. 1:2), he calls them all elect; speaking so in the judgment of charity, although he knew that among them there were many profane and wicked men, and though he reprove many great errors and heinous sins amongst them.
 

SolaGratia

Puritan Board Junior
he calls them all sanctified;...he calls them all elect;

St. Paul calls them all sanctified (set apart) and elect because they were all either set apart and elect to glory or to destruction, is this correct?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
St. Paul calls them all sanctified (set apart) and elect because they were all either set apart and elect to glory or to destruction, is this correct?

All within the churches to which the apostle wrote his epistles were addressed as sanctified and elect "in Christ." This is a judgment of charity based on their external privileges; but then within the course of the epistles we find instruction, promise, and warning, which effectively point out what are the internal marks whereby the sanctified and elect are positively known.
 

Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
St. Paul calls them all sanctified (set apart) and elect because they were all either set apart and elect to glory or to destruction, is this correct?

All within the churches
to which the apostle wrote his epistles were addressed as sanctified and elect "in Christ." This is a judgment of charity based on their external privileges; but then within the course of the epistles we find instruction, promise, and warning, which effectively point out what are the internal marks whereby the sanctified and elect are positively known.

Matthew,
I am taking note of this delicately worded response. If I wanted to press you a bit on the first part of the statement, I would seek to comb through the epistles for some of the phrases that Paul used in describing His interaction with those whom he addresses, as for example here in 1 Thess 2

12That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

13For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
If I were looking closely I would wonder how someone who only had what you refer to as external privileges could in any way be described by how Paul describes this group in Thessalonica. It does not seem that they would be able to begin to do what saints do. ie, How would the word of God "effectually" work in them? How could they work worthy? The non-elect natural man cannot be said to receive the word.
Now I clearly see in the second part of your response-
;
but then within the course of the epistles we find instruction, promise, and warning, which effectively point out what are the internal marks whereby the sanctified and elect are positively known
that you are careful to address those who for a time stir up their flesh to an outward form of religion that will not stand. So I think I understand how you are framing this response, and seeking to be consistent with the Visible/invisible teaching that is frequently, and historically been used.
My question to you would be ....would it alter things if Paul were not addressing
All within the churches
by that I mean to say, not every physical body that comes into the assembly.[what most refer to as the visible church] What if the intention is to address only those who are the actual elect and called out ones [ what is called the invisible church].?
This would do away with
This is a judgment of charity based on their external privileges;
Which seems to be subjective. It would then have Paul addressing actual saints, in actual union with Christ, who could then be spoken of in such terms without qualifiers.
In this way Paul would clearly be speaking to those born of the Spirit,when he speaks of saints. When he warns or instructs those to whom he writes to examine themselves/ saints would understand he was warning those who only had an external facade who lack any vital relationship to The Lord Jesus Christ.
I ask because I am trying to work through Richard Baxter's Christian Directory, which speaks very intensely to the Christian ethic. The intense and detailed thought's he lays out seem as if they would not enter into the thoughts of those only externally coming among the people of God. The table of contents alone is instructive as well as convicting:confused:
As I have posted before I have a hard time with the whole visible/invisible concept of ecclesiology as it is put forth in some of the theological works.
I believe that I just see a clear view of the objective truth of the church as only the blood bought body of Christ, that I cannot shake it. The idea of anyone who is unsaved being said to be In union with Christ I cannot really take that in, without it suggesting to me someone having then losing salvation.:think:
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Anthony,

Simply, you're missing a critical distinction between what God knows and what the Church knows. It's a distinction between the Covenant of Redemption and the Covenant of Grace that works out who God has purposed to save in time and space, with visible means, and in the hands of fallible and sinful men who administer those means.

This is the typical place where people make a mistake when they are given information about the nature of God's election and try to base Church membership on the hidden things of God. This is the very point where the Federal vision makes an error and equates Paul's use of charitable language to an entire Church and assumes that all addressed must have the status that Paul is speaking of in some sense.

I will share what I posted to Leslie here: http://www.puritanboard.com/f77/what-problem-fv-31792/#post392049

Thanks for your thoughtful replies, especially that of Semper Fidelis. Since FV is wrong about the temporary salvation concept (and I agree they are wrong), then are not the forms for infant baptism sorely defective? I'm familiar with the CR form but presumably other forms are similar. There are all these glowing promises of God pronounced over the wee one but never is the big condition mentioned "IF THEY HAPPEN TO BE ELECT". If one should add the big condition, then how is a convenant infant different from any other infant? One can say of all infants whatsoever that God makes glowing promises if they happen to be elect, even those infants born into Buddhist families.

Also how do Reformed people who reject the FV understand the condition of people who are born into Christian families but are finally reprobate, explicitly, by choice, no doubt about it. The author Peter DeVries comes to mind. I'd assume they were never saved in any sense whatsoever and, in retrospect, the promises and blessings pronounced in their infancies were, at best, half-truths, if not outright lies.

Lest any misunderstand, I'm NOT a secret FV sympathizer, nor am I trying to be sarcastic or smart-alecky. I've come to faith in God relatively recently, having been a covenant baby, a reprobate most of my life, and given a new heart three years ago. I really want to understand.

Excellent points by Daniel and Lane. I just want to add my own two cents.

I think what you need to understand with respect to how God brings redemption to mankind is a distinction between the Covenant of Redemption (CoR) and the Covenant of Grace (CoG). One simple way of stating it is that we are elected because of the Covenant within the Godhead to save a particular people to the glory of God to the uttermost but that CoR is worked out, in time and space, by a visible administration to people who work within the things revealed and means.

If you think about the "golden chain" it includes some things that are hidden from us as well as some things that we experience in the here and now.

Romans 8:28-30
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Our own knowledge of our salvation is not based on the things that God foreknew or upon His predestination. Rather, our knowledge is of an external and internal call, a turning from our sin and unto Christ in Evangelical faith, and then a sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit that flows out of our justifcation. We don't even have experience of our glorification for it is a future hope.

But, because we know Who we believe and rest in Him for salvation, we are able to "connect the dots" and have some connection to the chain that is in the eternal decree of God and we have confidence on the basis of our trust in Christ that God is the author and finisher of our faith.

It is really inappropriate, then, to speak about God's hidden decree in a way that speculates about whether or not it was futile for men to be issued Promises within the CoG in the first place or, as part of its regular administration, to be constantly preached the Word toward the conversion of hearts or the building up of the Saints.

We live and work within the things revealed. It is actually against the Word of God to speculate and say: "What is the point of these means if somebody was never elected in the first place?"

Also, the notion that being in and among these means is pointless and a person might as well have never been a participant in the CoG if they were never truly elect is roundly rejected repeatedly by the Scriptures themselves. This anticipates your question about advantage.

Romans 3:1-4
1 What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? 2 Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. 3 For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? 4 Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar.

This anticipates those who would even argue that people have no opportunity to respond to the Gospel and are not under any responsibility to it. When speaking of the Jews (Covenant people) who have rejected Christ, Paul states this:

Romans 10:14-21
14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:


“ How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,[h]
Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “LORD, who has believed our report?”[j] 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:


“ Their sound has gone out to all the earth,
And their words to the ends of the world.”[k]

19 But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says:


“ I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation,
I will move you to anger by a foolish nation.”[l]
20 But Isaiah is very bold and says:

“ I was found by those who did not seek Me;
I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me.”[m]
21 But to Israel he says:

“ All day long I have stretched out My hands
To a disobedient and contrary people.”


The Christian religion and understanding of God's election is not meant to be something, ultimately, where we try to determine the point where we've arrived and, in lieu of a decision card, point to our "election card" and assume that our fear and trembling in the process of sanctification has ended. We are repeatedly enjoined to live as if we believe we have been justified and to corporately care about how everyone is progressing in sanctification and, in fact, whether or not a man might never have been converted.

We are not simply supposed to be concerned about ourselves but about the entire Body. We are to be fearful lest any be found to be unbelieving:

Hebrews 4:1-10
1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them,[a] not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said:

“ So I swore in My wrath,

‘ They shall not enter My rest,’”

although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”;[c] 5 and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.”[d]
6 Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, 7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said:


“ Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.”[e]

8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.

This we will surely do because we have trusted in Christ but we never take it for granted and the Promises of God are given to us as an audible and historical act of God's utter faithfulness to save us and, by Word and Sacrament, impel us all toward His holy ends.
 

Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
Rich,
Thanks for your response. Of course we all know the error of the FV teacher's and that most everyone here on the PB understands why it is wrong.
I do not think what I posted lends itself to that error however. I believe that election is a revealed truth that is plainly set forth.
The covenant of redemption is clearly set forth. You correctly identify where believer's differ in how we understand the out -working of the covenant of grace.
It is in my opinion, the forced view of of Who,and What constitutes the church that remains the contended issue.
Paul's epistles just seem very clear to me,and perhaps to some other's in here. From The 1689;
CHAPTER 26; OF THE CHURCH

Paragraph 1. The catholic or universal church, which (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) may be called invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ, the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of him that fills all in all.1
1 Heb. 12:23; Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:10,22,23, 5:23,27,32

Paragraph 2. All persons throughout the world, professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ according unto it, not destroying their own profession by any errors everting the foundation, or unholiness of conversation, are and may be called visible saints;2 and of such ought all particular congregations to be constituted.3
2 1 Cor. 1:2; Acts 11:26
3 Rom. 1:7; Eph. 1:20-22

Paragraph 3. The purest churches under heaven are subject to mixture and error;4 and some have so degenerated as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan;5 nevertheless Christ always has had, and ever shall have a kingdom in this world, to the end thereof, of such as believe in him, and make profession of his name.6
4 1 Cor. 5; Rev. 2,3
5 Rev. 18:2; 2 Thess. 2:11,12
6 Matt. 16:18; Ps. 72:17, 102:28; Rev. 12:17
Rich- How we view and describe paragraph #2 is at the heart of it. Paragraph #1 is very clear as I believe most of Paul's writings are.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Anthony, As you have noted, the difference in interpretation is really a matter of different ecclesiology. From the regenerate church membership POV, Perkins' statement would be unacceptable. But even from this POV there are those who profess faith and are baptised who are regarded as "elect," but who afterwards demonstrate signs of reprobation. The Presbyterian mixed congregation POV consistently maintains that we cannot know the hearts of men, but treat them according to what they profess. Blessings!
 

smhbbag

Puritan Board Senior
Anthony, As you have noted, the difference in interpretation is really a matter of different ecclesiology. From the regenerate church membership POV, Perkins' statement would be unacceptable. But even from this POV there are those who profess faith and are baptised who are regarded as "elect," but who afterwards demonstrate signs of reprobation. The Presbyterian mixed congregation POV consistently maintains that we cannot know the hearts of men, but treat them according to what they profess. Blessings!

Perkins' statement has no necessary contradiction with regenerate-only New Covenant membership, nor with the strict credobaptism.

It is language that many baptists would (and do) disagree with, of course. But I can (and do) agree with Perkins' statement and see it is a very good summary of my own thoughts on the issue.
 
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Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Anthony, As you have noted, the difference in interpretation is really a matter of different ecclesiology. From the regenerate church membership POV, Perkins' statement would be unacceptable. But even from this POV there are those who profess faith and are baptised who are regarded as "elect," but who afterwards demonstrate signs of reprobation. The Presbyterian mixed congregation POV consistently maintains that we cannot know the hearts of men, but treat them according to what they profess. Blessings!

:agree:

This is the false dilemna posed by many Baptists who face the same problem as the Presbyterians.

I think the fundamental difference going forward is that Presbyterians acknowledge the obvious distinction between visible and invisible up front in their theology. They don't pretend as if the Church has knowledge of the invisible in the administration of means.

Seriously, all Baptists do is move the ball down the field a bit and try to convince themselves that, by profession, they have somehow avoided the dilemna of a mixed Body. I think the fact that they view their process as "tighter" than the Presbyterians allows them to focus too much on criticizing another's view of the visible/invisible distinction rather than realistically assessing whether or not they've gained what they believe they have gained by making profession the gold standard.

In my estimation, if a perfectly regenerate visible Church is the goal in the administration of the CoG then both Baptists and Presbyterians fail. Presbyterians don't set that goal and I don't believe the Scriptures do either. We can agree all day long on the necessity of God's election before the foundation of the world that a man would receive Evangelical faith but that still doesn't get us beyond the fact that the Church acts in history and doesn't act according to the hidden things of God.

When push comes to shove, every Baptist ends up agreeing with and acting exactly like Perkins' quote above except they make the basis of that judgment of charity the profession of a man. Ishmael wasn't an infant when he was circumcised.
 

smhbbag

Puritan Board Senior
This is the false dilemna posed by many Baptists who face the same problem as the Presbyterians.

I think the fundamental difference going forward is that Presbyterians acknowledge the obvious distinction between visible and invisible up front in their theology. They don't pretend as if the Church has knowledge of the invisible in the administration of means.

Do you think it is credobaptism, by its nature, is forced to "pretend as if the church has knowledge of the invisible in the administration of means"? Or, is that simply a problem that exists among credobaptists, but is not necessarily bound to be a problem for every credo?
 

HaigLaw

Puritan Board Sophomore
Even so must we deal towards those that live in the church: secret judgment must be left to God; and (till God manifest the contrary) in the judgment of charity we must hold them all elect.

A very helpful point, indeed!
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
This is the false dilemna posed by many Baptists who face the same problem as the Presbyterians.

I think the fundamental difference going forward is that Presbyterians acknowledge the obvious distinction between visible and invisible up front in their theology. They don't pretend as if the Church has knowledge of the invisible in the administration of means.

Do you think it is credobaptism, by its nature, is forced to "pretend as if the church has knowledge of the invisible in the administration of means"? Or, is that simply a problem that exists among credobaptists, but is not necessarily bound to be a problem for every credo?

It doesn't have to be a dilemna Jeremy. Reformed credo-Baptists face this dilemna more than their arminian counterparts because particular Baptist theology grounds the baptism of professors in the fact that the New Covenant is made with the elect alone. I've found this argument deficient to "jump the rail" from an argument based on the composition of the invisible Church to the administration of means in the visible Church. Nevertheless, in every baptism debate this is the point that is pressed over and over and over again by Reformed Baptists that the New Covenant is made with the elect alone.

I've often noted that I've never really heard a Baptism debate but simply a debate about whether or not the invisible Church is constituted of the elect alone.

I'm not noting this to be pejorative but to point out what I said above that there is sort of a projection that "because we're not like the Presbyterians" that I've noticed that many Reformed credo-Baptists don't really wrestle with whether they've gained what they set out to gain. The irony is that the insistence about the New Covenant being with the elect only gains them infallible assurance that baptism confirms membership in the visible Church alone. They are then forced to conclude that the visible Church is distinct from the New Covenant itself.

Since most credo-Baptists don't wrestle with this issue and really try to "work this all out", they sort of remain stuck in the debate about the NC being with the elect and erroneously project some sort of assurance that, because they're baptizing professors, they are immune from the fact that the reprobate are being baptized in their own Churches.

I'm honestly glad to see when Baptists are able to read a paedo-baptist like Perkins and say: "Yeah, I don't have a problem with that." I respect that you were able to see that, practically speaking, you extend the same charity to your visible membership since you only can work by the visible means and not on the infallible knowledge of God. Most, I've found, live that way but if they read a paedobaptist distinguishing between visible/invisible they go into "debate mode" and can't see how the paedobaptist is rubber and they are glue in every criticism that is levied against the distinctions made.

Blessings!

Rich
 

Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
Anthony, As you have noted, the difference in interpretation is really a matter of different ecclesiology. From the regenerate church membership POV, Perkins' statement would be unacceptable. But even from this POV there are those who profess faith and are baptised who are regarded as "elect," but who afterwards demonstrate signs of reprobation. The Presbyterian mixed congregation POV consistently maintains that we cannot know the hearts of men, but treat them according to what they profess. Blessings!

:agree:

This is the false dilemna posed by many Baptists who face the same problem as the Presbyterians.

I think the fundamental difference going forward is that Presbyterians acknowledge the obvious distinction between visible and invisible up front in their theology. They don't pretend as if the Church has knowledge of the invisible in the administration of means.

Seriously, all Baptists do is move the ball down the field a bit and try to convince themselves that, by profession, they have somehow avoided the dilemna of a mixed Body. I think the fact that they view their process as "tighter" than the Presbyterians allows them to focus too much on criticizing another's view of the visible/invisible distinction rather than realistically assessing whether or not they've gained what they believe they have gained by making profession the gold standard.

In my estimation, if a perfectly regenerate visible Church is the goal in the administration of the CoG then both Baptists and Presbyterians fail. Presbyterians don't set that goal and I don't believe the Scriptures do either. We can agree all day long on the necessity of God's election before the foundation of the world that a man would receive Evangelical faith but that still doesn't get us beyond the fact that the Church acts in history and doesn't act according to the hidden things of God.

When push comes to shove, every Baptist ends up agreeing with and acting exactly like Perkins' quote above except they make the basis of that judgment of charity the profession of a man. Ishmael wasn't an infant when he was circumcised.

Rich,
Of course there is agreement to some extent that the problem of unregenerate persons who assemble among the true church, is a problem that any congregation must deal with. All acknowledge that the language of scripture forces each congregation and the elders to seek to warn,and if need be exercise some form of church discipline.
Our confessions also speak to this issue.
You said this;
In my estimation, if a perfectly regenerate visible Church is the goal in the administration of the CoG then both Baptists and Presbyterians fail.
I do not know that perfection is the goal, as much as a faithful proclamation of the gospel and the eternal purpose of God in calling His elect out out the world . God adds the members to the body.This fact is revealed , not secret. The certain reprobation of covenant breakers is also a revealed truth, not secret.
You also made this statement;
I think the fundamental difference going forward is that Presbyterians acknowledge the obvious distinction between visible and invisible up front in their theology.
Clearly the historically reformed churches use this man made distinction.I say man made because I see the language of scripture addressing this whole problem with much clearer language than you will be comfortable with,for example-

4For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men,

8Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.

12These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
This description in Jude is given in contrast to verse one which says this-
1Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:
These ungodly reprobates are not;
1] sanctified by God the Father
2]preserved in Jesus Christ
3]and called

The new testament makes a much clearer distinction because of the nature of the New Covenant. The Elect church is addressed. Reprobates, false brethren, are warned on this we agree. Only the elect church can welcome the scripture savingly. False brethren are sometimes removed by discipline,and others by the reaping angels on the last day.

Also this last part of your post said;
that still doesn't get us beyond the fact that the Church acts in history and doesn't act according to the hidden things of God

The church does act in history- as God works in and through it. The plowing of the wicked is sin however, whether they assemble among the church,or not and they like Alexander the coppersmith will be judged according to his evil works.
Although I have over time come to see how you seek to maintain the logic of the system as it has been taught- external administration/external and temporary benefits- I think it is much more difficult to square all the elements of systematic theology with that view of Who, and What constitutes the church.
It seems as if this view of a major distinction in the CoR, CoG opens the door for the Fv,and NPP people to draw away people from your assemblies. It does not seem to be as sharp a distinction made in your circles.
I am just saying this as an observation.I do not in anyway suggest or say this , as if I take any comfort or pleasure in any person being led away from truth. Obviously most all the persons in here see the danger and turn from it . In Reformed Baptist circles I am concerned that some do not even know really what is at issue , or why it is even a danger which I find even more disturbing:confused:
Is this also an issue in most Presbyterian churches also? Does the average member struggle with these issues, or because they are given more instruction on the covenant's that they more readily see the danger?:um:
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Anthony,

I don't know if you can read yourself actually denying what you propose above but in calling a man a "false brother" you are repudiating your own insistence that the idea of a visible Church is a "man-made" doctrine. What was the man before he denied the faith, precisely, in the eyes of the Church?

Seriously, if somebody wants to read a perfect example of the dilemna that some credo-Baptists put themselves into, all they have to do is line up my posts above with your last post and they will see exactly what I'm talking about.

Since you reject the visible and invisible Church distinction, Anthony, and it's just the Church (since false brothers are not really in the Church), I think we can solve this confusion right away. Please post the member list of your Church and annotate those in your congration that are baptized that are in the "Church" and are saved from the foundation of the world and also annotate those that are false brothers. Without that list, I can't make any sense of your insistance that you believe a visible/invisible Church distinction is man-made.
 

Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
Anthony,

I don't know if you can read yourself actually denying what you propose above but in calling a man a "false brother" you are repudiating your own insistence that the idea of a visible Church is a "man-made" doctrine. What was the man before he denied the faith, precisely, in the eyes of the Church?

Seriously, if somebody wants to read a perfect example of the dilemna that some credo-Baptists put themselves into, all they have to do is line up my posts above with your last post and they will see exactly what I'm talking about.

Since you reject the visible and invisible Church distinction, Anthony, and it's just the Church (since false brothers are not really in the Church), I think we can solve this confusion right away. Please post the member list of your Church and annotate those in your congration that are baptized that are in the "Church" and are saved from the foundation of the world and also annotate those that are false brothers. Without that list, I can't make any sense of your insistance that you believe a visible/invisible Church distinction is man-made.

Rich,
We are not called to make that distinction.God makes the distinction.
Paul says in 1 Cor. If anyone who is -called a brother-

God does not place -false brethren- those who are called a brother, but who are not , in the church. God places only Sheep in the church. Goats come in among the sheep. Goats have not come to Mt Zion Hebrews 12;22-24.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Anthony,

I don't know if you can read yourself actually denying what you propose above but in calling a man a "false brother" you are repudiating your own insistence that the idea of a visible Church is a "man-made" doctrine. What was the man before he denied the faith, precisely, in the eyes of the Church?

Seriously, if somebody wants to read a perfect example of the dilemna that some credo-Baptists put themselves into, all they have to do is line up my posts above with your last post and they will see exactly what I'm talking about.

Since you reject the visible and invisible Church distinction, Anthony, and it's just the Church (since false brothers are not really in the Church), I think we can solve this confusion right away. Please post the member list of your Church and annotate those in your congration that are baptized that are in the "Church" and are saved from the foundation of the world and also annotate those that are false brothers. Without that list, I can't make any sense of your insistance that you believe a visible/invisible Church distinction is man-made.

Rich,
We are not called to make that distinction.God makes the distinction.
Paul says in 1 Cor. If anyone who is -called a brother-

God does not place -false brethren- those who are called a brother, but who are not , in the church. God places only Sheep in the church. Goats come in among the sheep. Goats have not come to Mt Zion Hebrews 12;22-24.

Anthony,

This is not a joke. I can't make sense of what you typed about only Sheep being placed in the Church without that member list. When you provide that annotated list regarding your local Church then I'll be able to make sense of what you're saying.

If you refuse to provide the list of your local Church then I must conclude one of two things:

Either
1. Your local Church contains no false brethren and you know that infallibly.
or
2. You don't attend a Church.

Which is it?
 

Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
Rich,
Let me help you understand if I can. If you do not mind,I will use what the scripture says .

1] 18But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

A biblical view of the church has God placing the members in it.They are not in the church if they do not have the Spirit. 13For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

Spiritual birth is required to be in the body of Christ.Without the Spirit indwelling the person,They are not in any way:
In Union with Christ
In the Body of Christ
The scripture does not identify a double speak/outward administration,or external membership to The Actual Body of Christ.

2] The scripture does identify those who are among The Actual Body of Christ, who are not a part of it, some of whom I posted before from Jude.

It speaks of those who leave the assembly 1jn2;19 who were not of the assembly. If they had been of us ,they would have no doubt continued with us,- but they went out that it might be made manifest.

In your view they were of us? [externally, with in an "outward administration"]

3] Paul speaks of false brethren;
26In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
In the original post "the judgment of charity" spoke of Paul considering them
This is the practice of St. Paul in all his epistles: writing to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:2), he calls them all sanctified; and to the Galatians (Gal. 1:2), he calls them all elect;

I disagree with this premise. He says to "them" which are sanctified. "Called"to be saints. as God does the calling I am suggesting that goats are never called,
26But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.

27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
Are you suggesting that goats are called? Called to be saints?

God keeps the list of the members whom He has made himself known too.
They confess Him as Lord by the Spirit. Any false profession does not come from the Spirit. The New Testament is clear on this. In the letter's to the 7 churches it is only the actual church who are the overcomer's. who by the Spirit of God have new life.

We are told that there are false teacher's ,false brethren, among the actual church. We are never told that they are "the church".
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Anthony,

This is really a very simple question for you. I actually thank you for your posts because your responses are the exemplar of what I've been noting above but it is obvious you have still failed to "jump the rail" from God's knowledge to yours (unless you actually believe your knowledge and His are univocal with respect to the identity of the elect). I will not answer any more of your questions because you have not answered mine. I will repeat that the only way for us to understand each other is for you to do one of the following:

1. Produce the annotated list of those that are true and false brothers in your Church
2. Tell me that all the flesh and blood members of your Church that you greet on Sunday morning are elect from the foundation of the world and, hence, members of the Church
or
3. Admit that you don't attend a local Church with actual roles of people that you have to call Brother or Sister.

Anything else is quite irrelevant to your presentation because you're speaking in the abstract.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
I find the invisible/visible church distinction very comforting because it reminds me of God's sovereignty over His church; and God's sovereignty is a very comforting doctrine for the believer.

It's two sides of the same coin:

The invisible church is the church seen from God's point of view. It consists of all true believers throughout the ages, living and dead. God looks at any given congregation meeting on a Sunday morning and infallibly knows those who are His, as well as (1) those who are not His yet, but will be, and (2) those who are not His, and never will be. Those who are saved, and those who will be saved, make up the invisible church.

The visible church is the church seen from man's point of view. The visible church is any given congregation of people meeting for worship on the Lord's Day. In the visible church, there are both true believers and unsaved people. Not being God, we cannot know infallibly, when looking around the congregation from our position in the pews, who belongs to God and who doesn't. The visible church is always a mixed multitude of (1) professing Christians, some of whom will turn out not to be genuine, and (2) the unsaved. But, again, God knows who belongs to Him and who will belong to Him down the road.

So, the visible church is made up of believers and unbelievers (with only God knowing the difference), and the invisible church is made up of all actual believers throughout history (including the future) in all times and places.

The ultimate separation and clarification will come in the eschaton: the invisible church will become visible in Heaven, when all true Christians will be together.

And all of this is held together by God's sovereignty, and controlled by His almighty power.
 

smhbbag

Puritan Board Senior
I find the invisible/visible church distinction very comforting because it reminds me of God's sovereignty over His church; and God's sovereignty is a very comforting doctrine for the believer.

It's two sides of the same coin:

The invisible church is the church seen from God's point of view. It consists of all true believers throughout the ages, living and dead. God looks at any given congregation meeting on a Sunday morning and infallibly knows those who are His, as well as (1) those who are not His yet, but will be, and (2) those who are not His, and never will be. Those who are saved, and those who will be saved, make up the invisible church.

The visible church is the church seen from man's point of view. The visible church is any given congregation of people meeting for worship on the Lord's Day. In the visible church, there are both true believers and unsaved people. Not being God, we cannot know infallibly, when looking around the congregation from our position in the pews, who belongs to God and who doesn't. The visible church is always a mixed multitude of (1) professing Christians, some of whom will turn out not to be genuine, and (2) the unsaved. But, again, God knows who belongs to Him and who will belong to Him down the road.

So, the visible church is made up of believers and unbelievers (with only God knowing the difference), and the invisible church is made up of all actual believers throughout history (including the future) in all times and places.

The ultimate separation and clarification will come in the eschaton: the invisible church will become visible in Heaven, when all true Christians will be together.

And all of this is held together by God's sovereignty, and controlled by His almighty power.

:up:
 
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