Does Covenant Theology Change Our Doctrine Of Predestination?

Baptism, Election & the Covenant of GraceHB reader Keith asks,

Succinctly, what is covenant theology on the following: Predestination Security of the believer?

Hi Keith,

The short answer is that the covenant theology that we confess does not fundamentally change our doctrine of predestination, which says that all those whom God has elected, in Christ (Eph 1:1–15), from all eternity will be saved and cannot be lost (John 10:28). Our covenant theology accounts for the  administration of that eternal, immutable decree. God has chosen to execute his decree to elect through the visible church. The Holy Spirit uses the preaching of the gospel to bring his elect to new life and true faith.

All those who are in the visible church are external or outward members of the covenant of grace but only those who are elect, whom God brings to new life and true faith become internal or inward members of the covenant of grace. Only they, by grace alone, through faith alone apprehend Christ. All those who do apprehend Christ by true faith shall never be lost and can never be lost.

There are always within the visible covenant community (the visible church) two kinds of people: the elect and the reprobate. The latter may pretend to believe (e.g., Mark 7:6) but they are those, as Hebrews 6:4–5 says, who have been “once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come…”. These, Hebrews 10:29 says, have “profaned the blood of the covenant” and “outraged the Spirit of grace.” These God has decreed to pass by, to leave in their unbelief.

There are those (e.g., the so-called “Federal Visionists”) who teach two kinds of election, a real one and a temporary one, which they call “covenantal.” This is nothing more than Arminianism dressed up as covenant theology but it is not the covenant theology of Scripture nor the covenant theology that we confess (e.g., in the Belgic Confession or the Westminster Standards), nor the covenant theology of the Reformed tradition.

The gospel is that Jesus accomplished the complete salvation of all of his people—”It is finished!—and all his people will, by his grace and preservation, in union and communion with Christ, persevere to the end and they do that in the visible covenant community established by Christ and using the keys of the kingdom (Matt 16:19) i.e., the means of grace that he gave us.

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