Heidelcast For November 27, 2022: Every Tribe, Tongue, And Nation (27): Fifth Head Of Doctrine (7)

In this episode, Dr. Clark continues his series on the Canons of Dort, looking at the Fifth Head of Doctrine, specifically the Perseverance of the Saints and how it relates to the movement which Collin Hansen (2008) described as Young, Restless, and Reformed. Dr. Clark also answers questions from Lydia about Calvinism, from David about spiritual growth and discipline, and from Tom about the post Grammar Guerrilla: Me, Him, Idiocracy, And The Matrix, as well as a few anonymous inquiries about the church, the order of redemption, and the doctrine of simplicity. The opening audio clip is Wendell Talley on the All Talk Podcast.

This episode of the Heidelcast is sponsored by Westminster Seminary California. John Calvin said that faith is the axis around which everything in the Christian life rotates. How true that is—and this year, Westminster Seminary California’s Annual Conference will be focusing on faith specifically, exploring various facets of doctrine and life as they touch upon the centrality of faith in the Christian life. Bringing these messages are Westminster’s own: Dr. Michael Horton, and Dr. W. Robert Godfrey, and Westminster President Joel Kim. Joining them are faculty Drs. Craig Troxel and Brad Bitner.
This conference is a unique opportunity to listen to these seasoned pastors and theologians share from God’s word to help us in this Christian pilgrimage. The conference will be livestreamed, but we recommend coming in person so you can take advantage of the intimate setting of the conference to meet the speakers and ask follow-up questions. “From Faith to Faith: The Power of of God for the Christian Life” is happening January 13-14 and registration is open now! Go to the website for more information and to save your spot!



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Show Notes

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  1. I found one almost off-hand comment Dr. Clark made in this episode very interesting. Around 53;43 Dr. Clark is discussing those who participate outwardly in the Church, but are not truly “of us.” He says:

    “Judas was never regenerated. Simon the magician was never regenerated or elect. Ananias and Saphira were never elect or regenerated. … But all these people, just because they received the sacraments were not recipients of new life.”

    I find this list very interesting. Judas seems to be a pretty clear case. Being apparently possessed of Satan himself, there seems to be clear grounds on which to say Judas was not regenerate.

    Concerning Simon the Magician, we consult Acts 8:9-24. A longer exposition could be given, but v. 23 in particular seems to be a strong indication that Simon was not regenerate. There Peter says:

    “For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of unrighteousness.”

    However, when we come to Ananias and Saphira the case seems less clear. We meet them in Acts 5:1 – 11. This passage lays out their sin and their deaths, but says relatively little about what it all means. When I have heard this passage preached, usually the impression was given that A and S were saved, but were being punished for their sinful actions. It is not clear to me where the passage indicates their state of salvation. On what basis can we say that they were, or were not renegerated and elect?

    • Josiah,

      It seems fairly self-evident that two people killed by the Holy Spirit probably aren’t regenerate/elect. After all, in the history of salvation, the list of those who were so judged is short. Think of Uzzah, Korah et al, etc none of those are seem to be regarded in Scripture as paragons of faith.

    • Being killed by the Holy Spirit is certainly pretty harsh treatment for someone who is regenerated, but I wonder if it is really definitive.

      A related text might be 1 Cor 11:27-32. Verse 32 of this passage especially seems to me to suggest that punishments up to and including death might be inflicted on sinful believers.

        • That seems to me to be what the text indicates. We have the following in v. 30-32

          For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

          “Judged” in 31 and 32 seems clearly to refer to the sickness and death. Additionally, Paul is including himself in this group with “we” and “ourselves.” Finally, in verse 32 the “we” avoids condemnation with the world.

          It does seem to me that this group is regenerate.

          • Josiah,

            I think you missed the contrast between “many of you are weak and sick…” and “but if we judged…”. There was real wickedness in the Corinthian congregation. It was a mixed congregation (as all are) with those who professed faith but did not believe and those who professed faith and did believe. The history of the Corinthian congregation bears this out. The early fathers (whoever wrote 1 & 2 Clement) were still addressing the same issues 60-70 years later.

            To be clear, I don’t know who was and wasn’t elect/regenerate in the Corinthian congregation but death is a very serious judgement and it’s virtually impossible for me not to read that in light of the history of redemption.

            • Hmm… So your interpretation would be that when Paul includes himself in this group he is only referencing external membership and not internal membership?

              • Well, Paul’s obviously not speaking to dead people. He’s speaking to those who profess faith, who are in the Corinthian congregation. There is always the reality of the decree behind the administration in the covenant of grace but when pastors speak to congregations they typically speak to the whole group as one. I think Paul is doing that.

                The “we” of v. 31 is the covenant community. Everyone in the covenant community is obligated to understand the nature and jeopardy of the supper and to examine himself before communing. The abuse of the Supper in Corinth was quite gross. It brought severe divine judgment. I understand Paul to be warning against such abuse, against carelessness, and against presumption.

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