This is a special episode of the Heidelcast and a special series featuring my dear friend and colleague in ministry, Chad Vegas, pastor of Sovereign Grace Bakersfield. He’s been walking his congregation from a Baptist to a Reformed understanding of covenant theology and baptism. He’s focusing on shepherding his congregation but he’s allowed us to share these six messages on baptism and covenant theology with you. He will he writing on this on the Heidelblog in the coming months but for now, here’s Chad working though the issues. As you can tell, these are timely since I’m losing my voice.
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Hey Scott I listened to Chads first message. I also went to the churches website and to my surprise I saw that the elders had to hold to either the 1689 or the Westminster. He stated that different convictions are why we have denominations. So is he trying to make a case for doing away with denominations?
The congregation is the process of formalizing their adoption of the Reformed confessions. They are also in the process of figuring out where they’ll land denominationally.
I don’t think Chad’s doing away with denominations.
RSC is correct. Our formal shift is following our instruction, prayer, study of reformed denominations, examination of our ministers etc.
Scott and Chad, I was very thankful for these messages on the Sovereign Grace site and I was excited to see them here. A dear friend who graduated from Radius and is now in Asia recommended I listen to these messages as I work through the reformed perspective coming from a Baptist background. I think something finally clicked with how children are part of the covenant community. Thanks for sharing this series.
Great series, creepy intro 🥴
It is a new concept to me that the Protoevangalium (Gen 3:15) was a covenant and that Gen. 6:18, interpreted as “God caused his covenant to stand”, was looking back to this. Very interesting and I would like to understand it better. Does it meet all the requirements to be a covenant? Any recommendations to read up on this more?
Also, I am thrilled to have a name/title/category for the Immanuel Principle. It definitely ties all the covenants together as Chad explains very thoroughly!
The first covenant in Scripture is Gen 2:17, “ the day, you eat thereof, you shall surely die.“ it has the marks of a covenant formula expressed elliptically. Remember, when Genesis was given. We have covenant documents from that same era, which promise blessings for obedience and threaten curses for disobedience. The blessings are symbolized by the tree of life. The implication of genesis 217 is that were Adam to obey. He would enter into the blessedness symbolized by the tree of life. We’re here to fail, he would earn the sanction.
Genesis 6 helps us to understand Genesis 3:15. The explicit use of covenant makes it clear that as far as Moses is concerned, God did enter into a gracious covenant with Noah. The covenant that was upheld, is the promise of a redeemer in Genesis 3:15.
The covenant of Genesis 3:15 and 6:18 is of a different kind than the covenant of Genesis 2:17. The condition of the covenant in Genesis 2:17 is obedience. That is why we call it a covenant of works. The covenant of Genesis 3:15 and 6:18 is unconditional and gracious. In that. It was a royal-grant covenant. We call it a covenant of grace. Yes, it meets the qualifications for a gracious, royal grant covenant.
For more on all this start here:
Chad claims that all the disagreement lies with premise 2 but there is only agreement on premise 1 because of its ambiguity. “All members of the new covenant people receive the sign of baptism.” For Presbyterians: “new covenant people” = visible church. For baptists, “new covenant people” = members of Christ-elect. Thus the disagreement is only hidden in premise one. If the two parties came to terms with one another they would not agree on premise one.
I think he acknowledges that the agreement is formal.
It just might be helpful for some people to realize this up front. Formally, Presbyterians do not separate the covenant of grace and election. Baptists, however, believe that they do in practice by claiming that the sign of the covenant of grace is duly and properly administered to the non-elect. (To my best understanding) When Baptists unintentionally administer the sign of baptism to the non-elect they say it was not duly and properly administered to them because the sign belongs to the new covenant people (elect). When Presbyterians administer the sign to the non-elect they say that the sign was still duly and properly administered to them because the sign belongs properly to the new covenant people (visible church). If we blur the terms we’ll miss this distinction.
The Reformed (Presbyterian is a church polity) certainly distinguish election and the administration of the covenant of grace. Only the elect receive the substance but all whom God invites participate in the external administration.
Thank you for your interaction and the clarification. You can have the term, but I would like to understand what you mean by “invite.” I think both groups would say that all people are invited but only some will come. So if all who are invited participate, is this an effectual invitation to the external administration? Or are you saying God doesn’t invite the whole world in the same way?
Thank you, kindly.
The Reformed baptize on the authority of God’s promise to believers and to their children. We say that both believers and and their children have a right and interest in the covenant of grace.
So, we initiate our children into the covenant community (the visible church), we pray for them, we instruct them, we treat them as Christians, and invite/encourage/exhort them to appropriate, by grace alone, through faith alone, the blessings promised in baptism.