Friday, September 3, 2010

Covenant Children and Church Discipline

THE promises made in the Old Testament concerning the new covenant with regards to children of believers are plentiful. For example:

“And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children's offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore.”-Isaiah 59:21

A verse like this is entirely consistent with passages in the New Testament:, i.e. Peter's sermon on Pentecost in Acts 2, Lydia's household being baptized, and Philippian jailer's household being baptized.

It's very important we understand the Bible as it was written within an historical context where people understood the concept of federal/covenant headship as it relates to head of households. An example of this kind of error happening would be someone in our day reading the passage about Abraham being called out from Ur in the book of Genesis and assume it was just he and Sarah who made that long journey. Not so. We're told Abraham brought along an entourage of over 300! They were all, in one sense (objectively) a part of Abraham's family of which he was the head, (so much for an ethically pure bloodline of Hebrews!). So, all the men, including the servants, would have been circumcised.

Just as there are two ways to be a part of Israel, (Rom. 9:6) there are two ways to be a "Christian," i.e. outward/visible member of a local church, and inwardly/invisibly regenerated by the Holy Spirit. In a perfect world we would know who all the regenerate are. Sadly, we do not. Jesus told us there are tares amongst the wheat. The church, generally speaking is a wheat field, not a tare field. Therefore, we ought to treat those within the church, including the children the Lord gives us as if they are wheat. This is why church discipline is so very important.

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