Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bringing the Gospel to Covenant Children

I was asked to read Joel Beeke's excellent little book, BRINGING THE GOSPEL TO COVENANT CHILDREN, and endorse. I thought I'd share a few excerpts and my endorsement here. I wrote of the book (before editor revisions):
“In language every parent can understand, Joel Beeke demonstrates how presumptive regeneration and hyper covenantalism can bar our children from Christ and the gospel and tragically produce Pharisees. Parents who love Christ and their children will not want to miss this clear, practical, confessional, and imminently biblical work on how Christ and his gospel alone transform our covenant children.”
Douglas Bond, author of The Fathers & Sons series: STAND FAST and HOLD FAST, and THE BETRAYAL, a novel on John Calvin 

“Parents confused by neo-Calvinism’s implication that covenant children are justified by parental faithfulness will find refreshing biblical clarity in Bringing the Gospel to Our Covenant Children. In it parents will find confidence to open the Bible and show their children Christ and his gospel on every page. There may not be a more important resource for every Christian parent to read and reread as they evangelize and nurture covenant children in Christ.”  
Douglas Bond, author of The Fathers & Sons series: STAND FAST and HOLD FAST, and THE BETRAYAL, a novel on John Calvin

Here's excerpts from Joel Beeke:

"The fruits of presumptive regeneration are often tragic. Parents who presume that their children are regenerate by virtue of the covenant see no need to tell their children that they must be born again and come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. William Young calls this view “hyper-covenantism,” because the relation of children to the covenant is exaggerated to the point that the covenant relation replaces the need for personal conversion. As Young points out, “Doctrinal knowledge and ethical conduct according to the Word of God are sufficient for the Christian life without any specific religious experience of conviction of sin and conversion, or any need for self-examination as to the possession of distinguishing marks of saving grace.” Consequently, what our Reformed forefathers called experimental religion is deemed largely superfluous. Ultimately, though Kuyperian neo-Calvinists may not like to admit it, religious life becomes grounded in external church institutions and activities rather than in the soul’s communion with God. “A system for breeding Pharisees, whose cry is ‘We are Abraham’s children,’could hardly be better calculated,” Young concludes."

And here's Beeke on a biblical, confessional view of paedo-baptism:

"Some Reformed churches depreciate the covenant relation of children, not by rejecting infant baptism and the covenant relation altogether, but by reducing the sacrament to mere form and custom without insisting on what it should mean for the lives both of the parents and their baptized children. In such circles, the church has no eye for the promises of God in baptism, no heart for pleading those promises in prayer, and no clear understanding of how God earnestly calls covenant children to a lifestyle consecrated to Himself and separated from the world….

"Baptism affirms that the baptized child is placed under covenant privileges and responsibilities, but does not make the child a partaker of the saving, internal essence of the covenant. The external covenant relationship can be broken when a child grows to adulthood and abandons God’s Word and the corporate worship of His people. Baptized children must be linked to the internal, unbreakable essence of the covenant through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit ( John 3:3-7). Only then shall they be given persevering grace for the rest of their lives….

"Baptized children must be directed to Jesus Christ and His sacrifice as the only way of salvation. Christ’s cleansing blood, symbolized by the cleansing water of baptism, is the only way by which our children may be saved…

"Baptism teaches that God, in and through the Second Adam, Jesus Christ, is able and willing to be the Redeemer and Father of our children….

"Knowing such things should encourage us more to evangelize our children and to plead for their salvation, never giving God rest until they are all brought safely into His fold. Then, too, we must teach our covenant children and young people to plead with our covenant God on the basis of His promises to baptize them with the Spirit of grace and to grant them regeneration, repentance, and faith."

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