Ehud said:
I'm not claiming that any of this is easy.

I think there is a way in which we can speak of all baptized folk being in Christ and a way in which we can speak of baptized folk being removed from Christ [i.e. those who passed through the Red Sea, drank from the spiritual Rock that was Christ, etc].

I like Romans 8:29,30 a lot. I really do, but I also want to like John 15 too.
Ah yes..... John 15. I vividly remember when I was at WTS and Norman Shepherd was still teaching there that this was one of his favorite passages also. At least in part, he would defend his heresy by often quoting it. Of course, things have developed greatly since Mr. Shepherd's removal from that once bedrock of conservative Calvinism. His views have been "refined" and made far more enticing with the use of vague language and alleged scholarship. So today we have NPP and FV. WTS also has changed for now there is at least one professor teaching the very thing which got Mr. Shepherd dismissed.

Although it is very difficult if not impossible for the average church-goer to read the plethora of academic books and papers written by these so-called "scholars" and erudite protagonists of these damnable heresies, the matter IMHO is very simple. It all boils down to the basic understanding and implementation of the old "Analogy of Faith", i.e., comparing Scripture with Scripture. For example, take this idea you stated above, which btw contradicts the fifth point of Calvinism, "Preservation of the Saints". Can one find clear statements which speak of and teach of what it means to be "in Christ"? You bet you can. The "clear" passages always interpret the less or unclear passages. One simply cannot get around Paul's use of the phrase "in Christ" to mean being spiritually united to Christ which is infallibly connected to His vicarious substitutionary atonement, the sending of the Spirit to awaken the elect and to call them irresistibly to repentance and faith in Christ. To those "in Christ" eternal life is an unassailable promise from God to them. But, you would like to also believe that one could be "in Christ" yet not have such a guarantee, and I strongly suspect..... UNLESS.... they "keep covenant", i.e., they live a life of obedience. Of course, those of us who have not succumbed to the wiles of the Evil One know right well what this is. It is "synergism"... a works salvation which cannot save. It is to do as Rome has done for centuries, conflate forensic justification and consequent sanctification. When I asked Mr. Shepherd if we should impress upon our children their need of Christ and to repent and believe upon Him unto salvation, he adamantly objected to any such thing. When asked further what then should we teach our children, he replied, "Teach them to be obedient to the covenant".

Well sir, I know of no passage where the Lord God commands men to "be obedient to the covenant". What I do read, however, is to reconciled to God, repent of your sins and trust your whole being to Christ Jesus. And if your faith is genuine, you will most naturally seek to keep God's commandments for to do so is most pleasing to Him. The Apostle James was inspired to write such and make clear that those with a true living faith will exhibit that faith in their good works. Yet, none of their good works which they do in any way contribute, increase nor improve upon their justification. For justification is that one-time declaration of God that the believing sinner is "not guilty" in Christ Who has both paid the penalty for their sins and imputed to them His own perfect righteousness. And all who come to Christ with a true living faith will never be lost. Thus, John 15 CANNOT mean that God will take any away who are "in Christ".

You do not have the right to redefine what the Scriptures teach about being "in Christ" to suit some novel idea which mitigates against the sovereign free grace God. You have no warrant to confuse the salvation which is all of grace with one that intermixes faith and works.

The Reformers were NOT wrong in their understanding of justification. The Puritans were NOT mistaken on these matters and thus the WCF, WSC, WLC, Heidelberg Catechism, Baptist London Confession, 39 Articles, Savoy Declaration, et al do not need revision based upon some spurious postulation about Second-Temple Judaism. Salvation is NOT about "covenant", but about Christ. You are either "in Christ" and possess all things in Him for all eternity or you are outside of Christ and are liable to damnation.

Yes, it is possible that Augustine was wrong, that Martin Luther erred, that John Calvin was mistaken, as was Knox, and Melanthon, and Owen, and Edwards, and Spurgeon and countless others. But tell me my young friend.. what are the odds that they were ALL wrong and Dunn, Sanders, N.T. Wright, Norman Shepherd and a few others today are right about a matter fundamental to the faith?

Galatians 1:6-9 (ASV) "I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel; which is not another [gospel] only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema. As we have said before, so say I now again, if any man preacheth unto you any gospel other than that which ye received, let him be anathema."

Justification: "If the purity of this doctrine is in any degree impaired the Church has received a deadly wound and brought to the very brink of destruction. Whenever the knowledge of it is taken away, the glory of Christ is extinguished, religion abolished, the Church destroyed and the hope of salvation utterly overthrown. - John Calvin "The Necessity of Reforming the Church" p. 42

In His grace,

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simul iustus et peccator

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