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Page 356

 

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

- John 3:3

Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

- John 1:13

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

- 11 Corinthians 5:17

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

- I Peter 1:23

Not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration , and renewing of the Holy Ghost.

- Titus 3:5

 

A person becomes a citizen of a country by his oath of allegiance as an adult, or by birth as a child.

    In Acts 22:27-28, we read the following conversation between Paul and the chief captain:

    Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, yea.

    And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.

    How are these men an example of the two different ways in which citizenship can be obtained? Today, in our country, a person can become a citizen by birth, or by oath of allegiance as an adult, after living for some years in our country. What privileges and responsibilities are connected with national citizenship? How can these examples be compared with covenant and church membership?

    This two-fold manner of attaining citizenship is also true for outward covenant or church membership. Through natural birth onto "church soil" as a child, or through confession as an adult, (after living on "church soil" for sometime), a person may be baptized into outward church membership. However, spiritual and internal membership is different. Only through spiritual rebirth, being born again, may a person be brought into the essence of the Covenant - into an inward, saving, and eternal relationship with God through Christ as Covenant Head.

    To represent both possible relationships to the Covenant of Grace and answer the previously-stated three difficult covenant questions, the following two and three covenant presentations are used within the circle of Reformed denominations. As mentioned previously, these various views of the Covenant of Grace, with the fourth related difference (how the natural seed should be distinguished from the spiritual seed of the church), have produced the major difference in doctrine between Reformed denominations.

View 1 on the corresponding page visualizes the presentation of God's covenants according to the two-covenant view. Views 2, 3, and 4 on the following pages present the various three-covenant presentations within Reformed circles.


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