Threshing Wheat in the Winepress


Doug Wilson writes: “In and through the sacraments, God winnows, divides, nourishes, establishes, and gloriously saves. He did this throughout the course of the OT narrative, and He is doing it now.” [1]

I agree with this statement entirely, except that the New Covenant body is entirely “priestly.” The Table is not primary education, but secondary. It is not the preaching of the gospel to the unconverted, but the memorial of it by the converted.

What I mean is that the regenerate have replaced the priesthood, and those outside the tent have been replaced by the unregenerate, those for whom the regenerate minister. The carnal Jew/Gentile divide has been replaced with a spiritual divide, identified by obedient faith.

Pastor Wilson sees the path from conviction to resurrection as a single salvific process, which it is. But the New Testament consistently breaks it into forming and filling. Baptism is quite literally the watershed moment. It cuts off the old history and begins a new one. It ends Adam’s heredity and begins that of Jesus. The external law administered by the Spirit becomes internal law, the indwelling Spirit.

The Table is not for the purpose of conviction but the symbol of Covenant Succession. The way it is presented in the Last Supper—which follows the Covenant pattern—supports this premise.

When Jesus passed the cup, He was passing the baton, the Succession. When we pass the cup, we pass the Succession – we die for one another. The action is a testament, as was Jesus’. The Lord only ever passes the Succession to those who are qualified. The rest are cut off.

The Cup, like baptism, is the ongoing process of receiving the future as a gift because we have judged ourselves and will not be cut off.

Paedosacraments make a terrible mess of the Covenant pattern. The sacraments are not for those being formed, but for those who are filled.

It is the preaching of the gospel that winnows and threshes and brings the first Pentecost. Baptism and Table harvest grapes and olives, the fruit of our righteousness, not the fruit of our loins. It is a more mature harvest.

I really appreciate Pastor Wilson’s emphasis on the gospel, but in the New Testament, Baptism and Table always preached the gospel by excluding the unregenerate, just as the Passovers preached by excluding the unIsraelite.

The Bible repeatedly places things within the same Covenant process or structure, and I can’t see how this factor can be considered optional. The Reformers and Confession writers weren’t very informed on this aspect of biblical theology, so appealing to them isn’t really much help.

We must observe the repeated Biblical pattern of forming and filling, both corporately and individually. Where does the New Testament put baptism in its fulfilled Covenant pattern? Where does it put the Table? If we confuse hearing the Word with receiving the Word, as Pastor Wilson does (at least “sacramentally”), we are threshing wheat in the winepress.

If all this sounds strange, you need The Covenant Key.

[1] This quote is taken from his comments in the ensuing discussion.

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6 Responses to “Threshing Wheat in the Winepress”

  • Michael Shover Says:

    Mike good pal, Are you STILL on this baptism issue??? Sheesh…, well look. Real quick I would like to point out something. You said, “The sacraments are not for those being formed, but for those who are filled.” With this statement you are assuming 1.) that children cannot be regenerated, or filled by the Spirit. I think you say this b/c of the simple fact that they are children.You have cut them off from the covenant that God promised to them in Abraham and in Jesus because they are children and not adults. I thought Jesus said the kingdom belonged to such as these, and that we shouldn’t hinder one of these little ones from coming to him. Now if we come to Jesus in Baptism, and at the Lord’s Supper, how is prohibiting children from being baptized and coming to the table not being disobedient to Jesus? I mean, if you want to have a millstone necklace, by all means, go ahead. But don’t say we didn’t warn you.

    And 2, I know that you are using the word “regenerate” in the typical reformed way, but I would point out that the NT uses the word differently than you are. Titus 3:5 says we are saved by the washing of regeneration (form) and the renewal of the Holy Spirit (filling). Both are needed, we all agree. And none of us believe that if you have the form the filling necessarily follows. at times it doesn’t. But you think that you can’t have the form unless you have the filling first. Strange because the form comes first in the creation order, and then filling. We impose the Spirit sanctioned form on our children, which obligates them to faithfulness and growth and maturity in Christ all the days of their lives – which God promises to give anyway. And by God’s grace that will happen, in His good time. But we are being consistent with God’s forming and filling structure, while you are departing from it, and making it a filling forming structure – ONLY. Yes Acts contains mostly filling-forming baptisms, but is Acts intended to be the paradigm for all future practices in every respect? I think not. If anything, Acts records a very unique period in history that was not meant to be a cut and paste label for the rest of Christian history. It records the transition period from the OC to the NC. We are not in a perpetual transition period from Old to New, but rather we are in a perpetual growing and maturing period that won’t stop till the consummation. So if Acts doesn’t provide for us a structure on how we are to raise covenant children, where O where shall we look? Perhaps Abraham would be a good start.

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Hi Michael

    I’m on it because I’m replying to Doug Wilson’s posts from his book on paedobaptism. He serves the balls and I hit them back.

    I believe children can be converted, but I don’t believe babies can. The reason is that faith comes by hearing.

    New Covenant “offspring” are believers, not physical offspring. The Abrahamic bloodline is fulfilled. The blood is in heaven, presented to the Father.

    Jesus used the natural faith of children in adults as a picture of the faith we are to have in God. They are not the same thing.

    We are not to hinder anyone coming to Jesus, but coming to the Table is not coming to Jesus. You guys need to get that straight. If you don’t, you have subverted the gospel.

    I agree that regeneration is more of a process. I have even quoted Jordan on this. But it’s the commonly used word for conversion.

    You have misunderstood me. We are “formed” by hearing the Word when unconverted. It cuts us up – like raw materials – and raises an altar ready for the fire of the Spirit to “fill” us. I haven’t departed from the structure.

    Agree that Acts is a transitional period, and some things need to be taken as one-offs – such as dealing with the baptizees of John. But even this has structural warrant in the Old Testament.

    How do we raise Covenant children? Firstly, we love them and discipline them in the light of the gospel. When they come to faith and are converted, we baptize them and allow them to come to the Table.

    We can learn a lot from Abraham and Israel, but they were a nation united fundamentally by blood. We are a nation united fundamentally by Spirit, which allows us to exist as yeast within all blood nations.

    Hope that helps.


  • Mike Bull Says:

    Michael – just put up another baptism post. I’ll get off the baptism issue when I get some answers that aren’t half-baked, out-of-context, sentimental excuses for giving the privileges and responsibilites of the regenerate to the unregenerate.

    A Muppet has more visible support than paedobaptism.


  • Michael Shover Says:

    Ok, lets deal with specifics. What does Peter mean in Acts 2 when he reiterates the Abrahamic covenantal promise – when he says, to you and your children? Whose children?

    second, if Jesus used the natural faith of children in adults to tell us of our faith in God, then why do you not believe that “Jesus loves the little children”?

    third, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 seems to say that the bread and wine are communion with the body and blood of Christ. Jesus isn’t there? not even by faith? Demons are there in the in pagan sacrificical memorial meals, but Jesus isn’t present in His sacrificial memorial meal? hmmm….

    fourth, John the Baptist had faith in his mommy’s tummy. Babies can believe.

    fifth, nananany poopoo!!!!

  • Mike Bull Says:


    I’ve answered all these objections already. All except for your fifth one, which has really sent me into a spin. Is this the testimony of an infant baptism candidate? I am ready to recant.

  • Michael Shover Says:

    haha, I knew it would.