Pristine Grace

A Comparison of Sovereign Grace and Federal Vision Teaching
by Bob Higby

A Comparison of Sovereign Grace and Federal Vision Teaching

Since so many have expressed confusion about what the teachings of Federal Vision really are, I have prepared this comparison summary which should be relatively simple to understand.

NOTE: The history of Protestant dogma is full of paradoxical notions, many of which when taken in isolation can be used to justify Federal Vision teaching.   Sovereign Grace Calvinism in this chart is represented in its mature, best, and consistent expression over time.

The Covenant of Grace and Salvation
Sovereign Grace Calvinism Federal Vision Heresy
The spheres of the covenant of grace and the elect body of Christ are one and the same. The spheres of the covenant of grace and the elect body of Christ overlap but are not one and the same.
The covenant of grace is entered when the Holy Spirit dispenses the gift of faith in an elect person. Water baptism is a sign of entering the covenant. The covenant of grace is entered when Christian water baptism is applied to a person, whether the individual is elect or not. Participation in the covenant is confirmed and renewed by the exercise of faith.
Salvation is possible and definitely extended by God outside of the visible church. There is no ordinary possibility of salvation outside of the visible church.
The Sacraments
The application of water in baptism does not ordinarily correspond to the moment of regeneration in an elect soul. The application of water in baptism often does correspond to the moment of regeneration in an elect soul.
Although all things should be done decently and in order, the administration of communion and water baptism are valid when performed by orthodox believers not ordained by church institutions. The administration of communion or water baptism is valid only when performed by those ordained by a church institution.
Grace is signified and rejoiced in by administration of communion and water baptism. Grace is truly communicated in and corresponds to the administration of the sacraments.
The Church
The visible church in this world consists of the assembly of the elect only. Non-elect professors who enter the worship and communion of the visible church are not actual members of it. The visible church consists of all of those legitimately baptized by water, whether elect or non-elect.
Congregations of elect believers outside of duly organized and recognized church institutions are legitimate manifestations of the visible church. Only congregations led by ordained officers of recognized church institutions are legitimate manifestations of the visible church.
Sola Fide
The experience and assurance of personal justification comes through faith alone in Christ's saving grace at the beginning of the Christian life and continues to always be a reality by faith alone. The experience and assurance of personal justification comes through faith alone at the beginning of the Christian life only. The maintenance of such assurance must be grounded in the adequate performance of good works as commanded by Christ.
Unconditional Election
Election to and participation in the everlasting covenant of grace is strictly unconditional, eternal, and dependent solely on the sovereign purpose of God.
 
Eternal election is unconditional and God's secret will but entrance to and continuance in the covenant of grace is conditional on baptism, faith, and works.
Definite Atonement
The atonement of Christ is strictly purposed toward and applied to the elect only. Non-elect souls are never recipients in any sense of the saving grace flowing from the atonement. Non-elect persons may enter the covenant of grace and receive sanctification by the blood of Christ temporarily. Atonement grace provides for both eternal salvation of the elect and temporal salvation of non-elect who enter the church.
Irresistable Grace
Grace is in every sense irresistible, both in its eternal purpose and administration in time. There is a time-salvation that is conditional and resistible, though eternal salvation in God,'s secret purpose is unconditional and irresistible.
Preservation of the Saints
All saints who are given regeneration and faith in time shall certainly be preserved unto the end and saved in eternity. Some who experience salvation in the visible church in time are not elect in eternity and will not persevere in faith and good works unto the end.
Those who have experienced the gift of faith in time may know for certain that they shall persevere in faith unto the end and be saved in eternity. Those who have experienced baptism and faith in time may only be assured of salvation in the present. Future assurance can only be obtained by a life of continuance in faith and good works.