Shepherd of Hermas - Baptized Believers are the Elect

Those who obey Christ are added to the elect church and thereby become the elect of God. This puts the merit in a Holy God rather than a random-sample God.

See total Document here.

Calvinism in the Church

# 1: David Lawrence of David Lipscomb on predestinaion Number One.
# 2: A Look at Galatians 3 on PREDESTINATION to a system of FAITH like Abraham who was justified because he obeyed all of God's commands and decrees.
#3: David Lawrence: Predestination Acts 11:8 and 2 Timothy 2 

"The Pastor of Hermas (AD 160) was one of the most popular books, if not the most popular book, in the Christian Church during the second, third, and fourth centuries. It occupied a position analogous in some respects to that of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress in modern times; and critics have frequently compared the two works."

This excerpt is the shepherd's understanding of election which is not Calvinistic predestination. Those who believe, repent, confess and are baptized become "stones" in the tower of the "lady" who is the church. The church has been the elect goal of God to build a body of faithful believers as the only remnant of an earth doomed to be consumed in fire. The total document is here.


First Words

As we enter the story, the shepherd has slipped a bit and watched a bathing beauty. However, a Spirit (dream) took him, and bore him away through a pathless tract, through which no man could pass. He is told by a righteous lady that he was taken up not to be convicted but to remind him that he was part of the elect. Elect is the church and not the predestinated. He is told that:

God, Who dwelleth in the heavens, and created out of nothing the things which are, and increased and multiplied them

for His holy Church's sake, is wroth with thee, for that thou didst sin against me'.

While then, his purposes are righteous, his reputation stands stedfast in the heavens, and he finds the Lord easily propitiated in all that he does. However, those that entertain evil purposes in their hearts, bring upon themselves death and captivity,

especially they that claim for themselves this present world, and boast in its riches, and cleave not to the good things that are to come.

Their souls shall rue it, seeing that they have no hope, but have abandoned themselves and their life.

AS soon as she had spoken these words the heavens were shut and while wondering what to do the shepherd saw before him a great white chair of snow-white wool and there came an aged lady in glistening raiment, having a book in her hands. The shepherd was weaping and is reminded that he did have wicked thoughts. The danger was that an "evil and mad purpose can overtake a devout spirit that hath been already approved.

That is, one of the elect or church members can still be overtaken by sin.

The shepherd is warned not to neglect teaching his family

For as the smith hammering his work conquers the task which he wills, so also doth righteous discourse repeated daily conquer all evil.

Cease not therefore to reprove thy children;

for I know that if they shall repent with all their heart, they shall be written in the books of life with the saints'.

After these words had ceased, she saith unto the shepherd, `Wilt thou listen to me as I read'? Then say I, `Yes, lady'. She saith to me, `Be attentive, and hear the glories of God'. I listened with attention and with wonder to that which I had no power to remember; for all the words were terrible, such as man cannot bear.

These were her first words and warned that God's purpose of establishing the church as His elect could be lost. They were not good words to the shepherd.

Why was this so important?

The lady would tell him some 'last words' so that the shepherd concluded that: "The last words however I remembered, for they were suitable for us and gentle. Then the lady explained God's election. She shows that obedience is important because to obey makes us part of the elect just as a plant which grows is part of God's elect plan for trees.

The evil live on and prosper but God's purpose was to provide for His people or His church. The shepherd hears the words which show that God's eternal purpose, his predestination, was for the church:

"Behold, the God of Hosts, Who by His invisible and mighty power and by His great wisdom created the world, and by His glorious purpose clothed His creation with comeliness, and by His strong word fixed the heaven, and founded the earth upon the waters and by His own wisdom and providence formed His Holy Church, which also He blessed-behold,

He removeth the heavens and the mountains and the hills and the seas, and all things are made level for His elect,

However, God's promise and election is based upon people's obedience:

"that He may fulfil to them the promise which He promised with great glory and rejoicing, if so be that they shall keep the ordinances of God, which they received, with great faith'.

When the lady had finished reading and arose from her chair, there came four young men, and they took away the chair, and departed towards the East. Then she calleth the shepherd to her, and touched his breast, and saith to him, `Did my reading please thee?`

And I say unto her, `Lady, these last words please me, but the former were difficult and hard'.

The first words, to the non-elect, were to "those that claim for themselves this present world, and boast in its riches, and cleave not to the good things that are to come."

Then the lady replied to Hermas:
........... These last words are for the righteous,
........... but the former are for the heathen and the rebellious'.

While she was still speaking to him, two men appeared, and took her by the arms, and they departed, whither the chair also had gone towards the East.

When the shepherd failed to chastise his talkative wife

The spirit (vision) took him again and the "aged lady" talked again. Hermas remembers that he had been reminded about his sins one year ago. The lady began to talk to him and again began reading to him. She asked him:

And she saith to me, `Canst thou report these things to the elect of God'? I say unto her, `Lady, I cannot recollect so much; but give me the little book, that I may copy it'. `Take it', saith she, `and be sure and return it to me'.

He took it, and retiring to a certain spot in the country he copied it letter for letter because he could not make out the syllables. When he had finished the letters of the book, suddenly the book was snatched out of his hand; Then after fifteen days, when he had fasted and entreated the Lord earnestly, the knowledge of the writing was revealed to me. And this is what was written:

They have betrayed their parents through great wickedness, yea, they have got the name of betrayers of parents, and yet they did not profit by their betrayal;

In fact, it said that all the saints that have sinned unto this day, if they repent with their whole heart, and remove double-mindedness from their heart.

For the Master sware by His own glory, as concerning His elect;

that if, now that this day has been set as a limit, sin shall hereafter be committed, they shall not find salvation;

Who is this Aged Lady?

The shepherd of Hermas continues to repeat: "The Lord is nigh unto them that turn unto Him, as it is written in Eldad and Modat, who prophesied to the people in the wilderness." Now, brethren, a revelation was made unto me in my sleep by a youth of exceeding fair form,

who said to me, `Whom thinkest thou the aged woman, from whom thou receivedst the book, to be'?
........... I say, `The Sibyl'.
........... ........... Thou art wrong', saith be, `she is not'.
........... Who then is she'?
........... ........... I say.
........... The Church', saith he.

I said unto him, `Wherefore then is she aged'? `Because', saith he, `she was created before all things; therefore is she aged; and for her sake the world was framed'. And afterwards I saw a vision in my house.

The aged woman came, and asked me, if I had already given the book to the elders.

I said that I had not given it.
`Thou hast done well', she said, `for I have words to add.
When then I shall have finished all the words, it shall be made known by thy means to all the

In the third vision, the revelation of the church (elect) is made known.

The church is built of perfect, white stones which is the apostles, prophets, elders and deacons.

The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Re.21:14

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Mt.7:24

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock Mt.7:25

Then, there are lost stones which are not beyond redemption:

The Lost Stones

`But those whom they rejected and threw away, who are they'?

`These have sinned, and desire to repent, therefore they were not cast to a great distance from the tower, because they will be useful for the building, if they repent.

They then that shall repent, if they repent, will be strong in the faith, if they repent now while the tower is building.

But if the building shall be finished, they have no more any place, but shall be castaways.

Christ is building this tower or church one stone at a time. When the last stone is in place the end will come.

The Non-Elect

But wouldst thou know about them that are broken in pieces, and cast away far from the tower?
........... These are the sons of wickedness was absent from them.

Therefore they have not salvation, for they are not useful for building by reason of their wickednesses.

Therefore they were broken up and thrown far away by reason of the wrath of the Lord, for they excited Him to wrath.

But the rest whom thou hast seen lying in great numbers, not going to the building, of these they that are mildewed are they that knew the truth, but did not abide in it, nor cleave to the saints.

The Elect are Baptized

There are many types of "stones" but they crumble and fall away under the test.

But they that fall into the fire and are burned, these are they that finally rebelled from the living God, and it no more entered into their hearts to repent by reason of the lusts of their wantonness and of the wickednesses which they wrought.

But the others, which fall near the waters and yet cannot roll into the water, wouldest thou know who are they?

These are they that heard the word, and would be baptized unto the name of the Lord.

Then, when they call to their remembrance the purity of the truth, they change their minds, and go back again after their evil desires'.

Around the tower or church are seven ladies:

The "fruit of the Spirit" or the "fruit of Christ" is like the seven spirits which would rest upon God as Messiah listed in Isaiah 11:1f. They are the spirits or mental dispositions of those who love the truth more than they love the things of the physical world:

The first of them, the woman with the strong hands, is called Faith; through her are saved the elect of God. And the second, that is girded about and looketh like a man, is called Continence; she is the daughter of Faith.

Whosoever then shall follow her, becometh happy in his life, for he shall refrain from all evil deeds, believing that, if he refrain from every evil desire, he shall inherit eternal life'.

`And the others, lady, who be they'?
`They are daughters one of the other.
The name of the one is
Simplicity, of the next, knowledge, of the next, Guilelessness, of the next, Reverence, of the next, Love.

What can we conclude about the views written perhaps by the grandchildren of a man who knew Paul?

We understand that the church is in the eternal purpose of God. The church is the elect. The creation and the provision of all things to make this earth operate were created for the sole purpose of God collecting believers or "stones" to build up the "tower."

Those who obey the commands of Christ are "added to the church." These are the children or stones which the Father has given the Son. They are the elect.

However, even the believers are in constant danger and can fling themselves away from the "tower" and be lost.

The elect are the baptized believers who have, in this analogy, had the "fires put out" by just "rolling into the water." Not strictly Scriptural but a good figurative explanation of our passive acceptance of grace so that He will add us to the "tower."

The elect or predestinated bring forth fruit. They are part of God's predestination because those who believe have chosen the tough discipline of the kingdom rather than believing but deciding that the world is more fun than the church, the elect lady of God.

Comments from Scripture:

A: The Bible indicates that before the creation of the world, the church was already in the mind of God (Ephesians 3:6-11). Its establishment was foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament (Isaiah 2:1-4). In all of its activities, the church is to glorify God (Ephesians 3:21). Our mission, like that of our Savior, is to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).

We become the elect when we become children:

THE elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth; 2 John 1:1

For the truths sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever. 2 John 1:2

I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. 2 John 1:4

And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 2 John 1:5

And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. 2 John 1:6

The central command is "love." However, the loss of love is obvious when people diminish or pervert any specific teaching of Christ such as God coming in the flesh:

For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 2 John 1:7

Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. 2 John 1:8

Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 2 John 1:9NIV

Those who are the elect have the Father and the Son because they continue in the teachings of Father and Son.

So, love is the motive but the external fact is teaching something Christ has not taught.

Of those who have rejected the elected purpose of God for the church:

Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 2 Tim. 2:17

who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. 2 Tim. 2:18

Those who have spread gangrene by rejecting everything except the "core gospel" should understand that the teachings OF Christ are those things which He taught. The teachings about Christ have little value if we repudiate the teachings of Christ and those He empowered with His Spirit.

Therefore, teaching that the resurrection has taken place is a false doctrine and a false gospel:

Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription:

"The Lord knows those who are his," and,
"Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must
turn away (repent) from wickedness." 2Ti.2:19

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. 2 Tim. 2:20

If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work 2 Tim. 2:21

When one accepts Christ and repents they have come into a relationship with God. That is, faith has bridged the barrier without which one cannot see God or His kingdom or "tower." However, the "repented of sins" must be forgiven. There is only one way defined by Scripture outside of Christ's personal touch.

Paul defines the elect as those who confess, repent and are cleansed. According to Jesus and Peter, this cleansing happens in the mind of God when we submit to Him in baptism:

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Ac.2:38

The "Tower" of the elect is the church:

Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: Mt.21:33

You know the rest of the story. Paul used the building analogy when he said:

if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 1Ti.3:15

And Paul laid the one foundation which had been laid. He was not the foundation but the stone builder:

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 1Co.3:10

The command of Christ was for us to take up our cross and follow Him. His message is that if you think that you can build a tower and cannot pay for it with your own life then perhaps you should build upon the church of Christ of which He is the Foundation and finisher:

For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Luke 14:28

Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Luke 14:29

Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Luke 14:30

The Shepherd of Hermas warns of those who would attempt to restructure or build a new church rather than simply and humbly picking up their tiny cross and following Jesus.

He warns against those who believe that they are predestinated to be added to the church because of some random sampling plan of God.

The truth is that the church was house or tower of elected and the total object of the creation of all things. Those who believe, repent and just simply "roll into the water" like a round stone are added to the church or the elect. They become living stones:

If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 1 Peter 2:3

To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen (elect) of God, and precious, 1 Peter 2:4

Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5

The priests had to be totally washed in order to be able to serve.

A "house" cannot be physical, literal or institutional and at the same time "spiritual." Sacrifices cannot be singing and playing instruments to please the human senses and at the same time be in the "spirit" or mind. One cannot stoop to following a human priest or mediator and at the same time be a spiritual priest in the elect body of the elect Savior in the elect "house" where our citizenship is in heaven.

Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 1 Peter 2:6

Unto you therefore which believe he is precious:
but unto them which be
disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 1 Peter 2:7

In this verse, believe is set opposite disobedient. Therefore, a believer is one who has become obedient to the will of the Elect.

The chief cornerstone often protruded outside the wall of the physical structure. If you were careless turning a corner, the stone would cause you to be smashed on the stone foundation. Therefore, using human reasoning to resist obedience causes the Elect Head to become:

...a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word,
........... being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 1 Peter 2:8

These people were not predestinated or elected to be disobedient. Rather, "being disobedient is parenthetic: those who are disobedient stumble because it is the punishment for disobedience.

The LIV reads

And the Scriptures also say, "He is the Stone that some will stumble over, and the Rock that will make them fall." They will stumble
........... because they will not listen to God's Word nor obey it,
........... and so this punishment must follow-that they will fall. 1 Peter 2:8

The church as the elect puts the merit in Christ. Obedience puts us into the church which bestows election.

The individuals as the elect before they are saved puts the merit on the person however loudly they pretend to be passive.

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Kenneth Sublett Comments Welcome

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