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Why Do We Baptize Babies? (2)

In the previous post I wrote about the essence of the Abrahamic covenant. I argued that the covenant, though national in a sense, was in its essence spiritual. I also briefly argued from Scripture to show the continuity of the Abrahamic covenant. To read another article in support of the continuity argument I refer the reader to the article “Continuity Preserves the Gospel.

In this article I argue that the Abrahamic covenant is not abrogated but still in force and is essentially identical with the New Covenant. This is one of the arguments of Galatians. Abraham has more in common with the New Covenant than Moses. The Apostle Paul argued that the Mosaic Covenant did not abrogate the Abrahamic Covenant but is actually subservient to Abrahamic Covenant. According to Dr. J. Pipa in his commentary on Galatians he writes,

“He uses the term ‘law’ to refer to the Mosaic covenant. If law culminates in curse, what then are its role and its relationship to God’s grace? Paul answers this question by explaining the relationship between the Abrahamic and the Mosaic covenants. He shows us two things: (a) the Mosaic does not nullify or alter the Abrahamic and (b) the Mosaic is actually subservient to the Abrahamic.”

Therefore we rightly observe unity and the continuity of the Abrahamic covenant in both dispensations for four reasons.

Firstly, the Mediator is the same.

Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Acts 10:43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Acts 15:10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?
Acts 15:11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

Gal. 3:16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.

1Tim. 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
1Tim. 2:6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

1Pet. 1:9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1Pet. 1:10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully,
1Pet. 1:11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.
1Pet. 1:12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Secondly, the condition of faith is the same in the old and new

Gen. 15:6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

Rom. 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”

Psa. 32:10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.

Heb. 2:4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

Acts 10:43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Heb 11 (the chapter)

Thirdly, the spiritual blessings of the covenant are the same in

a) justification:

Psa. 32:1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Psa. 32:2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
Psa. 32:5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

Is. 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.

Rom. 4:9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness.

Gal. 3:6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

b) regeneration

Deut. 30:6 And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.

Psa. 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.

c) spiritual gifts

Joel 2:28 “And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.

Joel 2:32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.

Acts 2:17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
Acts 2:18 even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
Acts 2:19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
Acts 2:20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Is. 40:31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

d) eternal life

Ex. 3:6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Heb. 4:9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,

Heb. 11:10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

Fourthly, Hebrews encourages the Christian with the objective oath made by God as a confirmation to Abraham. This shows the unchangeable nature of the promise because it is impossible for God to lie

Heb. 6:13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself,
Heb. 6:14 saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.”
Heb. 6:15 And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise.
Heb. 6:16 For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation.
Heb. 6:17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath,
Heb. 6:18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.

In conclusion, Scripture shows the continuity and NOT the discontinuity of the Abrahamic Covenant. This continuity is foundational to us as Christians to understand and rely on the promises of an unchanging and faithful God. And if this continuity exists then the Abrahamic covenant is not abrogated (repealed) but still in force and is essentially identical with the New Covenant.

Why Do We Baptize Babies?

“Why do we baptize infants?” is a question in ministry we hear often. I would conservatively guess that I receive this question about five times a year on average. This number is based on conversations ranging from those that have nothing to do with infant baptism, and then the person may introduce the question, or they may just initiate the conversation with the question on baptism. Sometimes it is something people have been wrestling with for some time and other times it appears like they are very sympathetic to the view and are looking for a reason to support the practice they already approve.

Thus I write this article hoping to answer many questions most commonly asked. To be clear, I don’t want to write, so I don’t have to answer them in person, but so that they would be able to see the argument and study it carefully. Often I forget all the words people say and I am certain I’m not alone.

First, let me say two things at the outset. There is no explicit command in the Bible to baptize children, to say this differently, there isn’t an instance recorded where believing parents bring children to receive the sign of baptism. On the other hand, we read of no situation in the New Testament where Christian parents of a child are told not to bring their child to receive baptism till they have come to an age of discernment and have given something resembling a profession of faith in Christ.

So this is the question “What are we to do with children of believers?” I have seen Calvary Chapel churches dedicate babies, or sometimes other churches pray over the children, then there are the many other denominations that baptize their children. I argue that all children of at least one believing parent should receive the sign of holy baptism.

First I will argue that the that the covenant made with Abraham was a spiritual covenant, while it also had a national aspect. The sign and seal of this spiritual covenant circumcision.

Baptists will argue that the Abrahamic covenant should be divided or broken up into three different covenants. But throughout Scripture, it is always spoken of in the singular, always. Some examples:

Ex. 2:24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.

Lev. 26:42 then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.

2Kings 13:23 But the LORD was gracious to them and had compassion on them, and he turned toward them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, nor has he cast them from his presence until now.

1Chr. 16:16     the covenant that he made with Abraham his sworn promise to Isaac,

Psa. 105:9     the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac,

Also, I argue that the spiritual nature of the Abrahamic covenant is proved by the Apostolic interpretation of the Abrahamic covenant in the New Testament.

Rom. 4:16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,

Rom. 4:17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

Rom. 4:18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”

2Cor. 6:16-18 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

Gal. 3:8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”

Gal. 3:9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Gal. 3:14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

Gal. 3:16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.

Heb. 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Heb. 11:9-10 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

Heb. 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

In the Old Testament circumcision, while visible, had a spiritual significance.

Deut. 10:16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.

Deut. 30:6 And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.

Jer. 4:4     Circumcise yourselves to the LORD;
remove the foreskin of your hearts,
O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem;
lest my wrath go forth like fire,
and burn with none to quench it,
because of the evil of your deeds.”

Jer. 9:25 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will punish all those who are circumcised merely in the flesh—

Jer. 9:26 Egypt, Judah, Edom, the sons of Ammon, Moab, and all who dwell in the desert who cut the corners of their hair, for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart.”

Acts 15:1 But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”

Rom. 2:26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?

Rom. 2:27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law.

Rom. 2:28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical.

Rom. 2:29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

Rom. 4:11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well,

Phil. 3:2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.

And Paul even calls the promise of the Abrahamic Covenant “The Gospel.”

Gal. 3:8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”

The conclusion is that while the Abrahamic covenant had national or political aspects, (promised a land, people, and global blessings) the essence of the covenant was spiritual. Also that it was unified and was always in place while seen in different administrations. This next point will move from this first in the next article.

Turretin: Infant Baptism Proved Because Infants Belong to the Kingdom of Heaven

Turretin’s fourth argument for infant baptism is from Matthew 19:13 where the attempt is made to hand a child to Jesus ignorer for him to lay his hands on them and pray for them.

Matt. 19:13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

The question asked from this is “Why is it right that Jesus would call children to him but that we should not call them to baptism, which is the sign of our union with him?”

If Christ has received these little ones into his arms should the Church therefore keep them away? Christ willingly, without compulsion, receives these little ones, yet the guardian of the oracles of Christ keeps those same little ones away from him. This is event of circumstances that lead to fencing the little ones from the one who first called them is a grave injustice.  (more…)

Turretin: Infant Baptism Proved by Circumcision

water 2Turretin’s third argument for infant baptism is by circumcision. He considers the similarities of circumcision and baptism and uses them as a support to the argument that baptism should be administered to children as circumcision was. The two sacraments are the same in their essence and purpose therefore the administration of both should also be the same.

In Genesis 17 God commands that circumcision was to be administered to infants. The command carries forward to the New Testament as baptism is now the covenant sign signifying what circumcision did. This is proven in the New Testament where baptism and circumcision are shown to meet at the Cross as Paul writes in Col 2:11-12

Col. 2:11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

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Infant Baptism Argued From The Covenant

NicoGiovanni Doiy baptisim at Our Lady of Mercy in Westlake.

NicoGiovanni Doiy baptisim at Our Lady of Mercy in Westlake.

Turretin’s 1st proof for infant baptism was an appeal to the command of Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20.

Matt. 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The 2nd proof, that I want to write about today, is his argument made from the covenant. I have said, and will say again, when we talk about baptism, we must talk about it in covenantal terms. If you don’t have a covenantal concept in view when discussing baptism, you will invariably arrive at an improper understanding of the signs and also the recipients. It is an error to withhold the sign of the covenant from those who are in the covenant. Turretin states it this way “seals of the covenant also pertain to those to whom the covenant of God pertains”. There isn’t disagreement with this statement. (more…)

Turretin: Infants of Believers Should be Baptized

Francis Turretin (1623-1687) wrote one of the most influential works in Reformed theology. His works were influential and used as text books till the time of Hodge. Turretin is a special jewel that was largely forgotten in Reformed circles. In volume 3 of his three volume work he discusses infant baptism. The question he starts with is:

Should the infants of believers be baptized?

The question, as Turretin points out, is not for all children but specifically for the children of believers. This is also is not to say that baptism is of absolute necessity but it is considered, as Turretin states, a “hypothetical necessity of the command”. Turretin re-phrases the question

Are the infants of Christians to be baptized because Christ thus commanded and because by baptism graciously, yet freely, God is accustomed to be efficacious in testifying and sealing grace?

Turretin’s response: “We affirm”

Turretin rests his argument on seven points.

1 From the command of Christ

2. From the Covenant

3. From Circumcision

4. Because Infants Belong to the Kingdom of Heaven

5. Because the Children of Believers Are Holy

6. Because Nothing Prevents the Baptism of Infants

7. From the Fathers

The first is “Infant Baptism is proved from the command of Christ”

The command of Christ is: (more…)

Liam Goligher – How I Changed My Mind About Infant Baptism

waterLiam Goligher writing for Tenth Presbyterian in Philadelphia, PA gives an account here describing the journey that led him to changing his mind from being a baptist to paedobaptist. Raised in a Baptist church he was baptized at 15 then became a pastor of his own church at the age of 22. His journey took time because of his numerous responsibilities that limited his time to research. Yet the questions he had still loomed in the background. His questions point out some of the problems with the baptistic system as a whole.

He states:

What were my problems? I wanted to understand where baptism stood in the context of biblical theology, how did it fit into the flow of the bible’s story line? I could not understand why, given the Old Testament emphasis of God’s working through families, the New Testament did not signal a change in that policy; it seemed passing strange to me that the new covenant sacrament included women and Gentiles but excluded the children of believers; it seemed that in that respect the new covenant was less generous than the old. There were too many questions surrounding the family baptisms in Acts and Corinthians, Paul’s “holy” children, the warning passages of Hebrews, and the nature of the church that I could not resolve from a Baptist perspective.

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