Monday, May 20, 2013

Navigating between the false views on baptism

God specifically tells us that not all the children even of believers are elect (let alone regenerate/believing), therefore Scripture provides no warrant for presuming election, regeneration, or faith in the children of believers. And the sign of baptism may not be administered on this presumptive speculative basis.

However, the Baptist goes to the other extreme of presuming that all infants are unregenerate, and ignoring the promise of God that He elects from the children of believers. The sign of baptism may not be refused on the basis of this presumptive denial that of such [the children of believers] is the kingdom of heaven.

Rather, as in the Old Testament, the sign and seal of the righteousness of faith (the faith that is produced in us by regeneration, so that we are spiritually washed) is given on the basis of the promise of God to us and our children, since His promises are given to the children of the church no less than to the adults (since not all the adults who call themselves Israel, or believers, or church are regenerate). But God deals with His people, His church, as an organic whole. Sure there is chaff, there are tares among the wheat, but it is still addressed as a wheat-field. We do not presume the salvation of the adult professors, but we treat all the members of the church as God's people, no less the children. Always His covenant has been established and maintained in the line of continued generations, and the sign has reflected that:

"As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever." - Isaiah 59:21.

According to the new covenant (the old fulfilled in Christ), the sign must change to suit the differences in the New Testament age - because if new wine is placed in old wineskins, they will be ruined. Rather it is placed in new wineskins. So that in everything the new covenant is BETTER (the keyword of Hebrews). The sign of water baptism is better than circumcision, because it puts no difference between Jew or Gentile (seeing that this new age is characterised by the salvation of the ends of earth, every tongue, tribe, and nation). It is better because it is not bloody (seeing that Christ by His blood has put an end to the shedding of blood for sins). It is better because it can be applied alike to both male and female, old and young.

The new covenant would not be better if suddenly children were to be excluded. If there had been some strange new doctrine, that the children of believers were now to be excluded from the sign of the covenant, there would certainly be something in the New Testament to explain such an outrageous change. Rather, the New Testament is filled with confirmation that God's promise of salvation is still to elect believers and their children, but explained more fully and explicitly (especially in Romans 9), is that this promise was never to all the children without exception, but that God's purposes with election and reprobation run through the children of believers.

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