Galatians 3:29 and baptism

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Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
Anthony,

Added to that, the visible church is what all thinking Christians regard as the people of God.


Ron
Thinking christians view the elect that Jesus died for as the church, His body, The Sheep, The people of God.No more no less. Not all who visibly assemble are those "called out" or as members in particular. No new birth , no heaven. Thinking christians understand that some who assemble have placed themselves among the people of God by their own will, the will of the parents, or any other fleshly reason. These are not "the people of God"
Maybe start here, was circumcision a sign?
It was.
 

JTB

Puritan Board Freshman
iconoclast said:
Baptists see water baptism as an outward sign and proper confession of an inward reality that has already come to pass,ie being born again.

Which is only different from circumcision in the expectation of the inward reality coming to pass. Both depend upon a promise rather than a knowledge of the reality. Paedobaptism rests upon promises evidenced in the OT. Credobaptism depends upon a promise made according the individual's confession of the truth. Whereas Paedobaptism accepts both promises as valid, the Baptist denies the former on a basis you have not proven.

The point being: circumcision and baptism are both outward signs of an expected inward reality. That this inward reality has or has not come to pass is beyond the knowledge of those called upon to judge. The judge can only believe or disbelieve the profession (of adults) or the promise (to covenant children). There is no greater warrant for the former than the latter.

iconoclast said:
The person being baptized has already been placed in saving union with Christ by the Spirit

Except when it is a false profession, in which case the outward sign is not of an inward reality at all. So how then is baptism an outward sign of an inward reality when the inward reality does not exist? What function does baptism have that distinguishes it from circumcision, which was also given to those not known, but expected, to be in the covenant?

An outward sign is just that, an outward sign. No one but the individual and God can know the inward reality, and what one expresses does not always communicate what one knows; and what one professes to know is not always true--no different from the infant who cannot express and does not yet know.
 

Ron

Puritan Board Freshman
"Thinking christians view the elect that Jesus died for as the church, His body, The Sheep, The people of God.No more no less."

Anthony,

No more, no less? There can be people living on earth for whom Christ died that are currently sacrificing pigs on alters to appease wooden idols. Are they to be regarded as the people of God prior to their conversion? I think not. That you would define the people of God in such a way, especially in a discussion that is aimed at defining not the elect of God but rather those who are to be regarded as children in covenant with God, is unfortunate indeed.

No new birth , no heaven.

Yup, but that doesn’t advance your argument; nor does it get close to addressing the proof that awaits a critical response. We’re to be discussing who the elders should allow to be baptized.

Both Presbyterians and Baptists would recommend for baptism a hypocrite adult, who had never been baptized, inwardly denied the faith but professed orthodoxy and lived a life that was consistent with that of a Christian witness. Accordingly, your Baptist theology requires that some unsaved men, who qualify in outward affirmation and life, be admitted to baptism by the elders. It would be the responsibility of the elders to admit such a one to baptism. God would have it no other way where the elders are concerned! The question we were to have been dealing with is who are the elders responsible to admit to baptism, and it is without question that even Baptist pastors are before God to baptize some who are unbelievers. It’s not a question of inward grace but of what God requires of the elders. So, just like with the adult hypocrite who the Baptist pastor is to baptize by God’s precept - the only question at this point is not whether the infant of a professing believer is elect or even regenerated, but whether it is to be regarded as a heritage of the Lord and, therefore, to be baptized. The OT precept was that infants of professing believers were to be regarded as part of the people of God. I have yet to find a Baptist put forth a series of justifiable premises with a valid form that would lead to the conclusion that the New Covenant requires that this OT principle be abrogated and that professing believers are to regard their children as now outside the visible people of God.

Anthony, if you don’t mind, I’m going to bow out of this discussion. I am fully persuaded that if God would be pleased to do so, he could use what I’ve written to persuade you of what I believe you are missing for some reason that is not available for me to know.

Warmly yours,

Ron
 

Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
iconoclast said:
Baptists see water baptism as an outward sign and proper confession of an inward reality that has already come to pass,ie being born again.

Which is only different from circumcision in the expectation of the inward reality coming to pass. Both depend upon a promise rather than a knowledge of the reality. Paedobaptism rests upon promises evidenced in the OT. Credobaptism depends upon a promise made according the individual's confession of the truth. Whereas Paedobaptism accepts both promises as valid, the Baptist denies the former on a basis you have not proven.

The point being: circumcision and baptism are both outward signs of an expected inward reality. That this inward reality has or has not come to pass is beyond the knowledge of those called upon to judge. The judge can only believe or disbelieve the profession (of adults) or the promise (to covenant children). There is no greater warrant for the former than the latter.

iconoclast said:
The person being baptized has already been placed in saving union with Christ by the Spirit

Except when it is a false profession, in which case the outward sign is not of an inward reality at all. So how then is baptism an outward sign of an inward reality when the inward reality does not exist? What function does baptism have that distinguishes it from circumcision, which was also given to those not known, but expected, to be in the covenant?

An outward sign is just that, an outward sign. No one but the individual and God can know the inward reality, and what one expresses does not always communicate what one knows; and what one professes to know is not always true--no different from the infant who cannot express and does not yet know.

Hello JTB.
I would like to respond to your post. You said this;
Both depend upon a promise rather than a knowledge of the reality.
JTB- When a believer is baptized he is saying that he knows God has done a saving work in his life. He confesses openly and publickly that he is a sinner that God has been merciful too, in granting him repentance and faith.
You say that both depend upon a promise. God's covenant promise is sure for all of the elect. The perfect work of our Lord was completely effectually.
The objective truth of the full atonement that has been accomplished is wonderful.
The padeo who believes he is following the teaching of scripture has this promise in mind when he sprinkles his child,as he views it as an entrance into the covenant. Prayerfully they seek to instruct the children about God's truth.
The credo desires the same thing for his child but does not so much see water baptism as the entrance into the covenant. He sees the promise of Christ and his saving work extended in the gospel.
He looks forward to the day when the Spirit of God works that grace in his child. Instead of looking to say the child is in an [ outward, external,administration of the covenant] and needs to work to "improve his baptism" he goes about the work of being faithful to instruct his child from the scriptures. He instructs his child about God, the fall and salvation.
We do not include or exclude our child in the covenant but leave that where it belongs which is in God's hands.
It never has appeared to me that any of my children were saved from the womb . We saw evidence of the sin nature with all of them. Take a turn doing nursery duty at your local assembly and I suspect you will see the same thing. We do our part and wait upon the Lord for salvation to be granted to each child in particular. We know the God of all the earth will do right and rest in that as part of the promise.
When salvation does come- there is a knowledge of the reality however.
JTB do you know you are saved by the grace of God? or are you waiting for a future day when the promise is a reality?

you then said this;
Credobaptism depends upon a promise made according the individual's confession of the truth.
I do not see it this way, that it is a promise made according to the individuals confession
The profession made , the confessing of Christ comes from the reality of the work of God. Not according to the individual person.

The next question is an important question,you ask;
Except when it is a false profession, in which case the outward sign is not of an inward reality at all. So how then is baptism an outward sign of an inward reality when the inward reality does not exist?

A false profession is a tragedy. The baptism of a false professor, a hypocrite, a deceived individual is sad. The scripture speaks to this reality in several places.
15Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.

16They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
The fact that the scripture speaks of such persons and gives examples,Simon in Acts 8, Demas, Alexander the coppersmith,etc just goes to show that we are to faithful to follow God and leave the results to Him.
A false baptism is unbelievers baptism. Getting wet does not save. A wet goat is a wet goat. That does not mean we should not perform credo baptism does it? When an assembly of believers assembles, if some goats dress up as sheep/ it does not negate the fact that believers have assembled for worship! the letters to the seven churches makes it clear.
In Ezekiel 9 believers where marked with a mark that when the judgment came, they would be spared by the angels. In REv.14 believers are given the Fathers mark in the same way. We can be fooled here, but tares and goats will not slip by having been disguised as sheep when judgment begins at the house of God.
The church of Hebrews 12 :22-24 has not fully assembled yet, but in that day it will be pure.
Next you offer this
The point being: circumcision and baptism are both outward signs of an expected inward reality.
In your view yes.
In my view circumciscion was, ie, looking forward/ baptism looks back toan actual real condition.

next was this;
That this inward reality has or has not come to pass is beyond the knowledge of those called upon to judge. The judge can only believe or disbelieve the profession (of adults) or the promise (to covenant children). There is no greater warrant for the former than the latter.
If someone tells me who and what they believe and confesses Christ is Lord I think that has greater warrant than sprinkling the sleeping, or crying infant.

The objective promise of Jesus saving sinners does not help anyone unless it is applied by saving faith to an actual person.

So when you say this;
An outward sign is just that, an outward sign. No one but the individual and God can know the inward reality, and what one expresses does not always communicate what one knows; and what one professes to know is not always true--no different from the infant who cannot express and does not yet know.
[/QUOTE]
I see a big difference as I have previously explained. It is much different than an infant who does not know. 1st jn says we can know. I believe that.:book2:

-----Added 9/28/2009 at 11:38:43 EST-----

Ron, Again thanks for your responses , you have tried to help me in my understanding of these things. I am not sure I am making myself clear to you however, but lets see if in my travels I can discuss these things with you on a Lord's Day.
 

Ron

Puritan Board Freshman
"Ron, Again thanks for your responses , you have tried to help me in my understanding of these things. I am not sure I am making myself clear to you however, but lets see if in my travels I can discuss these things with you on a Lord's Day."

Sure thing my brother.

Ron
 

JTB

Puritan Board Freshman
Iconoclast,

I'm going to deal with a few specific and important conclusions you draw in the hope that you see your own inconsistency.

Iconoclast said:
When a believer is baptized he is saying that he knows God has done a saving work in his life. He confesses openly and publickly that he is a sinner that God has been merciful too, in granting him repentance and faith.
You say that both depend upon a promise. God's covenant promise is sure for all of the elect. The perfect work of our Lord was completely effectually.

The point isn't whether or not a professing individual knows, but what the elders affirm. The elders who determine a credible profession can have no knowledge of any individual's elect status. Therefore, they cannot base their decision to administer baptism on the knowledge that a person is indeed elect. Baptism, as a sign administered by the leaders of the church upon an adult, is not based upon their knowledge of that adult's election. It is based upon their belief in two things: 1) the credible profession of the individual, and 2) the commandment to baptize according to the Covenant.

iconoclast said:
You say that both depend upon a promise. God's covenant promise is sure for all of the elect. The perfect work of our Lord was completely effectually.
The objective truth of the full atonement that has been accomplished is wonderful.

This is irrelevant. If baptism were based only upon the objective work of Christ, then all people everywhere ought to be baptized. There are qualifications, as you well recognize. You say election is a qualification, but an elder who must administer the sacrament cannot know any but his own election. Does he then baptize in ignorance? No, he must baptize upon the nature of the sign: an outward sign of an expressed promise. For infants, the promise is based upon OT promises of God. For adults, the promise is based upon their declaration of assent to promises God has made in Scripture. Both are grounded in Scripture, but the latter requires a subjective (not an objective) element---not a certainty or a knowledge about election by those who must judge.

iconoclast said:
We do not include or exclude our child in the covenant but leave that where it belongs which is in God's hands.

One is either in covenant, or one is not. There is no middle ground or half-way status. The reality is that most baptists treat their children as part of the covenant (praise God!), but think of them as excluded from it (more is the shame!).

Iconoclast said:
When salvation does come- there is a knowledge of the reality however.
JTB do you know you are saved by the grace of God? or are you waiting for a future day when the promise is a reality?

Of course I know that God has saved me, but no other man or woman can, and unless I am authorized to baptize myself (which I am not), then the one who baptized me does not know that I am elect. He only knows that I have a credible profession of belief. When the minister baptized me, he hoped upon God's promise to keep those who are His, and since I professed to be His, the minister faithfully administered the sign upon me. Our children are given promises that you have not demonstrated to be abrogated. The baptists denies what is known (the promise to children), and affirms what cannot be known (the election of another person)

iconoclast said:
I do not see it this way, that it is a promise made according to the individuals confession
The profession made , the confessing of Christ comes from the reality of the work of God. Not according to the individual person.

Whether you see it that way or not, it is inescapable. You can never know (though you may believe with reasonable warrant) whether or not the confession is true, or based upon ignorance or deception. How can an inward reality exist where it does not exist in the case of the baptism of an unbeliever who falsely professes? If baptism is ONLY a sign of an inward reality, it can NEVER be administered upon those who ultimately deny Christ. To do so is to undermine entirely your definition of the sign.

iconoclast said:
In my view circumciscion was, ie, looking forward/ baptism looks back toan actual real condition.

Is it an actual real condition when the profession is false? Of course not! Yet you treat it the same, you administer the sign in the same way, and you believe the same.

iconoclast said:
A false baptism is unbelievers baptism. Getting wet does not save. A wet goat is a wet goat. That does not mean we should not perform credo baptism does it?

A perfect tuquoque: "A false baptism is unbelievers baptism. Getting wet does not save. A wet goat is a wet goat. That does not mean we should not perform paedo baptism does it?" Your logic is no different from a paedo's on this point, yet you fail to see the inconsistency you persist in regarding the Scriptures.

Iconoclast said:
If someone tells me who and what they believe and confesses Christ is Lord I think that has greater warrant than sprinkling the sleeping, or crying infant.

The objective promise of Jesus saving sinners does not help anyone unless it is applied by saving faith to an actual person.

It doesn't matter what you think has greater warrant. It matter what actually has warrant. Scripture provides the warrant for both. Saving faith is not made a reality on the basis of its expression, but rather its expression is evidence of that reality. Sometimes evidences can be false. John the Baptist leapt in the womb. David was known by God election prior to his birth. Joseph was destined prior to even being conceived. We have great evidence that David and Joseph exhibited a sinful nature, even long after they were professors of God.

Let the little children come, for such is the kingdom of heaven. Children are a heritage from the LORD. This promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are far off. God's faithfulness endures to the thousandth generation. Thousandth generation of what, if not faithful believers?

To summarize:

1) Baptism cannot be a sign of an inward reality, for the inward reality does not exist in every administration of the sign, therefore the sign can be false, which nullifies it as a sign. I don't think a baptist will argue that they administer false signs, for that would destroy the entire purpose of the sign to mark out something true.

2) Baptism, not being a sign of an inward reality, must be the sign of an objective status. An infant born into a believing home and a professing adult both have a claim to the promises of God. That claim is the objective standard by which baptism is to be administered truly.

3) Whereas the individual may know himself elect by the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit, that knowledge cannot be transferred into the mind of another. Therefore, the ministers who administer baptism do not know the inward reality of a person's status, be they elect or reprobate, regardless of their outward profession.

I haven't been as concise as I should,

~Joshua
 

Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
Hello JTB,
I enjoyed your last post and would like the opportunity to investigate where the inconsistencies might be.
Part of the difference obviously is we are viewing it from two different perspectives. Your sacremental view of the ordinance does not need much participation on the part of the person being baptized.
You correctly state that the elder performing a baptism cannot know a persons heart. We agree on this.
you said this;
Quote:
Originally Posted by iconoclast
We do not include or exclude our child in the covenant but leave that where it belongs which is in God's hands.

One is either in covenant, or one is not. There is no middle ground or half-way status. The reality is that most baptists treat their children as part of the covenant (praise God!), but think of them as excluded from it (more is the shame!).
Joshua, we do not believe in a breakable new covenant. That is part of the newness of the NC. You believe the NC is identical to the old,ie,breakable.
I do not believe this is the biblical case.
For someone to be actually and really In Christ they are one of the elect, Jn 6:37-44 Jn 10:27-30. We do not believe there is as you say a middle ground at all. Much to the contrary it is your view of the outward administration, visible /invisble distinction that holds this forth.
You can say your child is a covenant child-although it might not be a saving covenant relationship?
You are correct in saying most baptists treat their children as if they were in the covenant, sure because we cannot see the heart. But then you say we think of them as excluded..... No, not at all. We think of them as sinners who need the mercy and salvation of God. We think of them in biblical terms,Romans 5, 1 Cor 15:22.
We see the promises of God as you do but we interpret the data somewhat differently. The promise to OC. families did not profit many of them as for example those described in Psalm 78.
The book of Hebrews warns of this ,as well as 1 Cor10
1Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

2For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it
The promise did not profit them, they came short of it, not being mixed with faith.
So it is not that we think of them as excluded, but we urge them to lay hold of the promises. We instruct them in this and look for evidence that God has regenerated them. A baptist parent does not rest well until he sees his lambs safely folded. I suspect you are the same,looking for "an improvement of your childs baptism" a credible profession ,just the same as I would.

With my view of the COG to be in the covenant is to be saved as in Jn 10

you are not in, until you are regenerated and that salvation cannot be lost.
You are reading my post with your understanding of the COG so you see it as inconsistent.
What I find interesting Joshua is that when we speak with sinners about gospel truth we explain 1Cor 2:14;
14But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Yet it seems to me,and I hope I am mistaken in this when I hear the covenat child teaching that you look at your child as if they can be believers without the Spirit indwelling them, that they can mortify sin, understand the word effectually,pray. Ironically I find this an inconsistency as when questioned every faithful padeo will deny that they believe the christian life can be lived without the indwelling Spirit.

Baptism is administered upon profession , not upon perfect knowledge which i have already posted.

you said the following;
A perfect tuquoque: "A false baptism is unbelievers baptism. Getting wet does not save. A wet goat is a wet goat. That does not mean we should not perform paedo baptism does it?" Your logic is no different from a paedo's on this point, yet you fail to see the inconsistency you persist in regarding the Scriptures.
The difference here is you are sort of taking what I said but only part of it. I was addressing the issue of false professions/versus true. We baptize upon believing profession of spiritual birth. You baptize upon no profession,just physical birth.

next you said;
Is it an actual real condition when the profession is false? Of course not! Yet you treat it the same, you administer the sign in the same way, and you believe the same.
We obey the scripture in reference to believers baptism.Time and the devil will tell if the profession holds up.If it is false church discipline comes into play. sometimes it is not sorted out till the white throne judgment.

Now to your summary;
1) Baptism cannot be a sign of an inward reality, for the inward reality does not exist in every administration of the sign, therefore the sign can be false, which nullifies it as a sign. I don't think a baptist will argue that they administer false signs, for that would destroy the entire purpose of the sign to mark out something true.
This does not follow at all. I am not sure you said what you were trying to here Joshua.
baptism cannot be a sign of an inward reality??? it was with the eunuch in Acts 8, and most all the baptisms recorded. Because false professors come along does not negate the truth of believers baptism.
a false pastor does not negate the true, a false church does not negate the reality of the true!
A baptist will not knowingly baptize a sinner who does not believe.
Believers baptism is an open and public profession of faith in obediance to the command of Jesus.
nextyou say;
2) Baptism, not being a sign of an inward reality
I do not agree with you here, its just the nature of it.
 

Ron

Puritan Board Freshman
"Our children are given promises that you have not demonstrated to be abrogated. "

Joshua,

We must be clear that the promises are to the elect alone - "I will be your God and you will be my people." In other words, the promise is made to the children of the promise.

Covenant Theology and Baptism in a nutshell:

Immediately after the fall of man God promised that he would inflict a deep seated hatred between the seed of the woman and the seed of Satan. That promise, which would come to fruition being a promise(!), included the good news that the seed of the woman would crush the serpent’s head(Genesis 3:15). Then the Lord of the covenant covered with skins the two who were naked and ashamed(Genesis 3:21).

God later expanded upon his promise with respect to the seed, saying that he would establish his covenant between himself and Abraham; but not only would God establish his covenant promise with Abraham, he would also establish it with Abraham’s seed after him. This promise that was made to Abraham and his seed was that God would be a God to them and that they would occupy the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession (Genesis 17:7, 8). In response to the promise of God, which was one of redemption of a people and land for them to occupy, Abraham pleaded that his son Ishmael might live before God in faithfulness. (Genesis 3:18) God refused Abraham’s request, saying “as for Ishmael, I have heard thee… but my covenant will I establish with Isaac” not Ishmael (Genesis 17: 20, 21).

God’s promise of redemption of the seed would come to fruition; yet it did not apply to all of Abraham’s physical descendents. In fact, it even applied to those who were not of physical descent. Notwithstanding, all those who were of the household of Abraham were to receive the sign and seal of the covenant, as if they themselves were partakers of the promise of God. Even more, those within a professing household who did not receive the sign and seal of the covenant were to be considered outside the people of God and covenant breakers. In other words, infants who did not receive the sign of the covenant due to a parent’s spiritual neglect were to be considered lost and, therefore, under the dominion of Satan (Genesis 17:13, 14). This sign of the covenant was so closely related to the covenant that it was actually called the covenant by the Lord (Genesis 17:10). Consequently, those who had received the sign were to be considered in covenant with God; whereas those who had not received the sign yet qualified to receive it were to be treated as covenant breakers. We might say that the invisible church was to be found within the visible church, "out of which there was no ordinary way of salvation" (Acts 2:47b; WCF 25.2).

When we come to Galatians 3 we learn something quite astounding. The promise was made to a single Seed, who is the Christ; and it is by spiritual union with him, pictured in the outward administration of baptism, that the promise extends to the elect (in Christ). “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ…For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ… And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:16, 26-29) The apostle in no uncertain terms teaches that the covenant promise is established with the God-man - the incarnate Christ, and by covenantal extension with all who would be truly, by the Spirit, buried and raised with him in baptism.

Although God’s covenant was established from the outset with the elect in Christ, it was to be administered to all who professed the true religion along with their households. The theological distinction of the visible and invisible church was well in view, even at the time of Abraham. Although this was the theology of the Covenant, the apostle still had to labor the point to the New Testament saints at Rome. After telling his hearers that nothing could separate God’s people from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39), the apostle had to explain why the people of God, to whom the promises pertained, had fallen away from the faith. How, in other words, could the people of God become apostate if the promise of redemption would come to fruition? With his pedagogical background in place, the apostle explained the timeless Old Testament Covenant Theology, which is that although God established his covenant with the elect in Christ, it was to be administered to those who were reprobate as long as they were of the household of a professing believer. Consequently, it is not hard to imagine that they are not all true Israel who are from external Israel (Romans 9:6); and that all the New Testament church is not the true church. “That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (Romans 9:8).

With respect to the promise of the land of Canaan, it too was a type, as were the sacrifices that have passed away. The promise was seen as part- for-whole even by Abraham, who in his own time was looking not for the dirt of Palestine but the streets of gold, “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:10). In fact, all the “heroes of the faith” died without receiving the promises, “but having seen them afar off…confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth… For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God [the very essence of the covenant! “I will be your God...”]: for he hath prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11:13-16)

In sum, God’s promise was that he would redeem a people that he would place in his recreation, the church. The church’s final destiny is the consummated New Heavens and New Earth, wherein righteousness dwells. Until God separates the sheep from the goats, the visible church will contain unbelievers and hypocrites. Upon consummation, the visible church and the elect will be one and the same.

From a proper view of the covenant, we can now take a look at the practice of covenant baptism.

Under the older economy, although the covenant of promise was established solely with the elect in Christ, it was to be administered to the households professing believers. This means that the children of professing believers were to receive the mark of inclusion and, therefore, be counted among the people of God prior to professing faith in what the sign and seal of the covenant contemplated. Covenant children, even if they were reprobate, were to be treated as the elect of God and heirs according to the promise based upon corporate solidarity with a professing parent.

When we come to the New Testament nothing has changed with respect to the heirs of the promise. The promise remains established with the elect in Christ, as it always was. The question is whether the children of professing believers have somehow lost the privilege of receiving the sign of entrance into the New Testament church.

By way of review, God's promise to save Abraham and his "seed" was without any preconditions (Genesis 17:7) that had to be met by those prior to God establishing his promise with the elect. Abraham responded to God's promise of salvation in faith, which was first issued in Genesis 12, whereby he was justified (Genesis 15:6). Although God promised Abraham and his elect son Isaac salvation, God rejected Ishmael (Genesis 17:18-21). Nonetheless, Ishmael was to receive the outward sign of the covenant-promise, which was circumcision (Genesis 17:10ff). Accordingly, God's precept was that his covenant sign be administered to the household of Abraham, even though God established his covenant solely with the elect in Christ. The apostle Paul reminds us in Romans nine that the promise of salvation was not intended for every single person to whom the outward administration of the covenant was to be administered. In fact, the apostle explicitly tells us that the children of the "promise" are counted as Abraham's seed, and not the children of the flesh (Romans 9:8). Accordingly, all those who would believe the promise are the true children of Abraham (Romans 9: 8; Galatians 3:9). Most importantly, the "seed" to whom the promise was made was actually Christ alone (Galatians 3:16). It is through union with Christ, the single Seed of Abraham, that we become seeds of Abraham. As Galatians 3:29 states, "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, and heirs according to the promise."

We must keep in mind that Abraham was not Jewish. Indeed, Israel according the flesh eventually came from Abraham's loins, but the promise was that Abraham would be the father of many nations. Israel did not even become a nation until 430 years after God called Abraham according to the promise (Galatians 3:17). Consequently, contrary to what so many Baptists think, the sign of circumcision primarily had spiritual significance as opposed to national or ethnic significance. As Romans 4:11 states, "[Abraham] received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith..." The verse does not state that Abraham received the sign of circumcision, a seal of his ethnic origin.

God always had an elect people, which he formed into a nation about 2400 years into redemptive history. Nonetheless, the promise both precedes and transcends the nation and could, therefore, not be abrogated upon the apostasy of the nation. God has now taken the kingdom away from the nation of Israel and has started his final building project, the church. The church is the international people of God, a nation bearing the fruit of the covenant. Consequently, when one is converted to Christ he need not become part of the nation of Israel; for Christ has sent his followers into the world to make disciples of all nations.

God commanded 4,000 years ago that the sign of the covenant be placed upon the males within the household of professing believers. Although the sign of entrance into the people of God has changed from circumcision to baptism, God never rescinded his covenant principle concerning the subjects who were to receive the sign and seal of the covenant promise. In the same way that all Israel was not Israel, all the church is not the church. Nonetheless, we are by precept to place the sign of membership in the church upon those who qualify, per the instruction of God – which was never rescinded or abrogated.

The problem many Paedobaptists have:

Here's the problem that many paedobaptists run into when dealing with Baptists, especially Reformed Baptists. Reformed Baptists will argue that the Old Covenant was established with the elect and reprobates in professing households since many who were to receive the sign of the covenant fell away. Then they rightly show that the New Covenant is established only with the elect. Accordingly, they reason: if the covenant has changed from including non-believers to including only true believers, then baptism should be reserved only for professing believers in order to ensure (as best as possible) that the visible church resemble the true regenerate church of the New Testament. The paedobaptist gets tripped up by that argument when he tries to argue that both the New and the Old Covenants are established with reprobates within professing households, which Randy Booth tries to do in his book "Children of the Promise." Such paedobaptists are certainly correct with respect to the continuity from Old to New but they cannot argue effectively that the New Covenant is established with certain unbelievers, which is the error that the Reformed Baptist zeros in on and exposes simply by highlighting the doctrine of "Perseverance Of The Saints," which is so well argued in the New Testament by the apostle Paul. Consequently, the Baptist argument often goes like this: "Hey Mr. Paedobaptist, you and I agree that the Old Covenant was made with the visible people of God, which includes believers and unbelievers (since many Israelites fell away from the true religion); therefore, we can agree that circumcision was to be administered to all males, elect or not, within a professing houshold. However, since the New Covenant is clearly made with the elect in Christ who will persevere in the faith (unlike unfaithful Israel), then it is reasonable to maintain that the covenant has changed with respect to inclusiveness. Therefore, the sign of the covenant should be reserved for those the elders are persuaded are actually believers." In other words, the Baptist argues that since the people of God fell away under the older economy, then the Old Covenant promise must have been made with at least some reprobates; yet the elect of God will not fall away in the New Covenant, therefore, the New Covenant promise must be made with the elect alone. The flaw in reasoning should be obvious. The Baptist is contrasting the Old Testament visible church with the New Testament invisible church! By using a twisted comparison, the Baptist argues for a covenant in the Old Testament based upon those who were to receive the sign (elect and reprobate), only then to turn around and argue for the New Testament sign to be reserved for the elect alone based upon the New Covenant being established with the elect alone! Baptists change their criteria in order to suit their desired ends. They determine whom the covenant was made with under the older economy by looking at who was to receive the sign; then they determine who is to receive the sign under the new economy by looking at whom the New Covenant was made with!

The one, single covenant of promise was established with the incarnate Christ and all who were elected in Him; yet this covenant, although established with the elect in Christ, was to be administered even to the reprobate who qualifies even by birth.
 
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Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
Ron, this article from your blog is pretty good.
The Baptist is contrasting the Old Testament visible church with the New Testament invisible church! By using a twisted comparison, the Baptist argues for a covenant in the Old Testament based upon those who were to receive the sign (elect and reprobate), only then to turn around and argue for the New Testament sign to be reserved for the elect alone based upon the New Covenant being established with the elect alone!

In Hebrews 8 when it says this
7For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.

8For finding fault with them,
The fault was with the people,that is why a New Covenant was to be made.
9Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers
it was new, there was to be a difference
because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

What follows is not a baptist twist[unless as I suspect the writer to Hebrews was a baptist] but this a description of the newness of the covenant
I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more
It is only true for the elect that their sins and iniquities will no longer be remembered by God. If this is a twist, I like it quite a bit.

God is the active one in all of this;
I will- put my laws into their minds/hearts { not true of apostates}
- be to them a God { "" "" ""}
- be merciful to theirunrighteousness { " " " }
- no longer remembertheirsins and iniquites {" " reprobates}
Then you conclude with this:
They determine whom the covenant was made with under the older economy by looking at who was to receive the sign
Yes, but we also look at what the Holy Spirit gave to Paul and the other new testament writers who gave commentary on the condition of OT Israel.
7Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

8That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
Are you sure you have the right "twist" on this when you say this on your blog?
Accordingly, all those who would believe the promise are the true children of Abraham (Romans 9: 8; Galatians 3:9). Most importantly, the "seed" to whom the promise was made was actually Christ alone (Galatians 3:16). It is through union with Christ, the single Seed of Abraham, that we become seeds of Abraham. As Galatians 3:29 states, "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, and heirs according to the promise."
You wrote this in your blog
Only the elect are ever in Union with Christ, so why would you look back to what is described as- he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
That model is abrogated, not a pattern for us.
How do you see Hebrews 8: 9-13? where do you think I have gone off,or twisted the clear teaching here?
The first part of your summary statement was fine;
The one, single covenant of promise was established with the incarnate Christ and all who were elected in Him; yet this covenant, although established with the elect in Christ,

But where do you see this statement taught in the NT.?
was to be administered even to the reprobate who qualifies even by birth.
You must go back before the cross to support this which Hebrews 8 says is being done away. No reprobate qualifies by birth to be in the New Covenant.
 

Ron

Puritan Board Freshman
Dear Iconoclast,

Please receive this in the most charitable light possible. Once again I am unable to discern any progression of thought in your post. All I find are unrelated fragments. If you'd like to discuss this over the phone so I might better flesh things out with you, please drop me a note on my blog with a number you may be reached. I won't publish your post, or make reference to any discussions we might have.

Blessings,

Ron
 

JTB

Puritan Board Freshman
J

Ron said:
"Our children are given promises that you have not demonstrated to be abrogated. "

Joshua,

We must be clear that the promises are to the elect alone - "I will be your God and you will be my people." In other words, the promise is made to the children of the promise.

Ron,

Thanks for the reminder, and I hope my post did not imply anything other than what your subsequent post conveyed.

My intention was not to argue that the covenant was made even to the reprobate, but rather than the sign is conferred based upon an external objective status, and not the internal reality of the baptist.

However, I would argue (and I believe you would also) that the Christian should presume his children to be saved because the passing on of the faith generationally is the normative standard God indicates in His Word. The main caveat being that the normative standard includes the normative means, which is the faithful obedience of parents to train their children to fear the Lord.

Best to you brother,
~Joshua
 

Ron

Puritan Board Freshman
Ron said:
"Our children are given promises that you have not demonstrated to be abrogated. "

Joshua,

We must be clear that the promises are to the elect alone - "I will be your God and you will be my people." In other words, the promise is made to the children of the promise.

Ron,

Thanks for the reminder, and I hope my post did not imply anything other than what your subsequent post conveyed.

My intention was not to argue that the covenant was made even to the reprobate, but rather than the sign is conferred based upon an external objective status, and not the internal reality of the baptist.

However, I would argue (and I believe you would also) that the Christian should presume his children to be saved because the passing on of the faith generationally is the normative standard God indicates in His Word. The main caveat being that the normative standard includes the normative means, which is the faithful obedience of parents to train their children to fear the Lord.

Best to you brother,
~Joshua

Joshua,

I don't know that you implied anything different than what I wrote but I do like to make the point clear that the promise is to the elect alone; so to say that the promises are "given" to everyone born of professing believers is a bit unclear to me.

As for presuming children to be saved, I'm not altogether happy with the term "presume" and I certainly don't base anything upon what I believe to be "normative".

We do not know whether it is normative that God saves the children of professing believers. We can only discern whether it is normative that God brings to pass a credible profession of faith in them. Yet even if a credible profession of faith among children of professing believers has been normative in most places and at most times, God could change what is historically normative should he so desire. Accordingly, I think it would be a mistake to base things on what is normative because what is normative has to do with what God is choosing to do, or not do, with the Joneses in the church at any point in history. Accordingly, I would suggest that we ignore what seems to be normative but rather behave according to biblical precept with respect to how we are to regard our covenant children. God teaches in his word that our offspring are to be regarded as in Christ, which is why we baptize them. This precept of how we are to regard our children is to be followed even if we are living in a time where it becomes normative for God to do more grafting out than not. When we think about it further, we can see that basing practice on what is normative can cause one to do the wrong thing (in times when God is withholding grace, we would end up not regarding our children as in Christ). Even if what is normative causes us to do the right thing (in times when God is pouring out his blessings upon covenant families), it would be for the wrong reason. Precept is the issue, not providence.

Presumption often connotes taking something for granted. Someone who is “presumptuous” is someone who is not merely assuming something to be true. Rather, presumption can imply taking something for granted, as if what was being assumed was thought of as deserved apart from any means – in this case grace. Now I appreciate that those who favorably own the term “presumptive regeneration” understand grace and the need for it. So, it might be semantic more than anything, but let's see if those who own the term will agree with this:

Let’s keep in mind the distinction between regarding and believing. Let’s also keep in mind that not to believe x is true does not mean to believe x is false. {It might be true that you don’t believe that someone is saved (or that Dover is the capital of Delaware), but that is not to say that you believe he is lost (or that Wilmington is the capital of Delaware). You might have nothing to base an opinion on.} With that in view, I regarded my infants as united to the risen Christ. In other words, I regarded (treated) my infants as regenerate, having the seed of faith and repentance, which in time was to be exercised in belief and turning - as disciples not devils – which is to be a matter of life, not a one time occurrence. Did I assume (believe) they were as I regarded them to be? In other words, did I believe them to be regenerate and united to Christ? (Let’s get an exception out of the way first. If one of them died in infancy, then given that I believed they were elect, it stands to follow that I would have also believed such a one to be regenerate prior to their passing.) With regard to covenant children who are not taken in infancy, I don’t know what I would base such a belief upon because I don’t know that Scripture has a precept on the matter. I do believe I have reason to believe that God will convert the children of faithful parents, even at a very young age when instruction can be discerned, but whether God typically converts in the womb or at the font - I don’t believe it to be true, but nor do I disbelieve he operates that way. God might prefer to convert with the Word being sung by a mother with her child at her breast, or when her water breaks, or when water is poured in the name of the Trinity, or at inception, or he might not. I do believe that those who staunchly confess "presumptive regeneration" transition from hope to belief where the children's conversion is concerned. I also believe that many of these pray for their infants that God would regenerate them if he hasn't done so already, which is something I have no burden to pray for with my pastor or wife and now all my girls.

Yours in Christ,

Ron
 
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