Paul, Circumcision and the Mosaic Covenant

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PuritanCovenanter

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Now my question is are we cleansed from sin before we are justified? If faith is required for justification then the sequence gets a little jumbled up in my understanding. Regeneration would bring about a washing after faith is aquired in Christ. I am having some problems with this concept of spiritual baptism = spiritual circumcision.

Regeneration would definitely bring washing but it still wouldn't necessarily equate spiritual baptism with circumcision made without hands.

I don't necessarily see that Titus 3:5 nor 1 Peter 3:21 teaches spiritual baptismal regeneration.

[Edited on 11-9-2005 by puritancovenanter]
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by puritancovenanter
Now my question is are we cleansed from sin before we are justified? If faith is required for justification then the sequence gets a little jumbled up in my understanding. Regeneration would bring about a washing after faith is aquired in Christ. I am having some problems with this concept of spiritual baptism = spiritual circumcision.

Regeneration would definitely bring washing but it still wouldn't necessarily equate spiritual baptism with circumcision made without hands.

I don't necessarily see that Titus 3:5 nor 1 Peter 3:21 teaches spiritual baptismal regeneration.
The ordo salutis is atemporal but goes like this:

election
predestination
call
regeneration
faith and repentance
justification
sanctification
glorification

Seems like you're asking where the baptism with Christ occurs in this as spiritual circumcision is attendant to regeneration. You're saying that if spiritual circumcision=spiritual baptism=regeneration AND if spiritual baptism=cleansing BUT cleansing=justification then the ordo salutis gets all gooned up. Am I capturing your concern correctly?

Seems to me, however, that even if you only go with spritual circumcision, which is a cleansing act itself, you don't escape the problem of being cleansed in a sense before you exercise faith in a logical sequence. Christ, after all, died for my sins 2000 years ago so I can say, temporally, that my sins were paid for prior to my belief.

I'm interested in other responses because I agree with Bruce that the text does link circumcision of the heart with being baptized with Christ but those are atemporal things done to us. Nevertheless, there is a tension that I cannot describe well if you're trying to logically fit it all into the ordo salutis.

[Edited on 11-10-2005 by SemperFideles]
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Why are we associating cleansing with justification? Or are we?

Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Sanctification is the ongoing WORK of God's free grace--but the process of renewal in the whole man after the image of Christ is not the definitive cleansing of us from sin.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by Contra_Mundum
Why are we associating cleansing with justification? Or are we?

Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.
Yes, I agree with that answer but does not cleansing represent the removal or pardoning of our sins?

I'm not arguing with you on this, I just wonder if we can or need to resolve where atemporal, spiritual circumcision and/or baptism fit within the ordis salutis because that's what he seems to be driving at.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Here is the rest of the article that Rich wrote.


Colossians 2:11-12 in The Case For Covenantal Infant Baptism

The Scripture index to The Case For Covenantal Infant Baptism contains 17 entries for Col. 2:11-12. Space does not permit us to discuss every entry. However, we will examine a few of the uses in light of the exposition above.
Mark Ross, in his chapter "œBaptism and Circumcision as Signs and Seals," says:

It is imperative that we look more closely at this verse in the Greek text. Colossians 2:12 is a continuation of verse 11, which itself is a continuation of the sentence begun in verse 9. Verse 12 is a series of participial phrases, all of which are related to the main verb in verse 11, "œyou were circumcised." Thus, in verse 12 Paul is explaining more fully just how it is that the Colossians have been circumcised in this circumcision made without hands. They were circumcised, "œhaving been buried with [Christ] in baptism." Thus, verse 12 explains how the Colossians were "œcircumcised."

Colossians 2:12 in fact contains only two participles. The first, suntafe,ntej ("œhaving been buried with"), is the first word of the verse and is immediately subordinate to the main verb perietmh,qhte ("œyou were circumcised"). The second is tou/ evgei,rantoj ("œwho raised [Him from the dead]") and is immediately subordinate to tou/ qeou/ ("œof God"). Though it is remotely related to the main verb, it is not in an immediate, adverbial relationship to it. Ross´ statement makes it appear so but it is not. He oversimplifies the syntax. Further, he claims that the participle suntafe,ntej ("œhaving been buried with") begins Paul´s explanation of "œhow the Colossians were "˜circumcised.´" However, we have seen that Paul already explained how the Colossians were circumcised before he got to v. 12. They were "œcircumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ" (v. 11). Verse 12 reveals to us the subsequent, spiritual concomitant of their circumcision, not "œhow the Colossians were "˜circumcised.´" It tells us when the Colossians were buried and raised with Christ in baptism.
On the next page, Ross says, "œThe baptism of Colossians 2:12 can only be the reality of the Spirit´s working to regenerate the heart and free the soul from the dominion of sin." But, as we have seen, v. 12 speaks of a spiritual, vital union with Christ effected through faith. This presupposes regeneration (v. 11). If both verses are describing regeneration, then Paul could be paraphrased as saying, "œYou were regenerated when you were regenerated." This would certainly be a cumbersome tautology and does not respect the syntax of the text. The Bible uses other words and phrases to describe regeneration that Paul could have used here (i.e., born from above). However, it is clear from the exposition above that Paul is not speaking about regeneration in v. 12. He is speaking about the fruit of regeneration "“ union with Christ in burial and resurrection, effected through faith.
Cornelis Venema, in his chapter "œCovenant Theology and Baptism," says:

"¦it is not surprising to find the apostle Paul treating baptism as the new covenant counterpart to circumcision (Col. 2:11-13). "¦Baptism now represents the spiritual circumcision "œmade without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh" (Col. 2:11).

Venema offers no exegesis, only assertions. Our exegesis above has made it clear that Col. 2:11-12 does not warrant such statements. The New Covenant counterpart to physical circumcision is spiritual circumcision. Venema´s claim, in essence, is that water baptism represents regeneration. The baptism of Col. 2:12, however, is spiritual baptism that represents vital union with Christ. Regeneration is presupposed and effects burial and resurrection with Christ in baptism through faith. Venema is assuming that baptism has replaced circumcision by this statement. Our exegesis has shown this to be an unwarranted implication of the text.
In a context discussing the household baptisms of the New Testament, Joel Beeke and Ray Lanning say:

Similarly, children of believing parents are addressed as members of churches at Ephesus (Eph. 6:1-4) and Colossae (Col. 3:20). These children were also baptized, as Paul affirms in Colossians 2:11-12, where he calls baptism "œthe circumcision of Christ."

This appears to claim that Paul is speaking of water baptism in Col. 2:11-12. If this is what the authors are claiming, it contradicts what we have seen Ross claim later in the book, where he says, "œIt is important to say at this point that in both verse 11 and verse 12 Paul is not speaking of any physical rite or ceremony. The baptism in view in verse 12 is just as spiritual as the circumcision in verse 11." Also, we have already seen that all who are spiritually circumcised are spiritually buried and raised with Christ, effected through faith. Beeke and Lanning´s statement would then imply that all the children Paul was addressing were also regenerated. But, of course, they do not advocate that. The main problem with their statement comes in its final sentence. "œThese children were also baptized, as Paul affirms in Colossians 2:11-12, where he calls baptism "˜the circumcision of Christ.´" They equate circumcision with baptism. But, as we have seen clearly, Paul does not do this.

Pertinent Conclusions

Baptism does not replace circumcision as the sign and seal of the covenant. We have seen clearly that spiritual circumcision, not baptism, replaces physical circumcision. Baptism in Col. 2:12 (i.e., vital union with Christ) is a result of spiritual circumcision. Burial and resurrection with Christ is not equivalent to but causally subsequent to spiritual circumcision. Physical circumcision has been replaced by spiritual circumcision under the New Covenant. The correspondence between the two, however, is not one-to-one. Paul tells us this by saying that New Covenant circumcision is "œa circumcision made without hands." Though physical circumcision and spiritual circumcision are related they are not equivalent. One is physical and does not affect the heart; the other is spiritual and does not affect the body. Both are indications of covenant membership. But only the circumcision of the heart guarantees one´s eternal destiny, for all the regenerate express faith and "œare protected by the power of God through faith" (1 Pet. 1:5).
We must take issue with those who argue from this text that baptism replaces circumcision. The Lutheran scholar Eduard Lohse asserts, "œBaptism is called circumcision here"¦ The circumcision of Christ which every member of the community has experienced is nothing other than being baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ." We have seen, however, that the only replacement motif in this text is between physical circumcision and spiritual circumcision. Spiritual circumcision is not equivalent to baptism. Baptism (i.e. union with Christ) is the sphere in which burial and resurrection with Christ occurs, which is effected through faith, and a result of spiritual circumcision.
The Reformed commentator William Hendriksen says:

Evidently Paul in this entire paragraph magnifies Christian baptism as much as he, by clear implication, disapproves of the continuation of the rite of circumcision if viewed as having anything to do with salvation. The definite implication, therefore, is that baptism has taken the place of circumcision. Hence, what is said with reference to circumcision in Rom. 4:11, as being a sign and a seal, holds also for baptism. In the Colossian context baptism is specifically a sign and seal of having been buried with Christ and of having been raised with him [emphasis Hendriksen´s].

We take issue with Hendriksen´s view on several fronts. First, Paul is not magnifying Christian baptism in this text. He is magnifying Christian circumcision. This is evident by the fact that "œyou were also circumcised" is the regulating verb to which the rest of vv. 11 and 12 are subordinate. Second, there is not a "œdefinite implication "¦that baptism has taken the place of circumcision." Our exegesis has shown us this clearly. Third, it is not true that "œwhat is said with reference to circumcision in Rom. 4:11, as being a sign and a seal, holds also for baptism." This is so because Paul is not arguing for a replacement theology between physical circumcision and water baptism and because the seal of the New Covenant is the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13; 4:30). Fourth, Paul says nothing in Col. 2:11-12 about baptism being "œa sign and seal of having been buried with Christ and of having been raised with him." He does say that the subsequent, spiritual concomitant of spiritual circumcision is spiritual burial and resurrection with Christ in baptism effected through faith. There is no hint of baptism being a sign and seal as argued by Hendriksen. It is of interest to note one of Hendriksen´s footnotes to these statements. Notice the concession he makes.

I am speaking here about a clear implication. The surface contrast is that between literal circumcision and circumcision without hands, namely, the circumcision of the heart, as explained. But the implication also is clear. Hence, the following statement is correct: "œSince, then, baptism has come in the place of circumcision (Col. 2:11-13), the children should be baptized as heirs of the kingdom of God and of his covenant" (Form for the Baptism of Infants in Psalter Hymnal of the Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1959, p. 86). When God made his covenant with Abraham the children were included (Gen. 17:1-14). This covenant, in its spiritual aspects, was continued in the present dispensation (Acts 2:38, 29; Rom. 4:9-12; Gal. 3:7, 8, 29). Therefore the children are still included and should still receive the sign, which in the present dispensation, as Paul makes clear in Col. 2:11, 12, is baptism [emphases Hendriksen´s].

Hendriksen´s concession that "œThe surface contrast is that between literal circumcision and circumcision without hands" surely sheds doubt over his initial claim of "œspeaking here about a clear implication." Again, we have seen that Paul is not arguing that water baptism replaces physical circumcision as a sign and seal of the covenant. It does not follow, then, that "œthe children should be baptized as heirs of the kingdom of God and of his covenant." Paul does not say or imply that the sign of the covenant is baptism. Instead, the sign of the covenant is regeneration. All who are spiritually circumcised are immediately buried and raised with Christ in baptism, effected through faith. Colossians 2:11-12 is about the application of redemption to elect souls and does not imply infant baptism, some of which are not elect. If it implies anything about water baptism, it implies that it ought to be administered to those who have been circumcised of heart and vitally united to Christ through faith as a symbol of these spiritual blessings.
All who are circumcised of heart are buried and raised with Christ through faith immediately subsequent to their heart circumcision. Regeneration cannot be abstracted from its immediate fruits. All regenerate souls are immediately untied to Christ through faith. This is what Col. 2:11-12 clearly teaches. Our exegesis argues for an ordo salutus as follows: regeneration, then union with Christ through faith. And this experience is that of all the regenerate and has nothing to do with the act of water baptism in itself.
This text neither teaches baptismal regeneration nor implies infant baptism. In context, it is displaying the completeness believers have in Christ. It does not apply to unbelievers or to all who are baptized by any mode and by properly recognized ecclesiastical administrators. It has to do with the spiritual realities that come to souls who are Christ´s sheep. It has to do with the application of redemption to elect sinners. It has to do with regeneration, faith, and experiential union with Christ. These are the aspects of completeness in Christ Paul highlights here. We should gain much encouragement from these things. They were revealed to fortify believers against error. They were written to strengthen saints already in Christ. They were not revealed as proof for the subjects of baptism. They were not revealed to teach us that water baptism replaces physical circumcision as the sign and seal of the covenant. God gave us Col. 2:11-12 to display this fact: When you have Jesus, you have all you need!
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bruce,

I think Mr. Eadie is a Presbyterian. He isn't a Baptist.
I have also had a hard time discerning some of the aorist relations to time and other considerations. I am no Greek scholar but what I have learned is to try to understand vocabulary in context and theologically. I had a debate concerning John 1:12,13 where the aorist tense didn't prove either persons point in relation to time, but verse 13 nailed the interpretation for regeneration happening before believing or recieving. Context and Theology also seem to be important for definition somewhat. This is just my very limited understanding concerning greek.


Talk more later.

[Edited on 11-10-2005 by puritancovenanter]
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
According to the WCF 28, physical baptism is the rite of admission into the visible church, and is to be unto the recipient a sign and seal of

1) the covenant of grace (three words, with a world of meaning)
2) his ingrafting into (union with) Christ
3) regeneration
4) remission of sins (release from debt)
5) "his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life"
(that is, the rebellion (in Adam) is over; or as WSC 94 puts it, "our engagement to be the Lord's")

What physical baptism signifies externally, is the Spirit's work internally. They are thoroughly correspondent.

Conversion involves repentance and faith. Logically it follows effectual calling and regeneration (new birth/new heart/new life/united to Christ/cleansed from sin). Regeneration changes everything fundamentally.

WSC 31. What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life? They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification, adoption, and sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them.

Justification addresses not the soul of a man, but his legal record. It is his legal standing. It is the wiping clean of the guilt and consequent penalty of sin. Let me put it this way: election marks us out. We are united to Christ in effectual calling--what he is, we in principle become. His righteousness is prepared for us. Effectual Calling, done by the Holy Spirit, is what produces the following. The Spirit has to start working in order for anything to get done on this job.

We are made objectively new, clean, pure, alive in regeneration. But we still live in the sinful flesh; sin no longer reigns, but it is still there. At this moment (in the ordo) we are still "guilty," already condemned under the wrath and curse of God for what we were; its what's underneath that counts. Conversion (repentance/faith) is the inevitable result of new life. The principle of life is combined with the faculty of faith, a capacity to believe savingly in Christ that we did not before possess. Our spiritual sight (faith) is the "instrumental cause" of our union with Christ. We are convinced of our sin and misery, our minds enlightened in the knowledge of Christ, our wills renewed, thereby being persuaded and enabled to embrace Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel. The Spirit is doing everything to produce that faith in us--putting all the components togther effectually: the life, the eye, etc.--and when everything is in place he turns on the "light", the Word, and we "see". It's the most natural thing.

Now united to Christ, (let's pick up the ordo) we are ready for justice. Christ's righteousness is imputed to us, our sins to him. We are clothed in his righteous covering, and declared "clean/not guilty" in him, NOT because of regeneration. Otherwise we'd still be guilty, even though we had been "made alive," because of all our sins! Then we are Adopted, another legal Act. Finally, the Spirit (as our permanent possession) works on that remaining corruption, stirring us up to work in his power, to attack the remaining corruption that lies between the heart of regeneration, and the robe of Christ's righteousness. This labor, this warfare, is our remaining earthly life's mission. Assurance of progress, and ultimate freedom from sin comes from the God who "began a good work in you" (Phil. 1:6), and will be faithful to complete it.


I hope this clarifies something or other, at least with respect to the ordo. I expect there will be further questions. For your info, if you want to get into this individually, much of the above is drawn straight from the WSC 29-36.


As for Randy's query re. the references:
Tit. 3:5, I will just return another: what does "washing of regeneration" refer to? In response to the query, I went back to refresh myself with a couple commentaries on the passage, and with Calvin's sermon dealing with it. I recommend a similar approach.

Same with 1 Pet. 3:21. What does it mean: "baptism also now saves us..." ? The text plainly tells us what it doesn't mean (no physical water bath). What sort of baptism is this? How is it salvific? It's not an easy passage by any means (I intentionally made it the secondary reference), but I don't think one needs to plumb its depths to get the general idea.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Randy,
I'll be glad to address specific questions, if you have them. I'm not going to address any more of Mr. Barcellos work. My main criticisms of his exegesis are all in the long post I made above.

I appreciate your points on vocab-context-theology. They are all important factors in exegesis, and without them, all the technical stuff cannot make up for it. When you really need language are those times that "flow" just can't answer the question definitively, or there seem to be two "currents" fighting over the same water. Or when the issue is a detailed one in nature. It can also provide neccessary corrections to our surface impressions based on less rigorous methods.

I think my earlier posts (11/7, 11/8) were a lot less technical, more along the lines of context/flow. I really don't know how I could have been non-technical in dealing with Mr. Barcellos' arguments, as they were along the lines of grammar and syntax.

Blessings.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by Contra_Mundum
Randy,
I'll be glad to address specific questions, if you have them. I'm not going to address any more of Mr. Barcellos work. My main criticisms of his exegesis are all in the long post I made above.

I appreciate your points on vocab-context-theology. They are all important factors in exegesis, and without them, all the technical stuff cannot make up for it. When you really need language are those times that "flow" just can't answer the question definitively, or there seem to be two "currents" fighting over the same water. Or when the issue is a detailed one in nature. It can also provide neccessary corrections to our surface impressions based on less rigorous methods.

I think my earlier posts (11/7, 11/8) were a lot less technical, more along the lines of context/flow. I really don't know how I could have been non-technical in dealing with Mr. Barcellos' arguments, as they were along the lines of grammar and syntax.

Blessings.
Thanks for giving me some words for this method. I want to eventually learn some of the grammatical exegesis but I also think that some of the discussion gets a bit ridiculous sometimes.

I would think that the default assumption has usually got to be the plain reading of the text in context. I just can't imagine your average Collosian taking this letter to the nearby University to ask the Professor about the aorist tense of the verbs when describing the circumcision made without hands and our being baptized.

I just keep finding it a bit hard to swallow to completely turn our spiritual circumcision to a completely invisible act that cannot be signified in the least within the New Covenant. I can't get around the feeling that it almost seems desperate to remove any idea that our baptism could signify spiritual circumcision merely for its implications.

I've seen the WCF on Baptism before but, after this long discussion, it is really quite edifying to me.
 

Steve Owen

Puritan Board Sophomore
I can agree with Rich here
I would think that the default assumption has usually got to be the plain reading of the text in context. I just can't imagine your average Colossian taking this letter to the nearby University to ask the Professor about the aorist tense of the verbs when describing the circumcision made without hands and our being baptized.

Very simply, Colossians is all about our sufficiency in Christ. 'In Christ,' says Paul, 'You have it all!' (2:10 ). You have the true circumcision, which is one made without hands, you have the true baptism, by which you are brought from death to life in union with Him.

Now if you're saying that the baptism here is water baptism, then you have a real problem. Does water baptism bring you from death to life? Yes or no? The Anglican Reformers got themselves in a real mess here:-
'We give you hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it hath pleased Thee to regenerate this infant with Thy Holy Spirit, to receive him for Thine own child by adoption, and to incorporate him into Thy holy Church.
Publick Baptism of Infants, 1556 &1662 Prayer Books.

I say that if Col 2:12 is talking about water baptism, the Anglicans are absolutely right here, along with the church of Rome. If water baptism brings one from death to life then one must believe in some sort of baptismal regeneration. W.C.F. Chapter XXVII tries to have it both ways, and In my humble opinion fails completely.

But of course Col 2:12 is not talking about water baptism, just as it is not talking about physical circumcision in v11 or physical death and resurrection in v13. It is speaking spiritually in all three verses. Water baptism is the visible sign of something that needs already to have happened - Baptism in the Spirit. Otherwise the baptism is null and void (Acts 8:21 ).
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Of course, it is all spiritual. I don't think anyone so far has suggested otherwise. The rub is how the two (circumcision & baptism) are related in these two verses.
 

Steve Owen

Puritan Board Sophomore
Rich wrote:-
I just keep finding it a bit hard to swallow to completely turn our spiritual circumcision to a completely invisible act that cannot be signified in the least within the New Covenant. I can't get around the feeling that it almost seems desperate to remove any idea that our baptism could signify spiritual circumcision merely for its implications.

I took this to mean that the 'baptism' of Col 2:12 was not invisible and therefore water baptism. If I've misunderstood, then I apologize.

However, if water baptism is not on view here, then it can hardly be a proof text for infant baptism. What Paul is saying is that if you have Christ you have it all.

If you don't have Christ, then you have nothing. Nothing at all ( John 6:53 ).

Martin

[Edited on 11-10-2005 by Martin Marprelate]
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by Martin Marprelate
Rich wrote:-
I just keep finding it a bit hard to swallow to completely turn our spiritual circumcision to a completely invisible act that cannot be signified in the least within the New Covenant. I can't get around the feeling that it almost seems desperate to remove any idea that our baptism could signify spiritual circumcision merely for its implications.

I took this to mean that the 'baptism' of Col 2:12 was not invisible and therefore water baptism. If I've misunderstood, then I apologize.

However, if water baptism is not on view here, then it can hardly be a proof text for infant baptism. What Paul is saying is that if you have Christ you have it all.

If you don't have Christ, then you have nothing. Nothing at all ( John 6:53 ).

Martin

[Edited on 11-10-2005 by Martin Marprelate]
No, I did not mean to suggest that it was merely a proof text for infant baptism but it does appear that Baptists are going to great lengths to protect the idea that baptism is associated with spiritual circumcision and a sign and a seal.

I would agree that the baptism spoken of here is spiritual baptism and nobody here is arguing for baptismal regeneration. What I am arguing for is that our baptism is a sign and a seal.
 

Steve Owen

Puritan Board Sophomore
Rich,
My apologies again for misunderstanding you.

To save us from talking past each other any further, would you please tell me just what you understand by a 'sign' and a 'seal' in this context, and thereby how you understand the two to differ?

Also, would you kindly touch upon 2Cor 1:22, Eph 1:13-14 & 4:30 and explain to me why you think that the Holy Spirit is not the seal of the New Covenant?

Thanks!

Martin
 

pastorway

Puritan Board Senior
Yep - I'm with Martin here. Baptism is never mentioned as a seal of the New Covenant. The Holy Spirit is the seal of the New Covenant. So to be in the New Covenant, Christ's blood must have been shed for you and the Holy Spirit must have sealed you as God's purchased possession.

No stretch there. Just the facts.

Phillip
 

Saiph

Puritan Board Junior
Also, would you kindly touch upon 2Cor 1:22, Eph 1:13-14 & 4:30 and explain to me why you think that the Holy Spirit is not the seal of the New Covenant?

The Hoy Spirit IS the sign and seal of the New Covenant. Baptism is just a washing in the name of the trinity because you believe God's promise is for you and your children. It is a hopeful act of faith. It is not a requirement for salvation. It is not the antecedent of regeneration. It is a sign. If you like the idea of baptizing infants, and you find biblical grounds for it, go ahead. If you do not, then wait until they make a profession of faith. No one is going to be judged for it either way. As long as you act in faith according to your knowledge of the scriptures on this issue. God will lead us into all truth. We simlply need to trust that when it comes to covenant blessings and our children.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by Martin Marprelate
Rich,
My apologies again for misunderstanding you.

To save us from talking past each other any further, would you please tell me just what you understand by a 'sign' and a 'seal' in this context, and thereby how you understand the two to differ?

Also, would you kindly touch upon 2Cor 1:22, Eph 1:13-14 & 4:30 and explain to me why you think that the Holy Spirit is not the seal of the New Covenant?

Thanks!

Martin
No apology necessary. You have never offended me Brother and I could certainly cover anything you said in the Love of Christ we both share. If I offended you in any way then please let me know that I might ask your forgiveness.

I think I have stated it clearly before but to reiterate.

Rom 4:11-12
And he received the sign of circumcision , a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision , but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.
I believe what is in mind here is circumcision of the heart and that all true circumcision was always of a spiritual nature. It was signified by physical circumcision in the OC.

I also believe that, after much discussion, the circumicision without hands is associated with our spiritual baptism - ergo, our spiritual baptism is a seal of the same righteousness by faith as his spiritual heirs.

In redemptive history, Abraham's true seed has always been circumcised of the heart which is a seal. So it's like this:

OC: Circumcision without hands - physical circumcision
NC: Circumcision without hands - baptism

I'm being brief here so as not to rehash the whole bit. The WCF read on baptism is exquisite.

As for the other texts in question:

2 Cor 1:20-22
For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
First I would say yes and amen to the whole thing. With regard to the general discussion I would also say a hearty amen to Acts 2:39 where Peter restates the covenantal promise to our children which I cannot fathom you guys getting around.

As for 2 Cor 1:22 - He has sealed us and given us the Spirit. Can a scholar tell me would it be proper to translate this and here with by? Seems like it would be important. Either way, doesn't change what I say above but if the proper rendering is and then it certainly casts doubt on being imperialistic on a single understanding of the term. By the way, I don't dispute that the seal is by the Holy Spirit, I just believe it is a seal of the righteousness by faith.

Eph 1:13-14
3 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
Amen. I think I answer that above. Was not also Abraham sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise? I think I asked that before and never received a satisfactory answer. Why must it be one or the other? Seems like a dilemna has been created here that is unwarranted.

Eph 4:30-31
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Amen. Same discussion above. Is the sign of circumcision a seal of righteousness or not?
 

PuritanCovenanter

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Originally posted by Contra_Mundum
As for Randy's query re. the references:
Tit. 3:5, I will just return another: what does "washing of regeneration" refer to? In response to the query, I went back to refresh myself with a couple commentaries on the passage, and with Calvin's sermon dealing with it. I recommend a similar approach.

Same with 1 Pet. 3:21. What does it mean: "baptism also now saves us..." ? The text plainly tells us what it doesn't mean (no physical water bath). What sort of baptism is this? How is it salvific? It's not an easy passage by any means (I intentionally made it the secondary reference), but I don't think one needs to plumb its depths to get the general idea.

I would take it to be understood that regeneration is the precursor to faith by which we are justified and thus cleansed as you noted above. Regeneration would be like the faucet being turned on so the water could flow through the pipes. Illustrations are so lacking. Regeneration causes us to be alive so that we can be in union with Christ. As you stated above,
"Our spiritual sight (faith) is the "instrumental cause" of our union with Christ." Regeneration is the instrumental cause of faith.
Regeneration is not the cleansing agent as you noted in the following.
"We are clothed in his righteous covering, and declared "clean/not guilty" in him, NOT because of regeneration. Otherwise we'd still be guilty, even though we had been "made alive," because of all our sins!"
It is the door to this cleansing I believe.

Thus, the circumcision made without hands is regeneration and not spiritual baptism.

Just my observation.

I do appreciate you Bruce, Randy

[Edited on 11-11-2005 by puritancovenanter]
 
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