Romans 4 and Paedo-baptism

Discussion in 'Baptism' started by greenbaggins, Feb 7, 2020.

  1. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    In fulfillment of my promise to Stephen Smith, here are some thoughts on Romans 4 (with some thoughts on 1 Corinthians 10 thrown in as a bonus).

    1. Verse 1 governs the whole chapter: what was true of Abraham? Obviously, Abraham's case has a great deal to do with justification and the signs of the covenant today. If there was zero continuity between Abraham and us today, then Paul would just be wasting his breath. Paul is, more deeply, asking this question: "How can Gentiles now be within the family of Abraham?" The answer is that they are within the family of Abraham by virtue of being justified by faith. Verses 1-8 detail the justification by faith apart from any works whatsoever.

    2. The redemptive-historical point Paul draws from the fact that Abraham received justification while still uncircumcised is that Abraham can thus be the father of Gentiles who believe (see especially verse 11). Obviously, circumcision is not necessary (anymore) in order to be a child of Abraham. Galatians 3 confirms this point as well. Baptists would not disagree with this point.

    3. However, Paul's discussion of circumcision does not stop there. Verse 12 indicates that circumcision happened so that Abraham could also be the father of the circumcised, as long as the circumcised are not "circumcised in name only," but also have the faith to which that circumcision points.

    4. The key point here for the Paedo-baptist position is what follows from the passage in verse 11: "And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of faith which he had while still uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all those who believe while being uncircumcised, so that righteousness would be imputed to them also." Circumcision is a seal of the righteousness of faith. That is exactly what baptism is also. And yet, if circumcision was a seal of the righteousness of faith, then why was it given to infants who might or might not have that faith? Here, Calvin's argument holds the most weight: whatever can be argued against baptizing infants can also be argued against circumcising infants in the OT. The answer to the question is that the order does not matter. For Abraham, he received the righteousness first, then the seal. For his son Isaac, the order is reversed. Verse 12 hints at this when it implies that the circumcision comes first for most true Jews, but then when they walk in the footsteps of Abraham, they are his children. The true child of Abraham has the sign and the thing signified. But it does not matter in this context what the order is. The order of verse 11 and 12 suggests that the order of faith and the sign does not matter. If that is true for Abraham and his immediate children, then it is also true for his distant children. The entire paradigm of what Paul is talking about is applied to us in verses 16, "who is the father of us all", verse 17 "father of many nations," and most especially in verses 23-4, "were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also." Put it this way: if the Baptist once admits that circumcision is actually a seal of justification by faith, then he has given the barn away, since Paul has no problem implying that children can receive the sign before they have the thing signified. If the situation of children had changed, and they were no longer to receive the sign and seal of justification, Paul picked a most unclear way of saying it. He doesn't even mention it, in the very place where he would need to be most clear about it! This part of my argument is an argument from silence, of course. But the strongest argument of Baptists is an argument from silence: the NT nowhere commands infants to be baptized.

    5. Romans 4, when combined with 1 Corinthians 10 (which is actually the very strongest argument for paedo-baptism, in my opinion), makes the case very strong indeed. Consider that 1 Corinthians 10 posits that baptism, at least in typological form, existed in the OT (verse 2), contrary to almost all Baptist formulations, and that infants were most certainly baptized into Moses, a very clear instance of "baptizo" being used of infants in the NT, even if it is typological. No matter what age they were at the time, ALL the fathers were baptized into Moses (verse 2). Paul explicitly makes the typological case that everything he says applies to us (verse 6 uses the idea and the word "tupos"), and again, nowhere does he make a caveat that what he says doesn't apply to children, since they can't make a profession of faith, and should therefore not receive the sign. 1 Corinthians 10 would certainly have been the place to put this caveat in, and yet nowhere do we find it. What's more, Paul goes on to talk about apostasy in the context of everyone receiving the sign of baptism! This assumes the visible/invisible church distinction if any sense whatsoever is to be made of the passage. It implies that those who receive the sign can fall away if they don't also have the thing signified. Therefore, the order of sign and thing signified is not important. He is saying, "If you have the sign, then make sure you get the thing signified!"
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  2. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator Staff Member

    Thank you Lane. It took me a while to think this through, I suppose one has to work hard to remove a Baptist lens :) Just a few follow up comments
    It took me a little while to think this through, but I think Jon's comments on a similar forum summarised it quite well.
    Yes I can see the connection now
    Yes I get that. It reminds me of Heb 10:30. In the middle of a discussion on apostasy, the writer to Hebrews quotes a verse with a clear OT covenantal context "The Lord will judge His people". To borrow your phrase this also assumes the visible/invisible church distinction.

    The convincing paedobaptist argument is starting to come together for me Lane. I have been interested how the apostasy passages fit into the argument as I alluded to above. Could you summarise your view. Thanks :)
  3. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    @Stephen L Smith,

    To paraphrase a certain galactic emperor,
    "With each passing post you make yourself more Presbyterian."
  4. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Stephen, the apostasy passages fit in as follows: they explain how a baptized person who has not come to faith in Jesus falls away. They didn't fall away from nothing, but neither did they fall away from salvation, or any part of it. They fell away from the covenantal benefits (such as partaking of the Word, sacraments, and prayer) that accrue to all connected to the covenant. The apostasy passages are, I would think, extraordinarily difficult to deal with on a Baptist basis, because there is nothing in the Baptist system away from which they could fall. In the Baptist system, you either have absolutely everything or absolutely nothing. In the Presbyterian system, there are three possibilities: absolutely nothing, the administration of the covenant, or the administration and the essence of the covenant (with a very rare few who have the essence of the covenant but are not under any administration, i.e., are not part of a church). That middle category explains apostasy and from what the apostate falls.
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  5. Wretched Man

    Wretched Man Puritan Board Freshman

    Following Romans 4, Paul proceeds to repeatedly emphasize faith. Later in chapter 6, he states,
    1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. - Romans 6:1-4

    How can we hold an infant accountable to this statement? If you insist he is referring to the true baptism, fine, I’d agree. At what point do we teach this passage to our children (who were “baptized” as an infant) with conviction?
  6. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Don't you have to preach the gospel to everyone present, every single week? Along with the implication of the gospel?

    My question would be: how can we fail to hold everyone present in the congregation accountable to the truth proclaimed in Rom. 4 & 6, or in any other passage?

    When you refer to "true baptism," is your meaning: the baptism of the Spirit? Or do you mean: a situation where a) the Spirit has already baptized, and b) men have afterward baptized?

    Paul in Rom.6 calls his hearers to faith in Christ, and the forsaking of sin. You can say to a person baptized as an infant just as well as to an adult professor:

    "Your baptism is a sign of identification with the Savior's death--a penalty he paid for the sins of his people. How can you (for example) disobey your parents/the authorities, and carry on as though the claim that is upon you by virtue of baptism is really nothing? Even worse, if you should say that you may as well sin (as not) since that would give Jesus more to do, by causing his sacrifice to cost more (so to speak)! For shame. You have an identity in Christ by virtue of your baptism which (if it means anything) appoints you to a life lived out of the effect of his resurrection. Do you believe (have faith) in his death and resurrection? If you have true faith in Christ--in the meaning of the sign of him in baptism--then sin should be dead and distasteful to you, and contrary to the new life in you."
    That's an exposition of Rom.6:1-4, and could be part of a sermon delivered to a congregation, applicable to every person. Of course, if someone is present who is not baptized, with water or Spirit or both, then Paul's discriminatory language (us who have been baptized) excludes him. But of course, the purpose of such a statement as I gave above is to call that man to initial belief in Christ's death and resurrection! And if he does begin to believe, then of course he should unite publicly with the church by showing he is part of them with whom Christ identifies through his mark of baptism.

    When would we ever want not to teach this passage to baptized children "with conviction?" We believe we are obediently "making disciples of them" by teaching them, having baptized them, Mt.28:19-20. These children are publicly, outwardly identified with "the people of Christ." They need to be held accountable for that identification, so we teach that accountability week-in and week-out their whole lives.

    Does that make sense? I'm thankful you are not unwilling to ask questions, because I don't think it's helpful if you suppose we act by ignoring the text of Scripture.
  7. Wretched Man

    Wretched Man Puritan Board Freshman

    I absolutely agree we should teach everyone these verses (and every verse in the Bible), baptized ceremonially or not. And your exposition is excellent.

    Some day I look forward to my children approaching this ceremony with full conviction. We can discuss what it truly represents, what it doesn’t mean, and have them count the cost of discipleship before professing their faith in and commitment to Christ, truly repenting, and being baptized. Then I can address them similarly as Paul does in these passages.

    And a few years later when they leave home and enter the wilderness of temptation, the profession they made to serve Christ will burn in their minds.

    Perhaps in my own ignorance I am neglecting this sacrament, but I fear more that I might neglect the practical value of this sacrament for my children if I have it administered to them as babies.
  8. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    Having been a member of a Presbyterian church for a little over a year now, I can say that there is tremendous blessing and practical value in baptizing our children as infants. I see it every single Lord’s Day.
  9. Wretched Man

    Wretched Man Puritan Board Freshman

    This is a question of sincerity and I appreciate the discussions on this blog (which I have been seriously weighing).

    Suppose an unbaptized family begins attending a church. The parents accept Christ and wish to receive baptism. They have a teenager, a pre-adolescent, and a baby. I assume you would have them baptize their baby. The teenager and pre-adolescent however refuse to profess faith in Christ. Shall they be baptized as well?
  10. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    Presbyterian children do these very things when they prepare to take Communion for the first time, including an examination of their faith and making a profession of faith when they take their communicant membership queries. I am certain that their first Lord's Supper, particularly if done at a Common Table, is indelibly etched into the minds of many a covenant child as they celebrate that their baptism was brought to its fullness by God's Holy Spirit moving them to profess faith in Jesus Christ.

    Our church has probably baptized four teenagers who live in the home of professing believers who were convinced of household baptism after coming from Baptist backgrounds. As long as they don't actively refuse the sign of baptism, our congregation will have them baptized. Just as Abraham's servants were circumcised (Genesis 17:23) and the households were baptized in Acts 16:15, 16:33, 1 Corinthians 1:16. We haven't had the issue of a teenager refusing the sign. If they do, then we'd have to discuss the matter with the family and work with them, obviously.

    I hope this is helpful. Having come from a Baptistic understanding of the sacraments, it took me a little while to orient myself toward a Presbyterian and Reformed view of the sacraments, but once it 'clicked' in place, everything made a lot of sense. Blessings to you as you wrestle through the Scripture by God's help.
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  11. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    You should walk in faith, not fear. You need to keep a settled conscience. You definitely ought not baptize your children unless "the baptism of believer's children" is a conclusion of your best convictions about the theology of baptism.

    For people who have very little theology behind their former practice (whatever it was, or if it was anything), their best convictions begin with the experience itself. But for a Baptist--especially one who escaped Romanism to the Baptist faith--his conviction was formed against the false teaching of Roman sacramentology. Any present neglect, if such be a proper characterization, has been rooted in the conscience; and it is dangerous to uproot a man by his baptism.

    Hopefully every baptized person is regularly growing in their appreciation for the meaning of their baptism: the fact of it and the worth of it.

    There are a good many things in my life, both spiritual and secular, about which I cannot recall the specifics of acquiring, even if it was an event of special ceremony and I was of an age where it was engaged with full reasonable awareness. The intensity of one's emotions in a particular case, or other factors, has individual effect on whether a person's memories forms a substantial residue of the value he places in something.

    That thing may still be a fact, and have great worth, even without a clear recollection of initial possession. The reality of present possession, together with an assurance that it is mine rightfully, is of immediate value. And to that may be added an historic sentimental satisfaction associated with a significant length of time of possession.

    Here's an analogy: if after 50yrs I still possessed a "classic car" I bought new, I can add in my heart to the present value of that car all those decades in which my pride of ownership has grown. I could have that, along with the original title and bill of sale, and have utterly forgotten driving it off the lot. Even if I wished I could recapture that instant, there's more to content me without that specific recollection. I haven't lost all the other memories that are effects of owning that car.

    I can also be in possession today of something that was given me at birth. I can grow up being taught that X is a valuable property, perhaps an heirloom. I can embrace that item; hopefully I will not trivialize it or worse. But if after 50yrs I have it, I recognize it, I treasure it--I can thankfully say it has been mine to claim for 50yrs.​

    So, there are two different "blessings" if you will, and a person can have one or the other, but not both.

    1) He can grow up and grow into the knowledge that something is his (it has his name on the outside), and that something is regarded by those around him as valuable and he too should prize it; and its worth should increase to him over time. Or, 2) he can be told at some later moment of maturity that there is something of value which he doesn't have, but that he can have; but first he must value it and claim it, and then his name will be put on it (again, outside).​

    One might have 1 or 2, but not both. 1 & 2 may have upside and downside. It isn't obvious to me if one or the other is more likely to result in a future rejection of the gift, judged simply on the basis of how it was imparted.

    It seems to me that at the present time, #2 is the pattern your conscience believes is most beneficial, perhaps most biblical. Until you believed otherwise (which may not happen) I don't think you should adopt the other pattern. But I also think you should respect those whose conscience convicts them of #1, as most beneficial and perhaps most biblical.
  12. Wretched Man

    Wretched Man Puritan Board Freshman

    I wouldn't be attending an OPC church, otherwise. :)
  13. MSH

    MSH Puritan Board Freshman

    Abraham could have expressed the same fear about infant-circumcision could he not?

    The command of God to mark out His people from the world is supreme over pragmatic concerns. This command has no where been abrogated since Abraham’s time, only the sign of fulfillment is used now as opposed to the sign of anticipation used then.

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  14. Wretched Man

    Wretched Man Puritan Board Freshman

    Keep in mind there was a very bloody sacrificial system in place to remind people of their sins and the need for a proper atonement.... over and over. Even before circumcision, Abraham (going back to Abel) was already making sacrifices in accordance with God's will.
  15. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I'm trying to follow the thread and stay abreast of the comments; so I'm wondering if you would flesh out this observation and connect it (according to your reckoning) with that which prompted it.

    i.e., What, of the sacrifices and their putative connection to circumcision, impacts the connection MSH identified between the divine command to Abraham to circumcise and the later command to baptize?

    Presumably you observe a change took place in regard to the sacrifices (on which there is widespread agreement), one in which many repeated sacrifices were ended by one Final Sacrifice.

    I think what might be helpful would be: articulating the sort of change you understand took place when the previous sign of the covenant was removed.
  16. MSH

    MSH Puritan Board Freshman

    True. I simply just referred back as far as Abraham because that is the pattern that many in the NT do as well. I feel I am in good company here. ; )

    In my thinking on the issue your statement actually confirms the Reformed view, in that circumcision takes in and signifies what has always been for the people of God. It certainly is an advancement in type in redemptive history but I see the substance as unchanged. The institution of the sacrament of circumcision is a massively important benchmark in the CoG! It marked out, dare I say, a new dispensation of the CoG but not a different CoG.

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    Last edited: Feb 12, 2020
  17. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    You dont know the power of the Presbyterian side, he he he he hah!
  18. Wretched Man

    Wretched Man Puritan Board Freshman

    My statement was in response to the MSH's response on Abraham not fearing the neglect of any practical value with Isaac’s infant circumcision. My point is God prescribed very convicting ceremonies, evidently as far back as Abel, for his people. Taking a live animal, leading it into a holy place, laying your hand on its head (signifying this animal is suffering penalty on your behalf for sins you committed), and slitting it’s throat. Making Nazarite vows with sacrifices, washings, and head shavings required. Ceremonial washings and isolation from the camp for uncleanliness. Etcetera.

    These were no doubt all very symbolic and typological, but I believe they also provided tremendous practical value as a source of conviction.

    I clearly don’t believe we should be making anymore sacrifices, but think the move to baptize infants robs them of a useful exercise God prescribed for us. A key verse I think many gloss over when they cite the “repent and be baptized” verse (Acts 2:38) is the prior one: “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" - Acts 2:37
  19. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Thank you for elaborating. Without the addition (speaking for myself) I would have struggled for clarity respecting your intention, which you have now supplied.

    So, if I may rephrase your point (please correct as needed): circumcision is a convicting ceremony, being whole-cloth with a panoply of OT religious devotional practices, both pre-Mosaic and Mosaic in origin.

    It seems to me that MSH's point was in effect to argue that much or most of what may be tied to circumcision (OT covenant sign), may also be tied to baptism (NT covenant sign)--that is, the two signs have significant though not absolute overlap. Thus, to say that baptism of infants potentially fails providing a necessary practical benefit, appears to us applicable against the case of Abraham and his OT successors: that they also would have been better off waiting, due to the same fear of losing the benefit you've identified; the primary thing canceling such delay being the exacting 8-days-old stipulation in the ordinance.

    MSH (and I) would argue that neither Abraham circumcising infant Isaac, nor a NT infant being baptized, has been robbed of any religious benefit (on the basis of equivalent exchange); i.e. not so the former, therefore not so the latter. Hence, my question about what you felt was the change brought about when the former sign was removed and replaced.

    Follow up questions: Besides conviction, in the OT context does circumcision have any promissory and hopeful testimony to offer those taking and bearing the sign? Does the rite of baptism in the NT context have any convicting testimony to offer those taking and bearing the sign?
  20. Wretched Man

    Wretched Man Puritan Board Freshman

    For clarity, I don’t view baptism as a replacement for circumcision. There is obviously connection (Colossians 2), but I don’t think they signify the same thing. I suspect circumcision points to Christ’s arrival through the seed of Abraham and subsequent removal of our sins. Baptism represents the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who regenerates us to life resulting in imminent sanctification.

    We both, I assume, would agree God chose us to be saved by Christ before we were ever born. The Covenantal sign of the coming seed of Abraham who would crush the serpent was to be ceremonially applied for all males regardless of their circumstances to signify the imminence of Christ’s arrival.

    Christ’s work was done before you and I were ever born. When the Holy Spirit chooses to regenerate us however appears to be later in our lives. We celebrate this act through the ceremony of baptism, which should provide a valuable and practical sense of conviction and remembrance of who we are in Christ - through faith, not being physically born.
  21. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    1. Both are a sign
    • Circumcision: Gen. 17:10-11; Rom. 2:28-29, 4:11
    • Baptism: Implication of Romans 4:11-12; Col. 2:11-12; Titus 3:5; Gal. 3:27. Also since, signs point to a spiritual reality, see all the things signified below.
    2. Both are a seal
    • Circumcision: Rom. 4:11
    • Baptism: See all the things promised (sealed) in the meanings below. Also see the implication of what is sealed in Rom. 4:11-12; 2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13, 4:30; 2 Tim. 2:19.
    3. Both initiate into membership in the covenant community
    • Circumcision: Gen. 17:14; 21:4; Lev. 12:3
    • Baptism: Eph. 2:11-13; 1 Cor. 12:13
    4. Both symbolize (language of ‘sign’) regeneration
    • Circumcision: Deut 10:16; 30:6; Jer. 4:4
    • Baptism: John 3:5; Col. 2:11-12; Tit. 3:5
    5. Both point to cleansing from defilement
    • Circumcision: Jer. 4:4
    • Baptism: 1 Pet. 3:21; Acts 22:16; 1 Cor. 7:14
    6. Both are for those who are holy or “set apart” by a parent’s relationship to God
    • Circumcision: Ezra 9:2; Is. 6:13
    • Baptism: 1 Cor. 7:14
    7. Both point to union with God
    • Circumcision: Deut. 30:6; Gal. 3:16,29; Gen. 17:7,8; Col. 2:11
    • Baptism: Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:1-8
    8. Both point to the need for an inner spiritual experience, namely spiritual circumcision and spiritual baptism
    • Circumcision: Rom. 2:28-29; Jer. 4:4; Col. 2:11
    • Baptism: 1 Pet. 3:21; Col. 2:12
    9. Both were placed on whole households
    • Circumcision: Gen. 17:10,23-27
    • Baptism: Acts 16:15,33; 1 Cor. 1:16
    10. Both were a sign and seal of the covenant of grace
    • Circumcision: Gen. 17:9-14; Deut. 30:6; Rom. 4:11
    • Baptism: Rom. 4:11; Col. 2:11-12
    11. Both point to remission of sins
    • Circumcision: Deut. 30:6; Col. 2:13
    • Baptism: Mark 1:4; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Col. 2:11-13
    12. Both oblige the recipient to walk in newness of life
    • Circumcision: Gen. 17:9; Deut. 10:12-16
    • Baptism: Rom. 6:3-4
    13. Neither one saves or benefits a person automatically (ex opera operato)
    • Circumcision: Jer. 9:25-26; Rom. 2:25-29
    • Baptism: Acts 8:13-24; Heb. 6:4-8; 10:29
    14. People can be saved without either one
    • Circumcision: Rom. 4:10; Luke 1:44,47 before circumcision (v. 59); so too Jer. 1:4-5 Baptism: Luke 23:43; Acts 10:2-47
    15. It is a sin to neglect this sign
    • Circumcision: Gen. 17:14; Ex. 4:24-26
    • Baptism: Luke 7:30
  22. MSH

    MSH Puritan Board Freshman


    Could we not also add to the question if the rite of baptism has the power of conviction to those within the congregation ( believers and unbelievers) who witness its application?


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  23. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I think the exercise of carefully spelling out certain points of dispute has great value in helping us avoid condemnation of an alternative based on a fallacy of the hasty generalization. I think that's where some discussion from a couple weeks ago went off.

    Here, we've managed to name specific conclusions drawn from various texts of Scripture, that oppose the alternative. We'd probably agree that ultimately, no two true conclusions contradict one another; so any fault lies with us rather than Scripture.

    I think two distinct perspectives on the relationship of circumcision and baptism--while it is not the key to unlocking the divide between Baptists and Presbyterians--is certainly illustrative of that divide. Presbyterians look at those two rites and see the same kind of thing: an external sign of an inward reality, and a mark of covenant inclusion. Baptist friends have expressed (to me) a variety of ways they see and emphasize difference between the two rites.

    Andrew (Romans922) put down a list of things which speak to Presbyterians of similarities in connection with the signs. I have my own outline used for teaching on the topic. I imagine some Baptist instructors have their own list or outline displaying the opposite emphasis, the divergence (not similarity) they see when comparing those signs. I suspect many find the contrast so self-evident, a list of particulars seems artificial.

    I continue commending you stay true to your conscience. Don't "flip" regarding baptism and your children, when you have even modest reservations. IB is a conclusion, part of the step of application if one holds a theology of baptism that calls for it. It should not be a practice in search of a justification.
  24. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Sure, but the aim of the question was tied to the specific proposal (as I read it) that circumcision was essentially a convicting ordinance, along with virtually everything of legitimate religious expression prior to Christ.

    I asked because I was curious of (what was possibly) Nathan's implied contrast of the nature of circumcision with the nature of baptism. It seems to me Rom.6:1-4 (a text Nathan introduced) reveals baptism also contains an element of conviction.

    I tend to view legitimate religious expression both before and after the coming of Christ as partaking of both law (convicting) and gospel (promise/hope) elements. If there was a leaning or emphasis in the days prior to Christ on law, that did not exclude the element of the gospel (Gal.3:8) expectantly. And if there is a leaning or emphasis on the gospel in these days of Christ's fulfillment, that does not exclude the element of conviction either for calling the ungodly or warning the godly.
  25. MSH

    MSH Puritan Board Freshman

    Excellent Bruce, thanks!

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  26. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    Do you not believe OT saints were regenerated by the Holy Spirit? Do you not believe they were saved by the same method by which we are saved? If you do believe they were saved the same way we are, then why would God not have baptism in the OT to represent the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? And if circumcision points to Christ's arrival through the seed of Abraham and subsequent removal of our sins, why do away with circumcision in the NT? Shouldn't we always be reminded of this? Doesn't it make more sense that there are signs and seals that represent a covenant God made within the Godhead for his people? This covenant never changed (God himself would save his people through blood sacrifice) the only things that changed were the representations of that covenant being fulfilled.

    God couldn't make that covenant with us because we would have broken the covenant long ago. He had to make the covenant within the Godhead for it to be an everlasting covenant. But God always intended to have a people within his covenant. "Family" has a much higher significance with God than it has with mankind. God commanded that a husband and wife shall become one flesh and their offspring (among other things) is a product of them becoming one flesh. This is very significant as Paul gives this example and then relates it to the church and Christ. We either believe that spouses are one flesh and their children are a product of that oneness and thus the whole family is under God's covenant and must regulate their lives under God, or we believe in individualism and the husband and wife should live for God but the children shouldn't be taken to church, taught to pray and read their bibles, and shouldn't be taught to live holy lives since they are not under God's covenant like their parents are. The children are to be left free of Godly teachings until they are older when they can hear the Gospel with intelligence and be able to make a profession of faith and then be baptized. This second option is quite dysfunctional and even Baptists do not think this way. Baptists treat their children as covenant children but deny them the sign of that covenant. God never intended for his people (which includes their children since their children are apart of the family) to be without the sign of the covenant. Baptism isn't the sign of salvation. Sanctification is the sign of salvation. Baptism is the sign of God's covenant that he gave his children.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  27. Wretched Man

    Wretched Man Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm not a dispensationalist. I don't believe people are saved any differently today than they were prior to Christ. The sign of circumcision went away, I imagine, for the same reason the sacrificial and ceremonial rituals of the Mosaic law went away: the antitype and fulfillment they were pointing towards (Christ) had arrived.

    Why is it baptism, which I think ties more to Holy Spirit, is suddenly now practiced post-Christ? I don't fully understand. As an amillennialist, I do see some possible connection with the binding of Satan and subsequent outpouring of the Holy Spirit resulting in the expansion of Christianity. Perhaps because Christ's work is now complete and the Holy Spirit is fully drawn... I dunno and will stop there.

    I of course agree we should raise our children in the church, teaching them God's word. Where I might challenge people (not necessarily you) who cling to the "covenant children" concept is to grasp the reality their young children are unregenerates. I have two daughters and a son under the age of 5. I don't want them confused at all on their salvation status. They will not receive any hints from me or my wife they've somehow been baptized until they have truly repented of their sins, professed Christ as their lord and savior, and quiver at such scriptures as Romans 6, Luke 6, Matthew 7, or James, etc. Then we can celebrate the wonderful sacrament (or ordnance) our Lord prescribed for us.

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