What does baptism accomplish?

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Kim G

Puritan Board Junior
This might belong in the "wading pool." What does baptism accomplish? What is its purpose? I'm not looking for the proper recipients of baptism here, unless the idea of what baptism accomplishes differs from credo to paedo-baptists.

I ask this because of my fundy background, in which baptism was just a testimony to the congregation that you believed in Christ and weren't ashamed to follow and obey Him.

EDIT: As has been pointed out to me, perhaps a better question would be "What does baptism sign and seal?" Explain this to me, please. I didn't grow up knowing that baptism was a sign or a seal of anything. I always heard that those verses were all referring to Spirit baptism.
 
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Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Kim,

There are dear brothers and sister on the PB who will disagree me with; notwithstanding, baptism is the sign of the New Covenant. It's significance is more specific than circumcision. The sign of baptism is applied to those who profess faith in Jesus Christ. Instead of merely a testimony aspect for baptism, there is instead an identification with Christ. Baptism serves to strengthen our faith because of who and what it signifies. By signifying our union with Christ, we are able to look back on our baptism as source of strength and confidence. Baptism does not save but it does join us to the visible church.
 

ManleyBeasley

Puritan Board Junior
Exactly, its a sign of the NC. The new covenant is entered by regeneration; not baptism, but baptism is a sign of that entry (ie believer's baptism). Jeremiah 31 describes the NC as regeneration (law written on the heart, they know God, they are forgiven).
 

Archlute

Puritan Board Senior
It is indeed a sign of the New Covenant...one that sets apart the people of God (confessing believers and their children) as the Church visible from out of the world and unto the kingdom of Christ. It initiates them into the life of Christian discipleship that is found within his Church. The difference in ecclesiology will immediately be shown in the difference between the Baptist and Presbyterian response to this question.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Is there no strength in it by itself? Peter speaks of "this baptism which now saves.." Does it ontologically "do anything" for the person?

What would be the difference between a "baptized" infant and an "unbaptized" infant if both sets of parents promise to raise up the child in the fear and nurture of the Lord?
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Kim:

From a Reformed perspective a better question is as follows: what does baptism sign and seal? See Belgic Confession Articles 33 & 34 as well as Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 25-27

Only then can one answer what baptism does, namely it serves to strengthen and confirm my faith.

BC, Article 33

We believe that our gracious God, taking account of our weakness and infirmities, has ordained the sacraments for us, thereby to seal unto us His promises, and to be pledges of the good will and grace of God towards us, and also to nourish and strengthen our faith; which He has joined to the Word of the gospel, the better to present to our senses both that which He declares to us by His Word and that which He works inwardly in our hearts, thereby confirming in us the salvation which He imparts to us. For they are visible signs and seals of an inward and invisible thing, by means whereof God works in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore the signs are not empty or meaningless, so as to deceive us. For Jesus Christ is the true object presented by them, without whom they would be of no moment.
 

ManleyBeasley

Puritan Board Junior
It is indeed a sign of the New Covenant...one that sets apart the people of God (confessing believers and their children) as the Church visible from out of the world and unto the kingdom of Christ. It initiates them into the life of Christian discipleship that is found within his Church. The difference in ecclesiology will immediately be shown in the difference between the Baptist and Presbyterian response to this question.

How does it initialize them? The only way that works is if you believe the infant must be baptized to be initialized and discipled. That pressuposes the point thats being debated. Jeremiah describes the NC as being regeneration. Does baptism regenerate all baptized infants (rhetorical question)? If not, then they are not entering into the NC as described in Jeremiah 31.
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
[Moderator voice on]
The purpose of this thread is to task 'what does baptism accomplish?' Unless Kim notes otherwise debating the differences between paedo and credo on this point will take us far afield from the question at hand.

If you want to debate these questions one can start a new thread or revive an old one.
[Moderator voice off]
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Kim:

From a Reformed perspective a better question is as follows: what does baptism sign and seal? See Belgic Confession Articles 33 & 34 as well as Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 25-27

Only then can one answer what baptism does, namely it serves to strengthen and confirm my faith.

BC, Article 33

We believe that our gracious God, taking account of our weakness and infirmities, has ordained the sacraments for us, thereby to seal unto us His promises, and to be pledges of the good will and grace of God towards us, and also to nourish and strengthen our faith; which He has joined to the Word of the gospel, the better to present to our senses both that which He declares to us by His Word and that which He works inwardly in our hearts, thereby confirming in us the salvation which He imparts to us. For they are visible signs and seals of an inward and invisible thing, by means whereof God works in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore the signs are not empty or meaningless, so as to deceive us. For Jesus Christ is the true object presented by them, without whom they would be of no moment.


If it only strengthens and confirms one's faith based upon ones reflections upon this event, wouldn't it even moreso do this if the person baptized was able to mentally reflect upon this act and remember when it occurred (most people baptized as infants rely on second-hand information about their own baptism after all).

If I am a Christian parent, whether my infants are baptized or not, don't my infants have the same promises as an infant baptized?
 

Kim G

Puritan Board Junior
How does it initialize them? The only way that works is if you believe the infant must be baptized to be initialized and discipled. That pressuposes the point thats being debated. Jeremiah describes the NC as being regeneration. Does baptism regenerate all baptized infants (rhetorical question)? If not, then they are not entering into the NC as described in Jeremiah 31.

Those are good questions that I know are being debated in other threads, but like I said in the OP, I really don't want this thread to devolve into a discussion of the proper recipients of baptism in the NC.

Pergamum said:
Is there no strength in it by itself? Peter speaks of "this baptism which now saves.." Does it ontologically "do anything" for the person?
I have this question myself.
 

Archlute

Puritan Board Senior
It is indeed a sign of the New Covenant...one that sets apart the people of God (confessing believers and their children) as the Church visible from out of the world and unto the kingdom of Christ. It initiates them into the life of Christian discipleship that is found within his Church. The difference in ecclesiology will immediately be shown in the difference between the Baptist and Presbyterian response to this question.

How does it initialize them? The only way that works is if you believe the infant must be baptized to be initialized and discipled. That pressuposes the point thats being debated. Jeremiah describes the NC as being regeneration. Does baptism regenerate all baptized infants (rhetorical question)? If not, then they are not entering into the NC as described in Jeremiah 31.

Again, it comes down to differing views of ecclesiology. I won't take time to debate that which you can look up for yourself in various Reformed systematics and books on sacramental theology. I was merely stating for kim one of the things that baptism accomplishes.
 

Kim G

Puritan Board Junior
Kim:

From a Reformed perspective a better question is as follows: what does baptism sign and seal? See Belgic Confession Articles 33 & 34 as well as Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 25-27

Only then can one answer what baptism does, namely it serves to strengthen and confirm my faith.

Good point. Thanks for the clarification. Okay then, what does baptism sign and seal? I grew up believing that all the verses about that are dealing with Spirit baptism, not water baptism.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
[Moderator voice on]
The purpose of this thread is to task 'what does baptism accomplish?' Unless Kim notes otherwise debating the differences between paedo and credo on this point will take us far afield from the question at hand.

If you want to debate these questions one can start a new thread or revive an old one.
[Moderator voice off]

I wondered how long it would take for Kim's question to be hijacked. I am backing up my fellow mod on this one. Stick to the request of the OP people.
 

ManleyBeasley

Puritan Board Junior
Sorry about that, its easy to get theological on something like this. I was trying to back up my reason for claiming what baptism does. I agree wholeheartedly that it is a sign as our brother said. Sorry again for the contraversy!
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Kim:

From a Reformed perspective a better question is as follows: what does baptism sign and seal? See Belgic Confession Articles 33 & 34 as well as Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 25-27

Only then can one answer what baptism does, namely it serves to strengthen and confirm my faith.

Good point. Thanks for the clarification. Okay then, what does baptism sign and seal? I grew up believing that all the verses about that are dealing with Spirit baptism, not water baptism.

Please understand that I mean no disrespect but I encourage you to spend some time reading these standards. Whether one agrees with them or not they will give you a more concise and accurate rendition of Reformed theology on the sacraments than I could ever do via this medium.

Confession of Faith - The Belgic Confession, Articles 30-37
The Heidelberg Catechism - Part 2: Man's Deliverance
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
The question: "What does baptism do", is different from the question "what does baptism sign and seal."

If we want not to hijack the thread, let's try to answer the original question, which intrigues me as well.
 

Kim G

Puritan Board Junior
The question: "What does baptism do", is different from the question "what does baptism sign and seal."

If we want not to hijack the thread, let's try to answer the original question, which intrigues me as well.
Well, I'm the OP, and I really want to know both. Feel free to hash them both out. :D
 

Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
Among other things it accomplishes, it gets the recipient wet.

Just wanted to lighten things up, now I'll run and hide. :lol:
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
As mentioned in the first post by the Jersey Baptist.... It does "not save but it does join us to the visible church."

It is a means of grace for those who are given authority in the church to know who they are responsible for. It is a means of grace for those who are baptised to point to the one they belong to and to whom they are responsible to. It is also a means of grace in that God promises gifts of the spirit to those who are baptised.

Just some quick thoughts off of the top of my head.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
What does the phrase "means of grace" actually mean?


Is there any change within the person baptised?
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
What does the phrase "means of grace" actually mean?


Is there any change within the person baptised?


I first must admit that I don't think grace is necessarily unmerited favor. It is unmerited but it is much more than favor. I particularly think it is a divine spiritual influence or power also. Words can minister grace to its hearers as mentioned in Ephesians 4:29. Grace teaches in Titus 2:11,12. Paul seems to use grace and the power of Christ synonomously in 2 Cor 12:9.

A means is something that is a channel of or something that delivers something. Therefore baptism is something that delivers grace to whom it is directed.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Baptism is a means of grace in that it accomplishes a few things. It signifies who the church is responsible for. The Church is a gift and nurturer to believers. It is a means for admittance into the local church. You can not become a member of most congregations until you have been baptized. And it, like the Lord's supper, points to the person and work of Christ.

On a side point Peter promises the gift of the Holy Spirit upon repentance and baptism.

(Act 2:38) Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

addition... You ever heard, "the ends justifies the means"?
 

Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
Kim,

There are dear brothers and sister on the PB who will disagree me with; notwithstanding, baptism is the sign of the New Covenant. It's significance is more specific than circumcision. The sign of baptism is applied to those who profess faith in Jesus Christ. Instead of merely a testimony aspect for baptism, there is instead an identification with Christ. Baptism serves to strengthen our faith because of who and what it signifies. By signifying our union with Christ, we are able to look back on our baptism as source of strength and confidence. Baptism does not save but it does join us to the visible church.

KIM G,
Here is a teaching that was given to me;
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF BAPTISM
Baptism is not a “seal of the covenant” as circumcision was in the Old Testament (Gen. 17). Even the circumcision of Abraham was “a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised” (Rom. 4:11), i.e., the faith of Abraham preceded his circumcision. Circumcision was a sign of the Old Covenant made with Israel with respect to the land of Canaan; baptism is a gospel ordinance peculiar to the New Testament church and economy. It is the symbolic picture or representation of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (See Rom. 6:1–6). When a person submits to scriptural baptism in obedience to the Lord and his Word, he identifies himself publicly in the symbolism of the gospel. Baptism is at once an act of obedience, identification and submission. It is an act of obedience to God and His Word (See Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:41). As such, it is “the answer of a good conscience toward God” (1 Pet. 3:20–21). It is an act of identification in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:3–5). As such, it focuses upon His saving work and efficacious blood and so is a symbolic cleansingfrom sin (See Acts 22:16). It is an act of submission to the “Name” of the Lord Jesus, i.e., a public acknowledgment of His Lordship over the life (Acts 2:38).
CIRCUMCISION, BAPTISM AND REGENERATION
The Old Covenant–sign of circumcision has been replaced, not by “baptism” of any type, but by a sovereign act of God, a spiritual “circumcision of the heart,” i.e., regeneration (See Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Ezk. 36:25–27; Jn. 3:3–5; Rom. 2:28–29; Col. 2:11–13. See also Jer. 31:31–34; 2 Cor. 3:3–18; Heb. 8:1–13). As circumcision was the covenant–sign of the Old covenant for physical or national Israel, so “spiritual circumcision,” or regeneration is the covenant–sign of the New or Gospel Covenant for believers, or “Spiritual Israel.” Baptism is distinctly a New Testament ordinance. Its mode is immersion and its subjects are those who manifest a credible profession of faith, after the pattern of the New Testament.9 Circumcision in the flesh has found its realization, or fulfillment and anti–type, in the circumcision of the heart, i.e., regeneration under the New Covenant.
ABRAHAM: HIS SEED AND HIS SPIRITUAL CHILDREN
The traditional Reformed argument from Rom. 4:9–12, that, as circumcision was a “sign or seal of the covenant,” so is infant sprinkling, actually disregards both the statement of Rom. 4:9–12 and the context of Gen. 17, which describes the institution of circumcision as a token or sign of the covenant. In Rom. 4:9–12, the subject is Abraham, who was circumcised as a believer. Circumcision was to him, and to him alone, “a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he [already] had yet being uncircumcised.” In Gen. 17 Abraham was commanded to circumcise every male—sons, servants, slaves, relatives—in his household as a “token” of the covenant. This circumcision–covenant had to do with the possession of the land of Canaan, and not with the eternal promises of salvation (cf. v. 7–10). Further, Abraham circumcised Ishmael (v. 25–27), whom he already knew was not included in the covenant of promise (v. 15–21). Lot, Abraham’s nephew, was not circumcised, although he was in the covenant of grace as a “righteous” man.10 The covenantof promise (Gen. 12:1–3), as enlarged in Rom. 4:13–25; 9:1–11:32; and Gal. 3:1–29, was made to Abraham’s spiritual children (te?kna Abraa?m, i.e., believers. Jn. 8:39; Rom. 4:11–17; 9:6–24); the covenant of circumcision, having to do with the land of Canaan, was made to Abraham’s physical seed ( spe?rma Abraa?m, Jn. 8:33, 37).
The New Testament uniformly teaches that faith is to precede baptism, that baptism is a conscious, voluntary act of obedience, identification and submission on the part of the believer. John the Baptist baptized only repentant adults (Matt, 3:1–12). The apostles baptized only those who evidenced a profession of faith according to the Commission of the Lord (Matt. 28:18–20; Acts 2:41–42).
THE SCRIPTURAL SUBJECTS: BELIEVERS
The New Testament plainly teaches believers’ baptism. The proper subjects for baptism are:
• “Disciples” (Matt. 28:19).20 The major force of the language falls on “make disciples” and the word “them” (aujtouV", masc. pl.) has “disciples,” (maqhteuvsate, lit: “make disciples,” and “disciples” as a noun would be masc. pl.) not “nations,” (pavnta taV e[qnh, neut. pl.) for its antecedent. The “Great Commission” clearly states that only “disciples,” i.e., converts, those evidencing the marks of grace, are fit subjects for baptism (maqteu?sate…bapi?zontev au'tou\v…).
• Those who “bring forth fruits meet for repentance” (Matt. 3:7–8).
• “He that believeth” (Mk. 16:16).
• The repentant and believing (Acts 2:38).
• “They that gladly received the Word” (Acts 2:41).
• A person who possesses heart–belief (Acts 8:36–37).
• One who was a “brother,” singled out by God as a convert, and who evidenced a genuine conversion experience (Acts 9:1–18).
• Those whose hearts the Lord has opened (Acts 16:14–15).
• Those who have heard the Word of God and believed (Acts 16:30–34).
It is a primary and axiomatic principle of interpretation that no clear teaching of Scripture can be set aside from vague reference or silence, yet that has been the process of paedobaptists who argue from the vague reference of “household baptisms,” and from the silence of the New Testament to introduce an Old Testament mentality and practice.21 There is not any scriptural, historical, or logical place where baptism has replaced circumcision. The anti–type of circumcision is regeneration, or the true “circumcision of the heart” (Cf. Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Ezk. 36:25–27; Jn. 3:3, 5; Rom. 2:28–29; Col. 2:11–13). Further, the question that arose about the legitimacy or “sanctification” of children with at least one believing parent would have been entirely unnecessary if the rite of circumcision had been replaced by baptism. Certainly the Apostle could have clarified the matter for those still in ignorance concerning the position of “covenant children.” (See 1 Cor. 7:12–14.)
The inherent weakness of the above position has been presupposed by the paedobaptists themselves in their greatest argument, the continuity of the covenant. They assume or presuppose that the “covenant of grace” (not the eternal covenant of redemption and grace inferred in the Divine decree and the process of election, predestination and
20 Matthew 28:19–20 poreuqevnte" ou\n maqhteuvsate pavnta taV e[qnh, baptivzonte" aujtouV" eij" toV o[noma tou' patroV" kaiV tou' uiJou' kaiV tou' aJgivou pneuvmato", didavskonte" aujtouV" threi'n pavnta o{sa ejneteilavmhn uJmi'n: kaiV ijdouV ejgwV meq· uJmw'n eijmi pavsa" taV" hJmevra" e{w" th'" sunteleiva" tou' aijw'no". .
21 The so–called “family baptisms” in the New Testament do not teach that infants are to be baptized. The only details given in the inspired record reveal that the family members were converted before baptism, i.e., they believed before they were baptized. (See Acts 16:30–34).
132
 

TheFleshProfitethNothing

Puritan Board Freshman
Take into consideration, that you were taught that all the baptism things you learned as being spiritual, are in fact tied in with physical baptism. It isn't simply for the one being baptised to understand the significance, but is a blessing to the Church...showing that The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all involved in the Salvation of the Elect.

He, the Triune God is the True Baptiser under the Covenant, as Christ said, I will pray the Father, and He will Send you another Comforter, and yet again, Christ says He will send the Comforter from the Father, and of course the Comforter coming is the pouring out of the Spirit, which is what brings about regeneration in the Elect.

So, when one is baptised (whosoever they are) they are not the only recipients of the significance of the Sacrament. It is recieved by the one being baptised as though given from the Triune God, as if the work of God, in Christ is being imputed to them...as well, as all the things pertaining to life and godliness by the Grace of God on Whom He Wills...as the believers KNOW, they were REGENERATED prior to their believing...or else they couldn't believe...the natural man receiveth not the things of the SPIRIT OF GOD, neither can he KNOW them for they are Spiritually discerned...

In baptism, many things are realized, that one may not have initially known...but as being born of spirit, can now understand, as God has given ability.

In conclusion, as I realize I could keep on going with all the significant and relavant things tied to the Sign...I would like to say thanks, because it was and still is very thought provolking...Baptism as a sacrament does NOTHING in and of it's self, but the spiritual implications can be STAGGERING if one were to meditate on it long enough. It doesn't, as a natural thing do anything subjectively, but, as a sign to the Elect...it's quite edifying...
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Beside Baptism's role in joining a disciple visibly to the New Covenant, a shorthand manner of looking at Baptism is that it brings the Covenant of Redmption (CoR) into the "here and now" for believers in the Covenant of Grace (CoG).

One of the things that many miss when they treat the subject of election is that they treat it as a philosophical pet. Its context in Scripture, however, is within the bounds of the CoG as a manner of re-assuring the Saints that God is certain to save all those He has placed His favor upon and that our salvation does not depend upon us.

There's a real crisis of faith that can develop among those that forget that the hidden things belong to God by treating His elective purposes as something to worry about. Am I elect? Am I reprobate? How can I know? This is improper. It is not for us to ask such questions.

Amidst the suffering that bearing Christ's name brings we are not left with no connection to the line of eternity in hidden plan of God. In time, God has made an announcement of a Promise to me - at my Baptism. At my Baptism, God promised not just the world at large but me that He will save me from my sins if I believe upon Jesus.

There is something much more, then, than a simple reminder of something that happened to me once or a reminder that I had regenerating faith. It's not a reminder of what I was like when I was baptized but it is a line in the sand, sealed by two immutable things, that I will be saved if I place my trust in God.

This is why I need not be re-baptized if I determine I might not have had true faith at the time of my baptism because I might have been a liar but God never lies even if every other man does. This is why my assurance is not assailable because I'm not looking back at the strength of my faith but at a God Who does not lie.

When Satan tempts me to doubt my salvation, then, by reminding me that I'm not worthy of salvation and tempts me to wonder if I really believed the Gospel, I can look at my baptism and stand firm. I can point to the Promise of God to save me if I have faith in the work of Christ. I don't always remember what faith I had in the past but I can be a beggar for grace right now and I can believe that Promise sealed to me in my baptism.
 

Archlute

Puritan Board Senior
KIM G,
Here is a teaching that was given to me;
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF BAPTISM
Baptism is not a “seal of the covenant” as circumcision was in the Old Testament (Gen. 17). Even the circumcision of Abraham was “a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised” (Rom. 4:11), i.e., the faith of Abraham preceded his circumcision. Circumcision was a sign of the Old Covenant made with Israel with respect to the land of Canaan; baptism is a gospel ordinance peculiar to the New Testament church and economy. It is the symbolic picture or representation of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (See Rom. 6:1–6). When a person submits to scriptural baptism in obedience to the Lord and his Word, he identifies himself publicly in the symbolism of the gospel. Baptism is at once an act of obedience, identification and submission. It is an act of obedience to God and His Word (See Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:41). As such, it is “the answer of a good conscience toward God” (1 Pet. 3:20–21). It is an act of identification in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:3–5). As such, it focuses upon His saving work and efficacious blood and so is a symbolic cleansingfrom sin (See Acts 22:16). It is an act of submission to the “Name” of the Lord Jesus, i.e., a public acknowledgment of His Lordship over the life (Acts 2:38).
CIRCUMCISION, BAPTISM AND REGENERATION
The Old Covenant–sign of circumcision has been replaced, not by “baptism” of any type, but by a sovereign act of God, a spiritual “circumcision of the heart,” i.e., regeneration (See Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Ezk. 36:25–27; Jn. 3:3–5; Rom. 2:28–29; Col. 2:11–13. See also Jer. 31:31–34; 2 Cor. 3:3–18; Heb. 8:1–13). As circumcision was the covenant–sign of the Old covenant for physical or national Israel, so “spiritual circumcision,” or regeneration is the covenant–sign of the New or Gospel Covenant for believers, or “Spiritual Israel.” Baptism is distinctly a New Testament ordinance. Its mode is immersion and its subjects are those who manifest a credible profession of faith, after the pattern of the New Testament.9 Circumcision in the flesh has found its realization, or fulfillment and anti–type, in the circumcision of the heart, i.e., regeneration under the New Covenant.
ABRAHAM: HIS SEED AND HIS SPIRITUAL CHILDREN
The traditional Reformed argument from Rom. 4:9–12, that, as circumcision was a “sign or seal of the covenant,” so is infant sprinkling, actually disregards both the statement of Rom. 4:9–12 and the context of Gen. 17, which describes the institution of circumcision as a token or sign of the covenant. In Rom. 4:9–12, the subject is Abraham, who was circumcised as a believer. Circumcision was to him, and to him alone, “a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he [already] had yet being uncircumcised.” In Gen. 17 Abraham was commanded to circumcise every male—sons, servants, slaves, relatives—in his household as a “token” of the covenant. This circumcision–covenant had to do with the possession of the land of Canaan, and not with the eternal promises of salvation (cf. v. 7–10). Further, Abraham circumcised Ishmael (v. 25–27), whom he already knew was not included in the covenant of promise (v. 15–21). Lot, Abraham’s nephew, was not circumcised, although he was in the covenant of grace as a “righteous” man.10 The covenantof promise (Gen. 12:1–3), as enlarged in Rom. 4:13–25; 9:1–11:32; and Gal. 3:1–29, was made to Abraham’s spiritual children (te?kna Abraa?m, i.e., believers. Jn. 8:39; Rom. 4:11–17; 9:6–24); the covenant of circumcision, having to do with the land of Canaan, was made to Abraham’s physical seed ( spe?rma Abraa?m, Jn. 8:33, 37).
The New Testament uniformly teaches that faith is to precede baptism, that baptism is a conscious, voluntary act of obedience, identification and submission on the part of the believer. John the Baptist baptized only repentant adults (Matt, 3:1–12). The apostles baptized only those who evidenced a profession of faith according to the Commission of the Lord (Matt. 28:18–20; Acts 2:41–42).
THE SCRIPTURAL SUBJECTS: BELIEVERS
The New Testament plainly teaches believers’ baptism. The proper subjects for baptism are:
• “Disciples” (Matt. 28:19).20 The major force of the language falls on “make disciples” and the word “them” (aujtouV", masc. pl.) has “disciples,” (maqhteuvsate, lit: “make disciples,” and “disciples” as a noun would be masc. pl.) not “nations,” (pavnta taV e[qnh, neut. pl.) for its antecedent. The “Great Commission” clearly states that only “disciples,” i.e., converts, those evidencing the marks of grace, are fit subjects for baptism (maqteu?sate…bapi?zontev au'touv…).
• Those who “bring forth fruits meet for repentance” (Matt. 3:7–8).
• “He that believeth” (Mk. 16:16).
• The repentant and believing (Acts 2:38).
• “They that gladly received the Word” (Acts 2:41).
• A person who possesses heart–belief (Acts 8:36–37).
• One who was a “brother,” singled out by God as a convert, and who evidenced a genuine conversion experience (Acts 9:1–18).
• Those whose hearts the Lord has opened (Acts 16:14–15).
• Those who have heard the Word of God and believed (Acts 16:30–34).
It is a primary and axiomatic principle of interpretation that no clear teaching of Scripture can be set aside from vague reference or silence, yet that has been the process of paedobaptists who argue from the vague reference of “household baptisms,” and from the silence of the New Testament to introduce an Old Testament mentality and practice.21 There is not any scriptural, historical, or logical place where baptism has replaced circumcision. The anti–type of circumcision is regeneration, or the true “circumcision of the heart” (Cf. Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Ezk. 36:25–27; Jn. 3:3, 5; Rom. 2:28–29; Col. 2:11–13). Further, the question that arose about the legitimacy or “sanctification” of children with at least one believing parent would have been entirely unnecessary if the rite of circumcision had been replaced by baptism. Certainly the Apostle could have clarified the matter for those still in ignorance concerning the position of “covenant children.” (See 1 Cor. 7:12–14.)
The inherent weakness of the above position has been presupposed by the paedobaptists themselves in their greatest argument, the continuity of the covenant. They assume or presuppose that the “covenant of grace” (not the eternal covenant of redemption and grace inferred in the Divine decree and the process of election, predestination and
20 Matthew 28:19–20 poreuqevnte" oun maqhteuvsate pavnta taV e[qnh, baptivzonte" aujtouV" eij" toV o[noma tou' patroV" kaiV tou' uiJou' kaiV tou' aJgivou pneuvmato", didavskonte" aujtouV" threi'n pavnta o{sa ejneteilavmhn uJmi'n: kaiV ijdouV ejgwV meq· uJmw'n eijmi pavsa" taV" hJmevra" e{w" th'" sunteleiva" tou' aijw'no". .
21 The so–called “family baptisms” in the New Testament do not teach that infants are to be baptized. The only details given in the inspired record reveal that the family members were converted before baptism, i.e., they believed before they were baptized. (See Acts 16:30–34).
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So, how does the underlying apologetic intent of the above quote not violate everything that the mods just wrote for us in the earlier posts? I think that this is rather disingenuous, and prefacing it with the bolded words "The significance of baptism" will not change that in the least.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Beside Baptism's role in joining a disciple visibly to the New Covenant, a shorthand manner of looking at Baptism is that it brings the Covenant of Redmption (CoR) into the "here and now" for believers in the Covenant of Grace (CoG).

One of the things that many miss when they treat the subject of election is that they treat it as a philosophical pet. Its context in Scripture, however, is within the bounds of the CoG as a manner of re-assuring the Saints that God is certain to save all those He has placed His favor upon and that our salvation does not depend upon us.

There's a real crisis of faith that can develop among those that forget that the hidden things belong to God by treating His elective purposes as something to worry about. Am I elect? Am I reprobate? How can I know? This is improper. It is not for us to ask such questions.

Amidst the suffering that bearing Christ's name brings we are not left with no connection to the line of eternity in hidden plan of God. In time, God has made an announcement of a Promise to me - at my Baptism. At my Baptism, God promised not just the world at large but me that He will save me from my sins if I believe upon Jesus.

There is something much more, then, than a simple reminder of something that happened to me once or a reminder that I had regenerating faith. It's not a reminder of what I was like when I was baptized but it is a line in the sand, sealed by two immutable things, that I will be saved if I place my trust in God.

This is why I need not be re-baptized if I determine I might not have had true faith at the time of my baptism because I might have been a liar but God never lies even if every other man does. This is why my assurance is not assailable because I'm not looking back at the strength of my faith but at a God Who does not lie.

When Satan tempts me to doubt my salvation, then, by reminding me that I'm not worthy of salvation and tempts me to wonder if I really believed the Gospel, I can look at my baptism and stand firm. I can point to the Promise of God to save me if I have faith in the work of Christ. I don't always remember what faith I had in the past but I can be a beggar for grace right now and I can believe that Promise sealed to me in my baptism.

What does this Word "sealed" mean? If the promise is "sealed" but baptized folks are lost, what of this sealing? When the NT speaks of the Holy Spirit sealing me, it is a sure thing. But if any of the baptized are lost then this sealing is not a real good seal.


Also, God promises all who hear the Gospel that if they repent and believe they will be saved. How is this baptismal promise of salvation different from a mere declaration of the Gospel?

Finally, does baptism actually "do anything" in the one baptized besides remind them that they are baptized? If it reminds them of God's promises to save them based on belief and repentance, then these same promises are in the Gospel, and if baptism merely reminds the one baptized of one's own allegience to Christ, then something done to an infant makes for a poor reminder, since they have trouble remembering things generally.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Perg,

I answered your question about how Baptism is different than a broad application of the Gospel. Did you skim what I wrote or did you actually read it?

The benefits are sealed to the believer on the basis of two immutable things - a God who cannot lie and a promise. That which is outwardly promised can be looked upon as assurance that God is certain to save not just any man but the person who has heard a personal promise.

Why did God promise Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob personally when just anyone can listen to the Gospel and believe?
 
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