Thursday, July 28, 2016

Infant Baptism

Today I'm going to offer a conversational and brief explanation on why our family practices infant baptism. My husband and I both come from a background of credo or believer's baptism so infant baptism is something new for us.

It starts with the presupposition that God deals with his people by way of covenants. He is a covenant-making and covenant-keeping God. Most Christians will agree that God made a covenant with Adam, a covenant with Noah and a covenant with Abraham.  Sometimes when God makes a covenant, He also makes a sign to signify the event. The rainbow serves as a sign of God's covenant with Noah and circumcision was a sign of God's covenant with Abraham. God frequently states that his covenant promises are "to you, and to your children" or "to you and to your generations." When God makes a covenant with a single person, it doesn't mean that only the one person is under the covenant. In the case of God's covenant with Abraham, God specified that all of the males born into Abraham's family were to receive the sign of the covenant in their flesh.

I don't know of any Christians who believe that everyone who received the sign of circumcision was necessarily a believer, elect, or saved. The sign isn't a proof of God's love, but it does signify who is to treated as part of the visible covenant community. God said that those men who did not have the sign of the covenant were to be cut off from their people.

Baptism is the sign of the New Covenant. In Colossians 2:11-12a we read
In whom also you were circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism...

The sign is given to all those who profess Christ and to all in the household of a believing man, including children, servants, relatives, etc. just as circumcision was done to all males of the house under the Old Covenant.

To recap: God deals with His people through covenants. God commands us to remember these covenants by way of signs. God made a New Covenant in the blood of Christ and the sign of that covenant is baptism. The sign of the covenant is given to all professing believers and to those under their household authority.

Our duty to our children is found in the great commission. Preach the gospel, baptize them and make disciples, teaching them to obey all that Christ commands. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Power to Quicken The Dead - Who Has It?

Aging should bring more than grey hair. Hopefully, wisdom increases with age if I apply my heart to it. I don't know if I'm necessarily wiser, but I have realized two important facts lately. The first is that there is so much that I don't know. I mean so, SO, SO, much that I don't know! I am finally starting to see that I am barely touching the tip of the iceberg in terms of knowledge. Why are young people convinced they are on the cusp of discovering all things and old people are humbly ashamed at what they don't yet know?  I guess it's because the young don't know what they don't know, and the old are starting to get an inkling of what they don't know. I don't know.

The second important thing I'm learning is the utter and complete powerlessness of the dead. I guess I've always known the dead are weak, but the blinders have really been thrown off lately and I can almost sense with my being how impossible it is for the dead to do anything. My understanding of this has been evolving and growing, and honestly, if I have to go much further into this, my brain may collapse from awe. The good thing is, when I read the Scripture now and see the word "dead", the meaning of the passage is practically exploding in my face. I can't miss it. When God says someone is dead, He doesn't mean that he is weak, or only capable of a little work. Dead means dead. Not alive. Not even a little bit.

By now, you are probably wondering where I'm going with this. Well, on Sunday, while the pastor was butchering Ephesians 4, I decided to read Ephesians from the beginning to try to understand the overall point of the book. Naturally, I started in Chapter 1. Paul starts out by telling us that God planned and predestined those who would be in Christ. God also caused them to believe and gave them the Holy Spirit as an earnest of their inheritance in Him. All of this happened by a work of God and God alone. Those whom He chose didn't have to do a thing. which is good, because until He gave them life, they were dead and incapable of believing or doing any other thing. If they had to DO something in order for God to save them, they would never be saved because of their deadness and inability to act.

After God does all that, He opens the eyes of their understanding so that they can know what He did. (verses 17 and 18) And even that is done for His glory. But then we see in verse 19 a new revelation about how God accomplished this feat. This was the stunning moment for me. God used the same power to save us that He used to raise Christ from the dead! Look at this:

And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead...   (vs. 19 and 20a)

When I think of the power required to raise someone from the dead, I think it must be large in both quantity and quality. It was one of God's greatest works, right? To raise Christ from the dead? And yet, it took this EXACT SAME power that God had to exercise to save me. Paul calls it "his mighty power." In the past, I have thought it a small thing for God to save me. But now I see that it was a huge thing. And not just me, but the entire Church, which Paul says "is his body." 

And all of this brings me back to Arminians. How could anyone think that he possesses ANY of the mighty power necessary to make himself believe? It is impossible for someone who is dead in his trespasses and sin to exercise faith. He doesn't even HAVE faith until God has already done a saving work in his life and given that man the gift of faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9)  After God opens your eyes to your sinfulness and his forgiveness, don't make the mistake of thinking that YOU realized it and chose to repent and believe. That is the very opposite of how God describes it in Ephesians 1. God chose you. God saved you. God quickened you and opened the eyes of your understanding.

Praise Him.

Dead Men Do Not Act

How dead is dead? Can the spiritually dead commit spiritual acts that result in them being quickened?

Calvinism answers that with a resounding, "No!"

R.C. Sproul, Jr. on Arminianism