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. 

4 comments:

Kirk VanGelder said...

Interesting how baptism is never called the sign of the new covenant anywhere in the New Testament (even in the verse quoted above)....but if you do a word search on "new covenant" in the New Testament, you come up with a different "sign" that is given to us to represent the "new covenant"....

subject by design said...

The word "sign" does not occur in the verse, correct. It also does not occur along with the word circumcision in the verse, but circumcision was a sign of the Old Covenant, was it not? I'm going with the understanding that circumcision IS a sign of the Old Covenant, even though it doesn't mention the word "sign" in this verse. The verse is comparing circumcision (a sign of the covenant) with baptism. Circumcision being a one-time sign, as is baptism. Or, more particularly, that baptism is a new type of circumcision. That's my thought process on it, anyway. I don't pretend to be a theologian, and I don't even play one on TV. :)

Kirk VanGelder said...

It is pretty clear that the circumcision and baptism referred to in the verse is describing regeneration, which can only be applied to professing believers. Again there is scripture which describes what the sign of the new covenant is in the New Testament....we need to start there since it clearly states what the sign is. But I want you to see if you can find the same two places I found it! :)

subject by design said...

I disagree that only professing believers can be regenerated.