Summary: Baptism is a sign of covenant inclusion for the visible people which seals our union with Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit.
INTRODUCTION: A Reformation study of the sacraments is a sad study, filled with testimonies of bitter polemics, schism, division, and even execution. One may catch a glimpse of the pain, seeing Zwingli at Marburg, or a drowning protestor in Zurich, or a banished ¡°sacramentarian¡± in the Paletinate. The same holy waters of baptism, which are ostensibly intended to bring union to God and His people, continue to be a cause for ecclesiastical divisions. Lancaster county is filled with the posterity of the protestors of the Protestants.
To address the Biblical doctrine of the recipients of baptism we need to answer these questions:
Who Got Wet?
Sermon Series on the Covenant God¡¯s Relationship to His People
The Covenant Lord: Praise Him - Psalm 33
The Covenant People: Becoming Like-Minded - Romans 15:5
The Covenant People: Not the Steeple
The Worship of the Covenant People: True Zion
The Worship of the Covenant People: Covenant Remembrance
The Covenant Signs and Seals: Baptism
The Covenant Signs and Seals: Lord¡¯s Supper
The Covenant Family
The Covenant Future
Remembering our study of Covenant Remembrance: Worship should be conscious of the covenant relationship between God and man, fulfilled in Christ. Worship should repeat the fundamental terms of the covenant, in His Law and gospel; Worship should be guided by the book of the covenant, the Bible; Worship should focus on the mediator of the covenant, our Reigning Lord Jesus Christ; Worship should the signs and seals of the covenant, baptism and communnion. Worship should be the joy of those who share in the blood of the covenant, His people; it should be covenantal in the fullest sense.
OUR CHURCH IS NAMED - ALL SAINTS PRESBYTERIAN - Since we acknowledge that we are standing in the lineage of the church triumphant. Many of the greatest minds of the Christian church have written and defended the theology underlying this view of the sacraments and baptism, such as John Calvin, Francis Turretin, Samuel Rutherford, Thomas Goodwin, John Owen, Richard Baxter, Jonathan Edwards, Archibald Alexander, Charles Hodge, Robert L. Dabney, Benjamin B. Warfield, J. Gresham Machen and many, many others to this very day. We (all the saints herein) believe that according to the Scriptures salvation is by the grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone¡ªsola Scriptura, sola gratia, sola fide, solo Christo, soli Deo gloria!
The Bible very infrequently gives definitions of its content. Definitions are the job of the systematic theologian. The same is true when we come to the question of sacraments. No definition is given in Scripture. At best we have the statement in Romans 4:12 - a definitive description of circumcision.
1. WHO¡¯S IN? Who is included in covenant administrations?
The covenant with Adam involved all of the children of Adam. ¡°As in Adam all die¡± (1Co 15:22, Rom 5:12). The covenant with Noah included the ¡°salvation of his household¡± (Heb 11:7). The sacrifices of the patriarchs (including Noah, Job, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) were for the whole family. Job offered ¡°burnt offerings according to the number of them all¡± (Job 1:5). Similarly, ¡°Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain, and called his kinsmen to the meal¡± (Gen 31:54). Circumcision was given to Abraham as a sign of God¡¯s covenant for ¡°you and your descendants after you throughout their generations¡± (Gen 17:9). Under Moses the Israelites were commanded to put the blood of the Passover lamb on their doors to preserve the firstborn in the household. Israel was to observe Passover ¡°as an ordinance for you and your children forever¡± (Exo 12:24). Even in the promise to David, the Lord said, ¡°I have made a covenant with My chosen; I have sworn to David My servant, I will establish your seed forever, and build up your throne to all generations¡± (Psa 89:3-4).
Even the New Covenant? Does the New Covenant inclusion of the Children of Believers: Does it also include believers¡¯ children? Virtually every prophecy and exposition of the New Covenant ostensibly includes the children of believers in the New Covenant.
One of the most knowledgable and rhetorically powerful critics of Infant Baptism, Paul King Jewett says:
With the advent of Messiah ¡ª the promised seed par excellence ¡ª and the Pentecostal effusion of the Spirit, the salvation contained in the promise to Israel was brought nigh. No longer was it a hope on the distant horizon but rather an accomplished fact in history. Then ¡ª and for our discussion, the THEN is of capital significance ¡ª the temporal, earthly, typical elements of the old dispensation were dropped from the great house of salvation as scaffolding from the finished edifice. It is our contention that the Paedobaptist, in framing their argument from circumcision, have failed to keep this significant historical development in clear focus. Proceeding from the basically correct postulate that baptism stands in the place of circumcision, they have urged this analogy to a distortion. They have so far pressed the unity of the covenant as to suppress the diversity of its administration. They have, to be specific, Christianized the Old Testament and Judaized the New. (91)