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Thread: A Presbyterian Case for the Baptist Rejection of Infant Baptism

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    Re: A Presbyterian Case for the Baptist Rejection of Infant Baptism

    The more I study it the more I am amazed that the "covenant" is described by so many as a contractural agreement. I am unable to use TDOT because I do not know Hebrew. However, TDNT describes the "covenant" as being chiefly God's "disposition" in executing His sovereign will. Ample evidence is given and strongly urge those with the necessary skills to look this one up.
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: A Presbyterian Case for the Baptist Rejection of Infant Baptism

    We perhaps need to go back to the "Baptism: for Believer or Unbeliever" thread to continue this discussion. At any rate, my problem with baby water baptism is different than that of almost all Baptists. I have no issue with believers in the true gospel--those who experience full koinonia within the ekklesia--who in their present convictions want to administer a Christian baptism ceremony on babies (for reasons of Abrahamic covenant continuity). This makes me the target of both extremes of the two 'poles'; both will condemn my position as irrelevant and laughable. Now we know why so many Nonconformist believers are pilgrims in this world!

    My appeal to paedobaptists is based on scripture and reason (in harmony with scripture), not a condemning attitude which forbids koinonia toward those who administer the 'drip' on babies--which attitude seems to be that of 90+ percent of those who call themselves 'Baptist' in their view of the water.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Re: A Presbyterian Case for the Baptist Rejection of Infant Baptism

    WB:
    But Jesus spoke these words during the Old Covenant era. Just because there is a division in your Bible and the title New Testament is listed does not mean it immediately starts.
    Could you explain? Are you saying that the Kingdom of God and the New Covenant are unrelated? Is rebirth necessary in the Old but not the New?

    Billtwisse:

    We perhaps need to go back to the "Baptism: for Believer or Unbeliever" thread to continue this discussionTo me this is about much more than our denominational initiation ceremony.

    My appeal to paedobaptists is based on scripture and reason (in harmony with scripture), not a condemning attitude which forbids koinonia toward those who administer the 'drip' on babies--which attitude seems to be that of 90+ percent of those who call themselves 'Baptist' in their view of the water.
    I agree completely and apologize if I came across that way. My attitude on this issue is the same as John Smyth

    “The articles of my religion which are the ground of my salvation are these, wherein I differ from no good Christian: That Jesus Christ’ the Son of God and the Son of Marry, is the anointed King, Priest, Prophet of the Church, the only mediator of the New Testament and that through true repentance and faith in Him who alone is our Savior we receive remission of sins and the Holy Ghost in this life, and therewith all the redemption of our bodies and everlasting life in the resurrection of the body. And whosoever walketh according to this rule, I must needs acknowledge him as my brother; yea, although he differ from in divers other particulars”

    That to me is the true Baptist attitude

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    Re: A Presbyterian Case for the Baptist Rejection of Infant Baptism

    Could you explain? Are you saying that the Kingdom of God and the New Covenant are unrelated? Is rebirth necessary in the Old but not the New?
    Being 'born from above' was always necessary for someone to be a member of the kingdom of God. But the kingdom of God began with the first believers in the old dispensation. It has now been more fully revealed and will reach its full consummation at the return of Christ. During His earthly ministry Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God as a present reality yet he told his disciples that some of them before they tasted death would see the kingdom of God coming and they did. On Pentecost the coming of the kingdom was seen in a dramatic way and the kingdom continues to come until every elect child of God is brought in.

    Sola Gratia,
    WildBoar
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: A Presbyterian Case for the Baptist Rejection of Infant Baptism

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    The speaks of baptism as the washing away of sins. As I'm sure we can both agree that water baptism does not wash away any sins, it must at least signify the washing away of sins and be used in some way for the benefit of the one being baptized. If you have an alternate explanation please let me know.
    what i find interesting, is that i don't know of any Scripture where the baptized is told to look to his infant baptism for assurance that his sins are washed away, no one is ever told to baptize his heart, no one is ever told to improve his baptism or make his baptism sure. certainly baptism is a picture or symbol of regeneration (washing, cleansing, rebirth, etc.) as well as identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, but i think you agree that this does not affect it and there is no hint of ex opere operato. and this discussion still has ended with no Scripture for support that we are to look back at our baptism to be assured of our forgiveness of sins. we look to Christ and the cross alone for this, not our baptism.

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    Of course only those whom God regenerates are ever true members of the covenant, but Acts does state in language very, very similar to that found in Genesis that the promise is also to the believer's children.
    we mustn't forget to read the whole verse though (there is a delimiter for all three parties mentioned):

    Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 "For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself."

    leaving this last part off seems to be a perennial problem with paedobaptists. also, no doubt is left as to who was baptized (so we are not left to merely guess):

    Acts 2:41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    Once again, there seems to be a desire on the part of the credo-baptist to equate God covenant with Abraham with the covenant at Sinai.
    but this misses the point. first of all, all those who will be members of the sinaitic covenant must first be members of the abrahamic covenant. we find that the two go hand in hand (in the mind of the jew it was 1. be circumcised, 2. keep the law of Moses).

    furthermore, this completely ignores the nature of the covenant as described in Jer 31 and Heb 8. whether or not we are contrasting with the abrahamic covenant or the sinaitic covenant, the nature of the new covenant is the same as described in these passages (and others). and notice i did not say, "so unlike the abrahamic covenant, in the new covenant:" but i said, "so unlike the old covenant, in the new covenant:
    1. The members will continue in the covenant
    2. He will care for the members
    3. His laws will be internal in the members (e.g., the Holy Spirit)
    4. All members will know Him
    5. All members will have their sins forgiven (in other words, the sin issue will be forever taken care of on behalf of His new covenant people)"
    so the NT writers emphasize contrast between new and the old covenants and whenever the abrahamic covenant is spoken of alone, continuity is empasized. does this then mean that what is spoken of about the nature of the new covenant is somehow changed (in Gal 3, Heb 8, etc.)? does the new covenant now somehow have carnal elements (entrance into the covenant by birth, etc.) because the NT writers emphasize continuity with the abrahamic covenant? does this negative inference (from the OT shadows) override the positive and explicit declarations of Scripture as to the nature of the new covenant?

    no one here is trying to equate the abrahamic covenant with the sinaitic covenant. if this is what you're understanding by this conversation, then you're not fully grasping what i'm trying to communicate. perhaps you can just blame my poor skills at communication for this misunderstanding but please don't miss the positive implication of what i'm saying and ignore the explicit declarations on the nature of the new covenant because you think i'm equating the two.

    i fully understand the distinctions (between the abrahamic and sinaitic covenants), i just don't believe that this in any way impacts the force of the apostolic argument and i don't believe it negates any positive and explicit statements that they make as to the nature of the new covenant. arguments based on implicit inferences only make sense in the absense of any explicit statements. implicit cannot override explicit and i think this is at the heart of the problem for paedobaptism and covenant theology (e.g., good and necessary inference is allowed to override explicit Scriptural statements) plus the fact that creeds and confessions are read back into the Scripture (or superimposed upon the Scripture).
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
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    Re: A Presbyterian Case for the Baptist Rejection of Infant Baptism

    39 "For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.
    The verse shows the further inclusion which takes place in the New Covenant, it is not only believers and their seed but those who are afar off as well. It does not speak of exclusion. Also repent and be baptized does not tell us the order in which these occur. We are given examples in Scripture where baptism took place prior to repentance such as those who received the baptism of John but did not yet know Christ at which point they were not physically baptized as many suppose but spiritually.

    first of all, all those who will be members of the sinaitic covenant must first be members of the abrahamic covenant.
    I certainly agree. However, you seem to be concluding the opposite from this, that those who were members Abrahamic covenant were also members of the Siniatic covenant.

    what i find interesting, is that i don't know of any Scripture where the baptized is told to look to his infant baptism for assurance that his sins are washed away, no one is ever told to baptize his heart, no one is ever told to improve his baptism or make his baptism sure.
    God tells people to circumcize their hearts and baptism is given the same meaning in essence throughout Scripture as circumcision. If the purpose of baptism is not to strengthen our faith what purpose does it serve? I would like to here a positive explanation of what it does.

    Sola Gratia,
    WildBoar
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: A Presbyterian Case for the Baptist Rejection of Infant Baptism

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    The verse shows the further inclusion which takes place in the New Covenant, it is not only believers and their seed but those who are afar off as well. It does not speak of exclusion.
    i'm not ignoring that it is more inclusive (it also explicitly includes gentiles, "those afar off", cf. Eph 2:11ff) but all of these categories are given the delimiter of "as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." we must also not forget that the promise is the Spirit. in effect, peter was saying that this promise was not only for those standing there that day (which was only jews and probably only jewish adults) but also to their descendents and gentiles as well...but "as many as the Lord our God will call Himself." in other words, this promise is to anyone, absolutely anyone, who God calls to Himself...therefore the promise (the Holy Spirit) is not given because of physical relation (as gentiles are now included) but because of calling.

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    Also repent and be baptized does not tell us the order in which these occur. We are given examples in Scripture where baptism took place prior to repentance such as those who received the baptism of John but did not yet know Christ at which point they were not physically baptized as many suppose but spiritually.
    who is talking about order here? the text of acts 2 is quite explicit on who was baptized. there is no mention here of any non-repentant, non-believing people getting baptized. to read that into it is very dangerous and may even amount to adding to the word of God.

    also, the (disciple of John) baptism of John is here differentiated from Christian (disciple of Christ) baptism. where in the text do you see that they received Christian baptism before repentance/faith?

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    I certainly agree. However, you seem to be concluding the opposite from this, that those who were members Abrahamic covenant were also members of the Siniatic covenant.
    do you know of any in the abrahamic covenant who were not also in the sinaitic covenant (after the arrival of the sinaitic covenant)? also i'm not concluding anything of the sort but am simply trying to understand the nature of the new covenant based on the explicit statements about it in the NT. the implication from what you're saying that i'm understanding is that these explicit statements are either negated or supplemented by inferences from the abrahamic covenant, thus including the carnal seed within the covenant. i think this is mixing the shadows in with the reality, the type with the antitype, the promise with the fulfillment.

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    God tells people to circumcize their hearts and baptism is given the same meaning in essence throughout Scripture as circumcision. If the purpose of baptism is not to strengthen our faith what purpose does it serve? I would like to here a positive explanation of what it does.
    this is the kind of inferences that i'm trying to say are unwarranted simply because they are not made by the NT writers. we are not allowed to invent our own way of reasoning through the Scripture and concoct our own doctrines at will. if the NT writings are the pinnacle of God's revelation to us, then we best find out what they say about something first before we run off making what we think are good and necessary inferences all over the place.

    as to a positive reason/effect for baptism is that it is a visible sign of our identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection which included a picture of our regeneration (rebirth), cleansing from sin, commitment to be his disciple (much like the baptism of John pictured), etc. we are never told to look back to it as if it actually proved anything. it is the first act of obedience for a believer to demonstrate his attachment to the community and commitment to follow Christ (you can find this in Acts 2:38ff, 8:12ff, 8:36ff, 9:18, 10:47f, 18:8, 19:5, 22:16).
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
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    Re: A Presbyterian Case for the Baptist Rejection of Infant Baptism

    i'm not ignoring that it is more inclusive (it also explicitly includes gentiles, "those afar off", cf. Eph 2:11ff) but all of these categories are given the delimiter of "as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself."
    And this was true in the old dispensation as well. The promise was not given to Ishmael but to Isaac.

    it is the first act of obedience for a believer to demonstrate his attachment to the community and commitment to follow Christ
    None of the passages you listed state that this is the purpose of baptism.

    Sola Gratia,
    WildBoar
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: A Presbyterian Case for the Baptist Rejection of Infant Baptism

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    And this was true in the old dispensation as well. The promise was not given to Ishmael but to Isaac.
    so was the promise the holy spirit to them?

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    None of the passages you listed state that this is the purpose of baptism.
    but that's what baptism was. that is the meaning of it for john's as well as Christian baptism because that's the historical meaning of it. every single time it occurs it is immediate, as a result of penitent faith in Christ (and His work), demonstrating the willingness to be identified with Him and His people and follow Him. we know that baptism had this meaning for proselyte baptisms, qumran baptisms, and john's baptism. why would we imagine that christian baptism, which john clearly indicates was comparable (similar) to john's baptism (john 4:1ff), was any different?
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
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    Re: A Presbyterian Case for the Baptist Rejection of Infant Baptism

    so was the promise the holy spirit to them?
    They did not experience the Holy Spirit in the exact manner that we do, but they were regenerated by the Holy Spirit and upheld by Him.

    Galatians 4:28 N
    ow we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.

    but that's what baptism was. that is the meaning of it for john's as well as Christian baptism because that's the historical meaning of it. every single time it occurs it is immediate, as a result of penitent faith in Christ (and His work), demonstrating the willingness to be identified with Him and His people and follow Him. we know that baptism had this meaning for proselyte baptisms, qumran baptisms, and john's baptism. why would we imagine that christian baptism, which john clearly indicates was comparable (similar) to john's baptism (john 4:1ff), was any different?
    They were not done for completely different reasons, but by your interpretation it becomes devoid of all meaning and something which a person does to join some club.

    My question is what does this baptism do for us and why does the Bible speak of baptism as the washing away of sins? Is it not for our benefit? Were not the Israelites in the Old Testament told to perform various ceremonial washings to strengthen their faith? Doesn't God give the church these signs for some benefit? so that we Christians who witness another's baptism can remember that Christ washed away our sins just as certainly as the water washes the dirt off of the person being baptized?


    Romans 6:3
    Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: A Presbyterian Case for the Baptist Rejection of Infant Baptism

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    They were not done for completely different reasons, but by your interpretation it becomes devoid of all meaning and something which a person does to join some club.
    this type of argumentation is a straw man. the church is no club but it is a community which one "joins" or becomes a part of. you become a part of that community by faith and you signify it by baptism. baptism is not only done to signify your identification with Christ and His people, but also provides a beautiful picture of regeneration (cleansing, rebirth, forgiveness of sins, etc.) and the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. it is the picture for this and does encourage us toward that end (though i know of nothing that instructs us to look back at our baptism for assurance) but we must not ignore that it is not only given by God for our benefit but also done by us in obedience and to communicate our willingness to be identified with Christ and His people and be a follower of Christ. we should not ignore one aspect of it at the expense of another and we should not unduly overemphasize any aspect of it. it is both given to us by God for our benefit and an act of obedience on our part (e.g., something we do or perhaps give to God, or more accurately declare before God and His people). that was how one was initiated into discipleship under a master/teacher. and it was done to show renewel/rebirth into the new community, identification with that master/teacher and his disciples, and a commitment to follow that master/teacher. we are not allowed to throw out any aspect of the act just because it doesn't fit our theology or system.
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
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    Re: A Presbyterian Case for the Baptist Rejection of Infant Baptism

    baptism is not only done to signify your identification with Christ and His people, but also provides a beautiful picture of regeneration (cleansing, rebirth, forgiveness of sins, etc.) and the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. it is the picture for this and does encourage us toward that end (though i know of nothing that instructs us to look back at our baptism for assurance) but we must not ignore that it is not only given by God for our benefit but also done by us in obedience and to communicate our willingness to be identified with Christ and His people and be a follower of Christ.
    But how could all this occur which you are describing without our faith being strengthened?
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: A Presbyterian Case for the Baptist Rejection of Infant Baptism

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    But how could all this occur which you are describing without our faith being strengthened?
    perhaps you missed the implication of what i was saying:

    Quote Originally Posted by disciple
    it is the picture for this and does encourage us toward that end (though i know of nothing that instructs us to look back at our baptism for assurance) but we must not ignore that it is not only given by God for our benefit but also done by us in obedience and to communicate our willingness to be identified with Christ and His people and be a follower of Christ.
    so it does encourage us (perhaps in the form of strengthening our faith) but it is not only for that purpose and it is not an event to look back on for assurance (as i was understanding you to say).
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
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    Re: A Presbyterian Case for the Baptist Rejection of Infant Baptism

    I think that a major difference between the two views is the place we get our pattern for the Church.
    Covenant Theology looks mainly backward to the nation of Israel and so sees the mixture of elect and reprobate as the way God intended. Since the Church will never be pure in this world it makes no sense to strive for that Goal. Like Israel the church must have strong leaders and a set of clear laws (the Ten Commandments) to keep the masses from straying. New members of the community must be taught these laws and made to understand the importance of obedience to them. Also like Israel the Church has a Temple (the church building), Priests (the Pastor) and Circumcision (infant Baptism)

    On the Contrary New Covenant Theology looks mainly forward to the New Testament for our pattern and sees the best way to describe the church is as the Body of Christ
    Eph 1:22He put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things for the assembly, 1:23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

    We anxiously wait for a time when the true Church, which unlike Israel has always been pure because of Christ’s sacrifice, will be visible for all to see.

    Eph 5:25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the assembly, and gave himself up for it; 5:26that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, 5:27that he might present the assembly to himself gloriously, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish

    Since we have this promise we strive to make
    Ourselves ready by “cleaning out the old leaven” and not being “yoked with unbelievers” The church does not need to dwell on law because the law already is written on our hearts. Our leaders should be more like slaves than Kings (Matt20: 26) and should only lead by example 1st Pet 5:3. Instead of needing a temple we are all of us the Temple of the Holy Spirit instead of having a person to be our priest we are all priests. The seal verifying our entrance into the Covenant is not circumcision or its substitute infant baptism but the Holy Sprit in each of our hearts John 3:33 Rev 9:4 Eph 1:13

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    Re: A Presbyterian Case for the Baptist Rejection of Infant Baptism

    so it does encourage us (perhaps in the form of strengthening our faith) but it is not only for that purpose and it is not an event to look back on for assurance (as i was understanding you to say).
    But if it strengthens are faith, wouldn't that mean that it would give us assurance? Isn't assurance part of the essence of faith?

    Sola Gratia,
    WildBoar
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    New Covenant Baptism: Part I (Re-post)

    The Greater and More Perfect Baptism

    NIV scriptures:

    “As for me, I baptize you in water for repentance; but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not even fit to remove His sandals; He Himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Mt. 3:11)

    “And he was preaching, and saying, “After me comes One who is mightier than I, and I am not even fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mk. 1:7,8)

    “John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but He who is mightier than I is coming, and I am not fit to untie the thong of his sandals; He Himself will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Lk. 3:16)

    “John answered them saying, “I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know. It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” (John 1:26,27)

    “And I did not recognize him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen, and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:33-34)

    “John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:5

    “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, just as He did upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If God therefore gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” (Acts 11:15-17)

    “And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you--not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience--through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to him.” (1 Pet. 3:21,22)

    “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:13)


    What is New Covenant baptism and what does it supersede? Here are some of the common answers in ’the books.’

    1. Water replacing circumcision as the sign of God’s covenant.
    2. Adult decisional baptism replacing household baptism.
    3. Immersion replacing sprinkling.

    All of these focus on an administration of water as the primary meaning of baptism. To date, there is no good book available on New Testament baptism providing a comprehensive view of apostolic teaching. Certain truths are presented in all, the ‘big picture’ is present in none. Whether scholarly or elementary. I have witnessed biblical scholars openly admitting this fact.

    The history of dogma has given us a primary use of the word ‘baptism’ that completely contradicts the New Testament. The great apostasy prophesied by Paul has attempted to impose upon us an alternate community (‘church’), alternate priesthood (‘episcopacy’), alternate sacred calendar, different giving requirements, sacred physical elements (font, tank, host), and a legion of other requirements that deny the apostolic gospel. The apostasy attempts to bind the Christian conscience with a brand new system of law after the order of the Levites. As in the politics of much human government, this system called ‘church’ is all about power and self-aggrandizement. A prominent Reformed theologian actually went so far as to affirm this: “All church power is of God.

    Until we understand that New Covenant baptism is Holy Spirit baptism, we will never experience full assurance of faith. This is because our consciences will not be looking fully to the resurrection of Christ for assurance, but partially to whether the correct administration of water has been submitted to.

    When church people hear or read the word ‘baptism,’ the first point of reference in their thinking is to water administration. Automatically. Unless the author or teacher explicitly states that the reference is to the Holy Spirit, the default meaning is assumed to be water. We know it. Not so with the New Testament! After the full revelation of the New Covenant gospel was revealed to Peter in Acts 10, the primary meaning of ‘baptism’ in the New Testament is always the Holy Spirit. It only refers to water if the context explicitly refers to it. So the teaching of the apostles after the final gospel revelation is exactly the opposite of the teachings of men.

    Paul’s revelation of the gospel received directly from God is exactly the same as that which God gave to Peter in Acts 10. Although the Lord dealt with these two men separately, they ultimately ended up with the same teaching. The same is true of the apostle John, who was left to continue the work of the gospel in the age of Antichrist. That is, during the swelling of the great apostasy that Paul prophesied would happen after his death (Acts 20).

    All of the Pauline passages on the meaning of baptism are expounding the reality of the Holy Spirit, who baptizes believers with full assurance of faith in the power of Christ‘s resurrection. Only in I Cor. 1 and I Cor. 15:29 does Paul refer to water. This is a radically different perspective than that of Baptist and paedobaptist theologicans, who assume in their interpretations that Paul is always referring to the water. What is this assumption based on? I would propose that it is assumed because of this: the history of dogma has so ingrained ’baptism’ as ’water’ in our minds that we assume that the Holy Spirit is the ‘exception to the rule.’ That is, Paul has to say ’I mean the Holy Spirit’ in order for us to believe that he is referring to Holy Spirit baptism.

    Acts 10 is the key passage on this subject. It is the first time that Peter preached the full-corn gospel of justification by faith alone, after the Holy Spirit drove him into it. Prior to that, like the rest of the apostles, he partially perceived Christianity as a new and more perfect Judaism. Why is this fact ignored when scholars interpret earlier passages on baptism? The early passages are given equal weight with the later ones--and this can only confuse the issue.

    Mt. 28:19 cites a general command to baptize with water that Christ gave to the eleven. This command is often called a ‘commission,’ which is very misleading for these reasons:

    1. A commission would refer to the main and ultimate purpose of the apostolic mission. Christ refers to teaching as the main commission, both before and after the command that the eleven should baptize with water. In addition, the final and pure revelation of the gospel that was to be taught had not yet been revealed. The apostles had an understanding of the gospel that was entering maturity--but lacked the far-reaching and radical implications of an explicit preaching of faith alone.

    2. The Matthew passage contains only a portion of the ‘final words’ and commands of Christ before his departure. It is not all-comprehensive. Other passages reveal additional exhortations to the eleven, most notably Acts 1.

    3. Water baptism is never explicitly called a covenant in the New Testament. So Christ’s command to baptize with water is general and not covenantal. It does not contain sanctions of God’s wrath if a person fails to properly understand and obey it. All other commandments of external formin the Bible that contain corresponding sanctions are given in the context of a covenant. Additionally, the form to be obeyed and sanctions for failure are always made explicit. God has always been consistent in this aspect of his dealings with mankind. His commands that involve consequences for disobedience are always very clear. They are never to be reasoned from analogy, typology, or general commandments with a latitude of possible interpretation.

    4. The eleven still had a Jewish view of the meaning of water baptism. This definitely caused them to mis-apply Christ’s words for a long time.

    Point #4 is extremely critical and the most important. Paul quotes the exhortation of Ananias in Acts 22:16, whom God told him to visit after the great blinding: “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.” Although God had revealed to Ananias that Paul would receive God’s ultimate and final revelation of the gospel for the nations, he himself did not yet perceive the impact of what Paul’s full-corn gospel would accomplish. It was to radically change the imperfect doctrine of water baptism originally taught by the eleven!

    The passages in Acts prior to chapter 10 clearly show us the imperfect nature of what the apostles originally taught regarding water. They taught that submitting to it was conditional to entering the kingdom and receiving forgiveness (Acts 2:38,39). God did not immediately correct their mis-perceptions about this, any more than he corrected their wrong views of the kingdom expressed in Acts 1:6. In fact, the way in which the Lord dispensed the Holy Spirit prior to Acts 10 (notably Acts 8:14-17) actually resulted in confirming the wrong teaching of the apostles! This was not because God deceptively told them they were right. He ordered events in such a way that their wrong perceptions were not corrected. God had a definite time when he planned to announce the full-corn gospel of justification by faith alone to the nations! Until then, Christianity remained in Jerusalem and a few surrounding regions. God hid the full light during this interim period--by not correcting the wrong teaching of the apostles on water administration.

    Some, in contemplating Christ’s command in Mt. 28:19 to the eleven, have proposed that the ’laying on of hands’ (Acts 8:17) was a separate baptism in the name of the Holy Spirit--different from that of water in the name of Jesus Christ and the baptism of repentance toward the Father. This is because Acts records water baptism as taking place in the name of the Lord Jesus only, whereas Christ commanded baptism in the name of all three persons of the Trinity. Although this idea may seem to contain some legitimacy, it really doesn’t matter to us if we understand the progress of revelation. Once the full gospel of justification by faith alone was manifest, all of the earlier issues on the correct form of water became irrelevant! The water became an ‘afterward’ testimony to the realities of gospel faith, which had already been perfected in a redeemed soul (Acts 10:47,48; 16:33).

    The full-corn gospel proclaims that eternal life is entered solely by genuine belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It excludes the mention of water as a door to entering the kingdom, and supersedes the earlier but imperfect Jewish view (also taught by John the Baptist) proclaimed to Jews by Peter in Acts 2:38. The final teaching of all of the apostles, subsequent to the events of Acts 10, confirms that the Holy Spirit is in agreement with this proposition. Our full assurance of faith is grounded in Holy Spirit baptism alone. Water baptism is a testimony of the realities of the gospel, however, the most perfect administration of it can never cleanse any conscience of the guilt of sin.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    New Covenant Baptism: Part II

    The Diversity of Apostolic Water Administration

    The first study in this series established the primacy of Holy Spirit baptism in the New Testament; as the one and only baptism for remission of sins in Christ through faith. Water baptism is merely a sign and testimony of the greater and more perfect baptism. If men and women truly believed in the apostolic teaching on the critical issue of Holy Spirit baptism, further studies on the meaning of the water would be largely unnecessary and perhaps even irrelevant. Nonetheless, there is a history of dogma lasting more than 1900 years on the matter of Christian water administration. Debunking the myths of the man of sin on this topic is a task of nuclear proportion. The amount of cherished heresy to be renounced is so great that only God can accomplish it. The most an article such as this can achieve is to try and make a few Christians aware of the gospel-denying implications of the two poles of water dogma.

    Virtually all of Christian studies on baptism begin with the assumption that the water is primary. Instead of laying aside presuppositions and investigating the apostolic testimony, men search the scriptures for evidence that their presupposed notion of water administration is true. Mt. 28:19 is assumed to teach that only one definite position on the water is correct. Knowing the exact mode and subjects of the water is automatically proposed to be the crux of the doctrine of baptism. With that foundation having been established, teachers proceed to construct the most ingenious and elaborate defense possible of biblical evidence for one side of the polarization or the other.

    The dreaded ‘argument from silence’ is always condemned when a teacher is determined to promote a certain view. But this seemingly foolproof line of defense has a very important weakness. If silence on any given topic in the apostolic testimony occurs due to a greater determining factor, then it is extremely significant. In such a case silence is golden. It evidences the non-importance or irrelevance of the issue in relation to something far more comprehensive and decisive.

    If the command of Christ to baptize with water is general and not covenantal, it is left to the sanctified wisdom of Christians to best determine how to fulfill it. The water is a sign and testimony of the greater and perfect baptism, not the reality. So its exact administration is a matter open to diversity of interpretation. There are many other commands in the New Testament having the same character, most significantly that of prayer. None can deny the importance of prayer for Christians: God has commanded it. But what the proper form, manner, time, demeanor, length, and frequency of prayer? The debate is endless. However, differences on the issue are not considered paramount. A certain object of prayer, the Lord Jesus Christ, is far more significant than the exact form of prayer itself. The perspective of the New Testament on water administration is very much the same as this.

    No clear and undisputed form of administering the water will ever be discovered. It is almost comical to observe that in spite of the obvious sacramentalism of the second century and beyond, interpreters have never been able to find ANY ‘ammunition’ to support a definite administration of water in all of the post-apostolic writings. Certainly this says something to us. If there had been a commanded apostolic tradition of form on something estimated to be so vital, it would never have suffered such a fate.

    One of the most important verses shedding light on this issue is one that is most often brushed off as insignificant: 1Cor. 15:29. There can be no question that if a form of baptism by proxy existed in some first century Christian circles, it was illegitimate and out of harmony with apostolic teaching. Yet Paul spends no time condemning it or giving reasons to abhor and shun the practice. He certainly might have done so, since there is no doubt that his own convictions would have been against it. But there were far more important heresies and immoral indulgences plaguing the Corinthians. So Paul ended up using the custom of baptism by proxy as a mere argument to advance the resurrection. Does this say anything to us on Paul’s perspective of the hierarchy of importance of revealed truth? It definitely should.

    The apostolic Christian community was immersed in joyful celebration of the gospel. Polarization over baptism with water would have been a stumbling block to this rejoicing in the power of Christ’s resurrection. It didn’t happen.

    Bill Twisse

    _____________________________________________

    Still to come:
    Part III: Paedobaptistism: Condemned and Renounced by the Gospel

    Part IV: Baptistism: Condemned and Renounced by the Gospel

    Part V: The End of Pagan Servitude: A Gift of the Gospel

    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Re: A Presbyterian Case for the Baptist Rejection of Infant Baptism

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    But if it strengthens are faith, wouldn't that mean that it would give us assurance? Isn't assurance part of the essence of faith?
    i'm sorry, but i will not be cornered to affirm your syllogism. encouragement does not equate to assurance. as i said before, one does not look back at the act of baptism for assurance that they are saved (are in the covenant, that they have been born again, regenerated, forgiven, etc.). there is nothing in Scripture to support this contention.

    the act of baptism is an act of obedience that pictures or provides a visual reminder of the things mentioned above. it is like a wedding ring. it provides a reminder that one is married (which is different than baptism in that it is currently worn whereas baptism is a past event) but it does not provide assurance that one is married. so baptism may be a reminder (of your identification with Christ and His work and His people, your commitment to follow Him, your regeneration and forgiveness) but it does not provide any assurance. otherwise, masses of unregenerate protestants, catholics, and orthodox (not to mention mormons, jws, and other cults) may receive assurance from the same. this is just sacramentalism and sacerdotalism.
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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    Re: A Presbyterian Case for the Baptist Rejection of Infant Baptism

    otherwise, masses of unregenerate protestants, catholics, and orthodox (not to mention mormons, jws, and other cults) may receive assurance from the same. this is just sacramentalism and sacerdotalism.
    You are misunderstanding. I'm not saying that all who were baptized can be confident that they are in fact children of God. I'm saying that those who are children of God can be encouraged and assured of their salvation by these visible signs when they are used in conjunction with the preaching of the Word.

    Sola Gratia,
    WildBoar
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: A Presbyterian Case for the Baptist Rejection of Infant Baptism

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    You are misunderstanding. I'm not saying that all who were baptized can be confident that they are in fact children of God. I'm saying that those who are children of God can be encouraged and assured of their salvation by these visible signs when they are used in conjunction with the preaching of the Word.
    perhaps i was being a bit extreme with my statement (i realized you were talking about genuinely regenerate people being assured) but i think that saying that anyone can be assured of their salvation by visible signs (whether it be baptism or the lord's supper) is essentially no different than roman catholic sacramentalism and one step away from an ex opere operato view of these ceremonies. it places the emphasis on the wrong things (i.e., the picture/symbol rather than the referent). they are reminders, memorials, and instructive (teaching devices which do encourage), nothing more. we do not derive assurance of our salvation because we do them. i do not find this anywhere in Scripture but rather believe that it is purely post-apostolic sacramental dogma.
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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