Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Covenant of Baptism

Back in 2014 I wrote a blog post about Baptism and it's nature as a sacrament and some of the theological background thereof. That post can be seen HERE.

Today I will look at some of the scriptures and their impact on my personal view of baptism.

As most of you can probably guess (since I am an Anglican) I am a paedobaptist. What that means is that I support and strongly encourage the baptism of infants as soon as is practical after their birth. There are many reasons for my holding this view but today I will explore the strictly Biblical perspective.

First and foremost baptism is important. It is so important in fact that Jesus Himself participated in it. Not only did He give it to us, as He did with the Lord's Supper, but he also did it. Luke 3:21 says that, "When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too."

John the Forerunner (also John the Baptist) preached of baptism "for the forgiveness of sins" (Mark 1:4). In Matthew (28:19-20) the command is given to make disciples of, "all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey..."

The Gospels speak of baptism as an initiation. They speak of a baptism that forgives sins but also a baptism that begins a journey. The scriptures order that the people of the nations be baptized and then that they be taught the laws of God and to obey them. Baptism is a seal, a sign of our journey and our covenant with God. It is our participation, our entry into the Grave with Christ. Being baptized into Christ we are also baptized into His death and "buried with Him through baptism" (Romans 6:4).

We are baptized with water in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is our initiation. This is our seal into the death of Christ and into the covenant of God and His people. We are, "circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands." (Colossians 2:11) We were ruled by sin and flesh which is put off when we were, "circumcised by Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism..." (Colossians 2:11-12)

Circumcision is the mark of the covenant between God and His people. As people of Christ we are people of God. Now here is where paedobaptists and creedobaptists run into conflict.

Circumcision is the mark of the covenant between God and His people, which is ordered of the sons of every Jew. Baptism is the circumcision of those who belongs to God by the death of Christ. It is appropriate that those who convert into the family of God's people should be baptized at the time of their conversion just as one who becomes a Jew should be circumcised at the time of his conversion but like circumcision it is right that one who is born into the family and faith should be baptized and sealed into that covenant at birth.

Lydia was baptized (Acts 16:15) because she believed and her family was all baptized with her. In Acts (16:30-34) the jailer sent to arrest Paul and Silas came to believe and then he was baptized along with his whole family. As I pointed out earlier we are commanded in Matthew (28:19-20) to make disciples of, "all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey."

We baptize our children because they are born into our family and our faith. They are baptized, then they are taught to obey the Lord and to grow in that baptism. They need not convert to that which they are already.

I will close with this short passage from Ephesians (4:4-6a) "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all..."

Amen





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