Tuesday, August 29, 2006

8/31/06 News Letter Along With A Suggested Outline For Your Reading and Learning Pleasure On This BlogSite

The Month Of August:

The place and purpose of Chrurch leadership has been a focus in the in the month of August. Many Christians, even church leaders in the more liberal and independent times we live in have taken the priesthood of all beleivers as a doctrine to cast away clergy authority. While holding a form of sola scriptura they look away from the scriptures when it comes to the idea that the church ministers are men called by God and have an authority in theit office and call God has given them in the Church. We also find that many think they can minister, as they see they understand the Bible and their faith without being under the direction of the Church. So I have sought to address this in the month of August and it seems that about 2300 people have visited the site to read about this issue. God be praised! Below are links to 3 entries on this issue. May God bless you as you put into practice His word in this area of our blessed faith.

Our Purpose:

The purpose of this blogsite is for basic Christian practical and biblical theological practical Christian living. We believe the Bible is sufficient and has practical answers on living a progressively sanctified life. Even in this we fine many times Christians find themselves confused or not clear in understanding how to think or respond biblically in many difficult real life situations. Since, therefore, we believe the Bible is sufficient in all matters pertaing to doctrine, life and godliness we desire to bring to the Christian community a look at the Scriptures to dispel the confusion and help all that find they need God’s answers to life situations and difficulties.

AS always we invite you to visit and read the articles as you face issues and problems in life in order to learn and to recall what to do regardimg different circumstances that happen. Feel free to revisit the articles that give biblical and godly directives. The site has 400 plus articles for the Christian community to read and learn in a pleasant and instructive format. Almost all of this is focused upon practical Christian living with biblical directives. May God bless you as you read and learn from His word.

Suggested Blog Reading Outline

While appreciating the medium of blogs we feel it would be better if we could move our blogs into more systematic and orderly headings. While not being able to do that here is good outline of the blogs and their headings so that you may be able to read by topic or ina systematic manner. We will update this at the end of each month. Finally with over 440 different blog entries and subjects (and growing) of study in Practical Christian Living theology we present the following suggested outline in reading this blog site so that it does not become confusing to you. Here is a suggested outline:

I. God’s Gift of Grace Applied

1. Grace, Grace, God’s Grace

2. The Covenant of Grace - Hodge

3. The New Birth and Conversion: The True Biblical Salvation

4. God’s Orderly Work of Salvation

5.Foreknowledged Defined

6. Christ The Lord

7. The Providence of God Brings Comfort To Believers

8. Perseverance of the Saints

9. Calvinism

10. Jesus Had The Power To Sin But Did Not Have The Character To Sin

11. A Follow-up Explaination off “Jesus Had The Power To Sin But Did Not Have The
Character To Sin”

12. A Critical Look At the Emerging Church Movement w/ Catechism Editing A Critical Look At the Emerging Church Movement by: Phil Johnson (Catechism Editing By Steve Horne)

13. Infants In The Celestial City!

14. Salvation

15. Christian Tracts

16. Why Did the Son of God Come?

17. Why All Things Work For Good

18. Justification- Salvation By Grace Through Faith

19. Decisional Regeneration

20. Salvation- God Rescues His People

21. All Of Grace

22. Perseverance Of The Saints

23. A Critical Look At the Emerging Church Movement by Phil Johnson 2006 -----Catechism
EditingBy Steve Horne http://christianthotsataglance.blogspot.com/

24. Dualism is Heresey

25. Five Points of Calvinism

II. The Doctrine of Sola Scriptura

1. Sola Scriptura in Doctrine and Practice (Part 1)

2. Sola Scriptura And Orthopraxy (Part 2)

3. Sola Scriptura and Orthopraxy: Establishes "Philosophy of Ministry" (Part 3)

4. Sola Scriptura and Orthopraxy: In Doctrine, Church Polity, Worship, and More (Part 4)

5. Sola Scriptura and Orthopraxy: In Our Worship and Christian Living (Part 5)

III. The Church, Communion and Day Of Worship, Etc.

1. Identifying the Church

2. The Importance Of Church Membership

3. The Holy Spirit and the Church

4. Leadership and Unity in the Kingdom of God

5. Bible Instruction Must Be Under The Authority of the Church

6. The Keys, Who Has Them?

7. The Baptism Of Our Sinless Saviour

8. Baptismal Exhortation

9. Infant Baptism Does the Bible Teach It

10. The Sins of Rebaptism and Of Leaving One's Baby Unbaptized

11. Confusion, Not God's Way So IT Can BE Cleared Up – Baptismal Confusion

12. True Communion

13. Glorifying God

14. The Lord’s Wonderful Day

15. Thinking Deacon

16. What Type Of Church Did The Apostles Attend

17. Are We Catholics?

18. What Think Ye Of Mary

19. God’s Word Filtered!

20. Visible and Invisible Church

21. Oil in the Vessel

22. The true Church

23. The “true Church” Syndrome

24. How Did John Bunyan View Baptism?

25. Where Did Baptists Originate?

26. Gifts! …. From God? (Part 1)

27. Gifts! …. From God? (Part 2)

28. Baptismal Regeneration

29. Did You Know? Are You Shocked?

30. The Keys Who Has Them?

31. The Lord’s Supper ….. Why Not Weekly?

IV. Christian Witnessing

1. Called To Confess Christ In Word And As A Living Letter

2. Listening for Gospel Opportunities

3. Let's Evangelize

4. Creationism.

5. Merry Christiman

6. Why Do We Witnes To Muslims?

7. What is Pelagianism?

8. If Any

9. Why Did The Son Of God Come?

10. The Myth of Freewill

11. Abomination – Often Used And Misunderstood

12. God’s Mighty Promises

13. Aggressive Christianity? God’s Plan For You? …. You Betcha!

14. Renewing Your Mind .. With R.C. Sproul

15. The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion – Written for a Wonderful Purpose

V. God’s Guidance and the Tools of Faith

1. Guided … by God?

2. Tools of the Faith

3. Canon - God’s Word Filtered!

4. Favorite Hymns

5. More Favorite Hymns

6. The Bible God’s Word To Us

7. Progressive Sanctification – Growing in Grace, Cooperation With God

8. Can We Use Eastern Language In Our Prayer And Devotional Life

9. We Must Be Holy

10. Much Study Is Wearisome

VI Practical Christian Living to Glorify God

A. About Biblical Counseling

1. What is Nouthetic Counseling – Jay Adams

2. Christ And Your Problems

3. Counseling and Special Revelation

4. The Sovereignity of God in Counseling

5. Is There Any Difference In Biblical Counseling?

6. Christian Counseling Change vs. Change

7. Godliness through Discipline – Jay Adams

8. Guided! … By God?

9. From Uselessness To Usefulness

10. One Anothering

11. Not Controling But Loving and Serving

12. Guidance When You are Just Not Sure What To Do

13. Biblical View of Self Esteem

14. What Do You Do When Anger Gets The Upper Hand?

15. God Has A Plan

16. God is Always in Control

17. Counseling Encourages Talebearing

18. The Power of Relationships

19. You Can Help One Another

20. TULIPGIRL. Com for the Ladies

B. Work

1. Biblical Principals of Work and the Biblical Work Ethic (A Seven Part Series)

2. What Christians May Do

3. Everybody Works for God

4. From Uselessness To Usefulness

5. Discontentment

6. Occupational Search – A Biblical View

C. Forgivness

1. Our Basic Duty – Forgive the Repentant

2. A Look At Commitment

3. The Need To Forgive

4. What is Forgivness?

5. From Unpardonable to Pardonable

6. From Uselessness To Usefulness

7. Being Angry for the Purpose Of Problem Resolution

8. One Anothering

9. The Purpose of Forgiveness

10. Aggressive Christianity? God’s Plan For You? …. You Betcha!

D. Worry, Guilt And Depression

1. Worry: A Serious Life Issue Which Must Be Broken

2. How Is Your Conscience?

3. What To Do With Guilt

4. Godliness Through Discipline

5. Calvin and Anxiety

6. From Unpardonable to Pardonable

7. What If I Find Hypocricy in Me?

8. What Do You Do When You Become Depressed?

9. God Has A Plan

10. Anger (# 1)

11. Anger (# 2)

12. Impatience and Idolatry

13. Keeping the Heart

14. Learning The Basics On Identifying, Handling, Overcoming And Eliminating Depression

E. What To Do With Evil

1. Overcoming Evil – Jay Adams

2. The Evil of Backbiting and Evil Speaking

3. Gossips

4. Aggressive Christianity? God’s Plan For You? …. You Betcha!

F. Sex Issues

1. Thoughts on Biblical Sexuality and in Overcoming Sexual Difficulty

2. The Power of Relationships ( The Bible on personal Influences)

3. The Purpose of Forgiveness

4. Resolcing Suxual Difficulties in the 21st Century

5. The Power OF Relationships

6. Can You Answer These Questions? (For Husbands)

G. Addictions

1. AA Doctrines Compared with the Scriptures

2. Thoughts on Biblical Sexuality and in Overcoming Sexual Difficulty

3. The Power OF Relationships

H. Death and Dying & Health

1. Proper Thinking At the Time of A Death and / Or At A Funeral

2. A Saint Looks At Death

3. Being Thankful For Pain

4. To Oil or Not To Oil

5. Infants In The Celestial City? .. Yo Betcha!

I. Communication

1. Handling Doctrinal Disagreement

2. The Evil of Backbiting and Evil Speaking

3. Is IT Right To Judge

4. The Purpose of Forgiveness

5. Can You Answer These Questions? (For Husbands)

VII. My Most Precious Faith (10 Parts) Written for my Children and Place Here To Encourage You As You Disciple Your Children in the Most Holy Faith

1. My Most Prescious Faith -

2. My Most Precious Faith –

3. My Most Precious Faith – Belief of A Christian

4. My Most Precious Faith – Concerning the Sacraments

5. My Most Precious Faith – Living in Grace and Gratitude

6. My Most Precious Faith – Our Duty to God

7. My Most Precious Faith – Our Duty to Men

8. My Most Precious Faith – Prayer Our Duty and

9. My Most Precious Faith – The Lord’s Coming Again

10. My Most Precious Faith - Conclusion………

IX. Miscellaneous.

1. A Request Humble Honored

2. Judy Rogers Music – Giving The Best To Your Children

3. Proverbs Themes:

a. Patience

b. Discipline

c. Self Image

d. Wisdome

e. Accountability

f. Honesty

g. Instant Living and Its Down Fall

h. Friendshipi. Family (Father, Mother, Children)

i. The Simplek The Tongue

j. Laziness

k. Abomination

4. Spurgeon

a. Are You Sure You Like Spurgeon?

5. Two Dozen Facts about Spurgeon

Twelve Proofs Spurgeon Believed in Uncoditional Election


The Christian

Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats

The Riches of Spurgeon

A Sin For Which There Is No Excuse

Bible Promises - Forgivness Brings Freedom!

Carla Rolfe hit the nail on the head with this blog post. The purpose of forgivness is for the sinner to have freedom. It is to free the one that has sinned. In Christ we have freedom. In life we have freedom when we repent and the brethern forgive us. While this is not to be nor can forgivness be done unless the sinner repent (LK 17) when done FREEDOM is achieved and given the repentant one.

You can read Carla's blog entry below as well as my blog entry the Purpose of Forgivness.

August 28, 2006

Bible Promises - Freedom

When the world hears the word freedom, they immediately think of liberty to live and express themselves without fear of retribution. To be free from oppression, restriction, bondage, confinement or some form of external control.

When we sing patriotic songs about freedom, and the cost of it, we lift this virtue up as the ideal way to live, and something worth fighting (and dying) for.

This word freedom, as it pertains to life in Christ is a bit different though. It's not something that the lost would ever sing a song about or lift up as an ideal way to live. The lost are blind to spiritual things and don't even know that they are in bondage to their sin, to begin with. To be sure, the lost do value freedom, but they have no concept of spiritual freedom - the kind that matters far more than anything else.

To the Christian however, there is great comfort and assurance in knowing that we have been set free, and truly live in a state of spiritual freedom from the bondage of sin. No longer are we blind to the affects of sin, or helpless to seek wisdom and strength to get us through those struggles we still have at times.

To be genuinely free, to be in a state of freedom, to be spiritually unbound according to Scripture:

• If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (John 8:36)

• For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)

• But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. (Romans 6:22)

• Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (Galatians 5:1)

To know that we have been set free, enabled by His grace to live to please Him, is something that every believer should be truly humbled by, and eternally thankful for.


The Purpose Of Forgiveness

by Steve

So now what are we to do if we are sinned against and then that someone confesses wrong doing, asks forgiveness and claims to be repentant? The Bible is very clear in its instruction concerning what we need to know and do when some asks for forgiveness. It is really a very easy formula! Basically, we are to forgive all that say they repent even if the offense has been repeated before (Lk. 17:3). Our model whom we are to pattern ourselves after is Christ Himself. The Apostle Paul instructs us in this when he calls for the Ephesus Church to follow Christ in “ forgiving one another just as God, in Christ has forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:32)

Now we are not to forgive the one that sinned and offended us if he or she has not repented. Forgiving the wrongdoer is to be granted only when the wrongdoer repents. Forgiveness was granted by God only when we repented. When repentance is proclaimed we forgive as we follow our model - the Lord Jesus Christ.

"forgiveness is not for the benefit
of the one doing the forgiveness"

One thing that is important to understand is that forgiveness is not for the benefit of the one doing the forgiving but for the one repenting. Forgiveness is for the benefit of the sinner, the wrongdoer! AS we remember that it was when we repented, admitted we were a sinner and believed that we benefited in that God granted us forgiveness, we entered into adopted sonship with all those benefits, we received eternal life and received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. AMEN!

"forgiveness is for the one repenting"

The greatest benefit is that of being granted forgiveness. In the granting of forgiveness the wrongdoer or sinner receives the commitment and promise of the one doing the forgiving that they will not bring up the sin and wrong doing to the wrongdoer, to others, nor to themselves. That is right the one granting forgiveness is not to set and think upon the wrong that was done to them. They are to love the person they have forgiven by believing the best and renewing their mind concerning this person since a new reconciled relationship has been established through the forgiveness.

If one keeps the person that did the wrong at arms distance, not speaking to them, not allowing them fellowship shows that forgiveness has not been granted. If the person states they forgive the person and does not walk in a renewed relationship to the person then there is wrongdoing from the person which stated forgiveness was being granted and there needs to be a change in heart so that there is true forgiveness granted. Forgiveness once again is to be modeled in the manner in which God forgives. And He forgives in a manner as in casting our sin into the bottom of the sea and in separating us from our forgiven sin “as far as the east is from the west”!

Psa 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Now you may say, “But didn’t Jesus Christ pray from the cross, Father, forgive them?” The answer is yes, but note He asked the God the Father to forgive them. Jesus did not forgive apart from repentance. Guess what when they repent the Father forgives them. AMEN!

In reality forgiveness has a goal, a purpose. That purpose is to deliver the offender from the burden of guilt and hopefully the practice of the sin. If a person has done wrong and then that one has just a relief from the wrong they did by the person they did wrong to then the person that did the wrong still goes about in their sin and guilt before God. They are no better off. The sin has not been dealt with. Some sort of “release” has just happened and this sin may just snowball. Can you imagine a murder just being “released” form his or her sin of taking a life, or a thief being “released” from stealing $ 100.000.00. No repentance, no judgment, no restitution, no reconciliation of any kind. What a world we would live in! Therefore, you must admit that it really would be real noticeably inconsistent for someone to “forgive / release” an unrepentant person that has done wrong before the call to discipline and its work of repentance. This being whether the call of the discipline of repentance is in the church or in society.

Now we have established that forgiveness granted is a promise not to refer to the offender’s sin any more. Therefore we need to understand the thread of purpose in forgiveness – winning the offender. If a person does not repent the matter is not settled and the offense is to be brought up before the person again and again, not to irritate but to see repentance and lives changed for the betterment of the person. A thief is to be tried and found wanting. A murder is to be tried and retried if necessary and found guilty. A sinner is to be proclaimed guilty. An offender to a brother and / or sister in Christ is to be called to repentance and that repentance done before forgiveness is to be granted by those that were the recipients of the wrong incurred. The by product, not the purpose, of this will be a better Church, society and neighborhood as the persons life is changed for the better and they no longer practice this sin renew the relationships are established through formidable reconciliation.

Now you may say, “When I forgive someone I feel good about it and I can move on with life. I can forgive in my heart and move on to better things no matter what the person does.” Again as stated above that is not forgiveness, nor the purpose of forgiveness. That is just a “release” of some sort. Some seek this way out when done wrong by others and a few try never to talk about the issue to anyone. That, I must admit, takes a strong constitution if one can pull that off! Experience however dictates that it is generally impossible for folks to just “let it go”. A couple serious errors happen here:

1) Many people that try this end up living with thought of the wrong done to them and many times this approach to life’s relationships cause anger, bitterness, hatred, etc. especially from the one that sought to “forgive through release”; and

2) The sin and wrong doing is inadvertently supported since the person that did the wrong never gets the call to the discipline of repentance and therefore they remain in the guilt of the sin and wrongdoing. And in this the sin can snowball and wrongdoing can be caused to others since it is still out there.

The person that did the wrong needs confronted and called to repentance. The person that this was done to needs to be a part of this process. You don’t have to go alone if the person will not hear you but you are not to “just let them be abd let the Lord take care of them”. That is very clear!

In conclusion, it is important to understand that forgiveness is not something one feels.It is something one person grants to another. You do not need to nor must feel like forgiving someone to forgive them either. Forgiveness is a promise to the repentant wrongdoer that you make and keep that no matter how deep the hurt the sin and wrong is, nor how feelings about it may come and go. Your promise to them is a promise and that promise is simply that the sin and wrong will not be brought up and discussed again either to them, to others nor to yourself no matter your feelings and emotions. That’s right nor to yourself! “But it want go away instantly.” That’s right but, when it does come comes in your mind you are to will renew your thoughts towards the reconciled person. Eventually it will be pushed far back in the thought processes and not be an issue that will float to the top. Remember Christ’s great sacrifice toward you by which He forgave your sins! If you truly forgive you bury the matter and no account is kept or ever referred to even to as much as seven multiples in one day or life.

Now perhaps you have not yet known the forgivness of God in your life. If not you are a sinner and are guilty before the Holy God of Heaven. You may not feel guilty and may not feel convicted but you are guilty and are convicted and will spend an eternity without God in hell if you do not repent from sin and believe in Christ. So if this day you repent of sin and rest in Christ who took the punishment of hell on the cross you will be saved. May God bless and save you from the guilt of sin and may you know true forgiveness you as you make your calling and election sure. Please let us know how we may help you.

Oh Lord may we walk refreshed daily as we walk in repentance from sin and forgiveness in your sight and in the sight of men. Amen


My struggle and yet blessing.

I feel I am chief of sinner. I am a person that continues to battle sin. Why? I sin a bunch. I am not glorying in that but I find that I just get upset or do stupid things and / or forget to do what God has directed. It seems I grow in one area only to find another area that sin seems rampant in. But thanks be to God that the Holy Spirit works in me and His word is ther to direct me and call me to repentance and to mortify the flesh.

I read many blogs and many Christian writers that talk about their desire to live godly and I do as well. It seems they do not struggle as I do. I am “jealous”. I just find it very hard to do. Therefore, I warn my friends and tell them or people I am becoming friends with that my desire will not be to ever maliciously hurt or sin against you or God but it may happen at some point. I also let them know that I will repent and seek forgiveness. Now I do not use this as an excuse to presumptuously sin. I am just pointing out that Jesus must have had me in mind when He stated “offenses will come”. I have had to acknowledge my wrong, apologize and ask forgiveness not only in face to face relationships in life but even in the internet world of blogging and talk chat. I acknowledged my sin, did works of repentance and verbally asked for forgiveness publicly even and writing a public apology. Thankfully I w as granted forgiveness and for that I am grateful. I have been given renewed relationships and that is precious. To live forgiven daily by the Lord and amongst men is one of the greatest blessings and feelings of refreshment this life offers!

I also know how difficult it is to forgive. It is clear from scriptures that to forgive others is our basic duty. I have written about this earlier so I will not attempt to discuss this at this time. Go to the URL below to learn of Christ’s instruction concerning the difficulty of granting forgive which is one of our basic duties:

http://pilgrimchristian.blogspot.com/2006/04/our-basic-duty-forgive-repentant.html Our Basic Duty - Forgive the Repentant

Now I tell you this so that you know that I am not perfect and I also need God’s grace working in me to progressively sanctify me in many areas of life. And because I do understand the freshness of being forgiven and I know first hand the purpose of forgiveness.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Let Us Understand and Appreciate God’s Glorious Leaders - Elders

Elders and the People of God

While much could be said about the church and the kingdom, believers and their roles and responsibilities as members, and the sufficiency of the word of God, This writing is wanting to look at the rule in the Church through elders also called pastor / teachers, and presbyters. In a Kingdom a king has officers under him with the charge to execute the laws of the kingdom with justice and in honor. In the kingdom of Christ the office bearers chosen to rule are the elders and the people of God are to yield submission and obedience. This is the direction given in the Bible for we are told to " Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account." (Heb. 13:17)

A. . The People Of God Have Been Ruled By Elders Throughout History

a) Old Testament

God's people have been ruled by elders throughout most all of history. When reading the Old Testament you find that the leadership of the elders being Gods designated and delegated leaders was established at the time of Moses. That leadership continues throughout the rest of history.

1) Moses

Exo 3:16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, "I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt,

Exo 24:1 Then he said to Moses, "Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar.

Lev 4:15 And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands on the head of the bull before the LORD, and the bull shall be killed before the LORD.

Num 11:16 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you.

Deu 21:19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives,

2) The Times of the Judges

Jdg 8:14 And he captured a young man of Succoth and questioned him. And he wrote down for him the officials and elders of Succoth, seventy-seven men.

1Sa 6:4 And they said, "What is the guilt offering that we shall return to him?" They answered, "Five golden tumors and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines, for the same plague was on all of you and on your lords.

3) The Time of The Kings

2Ki 19:2 And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and the senior priests, covered with sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz.

4) The Time of The Captivity

Eze 8:1 In the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house, with the elders of Judah sitting before me, the hand of the Lord GOD fell upon me there.

Eze 14:1 Then certain of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me.

Eze 20:1-2 In the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month, certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the LORD, and sat before me. And the word of the LORD came to me:

5) The Time After The Capitivity During the Rebuilding

Ezr 5:5 But the eye of their God was on the elders of the Jews, and they did not stop them until the report should reach Darius and then an answer be returned by letter concerning it.

Ezr 5:9 Then we asked those elders and spoke to them thus, 'Who gave you a decree to build this house and to finish this structure?

Ezr 6:7-8 & 14 Let the work on this house of God alone. Let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews rebuild this house of God on its site. Moreover, I make a decree regarding what you shall do for these elders of the Jews for the rebuilding of this house of God. The cost is to be paid to these men in full and without delay from the royal revenue, the tribute of the province from Beyond the River...... And the elders of the Jews built and prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. They finished their building by decree of the God of Israel and by decree of Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes king of Persia;

b) New Testament

A reading of the New Testament indicates that those who were to lead God's people have never changed. Elders were in rule during Christ's earthly ministry as well as being called for in the expanding Church as is called for in the New Testament Scriptures.

1) References to the Rule of Elders At The Time Of Christ's Advent

Reading about the elders at the time of Christ sheds an interesting light. There was the rule by corrupt elders. However, even in their corruption God does not do away with the leading of his people through the office elders. God's people being ruled by elders have never changed since they were first called at the time of Moses.

1) In The Gospels

Mat 15:2 "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat."

Mar 7:3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands, holding to the tradition of the elders,

Mat 16:21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.

Mat 21:23 And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?"

Mat 26:47 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people.

Mat 26:57 Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered.

Mat 27:1 When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.

2) Acts and The Pastorals

Act 14:23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

Tit 1:5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you--

B. Qualifications for the Office the Same in the Old and New Testaments

The elders in both the Old and New Testaments had to meet qualifications. In both Testaments the qualifications are basically the same and focus upon key areas of religious life: :

1. Moral behavior
2. Knowledge of doctrine
3. Family and personal life
4. Developmental time for wisdom in life

The Old Testament passages summarizing the qualifications for elders are: Dt. 1:13; Ex. 18:21. These passages call for the leaders to be wise and have understanding (Dt. 1:13; Ex. 18:21). The Apostle Paul sets the basic qualifications for the elders in the expanding Church of the New Testament expounding on the qualifications helping Christians in the Roman world know how the church was to function (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and TitusLeadership is important whether it is in business, the government of a country or in leading the people of God in the "household of faith". As a society we look for men of character and integrity for leadership. We have difficulty in giving honor to men of questionable character. If you think this is important in civil government then it is even more important in the Church. Therefore, in the Kingdom of God there must be men ordained with knowledge, wisdom and godly character according to the Biblical standards of leadership. This necessity is clear since the "sheep" must be led into "green pastures" and to "calm waters". The leadership call is to lead the sheep and that can only be done as the elders fulfill the "musts" of character qualities stated in the Bible.

a. Old Testament Basic Elder Qualifications

Deu 1:13 Choose for your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men, and I will appoint them as your heads.

Exo 18:21 Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.

b. New Testament Basic Elder Qualifications

1 Tim. 3:1-7 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

Tit 1:5-9 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you-- if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

C. The People Of God Have Been Ruled By Plurality Of Elders
Throughout History

Church leadership is delegated to a plurality or group of men having certain spiritual and character qualifications (Deut. 1:13; Ex. 18:21;1 Tim 1:3-7) working together (Num. 11:16; Ex 3:16; Acts 14:23; Tit. 1:5) to lead God's people in doctrine, worship, holiness and service. The elders are men, under God, ruling together in handling issues and making decisions based on the commands, principals, and precepts of the scripture. Here are the supporting passages:

Num 11:16 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you.

Exo 3:16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, "I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt,

Act 14:23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

Tit 1:5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you--

D. Elders Lead In Plurality By the Principles and Precepts of the Word of God

Elders lead not by relying on their own thinking, nor by the persuasion of the people or by pragmatic decision making but by leading together in unity ruling according to the principles, precepts and processes of the Word of God. The elders are representatives of Christ, they must rule according to His kingdom rule and law - the Bible and that for the good of the subjects of the kingdom- Christians.

The benefits of multiple elders in a church leading has many benefits. A couple of them are included here. The first is a diffusion of power. No one person has the power in their hand. Also any bad decisions made by just one man is ended. The plurality of elders takes away weaknesses which happen when one person makes binding decisions upon the church. As we all see so often one man shows often lead to tyranny. The plurality of elders creates a means of "checks and balances". Each elder must study the Bible and to bring it to bear upon the issues that come before the court. They then come together for discussion and to formulate the Bible teaching. They also work together to seek needed practical application of the Bible concerning the doctrine now formulated. With multiple elders abuses of authority that could happen are held in check since all elders are involved in study, decision making, doctrinal formulation and suggested application.

A second benefit is simply that the great tasks of the church related to ruling and guiding the people of God is handled in an easy manner. The many elders with each others gifts, strengths and abilities working in a combined effort makes the job easier and less stressful. Therefore, they are able to lead God's people in a more responsive manner according to the word of God.

Having stated a couple benefits I now want to look at a couple weaknesses that comes from non-biblical leadership in the church. Many Churches, perhaps yours, have just one elder or pastor. Perhaps he makes the decisions or he may defer to the congregation for discussion and a vote. In this type of non-biblical leadership all lead or one leads and both brings their own set of problems.

In the best case the one pastor would be a smart man and take the whole burden of the church upon himself or perhaps he moves the deacons to act as elders and not as deacons or as some combination as elder/deacon. Or perhaps the congregation knows all the Bible and how to apply it in all areas, even the most difficulties of life. But this cannot be the case since the congregation needs led and are at different places in their growth in knowledge and faith.

But wisdom and observation teaches that most men cannot handle that burden of the whole church Even if the pastor does move the deacons in a role elders should do, then the burden of the deacons becomes greater. As far as the congregation voting many are not capable of applying the scriptures in their own lives let alone making decisions and voting on the most difficult church related and member issues. Not all study theology let alone practical theology. These types of "church leadership" are just not biblical. Many churches struggle with major problems due to these types of non-biblical leadership in their church. Thankfully some over the years have moved to put elders in place after seeing the difficulty and the truth of scriptures in eldership rule.

So now it is clear how God has set up his Church. To God be the glory! This isa great thing He has done!!!! AMEN

Church and State: The Separation Illusion

Gregory Koukl

The goal of First Amendment was to protect religious expression, not restrict it. In the last 50 years, though, “non-establishment” has been redefined as “separation,” effectively amending the Constitution and isolating Christians from the political process.


“Will You Be a Casualty in Their Religious War?” read the headline of an advertisement that almost covered an entire page of the L.A. Times. Underneath were pictures of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Lou Sheldon, along with condemning quotes substantiating their apparent jihad against irreligious secularists.

The text of the advertisement read:

“The radical religious right has declared war on America. It is a war of ideas. A war of conscience. It’s a religious war. This war strikes at the very heart of our Constitution and threatens the freedoms we hold most dear. Freedom to worship as we please and to believe what we want to believe. The freedom to determine for ourselves what religious and moral views our own children are exposed to. The freedom to conduct our lives as we see fit without having our privacy violated. For some time now, the radical religious right has claimed that there is no such thing as church/state separation in our Constitution. They are wrong. Find out why.”
It goes on to promote a book by Robert Boston entitled Why the Religious Right Is Wrong About Separation of Church and State .[i]

The ad is correct on a couple of points. There is a sense in which the “religious right” is at war, but the battle is not against America, it’s about America. And it is a war of ideas: Is there a legitimate separation of church and state, and what does that mean?

What Does “Separation of Church and State” Mean?

The current understanding of “separation of church and state”--the view that the state is thoroughly secular and not influenced by religious values, especially Christian--was completely foreign to the first 150 years of American political thought. Clearly the Fathers did not try to excise every vestige of Christian religion, Christian thought, and Christian values from all facets of public life. They were friendly to Christianity and encouraged its public practice and expression.

It wasn’t until 1947 that the United States Supreme Court first used the concept of “separation” to isolate government from religion.[ii] In Everson v. Board of Education, the court lifted a phrase from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to a Baptist church in Danbury, Connecticut. The Court ruled, “Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another....In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect ‘a wall of separation between church and state.’”[iii]

The Infamous Danbury Letter

In the Everson v. Board of Education decision, the Supreme Court quoted Jefferson’s separation language as a normative guideline for understanding the First Amendment. As David Barton points out, “There’s probably no other instance in America’s history where words spoken by an individual have become the law of the land. Jefferson’s remark now carries more weight in judicial circles than does the writing of any other Founder.”[iv]

Thomas Jefferson wasn’t a member of the Constitutional Convention, and the phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear anywhere in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Where did it come from?

On January 1, 1802, Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut, in which he used the phrase “a wall of separation between church and state.” His note was meant to quell the fears of the Danbury congregation who were concerned that a national denomination would be established. Here is the text in question:

I contemplate with solemn reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and state.[v]
What did Jefferson have in mind here? Is there an impregnable barrier erected by the founders[vi] that excludes religious-minded people from the political process, an ideological enmity between church and state?

The First Amendment

In contrast to the present confusion about separation, the First Amendment is startling in its clarity, offering no limit to the impact of religious and moral conviction of individual citizens on public policy. It is worth reading often. Here it is:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Please forgive me for stating the obvious: The First Amendment restricts the government, not the people. Jefferson’s wall is a one-way wall. Any religious person, any religious organization, any religious conviction has its place in the public debate. It’s called pluralism in the classic sense.

Notice there are not two distinct provisions here, but one. Non-establishment has no purpose by itself. Freedom of religion is the goal, and non-establishment is the means. The only way to have true freedom of religion is to keep government out of religion’s affairs. This provides for what Steven Monsma calls “positive neutrality.” This view “defines religious freedom in terms of a governmental neutrality toward religion in which no religion is favored over any other, and neither religion nor secularism is favored over each other.”[vii]

The First Amendment was rewritten twelve times to make clear its intent. The concept set forth in the Bill of Rights is “non-establishment,” not isolation. We should strike the “separation” language from our vocabulary.

Separation: Original Intent or Recent Invention?

A Fatal Flaw

The constant appeal to Jefferson’s Danbury letter by hard core separationists reveals a fatal flaw in their approach. Quoting Jefferson’s opinion only matters if Jefferson’s original intent still applies today. If it doesn’t, then the Danbury citation is irrelevant. If it does, then Jefferson’s full views on the issue have merit in this discussion.

It’s clear, though, that the Everson Court used Jefferson’s words, not his ideas. The separation language itself was not in common use at the time. It does not show up in any notes of the Constitutional Convention or of the Congress responsible for the Bill of Rights or the First Amendment.

What was Jefferson’s intent? To show that the Federal government couldn’t establish a national denomination. That’s all. In another letter, this one to Samuel Miller in 1808, Jefferson expanded on his view:

Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the General Government. It must then rest with the States, as far is it can be in any human authority.[viii]
This is a stunning revelation for advocates of a Jeffersonian model of separation. According to Jefferson, the Federal Government couldn’t prescribe religious exercise or discipline, but the states could. It wasn’t until 1947 that the Everson Court made the federal provision binding on the states, expressly contrary to Jefferson, though they quoted him for support.

For nearly two centuries state and federal governments have had such a benevolent attitude towards religion in general and Christianity in particular--including the almost universal practice of school prayer--that it would make a 1990s fundamentalist blush.

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787, passed by the very same Congress which enacted the First Amendment, stated the following in Article III: “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” Notice that religion and morality were equal with knowledge as proper subjects of public education.

All but three states invoke the name of the almighty God in the preambles to their constitutions. Note these examples:

We the people of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure and perpetuate its blessings, do establish this Constitution.

We the people of Alabama...invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish...

The people of Connecticut, acknowledging with gratitude the good providence of God, in having permitted them to enjoy a free government...

If Jefferson’s view of non-establishment mattered today, then dozens of court decisions restricting religious freedom would be annulled. The present notion of separation is not conservative, seeking to return to earlier principles, but activist, seeking to redefine--and liberalize--the past.

Separationists’ Achilles Heel

Separationists attempt to take the Constitutional high ground by quoting Jefferson and others like him. They claim that the founders envisioned a high wall of separation. Recent court decisions simply enforce those original intentions.

Is the “religious right” imposing a new standard favoring religion that undermines our basic Constitutional freedoms, as the L.A. Times ad claimed? You can get to the heart of the matter by asking another question: Do these recent legal actions stop something from being added, or do they remove things already there? They remove them.

Courts have removed prayer from school, crèches from the lawns of city halls, and crosses from public parks. Separationists have managed to get personal Bibles off of teachers’ desks, the Ten Commandments out of school rooms, and references to God eliminated from students’ graduation speeches.

This is their Achilles’ heel: Things can only be removed that were already there to begin with. How did they get there? They were allowed by citizens, legislatures, and courts who saw no harm in them, no intolerance, no danger, and no breech of any Constitutional principle for almost 175 years.

This observation tells us two things. First, from the beginning, religious symbols and religious thought were woven into the fabric of government and society with no sense of Constitutional impropriety. This proves that the new court actions are revisionist, an attempt to change the traditional practice, not a return to our historical and Constitutional roots.

Second, conservatives are in a defensive posture, not an offensive one. The “religious right” has not declared war. The war has been declared on an American way of life held dear to many, and they won’t surrender it without a fight.

Separating the Church Right Out of the State

In 1976, I and three others ventured behind the iron curtain in a clandestine operation bringing aid to persecuted Christians in Soviet Bloc countries. On Friday, July 23, we were detained at the border station of Leushen, Moldavia, USSR, because we had Russian Bibles in our possession.

After ransacking our car and personal belongings and strip-searching one of our group, border officials took us inside for questioning by a female interpreter. Where did we get the Bibles? Who were they for? Didn’t we know that such trafficking was illegal? The questions went on for hours.

When we explained the Bibles were for believers in the Soviet Union, she wanted to know their names.

“We planned to look the churches up in the phone directory.”

“We don’t have churches listed in our phone directories.”

We pointed out that in the United States, where there is freedom of religion, all of the churches are listed. Didn’t they have freedom of religion in the Soviet Union?

“Yes,” she assured us, “of course we have freedom of religion, but we have separation of church and state.” This was not the first time we were to hear this cryptic phrase.

The interpreter explained that the government printed all the Bibles needed for Soviet Christians. “We have our department of atheism and spend a large amount of money each year teaching them these things. We don’t allow any other propaganda.”

“But you print Bibles in the USSR?”

“Yes, our believers get all the Bibles they need, but they are given out only through the church and we must have all their names.”

“But you do have religious freedom?”

“Yes, we have religious freedom.”

“And we can’t bring in Bibles?”

“No, we don’t allow that propaganda in our country.”

“The Bible is propaganda?”


“But you print Bibles in your own country.”


I was surprised she couldn’t see what was coming. “Then that means you are printing anti-communist propaganda right in your own country.”

Her immediate reply was the cryptic, “But we have separation of church and state.”

This mantra was her blanket reply justifying all government interference with our activities. How were we interfering with separation? What did it actually mean? My partner’s definition was probably the most accurate. “They’re separating the church right out of the state,” he quipped.

As I look back on that incident 20 years ago, I’m struck by the contrast. Today there is more de facto religious liberty in former communist countries than we experience here in the United States. Now it is American courts that chant the mantra of separation to prohibit religious conduct in the public square.

The ACLU, in a letter to California State Senator Newton Russell, objected that “teaching that monogamous, heterosexual intercourse within marriage is a traditional American value is unconstitutional establishment of a religious doctrine in public schools.”[ix]

The Supreme Court opens each session with the words, “God save this honorable court.” Yet in June, 1994, the same Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling removing the Ten Commandments from a courtroom. This is rather ironic, considering a bas-relief of Moses holding the tablets of the Old Testament Law broods over the Chief Justice’s seat. Engraved upon the lower half of each entrance door is the same Ten Commandments banished by the court.

Twisted logic like this is “separating the church right out of the state.”

How Five People Can Amend the Constitution

Amending the Constitution is an arduous process. Changes require an appeal by two-thirds of both Houses or by the Legislatures of two-thirds of the states to even get started. Ratification requires a three-fourths majority of either the states’ legislatures or special Constitutional conventions.

That’s what the founders intended. The Constitution’s provisions--including the Bill of Rights--were considered so weighty that only the most united and energetic efforts of the nation could alter it.

Shell Game

Today, de facto Constitutional amendments only require five non-elected citizens--a simple majority of the nine-member Supreme Court.

The High Court wouldn’t dream of simply deleting the Bill of Rights. That would be despotism. Yet they don’t balk at so redefining its meaning that the original disappears, though the words remain the same. Like dupes in a magician’s shell game, the citizens miss the sleight of hand and don’t even know they’ve been robbed.

If the responsibility of all branches of government is to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, ought not those branches preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution that was actually delivered, rather than some fanciful remake? If our Republic is guarded by the Constitution, then we are left defenseless when the words of the Constitution are redefined at will.

The authors of the First Amendment did not seek to expunge every shred of religious sentiment from the public arena. They did just the opposite, decorating their buildings with biblical imagery, punctuating their public discourses with biblical quotes, and grounding their laws on biblical morality.

Christian religion was the cement holding the very foundation stones of the Republic together. That cement is being chipped out, piece by piece, leaving a building without mortar, a stack of bricks ready to topple at the slightest quake.

An “Unconstitutional” President Lincoln

To show how far we’ve declined, I close with the words of President Lincoln in his Proclamation for a National Day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer, March 30, 1863:

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us, then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.*

A hundred years and sixteen Presidents had passed, yet our country’s chief executive could still call his nation to humble repentance without the slightest hint of embarrassment, impropriety, or apology.

By today’s standards, though, the words of one of our greatest Presidents could not be spoken at certain government functions. The very same advice could not be given by a teacher to his junior high class. This alone is enough to show that the popular understanding of separation of church and state is foreign to the Constitution and to the world view that gave it birth.

*Source: The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler. Full text can be viewed at http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/fast.htm.

[i] Robert Boston, Why the Religious Right Is Wrong About Separation of Church and State, (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1993).

[ii] The phrase was mentioned once before in the discourse of the Court in the 1878 case of Reynolds v. The United States when Mormons attempted an unsuccessful defense of polygamy based on the non-establishment clause of the First Amendment. The non-establishment clause protected Mormon beliefs, not Mormon practices (e.g., polygamy). This conduct was still proscribed by prevailing morality, specifically Christian morality.

[iii] Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S at 15-16 (1947).

[iv] David Barton, The Myth of Separation, (Aledo, TX: WallBuilder Press), p. 44.

[v] Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson Writings, Merrill D. Peterson, ed. (NY: Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., 1984), p. 510, January 1, 1802.

[vi] Note that the word “founders” is not capitalized here because I’m not referring to the 55 members of the Constitutional Convention, but to the broader group responsible for the passage of the Bill of Rights.

[vii] Stephen Monsma, Positive Neutrality--Letting Religious Freedom Ring, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993), p. 203.

[viii] Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Bergh, ed. (Washington D.C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), vol. XI, p. 428, letter on January 23, 1808, quoted in Barton, p. 42.

[ix] Majorie C. Swartz, Francisco Lobaco, American Civil Liberties Union Legislative Office, April 18, 1988. Copy on file. Note: The courts have not agreed with the ACLU on this point.

This is a transcript of a commentary from the radio show "Stand to Reason," with Gregory Koukl. It is made available to you at no charge through the faithful giving of those who support Stand to Reason. Reproduction permitted for non-commercial use only. ©2002 Gregory Koukl

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Is He Ignorant or Just an Idiot?

The man that wrote this is either ignorant of Christian cobelergience or is just plainly an idiot.

Cobeligerent Christians DO NOT compromise the scriptures in Doctrine, Ethics or Morality!

The Ten Commandments
of Evangelical Co-Belligerence
by Steve Camp

1. Thou shalt keep all family values/moral causes continually before you

2. Thou shalt not let the Word of God, doctrine, theology, truth, or the gospel of Jesus Christ keep you from “standing together” with anyone to reach our goal of impacting our culture by returning it back to moral traditional family values through legislation, judicial process, and co-belligerent partnerships

3. Thou shalt remember the Sabbath Day and keep it political; rename it by changing it from the Lord's Day to "Justice Sunday" (substitute worship services with political rallies and make sure you feature non-Christians for a wide tolerant religious ideological appeal)

4. Thou shalt not take the name of family value/moral causes in vain; but use every social cultural political co-belligerent means necessary to strong arm politicians to win the day

5. Thou shalt honor thy senator and thy congressman as long as they stand for what we tell them to stand for (this is the first commandment with a vote)

6. Thou shalt boycott, protest and petition against all who act immorally and who try to filibuster judicial Presidential appointees

7. Thou shalt fault, criticize and belittle unsaved people for living like unsaved people given every opportunity possible. It’s OK for them to remain unsaved people, but they just can’t live like they're too unsaved. (They can be unsaved, but just can’t be gay; they can be unsaved, but just can’t be pro-choice; they can be unsaved, but just can’t believe in euthanasia; they can even remain unsaved, but must be for a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage)

8. Thou shalt faithfully turn the body of Christ into The Pope’s Political Action Committee (TPPAC): The Lord's Lobbyists; Value Voters, Patriot Pastors; the Largest Special Interest Group in America; and most importantly, Christocrats.

9. Thou shalt not do anything to shrink the mailing list of any Para-church ministry for three things are always necessary for success: donations, donations, donations.

10. Thou shalt always remember to keep your primary focus on the family and not on the faith

Read Steve Hayes post:

Steve Camp (http://stevenjcamp.blogspot.com/) has some very creative theories about church/state relations:

JSII wants God to "save the United States and this Honorable Court." How? (I know that "save" here means to "preserve, protect and endure"), but how do they propose to do this? Political activism by the church. This is so foolish ladies and gentlemen, again. It is the Lord who establishes governments and they are under His sovereign control (Psalm 2:1-5; Rom. 13:1-7).

This is a striking admission. Camp denies the sovereignty of God. According to Camp, governments are under God’s sovereign control, but political activism is not under God’s sovereign control. I guess that makes Camp a political open theist.

1. As Christians and as individual citizens in a free society, can we make our voice known on political issues without violating the standard of Scripture? Yes. We enjoy that freedom as individuals constitutionally in our nation to voice our views in a lawful manner and to do so in a way that doesn't tarnish or diminish our testimony for the Lord, His gospel, or His Word and still show respect for those in governing authority in our land (Romans 13:1-7). We may do so through voting, contacting our Senators or Congressmen; through lawful assembly, and local community involvement. We can make our voice known, but then we must leave the results to the Lord; for He is sovereignly in control over all the affairs of men and will even use unrighteous governments and their leaders to fulfill His perfect and providential will on the earth.

Once again, Camp denies the sovereignty of God. Actually, if God is truly sovereign, then it matters not whether we left the results to him. For if God is truly sovereign, then his overruling providence would check our efforts in case we did not leave the results to God.

So Mr. Camp evidently believes in conditional divine sovereignty. God is sovereign if and only if we leave the results to God. If we don’t leave the results to God, then God’s sovereignty is infringed.

Of course, the whole point of sovereignty is that it can’t be thwarted no matter what you do. So, if we can’t frustrate the will of God by not leaving the results in his hands, then, once again, Mr. Camp denies the sovereignty of God. That confirms my original suspicion that Camp must be a political open theist.


This claim is fascinating on several grounds:

i) Our own form of government, unlike imperial Rome, is based on the principle of popular sovereignty. In the words of the Declaration of Independence:


Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever the form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.


So, by his own admission, Camp is not a patriotic American. To the contrary a political subversive. He openly denies the principle of popular sovereignty on which our Republic is founded.

ii) Camp is evidently ignorant of the strategic role played by Christians in the Revolutionary War and the Continental Congress:


At least 12 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were Presbyterians, including the only minister, Witherspoon. Later, 10 of the 55 delegates who prepared the Constitution were Presbyterians.

At least 235 Princeton students rendered some military service for the patriots (about 50 as chaplains).

No colonial Presbyterian exploited sermons as freely for political purposes as did their contemporary Congregationalists in New England, where annual rituals like election sermons had been carried on since the early 17C.

D. Hart ed. Dictionary of the Presbyterian & Reformed Tradition in American (IVP 1999), 19.


So Camp has chosen to take the side of the Redcoats.

iii) How is it Biblically impermissible for Christians to unite as a voting block? The Bible says we should submit to government. The 1st Amendment says we have a right to freedom of assembly. When Christians unite as a voting block, they are respecting their form of government.

iv) Another hypocritical feature of Camp’s position is that while he pays lip -service to civil authority, he disdains ecclesiastical authority. Although Scripture enjoins our respectful deference to religious leaders (e.g. Acts 23:4-5; 1 Tim 5:19; Heb 12:17), he, a mere layman, has engaged in a running defamation campaign against the Rev. Dr. Albert Mohler.

To try and twist politicians with the threat of not being re-elected (we will remember in November was the montra last July) is prohibited biblically;

But by his own admission, “we, the people,” have the Constitutional right to elect our representatives. And we have the same right, under the US Constitution, as well as state constitutions, to vote them out of office. We also have the legal right to recall state officials who hold elective office.

In addition, running ads against a candidate is protected speech under the 1st amendment.

Camp is inciting Christians to civil disobedience by attacking our form of government and Bill of Rights. Far from inculcating lawful submission to the powers-that-be, Camp is leveling a seditious attack on the democratic process.

3. Is using a Sunday evening worship service to promote a political rally or cause permissible in the Word of God? Never! There is not one example in the N.T. where the worship of the Lord, the preaching of His Word, the sharing of His gospel, the fellowship of His people, the practice of baptism and communion, prayer, etc. is ever to "take a back seat" to a political function.

i) To begin with, the NT has very little to say about the details of public worship, period. This is in conspicuous and deliberate contrast to the Mosaic cultus, with its blueprint of ritual prescriptions and proscriptions.

Moreover, of what little the NT does have to say about the details of public worship, much of that is descriptive rather than prescriptive or proscriptive.

Since revelation is the measure of responsibility, this means that God has given Christians a good deal of freedom in what to include or exclude from the worship service.

ii) The NT is addressing itself to the situation of Christians living in a pre-Constantinian political environment. The question, then, is how we should apply Scripture in a post-Constantinian situation, where Christians have added responsibilities that come with majority rule.

In Scripture, a priest could hold political office (1 Sam 4:18). He could function as Prime Minister (2 Chron 19:11). And he could even stage a coup d’etat (2 Kgs 11).

Perhaps, though, Camp is a Marcionite--excising the OT from his canon. posted by steve

The Threefold Use of the Law

Louis Berkof

1. A usus politicus or civilis. The law serves the purpose of restraining sin and promoting righteousness. Considered from this point of view, the law presupposes sin and is necessary on account of sin. It serves the purpose of God’s common grace in the world at large. This means that from this point of view it cannot be regarded a means of grace in the technical sense of the word.

2. A usus elenchticus or pedagogicus. In this capacity the law serves the purpose of bringing man under conviction of sin, and of making him conscious of his inability to meet the demands of the law. In that way the law becomes his tutor to lead him unto Christ, and thus becomes subservient to God’s gracious purpose of redemption.

3. A usus didacticus or normativus. This is the so-called tertius usus legis, the third use of the law. The law is a rule of life for believers, reminding them of their duties and leading them in the way of life and salvation. This third use of the law is denied by the Antinomians.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Now the Debate is Over Let's Improve Our Baptism!

Improve Your Baptism

It does not matter whether we are Baptist or Presbyterian we need to build on our faith. Therefore we are to Improve our Baptism dear Christian Brethern!

Sola Scriptura calls the Church and Christian to a proper understanding and preparation and practice of the Sacraments within the context of worship and in the practice of faith in our lives. Since your baptism you must have thought about it:

What it means,
The blessings of it,
Its activity and
Its work in your live,

Your baptism signifies that you are grafted into Christ and that in Him you have the remission of sins by his blood, and are regenerated by the Holy Spirit being adopted as a son awaiting the resurrection and entering into everlasting life. Therefore in the practice of our faith, in line with Sola Scriptura we are not to forget our baptism. It is important to us in our daily lives as we remember that we wear the badge or mark of Christianity. This will help us in times of temptation as we consider we are God’s people and that we are to “improve our baptism”.

Now I know this is a new concept to many reading this for in our modern Churches we are neither called or reminded to talk much about this wonderful sacrament that was applied to us. But we should often! This is true orthopraxy at its finest. The Westminister divines, after a dedicated study of the scripture, proposed the question and answer to the people of God in this manner:

How is our Baptism to be improved by us?

Answer: The needful but much neglected duty of improving our Baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others; by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein; by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to, the grace of baptism, and our engagements; by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament; by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace; and by endeavoring to live by faith, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness, as those that have therein given up their names to Christ; and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body.

Let us therefore remember and give thanks to God for this great sacrament and the blessing of God which come by and through all that it is, it represents and it signifies.

Learn and Practice Baptism Properly

Now the debate is over it is important to ensure you have you and your family practice baptism properly. What has been learned from the exegesis of Scripture is now to be practiced. Therefore if you have come to understand the scriptures it behooves you to practice them properly in your life and the life of your family.

If you still hold to the Baptist view of Baptism then please keep studying and respond to the scriptures point by point and block by block to ensure your position and be able to "defend it". The writing below is not for division but is a historically understood practical position if the covenantal view of Baptism is Biblically correct. Baptism is not salvific but is important in the life of the beleiver with some aspectsof reebaptism being heretical. therefore we do need to respond to baptism properly whether Baptist or Presbyterian. It is my desire that we not sin in these "sacramental or ordinance" issues.

I look forward to posting your position regarding this position here if it is in line with bible exegesis and not based upon pure emotion!


Rev. Prof. Dr. Francis Nigil Lee


According to both Holy Scripture and the Westminster Standards, rebaptism is a sin. It is a transgression of the Law of God. For the Decalogue commands that God be worshipped only in the authorized way -- and not through any 'graven images' (such as rebaptism) contrary to His revealed will.

In Old Testament times, bodily circumcision is unrepeatable --and recircumcision was and is impossible. Deut 10:16 & 30:6 and Jeremiah 4:4 & 9:25-26. Because circumcision has now been replaced by baptism, the latter too is unrepeatable -- and rebaptism impossible. Romans 4:11-25 & 6:1-5; Galatians 3:6-29; Colossians 2:11-13.

Only unitarians and apostates practised 'rebaptism' in the apostolic age. Mark 7:3-8; Acts 19:1-3; First Corinthians 11:18f & 15:29. To the True Visible Church of the Triune God, there was only one baptism -- trinitarian, life-long, and unrepeatable. Matthew 28:19f; Mark 16:15f; Romans 6:3-23; Ephesians 4:4-6; Colossians 2:6-16.

Hebrews 6:1-6 implies that those who get themselves rebaptized, recrucify Christ. For it commands: "Do not again lay down...the doctrine of baptisms.... They crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh!" See Francis Nigel Lee: Rebaptism Impossible.

The Westminster Confession of Faith 28:7 declares that "the sacrament of baptism is but once to be administered to any person. Titus 3:5."

The Westminster Larger Catechism 108 & 112 rightly insists that the Second Commandment requires the proper "receiving of the sacraments. Matthew 28:19." Indeed, the Third Commandment requires that the "sacraments...be holily and reverently used...by an holy profession."

Consequently, the Westminster Larger Catechism 177 also requires "that baptism is to be administered but once with water -- to be a sign and seal of our regeneration and ingrafting into Christ. Matthew 3:11 & Galatians 3:27."

According to both Holy Scripture and the Westminster Standards, being unbaptized is a sin! Omitting to have also one's baby baptized, is to break the Law of God.

God solemnly warns us not to neglect getting the sacrament of initiation administered to our own babies. See Francis Nigel Lee: Have You Been Neglecting Your Baby? On the Serious Consequences of Withholding Baptism from the Infants of Christians.

In Genesis 17:10-14, God demands that all covenant babies "must needs" receive the sign of the covenant -- or be "cut off" from God's people for "breach" of the covenant! Commented Calvin: "As God adopts the infant son in the person of his father, so when the father repudiates such a benefit -- the infant is said to cut himself off from the Church.... God indeed will not acknowledge those as among His people, who will not bear the mark and token of adoption!"

In Exodus 4:24-26, God sought to kill Moses -- for neglecting to give the sign of the covenant to his infant child. Commented Calvin: "Let us then learn from hence to use reverently the sacraments, which are the seals of God's grace -- lest He should severely avenge our despisal of them!"

In Exodus 12:24-48, God debars from the second sacrament all adults whose infants still lack the first sacrament. Comments Calvin: "They should also teach their children..., for doctrine may justly be called the life of sacraments.... The Paschal Lamb corresponds to the Holy Supper.... None but the initiated were admitted.... From the analogy between the Holy Supper and the Passover, this Law remains in force now!"

In Ezekiel 44:7 -- a foreshadowing of the New Testament Church --God rebukes those who have received the sacrament of initiation for bringing those who have not, to worship in His presence. Declares God: "You have brought into My sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in My sanctuary to pollute it.... They have broken My covenant!" What application does this have to baptized Baptists, who regard their own babies as strangers to God but yet bring them to worship Him?

In Luke 7:30, God declares that "the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized." Commented Calvin: "It was already an evidence of their piety, that they [the godly] presented themselves to be baptized.... The scribes, in despising the baptism of John, shut against themselves, through their pride, the gate of faith.... Let us first guard against despising the very least of God's invitations, and be prepared in humility to commence with small and elementary instructions!"

In Acts 2:38f, God commands the penitent: "Be baptized every one of you..., for the promise is unto you and to your children!" Commented Calvin: "This passage therefore sufficiently refutes the Anabaptists, who deny baptism to the children of the faithful while they are still infants, as though they were not members of the Church.... This gross presumption is of no profit to them!" And on Acts 11:16f: "Those who are opposing infant baptism, are waging war against God!"

According to the Westminster Larger Catechism 124-130, the Fifth Commandment requires fathers and mothers not to commit "sins" by "the neglect of the duties required of them" -- such as that of bringing their children to be baptized. "Second Kings 5:13; Ephesians 6:4; Deuteronomy 6:6f; Ezekiel 34:2-4."

Indeed, the Westminster Larger Catechism 166 requires that "infants descending from parents either both or but one of them professing faith in Christ...are...to be baptized. Genesis 17:7f; Galatians 3:9f; Colossians 2:11f; Acts 2:38f; Romans 4:11f; First Corinthians 7:14; Matthew 28:19; Luke 18:15f; Romans 11:16."

Rightly does the Westminster Confession 28:4f therefore conclude that "also the infants of one or both believing parents are to be baptized.... It be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance! Luke 7:30 & Exodus 4:24-26."

-- Rev. Prof. Dr. Francis Nigel Lee, Department of Systematic Theology, Queensland Presbyterian Theological Hall, Brisbane, Australia

Sunday, August 20, 2006

A New Ministry

A New Ministry of Pastor Bret Lovitz, and of

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Working In The Kingdom Under The Authority Of The Church

Hebrews 13:7- Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct

17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.


Many Christians have an independent spirit and think they can take it upon themselves to be Bible teachers without being under the authority of the Church. Many I find do this since they either do not understand nor do not hold a bibilcal respect for ordination.

This is sad since Christ heads His church calling men (Acts 14; 1 Tim. 3) into the ministry for the purpose of administering keys of the kingdom (the Word and the sacraments).

Now, what this means is simply that you and I do not have equal authority in explaining the Word as does an ordained minister. We are told that we cannot have our private interpretation nor our own authority. We are not to take the word and administer it as a personal thing outside of the authority of the church. However, it can be done under the ordained authority of the church, with the imput and direction of the ordained leaders. We can teach a study but not just do so because we “feel like it” and not take the direction of the church that is for sure.

Now for example, older women teaching younger women: A mother does not have the right to teach her daughter what she thinks. She, or an older woman’s group in the church, must not teach a young woman anything that is out of line with the church, that is outside of its teaching in morality and truth (doctrine). Nor can men just teach what they think or want to.

Anyone seeking to instruct through blogging, chat room ownership, writing books, etc. must do this under the leadership of the Church. The ministers have the administration of the keys of the kingdom.

When this is understood God’s people will minister under the authority of Christ and questions concerning whether women should be blogging, running a chat room or teach young women will be less likely to arise.

.This is not against the great teaching of the priesthood of the believer. Actually the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers does not give a license to be a vigilante Christian. As priests in the Kingdom of God we are under the headship of Christ, who leads the church with and under ordained authority.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Hillbilly Ten Commandments

People in Tennessee have trouble with all those "shalls" and "shall nots" in the Ten Commandments. Folks just aren't used to talking in those terms. So, some folks in middle Tennessee got together and translated the "King James" into "Jackson County" language: The Hillbilly's Ten Commandments (posted on the wall at Cross Trails Church in Gainesboro, TN.)

(1) Just one God.
(2) Honor yer Ma & Pa.
(3) No tellin' tales or gossipin'.
(4) Git yourself to Sunday meetin'
(5) Put nothin' before God.
(6) No foolin' around with another fellers gal
(7) No killin.'
(8) Watch yer mouth.
(9) Don't take what ain't yers.
(10) Don't be hankerin' for yer buddy's stuff.

Infant Baptism, Does the Bible Teach It ?

Here is another reading for preparation for the Shisko / White Debate. It is our desire that each one prepare for the debate by readingthe Bible and scholarly, exegetical works from both Baptist and Presbyterian positions regarding Baptism......Steve

Infant Baptism: Does the Bible Teach It?
Dr. Gregg Strawbridge

Does the Bible teach that the infant children of Christians are to be baptized? Or, was baptism only to be given to "believers" who consciously profess allegiance to Christ? In this short study I hope to defend that the Bible does indeed teach that the infant children of Christians are to be baptized.(1)
--Let us reason together according to the Scriptures-

Where I am on the Map
The view of baptism I will be defending is that which flows from Reformed theology as expressed in the great evangelical creeds and confessions in the 16th and 17th Centuries. I hold to those doctrines of grace which are expressed in the great Reformation confessions (Genevan, Helvetic, Belgic, Westminster, etc.) and catechisms (Heidelberg, Westminster Larger & Shorter). Many of the greatest minds of the Christian church have written and defended these confessions, including 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. I find my place here on the theological map, too. Surely, it need not be said that these confessional statements and the great defenders of them stand in opposition to Roman Catholicism's understanding and practice of baptism.(2) These documents and their writers and defenders teach that according to the Scriptures salvation is by the grace of God, through faith alone, in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone--sola Scriptura, sola gratia, sola fide, solo Christo, soli Deo gloria!
Just like Romanism, there are some baptistic churches (e.g., the "Church of Christ") which deny sola fide and sola gratia by teaching baptismal regeneration. Though there are those who believe this error, it would be most unfair for evangelical paedobaptists to associate evangelical baptists with ("believer") baptismal regeneration. It would be a violation of the ninth commandment to imply that the reason why baptists require believers' baptism is because they really, deep down, believe in baptismal regeneration. In the same way, it is most unfair (and fallacious) when baptists assault Reformed paedobaptists with the Romanism charge. For example, one thinks of works like John Gill's, "Infant-Baptism: A Part and Pillar Of Popery," or John Q. Adam's, "Baptists the Only Thorough Religious Reformers," in which it is said that infant baptism is "human invention" and that it is one of the traditions which the Protestant Reformers brought from Rome. On the contrary, the Reformed faith repudiates Romanism's errors, that's precisely why it's "Reformed" and "Protestant."

When it is urged that infant baptism puts “into the place of Christ’s command a commandment of men, [which is] the essential principle of all heresy, schism, and false religion”—a good, round, railing charge to bring against one’s brethren: but as an argument against infant baptism, drawn from its effects, somewhat of a petitio principii [assuming what is to be proven]. If true, it is serious enough. . .One or the other of us is wrong, no doubt; but do we not break an undoubted command of Christ when we speak thus harshly of our brethren, His children, whom we should love? Were it not better to judge, each the other mistaken, and recognize, each the other’s desire to please Christ and follow His commandments? Certainly I believe that our Baptist brethren omit to fulfill an ordinance of Christ’s house, sufficiently plainly revealed as His will, when they exclude the infant children of believers from baptism. But I know they do this unwittingly in ignorance; and I cannot refuse them the right hand of fellowship on that account.—Benjamin B. Warfield, The Polemics of Infant Baptism (in his Works, 9:408)

Before considering the Biblical information on baptism, it will be important to remember that one's view of baptism, whether one holds the baptist or the Reformed infant baptism position, is not an essential doctrine or a cardinal belief. Among evangelical and Reformed believers, this discussion is an "intermural debate." Or to use the language of Paul, baptism is not listed as a doctrine of "first importance" (protos) (1Co 15:3; cf. 1:13). C.S. Lewis' insightful metaphor is instructive. He writes of mere Christianity,
It [essential Christianity] is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall I shall have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. . . .even in the hall, you must begin trying to obey the rules which are common to the whole house. And above all you must be asking which door is the true one; not which pleases you best by its paint and paneling. In plain language, the question should never be: "Do I like that kind of service?" but "Are these doctrines true: Is holiness here? Does my conscience move me towards this? Is my reluctance to knock at this door due to my pride, or my mere taste, or my personal dislike of this particular door-keeper?" When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house.(3)

I have observed that there are also doors between certain of the rooms. It would seem that between the various Reformed churches it is this way. As Lewis implies, and the Bible prescribes, it is the duty of every Christian to be diligent in study and charitable to those who cannot see it as we do. We should move to another room only when we believe it is the truer one. May the peace of God reign in truth.

Where is Infant Baptism in the Bible?
One baptist writer, surely representative of many more such writers, says that "baptizing babies is an unscriptural and anti-scriptural innovation, and an abomination of untold enormity."(4) Well, I do not have any trouble admitting that in the Bible the words "infant" and "baptism" are not found together. But, that is a long way from accepting the claim that such a practice is "unscriptural and anti-scriptural innovation, and an abomination of untold enormity."
There is no explicit statement about the "infant baptism" of a Christian's child. But neither is there an explicit case of a Christian's child who grows up and is baptized as a believer. In both cases we must think beyond a surface scan of the words of the Bible. I would not want to limit the authority of the Word of God to only its explicit declarations. Is abortion permissible because the word "abortion" is not in the text of the Bible? Of course not. The God-breathed Word is fully authoritative "for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness" both explicitly and implicitly (2Ti 3:16). If the Scripture was given "for teaching," the question should be whether the Word teaches that the children of believers are to be baptized by virtue of their covenantal relationship to a believing parent. (When the term "infant baptism" is used it is just shorthand to express this.) It is true that there is no statement of "infant baptism" in just those terms. However, let us ask another question of the text of Bible: Is there any evidence of believers' households being baptized because of the faith of the head of the household?--Considering this question, the Bible student is forced to conclude that there are clear statements about households being baptized. What do these passages teach?
Examples of Baptism in the New Testament
Those who deny the validity of infant baptism are usually quick to cite the examples of baptism (often selected examples) in the New Testament to support the contention that "only believers were baptized." Let's consider all of the examples of Christian baptism recorded throughout the apostolic history of the church, beginning in Acts. Does it teach that only self-conscious, professing believers are to be baptized or does it teach that the households of believers are to be baptized because of the head of household's faith? The outline of the book of Acts is indicated in the first chapter, that the gospel of Messiah Jesus was to expand from Jerusalem to the remotest part of the earth (1:8). As we will see, the patterns of baptism are quite similar to this expansion because the Great Commission of Christ is that in Him "all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (3:25).(5)
First, we find that the initial occasion of baptism in Acts was the Jews at Pentecost in Jerusalem. We are told that this festival gathering was of "devout men" (2:5), "men of Judea" (2:14), "men of Israel" (2:22), etc. Hence, it appears that only men were baptized on this occasion--"So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41).(6) This event was in fulfillment of the promised coming of the Spirit of God. Such a promise was given "for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself" (2:39).
Second, we find that the gospel crossed into Samaria, following the pattern of expansion (1:8). Philip was "preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ" and "they were being baptized, men and women alike" (8:12). This is the first passage in which the baptism of women is explicitly mentioned. Luke seems to emphasize that not only men were being baptized, but women, too. Perhaps this emphasis is because only men were baptized at the first new covenant baptism event at the Jewish Pentecostal feast. The Samaritan passage, however, is focused on the evil intent of Simon the Sorcerer who offered the apostles money to receive the miraculous powers they had by the Holy Spirit. The text says that "even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip" (8:13). According to Justin Martyr, Simon became a great heretic and an opponent of Christianity.(7)
Third, the next person connected to baptism is a (Jewish) proselyte eunuch from Ethiopia who had "come to Jerusalem to worship" (8:27). He was reading the passage around Isaiah 53:7, "Like a lamb that is led to slaughter . . ." "Beginning from this Scripture he [Philip] preached Jesus to him" (8:35). The eunuch said, "'Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?'" (8:36). Perhaps the eunuch's emphatic request is because Philip explained the new covenant sign--a sign, not only for all nations, but for eunuchs, too. Only a few verses before the text Philip explained, we read, "Thus He will sprinkle many nations, Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him" (Isa 52:15). And only a few chapters later we read a new covenant prophecy, "Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, 'The LORD will surely separate me from His people.' Neither let the eunuch say, 'Behold, I am a dry tree'" (Isa 56:3). This entire baptismal episode takes on more significance when it is remembered that eunuchs were shut out of the old covenant assembly (Deu 23:1) and in many cases may not have received the sign of covenant inclusion, circumcision.
Fourth, in chapter nine we are told of the conversion of the Apostle to the Gentiles. Paul, after falling to the ground and being temporarily blinded, "arose and was baptized" (9:18). The Lord told the timid Ananias, the one who apparently baptized Paul, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake" (9:15-16).
Fifth, the gospel first crossed to pure Gentile territory with the episode regarding Cornelius in chapter ten. The household of Cornelius was baptized (10:48). The text of Acts tells us regarding the God-fearer Cornelius, "you will be saved, you and all your household" (11:14). The emphasis of the text is that the Gentiles could be saved, just as the Jews. The "unclean" people could receive the Holy Spirit and also be saved by Messiah Jesus. Remember that because of Peter's prejudice, God provided him with a vivid object lesson--an unclean buffet--to orient him to accept Gentile believers. The very voice of the Lord declared, "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy" (10:15).
Sixth, "Lydia, from the city of Thyatira," was saved by the grace of God, as "the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul" (16:14). Verse 15 tells us that "she and her household had been baptized."
Seventh, in the same chapter, the Philippian Jailer's household was baptized. "He was baptized, he and all his household" (16:33). We are told that Paul and Silas were brought into the house of the Jailer to eat and the Jailer "rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household" (16:34).
Eighth, we find that many Corinthians were baptized. Acts 18:8 tells us that "Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized." In Acts we are not informed of any person's name who was baptized. But in 1 Corinthians, Paul says that he baptized Crispus, Gauis (1:14), and "the household of Stephanas" (1Co 1:16). In Acts we find that Crispus "believed in the Lord with all his household" and since we learn that Crispus was baptized in 1 Corinthians, it seems valid to infer that his household was baptized with him.
Ninth, and finally, we learn that there was a group of disciples acquainted with John's baptism, but not with the fulness of his message. These "disciples of John" were made up of "about twelve men" (19:7) in Ephesus who lacked an understanding of the coming of the Holy Spirit. These "were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus" (19:5) after being instructed by Paul.
In summary we find the following: (1) At Pentecost it seems that only men were present, thus only men were baptized, some 3000 of them. Still, the new covenant promise was "to you and your children" (2:39). (2) In Samaria "men and women alike" (8:12) were baptized, including Simon (the apostate Sorcerer). (3) The eunuch (who had no household) was baptized (Acts 8:38). (4) Paul (who had no household) was baptized (9:18). (5) Cornelius' household was baptized (10:48, 11:14). (6) Lydia's household was baptized (16:15). (7)The Philippian Jailer's household was baptized (16:33). (8) Many Corinthians were baptized, including Crispus' household, Stephanas' household, and Gaius (18:8, 1Co 1:14, 16). (9) The disciples of John (adult men) were baptized (19:5).
These are the facts about those baptized. From this we learn that of the nine narrative passages on baptism, four are household baptisms, four other cases consisted of only adult men (Pentecost, eunuch, Paul, twelve disciples of John), and the other case is of Simon and the "men and women alike" in Samaria. In this case, consider carefully the phrase used by Luke in 8:12, "men and women alike" (andres te kai gunaikes). This is the first case in which females are explicitly said to be baptized. Hence, it is important for Luke to emphasize that "both men and women" were baptized (KJV, NKJ, ASV, RSV, NRS).(8)
Considering the nine individuals singled-out in the baptism narratives--five had their households baptized (Cornelius, the Jailer, Lydia, Crispus, Stephanas), two had no household for obvious reasons (eunuch & Paul). That leaves Simon, who actually turned out to be an unbeliever and Gaius, whom Paul baptized (1Co 1:14). As for Simon, I think it is reasonable to conclude that he was an atypical case and was not a likely head of household. Certainly, his case would be a less than ideal basis for the baptist view. As for Gaius, in Romans 16:23 we read that "Gaius [is] host to me and to the whole church." This implies that he was a man of some means. As such, he may have had at least household servants, if not a familial household. Gaius is mentioned with Crispus, who was a household head. Crispus , "believed in the Lord with all his household," thus it was undoubtedly baptized with him (Acts 18:8). Yet Paul said in no uncertain terms, "I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius" (1Co 1:14). Paul could name Crispus as head of the baptized household, just as he could have with Gaius. As would be perfectly intelligible to any first century Jew, it seems that Paul simply spoke of Crispus as representing the household in the administration of baptism. Therefore, if Gaius had a household, it is quite reasonable to believe that it was baptized, just like Crispus' household.
So, it is not an overstatement to say that virtually every person who had a household had it baptized! And in the non-household baptism cases, we can validly infer that the recipients did not have households (the eunuch, Paul) or the households were not present (in the case of Pentecost men, the twelve men in Ephesus). The exception turns out to be the Samaritans. The "both men and women" and perhaps Simon the Sorcerer, if one wants to press the issue. Still, I suppose that some baptists are happy to make the first explicit case of female baptism ("both men and women") and the unbeliever Simon the rule rather than the exception to the pattern of the household baptism--but I am not.

Non-Household Baptisms

3000 (men) at Pentecost (no household present)
Samaritans: ("both men and women") Simon the Sorcerer
Ethiopian Eunuch (no household)
Paul (no household)
Disciples of John (12 men) (no household present)

Household Baptisms

Cornelius and household
Lydia and Household
Philipian Jailer and Household
Corinthians: Crispus and household and Stephanas and Household
Gaius (and household?)


The Baptist Response to the Household Baptisms
These important Biblical facts regarding the household baptisms are often dismissed by those denying infant/household baptism. Recently, in pointing out these facts to a defender of "believer's baptism," he responded, "Since the New Testament teaches only believer's baptism the only logical conclusion is that the people in these households were all believers."(9) I would not fault the logic here; only the method. He is undoubtedly correct--if the New Testament teaches only believers are to be baptized. However, a better method would be to consider the Biblical facts about who was baptized before determining what the New Testament teaches! According to the above believer's baptism defender, "the Bible does not teach . . . household baptism."(10)
This is a quite predictable response--that everyone in these households must have believed (i.e., since we already know that only believers were baptized). But think for a moment what this response requires us to believe--that in the individual baptism narratives, their writers (Luke & Paul) intentionally include more irregular and anomalous cases of baptism (households), than "regular" cases. So, it just so happened that all these "believers" were in the same households. And it just so happened that every individual in these homes was not a little child. And it just so happened that in the non-household baptisms (excepting the Samaritans), there were only men present (Pentecost, eunuch, Paul, twelve disciples of John).
Now this "just so" story might be more convincing if the larger context of Acts were not considered. Remember the outline of Acts--the gospel was to go to Jerusalem, all of Judea, Samaria, and the remotest part of the earth. Surely Luke is instructing his readers about what Jesus continued doing in His church of all nations (Acts 1:1). When the gospel crossed to Gentile territory, beginning with Cornelius, every baptism passage is a household baptism passage--except where we are expressly told that those present were "twelve men," who were Jews after all (Acts 19:7). The Gentile households of Cornelius, Lydia, the Jailer, Stephanas, and possibly Gaius (see the previous discussion) were all baptized.
Those who deny the validity of household/infant baptism do not usually take seriously these facts. We must ask whether the impressive number of household baptisms, concentrated in the period of Gentile expansion was an unrepeatable oddity of apostolic Christianity? Was it coincidence that virtually all of the newly reached Gentile households were baptized? Acts is a selective history of thousands of examples of baptism over the first few decades of the church. It would be incredible to believe that Luke recorded the only household baptisms in the entire apostolic period! On the contrary, Luke does not present these household baptisms as though they were extraordinary just because they were household baptisms. Rather, this was the routine practice of the apostolic church as the gospel went to Gentile families. The gospel and its outward sign went to families because it was families that were to be saved. Most evangelicals know the answer to the Biblical question, "What must I do to be saved?"--"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved." But that's not the answer in the Bible, rather, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household" (Act 16:31). Contrary to this, consider the individualistic practice of baptism in baptistic churches today. Those who deny the baptism of the children of believers simply do not conform their practice to the facts of apostolic Christianity.

Considering the pattern of household baptisms, the presumption of an individualistic baptist perspective is seriously called into question. The pattern is recognizable to the reader of the Scripture, if one begins with Genesis and moves forward. It might be easier to dismiss if this was the only information about households in the Bible. Baptist responses treat these cases as mere isolated "proof texts" for which the paedobaptist grasps as straws in the wind--when in reality, Luke simply adds one more thread to the tapestry of God's covenant redemption. The pattern of Gentile household baptisms, especially as it relates to Luke's purpose in showing the expansion of the gospel, should not be so quickly dismissed by baptists. It is not as though we have a hundred cases of baptism and there are these exceptional, anomalous few household cases. We have nine individuals identified; five clearly have their households baptized; two do not have households (eunuch, Saul); one is dubious (Simon); and Gaius is left (1Co 1:14, see the above discussion). This is not a promising set of statistics for the baptists.

The oft-repeated reply, "but every member of the household believed," will not be persuasive to one who considers the exegetical particulars of the two cases which include statements about the households believing (the Jailer 16:31-34 & Crispus 18:8). We should ask whether the exegetical nuances of these texts support the individualist (baptist) thesis (every member believed) or the covenant family thesis (household members followed the leader according to their capacity).
In the Philippian Jailer passage (16:31-34) and the Corinthian passage with Crispus (18:8), the Greek texts use singular verbs, not the plural verbs, to describe the action of believing. These texts do not say, the Jailer (or Crispus) "and (kai)" his household "believed" (with a plural verb). This would be one way Luke could have nuanced the text to indicate the equal action of each member in believing. This is something Luke surely would have said if he was seeking to correct the covenantal household concept established in the previous millennia of Biblical history. Instead, these texts teach what any Old Testament believer might have expected: the Jailer, the household head, "rejoiced (singular verb) greatly, with all his house (panoikei, an adverb), having believed (pepisteukos, participle, singular) in God" (16:34, ASV); and Crispus, the household head, "believed (episteusen, verb, singular) in the Lord with (sun) all his household" (18:8). However, observe Luke's careful language indicating that baptism is administered to each member of the Jailer's household: "he was baptized, he and (kai) all his household" (16:33).
Biblical Signs
It is not only true that the book of Acts supports the claim that all those in the home of a believer are to be baptized, but the nature of Biblical signs and symbols foundationally supports this belief and practice. Since the Bible is one book and not two, we must ask whether the symbol of baptism as an outward ritual is similar to other rituals in the older portion of Scripture. Rituals which involve a symbolic act, such as baptism, are connected to Biblical covenants between God and man. Invirtually every case Biblical covenants include signs which visibly represent the realities behind the covenant promises.

In the covenant with Adam, sometimes called the covenant of works, or covenant of life, or covenant of creation, the tree of life is the visible sign of the invisible reality (Gen 3:22). In the Noahic covenant, the rainbow is the "sign of a covenant between Me and the earth" (Gen 9:13). In the Abrahamic covenant, circumcision "shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you" (Gen 17:11) and for the believer Abraham it was "a seal of the righteousness of the faith he had while uncircumcised" (Rom 4:11). In the Mosaic administration of the covenant, the sacrifices and festival days are carefully defined and the covenant meal is given. In the institution of the covenant meal, Passover, the Lord said, "the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live" (Exo 12:13). In the new covenant, baptism and the Lord's Supper signify its meaning. Baptism is a sign of entrance into the covenant (Mat 28:19-20; Acts 2:38-39). In baptism one is visibly identified with the true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with His people, and with His kingdom. The Lord's Supper is a sign of communing in the covenant (Mat 26:28). It is a "sharing [koinonia]in the blood of Christ" and a "sharing in the body of Christ" (1Co 10:16).

What else can be deduced from this than that it was a sacrament, that is, a sign and seal of life?”– Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service (I:362)
“We should not think of the fruit of this tree as magically or medically working immortality in Adam’s frame. Yet it was in some way connected with the gift of life . . . . So the words of Genesis 3:22 must be understood sacramentally”– Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (p. 217)
The Bible often speaks of the signs interchangeably with the reality signified. For example, fallen Adam is not to eat of the tree of life "lest he eat from it and live forever" (Gen 3:22).(11) Jehovah "will look upon [the rainbow], to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature" (Gen 9:16). The Lord told Abraham that circumcision "is My covenant" (Gen 17:10). Of the Passover blood the Lord says, "when I see the blood I will pass over you" (Exo 12:13). Jesus, in the Lord's Supper, said the cup "is the new covenant" (1Co 11:25). Peter says, "baptism now saves you" (1Pe 3:21). Please understand that these God-ordained ritual acts are not magical, but they are sacramental. They are visible promises of God's redemptive purposes to save and sanctify a people, His church (Eph 5:25-27).
The Westminster Confession (27:2) says, “There is, in every sacrament, a spiritual relation, or sacramental union, between the sign and the thing signified: whence it comes to pass, that the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other.” (Gen 17:10; Mat 26:27,28; Tit 3:5)

To realize the full blessings of such salvific promises, an individual must be saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (Eph 2:8-9, 1Pe 3:21, Tit 3:5, 1Co 11:28-29). One must receive the reality behind the signs and seals, Christ. Of course, we know from Biblical and church history that not every person who partakes of such covenant signs also has the reality signified in the symbol.
Perhaps one of the best illustrations of this truth is the passage which follows (1Co 10:1-4):
Christ is the Reality Behind the Signs --Even in the Old Testament
For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. (1Co 10:1-4)
In the argument of the apostle, this is a powerful admonition against those in the Corinthian church who think they are "spiritual" (pneumatikos) and have "knowledge" (gnosis) (1Co 2:15, 8:1). First, it might be observed that Paul indicates the continuity of the faith from its Old Testament expression through the new covenant expression by referring to even this perverse generation of Israel as "our fathers." Then, he illustrates their continuity with new covenant signs by singling out that they too were baptized and had spiritual communion. In fact, they ate of the "same spiritual food" and drank of the "same spiritual drink." It is "the same" because it originates from the same source, Christ. Just as Christ is the reality in Passover (1Co 5:7), and He Himself said, "I am the living bread that came down out of heaven" (Joh 6:51)--the source of the water was Christ (1Co 10:4; cf. Joh 4:14).
If some among the Corinthians claimed spiritual superiority, how much more could these Israelites. They were not baptized with mundane water, but in a visible cloud of God's presence and the very Red Sea which parted before them! They didn't have a mere Paul or Apollos as their leader, but the more-than-legendary, miracle-working Moses whose very face had the residue of God's glory! In this sacramental type, these Israelites did not partake of ordinary food and drink. No, no, they ate of bread that descended from heaven itself and drank from a rock in a desert! What's more, the rock was Christ! All of this and much more, but most were "laid low in the wilderness" (10:5). Could these "spiritual" Corinthians even approach this visible, demonstrable, miraculous spirituality? Yet, the punch-line is that, as superior in spirituality as these Israelites were, "twenty-three thousand fell in one day" and others were killed by "serpents" and still others were "destroyed by the destroyer" (10:8-10)!
Who's In? .
The above discussion of the apostolic practice of baptism concludes that virtually every person who had a household had it baptized and in almost every case of non-household baptism, there were only men present. Are other visible signs and symbols of God's covenant redemption administered to households? Do other covenant administrations include a principle of "you and your children"?
Reviewing the Biblical teaching, we find that 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).

A "Y" for yes is placed beside all categories where descendants are included

1. Covenant (Administration)
Creation.Adamic - y
Noah/ Abrahamic-y
(Other Patrachics) - y
Mosaic - y
Davidic - y
New Covenant - y

2. Visible Sign
Tree of Life - y
Rainbow - y
Circumcision - y
Sacrifices/Meals - y
Passover (blood, then meal) ( y)
Baptism (entrance) (y)
Lord's Supper (continuance)

Therefore, the pattern of covenant administration includes a principle of family inclusion and successive generations in both covenant content and covenant recipients of the signs. The visible portrayal of covenant promises in signs and seals have a household administration--the question now is whether the visible sign of entrance into the new covenant (baptism) is to be administered to the household of a believer. If this is true, then just as in circumcision, those who come into that household by birth or adoption would also have a right to the rite. I have come to be convinced that there is much evidence for the continuity of this pattern. From the very beginning the visible symbols and pledges were administered in a covenantally corporate and familial way. As has been demonstrated, baptism also follows this pattern (five of the nine cases of the individuals identified are household baptisms).
Now it would be exceedingly unlikely in the "large-family-friendly" culture of the ancient world to find five households which did not included small children-- and remember, the five cases of household baptism in the New Testament surely stand for thousands more (unless we suppose Luke and Paul give us the anomalies as the rule). However, it would be a mistake to think that the above argumentation rests on whether infants were in these five households. The importance of the household baptism line of argument does not depend so much on whether infants were in these households--as it does on whether households, as households, are to be baptized because of the believing head of a household. This pattern we have--which should not be lightly dismissed, considering the small number of baptisms expressly recorded and the lack of households in the others cases--stands on the shoulders of the whole of the prior Biblical revelation.
The New Covenant Also Includes the Children
Perhaps someone might say that the new covenant is different from previous covenants in just this sense. Does the promise of the new covenant include successive generations, our children, as did the previous covenant administrations? Are the children of believers included in the new covenant promises? One important writer, defending a baptist perspective says, "I would argue then that the principle of believers and their seed no longer has covenantal significance, precisely because the age of fulfillment has arrived." He goes on to say, "Nowhere in the content of the new covenant is the principle 'thee and thy seed' mentioned."(12) If this were true, such a change in covenant membership and covenant content could hardly be more drastic! Covenant membership has always and ever included "you and your children" and covenant content is most fundamentally that the Lord is "God to you and your descendants" (Gen 17:7, Deu 7:9, 30:6, 1Ch 16:15, Psa 103:17, 105:8).
Consider these prophecies regarding the new covenant. Let the reader decide whether the children of believers are included in the new covenant promises--
In the very first word about the new covenant was in Deuteronomy 30:6:
Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live. . .
Deuteronomy 30:9: Then the LORD your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the LORD will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers.
Jeremiah alludes to the above Deuteronomy passage throughout his prophecy. He emphasizes the inclusion of children in the new covenant promise.
Jeremiah 30:9: 'But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. 10 'And fear not, O Jacob My servant,' declares the LORD, 'and do not be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from afar, and your offspring from the land of their captivity. And Jacob shall return, and shall be quiet and at ease, and no one shall make him afraid.
Jeremiah 30:18: "Thus says the LORD, 'Behold, I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob and have compassion on his dwelling places; and the city shall be rebuilt on its ruin, and the palace shall stand on its rightful place. 19 'And from them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of those who make merry; and I will multiply them, and they shall not be diminished; I will also honor them, and they shall not be insignificant. 20 'Their children also shall be as formerly, and their congregation shall be established before Me; and I will punish all their oppressors. 22 'And you shall be My people, and I will be your God.'"
Jeremiah 31:1: "'At that time,' declares the LORD, 'I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.'"
Jeremiah 31:17: [Though Rachel weeps for her children (destroyed in captivity), when they return] "'there is hope for your future,' declares the LORD, 'and your children shall return to their own territory.'"
Notice verse 36 of the classic text of the new covenant, the offspring of covenant participants are explicitly included.
Jeremiah 31:33-37: "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 "And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." 35 Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day, and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name: 36 "If this fixed order departs From before Me," declares the LORD, " Then the offspring of Israel also shall cease From being a nation before Me forever. " 37 Thus says the LORD, "If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done," declares the LORD."
Jeremiah 32:15-18: "For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land . . . who showest lovingkindness to thousands [of generations], but repayest the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children after them . . ."
Jeremiah 32:37-40: "Behold, I will gather them out of all the lands to which I have driven them in My anger . . . And they shall be My people, and I will be their God; 39 and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good, and for the good of their children after them. 40 "And I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.
Jeremiah 33:22-26: "As the host of heaven cannot be counted, and the sand of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me . . . 26 then I would reject the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, not taking from his descendants rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them."

Other Old Testament prophecies about the coming age of the new covenant are equally clear that the children of believers are included.
Eze 37:24-26: David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. 25 "Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children's children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever. 26 "Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. (NKJV)
Zech 10:6-9: "And I shall bring them back, Because I have had compassion on them; and they will be as though I had not rejected them, for I am the LORD their God, and I will answer them. 7 "And Ephraim will be like a mighty man, and their heart will be glad as if from wine; Indeed, their children will see it and be glad, Their heart will rejoice in the LORD . . . They will remember Me in far countries, and they with their children will live and come back.
Joel 2:1-29: Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountain! . . .So there is a great and mighty people; There has never been anything like it, Nor will there be again after it To the years of many generations . . . 15 Blow a trumpet in Zion, Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly, 16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and the nursing infants. Let the bridegroom come out of his room and the bride out of her bridal chamber . . . 27 "Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God and there is no other; and My people will never be put to shame. 28 "And it will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. 29 "And even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days."
Isaiah 44:3: For I will pour out water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring, and My blessing on your descendants.
Isaiah 59:20-21: "And a Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob," declares the LORD. 21 "And as for Me, this is My covenant with them," says the LORD: "My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring's offspring," says the LORD, "from now and forever."
Malachi 4:5-6 "Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. 6 "And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.
In the New Testament, the apostles repeatedly included the principle of "you and your seed."
Luke 1:17: "And it is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
Luke 2:49-50: For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name. 50 and His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear him.
Acts 2:39: For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.
Acts 3:25: "It is you who are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, 'and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.'"
Acts 13:32-33: "And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, 33 that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus . . .
Rom 4:13-17: For the promise to Abraham or to his descendantsthat he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith . . . 16 For this reason it is by faith, that it might be in accordance with grace, in order that the promise may be certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 (as it is written, "A father of many nations have I made you") in the sight of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.
These texts provide overwhelming, compelling, and unmistakable Biblical support for the belief that the children of believers are included in the promised new covenant. How many more texts are required to convince one that the new covenant includes the children of believers? Certainly no one can produce even one text which explicitly excludes them. There are dozens and dozens which explicitly include the children of believers. If baptism is the sign of entrance into that covenant, why are not the children of believers to be baptized? If they are promised its blessings no less than adults, then why are they not to receive the visible portrayal of the promise? The objection that "the principle of believers and their seed no longer has covenantal significance" or "nowhere in the content of the new covenant is the principle 'thee and thy seed' mentioned"--simply will not stand against the overwhelming refutation of the above passages.(13) The very same language of the inclusion of believers' children permeates both the old covenant administrations, as well as the new covenant.
The above texts are not a mere "proof-texting" against this objection, they indicate a deep Biblical and theological theme which undergirds the entire mission of the Savior and His Commission to the church.
Baptism and the Great Commission
Before our Lord ascended to reign at the right hand of the Father, He commanded the discipling of the nations. He predicted the advance of His good news "in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). He said to His disciples, "Go ye therefore, and teach [disciple, or make disciples of] all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Mat 28:19 KJV). From this text there are those who claim that Jesus' command excludes anyone from baptism who is not a self-conscious disciple. Hence, such interpreters claim that this Commission commands the discipling of "individuals from all nations, not the national entities" and the individual baptism of only "those who were made disciples."(14) However, the grammar of this command does not support the individualistic thesis. Rather, the direct command (mathãteusate panta ta ethnã baptizontes autous) simply translates, Disciple all the nations and baptize them (nations). The pronoun "them" (autous), grammatically refers to "nations" (ethnã), not "disciples" since "make disciples" (from mathãteuõ) is a verb.(15)
If one thinks about the Commission both grammatically and culturally, a Jewish Rabbi of the First Century or before would not have been troubled if it had said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, circumcising them in the name of Jehovah, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you." A Rabbi would not have thought this was a Commission to abandon infant circumcision for exclusive adult circumcision. In fact, this was precisely the practice of proselytism in the New Testament era. To illustrate, in the events of Acts 15:3ff, we read there of "the conversion of the Gentiles" (v 3) and that some of "the Pharisees who had believed" demanded that "it is necessary to circumcise them" (v 5). Surely these Pharisees were not insisting on exclusive adult "believer circumcision" by demanding that those "converted" be circumcised. When the Pharisees made a proselyte (Mat 23:15) they considered their children to be proselytes. They considered "them" collectively to be "converts." And as the children grew, they were to mature into a self-conscious ownership of their faith. If they grew up to be a reprobate, they were "put out of the synagogue" (Joh 9:22).
Why did Jesus command baptism in the first place? Are there any hints in the Old Testament that the Messiah would baptize? When one studies carefully the Old Testament predictions of the Messiah, we see that the Word includes allusions to a cleansing rite administered to a corporate entity, nations. "He will sprinkle many nations" (Isa 52:15). Ezekiel 36:24ff, records a new covenant promise to the nation Israel says, "I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean . . . I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh . . . you will be My people, and I will be your God." In these foretastes of Messiah, it is "nations" or "peoples" that are cleansed. Predictably, then, the Commission to baptize is to baptize the corporate "nations."
The Great Commission, in biblio-theological development, is the predictable Messianic restatement of multitudes of Old Testament commissions and promises and prayers for all the nations to be made disciple-nations--
And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Gen 12:3).
Your descendants shall also be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed (Gen 28:14).
That all the ends of the earth may fear Him (Psa 67:7);
All nations serve him (Psa 72:11);
All nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord; and they shall glorify Thy name (Psa 86:9);
Praise the LORD, all nations; Laud Him, all peoples! (Psa 117:1);
Kings of the earth and all peoples; Princes and all judges of the earth...Let them praise the name of the LORD (Psa 148:11-13).
All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will worship before Thee (Psa 22:7).
Then hear Thou from heaven, from Thy dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to Thee, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Thy name, and fear Thee, as do Thy people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Thy name (2Ch 6:33).
And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed (Dan 7:14).
--These and about 100 other passages declare that all nations (and not merely some individuals from them) are to be disciple-worshipers! The Commission on earth and Song of Heaven are the same, [and they sang] "Great and marvelous are Thy works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Thy ways, Thou King of the nations. Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou alone art holy; for all the nations will come and worship before Thee, for Thy righteous acts have been revealed" (Rev 15:3-4).
Further, the Commission to disciple and baptize nations, in the Biblical thematic development makes sense of the apostolic practice of household discipleship and household baptism. If one puts himself in the place of the (Jewish-Christian) apostles, is it credible to think that they saw the Commission as including making disciples of families or households? I believe that it is for the following reasons: (1) In Biblical usage, the term "nations" is equal to "all the families of the earth" (Gen 12:3, 28:14, Act 3:25; cf. Psa 22:14). (2) In a Biblical survey of the term "nations," the terms "family" and "house" or "household" are explicitly and organically connected. For example, in the book that defines the beginning of family and nation, Genesis, "nations" is equal to "families." "From these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to his language, according to their families, into their nations" (10:5). In Genesis 10:32, the terms "families" or "households" are semantically identical to nations: "These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, by their nations; and out of these the nations were separated on the earth after the flood." These family-nations were further divided at Babel when separate languages came into existence. Add to that the interchangeableness of "nation of Israel," "house of Israel" and in the New Testament, the "household of God," and "a holy nation" (1Pe 4:17, 2:9). (3) Therefore, if the command had been, "Make disciples of all families, baptizing them . . ."--would this not be warrant for the baptism of households under the leadership of a believing head of household? Perhaps the reader can see that "families of the earth" in Biblical-theological development from Genesis on, quite explicitly does have reference to "families" or "households." Perhaps this is why the apostles baptized them!

Genesis 9-12: The Origin of the Nations
Noah's Household Saved in the Ark (Gen 9) Table of Nations from Noah's Family (Gen 10) Division of Languages/Nations at Babel (Gen 11) Blessing to "All the Families of the Earth" (through Abraham)(Gen 12)
The Great Commission: The Salvation of the Nations
Blessing to "All the Families of the Earth" (through Christ, the "Seed") Pentecost "Undoes" Babel and Empowers the Disciples Expansion of Gospel to "All Nations" Gentile Households Baptized

So, from the flood to Babel the division was made. But from Pentecost to the end of the age, the Kingdom advances with the power to undo the confusion of the nations by the Spirit's power through the gospel. The language of the Great Commission emphasizes first generation contact with the "families of the earth," as would be expected after a study of a Biblical theology of missions. But the Great Commission's purposes are not limited to adults and neither are its grammatical categories. To divide parents from the little children for whom they are responsible is completely foreign to the Biblical concepts of family, headship, covenant, and even salvation ("you will be saved, you and all your household," Acts 11:14, 16:31). The command is to disciple nations and discipled nations include little children. It follows strictly, does it not, that Christ's Commission to baptize thus includes children?

The Father of Missions
The purpose of God in converting the nations (in missions) is part of God's covenantal promise to Abraham. Abraham is truly the father of the missionary movement. Peter preached to the Jews, "It is you who are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, 'and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed'" (Acts 3:25). The promise of the gospel is that "the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel" (Eph 3:6). Whereas Gentiles were "separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world"--"Now," writes the apostle, "in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ" (Eph 2:12-13). Gentiles may now participate as receivers of the "covenants of promise." We have become Abraham's children too! To understand this, one must stand in the sandals of that earnest God-fearing Gentile of Paul's day who longed for acceptance in a world of religio-cultural exclusivism.(16)
Amazingly, Gentiles may become "Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise" (Gal 3:29). Paul teaches us that through faith the promise to Abraham "may be certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, 'a father of many nations have I made you')" (Rom 4:16-17). In other words, the promise is to "all the descendants" of both believing Jews and Gentiles, because Abraham is the "father of many nations" and in him all the "families of the earth shall be blessed" (Acts 3:25, Gen 12:3). A Cornelius, or a Lydia, or a Philippian Jailer, or a Stephanas, could now be like any of Abraham's children. The repeated and amazing contrast between the new covenant and the previous administrations of the covenant is that now one does not need to enter the Jewish nation to realize fully the covenant blessings.
If one reads the book of Romans backwards, we see that all of the doctrinal instruction on equal condemnation (chapters 1-3), justification (chs. 4-5), sanctification (chs. 6-8), the covenant history in its relation to the Jews (chs. 9-11), application to believers (chs. 12-13), leads to the same theme--the joint-heir relationship of Gentiles and Jews and the principles of their new life together (chs. 14-15) and Paul's mission to the Gentiles (16:15-21).

The Promises Confirmed, The Promises Applied

Wherefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers, and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written, "THEREFORE I WILL GIVE PRAISE TO THEE AMONG THE GENTILES, AND I WILL SING TO THY NAME." And again he says, "REJOICE, O GENTILES, WITH HIS PEOPLE." And again, "PRAISE THE LORD ALL YOU GENTILES, AND LET ALL THE PEOPLES PRAISE HIM." And again Isaiah says, "THERE SHALL COME THE ROOT OF JESSE, AND HE WHO ARISES TO RULE OVER THE GENTILES, IN HIM SHALL THE GENTILES HOPE." (Rom 15:7-12 [All caps are OT quotations])
In fulfillment of the above passage, did "His people" (Jews who believed) with whom the "Gentiles" were to "rejoice" (Rom 15:10), include their little children? Certainly if only Gentile children were excluded, it would have been most contrary to the principles of equality and acceptance of Paul's previous chapter (14).
Gentile Inclusion or Infant Exclusion?
Perhaps it will be evident how very different the baptist understanding is than what is above. As I see it, the consistent emphasis of the apostles is that Gentiles have been grafted in and have become true heirs of the (originally Jewish) covenant promises and realities. This was very clearly predicted, though the religious and cultural pride of the Jews conflicted with the gospel fulfillment of this. In other words, just as the fulness of the promises belong to the Jews and their children, so too, the same promises predict the inclusion of the Gentiles and their children. Paul's refrain throughout the epistles was Gentiles are equal heirs with Jews. For the apostles, the demonstrable proof of this was that uncircumcised (unproselytized) Gentiles (as households) received the Spirit just as the Jews did.(17) In their words, God "cleansing their hearts" gave them "the circumcision of Christ" which is "of the heart, by the Spirit" and is the "true circumcision" (Acts 15:6, Col 2:11, Rom 2:29, Phi 3:2). We also know that these Gentiles were baptized, and in every explicit case of their baptism, it was of their households. Every Gentile baptism expressly recorded, is a household baptism!(18)
On the other hand, the baptistic view sees that the real emphasis of the New Testament is not so much Gentile inclusion as it is infant exclusion. "The age of fulness," in their view, demands that only individuals who are capable of self-conscious faith are permitted to be heirs of these promises. As Jewett says, "...the temporal, earthly, typical elements of the old dispensation were dropped from the great house of salvation as scaffolding from the finished edifice."(19) Among the ruins of the scaffolding lies the fruit of the womb, which was so jealously included in past eras. To the consistent baptist interpreter, a theology of the New Testament yields the conclusion that both Jews and Gentiles no longer should consider their children members of the covenant. At the heart of the baptist contention is the noble desire to protect future generations from a carnal and unbelieving church membership composed of only "children of the flesh." The reasoning behind this, however, proceeds in a most unBiblical fashion: by excluding the infant seed, can we protect the church from carnality. On the contrary, to the Biblical mind, it is by the inclusion of the children in the covenant promises, which usher forth in parental and congregational responsibilities, that the blessings of God's promised Word come about. Thus, it is my conviction that this view is not only out of sorts with the thematic emphasis of the New Testament, but also with the heartbeat of the entire Biblical revelation of redemption.
John's Baptism and Jesus' Baptism
Someone might ask, Aren't we supposed to "follow Jesus in baptism"?--Wasn't He baptized as an adult? Actually, we are never told in the Bible that we must imitate Christ in His baptism. In fact, we are told that Christ's baptism was "to fulfill (plãroõ) all righteousness" (Mat 3:15). I hope that no one else will claim that their baptism was for this purpose. Especially since Matthew uses "fulfill"(plãroõ)16 times. Except for the two cases in which it means "fill" in a quantitative sense (13:48 "full" & 23:32 "fill"), every other usage refers to "fulfilled" Scripure.(20) I will argue that in this case (3:15) it also refers to fulfilled Scripture, though it is an entire range of Scriptural typology, not a specific text.
The baptism of John was for a temporary and specific purpose (Luk 1:17, Act 13:35). John was a Levitical priest, as was his father (Luk 1:5). He was six months older than Jesus, and Jesus was baptized at the age of thirty (Luk 1:36, 3:23). This means that John began baptizing when he was thirty years old, the appointed age for a Levite to serve as a priest and perform ceremonial ritual washings (Num 4:3). The prophetic purpose of John was to "go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, 'To turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children,' and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luk 1:17, Mal 4:6). John tells us very specifically his purpose for the baptisms: "in order that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water" (Joh 1:31). How would John know who the Christ (the anointed one) was? "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' (Joh 1:33).
Thus, John's baptism of Jesus involved a cleansing ritual for the purpose of recognizing the one anointed of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament typology, Levitical priests underwent a ritual washing for their cleansing ("sprinkle purifying water on them," Num 8:7). These ceremonial instructions for priests also speak over and over of "the priest who is anointed [with oil] and ordained to serve as priest" (Lev 16:32, Exo 28:41, Num 3:3, etc.). The writer of Hebrews tells us, "For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever" (Heb 7:28). This means that the fulfillment of the oath of God's Messianic promise comes in the "appointing" of a perfect high priest, who is of course, Christ (Heb 8:5). The term "appoint" (kathistemi) is the same term used of ordaining elders (Tit 1:5) and deacons (Act 6:3), as well as the Levitical High priest, "every high priest taken from among men is ordained . . ." (Heb 5:1 KJV).
Christ was thus ordained and "designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek" (Heb 5:10). But when was He "designated" as this?--When He received, not the symbolic anointing oil of the Spirit, but the reality of the Spirit, at His baptism. Christ said of Himself, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel . . ." (Luk 4:18). When was anointed? At His baptism, when the Spirit descended upon Him (Luk 3:21). Hence, the final and transitional Levitical priest, John, ordained the greater Melchizedekian High priest, Jesus. Suffice it to say, then, the adult baptism of a Christian believer is not "following the Lord in believer's baptism."
Because John's baptism was "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord," Israel was to receive their anointed Messiah and were accountable to be identified with the Messianic kingdom of God (Luk 1:17, Mat 3:2). However, many in that generation rejected Christ and His kingdom. "But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God's purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John" (Luk 7:30). For this they would receive the most severe judgment (Mat 23:36-39), ultimately the complete destruction of their Christless Judaism and its chief symbol, Jerusalem and its temple (70 Anno Domini). "Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!" (Mat 23:38).
Hence, John's baptism was temporary ("John was completing his course," Act 13:25). However, Jesus promises His presence in the baptism mandate "to the end of the age" (Mat 28:19). This implies what the Westminster Confession says, that Christian baptism is, "by Christ's own appointment, to be continued in His Church until the end of the world" (28.1). Therefore, the baptism of the Great Commission is different than that of John's in purpose (preparation for Messiah), audience (for that generation of Israel), and even the duration (overlapping the time of Christ's earthly ministry). Jesus' Commission to baptize, then, follows through with John's teaching: "[John said] I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
Baptism and Circumcision
It is just because of the initial teaching that Jesus' baptism relates to the Spirit, that we are led to see that in meaning and signification, the perpetual ordinance of baptism is very similar to circumcision. It is a symbol of a covenant promise and is an entrance sign. Baptism and circumcision symbolize the same reality, the work of the Spirit, essentially, spiritual regeneration.
Let me try to convince the reader of this in three points: (1) Circumcision represented the work of the Holy Spirit which is the circumcision of the heart. Stephen drew upon a very deep stream of the Biblical waters when he said to his persecutors, "You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did" (Acts 7:51). This teaching regarding the meaning of circumcision is very evident in many Old Testament passages (Lev 26:41, Jer 9:26, Eze 44:7, 44:9, Deu 10:16, 30:6, Jer 4:4). The very promise of the new covenant included this metaphor, "the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants" (Deu 30:6). Paul, who held the cloaks of those who stoned Stephen, learned this too (perhaps from Stephen). It permeates virtually all of his epistles (Rom 2:29, 4:11, 1Co 7:19, Gal 5:6, 6:15, Eph 2:11-12, Phi 3:3, Col 2:11-12, 3:11). The reality behind physical circumcision is circumcision "which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter" (Rom 2:29).
(2) Baptism represents the work of the Spirit in regeneration, also. The very first words we read about baptism in the New Testament say this. John said, "I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit" (Mar 1:8). Peter connects baptism with "the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). He says of Cornelius' household, "Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?" (Acts 10:47). Paul alludes to the image of baptism in Titus 3:5 when he says "He saved us . . . by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit."
(3) The reality represented in circumcision and baptism is explicitly connected in Colossians 2:11-12. In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
Paul is speaking of the true meaning of both circumcision and baptism when he speaks of a "circumcision made without hands" and a "baptism in which you were also raised up with Him through faith." A person who has been heart-circumcised has been Spirit-baptized and a person who has been Spirit-baptized has been heart-circumcised. What can this teach if not that these two ritual acts signify the same reality? Other doctrinal passages affirm this meaning for baptism. Romans 6:3-4 teaches that by work of regeneration those "baptized into Christ Jesus" "have become united with Him in the likeness of His death" and "His resurrection." Galatians 3:27 tells us that those "baptized into Christ have clothed [themselves] with Christ." First Corinthians 12:13 likewise indicates the work of the Spirit is the reality behind baptism, "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." These passages affirm that baptism symbolizes the work of God's Spirit in our spiritual union with Christ which takes place through regeneration. Peter teaches us that baptism is the antitype of the salvation of the household of Noah, as well as the symbol of a clean conscience. "There is also an antitype (antitypos) which now saves us--baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1Pe 3:21 NKJ).
So then, baptism is surely a sign, an antitype (1Pe 3:21). Baptism is most certainly representative of the work of the Spirit (Col 2:11-12, Mar 1:8, Acts 10:47, Tit 3:5). It is commissioned to be a ritual which identifies one with the truine God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Mat 28:19-20, Acts 10:48). Its meaning is unmistakably the Spirit's work in cleansing us and thereby uniting us with Christ and His body (Rom 6:3, Gal 3:27, Col 2:11-12, 1Co 12:13).
The argument against this is stated in this way, regeneration (not baptism) is the antitype to circumcision. David Kingdon says:
These New Testament texts demonstrate that circumcision in the Old Testament is the type of which inward circumcision, i.e., regeneration, is the antitype. If this is so, how can it be argued that baptism is equivalent in meaning to circumcision, when circumcision is clearly related to regeneration? No NT proof can be found for the contention that baptism and circumcision are identical, and we are therefore precluded from inferring that baptism should be applied to infants. If we put circumcision in parallel with baptism are we not ignoring the fulfillment of circumcision in regeneration?(21)
Having argued the case as it is (above), the answer to this is obvious. The meaning of baptism is regeneration, even as it is with circumcision. The very first word on the subject says this: "I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit" (Mar 1:8). To pose such a question as how "baptism is equivalent in meaning to circumcision, when circumcision is clearly related to regeneration?" -- is just to set oneself up for unmistakable refutation. Circumcision means regeneration; baptism means regeneration. Baptism is the new covenant replacement of circumcision as an entrance sign.
Are circumcision and baptism identical? It is rather obvious that the rituals of circumcision and baptism are very different, though they both have reference to purification. The reality or meaning of these rituals is essentially the same--the work of the Spirit in regeneration. The recipients of circumcision were primarily the households of ethnic Israel (males only, in the nature of the case). The recipients of baptism, in the New Testament, are believing households within every nation. Surely it need not be repeated that going through the ritual of either is not the same as possessing the reality signified by the rite. This is true for adults, no less than little children. Baptism is a (visible) sign and seal of entrance into the visible covenant community, a community not of one nation (Israel), but made from all nations. Therefore, it functionally replaces the Abrahamic rite of circumcision, and is thus its sacramental equivalent.

Ritual ---- Cut Flesh (Circumcision) / Cleanse flesh (Baptism)
Reality ---- circumcision of Christ circumcise the heart cut off "flesh" (Circumcision) baptism by the Spirit cleanse the heart wash conscience (Baptism)
Recipients ----- Jewish nation All in the household (males) (Circumcision) Every nation All in the household (males and females) (Baptism)
The temptation for baptists is to assume that since the reality signified in baptism is only true in regenerate people, that it is only proper to give this sign to those who demonstrate their regeneration. Reasoning this way, one entirely overlooks what has just been Biblically proven, that circumcision fundamentally signifies the same reality as baptism.(22) As Calvin says, "For what will they bring forward to impugn infant baptism that may not be turned back against circumcision?"(23) Please let no one say that salvation was different in the Old Testament. The Abrahamic covenant is Paul's proof-text for justification by faith alone (Rom 4:3, Gen 15:6)! Moreover, Abraham's circumcision was the sign and seal of his justification by faith. He "received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised" (Rom 4:11). But Isaac, who possessed the same Spirit-wrought reality, was circumcised as an infant. So then, the sign of an internal spiritual reality can be received when one is conscious of the reality, like Abraham. Or, it can be received before one is conscious of the reality, like Isaac, and every other believing Jew. Baptism can be received with understanding (in the case of an adult) or it can be "remembered" with understanding (as in the case of an infant). In both cases, it represents the inward work of the Spirit which we hope to be true in both. Baptists often argue that it is more certainly true of the "believer" (professing faith) than the infant (even when raised in the discipline and admonition of the Lord). This is a very unconvincing point to me, having grown up around baptistic churches which regularly practice repeat-baptism two or three times on their own members.
It is not that I don't sympathize with the noble motives at the heart of the baptist contention for a pure church. Baptists wish to protect the church from an unregenerate and ungodly membership. But it is difficult to see how putting out the most trusting, malleable, and teachable group (little children) "purifies" God's people. It has been my experience that the adults are the ones who cause all the trouble. To purify the church, shouldn't we rather exercise Biblical discipline on "professing" adults who are unrepentant, according to Christ's own command (Mat 18:15-20)?
As it stands even today, baptism, in fact, replaces circumcision. Baptism is the entrance sign, and before the new covenant, it wasn't the entrance sign, circumcision was. Therefore, it is really unreasonable to deny that baptism is the functional equivalent of circumcision.
Objections to this line of reasoning should be considered. On what basis can the position that baptism is the functional equivalent of circumcision be denied?
(1) Can the view above be refuted on the basis of the meaning of circumcision? Was circumcision intended to mean something other than circumcision of the heart by the Spirit? I believe that the above material is compelling as an answer. When one insists that the meaning of circumcision is “carnal” or “not spiritual,” etc., so as to prove that the reality signified in circumcision and baptism is radically different, the above Biblical information has not been adequately considered. Those who object to the parallelism of circumcision and baptism seem to ignore the pervasive Biblical teaching regarding the circumcision of the heart and its equation with the work of God's Spirit (Rom 2:29, 4:11, 1Co 7:19, Gal 5:6, 6:15, Eph 2:11-12, Phi 3:3, Col 2:11-12, 3:11, above et al). It will be important for us to get our view of circumcision from what Scripture teaches it to be. It's meaning is expressly stated to be spiritual ("a seal of the righteousness of faith," Rom 4:12).
(2) Perhaps someone will object that circumcision was a nationalistic sign (i.e., whereas baptism is a non-national, spiritual sign). (Observe that this objection must first overcome the above material on the essential spiritual meaning of circumcision, regardless of its national overtones.) This objection rests on the false presumption that Israel was a mere nation and that the multi-ethnic church of the new covenant is not a "nation" in any sense. Both of these assumptions are false. Those who were shut out of the "commonwealth of Israel" were "separate from Christ" (Eph 2:12); hence the nation was no mere ethnic political entity. To Israel belonged “the promises” (Rom 9:4). Secondly, the new covenant people of God are "a holy nation" (1Pe 2:9). In fact, Jesus teaches us that "the kingdom of God will be taken away from you [collective unbelieving Israel], and be given to a nation [multi-ethnic spiritual Israel] producing the fruit of it" (Mat 21:43).
Even from the Biblical account of who was circumcised, we find a compelling response to the above ojections. We are told that "In the very same day Abraham was circumcised, and Ishmael his son" (Gen 17:26). The thirteen-year old Ishmael was certainly not in the nation Israel, yet he was circumcised because of God's very command on the very day that Abraham himself was circumcised. It would be strikingly inconsistent if the very same ritual act, administered the very same day was "a seal of the righteousness of the faith" (Rom 4:12) for Abraham, but for teenageIshmael it was a mere sign of being a physical, albeit virtually bastardly, descendant of Abraham. Imagine what Abraham would have said in performing circumcision on Ishmael or other non-Israelite offspring. Considering what circumcision meant to Abraham, could he have said or thought anything like what follows? .

Child of my flesh and not of any spiritual relation, this rite of circumcision is performed on you only and exclusively and arbitrarily because you are my physical offspring. Do not mistake that there is any spiritual significance to this act whatsoever; it calleth you not to any spiritual obligation; it calleth you not to any recognition of the covenantally faithful God who only relates to man by way of covenant; think not that by it you are being called upon to believe in a God who circumcises hearts or saves the fallen sons of Adam from natural heart-uncircumcision; nay, nay, it calleth you not to keep the way of the Lord; think not that I am declaring that you are the Lord's; you are my mere flesh and blood, without a relation to the God who has granted me justification by faith.(24)
Further, we find that the New Testament indicates that circumcision was given to proselytes from other nations on the basis of their reception of the Biblical faith (in the pre-new covenant form). Therefore, not only the express teaching about the meaning of circumcision, but even considering who was circumcised is a clear refutation of the nationalistic objection.
(3) Another important objection which has become fairly popular is what I will call the Judaizer Objection. It is an objection to the sacramental equivalence of circumcision and baptism and is stated succinctly by Carl B. Hoch, Jr., a Baptist professor, in his interesting book, All Things New: The Significance of Newness for Biblical Theology. In a discussion of Colossians 2:11, he says, "That baptism has not replaced circumcision can be easily seen from the fact that Paul did not attempt to refute the Judaizers' demand that Gentiles be circumcised with the statement, 'They have no need of circumcision; they have been baptized! You all know that baptism has replaced circumcision as the sign of the covenant!" (p. 290). This objection is convincing to many, and has begun to appear in recent infant baptism debates, as well (e.g., Sproul-MacArthur).
What can be said in response to this argument? First, let us observe that this is an argument (a) based on something believed about the Judaizers, that they required circumcision for salvation. And (b) that if (hypothetically), the apostles, especially Paul, had responded to the Judaizers by saying, "You all know that baptism has replaced circumcision as the sign of the covenant!"--that such an answer would have been taking as a sufficient refutation. This argument is an argument from silence. That is, it rests upon the silence of what isn't stated in the text. This is not to dismiss the value of such reasoning. Such considerations are very valuable. But for it to be compelling, it must take into consideration, as much as possible, th known beliefs of those involved and what actually was said, touching upon the issues disputed.
Let us consider this as fully as possible. In Acts 15:1-2 we read,
And some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." 2 And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue.
The Judaizers, in insisting on Gentile circumcision, presumed that circumcision as a God-authorized covenant sign (Gen 17) was not ritually replaceable or salvifically negotiable. (Remember that this "custom of Moses" was not exclusive adult circumcision; it was of infant males, if any were involved.) The answer that was stated to the Judaizers was that these Gentiles had received, not merely a symbol and sign of cleansing their uncleanness, but the reality. Consider carefully the words of Peter to the Council, "And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith" (15:8-9). That baptism signified the Holy Spirit's work is clear from the episode of Cornelius' household baptism (10:48), as recalled by Peter (consider carefully):

And he shall speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household. ' 15 "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, just as He did upon us at the beginning. 16 "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.' 17 "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?" 18 And when they heard this, they quieted down, and glorified God, saying, "Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life."
Peter had said, "Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?" (10:47) Notice the emphasis on "the same gift" and "the Gentiles also" and "just as we did." In the fullest consideration, the apostles refuted the Judaizers with a twofold argument. First, the Gentiles possess what we Jews possess, even apart from the external sign. Therefore, the sign is unnecessary, for receiving what is of more infinitely more value, the reality.
Second, the apostolic apologetic takes into consideration prophetic fulfillment which comes to pass in the new covenant. James speaks to this point,
Simeon [Peter] has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name. 15 "And with this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written, 16 'AFTER THESE THINGS I will return, AND I WILL REBUILD THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID WHICH HAS FALLEN, AND I WILL REBUILD ITS RUINS, AND I WILL RESTORE IT, 17 IN ORDER THAT THE REST OF MANKIND MAY SEEK THE LORD, AND ALL THE GENTILES WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME.
This is just to say that in the new covenant era, the Gentiles, apart from becoming ritual Jews, will be part of the "tabernacle of David" or the true temple of God, the people of God. Now, the Gentiles, remaining Gentiles in terms of ceremony, will "rejoice with His people" (Rom 15:10). Because, after all, Abraham is "father of all who believe without being circumcised [Gentiles like Cornelius' household], that righteousness might be reckoned to them, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised [that is Jews who believe]" (Rom 4:11-12).
Upon further consideration, then, the apostles, especially Peter in this case, actually did teach that these converts were not in need of circumcision precisely because they were truly baptized. Their "Gentile uncleanness" had been removed by the reality, not the ritual, a reality portrayed in circumcision and baptism. The reason why it was not stated in the words Dr. Hoch did--"You all know that baptism has replaced circumcision as the sign of the covenant"--is because to simply assert this would have been begging the question. The great "dispute" was whether the Spirit-baptized Gentiles, who had what circumcision signified, needed to have ritual circumcision too. This was evaluated in light of (first) the demonstrable way that God provided the Spirit to Gentile households, like Cornelius'. Such cases demonstrated that the ritual of circumcision, in fact, was unnecessary to receive the fulness of salvation and the observable manifestations of the Holy Spirit. And secondly, the apostles appealed to the Scriptural promises of the inclusion of the Gentiles. The Messianic new covenant, with its expansion beyond Jerusalem to the remotest part of the earth (Act 1:8), predicted the inclusion of the uncircumcised Gentiles. (Remember Paul's argument that Abraham is the father of the circumcized and the uncircumcized Rom 4:11-12).
The Judaizers did not see that "circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit" (Rom 2:29) and that the reality symbolized is more important than the external sign (Gal 5:6, 5:16, 1Co 7:19). They were not objecting to Gentiles' baptism (and that of even households as in the case of Cornelius), but to their mere baptism. They wanted them to be cleansed and cut, even as the believing Jews were both circumcised and had received the new sign of Messiah. After Peter's rather vivid object lesson (of eating that which is "unclean" 10:15), and the decisive Acts 15 Council, the apostles (especially Paul) argued that the converted Gentiles were not in need of flesh circumcision because they had what is truly greater, a circumcised heart.
Therefore, baptism was, in its essential qualities the ritual replacement of circumcision for the newly reached Gentiles. But, it is not an exact replacement of circumcision for the Jew, in that transitional time. With the temple standing and the expansion of the gospel in Jerusalem and Judea, the apostolic work to reach the Jews necessarily involved the continuity, for a time at least, of old covenant forms. They worshiped in the temple (Act 2:4). Paul even took a ceremonial vow in which a sacrifice was offered (21:26). But all of this was before the demonstrable refutation of Christless, Messiah-rejecting, Judaism by God's hand of judgment in the year, Anno Domini 70. During this transitional generation, it was certainly permissible for Jews and proselytes to be both circumcised and baptized (Act 16:3). The heart of the apostle is evident, "And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews" (1Co 9:20). On the other hand, the Judaizers' view was both a misunderstanding of the nature and requirements of salvation in the Old Testament, and the transitional era in the new covenant. It was a challenge to the heart of the Great Commission gospel for baptized Gentiles to be required to be circumcised. Why? Because what circumcision did for the Jew and those who became ritual Jews (proselytes), baptism now does for all nations.
Therefore, regarding the Judaistic objection, I believe that (a) above is true, but that (b) is false. It is true that (a) the Judaizers required circumcision for salvation; but it is not the case that if the apostles had said, "You all know that baptism has replaced circumcision as the sign of the covenant!"--(b) such an answer would have been taking as a refutation by the Judaizers. For an argument from silence to be compelling, it must take into consideration what actually was said and the known beliefs of those involved. What I have argued thus far is that this objection does not adequately consider what was said in response to the Judaizers. Namely, the Gentiles have the reality that circumcision and baptism signified.
Moreover, Judaizer objection does not adequately account for their known beliefs.
Given the known beliefs of the Judaizers, if the situation had really been (as the baptist must argue) that in the new covenant there was no covenant sign of inclusion for children whatsoever, it is a much louder silence that the Judaizers did not protest even more! If they protested against Gentile adults (and children) not having to be circumcised (a sign of inclusion for the whole household), how much more would they have protested that their own children were no longer considered in covenant with God!
If we stand in the sandals of the First Century Jewish (and proselyte) followers of Jesus, it is incredible (truly unbelievable) to think that a believer's little children would not to be considered part of the people of God. Imagine the shock of Crispus, the synagogue leader (Acts 18:8), who believes (on Friday, let's say) that his children are in covenant with God, part of the people of God, and members of the synagogue of God. Then, on the Sabbath after Paul preaches, he finds out that--in the fulfillment of the promised seed of the women, through the covenant promises, in the fullness of time, in the era of great David's greater Son, in the Messianic kingdom and the light to the Gentiles and the glory of His people Israel--now his little children have no part in the people of God!
Or imagine the new proselyte family who have recently undergone the painful passage to covenant membership only to discover upon hearing of Messiah that in the new covenant his children are afforded less of a place than they were in the shadows of Judaism. From the original audience's mindset, this view of new covenant, Messianic-synagogue membership would be more than disappointing. It would be inconceivable. And more so when the First Century Palestinian religious practices are considered. It appears from history that Jewish proselytism involved the practice of proselyte household baptism. After a family had committed to be Jewish proselytes, the males of the household were circumcised and the final act which "cleansed" their Gentile uncleanness was a ritual washing, a baptism of the entire household, including infants. Thus, if such a practice were common, the baptist case requies a double discontinuity of both the inclusion of their children in the covenant membership and their inclusion in the common practice of Gentile (proselyte) baptism. To add, imagine the overwhelming status of inferiority that Gentiles would have felt if the Jews' children were considered members of the Christian synagogue (Jam 2:2) and part of the "household of God," while Gentile children had neither sign nor membership.
It should be admitted that both Dr. Hoch's argument and my argument are from silence. The reader must weigh which argument is most convincing based on the mind-set of the original audience. What must be decisive, though, is their mindset, not our biases. Which silence is loudest, given what we know? With the clearly stated objections of the Judaizers, their known beliefs, and what we know of their frame of mind, if the apostolic practice and teaching excluded the infant children of Jews (and Gentiles), it is very remarkable that no hint of this discussion arises in the pages of the New Testament.
Entrance Sign of the Covenant, Church, and Kingdom
To settle the question of whether the infant children of believers are to receive baptism, we must ask whether they are Biblically designated as part of what baptism signifies membership in. Very simply, baptism signifies that one has entered the (1) covenant, (2) the church, and (3) the kingdom. We must ask then whether the children of believers are considered as part of the covenant, church, and kingdom, in the Bible.
(1) The children of believers are surely promised to be part of the covenant generally and the new covenant specifically. When God revealed the covenant to Abraham He said in Genesis 17:7, "And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you." Lest someone say--"But that was the Old Testament"--Paul interprets this in the New Testament when he teaches that the promise was made "certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, 'a father of many nations have I made you')" (Rom 4:16-17).
The new covenant certainly includes believers' children in its promises, in the very same language of the Abrahamic covenant and the Mosaic covenant. How can baptists credibly maintain that the new covenant does not include the children of believers in light of the numerous explicit statements to the contrary?(25) The Covenant Lord promises to "circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants" (Deu 30:6); that "the offspring of Israel also shall [not] cease from being a nation before Me forever" (Jer 31:36-37); that the covenant is "for the good of their children after them" (Jer 32:39); that He will not "reject the descendants of Jacob" (Jer 32:26); that "their children will see it and be glad, their heart will rejoice in the LORD . . . they with their children will live and come back (Zec 10:6-9); that His Spirit shall not depart "from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring's offspring" (Isa 59:21); that "He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers" (Mal 4:6); that His mercy continues to be "upon generation after generation toward those who fear him" (Luk 2:50)--because "the promise is for you and your children" (Acts 2:39)!
(2) The children of believers are addressed as part of the (visible) church, just as baptized adults are. Paul begins his letter to the Colossians, "To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae" (v 2). Later he addresses "wives" (3:18), "husbands" (3:19), "children" (3:20), "fathers" (3:21), "slaves" (3:22), and "masters" (4:1). In the same way he addresses "the saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus" (Eph 1:1). In chapter five he addresses "wives" (5:22), "husbands" (5:25), "children" (6:1), "fathers" (6:4), "slaves" (6:5), and "masters" (6:9). It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Paul addressed the children of believers as part of "the saints and faithful brethren" (Col 1:2).
Someone might respond, "But how can (unregenerate) little children be "saints"--"called ones"? To this I ask, "How unregenerate adults be saints?" In the same epistles addressed to the "church" of "saints," there are repeated calls for self-examination. "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves" (2Co 13:5).(26) In the epistles, church members collectively are addressed without stipulating, "Oh, and some of you are probably lost." Or, in more theologically precise language we might say visible church members are addressed. Visible saints are addressed.
Just as visible members are addressed in the epistles, Paul teaches that the child of even one believer is not "unclean," but "saintly"--"holy." In dealing with the problem of mixed marriages (1Co 7:12-16), he writes, "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy" (1Co 7:14). When this Greek term for "holy" (hagios) is used of people, its regular and consistent rendering is "saint."(27)
“The argument in a nutshell is simply this: God established His Church in the days of Abraham and put children into it. They must remain there until He puts them out. He has nowhere put them out. They are still then members of His Church and as such entitled to its ordinances. Among these ordinances is baptism, which standing in similar place in the New Dispensation to circumcision in the Old, is like it to be given to children.”– Benjamin B. Warfield, The Polemics of Infant Baptism (in his Works, 9:408)

In the baptism debate, baptists have been virtually inoculated against the use of this verse (1Co 7:14). The usual vaccine is that it means a believer's child is legitimate, rather than illegitimate. The "legitimacy" position fails to be convincing, at least to me, for several reasons. Two unbelievers can have both a "legitimate" marriage and "legitimate" children. Paul's statement, however, is that "otherwise" (epei ara)--an emphatic contrast (i.e., if one of the parents was not a believer)--"your children would be unclean (akatharta), but now they are holy" (1Co 7:14). .

It is even more unconvincing when baptists appeal to rabbinic, Jewish sources regarding the "marriage covenant" to prove that the children of believers do not occupy the place of covenant members (as in the Old Testament and Judaism).(28) Or, when it is argued that "Paul is here employing the concept of ritual holiness found in the Old Testament," though the children are not covenantally set apart.(29) These appeals are made as though the Jews saw Gentile children from a "legitimate" marriage as being "clean" or "holy" (!). It is extremely unlikely that this former Rabbi, Paul here teaches a "ritual holiness" of the Old Testament or Judaism, but that such a child is not covenantally set apart. On the contrary, the New Testament makes it clear that Jews considered Gentile households as unclean (akatharta), regardless of the legitimacy of the Gentile marriage. Peter had to be instructed both by a vision and by the demonstrable salvation of Cornelius' household that "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy" (Act 10:15). "God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean (akatharta)" (Act 10:28).
Looking at the entire subject of the status of children, if we stand in the sandals of the First Century Jewish (and proselyte) followers of Jesus, it is incredible (truly unbelievable) to think that a believer's little children would not to be considered part of the people of God. Imagine the shock of Crispus, the synagogue leader (Acts 18:8), who believes (on Friday, let's say) that his children are in covenant with God, part of the people of God, and members of the synagogue of God. Then, on the Sabbath after Paul preaches, he finds out that--in the fulfillment of the promised seed of the women, through the covenant promises, in the fullness of time, in the era of great David's greater Son, in the Messianic kingdom and the light to the Gentiles and the glory of His people Israel--now his little children have no part in the people of God!
Or imagine the new proselyte family who have recently undergone the painful passage to covenant membership only to discover upon hearing of Messiah that in the new covenant his children are afforded less of a place than they were in the shadows of Judaism. From the original audience's mindset, this view of new covenant, Messianic-synagogue membership would be more than disappointing. It would be inconceivable. And more so when the First Century Palestinian religious practices are considered. Everyone acquainted with the Jewish synagogue would have been familiar with the practice of proselyte household baptism.(30) After a family had committed to be Jewish proselytes, the males of the household were circumcised and the final act which "cleansed" their Gentile uncleanness was a ritual washing, a baptism of the entire household, including infants.(31)
(3) The children of believers are included in the kingdom of God. One baptist defender states, "Therefore, based on Jeremiah 31:31-34 and its description of regeneration in the new covenant participants, and in light of Christ's definition of the entrance requirements to the kingdom (Joh 3:5, 6) and church (Mat 16:16-18), I cannot say that children of believers are 'in' the new covenant or church or kingdom or 'God's people' until they show, by outward confession, evidence of regeneration."(32) Would it not be a more reliable method to develop one's conclusions regarding the status of children fundamentally from passages which actually address the status of children? The above writer has built his case on inferences (though he denies that paedobaptists are to use inferences for their position). He is inferring that the children of believers are to be put out from texts which do not even address the status of children. He selects part of Jeremiah's prophecy--notice that the other eight passages in Jeremiah where children are included have been omitted, and only one line down, in verses 31:36-37, the "offspring" are emphatically included, twice. Jesus' dialogue with an adult Pharisee (in John 3) and the adult apostolic confession of Peter (Mat 16:16) are pressed into service. Please consider that the method used here will yield unwarranted conclusions, to say the least. For example, "If anyone will not work, neither let him eat" (2Th 3:10)--Are little children to work for their food, too?
Rather, let us discover what the text says about children in the places where the status of children is actually addressed! First consider the explicit inclusion of children in Christ's kingdom, made explicit by the King Himself.
And they were bringing even their babies (brephos) to Him so that He might touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. 16 But Jesus called for them, saying, "Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such (toiouton) as these. 17 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all."(33) (Luke 18:15-17)
The single most important grammatical detail is the "such" (toiouton)--Does it include the children or not? Is Jesus saying the kingdom belongs to those who have childlike attributes, or is He saying that it belongs to these children and others with these childlike attributes? Paul K. Jewett (baptistic), in one of the most scholarly and convincing defenses of the baptistic position, deals fairly with the "such" in this passage. He writes, The Greek (toiouton) by no means implies the exclusion, but rather the inclusion, of the ones mentioned. When the Jews cried out against Paul (Acts 22:22), 'Away with such a one (toiouton)!' they could hardly have meant, Away with someone like this man Paul. Rather, they meant, Away with Paul and everyone of his kind! By the same rule, when Jesus bade little children to come to him, 'for such is the kingdom of heaven,' he most likely meant, 'The kingdom belongs to these children and all others who are like them in that they have a childlike faith.' The truth that the kingdom belongs to the childlike should not prejudice the affirmation that it also belongs to children."(34) It might be added that when Christ says, "whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all" (Luk 18:17)--He is saying that children do, in fact, "receive the kingdom."
It was the Covenant Lord Himself who set a (literal, not a figurative) child before His disciples and said, And whoever receives one such (toiouto) child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea. ... See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you, that their angels in heaven continually behold the face of My Father who is in heaven. (Mat 18:2-10)
Is not Jesus in a position to know who is in His church and kingdom and who is protected by the holy angels? One and the same Covenant Lord put the infant seed of believers in His visible church in Abraham's day. They have not been put out--they have not been put out by God, that is.
The Internal and Legal Dimensions of the Covenant
Some of the confusion of who is "in" the covenant, church, and kingdom is alleviated when we properly define the covenant and distinguish between its internal and external or legal dimensions. A covenant proper is the treaty words or stipulations of God's relationship to His people--"the words of the covenant" (dabar berith) (Exo 3:28, Deu 29:1, Isa 59:21, Jer 11:3, 11:8). When one speaks of being "in" the covenant, a non-Biblical phrase is introduced. While Scripture speaks of entering "into the covenant" (Deu 29:12, 2Ki 23:3, 2Ch 15:12, Jer 34:10), the Bible (in the original or English translations) does not speak of a person or group being "in the covenant." The reason for this is that the covenant, technically speaking, is the treaty words. The point here is not to be super-scrupulous. There's nothing wrong with using "in the covenant" as shorthand to mean "under the stipulations of the covenant." Often however, a subtle shift takes place when one speaks of being "in the new covenant." It goes like this, the new covenant promises the regenerating work of the Spirit, so how can someone be "in the new covenant" and not be regenerate? This question presupposes a view of the covenant which limits the terms of the covenant to only one of its chief components, while ignoring the other stipulations.
It is not only those who are Reformed paedobaptists who believe that the new covenant involves stipulations beyond the promise of regeneration. Dr. Carl B. Hoch, Jr., a Baptist professor, in his interesting book, All Things New: The Significance of Newness for Biblical Theology, argues that "it would appear reasonable to assume that the new covenant is also a suzerainty-vassal covenant [like the Mosaic covenant in structure and form]. One would expect the new covenant to have a preamble, historical prologue, stipulations, and cursings and blessings formulae like the old covenant."(35) The original codification of the covenant with Moses included such stipulations. But to discover all the information on the new covenant, one must gather it from an inductive study of the redemptive plan in both testaments. As Dr. Hoch says, "Unlike the old covenant, you cannot point to a passage in the New Testament and say, 'This is the new covenant in its entirety.' This requires a hypothetical reconstruction of the new covenant form along the lines of the reconstruction of the old covenant form from the Old Testament materials."(36)
What is the relationship between the church, covenant, and kingdom?
The covenant is the words defining God's relationship to His people.
The church is the people under the obligations of covenant (words).
And the kingdom is the reign and domain of Christ with, through, and over the visible church.
The New Testament indicates that the visible church, which is the covenant community, consists of both regenerate and unregenerate members. This is hardly controversial. But beyond this, many passages indicate that the new covenant has stipulations for judgment--"The Lord will judge his people" (Heb 10:30, Mat 16:19, 1Co 11:29-30, 34, 1Pe 4:17). Such stipulations for judgment are directed to visible covenant community members--who are yet unregenerate. Also, many passages teach that the kingdom (in its present administration) includes both regenerate and unregenerate individuals (Mat 8:12, 13:24-31, 41, 47-50, 21:43, 25:1-13, Luk 13:28, Rev 11:15). Jesus says this in rather plain language: in the judgment, "The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire; in that place therhall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Mat 13:41-42).
What can be said to our baptistic brethren who have a covenant community (the church) with both regenerate and unregenerate; but a covenant membership of only regenerate individuals (?)--a kingdom rule of Christ over wheat and tares, but wheat alone are addressed in the new covenant stipulations (?)--an ecclesiology (study of the church) which admits visible and invisible realities, but a (covenant) theology which admits only regenerate membership? Such a view is incoherent, as well as unable to account for all the Biblical information about the covenant, church, and kingdom.
Now if the new covenant prophecies include "the offspring"--and if their restatements and quotations in the New Testament also expressly say the promise is "for you and your children"--and if the apostolic writers address believers' children as part of the saints and church--and if Jesus own explicit and direct statements grammatically and exegetically include children in His kingdom--On what grounds may we deny them the entrance sign to the visible, covenant community of God's people?
Covenant Responsibilities: Family Worship
When the first Gentile households were given the sign of covenant membership, they, just like Abraham, were commanded to bring their children "up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Eph 6:4). An elder in the church, as well as the spiritually mature person, is one who "manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity" (1Ti 3:4). A ritual act, even though it be ordained of God, is of no use if the spiritual reality is not foundational to the sign. What is the spiritual reality behind the sign of entrance into the covenant? For Abraham, the Lord says, "For I have chosen him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice; in order that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him" (Gen 18:19). Yes, this is the Old Testament--but oh how practical it is this very day! We must heed that ancient command, "You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up" (Deu 6:7). Do you command your children to keep the way of the Lord? Do you teach them diligently to love the Lord their God (Deu 6:4)? Without the reality of leading one's home to Christ, in Christ, and for Christ, the water of baptism is worse than useless, it is condemnatory.

“. . . Infant baptism does not relieve parents or guardians, as the case may be, of that solemn responsibility to instruct, warn, exhort, direct and protect the infant members of the Christian church committed to their care. . . .The encouragement derived from a divine promise must never be divorced from the discharge of the obligations involved. It is only in the atmosphere of obligation discharged, in a word, in the atmosphere of obedience to divine commandments, that faith in the divine promise can live and grow. Faith divorced from obedience is mockery and presumption.”–John Murray, Why We Baptize Infants (in The Presbyterian Guardian, Vol. 5 1938).

The Scripture declares that, "All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will worship before Thee" (Psa 22:27). Joshua nobly said, "As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (24:15). A baptized child should be a child being brought up in the discipline and admonition of the Lord, whose parents vow, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
Every person that grows up in a Christian home should be taught God's Word from their earliest times. Just like Timothy, each Christian child should be exhorted to "continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them; and that from childhood (brephos) you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2Ti 3:14-15).
I surely pray that regarding family worship, baptists, as well as those who baptize their children, will take this practice to heart and home. However, I must point out the radical inconsistency of teaching a noncovenant member, nonchurch member, nonkingdom member, nonChristian, to praise, confess, follow, and pray to Christ as their Savior! In other words, in reality the children of sincere believers, seeking to obey Ephesians 6:4, are treated and required to act as visible members of the church. It makes perfect sense to educate them as Christians, to think the thoughts of God, to confess the holy faith, to walk with Christ all the days of their life--but this only makes sense if they are counted as part of God's people. It is contrary to nature and Scripture for a believer to treat one's little children as though they are excluded from Christ as unbelieving pagans. The sign which demonstrates that they are part of God's visible people is baptism.
Certainly, one could seek to carry out family worship in a way consistent with the baptist view of the children of believers, except that it would not be family worship, it would be family evangelism, exclusively so. On the other hand, the paedobaptist has family worship which is inclusive of evangelism in the deepest sense, it is discipleship from daylight til dawn. Just as worship in the congregation has an evangelistic component, calling all to self-examination (those within and without of the visible church). Family worship, just as congregational worship, calls the "worshipers" to be sure one has the reality behind the water.

"The close and endearing connection between parents and children affords a strong argument in favour of the church-membership of the infant seed of believers. The voice of nature is lifted up, and pleads most powerfully in behalf of our cause. The thought of severing parents from their offspring, in regard to the most interesting relations in which it has pleased God in his adorable providence to place them, is equally repugnant to Christian feeling, and to natural law. Can it be, my friends, that when the stem is in the church, the branch is out of it? Can it be that when the parent is within the visible kingdom of the Redeemer, his offspring, bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, have no connection with it?" — Samuel Miller, Infant Baptism: Discourse 1 (Presbyterian Board of Publication, from a sermon in 1834])
The Objective and Subjective Dimensions of Baptism
Of course by the children's inclusion into the visible church one should not presume that they are regenerate; and certainly by baptism, regeneration is not to be presumed. (Again) This is true with adults, no less than with children. What baptist would say that because someone was baptized in their church, that they are (somehow by that) regenerated? But many baptists would quickly say or insinuate that the Reformed paedobaptists believe that infant baptism saves the infant (!).
The problem here is that of the relationship of baptism to the life of a Christian. The baptist view sees the significance of baptism as primarily a testimony of one's (past) personal experience of salvation. So the value of an infant's baptism is completely dismissed--since they weren't saved then, and even if they were, it was not a testimony of their experience in salvation. They didn't "decide to follow the Lord in believers' baptism" and stand in the water and tell those enthusiastically on-looking that "well I used to be...but now I'm saved." Of what value could the baptism of a helpless, unreasoning, decision-less, infant be--an infant in need of grace, but utterly unable to even ask for it or make the smallest contribution to salvation? --Perhaps the reader can see now, infant baptism actually affords a very accurate picture of that salvation which is by grace alone. According to the Reformed faith, faith is a response to the prior grace of God, is it not?
On the other hand, the paedobaptist sees baptism in a much more objective relationship to the Christian life. For the professing convert, he certainly must profess; but that's only the beginning. Such a person is to vow to bring all their life in conformity with whom they have vocally and visibly identified, the Triune God. Baptism testifies of that. Baptism testifies of what God has done in His gracious covenant to bring salvation. And to whom is this salvation brought? As a parent, he is to "Believe in the Lord Jesus," trusting God for the blessed result, "and you shall be saved, you and your household" (Act 16:31, 10:14).
In the case of an infant who is baptized and then raised in God-consciousness, with vibrant family discipleship, vital community fellowship, and vigorous public worship--baptism is the simple symbol of that life to be manifested in heart, home, and church. It is to be recalled and invoked by father, mother, brothers, sisters, and pastors, "child you are 'engaged to be the Lords.'"(37) Just as the preachers of the Bible (Old and New Testaments) called for those who were circumcised in flesh to be circumcised of heart; so it is that we are to call those baptized (whether our children or ourselves or others) to live out the realities behind the cleansing emblem.
This means self-examination (2Co 13:5, 1Pe 4:17). It is not those who have the sign of the kingdom that inherit it (regardless of when they received it); it is those who have the King that inherit it! (1Co 6:9-11, Gal 5:21). Paul, in systematically explaining the gospel, called Christians to live out the reality behind their baptisms (Rom 6:3-7). Paul says, "knowing this [our union with Christ's work, which is sacramentalized in baptism] . . . we should no longer be slaves to sin" (Rom 6:6-7).
What is sacramentalized in baptism is that precious spiritual union accomplished through our Savior's unique baptism (Mat 10:38-39). He drank of the cup of the wrath of God for us and was united and completely identified with our sin: "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2Co 5:21). Baptism is a testimony, not so much of the our salvation experience, though we pray this be increasingly so--rather it is a testimony of our Savior's experience. He became vile so that we could be purified. He was contaminated so that we could be washed. He shed drops of blood so that we might feel water. He was cut so that we might only be cleansed. He became sin so that we could be saints. He said "My God, My God why hast thou forsaken Me" so that we might hear, "I will be God to you and your descendants after you."
Objections to Household/Infant Baptism
There are, I am sure, objections in the minds of many. Given the brevity of this study, let me examine what I take to be the central objection.(38) The basic structure of the baptist polemic against paedobaptism is that since we have (1) an explicit basis for "believers' baptism" and (2) since there is no explicit warrant (an example or command) for "infant baptism," and since (3) the new covenant is made with exclusively regenerate individuals (and believers' little children cannot be assumed to be regenerate)--Therefore, the baptistic conclusion is: the children of believers are not to receive the sign of the new covenant until they confess their faith (and thus give evidence of their new covenant membership). I believe that this is the strongest form of the baptist argument. It involves the explicit warrant for "believers' baptism" and it includes the theological basis, the nature of the new covenant.
It is important to observe the structure of the baptistic argument. The baptist assumes (1) that the cases for adult converts to believe and be baptized are sufficient to deal with the case of the children of believers. (2) Though the baptist lacks explicit warrant to put the infants of believers out of the covenant (there is no command or example which demands their exclusion), (3) their exclusion is inferred from what they take to be the nature of the new covenant.
The succinct answer to this central line of objection is (1) to recognize that a million cases of adult converts professing their faith prior to baptism proves nothing with regard to the infants of believers (the question at hand). Paedobaptists heartily concur with the practice of adult profession prior to baptism as is evident in every Reformed creed.(39) Most baptist polemics just hammer away at the examples of adults, as though this settles the case--ironically, the childless eunuch becomes the paradigm for settling the question of children. If every case of baptism was individualistic and of one who professed and was then baptized, such a point might be more forceful for the baptist contention. But quite the contrary, virtually every person who could have conceivably had a household, had it baptized. (2) Explicit warrant on the baptism of believers' children is lacking in both directions. There is no case of an "infant baptism" and neither is there a case of the "believers' baptism" of a Christian's child. (3) The paedobaptist, not the antipaedobaptist, possesses explicit warrant for the inclusion of children in the new covenant (Deu 30:6, Jer 31:36-37), church (Eph 1:1/6:1-4, Col 1:2/3:20, 1Co 7:14), and kingdom (Mat 19:14, Mar 10:14, Luk 18:16). Moreover, we can argue from truly necessary inferences(40)--drawing upon both the continuity of the covenant promise (God to your children after you) and covenant people, as well as the examples of baptism (Cornelius' household, Lydia's household, the Jailer's household, Crispus' household, and Stephanus' household). Let us consider further, however, the two components of this argument.
(1) The explicit warrant objection. "I am not going to believe it until I read in the Bible that an infant was baptized." I actually heard a pastor say this once. Of course, it has already been admitted that there is no statement of "infant baptism" in just those terms. I believe that the Bible is perfectly clear that the children of believers are included in the new covenant promises, in the church, and in the kingdom of Christ. This is taught in the passages which actually address and refer to children.(41) Again, it may be true that there is no express statement about "infant baptism," but this objection cannot be raised about "household baptism." When the familiar response comes, that every individual in those households must have professed faith (contrary to a precise grammatical analysis of Act 16:34 & 18:8), the real trouble is why the term "household" (oikos) shows up in the baptism examples at all!(42) If baptism is only for individual believers, why would Luke and Paul present a pattern which could so easily mislead readers to think that baptism was for families, as other signs of covenant had been? Remember, the original audience was Jews, proselytes, and God-fearing Gentiles whose ideas about households, covenants, signs, and family unity come from the Old Testament and Judaism. What teaching in the New Testament would correct their "faulty" (?) belief that baptism would be for households, as in all the previous administrations of covenant signs and pledges (sacrifices, meals, circumcision, and Passover)? Surely, the examples of household baptism would not correct them!
It is true that there is no explicit statement about infant baptism, but there is even less about infant exclusion. And if the overwhelming and prevailing belief system of the original audience expected the inclusion of their children, the burden of proof rests with those who deny that believer's children are to be included.
For those who need to read something about "infants," please observe that very little is said about "infants" per se in the New Testament. The Authorized Version only records one New Testament reference to "infants" and it teaches that they are included in the kingdom of God. "And they brought unto him also infants (brephos), that he would touch them . . . for of such is the kingdom of God" (Luk 18:15-16). The NASV includes only two New Testament references to "infants." One regards the "infants" of the Jews who were killed under Pharaoh (Acts 7:19). The other is supportive of the place of little children in Christ's kingdom. Jesus quoted Psalm 8:3 in reference to the "children who were crying out in the temple and saying, 'Hosanna to the Son of David,' . . . 'Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babes thou hast prepared praise for thyself.'" So to require the Bible to say "infant baptism" not only overlooks the way the Bible uses its own terms, but also the foundational themes of the inclusion of believers' children in the covenant, church, and kingdom.
It seems most persuasive to baptists, almost without any other consideration, that since the Scriptures contain no explicit statements about "infant baptism," that such a practice is, to use T.E. Watson's words, "an abomination of untold enormity."(43) However, the lack of explicit statements alone should not be persuasive, for at least two compelling reasons: (a) other doctrines are embraced and practiced (by baptists and others) without explicit commands or examples. And (b) there are many practices explicit in the Bible which are not embraced by either baptists or other evangelicals.
(a) For example, one could list practices permitted in many evangelical contexts without an explicit New Testament command or example:the baptism of believing children; the partaking of communion by women; the observance of Sunday as a day of rest; the recognition of Christmas and Easter as religious holidays; the use of musical instruments in New Testament worship; the church (corporation) owning property. (b) On the other hand, there are many examples of practices which have an explicit New Testament command or example, but are not practiced in many evangelical congregations: the washing of feet, the baptism of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands; the practice of charismatic/miraculous gifts to confirm the gift of the Holy Spirit; the immediate baptism of converts (even in the middle of the night); the miraculous use of physical objects for healing (the handkerchief); speaking in tongues/other miraculous gifts; the use of wine (containing alcohol) in communion (1Co 11:21); greeting each other with a kiss. Now it is not my purpose to approve or disapprove of the continuing practice of any of these, but only to point out that explicit example or command is not enough to settle doctrinal belief or church practice.
In this case--when deciding between covenantal infant baptism or baptizing the children of believers only after they grow up and profess their faith--both baptists and paedobaptists should admit that there is no explicit Biblical material on this subject in either direction. From the baptist point of view, we do not have an explicit case of the child of a believer growing up, professing faith, and being baptized. This is a point that is not appreciated or even acknowledged from the baptist side. On the other hand, from the infant baptism point of view (as it has already been acknowledged), we do not have an example of a Christian family who has a child born into the home which is then baptized as an infant. How should we then proceed to resolve the dispute with our baptistic brethren?
The baptist proceeds on the assumption that the child of a believer is to be subject to the same rule as an adult convert from paganism. So they will point to the Biblical examples and commands directed to new convert adults. On the other hand, the covenantal infant baptism position maintains that the children of believers are to come under the household rule, like in the previous administrations of the covenant (i.e., circumcision).
It is crucial to realize that when the baptist settles the case by appealing to the examples of adult converts, by doing so, they are denying that the children of believers in the Old Testament and the children of believers in the New Testament occupy the same place. They are denying that the children of believers are covenantally set apart in the visible people of God. They are denying that the responsibilities of Christian parents to "teach them diligently" (Deu 6:4) and "to keep the way of the LORD" (Gen 18:19) are their covenantal responsibilities.
It is undisputed that in the Old Testament these duties were part of the covenant. These saints were to keep the covenant, in light of the promise that "the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children's children, to those who keep His covenant" (Psa 103:17-18, Exo 19:5). Keeping covenant is simply a single term for the relationship of faith and works that the Bible presents in both testaments. Faith is the horse and works are the cart. In the Old Testament, Abraham was justified by faith and that justification was demonstrated by obedience (Jam 2:22-24). When Abraham "believed God" (Rom 4:2), he believed God's covenant promise (Gen 15:5). When the Israelites in the wilderness "broke the covenant" they did so because they did not believe--"You neither believed Him nor listened to His voice" (Deu 9:23).
Please hear me clearly, I am not saying here that baptists forsake these responsibilities. Rather, if they are self-conscious and consistent with their espoused belief, they must realize that their rationale and purpose is no longer the same as their Old Testament counterparts. One baptist writer makes the contrast quite practical. "Israelite children therefore were educated for their lives as God's covenant people." However, he writes regarding the children of Christians, "God's people are in all the world and their children need to be educated to live in the world . . . If children are to be educated to live in this world they will have to be educated as those around them are." And who will their educators be? "Nothing is clearer than that the entire education of Old Testament children was entrusted to their parents." However, for Christians he writes, "Education for life in the world means education with and by the world."(44) This is a very consistent working out of baptistic principles. However, I pray, sincerely, that my baptistic brethren might be inconsistent, here.
I would submit, however, that Deuteronomy 6:4-7 and Ephesians 6:1-4 are parallel passages. The New Testament does not treat the children of believers as though they are in a different relationship with God or their parents than they were in the Old Testament. Parents have the same duties to "bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Eph 6:4, Deu 6:7). We certainly have more light in that task, more knowledge of the gospel. But our children must keep the same covenant law, "Honor your father and mother," just the same (Eph 6:2; Exo 20:12, Deu 5:16). And obedience brings the same blessing since it is "the first commandment with a promise, that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth" (Eph 6:2-3, Exo 20:12, Deu 5:16). (Please observe that "the land" is now much larger, "the world" Rom 4:13.) Christian parents must still say, "As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (Jos 24:15). Reviewing what the New Testament says about believers' children, I cannot see any validity to the conclusion that believers' children occupy a different standing in the two testaments. God still "keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments" (OT: Deu 7:9) because "His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him" (NT: Luk 1:50). There is no difference in the OT or NT language about the children of believers. In fact, just to be literalistic about it, we still have at least 36,700 years of the covenant inclusion of children to go!(45)

The Place of Believers' Children is the Same in Both Testaments

Old Testament
New Testament
Duties of Parents
Old Testament- "Command his children to keep the way of the LORD" (Gen 18:19)
New Testament - "Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Eph 6:4)
Duties of Children
Old Testament - "Honor your father and mother" (Exo 20:12)
New Testament - "Obey your parents" (Eph 6:2)
Old Testament- Live long in the land" (Exo 20:12)
New Testament - "Live long on the earth" (Eph 6:3)
Children Must Obey the Word
Old Testament - "Your son and your grandson might fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes " (Deu 6:2)
New Testament - "Continue in the things [Scripture] you have learned" from infancy (2Ti 3:14-15)
Household Leadership
Old Testament - "As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (Jos 24:15)
New Testament - The jailer "rejoiced greatly, with all his household" (Act 16:34, ASV)
Promise of the Spirit
Old Testament- "I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring" (Isa 44:3)
New Testament - "For the promise [of the Spirit] is to you and your children" (Act 2:39)
Old Testament - "To a thousandth generation" with those who love Him and keep His commandments" (Deu 7:9)
New Testament - "His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him" (Luk 1:50)
"All the men of [Abraham's] household...were circumcised" (Gen 17:27)
The jailer"was baptized, he and all his household" (16:33) (Cornelius', Lydia's, Crispus', Stephanus' households, too)

(2) The second objection which must be considered is the new covenant objection. This objection has to do with insisting that the nature and recipients of the covenant have changed such that now, every member of the new covenant is regenerate. This would mean that until the children of believers demonstrate their regeneration, they should not be baptized. The focus of this objection is Jeremiah's prophecy of the new covenant (31:31-34), cited earlier.(46) A critic of covenantal infant baptism says it this way, ". . . the true contrast between the Old and the New Covenants is that now under the New Covenant, all who are covenant members experience these peculiar blessings [i.e., law written on the heart, know God, forgiveness, etc.] . . . the new covenant is made only with the elect, with those who have experienced these blessings" [emphases his].(47)
While this objection seems persuasive, several facts of Biblical teaching militate against it. (a) The prophecies of the new covenant themselves explicitly and repeatedly include promises of the inclusion of the children of believers. The language of their inclusion is precisely the same as before.
"Older Covenant" Language and New Covenant Language Compared in the following sets of Scripture:
"To be God to you and to your descendants after you" Gen 17:7
"[By gospel faith] the promise may be certain to all the descendants [Jews & Gentiles]" Rom 4:16

"I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly" Gen 17:2
"[When they return] I will multiply the descendants of David My servant" Jeremiah 33:22-26

"I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands" Gen 26:3
"I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring, and My blessing on your descendants" (Isa 44:3) & "For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was ... through the righteousness of faith" Rom 4:13
"That it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may live long on the land which the LORD your God is giving you for all time" Deu 4:40
"I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good, and for the good of their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them..." Jeremiah 32:39-40
"Your descendants would have been [under Mosaic covenant] like the sand, and your offspring like its grains; Their name would never be cut off or destroyed from My presence" Isa 48:19
"But this is the covenant which I will make . . .If this fixed order departs from before Me, declares the LORD, "Then the offspring of Israel also shall cease From being a nation before Me forever. . . If this fixed order departs . . . then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel" Jeremiah 31:36-37
In fact, almost every statement of these type of prophecies repeats the "to you and your seed" principle. (Please refer to the several pages of references above which abundantly demonstrate this.) Because of this, it seems more than a little implausible that the original audience of these prophecies, or their New Testament counterparts, could have understood from promises including their children, that their children actually were excluded.
It is important to see that the new covenant objection rests on the inference of the exclusion of children from the covenant because of the alleged nature of the covenant. What could overturn such an inference, if not dozens of verses which explicitly include the children of those to whom the promise comes? It is not only implausible, but illogical that the first century audience of Peter's Pentecost address would have reasoned in this way: (1) "The promise is for you and your children" (Act 2:39); (2) the promise is of the foretold pouring out of the Spirit "on your offspring" (Isa 44:3); though they are explicitly mentioned in the promise, I should infer that my children are excluded from this promise. (?) This reasoning is both fallacious and contrary to the explicit teaching on whom the new covenant promises include.
(b) The future of the covenant likewise indicates that the children of believers are considered part of the covenant. Paul identifies ethnic Israel's re-grafting into the covenant in this way: "This is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins" (Rom 11:27). This Old Testament quotation is from Isaiah 59:21. It says, And as for Me, this is My covenant with them, says the LORD: "My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring's offspring, "says the LORD," from now and forever."

Whenever and however the fulfillment of this passage comes, surely these Jews will not think that their children are excluded from the new covenant!
(c)The apostolic teaching about the historical unfolding of the covenant expressly indicates that those in covenant with God can be "broken off." Surely regenerate people (if all in the new covenant are regenerate) cannot be "broken off." Paul teaches that in God's covenantal dealings "some of the branches were broken off, and you [Gentiles], being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partakers with them of the rich root of the olive tree . . . Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you" (Rom 11:15-21).
(d) If every individual under the stipulations of the new covenant is regenerate, we should not expect to find a passage which says that a person set apart in that covenant relationship is apostate. Yet, this is exactly what we have in Scripture--
Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay." and again, "The Lord will judge His people." (Heb 10:28-30)
Only ten verses before, the writer cites the new covenant passage (Jer 31:33f). In fact, the entire book of Hebrews echoes this theme. Some individuals who have been "sanctified" [hagiazo, set apart or "consecrated"] in "His people" [the visible people of God] may commit apostasy. Of course, these individuals were not regenerate. In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the term hagiazo often referred to the consecration of the visible people of God (Exo 19:10, 14, in the LXX; cf. Heb 9:13-20). The imagery of Hebrews 10:29 is drawn directly from this ceremonial typology. Those who have been consecrated by the blood of the covenant in the visible church (Heb 9:19-20) may "have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away"(Heb 6:4-6). They did not "lose their salvation"--but they did become covenant breakers. To do this they must have been visible covenant members. Those who "shrink back to destruction" (Heb 10:39), who "come short of the grace of God" (12:15), who are "like Esau" (12:16-17), who "neglect so great a salvation" (2:3), who "have tasted of the heavenly gift" "and then have fallen away" (6:4-6), who "harden [their] hearts" and "fall through following the same example of disobedience" (4:7, 11), and who "throw away [their] confidence" (10:35)--are new covenant breakers.
Jesus says it in this way with the vine/branch covenant metaphor, "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away. . . If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned" (Joh 15:2, 6). Those in view here are unregenerate covenant members, who turn out to be covenant breakers.
(e) Finally, asserting that only regenerate people are "in the new covenant" really amounts to saying that the older covenant administrations were with the visible people of God, but the new covenant is only with the invisible people of God. It is true that the fulfillment of the new covenant is seen only in regenerate people who walk by faith (something also true in the Old Testament by the way(48)). However, it does not follow that the new covenant administration is to only the invisible people of God (only the regenerate). Indeed, how could signs and seals and laws and offices and discipline, etc. be only given to the elect? In fact, when Jesus inaugurated the covenant with these words, "Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins"--Judas, called a disciple, drank of that cup and became the arch covenant breaker (Mat 26:27b-28). It follows necessarily, does it not, that those who partake of such visible signs of the new covenant are visible members of the new covenant?
A Few More Questions

  • Do you believe that infant baptism saves the child? No. Neither does adult baptism save the adult. The relationship of baptism and salvation is that of a ring to a marriage. The ring is part of the reality of the marriage. But no one treats a ring, in and of itself, as the marriage.

  • Why baptize children if they do not understand the meaning of baptism? Baptism is like circumcision. For adults it is entered with understanding, for infants it is "remembered" with understanding. In principle, one cannot object that a sign of an inward reality be given to an infant, because it is so clear in the case of circumcision. Is it meaningful that my little children are citizens of the United States? Though they do not comprehend it now, they have all the rights and protections of a citizen, though under age. As they grow, they will learn their duties, along with all the rights and privileges that their citizenship afforded them, while they were yet unaware of it. So it is with baptism.

  • What about baptized children who grow up and forsake the faith? Apostasy is a reality for children baptized as infants, for believers'-baptized children, and even for adult converts who were baptized with the most ardent professions of their faith. It is the Biblical function of church discipline (Mat 18:15-20), not baptism, which purifies church membership of those who willfully and unrepentantly deny the faith.

  • What if a baptized child has a dramatic conversion later, are they to be baptized again? A Christian (child or adult) should only be baptized once, since baptism signifies a reality that only takes place once, regeneration. We do not always know when regeneration takes place, especially in the case of children growing up in the discipline and admonition of the Lord (Eph 6:4). The reason many re-baptisms take place is (wrongly, I believe) because baptism is viewed as meaningful only if the one baptized has a certain prior experience (i.e., baptism is a testimony to my conversion experience). In fact, according to official statistics, one prominent baptist denomination reported that over 40% of its baptisms one year were for "rededication."(49) I have argued (above) that this is a misunderstanding of baptism.

  • Shouldn't baptism be done by immersion? If we compare baptism with the Lord's Supper, whether the Lord's Supper is actually a "supper" (deipnon, an evening meal), is not essential to its purpose, meaning, or sacramental quality. In the same way, the mode of baptism, whether by immersion, pouring, or sprinkling, is surely less important than its meaning and recipients. Reformed Christians do not usually require a particular mode to be necessary for baptism. However, Biblical baptisms or "washings" in the Tabernacle were performed by sprinkling (baptismois in Heb 9:11, see verses 9:13, 19, 22). And, the baptism of the Spirit is spoken of as the Holy Spirit "poured out upon the Gentiles" (Acts 10:45-47).

  • If you believe in infant baptism, by the same principles aren't you bound to believe in infant communion? Not necessarily. After all, the Passover meal was simply not edible to infants any way. The question of paedocommunion involves (a) whether infants or toddlers, in fact, partook of the Passover meal, (b) if not, were there spiritual qualifications, such as asking and understanding, "What does this mean?" (Exo 12:26), and (c) thus, whether the recipients of Christ's passover in the new covenant are qualified differently.(50) The Princeton Theologian B. B. Warfield said, "The ordinances of the Church belong to the members of it; but each in its own appointed time. The initiatory ordinance belongs to the members on becoming members, other ordinances become their right as the appointed seasons for enjoying them roll around."(51)

Appendix A: A Historical Fiction Letter


Julius, my fellow God-seeker,
Grace and peace to you. I have written to you briefly to tell you of my experience over the last two years since you have moved to Rome as part of Caesar's household. Dear friend, as you know, it started when I looked at the stars one night. Do not the heavens declare the glory of a creator God who made the heavens and the earth? The philosophers of Greece and Rome today grope for a unifying Logos amidst all the flux. But we know that there is one God, who is Elohim, Adonai, Yahweh.
After you departed, I struggled for several months about whether to become a Jew. I saw my now dear friend Crispus, the chief elder, proselytize several God-fearing families, like Gaius' family. I knew them before they were proselytes. They are now synagogue members. For enduring the solemn, but painful act of circumcision and the public ritual washing, they are now permitted to enter the blessed fellowship of the synagogue on the Sabbath to hear the Law and the Prophets.
Maybe it was fear of ridicule from my Roman friends that kept me from being circumcised and becoming a Jew. Or maybe it was the very thought of the act itself. But, for a few years I have hesitated. Deep in my soul I believed that the God who made heaven and earth and all peoples, nations, tribes, and civilizations would surely have not designed that salvation be in and to one nation--and a peculiar people at that.
Then one day a former Pharisee came into Corinth preaching Messiah Jesus of Nazareth. As this apostle of Jesus spoke, I knew that he was telling of the promised Christ, the one to be anointed of the Father. As I had studied the Scriptures, I began to see that this was how God was purposing to bless all the nations of the earth through Abraham and his seed, the seed of the first woman. This Messiah would be more than a ruler and a king. He would somehow be a suffering Servant. This former Pharisee, Paul, explained all of this and so much more to many God-fearers and to the Jews and proselytes in the synagogue. The elders of the synagogue, however, rejected Messiah Jesus. So after pleading for his kinsmen, Paul, the defender of the Way, shook the dust of his feet and began proclaiming the good news to the Gentiles, even my own household.
Paul was asked to stay with our old friend Titius Justus, the devout God-fearer, still a Gentile even--And this Pharisee did! That's because "what God has cleansed, let no man call unclean." It's amazing how God worked through this. With Justus' house being next to the synagogue, over a few months, Crispus, the synagogue leader reasoned with Paul. Now he believes! For a year and a half now many Jews and Gentiles have became followers of Messiah Jesus.
Paul taught us that the purposes of the temple, the sacrifices, the priests, and all the clean and unclean laws were temporary. They were shadows of the good things to come. They illustrated the truths of the gospel of Messiah. Everything that we objected to about becoming a Jew had a telos, a consummated purpose, which was fulfilled in the coming of Messiah. He told us of the counsel at Jerusalem with James and Peter and how the whole church now understood that a Gentile does not have to follow these ceremonial laws to become a follower of Jesus.
Before I knew Messiah, I believed in the Scriptures and the God of the Jews with all my heart. But I was hesitant to adopt all the customs of the Jews and have my whole household circumcised. I could see that their ceremonies were of God, but somehow they seemed different than the law that is written on our hearts: to love God and to love neighbor. I also challenged Crispus many times that the customs of the strictest sect of Jews, the Pharisees, were not of the Scriptures, but of their own making. Paul has shown us that they have substituted the laws of men for that of the only true God. Judaism is not necessarily the faith of father Abraham. Not all Israel are truly Israel. I could tell you so much more of this dear Julius.
We have learned that we all stand as unclean in Adam, but we can be washed by the last Adam, Messiah Jesus of Nazareth. By the gospel of Messiah we can know true forgiveness of sins and acceptance with both God and men. I had seen Crispus baptize proselyte families declaring, "You were once unclean, but now you are clean." Now Crispus, the baptizer, has been baptized with his family by Paul the messenger of Jesus. When Crispus was washed, I knew that Jesus was not just a Messiah for the Jews. As the Scripture says, He came to baptize many nations. Before, I was considered unclean, though devout in fearing God. My children were considered unclean, unconsecrated, and excluded from the commonwealth of Israel. But now, just like Crispus' children, my children are part of God's covenant and have the sign of Messiah. He is not only the King of the Jews, but King of every people.
We have become heirs according to the promises made to Abraham. Paul has taught us that whoever believes in Christ, from any nation, is a child of Abraham. Now I stand like Abraham, I was washed with water which was a sign and seal of the righteousness of faith which I had while unbaptized--because I had believed and had known a washing of my heart a long time before I went to the river. I have known, not the circumcision of the Pharisees, but the circumcision of Christ. It was this to which Moses and all the Prophets testified. My children, though Gentiles, are like Isaac who received from birth the gracious symbol. They have been washed and they will know all their lives that they have been set apart for Messiah and in the name of the true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are not unclean, now they are holy, just as the children of circumcision have been. In the same way that the devout Jews had been such an example of good deeds to family and of gentle care for children, now I must command my children after me to keep the way of Messiah Jesus. I read the Scriptures just as Crispus and know that the mercy of the Lord is to a thousand generations of those who fear Him. I can trust the promise of Jehovah that my youngest, named for you, will one day proclaim in the assembly his own heart washing.
Beloved Julius, seek out those in Rome who speak of Messiah. Now the blessing of God the Father, the Spirit, and the love of Messiah Jesus be upon you and your household.
Your Fellow God-seeker--no, God-Finder!


Appendix B: A Brief Exposition of Jeremiah 31:31-34
Perhaps the reader is persuaded that there are serious Biblical difficulties with believing that the new covenant is only made with regenerate individuals, rather than with the visible Church collective, still--What does Jeremiah's (31:31-37) prophecy mean?
31 "Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,
In the historical context, Jeremiah consoles Israel that after the judgment of Babylon, his people will be brought back to the land (30:3) and experience blessings (31:23). The people are to be encouraged in the unfailing promise, that though they have played the harlot (3:1), the Covenant Lord still promises that the "offspring of Israel" will not be utterly cast off (31:36-37): "'At that time,' declares the LORD, 'I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.'" (31:1). God will make, literally "cut" (karath), a new covenant. Perhaps this vivid word-picture prefigures the eternal blood of the covenant (Heb 13:20). Christ institutes the Lord's Supper, referring to this covenant in the words of the LXX, kainos diatheke ("New covenant"): "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood" (Luk 22:20, 1Co 11:25).
Jeremiah uses the term "covenant" (berith) to refer to "the words of this covenant" (11:2) and the judgments of treaty violation, "I brought on them all the words of this covenant" (11:8, 34:18). The apostolic instruction on the new covenant confirms that judgments are associated with it: "For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly" (1Co 11:29; cf. Heb 10:29-30). As befitting the context, however, in chapter 31, Jeremiah focuses on the consolational aspects, and thus only on the blessing stipulations.
32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them, "declares the LORD.
The "new covenant" will be different ("not like") than the covenant administration of the wilderness generation who broke the covenant. It is evident here that Jeremiah uses prophetic language which is general and hyperbolic, since Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb, etc. did not break the covenant. The contrast is clear, however, generally the wilderness generation broke the covenant. And very literally, the covenant words were broken on the tablets of stone (Exo 32:19). The contrast is full of Biblical imagery; the words of this covenant will be written on the heart. The law will not be on stones which Moses can break, it will be on the hearts of the people, which God can turn from stone to flesh (Eze 11:19, 36:26). There is no warrant to absolutize this picture, since the law is written on the heart and in the heart before the new covenant (Deu 30:14, Rom 2:14-15) and it is propositionally written as "Law" after the new covenant (Rom 13:9). The language of the prophet simply implies a spirituality in the essence of this promise, which is consonant with the manifest role of the Holy Spirit in the Church (post-Pentecost). This manifestation of the Holy Spirit chiefly testifies of Christ. Jesus said, "the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me (Joh 15:26). Moreover, this seems to be how the apostle Paul understood the implications of the new covenant (2Co 3:2-18): "But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away" (2Co 3:15-16).
Jeremiah has many strong allusions or even citations of Deuteronomy, which emphasize heart (leb and lebab) renewal. Moses even said the word of the law is "in your mouth and in your heart" (Deu 30:14; e.g., 30:1, 2, 6, 10, 14, 17, 32:46).
And the LORD your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. 6 "Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live. (Deu 30:5-6)

Parallel to this, Jeremiah calls Israel to "Circumcise yourselves to the LORD and remove the foreskins of your heart" (4:4). Jeremiah warns of judgment to those "who are circumcised and yet uncircumcised" (9:25). In fact, judgment is imminent because, "all the house of Israel are uncircumcised of heart" (9:26). This strain of Old Testament thought is evident throughout the apostolic defense of Gentiles having the reality which is signified by circumcision (Acts 15:6, Col 2:11, Rom 2:29, Phi 3:2). Those Judaizers who rejected Jesus were like those spoken of in Jeremiah. The circumision of heart motif is a pervasive refrain in Jeremiah and Deuteronomy, the two heralds of both judgment on covenant breakers and the consolation of the new covenant's arrival. .
33 "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Jeremiah's content of the promise is the same. God condescends to be a God to His people. "I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (31:33). "My people" is defined in the context as all "the families of Israel"--"they shall be My people" (31:1); "Thy people, the remnant of Israel . . . the woman with child and she who is in labor with child, together; a great company, they shall return here (31:7-8); "My people shall be satisfied with My goodness" . . ."Rachel" is comforted because "your children shall return to their own territory" (31:14-17). Since "My people" (la am) are explicitly inclusive of the children in context (31:1, 7-8, 14-17) and the "offspring of Israel" (31:36 & 57), there is no reason to believe the central covenant promise has been altered to exclude them. Hence, the central covenant promise ( "I will be their God, and they shall be My people," 31:33) is the very same as was given to Abraham and Moses, to be "God to you and your descendants" (Gen 17:7, Exo 29:45, Deu 7:9, Deu 29:13, 30:6, 1Ch 16:15, Psa 103:17, 105:8).
34 "And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
In the days preceding the destruction of Jerusalem, those who handled the law "did not know Me" (2:7-8). But now, "they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them." This phrase "least to the greatest" is found two other times in Jeremiah. In 6:13, "For from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for gain, and from the prophet even to the priest everyone deals falsely." And in 8:8-10, in a precise parallel, he accuses "the lying pen of the scribes" and "wise men" who "have rejected the word of the LORD" "because from the least even to the greatest everyone is greedy for gain; from the prophet even to the priest everyone practices deceit." It would appear, then, that the use of this phrase has special reference to those who "teach" and it seems to signify the breadth and depth of religious leadership, "prophet even to the priest." This section parallels the earlier promise, that after returning to the land and to the Lord,

"Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding. 16 And it shall be in those days when you are multiplied and increased in the land," declares the LORD, "they shall say no more, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD.' And it shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they miss it, nor shall it be made again. (3:15-16).


Therefore, the knowledge of the Lord will be present in the leadership and the people and there is a strong implication that the Mosaic forms of mediation (the ark in the holy of holies) will be superseded. What a powerful word, foretelling the new covenant era! Of the most important symbol of the Mosaic forms, the ark of the covenant, it is said "nor shall they remember it, nor shall they miss it, nor shall it be made again" (3:16). They shall not even speak of it: "they shall say no more, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD'" (3:16).
Perhaps there is also allusion to the blessings of the universal knowledge of God, "they shall all know Me" (31:34), similar to the prophetic refrain, "the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD" (Isa 11:9, Hab 2:14, 2Co 4:6).
Such an interpretation (focused on the OT forms of mediation being removed in the era of the universal knowledge of God) seems to be confirmed by what follows, "I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more" (31:34). From the Old Testament perspective this statement must have been striking. Every sacrifice and the spilling of blood was an occasion to remember sin. Now, sin will not be remembered. This implies that the mediation of repetitious animal sacrifices which reminded of the sin and the need for forgiveness will be somehow superceded. From our Anno Domini ("year of our Lord") perspective, we understand very well how those forms of mediation are removed and how God is able to not be reminded of sin by perpetual sacrifices. We look back through the corridor of time and see the cross of our Covenant Lord, the mediator of the new covenant and to His sprinkled blood.
The New Covenant Usage in Hebrews
This is precisely what the infallible interpreter teaches about this passage. In Hebrews 8:6-12, the writer cites Jeremiah 31:31-34 to prove that a better covenant administration was promised than the Mosaic, with its temporary ministry of animal sacrifices and Levitical priesthood (8:1-13). The writer explains that since "He said, 'A new covenant,' He has made the first obsolete" (8:13). This point is very relevant to his audience of Jewish Christians who are being tempted to return to the shadows.
In Hebrews 10:16-17, the writer cites Jeremiah 31:33-34 again and even provides his very intention in quoting this prophecy, because "the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us. . ."(v 15). That is, the preceding argument in Hebrews is confirmed by Jeremiah. Namely, Jeremiah teaches that the "first order" of shadow-like sacrifices, which were intended as temporary, have been replaced by the second (final) order of the "once for all sacrifice" (v 10). It is a contrast of the singular, unrepeatable, sufficient sacrifice of Jesus with the "shadow of the good things to come" (10:1) in the Old Testament repeatable sacrifices. In the shadow sacrifices, "there is a reminder of sins year by year" (10:3) but now "their sins" will not require an annual day of atonement, rather, "their lawless deeds I will remember no more" --quoting Jeremiah's prophecy (Heb 10:17). Whereas the Old Testament sacrifices were a mediated means of receiving forgiveness which required repetition--now the covenant people of God have direct and unmitigated access to forgiveness. The one sacrifice accomplished the job: "For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified" (v 14). Hence, to return to the shadows and the things imposed "until a time of reformation" (9:11) is to forsake the final sacrifice and no longer have "a sacrifice for sins" remaining (10:26). It is to trample under foot, not the servant of the house (Moses) and the sprinkled shadow-blood of bulls and goats (9:13), but the very Son of God and His precious, once-for-all-shed blood which both sanctifies eternally (10:10) and consecrates the visible people of God (10:29-30).
In light of the above, to absolutize the prophetic words like, "they shall all (kol) know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them" is untenable. (In the first place this overlooks Jeremiah's own use of the phrase "least to greatest.") The "New Covenant Objection" really arises from the exegetical error of absolutizing such prophetic language, coupled with an inadequate Biblical theology of covenants. Neither the writer of Hebrews, nor any other New Testament writer interprets Jeremiah to mean that only regenerate individuals are covenanted with. Prophetic language often is hyperbolic and care must be taken when it is read in a quantitatively literal fashion. For example, God called "all the families of the kingdoms of the north...and they will come, and they will set each one his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all its walls round about, and against all the cities of Judah" (Jer 1:15). Read in a quantitatively absolute fashion, this would have been a physical impossibility.(53) As has been adequately demonstrated, this was not Hebrews' purpose in the text cited and is inconsistent with the entire theme and refrain of the book.
Moreover, if the new covenant is so radically different than older administrations of the covenant, why does the New Testament,(54) and especially Hebrews, draw so many strict parallelisms of the Old Testament people and new covenant people of God?--Especially in its calls for perseverance--allegedly, the very area of difference.(55)
Consider these striking parallels, which presuppose a parallel covenant relationship:
"For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable...how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" (Heb 2:2-3).
"'TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS'. . .Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God (3:8, 12).
"Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also . . ." (4:2).
"Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience" (4:11).
If under Moses one rejected the covenant. . . "how much severer punishment. . ." for us (10:28-29).
"See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; 16 that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal" (12:15-16).
"For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven" (12:25).
Excursis on Who is Included in the "Remnant"
Jeremiah is permeated with language regarding "the remnant" (sharith). The remnant refers to the remainder of the people. The term "remnant" (sharith) is sometimes spoken of in neutral and descriptive terms, stating the historical information about "all the remnant of the people" (Jer 41:10, 16). In other passages, the remnant is spoken of in prophetically positive terms (23:3-6, 31:7-8). And in other cases, the remnant designation is spoken of in terms of judgment (11:23, 24:8). In a full Biblical theology, it seems that it is the prophetic (new covenant) "remnant" who receive the fulness of the promises. For example,
Then I Myself shall gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and shall bring them back to their pasture; and they will be fruitful and multiply. 4 "I shall also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing," declares the LORD. 5 "Behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "When I shall raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. 6 "In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, 'The LORD our righteousness.'" (Jer 23:3-6)

Of the 66 occurances of the Hebrew term for "remnant" (sharith), more than one-third are in Jeremiah. Many others are in similar new covenant passages in the prophets. These passages regard both the physical remnant who returned to the land following exile (Hag 1:12, 14, 2:2, Isa 10:22), and their spiritual-prophetic counterpart (Zec 8:6, 11, 12).
The use of Paul's teaching in Romans chapter nine should be addressed at this juncture. Paul says, "In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God's gracious choice" (Rom 11:5, cf. Isa 10:22). His teaching at this point in Romans assures the reader that, though a partial hardening has happened to Israel (i.e., they rejected Christ), there are still believing Jews. This is evidence that the promise has not utterly failed (Rom 9:6). He writes, "For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin" (11:1), just as God kept for Himself, "SEVEN THOUSAND MEN WHO HAVE NOT BOWED THE KNEE TO BAAL" in the days of Elijah (11:4).
Observe what he says though: to his "kinsmen according to the flesh," to "Israelites," "belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises" (9:3-4). Let me repeat this: to the collective Israelites belong "the covenants" (hai diathekai) and "the promises" (hai epangelai). The Israelites, because of the covenant with Abraham, received the covenant promises; but they did not all receive all that the covenant promises. They were included generally and ostensibly in the covenant. Why aren't they all saved then? The covenant included stipulations of blessing (for those with faith) and cursing (for those without the faith of their father Abraham). It is by the operation of grace that one who is included in the covenant promises is granted all that God requires to keep covenant and fully receive its salvific blessings. In terms of the Reformed view of salvation, only the elect ultimately are saved. Abraham is given a promise that God will be God to his descendants, yet Abraham is told in rather conditional language,For I have chosen him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice; in order that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him. (Gen 18:19)
There are covenant responsibilities which provide the regular means of God's grace (e.g., family worship). This was true for Abraham, as well as those who later have the faith of Abraham. According to the earlier sections of Romans, this includes Gentiles who have been grafted in (4:11-17; 11:17). In explaining why some do not receive the salvific blessings through embracing Jesus as Messiah, he says, "They are not all Israel who are descended from Israel" (9:6). Yet the promise has not failed because there is a remnant. "IT IS THE REMNANT THAT WILL BE SAVED" (9:27, quoting Isa 10:22). Later in chapter eleven Paul indicates a more overwhelming reason to believe that his word to the Jews has not failed: "For if their rejection be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?" (11:15). In other words, Paul seems to indicate that there is both a remnant, then and through the ages, and there will be a rather demonstrable acceptance of Christ by the Jews following the "fulness of the Gentiles" "and thus all Israel will be saved" (11:25-26).(56) Please observe who is included in the fulfillment of the covenant promise Paul cites:


Observe the latter section of the original citation--
"This is My covenant with them," says the LORD: " My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring's offspring,"says the LORD," from now and forever." (Isa 59:21)

The "spiritual" or "true" children of Abraham discussion often becomes fuel in the fires of the "covenant children" debate regarding who is "in" the new covenant. The essence of the argument from the baptist view proceeds in this fashion. Only the elect (those who have the faith of Abraham) are included in the promises (illustration: Jacob & Esau). Therefore, (especially in the new covenant) only those that demonstrate their inclusion (by having Abraham's faith) should be counted as covenant members (and receive the sign). Paul K. Jewett (baptistic) argues,

Of course, the sign of this new covenant belongs to the covenantees. But who are they? Those who can say, "We have a Christian for our father," just as the Jews said to Jesus, "We have Abraham for our father" (John 8:33f.)? Not so. The covenantees are not those who are born into the covenant, those whose father and mother have the law "written upon their hearts," but those who themselves have had this experience, having been born again by the Spirit of God. This subjective, inward, existential, experiential, spiritual change is the hall mark of the new covenant.(57)

This argument is stated even more bluntly by "New Covenant" writer, John G. Reisinger. In his influential manuscript Abraham's Four Seeds, he writes, "The real difference between a historic Baptist and a Paedobaptist (those who baptize babies) is not the mode of baptism, but rather 'who is the true heir of God's promise to Abraham and his seed.'"(58) Later he exclaims, "How can a Christian parent claim that his physical children are included in the 'covenant with Abraham' when that covenant never even promised that to Abraham himself!" And, "Paedobaptists actually claim for their physical children through the Abrahamic covenant more than Abraham himself could claim for his physical children in the same covenant."(59)
Jewett's argument on the remnant (pp. 227ff) is subtle, but amounts to what has been answered in the above "New Covenant Objection." Certainly the present exposition of the new covenant does not confirm Jewett's contention that the new covenant rejects the "offspring of Israel." The covenant promise is still, "they shall be My people [inclusive of the children in context]" (31:33; 31:1, 7-8, 14-15, 36-37). I would maintain that it is simple not exegetically demonstrable that the only stipulation of the new covenant is regeneration to all its members. In fact, there is a virtually explicit refutation of that position in Hebrews 10:28-30.
In response, to the more radical "remnant" theology of those who entitle themselves "New Covenant Theologians" (J. G. Reisinger, et al), several other points should be considered. It is true that mere natural descent is insufficient to guarantee the fullest reception of the covenant promised blessings. This being true during the Old Testament, according to Paul, then how does this truth affect the question of the sign of covenant given to believers' children? In the previous eras they received it, though it was still true that all who were authorized by God to receive the sign did not partake of the reality signified. The argument is fatally flawed. It says that since only the truly spiritual seed received the promises, then only the spiritual seed have a right to the sign. But this argument (from Paul's statements about true Israel) is fallacious. Because, it is simply not true nor intended by God's command that only the true "spiritual seed" (the elect) are to receive the sign of the covenant. The sign is a visible sign, for visible members of God's people. It is not enough to prove that only the elect are elected. This is granted. God, who knew about Esau, still commanded the sign of circumcision on him, even though he did not have a circumcised heart. What must be proved if the argument for covenant inclusion, leading to infant baptism is to be dismissed, is not the truth of election--but that only those that are elect are to receive the sign of the covenant. It is certainly impossible to prove this was God's intention in the Old Testament and it is just as impossible in the new covenant.
Consider the case in point further, Esau. Not denying the truth of election, the writer of Hebrews indicates that Esau was a covenant breaker, "See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God. . .that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal" (Heb 12:15-16). Thus, one is still warranted in putting the sign on those of whom we do not have infallible assurance of their election. In fact, this is necessarily the case every time the signs were (and are) administered. All baptism, as Warfield rightly says, "... no one, however rich his manifestation of Christian graces, is baptized on the basis of infallible knowledge of his relation to Christ. All baptism is inevitably administered on the basis, not of knowledge, but of presumption."(60) So long as the candidate meets the initial qualifications of being under the terms of the covenant, the sign is authorized. Just as Isaac was warranted by God's command in putting the sign on both his children, Jacob and Esau, so believers today are warranted in putting the new sign of baptism on their children. The household baptism pattern strongly indicates the continuation of this practice.
The point of Paul in Romans nine is perfectly clear in both testaments: it is not mere physical birth which grants one the reception of either the temporal or salvific blessings of the covenant. This is true in the previous covenant administrations. The Psalmist summarily teaches us that "the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children's children, to those who keep His covenant, and who remember His precepts to do them" (Psa 103:17-18). Hence, it is perfectly clear that using this truth (not by mere physical birth) as an argument cannot prove a change of covenant structure, recipients, or mode.
Further, Paul is not arguing that individually elect persons are all that God has in view now, whereas before, He viewed the nation as sufficient to receive each blessing by mere physical lineage. He says, the Israelites received "the covenants" and "the promises" (Rom 9:4); though they did not all receive its salvific blessings. Elsewhere these people are called covenant breakers (Psa 78:10), Esau being the apostolic example (Rom 9:13, Heb 12:16). In the very passage under discussion, he actually parallels the Jews (whose children were covenant members) collectively in the covenant to Gentiles collectively who were grafted in the covenant (Rom 11:13-27). We can be quite sure, as has been abundantly demonstrated above, that the Jews considered their own children in covenant with God (Jer 31:7-9; Isa 45:25)--not only because this would have been almost inconceivable for a Jew to think otherwise--but because exegetically the remnant included the children of believers .
Let us put to rest every objection arising from the "remnant" theology with the following. Does the "remnant" include the children of believers?
(1) Exegetically, the original reference to "remnant" (those returning to the land after the exile) explicitly included children:

Jeremiah 41:16: ... all the remnant of the people whom he had recovered from Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, after he had struck down Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, that is, the men who were soldiers, the women, the children, and the eunuchs, whom he had brought back from Gibeon.

Jeremiah 43:5-6: . . .the entire remnant of Judah who had returned from all the nations to which they had been driven away, in order to reside in the land of Judah--the men, the women, the children. . .

(2) The very concept of remnant has reference to future generations:

Jeremiah 44:7: 'Now then thus says the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel, "Why are you doing great harm to yourselves, so as to cut off from you man and woman, child and infant, from among Judah, leaving yourselves without remnant . . .

(3) Even more, the spiritual fulfillment of the remnant concept explicitly and even emphatically includes the children of believers.

Jeremiah 23:3: Then I Myself shall gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and shall bring them back to their pasture; and they will be fruitful and multiply.

Jeremiah 31:7-8: For thus says the LORD, "Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob . . . O LORD, save Thy people, the remnant of Israel. ' 8 "Behold, I am bringing them from the north country, and I will gather them from the remote parts of the earth, Among them the blind and the lame, The woman with child and she who is in labor with child, together; A great company, they shall return here.

Jeremiah 32:15-18: "For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land . . . who showest lovingkindness to thousands [of generations], but repayest the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children after them . . ."
Jeremiah 32:37-40: "Behold, I will gather them out of all the lands to which I have driven them in My anger . . . And they shall be My people, and I will be their God; 39 and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good, and for the good of their children after them. 40 "And I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.

Jeremiah 33:22-26: "As the host of heaven cannot be counted, and the sand of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me . . . 26 then I would reject the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, not taking from his descendants rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them."
Ezekiel 37:21-27: "Then say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land. . . David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. 25 "Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children's children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever. 26 "Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. (NKJV)
Isa 45:25-46:3 "In the LORD all the offspring of Israel will be justified, and will glory. . . all the remnant of the house of Israel. . .
In Summary:

In Jeremiah and the New Testament, the prophecy of new covenant is interpreted as follows:
The New Covenant--

Is officially instituted by Christ and He claims that His own blood is the blood of the covenant, the "new covenant in My blood" (Luk 22:20).

Predicts that the shadow-forms of the Mosaic administration will be surpassed.

Anticipates the coming of the Holy Spirit to testify of Christ.

Calls for the heart renewal of God's people and promises the work of the Spirit to bring it about.
Confirms the same promise, "I will be their God, and they shall be My people. . . the offspring of Israel also shall [not] cease from being a nation before Me forever" (Jer 31:33, 36-37).

Promises the knowledge of God to His shepherds and the removal the Mosaic forms of mediation (e.g., the ark of the covenant).

Pictures the universal knowledge of God.

Looks forward to a time when there will not be repeated sacrifices to remind of sin.

Is fulfilled in the remnant who receive the "Redeemer from Zion."


Appendix C: A Few Resources for Further Study

Countless books have been written on baptism. Many are focused on the mode of baptism, sprinkling, pouring, or immersion. Of course, mode is not the focus of this study. In what follows, I will suggest only a handful of books which are very edifying and readable. I believe that on both sides of the question, the books represent some of the best and most accessible studies. It is through searching the Scriptures and reflection on such books that I have formulated my arguments in the present study. If the arguments I have presented are good, know that for the most part they are hardly original, but any errors in them are entirely my own responsibility.

Books which Defend the Baptist Position

Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace, Paul K. Jewett (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 1978).

Children of Abraham, David Kingdon (Carey Pub: Sussex, UK, 1973).

A String of Pearls Unstrung: A Theological Journey Into Believers' Baptism, Fred A. Malone (Founders Press: Cape Coral, FL, 1998).

Should Babies Be Baptized? 3rd Edition, T.E. Watson (Grace Pub: London, 1995).

Books which Defend the Reformed Infant Baptism Position

Christian Baptism, John Murray (Presbyterian & Reformed: Phillipsburg, NJ, 1980).

Children of the Promise, Robert R. Booth (Presbyterian & Reformed: Phillipsburg, NJ, 1995).

To a Thousand Generations: Infant Baptism--Covenant Mercy for the People of God, Douglas Wilson (Canon Press: Moscow, ID, 1996).

The Meaning and Mode of Baptism, Jay E. Adams (Presbyterian & Reformed: Phillipsburg, NJ, 1975).


1. I will contrast the "baptist" position (believer's, professor's, or confessor's baptism) with the "paedobaptist" or infant baptism position (paidion in Greek means "child" or "infant"). I will use the lower case (baptist) rather than the upper case "baptist," since I have in mind the baptismal practice of many denominations, not a particular denomination.
2. Roman Catholicism teaches that baptism by the Roman Church regenerates in and of itself and apart from faith. See the Council of Trent, 5th Session, decrees 4-5, from the year 1546.
3. Preface to Mere Christianity (Macmillan/Barbour & Co.: Westwood, NJ, 1952).
4. T.E. Watson, Should Babies Be Baptized? (Grace Publications: London, 1995), p. 115. For more, see my critical review at http://www.olsusa.com/reformation/baptism.htm.
5. Please note that all Scripture citations will be from the New American Standard Version, unless otherwise noted, and all of the italicized print in Bible texts represents points I am seeking to emphasize.
6. Luke's use of 3000 "souls" (psyche) need not be taken as a generic term for both genders, since he often uses this term to emphasize the spiritual nature of what is happening to the person(s) involved, e.g., 2:27, 2:43, 3:23, 14:22, 15:24.
7. Justin's (A.D. 110-165) reference to this is in the First Apology, chapter 26; however, some historians question whether Justin was right about this.
8. Considering the use of the phrase itself, it is evidently employed to emphasize both genders in Luke-Acts, "male and female" - not adult males and females vs children, Acts 5:14, 8:3, 8:12, 9:2, 22:4.
9. Via email with Harold Smith. His defense of believer's baptism can be found on the Internet at http://fox.nstn.ca/~nstn2705/bapt_q3.html.
10. This last statement is a quote from Mr. Smith and was what prompted my dialogue with him.
11. The "tree of life" prohibition in Genesis 3:22 makes sense when viewed with the other teaching on covenant signs in mind. It fits in the coherent covenant picture; it was a tangible sign and symbol of the promise of life. The fruit was the sacramental means of life (see also Rev 2:7, 22:2, 22:14). See the text box quotes above of Brakel and Berkhof.
12. David Kingdon, Children of Abraham: A Reformed Baptist View of Baptism, the Covenant, and Children (Carey: Sussex, UK, 1973), pp. 34, 35. For more, see my critical review at http://www.olsusa.com/reformation/baptism.htm.
13. David Kingdon, Children of Abraham, p. 34.
14. Fred Malone, A String of Pearls Unstrung: A Theological Journey Into Believers' Baptism (Founders Press: Cape Coral, FL, 1998), p. 7. For more, see my critical review at http://www.olsusa.com/reformation/malone.htm.
15. "Nations" (ethnã) is in the accusative case and is thus, the direct object of the verb. In this verse, the verb, "disciple" (mathãteuõ, in the imperative form), is a transitive verb, since it has an object. I am aware that "them" is masculine in gender and "nations" is neuter. This usage is called the ad sensum use (according to the general sense). See for example, Mat 25:32, "all the nations (ethnã, neut.) will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them (autos, masc.) from one another."
16. I have tried to paint this picture more vividly in the Appendix A: Letter to Julius.
17. If this seems striking I urge you to review, Acts 11:9, 14-15, 15:3-9, 16:30.
18. The eunuch was a proselyte; Crispus is a Jew; and the 12 disciples of John are clearly Jews or at least proselytes (cf John's ministry purpose); that leaves Cornelius, Lydia, the Jailer, Stephanus, and perhaps Gaius, see the discussion above.
19. Paul K. Jewett, Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace (Eerdmans, 1978), p. 91. For more, see my critical review at For more, see my critical review at http://www.olsusa.com/reformation/baptism.htm.
20. Matthew 2:15, 2:17, 2:23, 3:15, 4:14, 5:17, 8:17, 12:17, 13:35, 21:4, 26:54, 26:56, 27:9.
21. Children of Abraham, p. 34.
22. Lev 26:41, Jer 9:26, Eze 44:7, 44:9, Deu 10:16, 30:6, Jer 4:4, Rom. 2:29, 4:11, 1Co 7:19, Gal 5:6, 6:15, Eph 2:11-12, Phi 3:3, Col 2:11-12, 3:11.
23. Institutes of the Christian Religion, (4:16:9, McNeil/Battles ed., Westminster: Philadelphia), p. 1331).
24. As far as I know this has not been found in any of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
25. I refer the reader to the several pages of citations above.
26. E.g., 1Co 1:2/6:9, 2Co 1:2/13:5, Gal 1:2/5:21, 2Pe 1:1/1:10.
27. See Rom 1:7, 8:27, 12:13, 15:31, 1Co 1:2, 6:1, 6:2, 14:33, 16:1, 16:15, Eph 1:1, Col. 1:2, etc.
28. E.g., Paul K. Jewett, Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace, p. 136.
29. David Kingdon, Children of Abraham, p. 90.
30. Even the best baptist defender, Paul K. Jewett, admits that "the majority of scholars suppose a pre-Christian origin of the practice" of household proselyte baptism (Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace), p. 64.
31. Infants born into a proselyte context after the initial cleansing did not need to be baptized, since they were clean by virtue of being born into a "clean" household.
32. Fred Malone, A String of Pearls Unstrung: A Theological Journey Into Believers' Baptism, p. 19.
33. In the Mark 10:14 parallel, this is the only occasion where Jesus was "indignant." He was enraged (aganakteo).
34. Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace (Eerdmans, 1978), p. 60.
35. Published by Baker, 1995, p. 93.
36. P. 92.
37. This phrase is from the Westminster Shorter Catechism 94. "What is baptism ? A. Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,(1) doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord's." (2) (1)Matt. 28:19 (2)Rom. 6:4; Gal. 3:27
38. Other objections and critical reviews of anti-paedobaptist books my be found in the writer's, Covenantal Infant Baptism: An Outlined Defense.
39. The Larger Catechism 166, for example says, "Unto whom is baptism to be administered? A. Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, and so strangers from the covenant of promise, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him, but infants descended from parents, either both or but one of them professing faith in Christ, and obedience to him, are, in that respect, within the covenant, and to be baptized."
40. A necessary inference is a logically valid argument from true premises, such as: 1. the children of believers are covenant members; 2. covenant members are to receive the entrance sign of the covenant; therefore (this follows necessarily from the premises) the children of believers are to receive the entrance sign of the covenant.
41. Those denying infant baptism must do so by taking their presuppositions from the passages which don't even refer to the status of children in the church, kingdom, and covenant.
42. Oikos in the LXX (the Greek translation of the OT) is used of Noah's family (Gen 7:19), of Abrahamic covenant and those to be circumcised and taught (Gen 17:13, 18:19), regarding the families in Passover (12:27), and David's descendants in the Davidic covenant (2Ch 21:7).
43. T.E. Watson, Should Babies Be Baptized?, p. 115.
44. Eric Lane, Special Children?A Theology of Childhood (Grace Pub: London, 1996). From pages 34, 35, 36, and 37, respectively.
45. If a generation is 40 years, it has been about 3300 years since the Exodus when this promise was given. That leaves over 36,700 years to go! Obviously, "a thousand generations" doesn't mean 40,000 years, but it is just a way to say the promise extends to endless generations.
46. See the Appendix B for a brief exposition of Jeremiah 31:31-34 and/or the author's, Covenantal Infant Baptism: An Outlined Defense for more.
47. A Critical Evaluation of Infant Baptism, Greg Welty (Reformed Baptist Publications: Fullerton, CA, [undated]), pp. 4-5.
48. I could marshal many texts to support this, but it will suffice to point out the entire chapter of Hebrews 11.
49. The number of rededication baptisms was around 60,000, according to the representative sample, The Troubling Waters of Baptism, Thomas Ascol, Founders Journal, available at www.founders.org.
50. For a good discussion on this from the non-paedocommunion point of view, see the response to this objection in John Murray's Christian Baptism (Presbyterian & Reformed, 1980), p. 73-76. For a contemporary representative of paedocommunion consult Steve Wilkins, whose tape series on the subject, Unto You and Your Children, can be obtained from Covenant Media Fellowship, 4425 Jefferson Ave., Suite #108, Texarkana, AR 71854, 800/553-3938.
51. The Polemics of Infant Baptism in The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Vol. IX (Baker, 1991 [1927]), p. 408. Available at http://www.olsusa.com/reformation/warfield.htm.
52. This is an attempt to help the reader recapture the original context and audience of the New Testament revelation. What was the frame of mind of those in the first century who first heard about Christ? The more we comprehend this, surely, the closer we will be to the truth about baptism.
53. One would think that Calvinists would be hesitant to establish there arguments from the use of "all" in a quantitatively absolute sense anyway. How much more in prophetic language! For other examples of the general us of "all" in Jeremiah see, 2:29, 3:17, 4:19, 12:9, 13:13, 15:4, 16:15, 21:14, 23:3, 24:9, 25:2, 31:24, etc.
54. For similar thoughts in other writers see Rom15:4-5, 1Co 10:1-11, Jam 5:10-11, Jude 1:5.
55. Please know that I believe in the perseverance of those who are regenerate, in both testaments. However, every visible covenant member may not persevere, in both testaments also.
56. I take (tentatively) "all Israel" in the sense of all of true Israel, including both Jews and Gentiles, after the fulness of the Gentiles comes and the collective "acceptance" of ethnic Israel. I believe this view is evident in the language of the Westminster Larger Catechism 191 ("fulness of the Gentiles" & "the Jews called") and its proof-texts, citing Romans 10:1 and 11:25-26. Moreover, prayer for ethnic Israel is part of the original Westminster "Directory for Worship."
57. Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace p. 228
58. Abraham's Four Seeds (Sound of Grace: Webster NY, 1990,), p. 3. For more, see my critical review.
59. P. 60.
60. The Polemics of Infant Baptism in The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Vol. IX (Baker, 1991 [1927]), p. 390.