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Why Not Baptize Infants?

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
October 16, 2022 7:00 pm

Why Not Baptize Infants?

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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October 16, 2022 7:00 pm

Why not baptize infants- An understanding of the Old and New Covenants helps us to understand a biblical practice.

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Most of you have heard the terms covenant theology and dispensationalism. But it's also clear to me that many do not understand exactly what these concepts are all about. Though some of you are quite well schooled in them to be sure. But these are complex issues and we're not going to address them thoroughly and completely in one sermon today.

I think we can be of some help. But let me tell you that covenant theology emphasizes the continuity between the Old and the New Testaments. Whereas dispensationalism emphasizes the discontinuity between the Old and the New Testaments.

And therein lies, I think, the heart of the issues. And there are, of course, many details to be fleshed out in saying that. But the question is in the Two Testaments, the Old Testament, the New Testament, there are obviously some differences. But are those differences great or are they small?

Are they vast or are they slim? And to what extent should we understand the similarities and the differences? And that, my friends, is the dispute between dispensationalism and covenant theology in a nutshell. And when it comes to dispensationalism, probably the main thing is the distinction between Israel and the church, concluding that those two are different, entirely different.

The twain shall never meet. That draws certain conclusions. Whereas in covenant theology, they are very much together. And that is an entirely different perspective on scripture. Well, our text for today is going to help explain to some extent these competing interpretations.

And I think will reveal weaknesses that are to be found in both approaches. We're going to begin with the prophecy of Jeremiah in chapter 31, verses 31 through 34. So you want to find that now. Be turning there while I get you ready for that first approach. And then after studying that briefly, we're going to consider its fulfillment in the New Testament, touching upon a couple of passages and spending most of our time in Hebrews chapter 8. And after we have done that, we are going to consider some of the implications for what we have seen.

So here we are. First of all, a new covenant announced in Jeremiah 31, 31 through 34. Behold, says God through the prophet Jeremiah. Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. My covenant, which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they all shall know me from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord.

For I will forgive their iniquity and their sin I will remember no more. A new covenant announced by the prophet Jeremiah, and this is the first time, in fact, maybe the only time in all of the Old Testament scriptures that there is reference to this new covenant. The new covenant announced a declaration in verse 31 and a description in verses 32 through 34.

The declaration is pretty simple. We realize that this is a future event to the time of Jeremiah. Behold, the days are coming. This is often the future to Jeremiah. It is a future event, and we could accurately say it is a Jewish event. That is an Israelite event because the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with. And here he identifies with whom that covenant will be made with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.

And so it is a future event coming sometime beyond the days of Jeremiah and those who lived when he was writing this. And it is a Jewish event, an Israelite event, described in terms of the house of Judah, the house of Israel. And that, of course, is keeping in mind the division of Israel into two kingdoms, the northern kingdom, the southern kingdom.

The northern kingdom called the house of Israel, the southern kingdom called the house of Judah, or the northern kingdom called the kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom called the kingdom of Judah, divided after the days of Solomon. And so there's a declaration that there will be a new covenant that will be coming. After the declaration of verse 31, we have a description of this covenant in verses 32 through 34. And we could describe it, I think, in these following phrases. We can describe it, number one, as a significant change.

We'll look at that in a moment. We can also describe it as a notable similarity. And thirdly, with several important distinctions that distinguish the old from the new. But first of all, it is described in terms of a significant change, verse 32. This new covenant declared in verse 31, we are told, is not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, which covenant they broke. Not according to the covenant. Now, as the New Testament points out, simply by announcing a new covenant that automatically identifies the former one, the only one that they knew at that time, as the old covenant and distinguishes the one from the other, announcing a new, inaugurating a new, identifies the other one as old and, in fact, as passing away.

And we read here that there will be a significant change. The old covenant was inaugurated, we are told here, upon removing Israel from Egyptian bondage. God took them out of Egypt, he says took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. Speaking of God's tenderness, his love, his power in taking them by his strong hand and removing them from the land of Egypt with great difficulty, but nevertheless with great success. A covenant that was inaugurated at that time, Moses went up on the mountain, he met with the Lord, he received the Ten Commandments on the tablets of stone, he received other laws that were written down with pen and ink, and he brought these down to the people and it was this covenant that they promised that they would keep.

Oh yes, all that you have commanded we will do. This covenant, which they promised to keep, they broke almost immediately and they broke repeatedly throughout their history, again and again and again and again. Moses, even while he was up on the mount, what were they doing down below?

Fashioning a golden calf to worship it. And throughout their history, God, through the prophets, charges them again and again. You broke my law, you disobeyed my covenant, and in some cases, he says, in effect, you deserve to be set aside, but I have made promises to you and for the sake of my son and for the sake of David and different ones that he mentions in these statements, I'm going to fulfill my promises to you, but you have broken my covenant again and again and again and again. Even though I was faithful to you, in the words of our text for today, even though I was a husband to you, a faithful husband, you are not a faithful wife, you are an adulterous wife, straying from me over and over and over again. And so I'm going to make a new covenant, not like this old one that was inaugurated at Sinai and broken by Israel immediately and repeatedly in spite of God's faithfulness. But beyond a significant change, we see, number two, a notable similarity, and there's one thing that we are told is similar between the old and the new, and that's found at the end of verse 33. I read verse 33, but this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord.

I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts and then this, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. Now, if you are familiar with the Old Testament scriptures, you recognize that statement as having been said a number of times in relationship to the old covenant. This old covenant is what makes me your God and you my people. We could find that statement several times throughout the Old Testament, and yet we find here it is said almost really identical language is said in regard to the new covenant. This new covenant is going to do this.

It's going to make a certain people my people and I will be their God, just like the old covenant made a certain people my people and made me their God. A notable similarity, I will be their God and they shall be my people, because both covenants, by their design, by their wording, by their stipulation, both covenants determine who belongs in that company that are called the people of God. The old covenant defined the people of God in a certain way and identified who belonged to that company. The new covenant defines the people of God in a certain way and defines who belongs to that company, a notable similarity. But beyond that similarity, we see there are several distinctions that are detailed for us in verses 33 and 34, and I will describe them in these words. Number one, there is the distinction of the nature of compliance in each covenant. Number two, there's the distinction of qualifications for membership in each covenant. And number three, there is a distinction in the way of righteousness under each of these two covenants. First of all, in regard to the nature of compliance, back to verse 33, this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, said the Lord. I will put my law in their minds and I will write it on their hearts and I will be their God and they shall be my people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord, for they shall all know me from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity and their sin.

I will remember no more. The nature of compliance now here, he doesn't remind us what the nature of compliance is under the old covenant. He simply tells us what it is under the new covenant. But we already know what it was under the old covenant by having read the Old Testament scriptures.

And the implication is pretty clear. If this is a new covenant, not like the one that I made with their fathers when I took them out of Egypt, but it's going to have this feature that is going to be different from what they had in the covenant coming out of Egypt, then we can see something of what the distinction is in the nature of its compliance. How the members of the covenant comply with the covenant.

And in short, the difference is the difference between external and internal. Compliance with the old covenant required external obedience. You did certain things externally. First of all, you were born into the bloodline of Abraham. That wasn't anything that you had any choice in. That was God's choice in your birth. That was your parents' identity.

But that's something external. You came into the covenant community by way of physical birth, not the new covenant. I'm getting ahead of myself here a little bit, but not the new covenant. For as many as received him to them, he gave power to become the sons of God, John tells us, who were born not of blood, not of the will of the flesh, not of something else, whatever else is in there, but of God.

Quite different, isn't it? But the old covenant, you became a part of the covenant by certain external things, birth, and then circumcision to the male children on the eighth day. Again, they didn't have a whole lot to do with that. Their parents did that for them. But their parents did do that because that was the stipulation, and that was how people came into the old covenant and became members of the covenant community and were identified as such. And so the nature of compliance in the old covenant was one of outward compliance, doing these things externally that made one a bona fide member of that covenant community, in contrast with the new covenant where the terms of compliance are inward, aren't they? I will put my law in their minds.

I will write it on their hearts. There's something different here. There's something new here. There's something internal here. This is a way of describing what we call the new birth or what we call regeneration. This is a compliance that doesn't have anything to do with ceremony or ritual. It has everything to do with the work of the Spirit of God in the heart.

It is an internal, internal way of complying. Inward desire that God gives, writing his law in the hearts of the members of this community so that they now have both a God-given ability and a God-given desire to comply with the terms of the new covenant, unlike the old covenant where the law was given and the law was commanded. The obedience was commanded and people promised to do it, but they had no desire to do it.

They had no willingness to do it. I think John Bunyan summarizes this better than anybody I know when he said this, To run and work the law commands, but gives us neither feet nor hands. The better news the gospel brings, it bids us fly and gives us wings.

Think that through because that really summarizes the whole thing in a nutshell so beautifully. To run and work the law commands outward things that you do in order to comply with this covenant. To run and work the law commands, but gives us neither feet nor hands. We've got something we're commanded to do, but we aren't really given the ability to do it. The better news the gospel brings, it bids us fly. That's impossible and gives us wings.

It is possible. If God enables us to fly, we can fly, right? And so the nature of compliance is very different under the two covenants. And secondly, related to it, the qualifications for membership are very different between the old and the new covenant. Again, in the old covenant, the qualifications for membership were entirely external, but under the new covenant, they are internal.

I've already touched on it, really. What was the qualification to become a member of the old covenant? Be born into the right family and be circumcised and be brought up to keep the law, follow the dietary code, do this, do that, keep the feast days, and you're a member. As long as you do these things and don't do anything flagrant to renounce any of these things, refuse to be baptized, refuse to keep the feast days, refuse to worship on the Sabbath and so forth, do things that are real flagrant and continue to do them flagrantly. You might get kicked out of the covenant community, but otherwise you're in, you're a member. And as long as you keep up a reasonable number of these external things, you're a member for life. What's the qualification for membership under the new covenant? It's the new birth.

It's regeneration. I will write my laws on their heart. I will put them in their mind.

That's a symbolic way, a picturesque way of saying, this is going to be an inward work of God's Spirit. This is going to change the inside and this is what qualifies a person to become a member of the new covenant community. Qualifications for membership. Number three, way of righteousness.

These are all interrelated. How does one become righteous? How does one earn righteousness? You might say, well, under the old covenant, it was by obedience to the law. I could hear someone object and say, but people were saved in the Old Testament without perfect obedience to the law. Yes, but not under the terms of the old covenant. You won't find that in the covenant itself. There were symbols. There were hints pointing forward.

Let me put it this way. There were people, a remnant saved in the Old Testament, but they were saved by borrowing the terms of the new covenant and by the grace of God, importing them back into their time by faith. They were saved the same way we are by faith and the promises of God. But it wasn't by external keeping of the law.

Actually, the Old Testament law promised if you'll keep this law perfectly, then you'll live. And how many did that? Zero. How many could do that? Zero. How many had the feet and hands to be able to do that?

Zero. God didn't give them to them to run and work the law commands, but gives us neither feet nor hands. Nobody kept the law perfectly.

Nobody even came close. So everybody is condemned under the law and there's no terms of salvation apart from obeying the law. So now what? Thank God there is a new covenant. Thank God for that. And so the way of righteousness under the old covenant was obedience to the law because nobody kept it. Nobody was righteous. But the way of righteousness under the new covenant is justification by grace. No more shall every man teach his neighbor and every man his brother saying, Know the Lord, for they all shall know me from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord, for I will forgive their iniquity and their sin I will remember no more. That's grace.

That's mercy. That's forgiveness. It's not that new covenant people, even with the wings to fly, will keep God's law perfectly, keep God's requirements perfectly.

No, they shall not. But God has another provision. I'm going to forgive you. I'm going to cleanse you. I've got a way of forgiving your trespasses and dealing with your iniquity and making you righteous in a way that has nothing to do with your obedience to commands. This new covenant sounded pretty good, isn't it?

It sounded better all the time. So that's the new covenant announced in Jeremiah. Now we move to the New Testament to consider the new covenant fulfilled. And we're going to go to Hebrews chapter eight. But on the way, I'm going to take you a couple of other places and then we'll land in Hebrews eight. But let me say a couple of words about this. First of all, the new covenant fulfilled.

When was it inaugurated? The words of Christ. I'll take the ones from the book of Mark, but I could take them from another gospel. But the words of Christ when he instituted the Lord's table makes it very clear when this was inaugurated.

Mark 14, 22, three and four. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them and said, this is my body. Then he took the cup when he had given thanks. He gave it to them and they all drank from it. And he said to them, this cup is or represents the blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.

What's he saying? When I shed my blood upon the cross, the new covenant is inaugurated. The old one is gone.

The new one is in its place. And that's what the writer of Hebrews takes up. In fact, we won't find all of this in chapter eight. We really would have to move back into chapter seven and hunt around a little bit in several places in Hebrews. But what he tells us is that Jesus is the new high priest who has replaced the Levitical priesthood and the Levitical high priest. He's not even a priest from the tribe of Levi.

He's a priest after the order of Melchizedek. But he is now the high priest who represents us. And the sacrifice which he offered is not the blood of bulls and goats, but himself. So it's clear this new covenant was inaugurated when Jesus died upon the cross. The inauguration of the covenant was announced in the upper room as being imminent.

And it was accomplished when Christ shed his blood upon the cross. That's the inauguration of the new covenant. When Jesus said it is finished, old covenant immediately became obsolete. New covenant was now in effect. We could also talk briefly about the nature of the new covenant. Really, the only reason I bring this up is just to let you know that there is another passage that deals with this in 2 Corinthians chapter three. Paul talks about the old and the new covenants there.

Because of time, I'm not going to get into that passage except just to summarize what he says. But he tells us in regard to the nature of the new covenant that it has greater benefits than the old covenant because it bestows spiritual life. Paul says in verse 6, 2 Corinthians 3, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the spirit, for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.

The spirit gives life. This is the greater benefit that the new covenant has over the old covenant. The old covenant didn't give life. It didn't bestow life. But the new covenant does.

What else? The new covenant has greater glory than the old covenant. And I'll summarize here. The old covenant, Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 3, had glory, a great deal of glory, an amazing amount of glory. Don't denigrate the old covenant. Don't put it down. Don't act like there's something wrong with it.

It's not. It was glorious in its place and for its purpose and up until the time when it fulfilled its purpose. But in comparison to the new covenant, the old covenant was not as glorious. It was glorious but not as glorious as the new covenant. The new covenant has greater glory than the old covenant. Furthermore, we're told in 2 Corinthians 3 that the new covenant has greater endurance than the old covenant. The old covenant passes away. The new covenant remains. Verse 11, for if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. That's not the verse I was looking for.

But we are told in this section. Verse 11, if the ministry of death written engraved on stones was glorious so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit be not much more glorious? It remains, verse 11, for if what is passing away was glorious, what remains? And we could insert the word forever.

What remains forever? The new covenant is much more glorious. Now turn to Hebrews chapter 8. We've seen dealing with the new covenant fulfilled.

We've seen its inauguration at the death of Christ on the cross. It's nature by the discussion of Paul as a minister of the new covenant in 2 Corinthians 3. But now it's purpose in Hebrews chapter 8 where the writer of Hebrews quotes from Jeremiah and explains how all this applies in his day to believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

It's fulfilled. The new covenant is here. It was promised by Jeremiah.

It has come, and here it is, and here's what it means for us today. And what was the purpose of the old covenant? By the way, it's found in Hebrews 8 in an extended section, verses 7 through 13.

And then it's found again in Hebrews 10 in a shorter passage, verses 16 through 18. What was the purpose of the new covenant according to Hebrews 8? Number one, to remedy the weakness of the old covenant.

We've already seen that it was weak. And so we read in Hebrews 8, 7, for if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. If the first covenant could have done the job, then there wouldn't need to be a second one. If the first covenant could have secured salvation, there would be no need for a second. There was fault in a manner of speaking with the first covenant, but as the scriptures go on to make very clear, the fault wasn't really with the covenant. It was with the people of the covenant and their sinfulness. The covenant was fine. Do this and you shall live.

Keep these commands and you shall live. But nobody did it because of their sinfulness. And so, in a sense, there was nothing wrong with the covenant except it did not include the elements that gave people what they needed in order to fulfill it.

It didn't give spiritual life and it didn't give forgiveness for sins. That wasn't stipulated in the old covenant. And so it was given to remedy the weakness of the old covenant. It was given, number two, to change hearts, verse 10. And now quoting from the passage in Jeremiah, Hebrews 8, 10. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. After those days, says the Lord, I will put my laws in their mind and write them on their hearts.

There's the changed hearts. God is going to work by His Spirit in the hearts of His new covenant people. And they're going to have a different mindset, a different heart. They're going to have spiritual life. The Spirit gives life. They are going to have the life that the old covenant did not give. They're going to have the wings to fly that the new covenant provides to change hearts. And finally, its purpose is to forgive trespasses. That's also in this passage, verse 12. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness. He's not saying the life I give them will make them perfect so that they don't transgress.

No, they will. But I will be merciful to their unrighteousness and their sins and their lawless deeds. I will remember no more. There is forgiveness. There is cleansing. There is justification under the terms of the new covenant that there was not under the old. It remedies the weakness of the old covenant. It changes hearts under the new covenant. It forgives trespasses under the new covenant. Which, again, is emphasized in that passage in chapter 10.

Turn one page to Hebrews 10. Let's look at how the writer refers to the new covenant here, verse 16. This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord, quoting again from Jeremiah, but a shorter part of that passage.

I will put my laws into their hearts and in their minds I will write them. Then he adds, their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more. See the emphasis upon this forgiveness? The new covenant forgives.

It cleanses. It justifies sinners who have sinned. But the new covenant makes provision to cleanse sinners from their sins. Now, verse 18, where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

Why? Because the offering has been made once for all, Christ died on the cross. Now, that gives me some time to deal with implications, because I have done what I intended to do with the text. The new covenant announced in Jeremiah, the new covenant fulfilled in the New Testament scriptures that we have considered.

Now, some implications explored. The first one is brief and so obvious that I won't take time with it, but it is simply that all of this reminds us that salvation is by grace. It is not by works. It is not by external matters.

It is not by ceremony of any kind. It is by grace, not works. God promises and provides everything that is necessary for salvation under the new covenant. The reason you can't say that under the old covenant, in one sense it's true God provided what was necessary for salvation.

Then he gave him the law and said, keep it, you'll live. But the reason why no one was saved under it was because of man's sinfulness, and God didn't make provision for man's sinfulness and his spiritual inability in the terms of the old covenant. Yes, people were saved, the remnant, but they were saved under the promises of the new covenant, pulled back into the Old Testament era. But the whole point of this is that salvation is by grace and not works.

But now here's another implication that you need to understand. This means that messianic Judaism endeavors to return new covenant believers to the old covenant. Now, most of you are not familiar with messianic Judaism, but some of you are.

It's growing. There are more and more assemblies of people who are Christians. They believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and his death upon the cross for salvation. But they have decided that they would rather worship God according to old covenant practices rather than new covenant ones. There's different names that are given to it, but I just wrap it all together under the term messianic Judaism. Some of these peoples are Jews who've been saved. Jews for Jesus, you've all heard of that organization, I'm sure. But a lot of them are Gentiles who kind of enjoy this. There's something about it that's rather intriguing. And so rather than worship on the first day like the New Testament indicates, these people worship on the Sabbath, but because the Jewish Sabbath, at least in the first century, began at sundown on Friday, they go to church on Friday night just like the Jews go to synagogue on Friday night.

Okay, well that doesn't seem so terrible. What else? Well, they continue to practice circumcision. They follow the Jewish feast days and holidays. They observe Yom Kippur and so forth. Probably don't even recognize Easter. They're not worshiping on the first day of the week, which is the day that Christ rose from the dead, and that's why we worship on the first day of the week. Most of them follow, at least in part, the Mosaic dietary code. And I learned this week in researching this a bit, they do not observe the Lord's table.

They observe Passover. Now what is this? It's going back to the old covenant.

Why? It's gone. It's been fulfilled.

It's over. It's obsolete. In announcing the new, He made the old obsolete. It's passed away.

Why are you going back to it? Well, there's something kind of intriguing about this to some people, but intriguing is not the same as being knowledgeable and obedient to Scripture, and Scripture indicates that this is not the way that new covenant believers worship God. And what it does is drives a wedge between those who follow this practice, these practices, and those who worship God according to new covenant practices. It makes a distinction. Instead of recognizing the unity of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, it drives them apart with these distinctions, and it is contrary to what the new covenant, the New Testament Scriptures teach us because it is an endeavor to return to the old covenant. You find a lot about this in, say, the book of Galatians and other places where there were people in Paul's day doing exactly the same thing. Believers in Jesus Christ going around teaching Christians, except you be circumcised after the law of Moses, you cannot be saved, and so forth. You've got to keep the dietary laws, and on and on it goes. No?

No? God promised a new covenant, and the new covenant replaces the old one. So get out of the old one and get into the new one and live accordingly. Demonstrate that you believe in Christ and are following Him according to the terms of the new covenant. But here's a third one. Paedobaptism has no biblical warrant. Attractive as it may be, pedobaptism has no biblical warrant.

You say, what is pedobaptism? Baptizing babies. Baptizing infants. The title of my sermon today is Why Not Baptize Infants?

And my theme is an understanding of the old and new covenants eliminates the practice of infant baptism. Now, the truth of the matter is, and you may not be aware of this, the vast majority of people who call themselves Christians throughout the world baptize babies. The Roman Catholic Church baptizes babies. The Anglican Church, Episcopal Church, baptizes babies. The Lutheran Church baptizes babies. I don't know if it's still true, but not too many decades ago, Lutheranism was the largest body of Protestants in the world. Not in America, but in the world. A lot of Lutherans in this world, and they all baptized babies. And on and on it goes. All the Orthodox churches, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, and so forth, baptize babies.

That's a lot of people over in another part of the world that we're not so familiar with, but there's a lot of them. The only interesting thing about that is, I just have to chuckle, they baptize babies, but how do they baptize them? By immersion.

I've seen pictures of it, I'd like to actually see one done. They have a big urn, it's bigger than, you know, not just sprinkling a little water on the head, they have a big urn and they hold the baby's nose and they lower him feet down into the water and bring him back up. You say, why don't they just go ahead and sprinkle it so much simpler and easier? And I assume it's because you have an awful hard time getting a Greek, Greek Orthodoxy, getting a Greek who knows Greek to believe that the Greek word baptizo means anything but immersion. You might convince an American of that, but you're not going to convince a Greek of that.

He knows the language. But he still baptizes babies, but he baptizes by immersion. And of course, Methodists baptize babies, and Presbyterians baptize babies, and on and on it goes.

Well, who doesn't? Baptists. And some of the others that have kind of broken away from their heritage. Most Pentecostals don't baptize babies, but they are actually branching out, they have branched out from Methodism, if you trace them all the ways back. Their original theology had them baptizing babies, but they usually don't anymore.

Why? See if I can explain. At least the Presbyterian rationale for baptizing babies.

And I have more interaction with Presbyterians, and I've studied Presbyterian covenantal theology more than any of the other forms. And it goes something like this. See if I can, I think I laid some of this out. They will say, in fact they may ask you, was circumcision the sign of the old covenant? Answer, yes. The answer is yes.

You nod yes. Circumcision was the sign of the old covenant. Circumcision marked those who belonged to the old covenant. Is water baptism the sign of the new covenant.

Again, yes. Water baptism is the sign of the new covenant. Water baptism is the mark of those who belong to the new covenant, like circumcision was the sign that marked those who belong to the old covenant. Therefore, here's the conclusion. Therefore, water baptism should be administered to the children of new covenant believers like circumcision was administered to the children of old covenant believers.

Now you see where the strong continuity comes to play? We carry over because of the unity of the scriptures, the unity of the old and the New Testament, and it gets into a lot of things here. The unity of covenant theology, the covenant of works and the covenant of grace clear back to the Garden of Eden, and most Presbyterian covenant theologians won't even call the Mosaic covenant or the covenant made at Sinai and the new covenant that Christ inaugurated. Most of them prefer not to even call that the old and the new covenant. They call that the old and new administration of the covenant of grace with a de-emphasis upon this being separate covenants. But it seems to me scripture makes it pretty clear these are separate covenants, and they are supposed to be understood more in terms of distinction than continuity, more in terms of discontinuity than continuity.

I pointed out the one thing that is similar. They both mark out who shall be considered the people of God under each of the covenants. But beyond that, there's more in the scriptures that distinguishes them than unites them. But if you are willing to look past that and reason in the way that I am describing, then I can see how you might come to this conclusion, that as old covenant believers were commanded to circumcise their children and bring them into the covenant. Therefore, new covenant believers ought to baptize their children and bring them into the covenant, not understanding what we have already pointed out, the distinctions in these covenants and important distinctions.

So I say it again. Paedobaptism has no biblical warrant, attractive as it may be, and it is attractive. I must admit it's kind of an attractive fiction that you're doing something for your child that helps him toward God other than the work of the Holy Spirit in his heart. You've baptized him.

You've done what you can do. Sometimes Baptists have their own version of these comforting things. If we can get our child to pray and make a decision, then we made him save for heaven, not unless it's a work of the Holy Spirit in his heart that's regenerated him. Don't run him down through a little child's prayer and pronounce them saved and make them think that they're secure for the rest of their lives. That's just the Baptist version of Presbyterian Paedobaptism as far as I'm concerned.

Don't do that. Paedobaptism has no biblical warrant. There is no New Testament command to baptize infants, and there is no clear New Testament example of baptizing infants. As most honest Presbyterian and other Bible scholars will admit, they have to imagine, well, in those households where everybody was baptized, probably there must have been some infants.

Well, in the cases where it spells it out, they clearly weren't. It not only says that the household was baptized, but it said they believed. And that takes us back to the work of the Spirit in the New Covenant. I'll write my law in their hearts and in their minds. I will regenerate them.

I will do a work so that they become believers. So baptism of children is not commanded in the New Testament, because what this scripture teaches us is that all who belong to the New Covenant are regenerated believers. The New Covenant is different from the Old Covenant. By God's design, the Old Covenant included a mixed multitude because God designed that he would take a human family and the bloodline of Abraham and would give the right of circumcision and command that circumcision be applied to these unregenerate children who weren't old enough to believe and to consider all of those who were so marked to be members of the Old Covenant. And they were. They were legitimate members of the Old Covenant because God designed the Old Covenant different from the New Covenant.

You understand. But he tells us that the New Covenant's different. In the New Covenant, the only ones who are members of the covenant community by God's design are those who have been born again by the work of God's Spirit in their hearts. And therefore, the only ones who are legitimately able to receive the mark of water baptism as the sign of the covenant are those who have a good testimony of the new birth.

They can give a credible testimony of faith in Christ. They're the only ones who legitimately may be baptized because they're the only ones who don't spoil the mark that God has given. The mark of baptism is for born again believers. And only born again believers and all born again believers. If you think yourself to be a born again believer and you haven't been baptized, you are in disobedience. You are to be baptized. That's the mark that God has given. I don't see the need for it. That's the mark that God has given.

Well, I don't understand why. That's what Jesus said to do. You're a follower of Jesus? Then why don't you do what he commanded?

Why say to me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I've commanded you. But one more thing, I'm almost out of time, but I've got to deal with this. And that is to say that in this understanding of Jeremiah 31 in the light of Hebrews eight and 10, dispensationalism has a problem as well. In fact, I would say dispensationalism has a serious problem. I would call it an unsolvable problem.

A lot of people are trying to work around it. We've got dispensationalism, we've got progressive dispensationalism, we've got new dispensationalism, but you see this drives to the very heart, to the very fundamental problem. And here it is, because nothing could be more obvious than Jeremiah's prophecy was made to who? The house of Judah, the house of Israel. The right of Hebrew says this applies to, and he quotes the same thing, the house of Judah, the house of Israel, right?

He quotes it. Finding fault with them, he says, behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. But this covenant belongs to the church. It's fulfilled in the church. The members of the church are the ones that this promise was made to, according to the New Testament interpretation of it. Therefore, we have to accept that the house of Israel and the house of Judah is the church. We can't make this distinction between Israel and the church.

Now I used to make it, thought it was necessary. You know, it's interesting. I noticed a lot of people who are covenant in their thinking, they only read covenant writers and they read what the covenant writers say about dispensationalism and therefore they think they understand dispensationalism. What they understand is what those who don't believe dispensationalism and criticize dispensationalism say about it.

And the same thing goes the other way around. Many times, those who are dispensationalists only read what dispensationalists write. They think they understand covenant theology because they've heard what the dispensational officers say about covenant theology and tell them what's wrong with it. And they never really understand covenant theology and they never come to wrestle with these issues. Properly understood covenant theology is not replacement theology. It's not replacing Israel with the church.

It looks that way to the dispensationalist. It's not replacement theology, it's fulfillment theology. This is the way that God has fulfilled it. This is the way God tells us he's fulfilled it.

This, I don't have enough time, but I've wrestled through all this many years ago and it's not easy, but you've got to come to terms with it. The church is called the House of Israel and the House of Judah. Members of the church are therefore, and this is a proper term, spiritual Israel. Members of the church, that is born again believers are, in the words of the New Testament scriptures, the children of Abraham. They have the same faith that Abraham had. And the scriptures define the God-intended meaning of the terms. If it doesn't seem right to you that the House of Israel and the House of Judah in the Old Testament could apply to the church in the New Testament, it doesn't matter what it seems to you if the New Testament speaks to the issue, and it does.

It does. So my final lesson is that scripture is the best interpreter of scripture. Now we all believe that, but doing it is another thing. Systems must be examined and refined by scripture. Godly men must be evaluated by scripture. I thank God for John MacArthur and many others like him, but God has used that man in my life tremendously. But in my understanding of scripture, he's wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong in his staunch dispensationalism. He's missed the boat on that. But likewise, I thank God for R.C.

Sproul. I love that man. I love his books, I love his teaching, Presbyterian, for those of you who don't know, and responsible for a real revival in Bible-believing Presbyterian in our day. I love that man, but he's wrong about infant baptism. Systems must be examined and refined by scripture. Godly men must be evaluated by scripture. We must study thoroughly, think carefully, and refine regularly as we grow in our understanding of God's word. May God help us to do it, shall we pray? Father, help us to be students of your word. Help us to be humble in our study of your word. Help us to be willing to change where scripture indicates we should. Help us not to be guilty of exegetical gymnastics to get around what the Bible is saying so that it'll fit our system. Help us, Lord, to take what you have given, believe it, apply it, and live according to it. We ask in Jesus' name, amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-03 17:47:49 / 2022-12-03 18:06:49 / 19

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