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Baptism and the Missing Children

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
October 31, 2022 7:00 pm

Baptism and the Missing Children

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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October 31, 2022 7:00 pm

Pastor Greg Barkman examines passages regarding baptism and children.

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Well, today I'm going to invite you to join me on a quest to find the missing children. In previous messages, we've examined the practice of infant baptism and learned that though it is neither taught nor practiced in the New Testament as far as any of the passages go, that support for it is drawn from the Old Testament practice of circumcision. A procedure applied to Jewish males soon after their birth. And since circumcision was the sign of the Old Covenant and water baptism is the sign of the New Covenant, it has been therefore postulated that New Covenant believers should baptize their infant children into the New Covenant, even as Old Covenant believers baptized their children into the Old Covenant. However, there are some problems with this interpretation. One of the strongest is the one we looked at the last two weeks, which is that this overlooks the Scripture's own strong emphasis upon discontinuity between the Old and the New Covenants, rather than the continuity required to draw this particular conclusion. We looked first at the prophecy in Jeremiah, chapter 31, verses 31 through 34, which foretold the day when a New Covenant would come to replace the Old One, and there the description of the Old One makes it clear that the one in view is the Mosaic covenant given by God to the people of Israel on Mount Sinai. But the day would come when that covenant would be replaced with a New Covenant and a description of that New Covenant was given, is given, I should say, in those verses, which are quoted along with further explanation in Hebrews chapter 8, virtually the entire chapter, but especially verses 7 through 13, and a couple of other items are also referred to in Hebrews chapter 10. And the biggest distinction that we have emphasized in these passages is that the Scriptures are clear that the New Covenant is unlike the Old in this fashion, that every member who belongs to the New Covenant has been regenerated by the work of the Spirit of God. Unlike the Old Covenant, the Old Covenant, by God's design, did indeed circumcise male infants into the Old Covenant, and they were covenant members, full members and good standing of the Old Covenant community without faith, without regeneration.

The desire, of course, of believing parents was that their circumcised children would come to faith, but it's clear from the Scriptures that only a small remnant ever actually did. And so the majority of those who were full-fledged members of the Old Covenant community as designed by God were actually unregenerate, but in the New Covenant that will no longer be so. The Spirit of God is going to teach every man who is part of that covenant to know the Lord.

No one will teach his neighbor to know the Lord, for all shall know me from the least of the greatest. And so there's a different membership, different qualification for membership. Everyone in the New Covenant has been regenerated by the Spirit of God. And yes, the sign of baptism is applied, but it is applied only when the evidence of regeneration has been manifested. The Old Testament right of circumcision was applied when a child had the right bloodline physically descended from Abraham and had parents who embraced the promises given to Abraham and the promises that were given under the Mosaic Covenant and brought their sons to be circumcised.

That was the qualification. No inward work of the Holy Spirit required, but in the New Covenant that is not so. The work of the Holy Spirit is required before one can legitimately receive the sign of the New Covenant. Now today we're going to endeavor to examine several New Testament texts which are often offered to support infant baptism. If pedobaptists are right, we should have no trouble finding somewhere in the New Testament some infants who are baptized. There's no difficulty finding infants in the Old Testament who are circumcised. You don't have to look for them under every bush and tree and come up missing.

No, they are very clear and conspicuous. And we should find something similar in the New Testament, but if Baptists are right, then we will probably not be able to find any, and so we're going to go on a search. Are you going to join me on this quest as we go looking for the missing children?

Let the search begin. Now there are several categories of texts, and I'm going to really be racing through them. I hope I can do this.

I don't generally try to do anything like this, but I hope I can do this today. We're going to race through a number of texts and try to pick out the most pertinent statements from each one. But I start with the texts that deal with children but no water. And there are two passages, two accounts in the New Testament, where Jesus takes children unto himself and does something with them, and we're going to look at those. There are two accounts, but there are six different accounts of those two accounts, those two historical happenings, because all three synoptics record both of these, so you actually have six times that these two things are recorded altogether, but there are only two happenings. The first one is found in Matthew chapter 18, and I would encourage you to turn there. Matthew chapter 18, we're going to look at verses 1 through 6 quickly. This account is also found in Mark chapter 9 and Luke chapter 9. But here we have the account of Jesus illustrating a truth with a child.

Let's walk through it. In verse 1, we see the disciples' pride. At that time the disciples came to Jesus saying, who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? They're jockeying for position in the kingdom, which they now believe is coming.

They've come to believe that Jesus is indeed the Christ and that he's going to bring in the promised kingdom, and so they're jockeying for position in the kingdom. And so a child is summoned, verse 2, then Jesus called a little child to him and said him in the midst of them. Now please note, this is not an infant.

How do you know? Because Jesus called the child to him and he came to Jesus. He had to be old enough to hear and respond to the call and to walk or run to where Jesus was. So this is not an infant. What Jesus uses as child is an object lesson, verses 3 and 4, assuredly I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. An object lesson. And the first lesson is not the one the disciples inquired about. That's the second lesson. But the first lesson has to do with conversion.

They didn't ask about that. They asked about who is greatest in the kingdom. But Jesus said first of all, you need to understand that unless you are converted and become as little children. I was struck by that in studying this passage. He didn't say unless you become as little children and thereby are converted, but he said unless you are converted, and what's the result of that conversion?

You're going to become like little children. He actually puts the result of becoming childlike as the result of conversion, not as that which precedes conversion. But then he goes on to explain what he means by this childlikeness, and that's in verse 4. And it is humility that he has in mind. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and now he answers their question.

Who's the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Not the one who is filled with pride. Not the one who's jockeying for position. Not the one who's trying to climb to the highest place, but the one who is humble like a little child. He isn't really thinking about social status or standing, doesn't have that kind of pride.

He hasn't gotten to that place of development yet. He's just a little child, and whoever becomes like this little child will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Humility is the greatest mark.

We're not surprised, are we? Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of the servant, and was made in the likeness of man, and in the fashion of man, he humbled himself. Humility. Just receive the child, verse five, whoever receives one little child like this in my name receives me. We should welcome children, not turn them away as the disciples did in the other passage. And then the child's vulnerability in verse six, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me, not an infant, but one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. So what do we learn here? We learn that Jesus loves the little children.

We'll see that again in the next passage. Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white. They are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world. Jesus welcomes the little children.

This points to the humility of children as an object lesson for all of us. Jesus receives little children in order to bless them. But the question is, where's the water? If this text is used, as it sometimes is, as a support for infant baptism, we've got children, in this case not an infant, we've got children, but where's the water? You've got to have water for baptism. Where's the water? Where's the act of baptism?

Out there. Turn to Matthew 19. The second account, a different one, but related. Verse 13, then little children were brought to him that he might put his hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. Apparently it was the parents who brought the little children.

The disciples rebuked the parents. But Jesus said, let the little children come to me and do not forbid them, for of such as the kingdom of heaven, and he laid his hands on them and departed from there. In verse 13 we see the parents' desire. They wanted to bring their children to Jesus. They wanted him to pray for them, to bless them.

They wanted him to put his hands on them, to touch them. The Lord's delight in children is seen in verse 14. And again, humility is pointed to, let the little children come unto me and do not forbid them, for of such as the kingdom of heaven.

Well, that's the same language we saw in chapter 18. What does he mean of such as the kingdom of heaven? Humility, like a child. He's not saying these children are saved. He's not saying that they belong to the kingdom, but he's saying this quality that children have of humility is the necessary and most highly honored quality that belongs to the kingdom. And then what does the Lord do? He blesses them. Mark tells us that specifically, that he took them up in his arms and blessed them. That is, he prayed for them.

So what do we learn here? Jesus loves children. Jesus points to children. Jesus rebukes the disciples for not welcoming children in the same warm way that Jesus did. Jesus blesses children. He prays for children. But where's the water? Did Jesus baptize any children in this passage?

Not a drop of water. This text could well support the practice of child dedication. It's something very similar, but not infant baptism. Children, but no water. Now there's a second category of text that I call water, but no children.

We've got the other way around now. And there are five instances in the New Testament where there is mention made of households being baptized, household baptisms. Without looking at these, you might say, well, there's the evidence. Surely you could postulate. Surely you could assume. Surely it wouldn't be difficult to imagine that at least in one of those five households there were some infants.

And of course you could postulate that, but of course you could also just as easily and I think more readily postulate that there weren't. When I have thought about this, I've thought about our church membership, go through the church directory and look at the families one by one. And how many of those families have infant children? A handful.

The vast majority don't. Larry, if I came to your house to baptize your household, how many infants would I baptize? None. If we picked at random households in America and said I'm going to baptize everybody in this household, how many of them would contain infants? I don't know the exact figure, but likely less than 10%.

Maybe not even 5%. So to assume, to postulate, to speculate, to say surely there must be infants isn't even very logical or reasonable, but worse than that, it doesn't stand up to the examination of Scripture. Now we start with Cornelius in Acts 10, that's the kind I read earlier, and let's just look at this. This is one of those household baptisms. The mention of household is actually found in Chapter 11.

I didn't read this section. The whole account takes up all of Chapter 10 and about half of Chapter 11, so it's a long section, there's a lot of details, and it's in Chapter 11 where Peter is explaining to the skeptics back in Jerusalem why he went into Gentiles and what happened. And he said in Chapter 11, verse 14, who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved. This is Peter telling them what Cornelius said to him. And he told us, Cornelius, verse 13, how he had seen an angel standing in his house who said to him, send men to Joppa and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter, who will tell you words by which all you and your household will be saved.

That's significant. Well let's look at who gathered together. Back to Chapter 10, verse 24.

The following day they entered Caesarea, now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends. That's another way of saying his household. If we're going to try to figure out who is in the household, we've got to say what the Scripture tells us about it. It is a household, indeed, but what's the household made up of? In verse 24, it's made up of relatives and close friends. Could that include infants?

Well, maybe, but not necessarily, not really likely. He called his relatives and close friends. That's how the household is described. But as we move on, verse 33, Cornelius says, so I sent you immediately and you have done well to come, now therefore we are all present before God to hear all the things commanded you by God. How many infants are able to hear all the things that are commanded you by God?

That's not very helpful to the doctrine of infant baptism. Or verse 44, while Peter was still speaking, these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. The New American Standard translates that, all those who were listening to the word, all those who were listening to the word, people who were able to give attention, to hear, to receive the word that was spoken. We already saw in chapter 11, verse 14, that these are words by which you will be saved.

They have to hear them, they have to understand them, they have to believe them in order to be saved. And then verse 17, if therefore God gave them the same gift as he gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I, that I could withstand God. In other words, there are several statements throughout this passage that make it clear that Cornelius' household, that is, at least as it's the ones who gathered together, the ones that Peter is referring to here, they were people who could listen to, hear the word of God, receive it, and believe it, and when they believed it, they were baptized. Where is the infants?

We're looking for the missing children, we can't find them here. We move on, Lydia, Acts chapter 16. Acts chapter 16 is a wonderful chapter, and we see more than one conversion in here, but the first one is that of Lydia, verse 13, Acts 16, 13.

And on the Sabbath day, we, Paul and his missionary team, went out of the city to the riverside where prayer was customarily made, and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us, she was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by God. And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, if you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay. So she persuaded us.

Households was baptized in verse 15. What do we know about Lydia? We know she's a successful businesswoman.

Other descriptions make it clear that she was not just a seller of purple, she was a very wealthy seller of purple, was a very successful businesswoman. That doesn't sound like your typical young mother who would have infant children. If she had any children at all, they probably would not have been young just by the descriptions that are given of her. Furthermore, there is no mention of either husband or children. She may not even have been married.

We don't know. We can't say she wasn't, but we certainly can't say that she was. It would be going way beyond the words of Scripture to insist that she had to be a married woman with children or a widow who had children. But if she was widowed, then again, the question is how likely it is that she has infant children, small children. So what was Lydia's household?

What did it consist of? Well probably, and I can speculate as well as anybody can, probably we have it described there as the women who met for prayer by the riverside. That's probably her household. Where are the infants?

Nowhere mentioned. Where are the infants? Not very likely that they were here, even though this particular passage is not determinative.

Speculating that there are infants there is a bit of a stretch. But we continue on, number three, the Philippian jailer, Acts chapter 16. And pick it up at verse 30, and he brought them out, the jailer, and said, sirs, what must I do to be saved? So they said to him, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you'll be saved in your household.

There's the household again. Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. They all heard the word. It was spoken to all of them. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes, and immediately he and all his family were baptized, families inserted in my translation. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them and rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.

What do we have? The promise, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved and your household. What does that mean? Is Paul saying your whole household will be saved by your faith, Mr. Philippian jailer? Infant baptism requires, when we come to the baptism, that infants be baptized upon the faith of the parents, but certainly not grown people to be baptized by the faith of their parents. And Paul is not saying, Philippian jailer, if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, then your faith is going to save all the other people in your household, whether children or adults. He's certainly not saying that.

What's he saying? Kind of similar to the text we looked at in Acts chapter 2 last week. Philippian jailer, if you believe, you will be saved. And every member of your household who believes will also be saved.

It's as simple as that. And so there was a proclamation of the word. He spoke the word, the word of the Lord to all who were in the house.

Now again, we have the indication that these are people capable of hearing and believing the word. And upon that, there was a baptism because we are told in verse 34 that they all believed. He rejoiced having believed in God with all his household.

He believed all the household believed, the household was baptized. Where are the infants? Where are the infants? Did infants believe?

Of course not. Who was baptized? Everyone who believed. Where are the infants? We're looking for the missing children. Will you help me find them? I'm looking. I'm looking.

I'm having a little trouble finding them here. We move on to Acts chapter 18, instant number 4. Excuse me for chuckling. Crispus Acts 18.8. Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians hearing believed and were baptized. Who believed?

Crispus. And his household believed. Who believed? Crispus, his household. And many other Corinthians believed, who was baptized, Crispus and all those who believed. Crispus and everybody in his household who believed, Crispus and all the other Corinthians who believed.

That's pretty simple, pretty clear. Where are the infants? In Crispus' situation, I can't find them either. That's number 4. What's the fifth one? For this one, we have to turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 1. Help me, help me, we're searching together.

Help me find the missing children. First Corinthians 1, 16. Paul is dealing with those who are misusing the doctrine of baptism and he's saying because some people are misusing the doctrine, I'm thankful that I didn't baptize a whole lot of you. Other people did do the baptizing. And he says in verse 16, yes, I also baptized the household, there's that word again, the household of Stephanus, besides I do not know whether I baptized any other. So he baptized the household of Stephanus. That's Paul's recollection. What does that mean?

Well what does it mean in four previous cases? It either clearly meant by the words that stipulated it unmistakably that these were people old enough to believe or else there was not enough information given, but we didn't find any infants that were clearly included in household baptisms previously. Why should we assume that here, particularly when, now turn to 1 Corinthians 16, the only other reference to Stephanus, 1 Corinthians 16, 15, verse 15, I urge you brethren, you know the household of Stephanus, that it is the first fruits of Achaea and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints, that you also submit to such and everyone who works and labors with us. So Stephanus' household, we don't know exactly who it was, but they devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints.

Does that sound like infants? I don't see how. I don't see how. You know we who've come to understand the doctrines of grace realize how important it is that we let the Bible define its own terms. We come to the word world in the Bible and our many friends will tell us that means every individual in the world without exception, we say look at the context and realize that the word world as it's used in the Bible and defined by the Bible or described by the Bible usually means something a whole lot less than every individual in all the world. We have to let the Bible define its own terms. So we come to the term household in the Bible.

How do we understand it? Infants, of course, unquestionably. Not so fast. In these descriptions we looked at, do we see indication of infants?

Nope. Household is used, but there is no indication that an infant was in any one of these five households. Where are the infants? We first looked at passages that had children but no water. Now we've looked at five passages that have water but no children. Where are the infants? Amber alert, amber alert, help us find the missing children.

Where are they? Am I having too much fun with this? Finally, a third category that I will call circumcision, baptism but no children. There is one passage where clearly circumcision and baptism are brought together and it's found in Colossians, Colossians chapter 2.

They're mentioned in the same text and are assumed by pedo-baptists to support the concept that water baptism has replaced circumcision and that we should therefore baptize infant children. Let's read the text, Colossians 2.10-13. Oops, I'm in Philippians, that won't do, Philippians, Colossians 2.10.

And you are complete in him who is the head of all principality and power. In him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ, buried with him in baptism in which you also were raised with him through faith in the working of God who raised him from the dead. And you being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he is made alive together with him having forgiven you all trespasses. Circumcision of baptism, mentioned in the same text but what does the text teach?

Let's work through it. Number one, that New Covenant members are complete in Christ and I chose that particular term to describe believers because that's helpful in the way we're discussing this issue of Old Covenant, New Covenant. Verse 10, you are complete in him who is the head of all principality and power. New Covenant members are complete in Christ. In other words, they're all saved, right? At least that's what verse 10 indicates, the people he's talking about are regenerated believers by the work of the Holy Spirit and are now complete in Christ.

What does he tell us further? Verse 11, that New Covenant members have been circumcised in Christ. In him, you, the same ones that are complete in him, you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ. New Covenant members have been circumcised in Christ, not the physical removing of flesh, not the physical act of Old Covenant circumcision, but the spiritual reality symbolized by it. Those who understood the meaning of circumcision realized this is a symbol of the putting away of sin, putting away the body of flesh, putting away the old man, it is a picture of the cleansing that comes through faith in God's promises.

Not the physical removal of the flesh, but the spiritual reality of the physical act of circumcision symbolized cleansing from sin. So New Covenant members have been circumcised in Christ, a spiritual circumcision, not a literal one. Then verse 12, New Covenant members have been raised with Christ through faith. Verse 12, buried with him in baptism, in which you also were raised with him through faith in the working of God who raised him from the dead. Would this involve any infants who have not yet believed in Christ?

No, it couldn't, it has to be those who through faith, who themselves have exercised faith, have been raised in Christ. New Covenant members have been raised with Christ through faith, which is the spiritual reality symbolized by water baptism. So you've got two signs, the Old Covenant sign of circumcision and the New Covenant sign of water baptism, and Paul says, he's dealing of course with Judaizers who are trying to take New Covenant believers back to the actual physical act of circumcision and Mosaic dietary laws and so forth, and he says, no, no, no, no, no. If you're in Christ, if you've been made complete in Christ, you have everything that you need.

You have been circumcised by the circumcision that really matters, it didn't involve a knife, it involved the word of God sharper than the ninety-two-edged sword, it changed your heart. And when you were baptized, the assumption is that they all were, it was a symbol of something else, your new life in Christ, your resurrection from the dead in Christ. What you have through faith, everyone who was baptized in this way was baptized because of their faith in Christ. So New Covenant members have been made alive in Christ, transgressions have been forgiven.

Sounds like the New Covenant. No man shall tell his neighbor, know the Lord, his neighbor and friend, for all shall know me from the least to the greatest of them, because the Holy Spirit has worked in their hearts and they're all regenerated and we have the same picture here. Their transgressions have been forgiven, would that be true of infants?

Absolutely not. There's no hint here, baptizing those, except those to whom these salvation realities apply. Those who are complete in Him, those who by faith have been raised with Christ, they are the ones who have been circumcised with a spiritual circumcision that matters and they are the ones who have been baptized in water expressing the reality of what that speaks of, new life in Christ and resurrection from the grave. No hint of baptizing those for whom these salvation realities have not yet occurred. Does this passage, looked at carefully, help the pedo-baptist in his support?

Not the way I look at it. Where are the infants? The reference to circumcision, of course, reminds us that this belonged to infants in the Old Covenant.

We're talking here about New Covenant realities. Where are the infants for whom these things apply? Where are the infants who are complete in Him? Where are the infants who have had faith in Him?

Where are the infants who have been raised to life in Christ? Where are they? Amber Alert! Amber Alert! We can't find them.

Help us to find the missing children. I make reference to one more. I wish I had more time for this.

I wish I had more time for all of these. I am weighing, I haven't decided, I'm weighing the possibility of going back in the new year and taking up all of these texts one by one and making each one a text for an entire sermon. It certainly would be valuable, but I don't know. But before we move from this completely, this idea of circumcision, baptism, but no children, we have to consider one more thing, and that is the Abrahamic Covenant, different from the Mosaic Covenant that's referred to in Jeremiah 31 and Hebrews chapter 8 and 10. We do know that the Abrahamic Covenant was a promise to Abraham and to his seed.

We do know that circumcision was the sign of his physical seed, infant males who were circumcised on the 8th day. We also know that the Bible teaches us that new covenant believers are the spiritual seed of Abraham. Therefore, Beto Baptist conclude, even Jeremiah 31 aside, because of the Abrahamic Covenant, we should be baptizing our infant children.

All right, question therefore, if you want to go that route, what does the Bible say, or who does the Bible say are the spiritual seed of Abraham? If you're going to equate faith in Christ with the faith of Abraham and the covenant that was given to Abraham, which covenant is fulfilled in the new covenant? That was a broad covenant. That had some physical aspects that had to do with Abraham's physical descendants, but that had much broader aspects that had to do with the wide world, didn't it?

And you shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. That's fulfilled in the new covenant, isn't it? But the promises to Abraham and his seed, circumcision is assigned to his physical seed, infant males. New kind of believers are the spiritual seed of Abraham, so far we all agree. The new covenant side should therefore be given to infant children. The new covenant believers now don't agree.

Why? Because the Bible tells us who are the spiritual seed of Abraham, and again, it doesn't include infants, Galatians, Galatians chapter 3. Verse 6, just as Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness, therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.

What? I thought it would be those who are of faith and their children, circumcised like the descendants of Abraham were. Nope, nope, we're dealing now with a new covenant, different covenant. Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham, and the scripture foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand saying, and you all the nations shall be blessed, so then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. Those who are of faith should receive the sign of the new covenant that replaces circumcision, the Abrahamic sign of the old covenant.

Those who are of faith. Could anything be clearer? Not a single infant indicated here, where are the infants?

Now I have time to make a few closing applications. One thing I would like to focus upon in conclusion is to recognize the importance of families. That's one thing that the erroneous doctrine of pedobaptism does, it really puts emphasis upon families, upon the responsibility of parents for the spiritual well-being of their children. There's a good emphasis here, even if it's mistaken in its actual practice. It's one that can and should be emulated by all Christian families. All of God's people should understand the importance of this.

It is very important. But lesson number two would be one in how to properly interpret scripture. And we go back to this idea of exegesis versus isegesis.

We've talked about that before. Exegesis is studying the scriptures and, by careful examination, drawing out truthfully, honestly, what is there. Isegesis, often employed, is going to scripture and inserting into the scripture what is not there but what needs to be there to make your ideas work with the Bible. And we are all prone to do a good share of isegesis if we're not careful, sticking into scripture what isn't there to make it work for what we think ought to be there. But to interpret scripture correctly, we've got to employ careful exegesis. So if we think, in studying the Old Testament, that circumcision of infants in the Old Testament because of the unity of the covenant of grace and the unity of the Old and New Testament people of God that all true believers are part of the church, that's an idea that is anathema to dispensationalists, but I think is a valid idea though the Old Testament doesn't use the term church. But if we think because of that unity, therefore, we have warrant to baptize infants even though there's no instruction to do it and no example to do it and everything we can find does not include infants in this, but we think that's the way we should understand our exegesis of Old Testament scripture. We come to the New Testament and we stick some of these Old Testament concepts in, isegesis, because they ought to be there.

In fact, it's easy to not only say they ought to be there, it's easy to see them there. We're convinced of this. We see these things in our study of the Old Testament and so we're convinced that this is what is there and so we look at these passages and yeah, yeah, there's infants there, there had to be infants in these households and so forth. But that's fraught with potential error, particularly when the scriptures clearly speak contrary to our logic and what we consider to be necessary inferences and conclusions.

We've got to be careful about that. We must not formulate conclusions and then bend scripture to agree with our conclusions previously drawn, but rather we must draw tentative conclusions from our study, say of the Old Testament, and then study scripture to either confirm, sometimes it will, or modify what we have studied. Now I've been pretty hard on pedobaptists today and even the last couple of weeks so this is a good time to insert this word of caution. It seems to me that in a different vein dispensationalists make exactly the same error that the pedobaptists do. They come to conclusions from the Old Testament, this is the way this ought to be interpreted, this is the way it must be interpreted, this is the way we must understand it.

All these promises to Israel, land promises, so forth so on and so on. Down to the New Testament we don't find them there but they ought to be there and so we see them there. To take one example I remember years ago as I was wrestling with some of these things and I remember I pulled out, I probably told you this before, I pulled out one of the big volumes by a well-known dispensationalist about eschatology. I really wanted to see where did the scripture teach a pre-tribulation rapture. And I opened, got to the index and found the right place and opened to what he said and there was what he said about the pre-tribulation rapture and the only proof text he gave was First Thessalonians chapter 4. And I had just preached through First Thessalonians and I knew good and well there is no mention of the time of the rapture in that text. Does the text teach a rapture?

Yes. Does the text teach a pre-tribulation rapture? No it doesn't teach that. So what had happened? Somebody had inserted that into the text based upon the conclusions they had drawn before they got to that text.

It happens all the time. So let's be willing to be corrected as we study scripture and find that some of our conclusions that might seem totally logical, totally reasonable, even necessary by the way we see them and think about them, prove not to be as we continue to study the scriptures carefully. I will have you turn to Romans chapter 3 for my final remarks and then I will close. I had a hard time picking out a text for today's sermon. You can see why.

I was going all over the landscape. But here's my text actually, the one that will show up in the record and I hadn't even gotten to it yet. I'm going to conclude with it, Romans 3, 1 and 2. What advantage then has the Jew or what is the prophet of circumcision? Paul is explaining prior to this that Jews really have no spiritual advantage when it comes to salvation over Gentiles because all have sinned to come short of the glory of God.

And so then he's answering the objection that Jews raise. Well then if that's true then what's the prophet of being a Jew in the line of Abraham? All the wonderful blessings that were promised to him and we've thought all these years that being in that line gave us special advantage and what is the prophet of circumcision?

And Paul says basically just one thing, verse 2, much in every way chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. There really is no saving prophet to circumcision, no spiritual advantage to circumcision. The advantage to the Jews was that they had the word of God in the way the Gentiles didn't.

That's the advantage. There's no advantage to baptizing our children and considering the members of the new covenant. It confers no spiritual advantage whatsoever.

That's a mistaken idea and can be a dangerous one. That's the advantage, the word of God, fill their hearts with the word of God, fill their minds with the word of God and pray for God to drive it home to the saving of their souls. And that's an advantage that all of us have if we are Christians and have the Bible. We can all have the same spiritual advantage to saturate our children with the word of God and that's what we should be doing. Verse 3 talks about the missing advantage of circumcision and it would also therefore imply the missing advantage of infant baptism, shall we pray. Father, these are difficult areas and we have people that we know are godly Christians, lovely Christians and intelligent and well trained and thoroughly knowledgeable in Hebrew and Greek and the study of scriptures who have drawn a different conclusion and we love them and we respect them but we cannot agree with them. They are our brothers in Christ and how grateful we are for that. Father, help us always to be bound not by tradition and not by what some famous person says or thinks or teaches but by what you show us clearly from your word as we ask it in Jesus' name, Amen.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-09 04:23:58 / 2022-11-09 04:33:29 / 10

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