Is there salvation outside of God's covenant?

Discussion in 'Credo-Baptism Answers' started by Michael, Dec 25, 2009.

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  1. Michael

    Michael Puritan Board Senior

    I don't really participate in many baptismal discussions these days. I'm curious to hear some responses to this though from a credo-view, particularly as it pertains to the salvation of infants and children. Obviously no one here is going to suggest that the outward sign of baptism saves in and of itself, but I would like to better understand how the credo believer handles the relationship between covenant and salvation--and of course our responsibilities in the church.

    So to start off simple: Is there salvation outside of God's covenant?

    If the answer is YES, please explain.

    If the answer is NO, please share your thoughts on the salvation of infants and children. Do you believe from Scripture that they are saved? And speaking of "they", are we talking about all infants and children or only those of believers? Hopefully it's pretty clear where this is going but my questions are genuine. Please indulge...
  2. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member


    You said:

    I would be more precise in my terminology. [Water] Baptism doesn't save at all. There is no salvific value in the application of baptism. There is a sign of the thing signified, namely that the recipient is in Christ and identifies in His death, burial, and resurrection. This is an important starting point, for if we are not clear on this one point the rest of discussion is based on a false premise.

    No. There is no salvation outside of God's covenant.

    The covenant at work in salvation is the covenant of grace, which is realized in and through the Lord Jesus Christ, and profits the believer on the basis of faith in Christ alone.

    This covenant is symbolized in the baptism of those who profess faith in Christ. Because the covenant is made with those who believe, infants are not the proper recipients of the sign. Are infants and children saved? Scripture teaches that God has called His elect, not on the basis of age, but according to His divine choice (Rom. 9:11). Credobaptists are in the same boat as paedobaptists in that we have no indication of saving faith in the life of child in the absence of an outward expression. If baptism, whether paedo or credo, could guarantee salvation children of paedo parents would never prove reprobate. The same would go for children of credo parents who make a profession of faith; their baptism is not a guarantee of salvation. God's covenant works invisibly, even thought it is confirmed in the church through an outward sign:

    So, the covenant of grace is made with God's elect, through the work of the Spirit, and is an invisible work. To us, in the church, we recognize the Spirit's invisible work in those who profess faith and receive the sign of the covenant, which is baptism.

    Michael, you may want to check out this post: Of Road Signs and Baptism.
  3. Michael

    Michael Puritan Board Senior

    Bill, do you believe that...

    a. All children that die are saved [Spurgeon, among others]
    b. Only children of true believers are saved upon death [Covenantal View]
    c. Children of believers and non-believers are saved upon death according to God's will [but not necessarily ALL children]
    d. Not sure
    e. Other
  4. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member


    I believe that elect infants dying in infancy are saved.
  5. Michael

    Michael Puritan Board Senior

    Do you believe that any of the elect infants who die in infancy are children of non-believers?

    By the answer in your last post you may not feel that we have enough scriptural warrant to say one way or another. However, I just want to clarify your position.
  6. Wayne

    Wayne Tempus faciendi, Domine.

    Not one to be dragged into this debate (aye, you're a sneaky one, Micheal!), but

    Charles Augustus Briggs, a modernist professor in the late 19th century, successfully used a misinterpretation of this paragraph to lobby for a revision of the Standards by the PCUSA, which they did in 1903. B.B. Warfield argued quite cogently that Briggs was wrong in his interpretation; that this paragraph must be seen in the larger context of the chapter. The concern of the chapter addresses effectual calling, and the assurance that God will not lose one of His sheep. The paragraph does not, Warfield argued, contend for or against the salvation of every infant dying in infancy, nor does it argue that of those infants dying in infancy, it is only those who are covenant children who are saved. The paragraph simply doesn't touch on that matter.

    Warfield himself did believe that God saves all infants who die in infancy, and was not alone in that view.

    I don't know what to think on that issue. I do at least think that God saves covenant children who die in infancy and that then means that it is all the more incumbent upon me to make my calling and election sure.

    Somewhere I have a digital edition of Warfield's article. If anyone here wants a copy, write to me at archivist AT pcahistory DOT org
  7. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    e t
  8. Michael

    Michael Puritan Board Senior

    If you are asking me I would say that would make the Flood more of a blessing than the curse that it actually was.
  9. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Does not b. assume a perfectly aligned will with God's ? I am not up on this view as most here, but it smells of man's will possibly usurping The Lord's. Based on what....your faith, their baptism,...or what?

    e. Some children are saved by His will. Though I will be a tad odorous here and say my prayers are efficacious towards my kids and He hears the prayers of His children. Call me a partial prejudiced believer that believes God can save children outside the visible church if He wants...which I believes He does.
  10. Michael

    Michael Puritan Board Senior

    Wayne, I'm soooo sneaky I just dragged you, a moderator, from a PCA church, into the Credo-Only answer area!

  11. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Michael, we do not know who is elect and who isn't. This applies to infants and children. I am more in agreement with Spurgeon, where he wrote that the believing seed is normally found in elect families. I have no problem in accepting the premise that God calls the majority of His elect from families that believe. Believing parents expose their children to the gospel and life within the church. Of course, God is not obligated or restricted from calling His elect out of heathen households. I am case in point. How does it work regarding infants? A case has to be made from inference that elect infants are found more often in believing households.

    Now, this is where the paedobaptist will usually argue for the validity of applying the covenant sign to infants and cite passages such as Acts 2:39. But it is the call that is effectual, not the sign. To apply the sign in advance of ascertaining the call is like putting the cart in front of the horse In my humble opinion.
  12. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Would that be a blessing that the flames of hell were not as hot as they could have been if they lived a long and faithless life? ;)
  13. Michael

    Michael Puritan Board Senior

    No, it would have been a blessing in that instead of God wiping the reprobate clean off the planet and off into hell, he, in the view of those who hold to complete infant salvation, would have spared myriads of sinners from the enormity of his curse. That would have made the Flood a blessing for much more than Noah and his posterity.

    Bill, still chewing on your last post...
  14. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Folks, this is the credo answers ONLY forum. Answers to the OP are only to be provided by credobaptists. The originator of the thread is allowed to respond, but no other paedobaptists.

  15. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    So do you hold to that only children of believers "make it"? If so what is that based on...your faith, their baptism? In my thinking the covenant would be to those that are true Israel.
  16. Michael

    Michael Puritan Board Senior

    You might be on your own on this one. The covenant is not only for 'true' Israel. Plenty have been in the covenant and found their way to hell.
  17. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Which covenant is that? No one who is truly part of the New Covenant has/will find their way to hell. The Old Covenant? Since the Old Covenant applied to believing and unbelieving Jews, I would agree that not everyone under that covenant possessed eternal life.
  18. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    This is where you probably have me. I was using the word "covenant" in an "elect" way.

    So your view is?
  19. Michael

    Michael Puritan Board Senior

    I would be inclined to think that if we are to presume the elect from those dying in infancy, we must start with children of believers. Based upon what? Well, at the most basic level, based upon the covenantal nature of God's promise and actions. Do we have scriptural evidence to support this? I believe yes. King David looking forward to seeing his dead son in the next life comes to mind. It's a lot deeper than this, but that's an example from the surface, so to speak.

    -----Added 12/25/2009 at 05:29:13 EST-----

    So you are saying that those baptized into the New Covenant (let's keep it simple and just use the example of adults professing faith and being baptized) are not truly part of this New Covenant unless they persevere in the faith to salvation?

    How so? Do they not also partake of the blessings of the elect in hearing the word preached, partaking of the sacraments, etc...?
  20. Wayne

    Wayne Tempus faciendi, Domine.

  21. Michael

    Michael Puritan Board Senior

    No apologies needed toward me, my friend! I am just a paedo believer here to absorb some perspective from the other side of the fence.

    -----Added 12/25/2009 at 06:15:57 EST-----

    Bill, please excuse me but I would like to get further opinions on your last point. Are there other Reformed Baptists here that agree with the statement that...

    "No one who is truly part of the New Covenant has/will find their way to hell"

    Is this the prominent Reformed Baptist understanding?

  22. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member


    New Covenant membership is conveyed only to those who are born again. It is quite possible that a person may profess to being born again, but they are an impostor. In other words, "not every professor is a possessor." If a professed believer falls away, well, they were never a believer to begin with. This is what John is writing about when he said:

    As a paedobaptist, you believe your children are baptized into the visible administration of the New Covenant. You do this on the basis of a promise, a continuation of the Abrahamic Covenant. RB's baptize only on the basis of a credible profession of faith, believing that the New Covenant consists only of believers, even if there are impostors who claim to be part of it. In keeping with this view RB's believe that true members of the New Covenant can never fall into perdition. True believers will persevere until the end. But it can also be said that they will persevere until the end because they are true believers. Those that abandon their profession never possessed saving faith to begin with.
  23. Michael

    Michael Puritan Board Senior

    How is John speaking specifically of New Covenant membership here and not simply about the regenerate/unregenerate under the New Covenant?
  24. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member


    John is not writing about the New Covenant at all. In context he was writing about a great falling away. I am making a connection to those who profess faith in Christ, but do not actually possess it. If you want to see the nature of the New Covenant look at Jeremiah 31:33 (restated in Hebrews 8:8-13). Hebrews 11:22-24 points towards Christ as the mediator of the New Covenant, and of the church of the first-born which is enrolled in heaven. This can only describe those that are actually in the New Covenant; those that are in it and cannot be removed from it.
  25. Michael

    Michael Puritan Board Senior

    Ok, we are beginning to go all over the map here but how does Jer 31/Heb 8 detail a covenant in which the members cannot fall away? Respectfully, this is beginning to sound somewhat dispensational.

    Btw, I think you may have pointed to the wrong scripture when you mentioned Heb 11:22-24.
  26. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member


    You're right. The passage is Hebrews 12:22-24.

    Seeing as you're having a difficult time following me, I am going to try and make this simple.

    1. Is there salvation outside of the covenant of grace? No.

    2. Are infants and children saved? Only if they are elect.

    3. Only elect infants dying in infancy are saved.

    4. I believe scripture provides evidence that God often calls His elect from believing families, although many are called from unbelieving families.

    5. The only true members of the New Covenant are those who have been truly born again.

    6. There are those who masquerade as members of the New Covenant (i.e. believers), but they are false professors and not members of the Covenant.

    7. Reformed Baptists are united in their belief that the only true members of the New Covenant are those that are regenerate (born again).

    I have answered all your questions. How you pull dispensationalism out of that is beyond me. I am not separating believing Israel from believing Gentiles (a hallmark of classic dispensationalism). Paedobaptists believe children of believing families are part of the temporal administration of the New Covenant, and that baptism is the corresponding sign. RB's disagree. Is this really news to you?
  27. Michael

    Michael Puritan Board Senior

    Thanks for taking the time so far Bill. I know you've entertained these discussions far more than myself so I can appreciate your patience as you have no doubt gone over the same issues countless times before. And I am sure that there are hoards of paedos who would love to jump in while reading this, but this is how I would prefer (and am grateful) to attend to the matter for now...

    OK :)

    A little vague initially, but you did explain further...

    This is essentially what you just said, but ok for now.

    I agree with the front end, though I don't see ANY scriptural evidence of this with regards to infants and unbelieving families.

    This is still a deep point of interest for me.

    I'm with you on those who masquerade as believers, but obviously don't see eye to eye on the false membership part as it relates to the New Covenant itself.

    Thanks for clarifying.

    The dispensational issue is this:

    Dispensationalism divides Israel from the Church as two distinct peoples of God. The Covenantal view only sees one people of God, those saved by faith: Israel looking forward to Christ, then the Church realizing and worshipping his accomplishment.

    Now we know that Israel and the Church are governed by two administrations in the Old and New Covenants. However, again, in both cases there was/is only one way of salvation: by faith in Christ. So the means of salvation has not changed for God's people. Neither has the fact that he governs through covenant. Beyond this, we know that the outward signs of entry into the covenant have changed from circumcision to baptism. What we don't have, upon transition from Old to New, is any command to change anything else about entry OR a revelation that the newer covenant now only contains true believers. For us to adjust our views here would seem to likewise suggest an adjustment of God's views of his own people. It would mean that he, to some extent, treats the covenantal faith of Israel differently from the covenantal faith of the Church. This isn't full blown dispensationalism, but it certainly seems to dip a pinky toe into the pool.
  28. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member


    It seems like the main point of discussion in this thread is on the temporal nature and administration of the New Covenant.

    Credos and paedos are in agreement that, in the eternal state, the New Covenant will contain only believers. Where we disagree is on the temporal administration of the Covenant. Is the temporal administration of the New Covenant made with believers and unbelievers? Let's look at the scripture.

    Most paedobaptists do not view the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31 as radically new in form and substance. They consider the Covenant to be refreshed; made better in Christ. Because they see a continuity between the Old and New, they also see strong inference that the covenant sign is to be administered within covenant households. RB's see the substance and form of the New Covenant as completely new; unlike the former covenant.

    Back to Jeremiah for a moment. In Jeremiah 31:34 the text states that each man will know the LORD. RB's recognize, as do paedos, that this prophesy is ultimately fulfilled in the eternal state when the inhabitants of heaven will all know the LORD. But since we believe the New Covenant is unlike the Old Covenant, and is completely new, its temporal administration is to reflect what it will resemble in glory. How is that reflection to appear?

    1. The New Covenant is represented in the Lord's Supper, which is reserved strictly for believers (1 Cor. 11:25, 26).
    2. The New Covenant is of the Spirit, which gives life (2 Cor. 3:6).
    3. The New Covenant is a better covenant, built on better promises; namely, Christ (Heb. 8:6).
    4. The promise of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31 is reiterated in Hebrews 8:8-13. In the context of the book of Hebrews we know that the New Covenant is made possible because of Christ. The promises that are offered through Christ are on the basis of faith (Heb. 11).
    5. Hebrews 9:15 explains that the forgiveness contained in the New Covenant is effectual only to those who have been called.
    6. Hebrews 12:22-24 is directed towards believers, instructing them that Jesus is the mediator of a better covenant.

    Michael, so you see, RB's believe there is strong scriptural evidence to indicate that the temporal administration of the New Covenant is radically different than that of the Old Covenant.

    As far as the dispensationalism issue, I think you misunderstand RB Covenant Theology. RB's believe that there has been, and continues to be, one people of God. The only difference between RB's and paedos is how we view the temporal administration of the New Covenant. Is it made with believers and their children, or is it made only with those who have been born again?
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2009
  29. Michael

    Michael Puritan Board Senior

    Have to work all day today, Bill. I look forward to picking up on this later....
  30. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Last edited: Dec 26, 2009
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