Paedo-Baptism Answers Repentance and Faith

chiefwalkenhorst

Puritan Board Freshman
How would you respond to the claim that every time baptism is presented in the NT repentance and faith proceed it. Therefore only those who repent and believe the gospel, according to Scripture, can be baptized. My friend used Romans 4:11 (Abrahams faith as necessary) and Colossians 2: 11-14 (the emphasis on “through faith”) to back up this point that faith must proceed baptism.

He tied this into the necessity for regeneration before baptism.

Bonus (if you have time): Hebrews 6:4-6, how do you explain “sharing in the Holy Spirit”?

Thanks for the help.
 
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Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
My response is that of course we want to see evidence of repentance and faith before we baptize. Any good paedo-baptist will insist on this. We don't just baptize anyone willy-nilly. We only baptize those who give a credible profession of faith, and their children. In both cases, this means repentance and faith (insofar as we can discern it) come before baptism.

The real issue is this: If a person—by repentance and faith—belongs to the community of Christ, do his children belong to that community also? If there's no repentance and faith in the first place on the part of the parent, the whole question is moot. So, of course that comes first.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello chiefwalkenhorst,

To try to answer you in a nutshell: the Reformed hold that the Covenant of Grace (CoG) is the overarching covenant of both Old and New Testament times, with differing administrations and signs/seals. Thus the command to Abraham, Gen 17:7,10,11,14, to put the sign of the covenant on his male children — the failure of which cuts the child off from the covenant — carries over to us in this dispensation of the CoG, whereby females are also given the sign (Col 2:9,10,11,12,13) :

For in him [Christ] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses...​

We administer the sign of the covenant in obedience to the God of the covenant, still being children of Abraham : "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal 3:29). And as did Abraham with the sign of circumcision, we baptize all, for the sake of the elect among them.

As regards Heb 6:4,5,6, this pertains to those born and raised in a godly church under the power of the Gospel who nonetheless are reprobate, even though the Holy Spirit wrought deeply upon and within their hearts, but were that ground and seed "which beareth thorns and briers [which] is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned (Heb 6:8).

See also this post from a recent thread here on regeneration or "faith" in infants.

(P.S. You should fill in the signature for your PB account, so we know who and whence you are.) By the way, welcome to PB!
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
To try to answer you in a nutshell: the Reformed hold that the Covenant of Grace (CoG) is the overarching covenant of both Old and New Testament times, with differing administrations and signs/seals.
Hello Steve,

As someone who has come to a paedobaptist position, you might be interested to know I am about to come into membership of the New Zealand church that Gary (Garnet) Milne pastored before he died.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Stephen,

I'm quite glad to hear of your change in understanding, but sad to hear of Dr. Milne's passing! When did he go to his Saviour? Had he been ill?

And what was it that changed your view? — I'd be very interested to understand.
 
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Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
Hi Steve,

I don't want to derail the thread; I'll answer your questions and if you want a further discussion please feel free to PM me.
sad to hear of Dr. Milne's passing! When did he go to his Saviour? Had he been ill?
Dr Milne died about 2 years ago. Apparently he had cancer. I never met Dr Milne but a number in the church have told me about him. He was a faithful and godly pastor in two Reformed Church of New Zealand congregations - Wainuiomata, and Whanganui (the latter is where I presently live).
And what was it that changed your view? — I'd be very interested to understand.
Multiple factors. Discussions on the Puritanboard were a big help as was Jon Bonker's 'Ruin and Redemption'.

I finally became unconvinced of the Reformed Baptist view of the New Covenant and also their view of the Mosaic Covenant. In terms of the latter I think the OPC report is very helpful.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
It really depends upon the person you're speaking to and how willing they are to look at the broader theological ideas presented in the Scriptures.

I was in an SBC congregation in Japan where the Baptist preacher believed that the very term "disciple" proved that Baptism was for those who made an mature profession of faith in the Gospel. The broader issue, however, is the question of what a disciple is.

One of the problems with the way the question is posed originally is that the examples of the NT prove that a person needs to be regenerated before they are baptized. That in itself is not true in the NT. The NT presents people responding to the call for faith and repentance to be baptized. People responded and they were baptized. That the Church *knew* they were regenerated is not at all true. Why? Because, as our Lord Himself testified in John 3, the Spirit's work in regeneration is not something we *know*. We may suspect someone is regenerated but we also know from His Parables that there are signs of life that are choked out or were never really in solid ground. Baptism, the, even for those who profess is never based on regeneration but upon a credible profession of faith.

Which leads to the issue of what a disciple is. A disciple is one who had been baptized, that they may then be taught everything our Lord has commanded (Matt 28:18-20). The life of a disciple is a lifelong "pressing in together" with others who have been called out of the world into the visible Kingdom of Christ in His Church. The Church does not grant the salvation of any but preaches the Word, administers the Sacraments, and disciplines its members. It is the Lord's work to bring that work into fruition. We don't baptize *because* necessarily a person has been fully saved but toward to end of Christ's work to convert, justify, sanctify and eventually vindicate His Bride. There is no tone of "you made it" in baptism but, rather, a "Today, if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts". Today is the day of salvation for all of the people in the Church. It may be the day that someone we presumed was saved finally understood the Gospel and was converted by the Spirit. It may be the day that a converted Saint learns to turn away again from sin and lean upon Christ.

And, it should be then stated, the process above is for the children of believers. Why? Because they are disciples. The Scriptures make this plain as it has been since the Covenant of Grace was instituted with Christ as the Mediator. We are commanded to train our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. The same Covenant injunctions are given to them in the NT as they are under the Law of Christ. They are in the visible Kingdom. They are, in fact, disciples. It doesn't mean they are necessarily converted (like other disciples) but they are disciples. We baptize them into the Church and they are taught everything the Lord has commanded.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Short question, he had faith first, but the sign and confirmation of the Abrahamic Covenant didn't come till when? Abel and those who had a good report till the sign and seal had faith but were not given the sign and seal. The Covenant of Grace has been revealed progressively.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Interesting thought, Randy! I would say "the sign and confirmation of the Abrahamic Covenant" in full came from the LORD to Abraham in Genesis 17:1-14, although the inward seal of God upon him can be seen in Gen 12:1 (cf. Acts 7:2; Heb 11:8), with further inward confirmation reported by Scripture in Gen 15:6.

"Abel and those who had a good report" received the inward seal of God upon their hearts, but not the outward.
 
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