When Does Baptism Become A Seal?

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Martin

Puritan Board Freshman
From a paedo-baptist position: is baptism a sign when applied to the infant but becomes a seal after the inward washing of the Spirit? Please correct me if this is an incorrect understanding of signs/seals.
 
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Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
WCF Chapter 27
III. The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments, rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither doth the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that doth administer it, but upon the work of the Spirit, and the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers

Berkhof:
d. Infant baptism as a means of grace. Baptism is a sign and seal of the covenant of grace. It does not signify one thing and seal another, but sets the seal of God on that which it signifies. According to our confessional standards and our Form for the administration of baptism, it signifies the washing away of our sins, and this is but a brief expression for the removal of the guilt of sin in justification, and for the removal of the pollution of sin in sanctification, which is, however, imperfect in this life. And if this is what is signified, then it is also that which is sealed. And if it be said, as it is sometimes in our Reformed literature, that baptism seals the promise(s) of God, this does not merely mean that it vouches for the truth of the promise, but that it assures the recipients that they are the appointed heirs of the promised blessings. This does not necessarily mean that they are already in principle in possession of the promised good, though this is possible and may even be probable, but certainly means that they are appointed heirs and will receive the heritage, unless they show themselves unworthy of it and refuse it. Dabney calls attention to the fact that seals are often appended to promissory covenants, in which the bestowment of the promised good is conditional.

Berkhof, L. (1938). Systematic theology (641). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
So the promise is signed and sealed at the moment of administration but only benefits those who are worthy receivers (those of faith)?

This is true of adults also, as well as infants, whether or not they believe at the time they are baptised as adults.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The usual simple formula is that the sacrament is a sign to the senses and a seal to faith. The sacrament seals nothing to an unbeliever in the way of saving benefit.
 

Martin

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for helping me clear that up. I listened to a sermon series the other day which laid out covenant theology very well for me as well as touched on baptism. Looking at paedobaptism in light of covenant theology really helps bring all the pieces together. So if the baptized infant (same as adult) grows up and does not accept the Christian faith, they are regarded as breakers of the Covenant of Grace? On a side note, seeing reformed padeobaptism as two believers raising their child, worshipping, teaching, praying for, and disciplining the child in the Christian faith is a lot more acceptable to me than paedobaptism I have seen where no one is quite sure why the child was even baptized or the child was baptized until it could "answer for itself". Also parents promise to disciple the child but the only disciplining is dropping the child off at church for youth group and picking the child up later.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Thanks for helping me clear that up. I listened to a sermon series the other day which laid out covenant theology very well for me as well as touched on baptism. Looking at paedobaptism in light of covenant theology really helps bring all the pieces together. So if the baptized infant (same as adult) grows up and does not accept the Christian faith, they are regarded as breakers of the Covenant of Grace? On a side note, seeing reformed padeobaptism as two believers raising their child, worshipping, teaching, praying for, and disciplining the child in the Christian faith is a lot more acceptable to me than paedobaptism I have seen where no one is quite sure why the child was even baptized or the child was baptized until it could "answer for itself". Also parents promise to disciple the child but the only disciplining is dropping the child off at church for youth group and picking the child up later.

Yes, "ye must be born again" was imperative not only for Nicodemus but for the covenant people as a whole. Regrettably the plural is usually ignored when it is quoted today. It teaches very clearly that those who are externally in the covenant must be inwardly renewed by the Holy Spirit in order to be spiritually blessed in Christ.

It is best not to speak of breaking the covenant of grace itself since it suggests that grace might be resistible. More specifically, those who do not repent and believe have broken the obligations which the covenant of grace requires of them.
 
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