Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Infant Baptism

In the old covenant, circumcision was the seal of the righteousness that is received by faith, as well as a symbol of regeneration and repentance (Rom. 4:11, Deut. 30:6, Jer. 4:4). This sign was received by professing believers and by their infant offspring as heirs of the covenant (Gen. 17:7, Ex. 12:48). The sign was given only to male believers and male children, due to the nature of the sign, although both male and female believers and their children were members of the covenant (Deut. 29:10-13).

The new covenant is a new administration of the same promises with greater clarity and power to all peoples in light of the coming of Christ. In the new covenant, baptism fulfills the role that circumcision fulfilled in the old covenant. They are different signs that symbolize the same thing (Col. 2:11-12, Gal. 3:27-29). Baptism is a sign and seal of the forgiveness of sins and regeneration and it is to be given to those who profess their faith in Christ and to their children. 

The infant children of believers today are baptized as heirs of God's covenant of grace, members of the church of Christ, to be raised in the training and admonition of the Lord Jesus. They receive baptism as infants so that from their earliest years they might learn to rely on Christ for their spiritual washing and to live accordingly as saints. 

Baptism has the same significance for children as it does for adults, and its use endures throughout our lives. Both for the infant and for the adult, baptism is intended to represent justification and regeneration in Christ, to exercise and strengthen their faith, and to confirm their interest in Christ and his benefits.

Not everyone who is baptized is undoubtably justified and regenerated, just as not everyone circumcised in the old covenant was spiritually circumcised (Acts 8:13, 23, 1 Cor. 10:1-13, Jer. 4:4). The sign is beneficial to those who use it rightly, embracing the grace symbolized by faith. But in the case of children, this faith need not be professed by them at the time of administration. As the inability to profess their faith did not bar the children of believers from receiving circumcision in the days before Christ, so it does not bar the children of believers from receiving baptism today.

The sign is still valid whether or not the children are regenerate at the time of administration. They may be regenerate already - in fact, as members of the visible church, they should be thought of as regenerate by the judgment of charity unless and until they manifest the contrary by their life. But as children grow, they should be taught the right use of this sacrament, that it might be a means of grace to them. 

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