Baby-baptism is one of those fun topics in Ontario right now. Or at least, it could be. With about 80 NAPARC churches, a growing movement of Harvest Bible Churches, and a good number of Reformed Baptist churches around Ontario, there could be a lot of rigorous and fun conversations between Christian brothers. A little over a year ago, I wrote 10 theses on baby-baptism, oriented to Reformed and Baptist debates. I want to follow this post up with another post, seeking to lay out a view of baptism that follows the pattern of Scripture. Again, I am open to discussion/clarification. I hope these 10 theses are useful for further discussion!
1. A new believer is baptized when he/she turns in repentance and faith and believes in the Name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:37-29, Acts 8:26-40). Abram was circumcised when he believed by faith in the promises of God (Acts 17:24, Rom. 4:11).
2. The New Testament speaks of household baptisms (Acts 16:15, Acts 16:33-34, 1 Cor. 1:16). The promise of God to new believers and too their children (Acts 2:37-29) parallels a similar promise to Abraham and his household circumcision (Acts 17).
3. The New Testament speaks of the children of believers as being holy (2 Cor. 7:14, I Peter 2), but there is no reference to them being eternally elect. Election is treated separately from baptism in Ephesians 1. This does not mean that they are mutually exclusive, but we can establish from the Scriptures that baptism is not the same as election.
4. Baptism is not a meaningless symbol. It symbolizes the liberation from Egypt (I Cor. 10:1-2), the salvation of Noah and his sons from the waters of judgement (I Pet. 3:20-21), and the mighty deeds of the Lord in history. In baptism, the Lord claims the baptizand as His own (Ex. 20:2).
5. Those who are baptized have been baptized into Jesus Christ, and they have put on Christ (Gal. 3:27). That means that Christ is the object of baptism. Baptism points away from itself. Assurance is not found in baptism (or in the doctrine of election for that matter) but in Christ. Look all the references to ‘in Christ’ in Ephesians 1.
6. Repentance and faith are a requirement for the baptism of a new believer (Acts 2:37-29), but they are also a demand of baptism (Heb. 10:26-31).
7. Baptism is not an excuse to presume on the riches and kindness and forebearance of God (Rom. 2:4). In other words, a baptized person must be diligent to confirm his calling and election (2 Pet. 1:10). Remember that God was displeased with most of those who were baptized into Moses in the cloud and the red sea, and most were overthrown in the wilderness (I Cor. 10:5). The Apostle Paul uses this to warn the baptized in Corinth.
8. Any concept of sowing your wild oats, finding freedom to live a wild life before you profess your faith, having some “fun” in highschool, is expressly forbidden. Life can be fun, but pursue that life. Don’t trample the blood of Christ underfoot (Heb. 10:26-31).
9. It is paramount that parents raise their children in the fear of the Lord (Deut. 6, Proverbs, Eph. 6:4).
10. If baptism is a sign and a seal of the promises of God (Acts 2:37-29, Gen. 17), then we should ask ourselves what those promises are. Jesus Christ is the promise. In other words, a theologically astute father or mother will teach their children to look to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29.