There has been some interesting debate from folks on my "A dip in the water?" post. Mal York, a great Aussie gent (we haven’t actually met, so he’s still good in my books) noted that our discussion has moved slightly into a new discussion, which has also got me thinking – which comes first?
Where does our responsibly lie? Do we first seek to make true disciples and then baptize them as a symbol of their belief and faith in Christ? OR Do we baptism all those who come to us seeking baptism and allow the Holy Spirit to work and move in them. Is Article 27 written on the understanding that the family are believers?
A literalist might notice that both Matthew and Mark record Jesus as having said to make disciples first and then baptize – "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…" (Matthew 28:19a) & "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved…" (Mark 16:15-16a). Which could easily end this thought and indicate that the church has been in error for some time and has been lax in its mission to make disciples. One difficulty, for me, is that the punctuation is not consistent in both texts.
Simply following the Great Commission in Matthew can leave room to interpret that we are open to interpreter which Jesus believed to be of greater importance. Does that make it irrelevant which happens first as long as both occur at some point?
YAY, first to comment. I don’t think theres really a debate on this one. When Jesus gathered his disciples did he call to them while they were out on a boat and say “HEY YOU come here, i gotta dunk you in some water, THEN I will make you fishers of men”???? cetainly didnt. The great comission even lays it out for us, Jesus didnt say “go out to all the nations baptise them and make them disciples” it says go to all the nations make disciples, and baptise them.
Personally (for those who cant tell I work with kids) I have been in my town for a year now, I’ve been discipling many teens who want to follow God, but for these teens, it still has yet to completly click for all of them, as I disciple (which is our language means to teach someone) these students, they come to a place where they begin to trust God, and then they can come forward (as one just did last week) and say to me “Chris, i really believe this stuff your teaching us, and I’ve decided to ask Christ into my heart, can I be baptised” and Bam, we baptise them.
Shawn, there are a few ways of looking at your use of that particular verse. I think it a fairly suspect practice to take a literalist approach to an english translation. If you want a literalist approach, I would suggest the better appraoch would be through the original language.
That being said, and since I don’t have my all grk tools handy at the desk I’m currently at, let me throw out a few things, which may or may not be completely accurate, or throw light on the verse.
If, according to what appears to be the NRSV translation, the verbal form of “baptize” is translated from what appears to be in the original a present tense participle, then there is not necessarily a linear sequence of verbal action. So the text does not indicate two separate actions, but in some sense one action. For example, a limited analogy:
“Go and cook these hamburgers, flipping them every 3 minutes”.
This command does not mean for you to cook hamburgers, and then when the hamburgers are completed their cooking, then you are subsequently to flip them every 3 minutes. Rather, it indicates that somehow flipping them every 3 minutes is an action which belongs to the process of cooking. One might even say that it also indicates at least part of the means by which they will be cooked. If I get a chance I’ll have a closer look later.
Hey Joe, I agree with you 100%, if i may stick with your anaology, you need to start to cook that burger first before the first 3 minutes is up when you can flip it.
Just like you would disciple a person first, then baptise them, even if it was only a 3 minute wait!!!!
Would you like fries with that???
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”
If we follow a linear logic, then only after we baptize people should we teach them to obey what Jesus commanded. :^) Anybody think that is a good model to follow?
A better analogy might be this: “Go to the 7-11 store, by following this street.”
Great to see you wrestling over the text and going to the original.
I think you are right joseph that the greek shows the imperative, or the command is ‘to go make disciples’ and then the two participles are baptizing and teaching – so a literal reading may see a baptising priority.
I just had a quick look at what Don Carson thinks about this and he says that:
“Baptising and teaching are not the means of making disciples, but they characterise it.”
He has a whole lot of discussion on the greek before this, which I will not bore you with, but his conclusion makes sense.
Chris’ I likle your comments about Jesus calling the disciples and your spin on the Hamburger illustration. I was going to jump out of Matthew in this discussion and look to acts to see what they actually did. Acts 2 shows that Peter proclaimed the gospel to people and 2:41 is key – “Those who accepted his message were baptised” This clearly shows that the message came first, and understanding of the message and then this lead to them being baptised.
Are there any examples of the oppoosite of this in the bible? Obviously this is what Peter took Matthew 28:19 to mean … or am I saying too much here?
Great talking with you guys. I wish we were all sitting around a table, having a drink together and chatting like this. It is excellent!!! Maybe one day – if not in this life, the next!!!
I hear you on acts 2… but heres my problem with using that as an example. Paul preached the Gospel to people, baptised them, then he left and preached in a new town, so Paul himself I don’t see as a good example, because he was an evangelist, and his job wasnt to disciple the people. While we as Church Army (shawn and i) are evangelists, we are in ministrys where we dont jump from town to town, thus allowing us to disciple people.
So i think the chicken before the egg bit can also depend on the ministry you are in.
Mal, you asked, what comes first – baptism or discipleship?
Either. In the case of adults, faith comes first. This is clear enough from cases in the Book of Acts. In the case of infants, baptism comes first. This makes sense if you understand baptism as an instrument of grace, an “effectual sign” as the Article puts it, i.e. a sign that effects.
This brings me to Chris Burke’s point, who replied to my post: “You say that baptism clears away the sin … from my understanding Jesus is what clears away our sin, baptism is only a symbol of that.” OF COURSE the grace of Christ is what clears away our sin. But this does not eliminate subordinate causes. For example, to say that “we are justified by grace through faith” means that faith is a secondary efficient cause of grace.
Faith, although it is a divine gift, is a created quality in the soul. It is a human disposition. Therefore CREATED THINGS can be instruments of divine grace: the human nature of Christ is preeminently such – his manhood is the instrument of his divine power. In the same way, the sacramental signs that Christ instituted – water, bread and wine – are instrumental causes of his grace: in the case of baptism, it cleanses us from sin and grafts us into the Body of Christ, and makes us his brothers and sisters, children of God; in the case of the Lord’s Supper, is nourishes the children so that they grow up in the image of Christ.
Christ alone is the fount of all grace. But how is grace applied? Through these instruments: certainly faith (in the case of those capable of it) but also through Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
These are the things that Christ commanded, which makes them the ordinary means of grace. That is why he said, “Unless one is born of WATER AND THE SPIRIT, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” While it is possible to be a Christian apart from the sacramental life of the Church, since God can bypass the ordinary means of grace – I suppose there are disciples of Christ who have never been baptized and never taken part in Communion – God has clearly promised that where water is applied, the Holy Spirit operates.
Therefore it is not for us to second-guess him and wonder how often, and in what circumstances, we can get away with not baptizing. By divine institution, and by divine promise, the Holy Spirit is there in power when the signs of his presence are celebrated.
That is why we baptize infants: it is not just a sign of parental commitment. It is a sign of God’s present, operative power: it is an objective means of grace.
For Calvin’s treatment of this question see his Institutes, Book IV, chs XIV-XVI. Richard Hooker deals with this in the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Book V, chs lvii-lx.
By the way, in everything I said above, I’m thinking primarily about objections to infant baptism. I take it for granted that in the case of adults, faith and commitment to Christ is prior and necessary.
i intended to comment on your previous post so hear it is now.
I was baptised this past Sunday as an adult who had been baptised and confirmed as a child. I have been a christian now for years and my confirmation was absolutely genuine. I proclaimed my faith publicly and have followed Christ ever since.
SO why the recent emmersion. Simply for the sake of Obedience.
Jesus himself was Baptised (he didnt need to be he is God) but, we need to be and that is why he did it. And I had never been emmersed after making the decision for my self to Follow Christ, repenting of my sins.
My baptism as a child was a symbole of the vowes my parent made not me.
Any way, God had reallly laid heavy on my heart the need to be baptised as an adult. As it turns out the night was an excellent opportunity for the Gospel of Christ to be preach both by the pastor who lead the service and by me as I gave my testimony of what God has done and is doing in my life today.
As a result lives were changed (including mine) and God was glorified.
There is now a young man who has asked to learn more about what it is to be a Christian and then wishes to be Baptised ( I think he’s got it right). The Promises we make are serious and shouldnt be taken lightly. Devoting your life to Jesus Christ is Serious Buisness.
I mentioned that my life was changed.. Asking to be Baptised was a humbling experience especially since I am a commissioned evangelist and have been ministering to God’s people for years.
My pride took a wicked beating.. Praise God.. It is good to walk in obedience.
Jen, 3 points:
1. Isn’t it possible that the seed of your adult faith was planted by God at your infant baptism? Since you say that your childhood confirmation was genuine, so too, then, was the work of the Holy Spirit in your first baptism, when he gave you new birth even before you knew it.
If that is the case, is it obedience to be baptized a second time, or is it to contradict God?
2. Jesus did require baptism. Yes, he is true God, and did not need baptism; but he is also true man, and his human nature required the unction of the Holy Spirit, who descended upon him to strengthen him for his public ministry.
3. If the baptism of Jesus is a type of our own – as you suggest, an example for us to follow – then surely the Holy Spirit descends as well upon us who are baptized. As Jesus said, we are born of “water and the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit operates in the baptism of infants as well as adults – why set limits to the timing of God’s operation in human lives?
That is why we baptize once: we trust God to do it right the first time.
I think we all need to remember something when commenting about this subject. Try not to say that your opinions are right, make sure that you establish that the things you say are either how you personally feel, or what your tradition is. I know it wasn’t intended, but some of the stuff said in the last comment was found offensive by Jennifer. We need to remember that the way some of our churches “do baptism” is not to say unscriptual, because there is deffinatley scripture to back up what everyone is saying, but the traditions of say the anglican church aren’t the same as the baptist church, not to say that 1 is right over the other, but when we say comments like the ones above for instance, it comes across to those reading as “my way is right, and yours is wrong” which i’m sure wasn’t intended.
that’s just a little side note.
It is unfortunate that Jennifer was offended, I know Charles and I know that he would not wish that. However, when you introduce your personal narrative into a theological debate, it is then opened up to scrutiny just as if she had made an argument. I don;t think Charles was out of line in his comments.
It is unfortunate that Jennifer was offended, I know Charles and I know that he would not wish that. However, when you introduce your personal narrative into a theological debate, it is then opened up to scrutiny just as if she had made an argument. I don;t think Charles was out of line in his comments.
What scriptureal support do you have for your position? What does effectual sign mean?
Does it not mean that the sign is a reality, not that the sign affects or changes the person in any way?
The sign is effectual, in that, it is a real sign that indicates something that is happening – but it is only a sign, it does not guarantee that it is acutally happening.
For example, the people that Chris spoke to after the confirmation – they had been confirmed, but they had no idea what it meant …
Can you please just outline what you mean a bit more and show us from scripture what the support is? Thanks buddy
Sorry, I wrote those last comments in haste … I will write more soon
I have a bit more time now.
Charles, I am wondering with baptism for a child where you get the evidence that from that there is something that actually happens in the child to make them saved? It seems that we are on the same page with adult baptism – you said faith is necessary first – but it seems that the sign somehow has more substance than if made for an adult. How is this so? What scripturasl support do you have for this?
I can see that baptism for an infant means something under ‘covenatal theology – or as Berkhof calls it a ‘covenant of grace’ – (did you see what I wrote on the last blog) but not how baptism – in and of itself – means more than this? AsI tried to blurt out before … but was in a rush … are you sure of what you mean by effectual sign? It is an effectual sign because it is a sign of something that really works – ie. the regeneration of the believer by the Holy Spirit – but it is not an affectual sign, the sign does not make the Holy Spirit work in the life of the believer. This would make the sign manipulative – we could say – OK God, they have been batised – now you must work in them!!!
Imagine a person who wants to perform the sign (get baptised), but does not believe it, nor really wants to have anything to do with Jesus or his church – but wants to do it because their parents did it to him and there is pressure from the family – this person is not going to be changed by the sign . Nor will an infant in the same situation. Especially if unbelieving parents – parents outside the covenant of grace – they don’t believe in Jesus, nor do they want to – but they like the idea of their child being baptised because it has become a ‘tradition’ in the family.
Anyway, interested to hear what you think …
Jen, I am probably with Charles on the idea that your first baptism is porbably all that you need, you don’t need to be baptised again – it was suffiecient under the covenant of Grace. HOWEVER, on saying that I think that baptism is a sign (as well as confirmation) and it does not really matter if you want to get baptised again. While you may not have needeed to, you did and I think it’s great. If you saw it as a defining moment in your walk with Christ and made a public declaration of this through a baptism (be it your second)- FANTASTIC! The gospel was proclaimed – unreal. Lives were changed – praise the Lord. This is great and I hope that you will continue to proclaim his name in what you say and how you live all of your life. Good on you sister for standing up for him!!
Charles, you keep coming back to the ‘water and spirit’ – do you know for sure that Jesus was alluding to baptism here? Have a look at Don Carson’s commentary on John. For those who can not, I will try and give a quick summary – Water is an Old Testament allusion and is only referred to one time in the passage – Jesus goes on completely to talk about rebirth by the spirit – vs 8, 14-15, 15-17. It is more likely that Jesus is referring to Old Testament teaching as he accuses Nicodemus of being ‘Israel’s teacher’ (vs 10) and not knowing these things – now as Irael’s teacher he taught the Old Testament, not the new and Jesus is using Old Testament imagery here to teach Nicodemus. Otherwise, you would imagine that he would be more lenient … “Don’t worry, you will learn these things soon” or something like that! (My words, not Jesus’!!)
Rather, water here seems to be an illusion to renewing or cleansing. These are what water tends to be seen as when used with Spirit in the Old Testament – it is the eschatological (a big word for end times – in case someone didn’t know) cleanising and renewal promised by Old Testament prophets. Have a look at Ezekiel 36:25-27. “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” The “Great Heart Transplant”! Anyway , I only use this to question whether water in John 3 means baptism. I don’t think that it does.
Finally, Chris I was wondering why you don’t think that Peter’s model in Acts 2 can apply to us? You said he was jumping from town to town and so this makes a difference. Why? Surely there is not that much difference between someone who jumps from town to town and a permanent minister. But unless you stay in one place for life – I assume we are all eventually going to jump from town to town – it may tak a few years, but we will go! Was Timothy, who was in an established ministry, not jumping from town to town – was he not called to do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim 4:5 as well as doing all his other ministries? What does disciple people mean – to baptise them first and then tell them the gospel or tell them the gosepl and then baptise them … is this not what Pater did? I am just unsure at what you were saying, maybe you could qualify your position. Thanks mate.
Ok, as I said, I had some more time!!! Thanks for reading and I am looking forward to hearing your response. Blogs can be so hard – I have to agree with Tom – sometimes we can misinterpret a response from people as being attacking or harsh … let us try and continue to live out Ephesians 4:2 being humble and gentle, patient and bearing with one another in love. Please take my comments this way, as I will take yours this way as well.
Sorry about my spelling – I just re read what I wrote!!!
You seem to think that when I was saying we can’t use Peter 2 that I was talking about preaching the gospel, but I talking about discipleship. As a minister, which I believe Shawn told me you were, you stay in a place for from my experience 3-5 years, which is deffinatley time to discipleship, obviously it’s not ENOUGH time, becuase discipleship is something that you do your whole life, BUT nevertheless, you can still effectivley disciple someone in that 3-5 years that you are posted in a church. What I was saying is that, Paul and Timothy for instance werent in places for 3-5 years, or even a year for that matter (i know there are some places they were, but not all). What I am saying is that peoples encounters with Paul could be looked at today almost as a crusade (remember I’m not saying ANY of these to be hereticol, it’s just an analogy) Paul would preach the message, people would believe, and be baptised, just as you would do at a crusade, BUT use Billy Graham as a example, he probably baptises THOUSANDS of people a year, but he doesn’t disciple them, just like Paul would have baptised MANY people, but didnt disciple them.
That was my reason for saying using Paul wasn’t necessarily a good example, because he was an evangelist who travelled from town to town.
And I want to reiterate again, I know that Charles wasn’t intending to offend Jen, but he still did with the comments he said. The reason why Jen wanted to be baptised was because of an obeidence thing. She was never baptised as a believer, only as a baby, which i think most of us in here have agreed that a baby cannot make the choice to be baptised based on their belief. For the past year Jennifer has felt God calling her to be baptised (I know this because she sleeps next to me at night) and out of obeidence she finally put her pride on the side and did what she felt God was calling her to do, be emersed in the waters of baptism as a consious believer showing her community of faith the commitment she made. She did NOT do it becuase she thought the first baptism didnt work, or that the confirmation she had as a 13 year old didnt work, she did it ONLY because she felt God calling her to do it. And it was deffinatley a great night. The gospel was preached and many lives were changed. I had a young guy who is part of my ministry come up to me after the service because he wants to be baptised. He’s one of these young people who I’ve been pouring my life into, perhaps discipling, for the past year, and I knew that he was on the verge on making a commitement, and now I know he has asked Jesus into his life, and he wants to be baptised, Praise God.
Chris is right, I didn’t mean to offend. I guess I assumed that a commissioned evangelist would not object to a challenge to her belief, since that would seem to be part of the vocation. My comments were not meant to run anybody down, any more than, I suppose, anyone else meant to offend me by implying that those baptized as infants (as I was) are not really baptized.
This is my last post on this subject, and will try to address some of the questions and points raised since my last post.
Mal asked: “what does effectual sign mean?” It means a sign that effects, i.e. brings something about; an instrument; a means. Examples in Scripture: with a word, or by the laying on of hands, or with spit, Christ heals the sick; with his breath he sends the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. There are occasions when Jesus healed without a word or sign – as in the case of the Syrophoenician woman’s daughter, or the Centurion’s – but in most cases he accomplishes these deeds of power through signs. If it is doubted whether these signs actually are “effective,” St James seems to imply that created or human things can be instruments of God’s power: “the prayer of faith will save the sick man.” Now obviously, God alone heals, not the prayer of faith; but God works through prayer. In the same way, Christ works through the signs he instituted: “the bread which we break, is it not the communion of the Body of Christ?” We know that when we receive the bread and wine, we are in communion with Christ. It is a sign not just that God imparts grace, but a sign of when God imparts grace – the whole point of a sign of grace is to leave no doubt in our minds that grace is at work in us.
In Romans 6, St Paul states that in baptism we are “united” with Christ; our status is objectively tied in with his; through baptism we are buried with him, and raised with him. That St Paul does not speak of “signs” at all indicates that he equates the immersion and lifting out of water with burial and resurrection.
This does not mean that an instrument is a “cause” as though water has an inherent power that can bring about regeneration, any more than a hammer, by its own power, can drive in a nail. But just as we use a hammer to drive a nail – the human being is the cause of the driving, but the hammer is a necessary instrument – so God uses water as an instrument of grace. If this seems far-fetched, human faith and prayers are likewise often instruments of God’s power; indeed, sometimes he doesn’t work at all apart from our intercession.
In any case, whether or not anyone is convinced that sacramental signs are instruments of grace, it is plain that these signs at least reveal his operative power, just as the stirring of the pool of Bethsaida revealed the presence of an angel, or the burning bush revealed the presence of God. Likewise, the water of baptism is a sign of the Spirit’s presence. And the Spirit is not there unless he does something.
This presence of the Spirit Christ himself guarantees when he links “water and the Spirit,” and in his own baptism it is revealed when the Spirit descends upon him. As for the objection that Christ did not really mean “water” when he said “water,” it seems best to take the literal meaning first, and if it will stand up under scrutiny, we have no right to knock it down. I am sure no one wants to assume that Christ did not mean what he said, unless there is very good reason to say otherwise, since there is a great danger in making him say what we want him to say. So Ezekiel 36.25 doesn’t necessarily change that: maybe God is referring to baptism with water! All the more to suppose so, since Jesus did baptize with water, and we follow his command to do so. As did the Apostles: when they baptized with water, the Spirit was there, as the Book of Acts so frequently testifies. So I find it difficult to believe that when Jesus said “water and Spirit,” he did not mean water as a duty on our part, and Spirit as a gift on God’s part.
Mal also asked: “where [do] you get the evidence that from [baptism] there is something that actually happens in the child to make them saved?” and wonders whether I think this is true only of infant baptism, and not of adult baptism where faith is requisite.
An objective change takes place in both children and adults when they are baptized. The evidence that “there is something that actually happens in the child” is the presence of the Spirit, which is guaranteed by the sign of water. The outward sign of cleansing and regeneration would be no sign at all if these things were not in fact taking place. In infants, this grace PRECEDES faith, and prepares the child for an adult faith. In the case of adults, baptism FOLLOWS faith, but the objective regeneration also occurs as we are “born from above.” This requirement of faith on the part of those who are capable of it means – here I agree with Mal – that an adult with no faith cannot be baptized. But if someone with no faith elects to be baptized, this does not mean that God is not at work in baptism – his power is objectively present not as mercy, but as wrath. St Paul states as much in relation to the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11).
This also addresses Chris’s point, that “a baby cannot make the choice to be baptized.” Of course not. But even if we do not or cannot choose, GOD CHOOSES US, and can work even in the life of a baby. In relation to him, we are ALL as infants – no one chooses him apart from his grace; no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Spirit. God acts, we are clay in his hands. In this way infant baptism reveals the mystery of prevenient grace, and I don’t see why people who otherwise believe in the absolute inability of man to save himself have a problem with it!
Lastly, Mal states: baptism “is an effectual sign because it is a sign of something that really works – i.e. the regeneration of the believer by the Holy Spirit – but the sign does not make the Holy Spirit work in the life of the believer,” since this would mean we could manipulate God. Well, we can’t manipulate God, but at the same the sign of water would be no sign at all if it were not a guarantee that grace is at work when we use it. It would merely express a hope of ours – our SOS signal to God, not God’s “visible word” to us.
For the sake of our salvation God did allow himself to be manipulated. Once before God placed himself in the hands of sinful men; and he does still. For reflection cf Matthew 16.19.
Finally, a point I’d like to make about Church history. Acts of course is a good place to look at apostolic practice, but this practice is not necessarily normative. If we took apostolic practice as the norm, we would baptize only in rivers and baptize people on behalf of their dead relations (1 Cor 15), a practice which Paul does not condemn. There is possible support for infant baptism in Col 3.12 and 20, where children of believers are considered Christian, and where there is no suggestion that they need to be baptized down the road. Entire households, which presumably included children, were baptized: Acts 16.15,33; 1 Cor 1.16. However, this type of argument is inconclusive, and indicates that the final word is not to be found in this way. The mind of Christ is revealed in the development of the Church, guided “into all truth” by the Spirit, when by the second century there is evidence of infant baptism (e.g. in the witness of Justin Martyr, Irenaeus and Polycarp – Polycarp knew John the Apostle), and by the third century clear testimony.
I’ll leave it at that. Thanks all for your patience.
Thank you so much for your comments.
Chirs, I think that we are probably pretty similar in view. I think that I understand what you are saying about procliaming the gospel, baptising and discipleship. And there definately is a difference between someone who goes from town to town and someone who stays in the ministry long term. I just think that the tools are the same! So, see Peter as an example to both – but your point is taken.
Charles, can I urge you – while keeping comments of church history and other great thinkers in mind – to keep the bible as the final word. The bible is God’s infaliable word, while men who have worked in the church are faliable! Always remember 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All scripture is useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly eqquipped for every good work. It’s just that so many Godly people through out history hold opposing views and so we need to come back to the text and struggle with this ourselves. I agree, listening to what they say, but letting the scriptures be our final authority. I think if you feel the final truth is not found in the bible, it is even less in the people who have come after!
I would be interested to see why you think the Anglican Church tradition stops people who are not Christians, or not right in the Lord from coming to the Lord’s supper. If you say that it is “a sign of when God imparts grace” – why not get unbelievers to the table and then they will be saved? I guess the reason is that Paul says that “Anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.” (1 Corinthians 11:29)The Anglican church recognises the importance of this, and so keeps people away from the Lord’s supper – why do they not do the same with baptism?
Now, we are talking about infant baptism, which I am for – but only for a child of believing parents (as outlined by them being under a covenant of grace). But if the sign of the Lord’s supper is misused judgment comes upon people, why notif the sign of baptism is misused? It is an effectual sign – but like the Lord’s supper it can be misued, and this will not bring about the response that it was meant to – rather, it bring judgement!! Just like the sign post to my church is effectual, because my church is really there. But, if someone came and stole the sign to my church and set it up in Canada it does not mean that my church is not there – it is just being misused and will not lead people to my church. Used in a wrong way, all the meaning is taken out of it. The sign does mean that grace is at work in the believer – but that same sign shows that judgment is being heaped on the unbeliever!
I don’t think that God was manipulated – I think Jesus knew exactly what he was doing. I don’t think that Jesus was giving Peter authority over heaven – Matthew 28:19 Jesus clearly proclaims that all authority has been given to him. It is only because of Jesus allowing Peter to do what he does and allowing it to be bound in heaven that it happens – Jesus still holds all authority!! Ephesians 1:11 Paul says that “in him we were chosen having predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” – no manipulation here!
I guess it comes down to – if we are talking about infant baptism of a believer, then although we come at it from different directions, I can see that we are in aggrement – this is a good thing to do. None of us are being heretical in our apporach, we are using scripture as the basis. Where we differ, is when it is the infant baptism of the unbeliving child.
I fear Charles, that you give the infant baptism of a an unbelieving child more power than it has. God does not need a hammer to bang in his nails. He is shooting from a nail gun!! (Sorry, that sound really bad – but I had fun writing it!!) God will work despite the sign of baptism – as I am sure that you will agree with. But when it comes to baptising a non-believing infant there is no evidence that it will affect the baby in any way – that the sign is effectual for them. You can’t say that faith is necessary in an adult, but no faith ‘covenant’ around a child is ok … because if this is the case are they all not now saved? This would mean that salvation for an infant comes by the work of baptism, not faith alone – because their is no faith surrounding this child. How does grace preceed faith in an unbelieving infant?
If that child refueses to get confirmed does this mean that the sign becomes ineffectual – can that happen with baptism? You seem to say that no it cannot before in Jen’s case. I am just unsure how you get to this point. Or are there many people who are walking around, who are rejecting God completely in their lives – but who, because they were baptised as an infant, really are saved? Why then do we not baptise everyone and then not speak to them about the gospel in anyway so that we just rely on their infant baptism for salvation. Even though we disagree on John 3, about Spirit and Water, Jesus says this is the way to enter the kingdom of heaven … but he does not say if you get water put on you, the spirit will come. It is the baptism of an unbeliving child that you can see I can’t understand. Maybe you have not been addressing this, only a Christian believer … which for the most part I can see what you are saying.
I do believe in Man’s inability to save himself – and that is why it sounds as if the sign of baptism can. Do you see my concern?
Loving this conversation. Thanks heaps for your input – I notice Shawn is keeping his cards close to him and looking forward to hearing what he says …
Sorry, I did not address the “water” being “water” in John 3. I think that Jesus did mean water, just not baptism. By water he was referring to the Old Testament use of water … which is cleansing … not the New Testament use of water as Baptsim. He was speaking to a teacher of Israel and questioning him about the teachings of Israel that he did not know. So the literal reading would see what defined by the Old Testament rather than the new. I think that it would be hard to find anyone linking Ezekiel’s use of water with Baptism – well, anyone that reads a passage in it’s context anyway.
I was meant to include this in the above … Thanks.
I haven’t got time to write a book like you guys, and I don’t think I need to, as I read through Mal’s thoughts, I couldn’t have put it any better. What a great conversation this has been, and how much I’ve been able to learn about my beliefs in baptism, very cool stuff.
Shawn has been quiet because he’s been away. He just got home yesterday, and now today he is going again for a week.
Great to read all of the discussion. I was away from my computer Sunday morning until last night and now am preparing to head off again, but as Mal suggested, I’m still keeping my cards close to me.
I’ll have some access to the net while away, so I’ll check in periodically.
You guys rock!
no shawn, you rock
I am now also going away for a week and a half, so I will catch you online when I come back. I have really loved this discussion as well and have been keeping a record of all that we have said. Maybe we could turn it into a book – “Blogs on Baptism”!! Chris’ comments in the last blog were helpful – in the end baptism is a sign: the main game is proclaiming the gospel which will bring people to repentance and faith and it seems that we are all on about this – Priase the Lord! Have a good break and looking forward to picking this up in a bit over a week, or the next topic that Shawn posts.