With part 1 we looked at the fact that infant baptism is not supported by the Word of God. Today, we will learn about the perversions of God’s Word that those who espouse infant baptism use to defend and/or justify their unbiblical practice. Some folks have a very simplistic way of viewing baptism regardless of the mode, practice, and message behind it. However, infant baptism is not a mere ceremony, which after it is performed, is an event that is no longer significant, nor is it an isolated ordinance.
Consider the following Scripture: “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth, and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16). Dear reader, do you see it? The order of the Great Commission is imperative and is to be observed, followed, and practiced. First of all, one MUST believe and secondly, baptism comes after, and this is known as “believer’s baptism.”
Biblical baptism is a result of an inward change upon the lost sinner becoming born again. Because the Lord now dwells within a new convert there is a new character as well. To baptize an infant is to do so regardless of the inward change and therefore though still an infant remains in the spiritual status of a lost sinner. The infant cannot make a public profession of faith in Christ Jesus nor does the infant have any ability whatsoever to repent and trust Christ as Savior.
One of the explanations given by those who practice infant baptism is: “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39). A supportive verse given by those who practice infant baptism is: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy” (1st Cor. 7:14). They believe that there is a sense in which the children of even one believing parent are made holy; and that they are set apart from the world by God.
Let’s take an expository look at these two verses. “For the promise is unto you, and to your children…” The Greek translation of “children” in this verse is: τέκνον, ου, τό (teknon) and is defined as: a child, descendent, inhabitant. The use of this term by Peter, is in the sense of posterity. Another perversion of this passage is that the promise related to the blessings pledged in the “covenant with Abraham.” The “promise” as stated by Peter, was the gift of the Holy Ghost to believers. With this perversion they maintain that the “gospel” covenant is a continuance of the covenant of circumcision.
They will quote Genesis 17:7 which says, “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.” One other perversion of this passage, is the claim that Peter means by “the promise,” that infants are to be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and be taken into the church. Some parents who become members of the church will ask, “what about my children? Shouldn’t they be allowed to become members as well?” These ministers will quickly say, “why yes, indeed they should be included and by all means that great promise of God’s being to you a God, is as much to you and your children now, as it ever was.”
The Presbyterians are widely known for their practice of infant baptism and in accordance with the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647) Chapter 28 titled: ‘Of Baptism,’ para. #4 states: “Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, (but also the infants of one or both believing parents are to be baptized”). The Presbyterians also believe that the New Testament texts commanding baptism are always more, and not less, inclusive than circumcision.
Regarding baptism Presbyterians believe that there is 1) continuity of the covenant of grace, 2) that there is a parallelism between baptism and circumcision, 3) the setting apart of believers and their children, 4) the expansion, rather than the contraction of that covenant, and 5) Jesus’ willingness to richly bless children brought to him by parents who trusted in him. Furthermore, they believe that those who are children of Abraham by faith, just like those who were once children of Abraham by birth, should give their children the sign and seal of the gospel, and pray that they will come to understand and believe the gospel their parents hold to.
Presbyterians also believe that to withhold or neglect the baptism of an infant to be a “great sin,” although they don’t consider it to be so critical in its importance that grace and salvation are inseparably annexed or joined to it. Remember, the term “children” does not biblically refer to infants. Presbyterians strongly hold to the circumcision being a sacramental sign that sealed a righteousness which the patriarch already had, by faith, as an uncircumcised man.
More to come…