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Comments

Steve

There are three aspect of infant baptism that many American "evanglicals" reject: 1) infants have original sin and are subject to the same judgement as all people (enternal seperation from God), 2) faith in something God gives us so that we may believe and we cannot generate faith due to original sin and 3) baptism regernates sinners to new life in Christ.

wheylay

Chris, great post, many thanks to Pastor Wolfmueller and you. The section on St Luke 18:15-17 rung especially true to me and the use of original Greek leaves little room on who the Saviour was specifically speaking of. Thanks again, really like your site.
Jack

reformed pilgrim

I'm presbyterian and agree that infant baptism is fine as part of the covenantal promise of God. But one rather worrying thing I have picked up on is in steve's comment above.

Steve says 3)Baptism regenerates sinners to new life in Christ.

I may be misunderstood here but that is not actually true. It is genuine repentance and faith in the finished work of Christ that causes the Holy Spirit to regenerate a person's heart enabling them to follow Christ/ have new life in Him. Baptismal regeneration is actually a heresy that is not Biblical and is practiced by "the church of Christ" which is actually a cult. Faith and faith alone saves.

Richard

To give a relatively brief contrary view...

We who have received the grace of God (His undeserved favour) therefore become children of God which we can only do with the same innocence as a little child as proof cannot be offered. This is only possible with a child-like trust (faith/belief) in God. So you can't enter into the Kingdom of God (join His family) and so receive His grace without faith in Jesus Christ (which is trust in God). In becoming a believer we become a child of God, adopted into His family, and relate to Him as our Heavenly Father; this is the basic explanation of the 'child/children' references.

Now about faith: Faith is our response to God's grace as revealed by what He has done in and through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Faith is from a word in Greek meaning trust (which is based on God's Word and believing what the Word says, hence faith comes by hearing the Word).

The critical scripture always used to reference faith as being a gift of God is indeed “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” [Ephesians 2:8] In context with other scriptures it makes sense to state that grace is the gift of God referred to rather than faith, which is our believing God, our trust in Him and His promises. Why? Because grace is mentioned multiple times in such a context, unlike 'our faith', which is not.

The other scripture sometimes relied on is Galatians 5:22, which lists the fruits of the Holy Spirit and includes faith. That makes sense in this way: as you walk with and trust God, He repays that trust (faith) and so the 'fruit' remains and becomes better founded in the truth of God. Trust builds trust. If your faith is real it will survive the refiner's fire. Can an unbeliever have joy, longsuffering, etc? Yes, of course, but that does not mean they are believers and yet these are listed as fruits of the Spirit. In the same way faith is a fruit, so your joy in the Lord, your ability to suffer long, and so forth are a byproduct of who you are when you walk with the Holy Spirit, of who you are in Christ, but this does not mean faith is absent prior to conversion, otherwise no one would ever place their trust/faith in Christ in the first place.

Having opened up a hornet's nest, think I'll go and hide!!!

Grace & Peace

Steve Newell

Richard,

Ephesians 2:8 must also be read in the context of Ephesian 2:1-7. First, Paul clearly states that prior to our salvation, we are dead in our sin. A spiritually dead person has no ability to believe on their own just as a physically dead person had no ability to move through their own efforts. Second, it is God who gives us life. This "new life" or "rebirth", is completely due to God's grace. Again, we have no part in this. Third, In order for us to believe God, he must give us the ability to believe, thus faith is a gift. On our own, we do not any faith prior to God giving us life since we were just spiritual corpus.

Richard

Thanks for responding Steve.

But... surely the word repentance means 'think differently' (at least in the Greek), so why did John the Baptist (and when he was imprisoned and so couldn't, Jesus Christ then took up the same message) declare 'repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand', if the unbelieving sinners they addressed couldn't think differently and turn from sin to our merciful God?

I guess you could then argue that as the Lord made us all so He knows how we will respond, but just interested to read how you handle this?

Steve Newell

Repentance is also a gift of God. Repentence can only come after hearing the Word of God. God works the gift of faith what gives us the ability to repent. In Acts 11, the Apostles states that it is God who give repentance to the Gentiles for eternal life.

We call people to repent when we proclaim Law and Gospel. Repentance is not the cause of our salvation but the result of our salvation. The unregenerate person will not and cannot repent. That is why repentance has been part of historic Christian worship for centuries. Only in Christ, do we understand that we are sin and desire present and eternal punishment for our sins and we repent of our sins.

One turns repentance into a work when repentance a precondition to salvation.

Tim

Richard,

[...] if the unbelieving sinners they addressed couldn't think differently and turn from sin to our merciful God?

Because the Holy Spirit operates through the preached Word to regenerate and convert us.

We all generally believe that God's Word is powerful, but there may be some disagreement over why it's powerful.

Lutherans believe the Word is powerful because of the Holy Spirit who operates through it, not because it appeals to our human rationality in some kind of special way. Whereas others seem to believe essentially the opposite.

1 Cor. 1:18-25. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

There is much evidence in Scripture that man's powers of reason are corrupted by sin, such that man is not capable of rationally apprehending the Gospel. Man can understand the concept of works-righteousness; indeed, the concept is self-evident. But to the unregenerate, the Gospel is stupid, nonsensical, and illogical. This is why it is necessary for the Holy Spirit to first regenerate us; only then can we understand (at least to some small degree) and believe.

Richard

Thanks Steve and Tim. I'm now going to go away and study scripture and ask the Lord for wisdom to quicken this to my heart! I know of the scriptures mentioned, and can again give a contrary explanation, but sometimes think in our limited ways we can argue about words when we in reality mean the same thing, even though our understanding does of course mater as it can impact our actions differently. In the end I understand and believe it is by grace alone we are saved, by faith alone, by and through Jesus Christ alone, and that this has to be reality in our heart and our head to confess with the mouth and inwardly and not just as dogma. Where we have a different approach at the moment is not over grace, not over Jesus Christ and His atonement, but over how faith is arrived at. However the bottom line is the Lord has granted us life as a free gift, He has provided the Way to eternal life and relationship with Himself, He is our sovereign, His will be done! Amen! Soli Deo Gloria!

I just pray the Lord grant us all greater and greater wisdom and understanding to keep us from error as much as possible so we can walk in the Light of His glory and be good and faithful to Him. He promises that as we seek we shall find, and I believe Him.

It does make sense experientially to me that the Holy Spirit regenerates first and then, after, comes understanding. I liken it to being the opposite of the world's way: To take an exam, you study first, then take it, but when coming to Christ you know nothing and only have understanding revealed after you have done so rather than before.

Philip

As a Sovereign Grace Baptist I agree that infants can be saved just as well as anyone from conception to the oldest human but that has nothing to do with baptism infant or otherwise. Baptism is a work of the law and is a overflow of the grace given through the work of Christ Jesus on the human soul in regeneration and conviction by the Holy Spirit on the will of man to partake of this sacrament . In exercising faith given by Christ we are baptized by water to show outwardly what Christ has done inwardly on the soul and spirit of the individual. Only by Christ's obediance of the law in His life,His shed blood on the cross for our sins appeasing God the Father's just and holy wrath,plus Christ's death,burial and resurrection onto life;singnifing Christ's victory over Satan,death and sin is salvation accomplished.By indentifing with Christ's work we acknowdledge and confess we are incapable to save or keep ourselves by works of our own. So in regard to infant baptism it is not a issue of conversion of the child's soul being conducted by God but a matter of mankind falsly assuming a work of God has accured in the infant. In this Lutherans and others run the risk of accepting false converts as brothers and sisters, no differentdly than Evangelicals have done with Decisional confessionals. Even if the child grows up confessing Christian doctrine this is no gaurantee of redemption because the heart is decietful above measure that includes the young child's heart as well. In conclusion infant baptism can mask a child's sinful nature in the eyes of their parents,plus giving him or her false assurance to belive Christ is indeed their Lord and Savior causing them tow alk in life all the way to death and eternal judgement in hell without them seeing a need to repent of their sins. This is one reason among many why such denominations as the ELCA,UCC,PCUSA,RCA,ECUSA,UMC and Roman Catholic Church of old had fallen. And now the LCMS,PCA,CRC and others are in danger of apostasy in this as well. I may be wrong in this but Scripture gives no instance of infant baptism nor is it a command of God thus it could be a violation of Sola Scriptuta as well. In this post you have given Scripture to back salvation belongs to lost infants as well as lost adults but no proof of infant baptism. John 1:13 says we are born by the will of God not by our own will or by our parents will and this rebirth comes by the work of the Holy Spirit not by water as written in John 3.. Grace through Faith is indeed imparted to the believer but it is given during the conversion and regeneration of the soul done by the power of God which precedes confessions of sins and repentance. We are kept by God's grace thru Jesus Christ intercessionary work between us and the Father, by which The Father looks on His Only Begotten Son in favor and thus can justly pardon us because of The Lord Jesus Christ imputed righteousness which will never be ours even in Heaven. I know this is a long and confusing statement with badly parsed sentances,bad grammer,punctuation and spelling to boot but without Scriptual evidence given to instances of infant baptism I cannot concede it as a Bibical ordinance given by God and Jesus Christ Our Lord without violation of my conscience. I also believe the Doctrines of Sola Scripura,Sola Fide,Sola Gratia, Sola Christus, and Sola Dei Gloria disallow its practice but may God persude me otherwise through His Holy Word if i am wrong in this matter and cause me to repent of my sin both towards God and to you, but i also pray to God for your repentance if you are wrong in this matter and as humans and not God we can both be mistaken. May this drive us all to seek God's Holy Word . "May the Lord God be praised both in Heaven and on Earth and may Jesus Christ His Son be lifted up and confessed as both Lord and God and may we all be broken by His Holiness and Justice but healed by His Blood and Righteousness and sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise until the Day of Judgement for our redemption of our bodies so we can serve and love The Lord Our God for all eternity "

Philip L. Terry II

PS to above comment Chris and numerous others rightly point out in countless articles and broadcasts the example of The Lord Jesus Christ not having female disciples plus the twelve apostles being all men as a valid reason of not ordaining women as pastor/teachers. In this light should not infant baptism be treated the same also. Also correcting above post in regard to spelling correctly Sola Deo Gloria. "Affirm when Scriture has spoken but be silent when Scripture has not spoken" To God only be glory and honor forever and ever.And may we trust Christ Jesus and Him alone in all things. PSS thank you for your work in Christ through His sovereign grace and mercy and may we all be kept faithful in Him.

Tim the Cyanide-Gargling Faith Gladiator

Philip,

The chief source of our disagreement is when you say, "Baptism is a work of the law."

First, what makes you say this? One concern I have is that baptism is part of the New Covenant, and the reason I cling to the New Covenant is precisely because the only works of the law that matter in this covenant are the ones which Christ did on my behalf, which He imputes to me. If baptism is a work of the law, either Christ has fulfilled baptism for me, or it's got nothing to do with the New Covenant.

Second, you cannot point to a Scripture which explicitly makes your point ("baptism is a work of the law"). Rather, you deduce it by taking Scripture as a whole. Similarly, we deduce infant baptism by taking Scripture as a whole. (For my purposes here, there is no explicit "proof-text" for infant baptism.)

Grace through Faith is indeed imparted to the believer but it is given during the conversion and regeneration of the soul done by the power of God which precedes confessions of sins and repentance.

This is probably the most important point. When other churches split from Lutherans on this, talking about baptismal regeneration or baptizing infants or infant faith is a bit pointless. But we have significant common ground here. So the question is: "How or in what way does God's power operate?"

Lutherans teach, quite simply, that this "power of God" which effects conversion, regeneration, faith, etc. is delivered by the Holy Spirit through the Word and Sacraments. (Of course, what makes sacraments sacraments? The Word!) Now, if God's power is not delivered through the sacraments, Lutherans don't have a particularly good reason to baptize infants.

Scripture gives no instance of infant baptism nor is it a command of God

without Scriptual evidence given to instances of infant baptism

But Christians do many things without explicit Scriptural direction. Broadcasting the Gospel via radio, for example. Baptizing people in tubs rather than in rivers. Using grape juice for the Lord's Supper. The list is endless. The primary issue is whether a practice is in keeping with Scripture, not necessarily whether it can be explicitly cited from Scripture. Yes?

So in regard to infant baptism it is not a issue of conversion of the child's soul being conducted by God but a matter of mankind falsly assuming a work of God has accured in the infant.

But we teach that baptism IS that work of God.

In conclusion infant baptism can mask a child's sinful nature in the eyes of their parents,plus giving him or her false assurance to belive Christ is indeed their Lord and Savior causing them tow alk in life all the way to death and eternal judgement in hell without them seeing a need to repent of their sins.

Infant baptism doesn't encourage parents to be lax in bringing up their children. Quite the opposite, really. I am sure that lazy parents use infant baptism as an excuse, and that this excuse might be validated by lazy pastors/priests, but here the culprit is of course the lazy parents and/or lazy pastor.

In this Lutherans and others run the risk of accepting false converts as brothers and sisters.

Not "in this." :) All churches at all times and in all places run equal risk of accepting false converts. At most, we judge others in the church by their public confession and public works. But we can't see their private behaviors, let alone their hearts. The difficulty is that it's pretty easy to fake it on the outside.

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