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ConfessionalLutheran

Lutheran Take on Baptism

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QUESTION: Can you please clarify the Lutheran view of Baptism and its purpose? Does the child become a Christian when baptized?

 

ANSWER: Lutherans believe that the Bible teaches that a person is saved by God’s grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

 

The Bible tells us that such “faith comes by hearing” (Rom. 10:17). Jesus Himself commands Baptism and tells us that Baptism is water used together with the Word of God (Matt. 28:19-20).

 

Because of this, we believe that Baptism is one of the miraculous means of grace (another is God’s Word as it is written or spoken), through which God creates and/or strengthens the gift of faith in a person’s heart (see Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Gal. 3:26-27; Rom. 6:1-4; Col. 2:11-12; 1 Cor. 12.13).

 

Terms the Bible uses to talk about the beginning of faith include “conversion” and “regeneration.” Although we do not claim to understand fully how this happens, we believe that when an infant is baptized God creates faith in the heart of that infant.

 

We believe this because the Bible says that infants can believe (Matt. 18:6) and that new birth (regeneration) happens in Baptism (John 3:5-7; Titus 3:5-6). The infant’s faith cannot yet, of course, be verbally expressed or articulated by the child, yet it is real and present all the same (see e.g., Acts 2:38-39; Luke 1:15; 2 Tim. 3:15).

 

The faith of the infant, like the faith of adults, also needs to be fed and nurtured by God’s Word (Matt. 28:18-20), or it will die.

 

Lutherans do not believe that only those baptized as infants receive faith. Faith can also be created in a person's heart by the power of the Holy Spirit working through God's (written or spoken) Word.

 

Baptism should then soon follow conversion (cf. Acts 8:37) for the purpose of confirming and strengthening faith in accordance with God's command and promise. Depending on the situation, therefore, Lutherans baptize people of all ages from infancy to adulthood.

 

The LCMS does not believe that Baptism is ABSOLUTELY necessary for salvation. All true believers in the Old Testament era were saved without baptism. Mark 16:16 implies that it is not the absence of Baptism that condemns a person but the absence of faith, and there are clearly other ways of coming to faith by the power of the Holy Spirit (reading or hearing the Word of God).

 

Still, Baptism dare not be despised or willfully neglected, since it is explicitly commanded by God and has His precious promises attached to it. It is not a mere “ritual” or “symbol,” but a powerful means of grace by which God grants faith and the forgiveness of sins.

 

Return to Baptism FAQs | Return to main menu

 

 

 

QUESTION: I believe I understand the LCMS position on Baptism although it seems to lead down a troublesome path. As I understand you can be regenerated through Baptism and also regenerated by believing in Jesus, without Baptism, and then later baptized.

 

The Lutheran position forces one to come to this conclusion of two ways to be saved, although both are by faith alone, just two different means. In Acts 10:44ff they believed and as a result were saved, filled with the Holy Spirit and therefore baptized. Eph. 1:3 also speaks of salvation by the work of the Holy Spirit.

 

If Baptism also saves, it must not save adults since an adult would not say I do not believe but I want to be baptized to get the faith to believe.

 

If indeed the prooftexts of baptismal regeneration do actually refer to salvation, it must only be for babies since adults would of necessity believe before being baptized.

 

And if they do only speak of babies who do not have the capacity to believe, why don't these verses say so.

 

My question then is, what do you see wrong with my reasoning? You do not have to give me the prooftexts since I have known them and have studied them and have ready many articles and the catechism both from Lutherans and others.

 

ANSWER: We are pleased to hear that you have thoroughly studied the Scriptures on the topic of Baptism and other literature dealing with this subject.

 

Perhaps you are very familiar with the Large Catechism's treatment of Baptism, but we mention it here because Luther's treatise on infant baptism in this section is extremely useful.

 

Luther goes to the heart of the foundational theological questions at issue over against errant understandings of Baptism present among those involved in the Anabaptist movement of his time.

 

Perhaps we can make a couple of points that seem pertinent to the issue(s) you have raised. First, as you have implied in your letter, it seems important to note that while Baptism is God's gracious means of conveying to human beings His saving grace revealed to us in Jesus Christ our Savior, it is not the only means.

 

On the basis of the Scriptures we teach that the spoken Word of the Gospel (Rom. 1:16-17; 10:17) and the Lord's Supper (Matt. 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; 1 Cor. 11) are also means of grace.

 

It is no less a miracle of God's grace at work that an adult should believe by hearing the words of the Gospel, than that an infant should receive through Baptism the Spirit who creates the very faith by which one receives incorporation into Christ (Rom. 6:4, “We were buried therefore with him by [Greek: the instrumental dia] baptism...”).

 

Adults who hear the spoken Word and believe eagerly seek to be baptized, not because it is a human rite symbolic of one's commitment or something to that effect, but because of what God promises in and through Baptism.

 

It must be remembered that the only theological distinction between the spoken Word of the Gospel and Baptism is that the sacrament includes a visible element; hence, our Lutheran fathers commonly spoke of Baptism as “visible Gospel.”

 

The Scriptures distinguish Baptism and the spoken Word — but do not separate them; they are both means of grace. As you also no doubt are fully aware, we teach that it is not the lack of Baptism that necessarily condemns, but it is the despising of this precious gift that endangers faith, for God Himself has instituted it and attached His promises to it.

 

The Scriptures teach, of course, that there is only one Baptism (Eph. 4:5). There is no indication that God has limited this blessed means of grace to individuals on the basis of age or levels of maturity.

 

Baptism is God’s act, a divine testimony to what “grace alone” really means, whereby He imparts the blessings of forgiveness, life, and salvation to individuals, children and adults alike.

 

And as our Lutheran fathers have always taught, Baptism confirms the grace of God upon adults who have already come to faith, and strengthens them in their faith, even as the Lord’s Supper does.

 

Return to Baptism FAQs | Return to main menu

 

 

 

QUESTION: What are the teachings of the Lutheran Church regarding who may be a godparent for a child? Can non-LCMS individuals serve as sponsors? What responsibilities would the godparent be agreeing to?

 

ANSWER: In response to the question “Why does the church encourage the use of sponsors at Baptism?” Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation (Concordia Publishing House, 1991 edition) summarizes as follows:

 

“Sponsors witness that those who receive this sacrament have been properly baptized. They also pray for them and in the case of children, help with their Christian upbringing, especially if they should lose their parents."

 

The Catechism adds: “Only those of the same confession of faith should be sponsors.” One of the reasons for this practice is to avoid putting family members or friends who belong to churches of a different confession in a difficult or compromising situation, in which they would be asked to take vows that they may not be able to carry out in good conscience (given their own religious views and convictions).

 

The LCMS entrusts to individual pastors and congregations the responsibility of making decisions about finding ways to involve such people in the baptismal service (e.g., sometimes they are asked to serve as “witnesses” to the baptism).

 

Since decisions in this regard often depend on the specific circumstances involved, it is best to speak to the pastor himself about such matters. He would also be able to share more specific information about the form of the baptismal service used in his congregation and the precise wording of the vows that sponsors or godparents are asked to take.

 

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QUESTION: How does faith play a role in infant Baptism? Is faith later taken care of when the child is confirmed?

 

ANSWER: Lutherans believe that the Bible teaches that a person is saved by God's grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ. Baptism, we believe, is one of the miraculous means of grace (together with God's written and spoken Word) through which God creates the gift of faith in a person's heart.

 

Although we do not claim to understand how this happens or how it is possible, we believe (because of what the Bible says about Baptism) that when an infant is baptized God creates faith in the heart of that infant.

 

This faith cannot yet, of course, be expressed or articulated, yet it is real and present all the same (see, e.g., 1 Peter 3:21; Acts 2:38-39; Titus 3:5-6; Matt. 18:6; Luke 1:15; 2 Tim. 3:15; Gal. 3:26-27; Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:11-12; 1 Cor. 12:13).

 

Parents and sponsors of a baptized child bear the responsibility of teaching this child God's Word so that the child's faith may remain alive and grow (Matt. 28:18-20).

 

Confirmation is a time-honored church tradition (not required by God's Word, but we believe useful nonetheless) in which the child baptized as an infant is given the opportunity to confess for himself or herself the faith that he or she was unable to confess as an infant.

 

Faith is not “created” at confirmation, but it is rather confessed for all to hear so that the church can join and rejoice in this public confession, which has its roots in the faith which God Himself created in Baptism.

 

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QUESTION: You say that infant baptism is ONE way of salvation. Since this practice was unknown in the New Testament or even the early Catholic Church, it is speculative. The Bible says that repentance is a pre-requisite for faith. I repented at 5, so it can be early, but not in someone's arms.

 

ANSWER: Infants are included in “ all nations" who are to be baptized (Matt. 28:19). Certainly they were included in Peter's Pentecost exhortation in Acts 2:38, 39: “Repent and be baptized everyone one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. ... The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

 

Whole households, everyone in the family, were baptized in the beginning of New Testament times, which in all probability included infants (Acts 16:15 and 33). [The “household” formula used here by Luke has Old Testament precedent, with special reference also to small children, as for example in 1 Sam. 22:16, 19; see Joachim Jeremias, Infant Baptism in the First Four Centuries, 22-23.]

 

In Romans 6, the Holy Spirit tells us in the Word that in Baptism we have been united with Jesus' death and resurrection–regenerated, dying to sin and rising to new life. That happens to infants when baptized (Gal. 3:27).

 

“For as many of you who have been baptized have put on Christ.” Baptism through the Word creates the faith necessary to receive salvation for infants. Infants can have faith.

 

In Mark 10:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

 

The Greek word in this text is “paidia” which means babes in arms. Infants can belong to the kingdom of God.

 

“From the lips of children and infants, You have ordained praise ...” Psalm 8:2. “Yet You brought me out of the womb, You made me trust in You even at my mother's breast” Psalm 22:9.

 

From the beginning of New Testament Christianity at Pentecost to our time, unbroken and uninterrupted, the Church has baptized babies. Polycarp (69-155 AD), a disciple of the Apostle John, was baptized as an infant.

 

Justin Martyr (100-166 AD) of the next generation, about the year 150 AD, states in his Dialog with Trypho The Jew “that Baptism is the circumcision of the New Testament.”

 

Irenaeus (130-200 AD) writes in Against Heresies II 22:4 “that Jesus came to save all through means of Himself — all, I say, who through Him are born again to God – infants and children, boys and youth, and old men.”

 

Similar expressions are found in succeeding generations by Origen (185-254 AD) and Cyprian (215-258 AD), and at the Council of Carthage in 254 where the 66 bishops stated: “We ought not hinder any person from Baptism and the grace of God ... especially infants ... those newly born.”

 

Origen wrote in his Commentary on Romans 5:9: “For this also it was that the Church had from the Apostles a tradition to give baptism even to infants.” Origen also wrote in his Homily on Luke 14: “Infants are to be baptized for the remission of sins.”

 

Cyprian's reply to a bishop who wrote to him regarding the baptism of infants stated: “Should we wait until the 8th day as did the Jews in the circumcision? No, the child should be baptized as soon as it is born."

 

Augustine (354-430 AD) wrote in De Genesi Ad Literam, 10:39 declared, “The custom of our mother Church in baptizing infants must not be counted needless, nor believed to be other than a tradition of the Apostles.”

 

Augustine further states: “... the whole Church which hastens to baptize infants, because it unhesitatingly believes that otherwise they cannot possibly be vivified in Christ.”

 

In 517 AD, 10 rules of discipline were framed for the Church in Spain. The fifth rule states that “... in case infants were ill ... if they were offered, to baptize them, even though it were the day that they were born...such was to be done.” (The History of Baptism by Robert Robinson, London, Thomas Knott, 1790, p.269)

 

This pattern of baptizing infants remained in Christianity through the Dark and Middle Ages until modern times. In the 1,500 years from the time of Christ to the Protestant Reformation, the only bona fide opponent to infant Baptism was the heretic Tertullian (160-215 AD) who de facto denied original sin.

 

Then in the 1520s the Christian Church experienced opposition specifically to infant Baptism under the influence of Thomas Muenzer and other fanatics who opposed both civil and religious authority, original sin and human concupiscence.

 

Thomas' opposition was then embraced by a considerable number of Swiss, German and Dutch Anabaptists. This brought about strong warning and renunciation by the Roman Catholics, Lutherans and Reformed alike.

 

It was considered a shameless affront to what had been practiced in each generation since Christ's command in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) to baptize all nations irrespective of age.

 

Historical excerpts are from “Infant Baptism in Early Church History," by Dr. Dennis Kastens in Issues Etc. Journal, Spring 1997, Vol. 2, No. 3.

 

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QUESTION: What about infants who die before being baptized?

 

ANSWER: In his book What's the Answer? (Concordia Publishing House, 1960), LCMS theologian Otto Sohn addresses the question, “What is the position of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod with respect to the fate of stillborn children as well as to baptizing them?”

 

His answer speaks to your question about children who die before Baptism:

 

The position of our Lutheran Church on the first point in this question can best be expressed in the words of Dr. Francis Pieper:

 

There is some basis for the hope that God has a method, not revealed to us, by which He works faith in the children of Christians dying without Baptism (Mark 10:13-16). For children of unbelievers we do not venture to hold out such hope. We are here entering the field of the unsearchable judgments of God” (Rom. 11:33).

 

What is the basis of such hope? It is this, that God is not Himself bound by the means to the use of which He has bound us. That is to say that while Christ has commanded us to baptize all nations, God can save sinners without Baptism. He did so throughout the entire Old Testament.

 

During the first 2,000 years we know of no special means of grace for little children. At the time of Abraham He instituted circumcision, but He did not thereby provide for little girls. It is for God to determine under what conditions He will receive children into His kingdom.

 

A most encouraging instance for the Holy Spirit's power to influence even unborn infants in a spiritual way is found in Luke 1:15, 41, 44, where it is stated that the unborn John the Baptist leaped for joy within his mother's womb when the unborn Jesus was brought into his presence by His mother Mary.

 

Behind all this is the all-encompassing Gospel pronouncement that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world [including the little children] unto Himself” (2 Cor. 5:19).

 

As to the second point we might say: Whether individual Lutheran pastors have ever baptized stillborn children immediately upon their arrival, we do not know, and to our knowledge such practice has never been sanctioned by our church. Nor should it be sanctioned. The means of grace, including Baptism, are for the living only (Heb. 9:27).

 

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QUESTION: The LCMS uses the “sprinkle” method of baptism, if you will. The people of the Bible, including Jesus, were baptized using the immersion method. Why doesn't our church follow the way Jesus was baptized by John?

 

ANSWER: On the basis of the evidence provided in the New Testament, it is not possible to prove that the term “baptize” always refers to immersion, nor that the Baptisms mentioned were all done by immersion — implying (in the view of some) that only Baptisms done by immersion can be considered valid.

 

In fact, taken as a whole, the evidence suggests otherwise. In some cases the term "baptize" is synonymous with “wash” (Titus 3:5-6; see also Heb. 9:19; Eph. 5:26, Acts 22:16; and Mark 7:1-4 — a passage in which some earlier translators considered the term “baptize” to include the washing of “dining couches”), and it is highly likely that Baptisms were performed in the early church by methods other than immersion.

 

Three thousand were baptized on Pentecost in Jerusalem, where no river exists and no mention is made of other large quantities of water that would or may have been used.

 

In fact, the shortage of water supplies in general in many parts of the ancient world would have precluded Baptism by immersion.

 

As the Supplementary Volume of The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible correctly notes, “It is unlikely that in Jerusalem, Samaria, Damascus, Philippi, Corinth, Rome, or Asia Minor enough water was always available for a full bath” (87).

 

It should be noted that very early in Christian history methods other than immersion were used and allowed. The Didache requires the administrant of Baptism to “pour water three times on the head” (7:3). No mention is made of immersion.

 

Early Christian art depicts Baptisms of persons standing in shallow pools with water poured on the head (see David Scaer, Baptism, 96-101).

 

Lutherans have therefore held that the manner of Baptism (that is, immersion, pouring, sprinkling, etc.) does not determine whether a Baptism is valid, any more than the manner of distributing the Lord's Supper (common cup, individual glasses) affects the validity of this Sacrament. Only the Word of God and the “element” (water), according to divine institution, makes a Baptism valid.

 

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QUESTION: My wife and I, who belonged to different denominations, wish to become more permanently and actively involved in one of the local LCMS congregations. However, I have been too shy to ask the pastor if we would need to be re-Baptized in order to be full communicants.

 

ANSWER: The LCMS recognizes and accepts the validity of baptisms properly administered (i.e., using water in any quantity and/or mode, together with the Trinitarian invocation instituted by Christ, Matt. 28:19) in all Christian churches.

 

Assuming, therefore, that you have already received a proper Christian Baptism, there would be no need for you or your wife to be re-baptized, although completion of some form of instruction classes” or “membership classes” is normally required of non-Lutherans who wish to become communicant members of LCMS congregations.

 

Please discuss this with your pastor, who would be happy to discuss this issue with you and to answer any other questions you have about membership. There is no need to be shy — pastors encounter these kinds of questions all the time.

 

 

QUESTION: Why do Lutherans baptize infants?

 

ANSWER: Lutherans baptize infants because of what the Bible teaches regarding:

 

1.) God's command to baptize (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). There is not a single passage in Scripture which instructs us not to baptize for reasons of age, race, or gender.

 

On the contrary, the divine commands to baptize in Scripture are all universal in nature. On the basis of these commands, the Christian church has baptized infants from the earliest days of its history.

 

Since those baptized are also to be instructed in the Christian faith, (Matt. 28:20), the church baptizes infants only where there is the assurance that parents or spiritual guardians will nurture the faith of the one baptized through continued teaching of God's Word.

 

2.) Our need for Baptism (Psalm 51:5; John 3:5-7; Acts 2:38; Rom. 3:23; Rom. 6:3-4). According to the Bible, all people–including infants–are sinful and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).

 

King David confesses, “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Ps. 51:5). Like adults, infants die–sure proof that they too are under the curse of sin and death.

 

According to the Bible, Baptism (somewhat like Old Testament circumcision, administered to 8-day-old-babies – see Col. 2:11-12) is God's gracious way of washing away our sins – even the sins of infants – without any help or cooperation on our part. It is a wonderful gift of a loving and gracious God.

 

3.) God's promises and power (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21; John 3:5-7; Titus 3:5-6; Gal. 3:26-27; Rom. 6:1-4; Col. 2;11-12; Eph. 5:25-26; 1 Cor. 12:13).

 

Those churches which deny Baptism to infants usually do so because they have a wrong understanding of Baptism. They see Baptism as something we do (e.g., a public profession of faith, etc.) rather than seeing it as something that God does for us and in us.

 

None of the passages listed above, nor any passage in Scripture, describes Baptism as “our work” or as “our public confession of faith.”

 

Instead, these passages describe Baptism as a gracious and powerful work of God through which He miraculously (though through very “ordinary” means) washes away our sins by applying to us the benefits of Christ's death and resurrection (Acts 2:38-39; Acts 22:16), gives us a new birth in which we “cooperate” just as little as we did in our first birth (John 3:5-7), clothes us in Christ's righteousness (Gal. 3:26-27), gives us the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5-6), saves us (1 Peter 3:21), buries us and raises us up with Christ as new creatures (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:11-12), makes us holy in God's sight (Eph. 5: 25-26) and incorporates us into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13).

http://www.lcms.org/faqs/doctrine

All of this, according to the Bible, happens in Baptism, and all of it is God's doing, not ours. The promises and power of Baptism are extended to all in Scripture — including infants — and are available to all.

 

Parents and sponsors then have the privilege and responsibility of nurturing the baptized child in God's love and in His Word so that he or she may know and continue to enjoy the wonderful blessings of Baptism throughout his or her life.

 

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Hi CL, although I was a Presbyterian and baptized as an infant, when the PCUSA decided to further its distance from the Bible and our Confession about 20 years ago, I was invited to move over to the Evangelical Free Church, and they, like Baptists and Anabaptists, practice credobaptism. Many such churches, we are one, "dedicate" children to the Lord instead by praying over them, and then asking their parents to promise to raise them in the training and admonition of the Lord. This, I assume, is not enough to impart saving grace according to the LCMS, correct?

 

I think it must also be that aspect of Lutheran Baptism, IOW, that it is believed to be salvific on the part of infants (at least), which naturally leads to the necessity of a secondary belief that one who has been, "born again", who truly "believes"/has "saving faith", and as been "baptized", can lose their salvation. Would you concur?

 

Personally, I don't hold to the belief that saving grace is imparted to non-believers through the waters of baptism, but I must say that you Lutherans have the most palatable/appealing beliefs I have ever encountered in regard to this subject :) I'm going to have to go back for a bit more thorough reading of what you just posited for us above (so I hope you don't mind if I come up with some additional questions about it?).

 

Thanks!

 

Yours in Christ,

David

p.s. - perhaps this was already answered above, but if not, what is "faith", specifially, and how can we know that a baptized infant has come to possess saving faith, especially if they seem to immediately head south at a very young age, away from the faith they received during baptism? Also, how do you guys go about nurturing the "faith" of a newborn/infant? Thanks again!

Edited by David Lee
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Personally, I don't hold to the belief that saving grace is imparted to non-believers through the waters of baptism, but I must say that you Lutherans have the most palatable beliefs I have ever encountered in regard to this subject :) I'm going to have to go back for a bit more thorough reading of what you just posited for us above (so I hope you don't mind if I come up with some additional questions about it?).

 

Neither do I, and ConfessionalLutheran, I am left wondering what difference if any is there between the Catholics and Lutherans on the subject of Baptismal Regeneration? Since it is the Reformed position that regeneration precedes faith, and Lutherans believe baptism creates faith that regeneration/salvation is necessary/and guaranteed when baptized?

 

I believe Presbyterians understand water (baptism) as the sign of the NT Covenant, just as circumcision was the sign of the OT Covenant with Abraham, but him having been saved some years before actually receiving the sign, that the sign is not so annexed to grace as to require it. Baptism is not a prerequisite to Grace, and neither does baptism guarantee salvation.

 

If we are saved through baptismal regeneration then to a degree I can understand the Catholic's position that we are saved by the merits of not only Christ but also the priest that baptizes, prays, and intercedes for us. Literally, the glory of a sinner's salvation goes partly to all those that are used as instruments by God in performing and raising the child in the precepts of the Lord.

 

We believe this because the Bible says that infants can believe (Matt. 18:6) and that new birth (regeneration) happens in Baptism (John 3:5-7; Titus 3:5-6). The infant’s faith cannot yet, of course, be verbally expressed or articulated by the child, yet it is real and present all the same (see e.g., Acts 2:38-39; Luke 1:15; 2 Tim. 3:15).

 

As to the second part of your statements, I agree, and is why we also later confirm infants to fully communicable members once the child professes faith in a bible believing church. I believe at that time the child is also able to approach the Communion table and partake of its elements.

 

I do disagree that regeneration always happens at baptism though... .

 

Let us look into the surrounding context, then. Titus 3:4-7:

  • But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared,
  • He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
  • so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

When the entire sentence is read, one must wonder where baptismal regeneration holds ground in the first place. For in the text, several things are certain:

  • God is the subject. He is doing the saving (v. 5)
  • God’s mercy is given as the motivation for the action
  • There is an explicit denial of human activity, as he has not saved us by works done in righteousness
  • The agency of the salvation is not of human origin, as both washing of regeneration and renewal have the Holy Spirit as the source
  • The means by which we received the Holy Spirit upon us was Jesus

So, one has to wonder the basis upon which the adherents to baptismal regeneration feel justified to argue that baptism done by human accomplishes spiritual regeneration?

  • Titus 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,

He saved us. In looking into this passage, observing these things is important:

  • Who saved? God saved.
  • Saved whom? God saved us.
  • Why did he save? Because of his mercy.
  • By what means did he save? By the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Spirit.

We observe from the very outset that human activity is explicitly denied in this passage. Certainly, if baptism were in view, we would see some reference to at least our obedience (if, perhaps someone wishes to separate obedience from an act of righteousness). There would at least be some reference to our activity.

 

As for John 3:5:

  • John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Throughout the OT "water" and "Spirit" are linked to express the pouring out of God's Spirit in the end times, and the purification and new life that flow from His arrival:

  • Isaiah 32:15 until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.
  • Isaiah 44:3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.
  • Ezekiel 36:25-27 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.[a]

I'd further argue that such a reference to Christian baptism in John 3:5-7 would have been meaningless to Nicodemus before it had been instituted.

  • John 3:10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?

Jesus nowhere makes John's baptism a requirement for salvation. This would be most consistent with the following verse in John 3:10 when Jesus asked Nicodemus how can you be a "teacher" of Israel? Nicodemus should have known these things because they are in the OT. The Ordo Salutis hasn't changed, OT saints and NT saints are both saved the same way. I think our differences is from asking where does baptism fit in, between us it seems that we will not agree as to whether it is necessary and belongs in the order of salvation from numbers 3-6:

 

1) Election/predestination (in Christ)

2) Atonement

3) gospel call

4) inward call

5) regeneration

6) conversion (faith & repentance)

7) justification

8) sanctification

9) glorification

 

God bless,

William

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I think our differences is from asking where does baptism fit in, between us it seems that we will not agree as to whether it is necessary and belongs in the order of salvation from numbers 3-6:

 

1) Election/predestination (in Christ)

2) Atonement

3) gospel call

4) inward call

5) regeneration

6) conversion (faith & repentance)

7) justification

8) sanctification

9) glorification

 

God bless,

William

Theologically, I lean towards baptism belonging around (6).

In my personal case, I was not led to Christ by any Priest/Pastor/Minister but by regular Christians, so for the first few years I attended Mass but could not in good conscience join the Roman Catholic Church. So my baptism happened around (8) when after 15 years of 'sanctification and growth', I casually mentioned at one Baptism Service that I had never actually been baptized. The Church of God people sort of freaked out and I was baptized within a week to make everything 'kosher'. ;)

 

[something @ConfessionalLutheran will appreciate, I was technically baptized as an infant in a Lutheran Church as a compromise between my Atheist Father and unsaved* Roman Catholic Mother.]

 

 

[*FYI: Just for the record, all Catholics are not unsaved, but neither is everyone who calls themselves a Catholic really a follower of the faith or a believer in Christ ... just like Protestants.]

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Neither do I, and ConfessionalLutheran, I am left wondering what difference if any is there between the Catholics and Lutherans on the subject of Baptismal Regeneration? Since it is the Reformed position that regeneration precedes faith, and Lutherans believe baptism creates faith that regeneration/salvation is necessary/and guaranteed when baptized?

 

I believe Presbyterians understand water (baptism) as the sign of the NT Covenant, just as circumcision was the sign of the OT Covenant with Abraham, but him having been saved some years before actually receiving the sign, that the sign is not so annexed to grace as to require it. Baptism is not a prerequisite to Grace, and neither does baptism guarantee salvation.

 

If we are saved through baptismal regeneration then to a degree I can understand the Catholic's position that we are saved by the merits of not only Christ but also the priest that baptizes, prays, and intercedes for us. Literally, the glory of a sinner's salvation goes partly to all those that are used as instruments by God in performing and raising the child in the precepts of the Lord.

 

 

 

As to the second part of your statements, I agree, and is why we also later confirm infants to fully communicable members once the child professes faith in a bible believing church. I believe at that time the child is also able to approach the Communion table and partake of its elements.

 

I do disagree that regeneration always happens at baptism though... .

 

Let us look into the surrounding context, then. Titus 3:4-7:

  • But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared,
  • He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
  • so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

When the entire sentence is read, one must wonder where baptismal regeneration holds ground in the first place. For in the text, several things are certain:

  • God is the subject. He is doing the saving (v. 5)
  • God’s mercy is given as the motivation for the action
  • There is an explicit denial of human activity, as he has not saved us by works done in righteousness
  • The agency of the salvation is not of human origin, as both washing of regeneration and renewal have the Holy Spirit as the source
  • The means by which we received the Holy Spirit upon us was Jesus

So, one has to wonder the basis upon which the adherents to baptismal regeneration feel justified to argue that baptism done by human accomplishes spiritual regeneration?

  • Titus 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,

He saved us. In looking into this passage, observing these things is important:

  • Who saved? God saved.
  • Saved whom? God saved us.
  • Why did he save? Because of his mercy.
  • By what means did he save? By the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Spirit.

We observe from the very outset that human activity is explicitly denied in this passage. Certainly, if baptism were in view, we would see some reference to at least our obedience (if, perhaps someone wishes to separate obedience from an act of righteousness). There would at least be some reference to our activity.

 

As for John 3:5:

  • John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Throughout the OT "water" and "Spirit" are linked to express the pouring out of God's Spirit in the end times, and the purification and new life that flow from His arrival:

  • Isaiah 32:15 until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.
  • Isaiah 44:3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.
  • Ezekiel 36:25-27 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.[a]

I'd further argue that such a reference to Christian baptism in John 3:5-7 would have been meaningless to Nicodemus before it had been instituted.

  • John 3:10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?

Jesus nowhere makes John's baptism a requirement for salvation. This would be most consistent with the following verse in John 3:10 when Jesus asked Nicodemus how can you be a "teacher" of Israel? Nicodemus should have known these things because they are in the OT. The Ordo Salutis hasn't changed, OT saints and NT saints are both saved the same way. I think our differences is from asking where does baptism fit in, between us it seems that we will not agree as to whether it is necessary and belongs in the order of salvation from numbers 3-6:

 

1) Election/predestination (in Christ)

2) Atonement

3) gospel call

4) inward call

5) regeneration

6) conversion (faith & repentance)

7) justification

8) sanctification

9) glorification

 

God bless,

William

 

God bless you too, William! It's been awhile, how've you been? Right, well, let's get right to it. Baptism is indeed a Means of Grace ( like proclaiming the Gospel and the sacrament of the Lord's Supper) through which the Word of God is united with the water to deliver the Holy Spirit to the baptized baby. If the baby isn't baptized,then the Holy Spirit can be implanted into the heart of the believer through the means of the proclamation of the Holy Gospel, through which the Holy Spirit will cause new movements to be made in the heart of the individual who would in the spirit of obedience and faith, receive the sacrament of Holy Baptism. Using myself for an example, as I was raised in a Pietistic ( Baptist) tradition, it took me fourteen years to get the inspiration I needed to go up and ask for baptism. You're right, the Baptism of John was not complete, as St. Paul pointed out in the Book of Acts: Paul in Ephesus

 

 

19 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passedthrough the inland[a] country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John's baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this,they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7 There were about twelve men in all.

( Acts 19:1-7)

 

I'm not entirely sure that Baptism " creates" faith so much as it energizes it in the heart of the believer. The Holy Spirit is the Giver of Faith and He gives it by visible means. Allow me to give you the chapter regarding Holy Baptism from Luther's Large Catechism:

 

 

The Large Catechism

 

1] We have now finished the three chief parts of the common Christian doctrine. Besides these we have yet to speak of our two Sacraments instituted by Christ, of which also every Christian ought to have at least an ordinary, brief instruction, because without them there can be no Christian; although, alas! hitherto no instruction concerning them has been given. 2] But, in the first place, we take up Baptism, by which we are first received into the Christian Church. However, in order that it may be readily understood, we will treat of it in an orderly manner, and keep only to that which it is necessary for us to know. For how it is to be maintained and defended against heretics and sects we will commend to the learned.

 

3] In the first place, we must above all things know well the words upon which Baptism is founded, and to which everything refers that is to be said on the subject, namely, where the Lord Christ speaks in Matthew 28:19:

 

4] Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

 

Likewise in St. Mark 16:16: 5] He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

 

6] In these words you must note, in the first place, that here stand God's commandment and institution, lest we doubt that Baptism is divine, not devised nor invented by men. For as truly as I can say, No man has spun the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord's Prayer out of his head, but they are revealed and given by God Himself, so also I can boast that Baptism is no human trifle, but instituted by God Himself, moreover, that it is most solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we cannot be saved, lest any one regard it as a trifling matter, like putting on a new red coat. 7] For it is of the greatest importance that we esteem Baptism 8] excellent, glorious, and exalted, for which we contend and fight chiefly, because the world is now so full of sects clamoring that Baptism is an external thing, and that external things are of no benefit. But let it be ever so much an external thing, here stand God's Word and command which institute, establish, and confirm Baptism. But what God institutes and commands cannot be a vain, but must be a most precious thing, though in appearance it were of less value than a straw. 9] If hitherto people could consider it a great thing when the Pope with his letters and bulls dispensed indulgences and confirmed altars and churches, solely because of the letters and seals, we ought to esteem Baptism much more highly and more precious, because God has commanded it, and, besides, it is performed in His name. For these are the words, Go ye, baptize; however, not in your name, but in the name of God.

 

10] For to be baptized in the name of God is to be baptized not by men, but by God Himself. Therefore, although it is performed by human hands, it is nevertheless truly God's own work. From this fact every one may himself readily infer that it is a far higher work than any work performed by a man or a saint. For what work greater than the work of God can we do?

 

11] But here the devil is busy to delude us with false appearances, and lead us away from the work of God to our own works. For there is a much more splendid appearance when a Carthusian does many great and difficult works; and we all think much more of that which we do and merit ourselves. 12] But the Scriptures teach thus: Even though we collect in one mass the works of all the monks, however splendidly they may shine, they would not be as noble and good as if God should pick up a straw. Why? Because the person is nobler and better. Here, then, we must not estimate the person according to the works, but the works according to the person, from whom they must derive their nobility. 13] But insane reason will not regard this, and because Baptism does not shine like the works which we do, it is to be esteemed as nothing.

 

14] From this now learn a proper understanding of the subject, and how to answer the question what Baptism is, namely thus, that it is not mere ordinary water, but water comprehended in God's Word and command, and sanctified thereby, so that it is nothing else than a divine water; not that the water in itself is nobler than other water, but that God's Word and command are added.

 

15] Therefore it is pure wickedness and blasphemy of the devil that now our new spirits, to mock at Baptism, omit from it God's Word and institution, and look upon it in no other way than as water which is taken from the well, and then blather and say: How is a handful of water to help the soul? 16] Aye, my friend, who does not know that water is water if tearing things asunder is what we are after? But how dare you thus interfere with God's order, and tear away the most precious treasure with which God has connected and enclosed it, and which He will not have separated? For the kernel in the water is God's Word or command and the name of God, which is a treasure greater and nobler than heaven and earth.

 

17] Comprehend the difference, then, that Baptism is quite another thing than all other water; not on account of the natural quality but because something more noble is here added; for God Himself stakes His honor, His power and might on it. Therefore it is not only natural water, but a divine, heavenly, holy, and blessed water, and in whatever other terms we can praise it,-all on account of the Word, which is a heavenly, holy Word, that no one can sufficiently extol, for it has, and is able to do, all that God is and can do [since it has all the virtue and power of God comprised in it]. 18] Hence also it derives its essence as a Sacrament, as St. Augustine also taught: Accedat verbum ad elementum et fit sacramentum. That is, when the Word is joined to the element or natural substance, it becomes a Sacrament, that is, a holy and divine matter and sign.

 

19] Therefore we always teach that the Sacraments and all external things which God ordains and institutes should not be regarded according to the coarse, external mask, as we regard the shell of a nut, but as the Word of God is included therein. 20] For thus we also speak of the parental estate and of civil government. If we propose to regard them in as far as they have noses, eyes, skin, and hair, flesh and bones, they look like Turks and heathen, and some one might start up and say: Why should I esteem them more than others? But because the commandment is added: Honor thy father and thy mother, I behold a different man, adorned and clothed with the majesty and glory of God. The commandment (I say) is the chain of gold about his neck, yea, the crown upon his head, which shows to me how and why one must honor this flesh and blood.

 

21] Thus, and much more even, you must honor Baptism and esteem it glorious on account of the Word, since He Himself has honored it both by words and deeds; moreover, confirmed it with miracles from heaven. For do you think it was a jest that, when Christ was baptized, the heavens were opened and the Holy Ghost descended visibly, and everything was divine glory and majesty?

 

22] Therefore I exhort again that these two, the water and the Word, by no means be separated from one another and parted. For if the Word is separated from it, the water is the same as that with which the servant cooks, and may indeed be called a bath-keeper's baptism. But when it is added, as God has ordained, it is a Sacrament, and is called Christ-baptism. Let this be the first part, regarding the essence and dignity of the holy Sacrament.

 

23] In the second place, since we know now what Baptism is, and how it is to be regarded, we must also learn why and for what purpose it is instituted; that is, what it profits, gives, and works. And this also we cannot discern better than from the words of Christ above quoted: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. 24] Therefore state it most simply thus, that the power, work, profit, fruit, and end of Baptism is this, namely, to save. For no one is baptized in order that he may become a prince, but, as the words declare, that he be saved. 25] But to be saved, we know, is nothing else than to be delivered from sin, death, and the devil, and to enter into the kingdom of Christ, and to live with Him forever.

 

26] Here you see again how highly and precious we should esteem Baptism, because in it we obtain such an unspeakable treasure, which also indicates sufficiently that it cannot be ordinary mere water. For mere water could not do such a thing, but the Word does it, and (as said above) the fact that the name of God is comprehended therein. 27] But where the name of God is, there must be also life and salvation, that it may indeed be called a divine, blessed, fruitful, and gracious water; for by the Word such power is imparted to Baptism that it is a laver of regeneration, as St. Paul also calls it, Titus 3:5.

 

28] But as our would-be wise, new spirits assert that faith alone saves, and that works and external things avail nothing, we answer: It is true, indeed, that nothing in us is of any avail but faith, as we shall hear still further. 29] But these blind guides are unwilling to see this, namely, that faith must have something which it believes, that is, of which it takes hold, and upon which it stands and rests. Thus faith clings to the water, and believes that it is Baptism, in which there is pure salvation and life; not through the water (as we have sufficiently stated), but through the fact that it is embodied in the Word and institution of God, and the name of God inheres in it. Now, if I believe this, what else is it than believing in God as in Him who has given and planted His Word into this ordinance, and proposes to us this external thing wherein we may apprehend such a treasure?

 

30] Now, they are so mad as to separate faith, and that to which faith clings and is bound, though it be something external. Yea, it shall and must be something external, that it may be apprehended by the senses, and understood and thereby be brought into the heart, as indeed the entire Gospel is an external, verbal preaching. In short, what God does and works in us He proposes to work through such external ordinances. Wherever, therefore, He speaks, yea, in whichever direction or by whatever means He speaks, thither faith must look, and to that it must hold. 31] Now here we have the words: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. To what else do they refer than to Baptism, that is, to the water comprehended in God's ordinance? Hence it follows that whoever rejects Baptism rejects the Word of God, faith, and Christ, who directs us thither and binds us to Baptism.

 

32] In the third place, since we have learned the great benefit and power of Baptism, let us see further who is the person that receives what Baptism gives and profits. 33] This is again most beautifully and clearly expressed in the words: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. That is, faith alone makes the person worthy to receive profitably the saving, divine water. For, since these blessings are here presented and promised in the words in and with the water, they cannot be received in any other way than by believing them with the heart. 34] Without faith it profits nothing, notwithstanding it is in itself a divine superabundant treasure. Therefore this single word (He that believeth) effects this much that it excludes and repels all works which we can do, in the opinion that we obtain and merit salvation by them. For it is determined that whatever is not faith avails nothing nor receives anything.

 

35] But if they say, as they are accustomed: Still Baptism is itself a work, and you say works are of no avail for salvation; what, then, becomes of faith? Answer: Yes, our works, indeed, avail nothing for salvation; Baptism, however, is not our work, but God's (for, as was stated, you must put Christ-baptism far away from a bath-keeper's baptism). God's works, however, are saving and necessary for salvation, and do not exclude, but demand, faith; for without faith they could not be apprehended. 36] For by suffering the water to be poured upon you, you have not yet received Baptism in such a manner that it benefits you anything; but it becomes beneficial to you if you have yourself baptized with the thought that this is according to God's command and ordinance, and besides in God's name, in order that you may receive in the water the promised salvation. Now, this the fist cannot do, nor the body; but the heart must believe it.

 

37] Thus you see plainly that there is here no work done by us, but a treasure which He gives us, and which faith apprehends; just as the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross is not a work, but a treasure comprehended in the Word, and offered to us and received by faith. Therefore they do us violence by exclaiming against us as though we preach against faith; while we alone insist upon it as being of such necessity that without it nothing can be received nor enjoyed.

 

38] Thus we have these three parts which it is necessary to know concerning this Sacrament, especially that the ordinance of God is to be held in all honor, which alone would be sufficient, though it be an entirely external thing, like the commandment, Honor thy father and thy mother, which refers to bodily flesh and blood. Therein we regard not the flesh and blood, but the commandment of God in which they are comprehended, and on account of which the flesh is called father and mother; so also, though we had no more than these words, Go ye and baptize, etc., it would be necessary for us to accept and do it as the ordinance of God. 39] Now there is here not only God's commandment and injunction, but also the promise, on account of which it is still far more glorious than whatever else God has commanded and ordained, and is, in short, so full of consolation and grace that heaven and earth cannot comprehend it. 40] But it requires skill to believe this, for the treasure is not wanting, but this is wanting that men apprehend it and hold it firmly.

 

41] Therefore every Christian has enough in Baptism to learn and to practise all his life; for he has always enough to do to believe firmly what it promises and brings: victory over death and the devil, forgiveness of sin, the grace of God, the entire Christ, and the Holy Ghost with His gifts. 42] In short, it is so transcendent that if timid nature could realize it, it might well doubt whether it could be true. 43] For consider, if there were somewhere a physician who understood the art of saving men from dying, or, even though they died, of restoring them speedily to life, so that they would thereafter live forever, how the world would pour in money like snow and rain, so that because of the throng of the rich no one could find access! But here in Baptism there is brought free to every one's door such a treasure and medicine as utterly destroys death and preserves all men alive.

 

44] Thus we must regard Baptism and make it profitable to ourselves, that when our sins and conscience oppress us, we strengthen ourselves and take comfort and say: Nevertheless I am baptized; but if I am baptized, it is promised me that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body. 45] For that is the reason why these two things are done in Baptism, namely, that the body, which can apprehend nothing but the water, is sprinkled, and, in addition, the word is spoken for the soul to apprehend. 46] Now, since both, the water and the Word, are one Baptism, therefore body and soul must be saved and live forever: the soul through the Word which it believes, but the body because it is united with the soul and also apprehends Baptism as it is able to apprehend it. We have, therefore, no greater jewel in body and soul, for by it we are made holy and are saved, which no other kind of life, no work upon earth, can attain.

 

Let this suffice respecting the nature, blessing, and use of Baptism, for it answers the present purpose. Of Infant Baptism.

 

 

47] Here a question occurs by which the devil, through his sects, confuses the world, namely, Of Infant Baptism, whether children also believe, and are justly baptized. Concerning this we say briefly: 48] Let the simple dismiss this question from their minds, and refer it to the learned. But if you wish to answer, 49] then answer thus:-

 

That the Baptism of infants is pleasing to Christ is sufficiently proved from His own work, namely, that God sanctifies many of them who have been thus baptized, and has given them the Holy Ghost; and that there are yet many even to-day in whom we perceive that they have the Holy Ghost both because of their doctrine and life; as it is also given to us by the grace of God that we can explain the Scriptures and come to the knowledge of Christ, which is impossible without the Holy Ghost. 50] But if God did not accept the baptism of infants, He would not give the Holy Ghost nor any of His gifts to any of them; in short, during this long time unto this day no man upon earth could have been a Christian. Now, since God confirms Baptism by the gifts of His Holy Ghost, as is plainly perceptible in some of the church fathers, as St. Bernard, Gerson, John Hus, and others, who were baptized in infancy, and since the holy Christian Church cannot perish until the end of the world, they must acknowledge that such infant baptism is pleasing to God. For He can never be opposed to Himself, or support falsehood and wickedness, or for its promotion impart His grace and Spirit. 51] This is indeed the best and strongest proof for the simple-minded and unlearned. For they shall not take from us or overthrow this article: I believe a holy Christian Church, the communion of saints.

 

52] Further, we say that we are not so much concerned to know whether the person baptized believes or not; for on that account Baptism does not become invalid; but everything depends upon the Word and command of God. 53] This now is perhaps somewhat acute, but it rests entirely upon what I have said, that Baptism is nothing else than water and the Word of God in and with each other, that is, when the Word is added to the water, Baptism is valid, even though faith be wanting. For my faith does not make Baptism, but receives it. Now, Baptism does not become invalid even though it be wrongly received or employed; since it is not bound (as stated) to our faith, but to the Word.

 

54] For even though a Jew should to-day come dishonestly and with evil purpose, and we should baptize him in all good faith, we must say that his baptism is nevertheless genuine. For here is the water together with the Word of God, even though he does not receive it as he should, just as those who unworthily go to the Sacrament receive the true Sacrament, even though they do not believe.

 

55] Thus you see that the objection of the sectarians is vain. For (as we have said) even though infants did not believe, which, however, is not the case, yet their baptism as now shown would be valid, and no one should rebaptize them; just as nothing is detracted from the Sacrament though some one approach it with evil purpose, and he could not be allowed on account of his abuse to take it a second time the selfsame hour, as though he had not received the true Sacrament at first; for that would mean to blaspheme and profane the Sacrament in the worst manner. How dare we think that God's Word and ordinance should be wrong and invalid because we make a wrong use of it?

 

56] Therefore I say, if you did not believe then believe now and say thus: The baptism indeed was right, but I, alas! did not receive it aright. For I myself also, and all who are baptized, must speak thus before God: I come hither in my faith and in that of others, yet I cannot rest in this, that I believe, and that many people pray for me; but in this I rest, that it is Thy Word and command. Just as I go to the Sacrament trusting not in my faith, but in the Word of Christ; whether I am strong or weak, that I commit to God. But this I know, that He bids me go, eat and drink, etc., and gives me His body and blood; that will not deceive me or prove false to me.

 

57] Thus we do also in infant baptism. We bring the child in the conviction and hope that it believes, and we pray that God may grant it faith; but we do not baptize it upon that, but solely upon the command of God. Why so? Because we know that God does not lie. I and my neighbor and, in short, all men, may err and deceive, but the Word of God cannot err.

 

58] Therefore they are presumptuous, clumsy minds that draw such inferences and conclusions as these: Where there is not the true faith, there also can be no true Baptism. Just as if I would infer: If I do not believe, then Christ is nothing; or thus: If I am not obedient, then father, mother, and government are nothing. Is that a correct conclusion, that whenever any one does not do what he ought, the thing in itself shall be nothing and of no value? 59] My dear, just invert the argument and rather draw this inference: For this very reason Baptism is something and is right, because it has been wrongly received. For if it were not right and true in itself, it could not be misused nor sinned against. The saying is: Abusus non tollit, sed confirmat substantiam, Abuse does not destroy the essence, but confirms it. For gold is not the less gold though a harlot wear it in sin and shame.

 

60] Therefore let it be decided that Baptism always remains true, retains its full essence, even though a single person should be baptized, and he, in addition, should not believe truly. For God's ordinance and Word cannot be made variable or be altered by men.61] But these people, the fanatics, are so blinded that they do not see the Word and command of God, and regard Baptism and the magistrates only as they regard water in the brook or in pots, or as any other man; and because they do not see faith nor obedience, they conclude that they are to be regarded as invalid. 62] Here lurks a concealed seditious devil, who would like to tear the crown from the head of authority and then trample it under foot, and, in addition, pervert and bring to naught all the works and ordinances of God. 63] Therefore we must be watchful and well armed, and not allow ourselves to be directed nor turned away from the Word, in order that we may not regard Baptism as a mere empty sign, as the fanatics dream.

 

64] Lastly, we must also know what Baptism signifies, and why God has ordained just such external sign and ceremony for the Sacrament by which we are first received into the Christian Church. 65] But the act or ceremony is this, that we are sunk under the water, which passes over us, and afterwards are drawn out again. These two parts, to be sunk under the water and drawn out again, signify the power and operation of Baptism, which is nothing else than putting to death the old Adam, and after that the resurrection of the new man, both of which must take place in us all our lives, so that a truly Christian life is nothing else than a daily baptism, once begun and ever to be continued. For this must be practised without ceasing, that we ever keep purging away whatever is of the old Adam, and that that which belongs to the new man come forth. 66] But what is the old man? It is that which is born in us from Adam, angry, hateful, envious, unchaste, stingy, lazy, haughty, yea, unbelieving, infected with all vices, and having by nature nothing good in it. 67] Now, when we are come into the kingdom of Christ, these things must daily decrease, that the longer we live we become more gentle, more patient, more meek, and ever withdraw more and more from unbelief, avarice, hatred, envy, haughtiness.

 

68] This is the true use of Baptism among Christians, as signified by baptizing with water. Where this, therefore, is not practised, but the old man is left unbridled, so as to continually become stronger, that is not using Baptism, but striving against Baptism. 69] For those who are without Christ cannot but daily become worse, according to the proverb which expresses the truth, "Worse and worse-the longer, the worse." 70] If a year ago one was proud and avaricious, then he is much prouder and more avaricious this year, so that the vice grows and increases with him from his youth up. A young child has no special vice; but when it grows up, it becomes unchaste and impure, and when it reaches maturity, real vices begin to prevail the longer, the more.

 

71] Therefore the old man goes unrestrained in his nature if he is not checked and suppressed by the power of Baptism. On the other hand, where men have become Christians, he daily decreases until he finally perishes. That is truly to be buried in Baptism, and daily to come forth again. 72] Therefore the external sign is appointed not only for a powerful effect, but also for a signification.73] Where, therefore, faith flourishes with its fruits, there it has no empty signification, but the work [of mortifying the flesh] accompanies it; but where faith is wanting, it remains a mere unfruitful sign.

 

74] And here you see that Baptism, both in its power and signification, comprehends also the third Sacrament, which has been called repentance, 75] as it is really nothing else than Baptism. For what else is repentance but an earnest attack upon the old man [that his lusts be restrained] and entering upon a new life? Therefore, if you live in repentance, you walk in Baptism, which not only signifies such a new life, but also produces, begins, and exercises it. 76] For therein are given grace, the Spirit, and power to suppress the old man, so that the new man may come forth and become strong.

 

77] Therefore our Baptism abides forever; and even though some one should fall from it and sin, nevertheless we always have access thereto, that we may again subdue the old man. 78] But we need not again be sprinkled with water; for though we were put under the water a hundred times, it would nevertheless be only one Baptism, although the operation and signification continue and remain. 79] Repentance, therefore, is nothing else than a return and approach to Baptism, that we repeat and practise what we began before, but abandoned.

 

80] This I say lest we fall into the opinion in which we were for a long time, imagining that our Baptism is something past, which we can no longer use after we have fallen again into sin. The reason is, that it is regarded only according to the external act once performed [and completed]. 81] And this arose from the fact that St. Jerome wrote that repentance is the second plank by which we must swim forth and cross over after the ship is broken, on which we step and are carried across when we come into the Christian Church. 82] Thereby the use of Baptism has been abolished so that it can profit us no longer. Therefore the statement is not correct, or at any rate not rightly understood. For the ship never breaks, because (as we have said) it is the ordinance of God, and not a work of ours; but it happens, indeed, that we slip and fall out of the ship. Yet if any one fall out, let him see to it that he swim up and cling to it till he again come into it and live in it, as he had formerly begun.

 

83] Thus it appears what a great, excellent thing Baptism is, which delivers us from the jaws of the devil and makes us God's own, suppresses and takes away sin, and then daily strengthens the new man; and is and remains ever efficacious until we pass from this estate of misery to eternal glory.

 

84] For this reason let every one esteem his Baptism as a daily dress in which he is to walk constantly, that he may ever be found in the faith and its fruits, that he suppress the old man and grow up in the new. 85] For if we would be Christians, we must practise the work whereby we are Christians. 86] But if any one fall away from it, let him again come into it. For just as Christ, the Mercy-seat, does not recede from us or forbid us to come to Him again, even though we sin, so all His treasure and gifts also remain. If, therefore, we have once in Baptism obtained forgiveness of sin, it will remain every day, as long as we live, that is, as long as we carry the old man about our neck.

 

 

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Baptism's Grace, like the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ present in, with and under the Bread and Wine of Holy Communion, is simply to be regarded as objective fact. It is God's gift to a race of fallen sinners and excites the movement of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of people.

 

 

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Hi CL, although I was a Presbyterian and baptized as an infant, when the PCUSA decided to further its distance from the Bible and our Confession about 20 years ago, I was invited to move over to the Evangelical Free Church, and they, like Baptists and Anabaptists, practice credobaptism. Many such churches, we are one, "dedicate" children to the Lord instead by praying over them, and then asking their parents to promise to raise them in the training and admonition of the Lord. This, I assume, is not enough to impart saving grace according to the LCMS, correct?

 

I think it must also be that aspect of Lutheran Baptism, IOW, that it is believed to be salvific on the part of infants (at least), which naturally leads to the necessity of a secondary belief that one who has been, "born again", who truly "believes"/has "saving faith", and as been "baptized", can lose their salvation. Would you concur?

 

Personally, I don't hold to the belief that saving grace is imparted to non-believers through the waters of baptism, but I must say that you Lutherans have the most palatable beliefs I have ever encountered in regard to this subject :) I'm going to have to go back for a bit more thorough reading of what you just posited for us above (so I hope you don't mind if I come up with some additional questions about it?).

 

Thanks!

 

Yours in Christ,

David

p.s. - perhaps this was already answered above, but if not, what is "faith", specifially, and how can we know that a baptized infant has come to possess saving faith, especially if they seem to immediately head south at a very young age, away from the faith they received during baptism? Also, how do you guys go about nurturing the "faith" of a newborn/infant? Thanks again!

 

Ask something difficult, why don't you? ;)

 

[h=1]Martin Luther’s Definition of Faith[/h]

by Martin Luther

 

Faith is not what some people think it is. Their human dream is a delusion. Because they observe that faith is not followed by good works or a better life, they fall into error, even though they speak and hear much about faith. “Faith is not enough,” they say, “You must do good works, you must be pious to be saved.” They think that, when you hear the gospel, you start working, creating by your own strength a thankful heart which says, “I believe.” That is what they think true faith is. But, because this is a human idea, a dream, the heart never learns anything from it, so it does nothing and reform doesn’t come from this `faith,’ either.

 

Instead, faith is God’s work in us, that changes us and gives new birth from God. (John 1:13). It kills the Old Adam and makes us completely different people. It changes our hearts, our spirits, our thoughts and all our powers. It brings the Holy Spirit with it. Yes, it is a living, creative, active and powerful thing, this faith. Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. It doesn’t stop to ask if good works ought to be done, but before anyone asks, it already has done them and continues to do them without ceasing. Anyone who does not do good works in this manner is an unbeliever. He stumbles around and looks for faith and good works, even though he does not know what faith or good works are. Yet he gossips and chatters about faith and good works with many words.

 

Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God’s grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace. Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire! Therefore, watch out for your own false ideas and guard against good-for-nothing gossips, who think they’re smart enough to define faith and works, but really are the greatest of fools. Ask God to work faith in you, or you will remain forever without faith, no matter what you wish, say or can do.

 

 

 

An excerpt from “An Introduction to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans,” Luther’s German Bible of 1522 by Martin Luther, 1483-1546

 

Translated by Rev. Robert E. Smith from DR. MARTIN LUTHER’S VERMISCHTE DEUTSCHESCHRIFTEN. Johann K. Irmischer, ed. Vol. 63 Erlangen: Heyder and Zimmer, 1854), pp.124-125. [EA 63:124-125]

 

 

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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: http://www.ligonier.org |

 

Faith is a powerful, living thing that must be fed and nurtured if it is to survive. The means of Grace are it's food and water and like we humans have to eat and drink every day if our bodies are to stay strong and healthy, so must the faith in the heart of a person be nourished by the Holy Spirit through hearing the Gospel, through the declaration of Absolution and through the reception of the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Holy Baptism only needs to happen once, just like a body only needs to be born once, according to the Word and Institution of Christ Jesus, but Absolution? the Lord's Supper? The Proclamation of the Gospel? That nourishment must be consumed frequently. Daily Scripture study and prayer are also essential to the life of faith. Fellowship with other believers who can bolster one another's faith and working within the Body of Christ which is the Holy Christian Church are insisted upon:

"not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near" ( Hebrews 10:25).

 

People can and do lose their salvation after baptism, sadly enough.

[h=1]Hebrews 10English Standard Version (ESV)[/h] [h=3]Christ's Sacrifice Once for All[/h]

10 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

 

5 Consequently, when Christ[a] came into the world, he said,

 

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,

but a body have you prepared for me;

6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings

you have taken no pleasure.

7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,

as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

 

8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure insacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

 

11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ[b]had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

 

15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

 

16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them

after those days, declares the Lord:

I will put my laws on their hearts,

and write them on their minds,”

 

17 then he adds,

 

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

 

18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. [h=3]The Full Assurance of Faith[/h]

19 Therefore, brothers,[c] since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

 

26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenantby which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again,“The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

 

32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For,

 

“Yet a little while,

and the coming one will come and will not delay;

38 but my righteous one shall live by faith,

and if he shrinks back,

my soul has no pleasure in him.”

 

39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

 

Now, I don't know about you, St. Worm ( why do I always think about the Diet of Worms when I see your handle?), but it seems like I am always falling away and I constantly need to ask for God's forgiveness, which I trust he grants to me. Here are some Scripture that relate to this: [TABLE]

[TR]

[TD] [h=1]1 John 1English Standard Version (ESV)[/h] [h=3]The Word of Life[/h]

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our[a] joy may be complete. [h=3]Walking in the Light[/h]

5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, thatGod is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. [h=4]Footnotes:[/h]

  1. 1 John 1:4 Some manuscripts your

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

10 Brothers,1 my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that bthey have a zeal for God, cbut not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant ofdthe righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. 4 For eChrist is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.2 [h=3]The Message of Salvation to All[/h]

5 For fMoses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that gthe person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 Buththe righteousness based on faith says, i“Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the jabyss?’” (that is, kto bring Christ up from the dead).8 But what does it say? l“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, ifmyou confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and nbelieve in your heart othat God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, p“Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 qFor there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; rfor the same Lord is Lord of all, sbestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For t“everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

 

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him uof whom they have never heard?3And how are they to hear vwithout someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, w“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But xthey have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, y“Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So zfaith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

 

18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for

 

a“Their voice has gone out bto all the earth,

 

and their words to the ends of the world.”

 

19 But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,

 

c“I will dmake you jealous of those who are not a nation;

 

with a efoolish nation I will make you angry.”

 

20 Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,

 

f“I have been found by those who did not seek me;

 

I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”

 

21 But of Israel he says, g“All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.” [h=3]Footnotes[/h]

[1] 10:1 Or Brothers and sisters

[2] 10:4 Or end of the law, that everyone who believes may be justified

[3] 10:14 Or him whom they have never heard

[TABLE]

[TR]

[TD] [h=1]James 5English Standard Version (ESV)[/h] [h=3]Warning to the Rich[/h]

5 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten.3 Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. 4 Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned andmurdered the righteous person. He does not resist you. [h=3]Patience in Suffering[/h]

7 Be patient, therefore, brothers,[a] until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient.Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

 

12 But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. [h=3]The Prayer of Faith[/h]

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.[b]17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

 

19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. [h=4]Footnotes:[/h]

  1. James 5:7 Or brothers and sisters; also verses 9, 10, 12, 19
  2. James 5:16 Or The effective prayer of a righteous person has great power

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

 

Are we not all apostles of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Did He not graciously bestow His keys to His Church, which is His Body, of which we are all a part? Is not Peter's Confession our own and the Rock on which Jesus built His Church?

[TABLE]

[TR]

[TD] [h=1]Matthew 16English Standard Version (ESV)[/h] [h=3]The Pharisees and Sadducees Demand Signs[/h]

16 And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered them,[a] “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ 3 And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4 An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.”So he left them and departed. [h=3]The Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees[/h]

5 When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6 Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 7 And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” 8 But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? 9 Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 11 How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. [h=3]Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ[/h]

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock[b] I will build my church, and the gates of hell[c] shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed[d] in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. [h=3]Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection[/h]

21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord![e]This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance[f] to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” [h=3]Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus[/h]

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let himdeny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life[g] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, andthen he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” [h=4]Footnotes:[/h]

  1. Matthew 16:2 Some manuscripts omit the following words to the end of verse 3
  2. Matthew 16:18 The Greek words for Peter and rock sound similar
  3. Matthew 16:18 Greek the gates of Hades
  4. Matthew 16:19 Or shall have been bound… shall have been loosed
  5. Matthew 16:22 Or “[May God be] merciful to you, Lord!”
  6. Matthew 16:23 Greek stumbling block
  7. Matthew 16:25 The same Greek word can mean either soul or life, depending on the context; twice in this verse and twice in verse 26

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.[/TD]

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Okay. I don't know if this is the place to ask for help or not, but I seem to be engaged in a debate with certain apologists from a certain church who seem overtly determined to convert me to their way of thinking. Prayers for my faith to be strengthened would be appreciated. I'm not weakening as far as I can tell, but part of their tactics include ganging up on and wearing down a theological dissenter.

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Okay. I don't know if this is the place to ask for help or not, but I seem to be engaged in a debate with certain apologists from a certain church who seem overtly determined to convert me to their way of thinking. Prayers for my faith to be strengthened would be appreciated. I'm not weakening as far as I can tell, but part of their tactics include ganging up on and wearing down a theological dissenter.

 

Praying for you CL,

 

Yes, there's a difference between debating and being argumentative. If I may suggest, make your case and leave it on your opponents lap. Examine your position according to your opponents argument (and of course Scripture). If you notice any discrepancy on your part or theirs then address it. Then leave it.

 

What "way of thinking" are they ramming down your throat?

 

God bless,

William

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The Formal Debate was good for keeping things manageable. Make an opening, rebut your opponent, defend your conclusion.

 

So challenge them to a formal written debate with a week between steps. Then just trade papers and take your time to think it over.

It is great for avoiding the need to address the same points OVER and OVER.

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Okay. I don't know if this is the place to ask for help or not, but I seem to be engaged in a debate with certain apologists from a certain church who seem overtly determined to convert me to their way of thinking. Prayers for my faith to be strengthened would be appreciated. I'm not weakening as far as I can tell, but part of their tactics include ganging up on and wearing down a theological dissenter.

 

... but no matter what, don't use the JW Bible! :)

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Praying for you CL,

 

Yes, there's a difference between debating and being argumentative. If I may suggest, make your case and leave it on your opponents lap. Examine your position according to your opponents argument (and of course Scripture). If you notice any discrepancy on your part or theirs then address it. Then leave it.

 

What "way of thinking" are they ramming down your throat?

 

God bless,

William

Just the usual Catholic vs. Protestant arguments. I contended that every member of the Body of Christ regenerated by the Holy Spirit was an heir of salvation and spoke on the importance of faith, but that wasn't good enough.

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Just the usual Catholic vs. Protestant arguments. I contended that every member of the Body of Christ regenerated by the Holy Spirit was an heir of salvation and spoke on the importance of faith, but that wasn't good enough.

 

Why wouldn't they believe that? That is, if they believe in "baptismal regeneration" and all members of the visible church are to be baptized according to the Nicene Creed? I would be taking the opposite position of that argument (if I understand you correctly), because I do not contend that everyone in the "visible church" is regenerate.

 

God bless,

William

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Why wouldn't they believe that? That is, if they believe in "baptismal regeneration" and all members of the visible church are to be baptized according to the Nicene Creed? I would be taking the opposite position of that argument, because I do not contend that everyone in the "visible church" is regenerate.

 

God bless,

William

 

Neither do I and neither did Luther, William. I had already explained that above.

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Neither do I and neither did Luther, William. I had already explained that above.

 

I am only guessing because I have not read the argument that because they believe salvation is synergistic that a man can lose his salvation. Therefore, salvation rests upon the shoulders of man and his works. Literally, God began a good work, but man can lose it. That's really the only thoughts I have as to why they would take an opposite position to the Catholic's baptismal regeneration? I mean from a monergistic position, anyone that God elects or began a good work in... He will finish it. Of course we do not know who the elect are, it isn't like they have a Big "E" painted on their T-shirts. We only know the regenerate by the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

 

Believe me, it would save us all a lot of time to only evangelize those with a Big E on their shirts, but since we don't know we must go out and proclaim the gospel to every tribe, tongue, and nation without discrimination. I agree with your former point that we are to baptize all disciples, but of course as you and I know we differ it seems on the topic of baptismal regeneration. But I am still unclear on your position, but in due time we'll probably eventually talk that through.

 

God bless,

William

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I am only guessing because I have not read the argument that because they believe salvation is synergistic that a man can lose his salvation. Therefore, salvation rests upon the shoulders of man and his works. Literally, God began a good work, but man can lose it. That's really the only thoughts I have as to why they would take an opposite position to the Catholic's baptismal regeneration? I mean from a monergistic position, anyone that God elects or began a good work in... He will finish it. Of course we do not know who the elect are, it isn't like they have a Big "E" painted on their T-shirts. We only know the regenerate by the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

 

Believe me, it would save us all a lot of time to only evangelize those with a Big E on their shirts, but since we don't know we must go out and proclaim the gospel to every tribe, tongue, and nation without discrimination. I agree with your former point that we are to baptize all disciples, but of course as you and I know we differ it seems on the topic of baptismal regeneration. But I am still unclear on your position, but in due time we'll probably eventually talk that through.

 

God bless,

William

 

THERE IS NO SYNERGISM!!!! GOD DOES ALL THE WORK!!! No, no, no!!!! My position is absolutely monergistic! God gives the faith! The baptism is effective because it's God's Word united with the water! Without the Holy Spirit exciting new movements within us, drowning the Old Adam, we reject and walk away from the grace given in baptism, grieving the Holy Spirit and driving Him away because of our own innate pride! No chance are all members of a visible church redeemed just because they have a baptismal Certificate with the name of a certain denomination written at the bottom of it. No, that's blasphemy! God knows who are His! Humans are ABSOLUTELY INCAPABLE OF CONTRIBUTING ANYTHING, ANYTHING, ANYTHING to their own salvation! I'm sorry for the all caps, but I get the distinct impression that we've been talking past each other for the last couple of days.

 

People can and do walk away from salvation and so are not elect. The Holy Spirit keeps those He has favored in the One True Faith and so they are the elect, they are a part of the invisible Church. The Catholics have been telling me about the Holy Spirit delegating His authority to the Pope and others, while I have been arguing that the Church Christ established is subject to the authority of Scripture. I'm going to bang my head on this desk one more time for good measure...J/K. I hope I've been a bit more clear on my own position.

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@ConfessionalLutheran Lemme bring this to your attention. The reason I am unclear as to your position on baptismal regeneration, is because it appears that you have claimed that baptized infants are regenerated. To me, your position is completely grey on the topic. Because it is grey I ask that you bring me up very close until I can distinguish the blacks from the whites. A simple yes or no will suffice, do you believe in baptismal regeneration? If no, bring me close brother and clarify the distinctions.

 

If all those that are baptized are regenerate, then it is safe to say that they are the Elect. But since you stated that not all in the visible church are regenerate though they must be baptized...... it appears as a discrepancy to me. Maybe this will also help in your other debate. Take your time and respond to me at your convenience brother.

 

God bless,

William

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QUESTION: Can you please clarify the Lutheran view of Baptism and its purpose? Does the child become a Christian when baptized?

 

ANSWER: Lutherans believe that the Bible teaches that a person is saved by God’s grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

 

The Bible tells us that such “faith comes by hearing” (Rom. 10:17). Jesus Himself commands Baptism and tells us that Baptism is water used together with the Word of God (Matt. 28:19-20).

 

Because of this, we believe that Baptism is one of the miraculous means of grace (another is God’s Word as it is written or spoken), through which God creates and/or strengthens the gift of faith in a person’s heart (see Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Gal. 3:26-27; Rom. 6:1-4; Col. 2:11-12; 1 Cor. 12.13).

 

Terms the Bible uses to talk about the beginning of faith include “conversion” and “regeneration.” Although we do not claim to understand fully how this happens, we believe that when an infant is baptized God creates faith in the heart of that infant.

 

We believe this because the Bible says that infants can believe (Matt. 18:6) and that new birth (regeneration) happens in Baptism (John 3:5-7; Titus 3:5-6). The infant’s faith cannot yet, of course, be verbally expressed or articulated by the child, yet it is real and present all the same (see e.g., Acts 2:38-39; Luke 1:15; 2 Tim. 3:15).

 

The faith of the infant, like the faith of adults, also needs to be fed and nurtured by God’s Word (Matt. 28:18-20), or it will die.

 

Lutherans do not believe that only those baptized as infants receive faith. Faith can also be created in a person's heart by the power of the Holy Spirit working through God's (written or spoken) Word.

 

Baptism should then soon follow conversion (cf. Acts 8:37) for the purpose of confirming and strengthening faith in accordance with God's command and promise. Depending on the situation, therefore, Lutherans baptize people of all ages from infancy to adulthood.

 

The LCMS does not believe that Baptism is ABSOLUTELY necessary for salvation. All true believers in the Old Testament era were saved without baptism. Mark 16:16 implies that it is not the absence of Baptism that condemns a person but the absence of faith, and there are clearly other ways of coming to faith by the power of the Holy Spirit (reading or hearing the Word of God).

 

Still, Baptism dare not be despised or willfully neglected, since it is explicitly commanded by God and has His precious promises attached to it. It is not a mere “ritual” or “symbol,” but a powerful means of grace by which God grants faith and the forgiveness of sins.

http://www.lcms.org/faqs/doctrine#purpose

 

Faith is a living thing and baptism isn't the only method through which faith can be activated, but as Jesus Himself commanded it, it ought to be practiced. Once activated, faith must be fed by the Holy Spirit through the Word and Sacraments, if it is to survive. The flesh, the world and the Devil do everything they can to kill this faith and tragically, people do walk away from the Gift of the Holy Spirit. God has chosen those who are His and they are the ones who comprise the Lord's Church ( regardless of denomination), purely through God's grace through faith alone. Baptismal regeneration signifies the beginning of the life of faith when applied to an infant, just like one's heart can be regenerated when one hears the Word of God ( or reads it), then ( presumably) seeks instruction and baptism. That is my take on the Lutheran take on Baptism. Do I believe in baptismal regeneration? Yes.. in certain cases. In other cases, faith is introduced to the heart by other means.

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The baptism is effective because it's God's Word united with the water!

 

The water of baptism is nothing more than water sprinkled with an outward reading or man's testimony. This makes me question whether we are making a distinction between the outward and inward call or grace (common vs effectual)? This seemingly is the place where we are a little different? Maybe I'm just confused? I think you'll agree that because I sprinkle that little guy over there with water and say some words that that does not necessarily cause Spiritual regeneration or convey effectual grace? Or do you? Water, the sign and seal of the NT Covenant conveys God's promises to the baptized. That's what it signifies, the promises. From here I can understand your position about the necessity of grace and faith, but I am contending that baptism doesn't cause regeneration for salvation is completely monergistic and not dependent on man's water or his testimony, but on God alone in His due timing. I dunno whether Judas was baptized, but if he was we know that he heard God's word. I don't think anyone will contend that because these were met that Judas was saved. Even in the Credo-baptist churches there are adults that have professed faith and were dunked but yet have walked away from the faith. The saints shall persevere to the end day by Grace through Faith. I think it is possible for a person to appear regenerate by having only tasted the fruits of the Holy Spirit (I believe Hebrews 6, you can fact check) though, but that doesn't mean that they are indeed regenerate/saved. Another words they can be in the church or attending bible study, doing the works we do....

 

Furthermore, lemme convey my thoughts on the NT Covenant and Baptism.

 

After the fall of man God plunged man under His curse and wrath. God called Abraham and made a Covenant with him to bless him and all the families of the earth through him. And when God made a covenant with Abraham He promised to not only be his God but to Abraham's children. We see that promise to Abraham the believer and his children, we see it repeated in every single Covenant that we have in Scripture. The nature of a Covenant comprises of a sign and seal. This is why anyone that understands the nature of Covenants goes directly to and understands the importance of Colossians 2:11-12. The sign and seal and accompanying promises are in the Mosaic and Levitical Covenant, and it's even in the New Covenant. If we look at Isaiah chapter 44; 59; Jeremiah 32 we see that even in the NT Covenant that God's promises are to believers and their children. Children are not revoked anywhere in Scripture. Emphasis, because of this, opponents to household and infant baptism must show where the promises are revoked to children of believers.

 

Just thought to clarify how I understand the sign and seal of Baptism. I'll let you examine my response, and bring any discrepancies to light.

 

God bless,

William

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new birth (regeneration) happens in Baptism (John 3:5-7; Titus 3:5-6).

 

I already commented on this in a previous post. I believe this is the beginning of our theological difference.

 

We are so close it just amazes me.

 

God bless,

William

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The Lord works through His means of grace, Baptism, the Proclamation of the Gospel, Confession and Absolution, together with the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, they are the visible means by which the Holy Spirit manifests grace to the believer. As close as I believe we are in faith, though, William, we might simply be working with two different understandings of the nature of the sacraments. To this Lutheran, Baptism isn't something we do. It is something done by God to incorporate us into His family, a means to engender faith ( with the hearing of the Gospel as another means) and to begin the Holy Spirit's work within us. William, we might simply be working with two significantly different understandings of baptism and its role in the life of faith ( Presbyterian and Lutheran) and so there is confusion.

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The Lord works through His means of grace, Baptism, the Proclamation of the Gospel, Confession and Absolution, together with the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, they are the visible means by which the Holy Spirit manifests grace to the believer. As close as I believe we are in faith, though, William, we might simply be working with two different understandings of the nature of the sacraments. To this Lutheran, Baptism isn't something we do. It is something done by God to incorporate us into His family, a means to engender faith ( with the hearing of the Gospel as another means) and to begin the Holy Spirit's work within us. William, we might simply be working with two significantly different understandings of baptism and its role in the life of faith ( Presbyterian and Lutheran) and so there is confusion.

 

I agree. I read, but not in depth that this was if not the only thing by which Luther and Calvin disagreed. Maybe looking into these historical arguments may shed some light upon our difference? I'd rather do that instead of examining our denominations' Confessions at this time.

 

God bless,

William

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I agree. I read, but not in depth that this was if not the only thing by which Luther and Calvin disagreed. Maybe looking into these historical arguments may shed some light upon our difference? I'd rather do that instead of examining our denominations' Confessions at this time.

 

God bless,

William

 

Agreed.

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Some interesting quotes, I don't mean to start a game of quotation ping pong, but this is from the side of Presbyterians. By all means include some Lutheran ones too. First thing that is apparent, Baptismal Regeneration doesn't seem to mean what it once meant. Just like common grace doesn't convey effectual grace. You'll find no contention by me on the subject of whether baptism conveys "grace". Having stated that, I don't know if you'll agree to the below comments, but I find myself "more" agreeing with your position now that I understand the distinctions below. I do not believe that there is much separating us on this topic, and remember, Luther and Calvin were both from the RCC. Makes me wonder if your other ongoing debate is confusing because both the Catholics and Lutherans are using the same term but with different meanings? Dunno, but it is like a debate between a Catholic and Protestant on Justification, without first clarifying the meaning of Justification it's really confusing:

 

Matthew Henry:

 

“2. As to the real influence of baptism,

we cannot be so clear; nor need we. As

far as the parents are concerned, we are

sure, that the children are not so regenerated,

as not to need good instructions,

when they become capable of them, and

yet are so regenerated, that if they die in

infancy, parents may take comfort from

their baptism in reference to their salvation:

and as to the children, when they

grow up, we are sure, that their baptismal

regeneration, without something more, is

not sufficient to bring them to heaven :

and yet it may be urged, (as I said before,)

in praying to God to give them

grace, and in persuading them to submit

to it.”

 

Henry Continues:

 

I. Declares what he means by saving baptism; not the outward ceremony of washing with water, which, in itself, does no more than put away the filth of the flesh, but it is that baptism wherein there is a faithful answer or restipulation ofa resolved good conscience, engaging to believe in, and be entirely devoted to, God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, renouncing at the same time the flesh, the world, and the devil. The baptismal covenant, made and kept, will certainly save us. Washing is the visible sign; this is the thing signified.

II. The apostle shows that the efficacy of baptism to salvation depends not upon the work done, but upon the resurrection of Christ, which supposes his death, and is the foundation of our faith and hope, to which we are rendered conformable by dying to sin, and rising again to holiness and newness of life. Learn, 1. the sacrament of baptism, rightly received, is a means and a pledge of salvation. Baptism now saveth us. God is pleased to convey his blessings to us in and by his ordinances, Acts 2:38; 22:16. 2. The external participation of baptism will save no man without an answerable good conscience and conversation. There must be the answer of a good conscience towards God.—Obj. Infants cannot make such an answer, and therefore ought not to be baptized.—Answer, the true circumcision was that of the heart and of the spirit (Rom. 2:29), which children were no more capable of then than our infants are capable of making this answer now; yet they were allowed circumcision at eight days old. The infants of the Christian church therefore may be admitted to the ordinance with as much reason as the infants of the Jewish, unless they are barred from it by some express prohibition of Christ.

 

 

Charles Hodge:

 

“Conversion is “a change of heart and life from sin to holiness.” ” To the heathen and infidel conversion is absolutely and always necessary to salvation.” To the baptized Christian conversion is not always necessary.” Some persons have confused conversion with regeneration, and have taught that all men, the baptized, and therefore in fact regenerate, must be regenerated afterwards, or they cannot be saved. Now this is in many ways false : for regeneration, which the Lord Jesus Christ himself has connected with holy baptism, cannot be repeated : moreover, not all men (though indeed most men do) fall into such sin after baptism, that conversion, or as they tel-m i t , regeneration, is necessary to their salvation ; and if a regeneration were necessary to them, it could only be obtained through repetition of baptism, which were an act of sacrilege.”

” They who object to the expression baptismal regeneration, by regeneration mean, for the most part, the first influx of irresistible and indefectible grace ; grace that cannot be repelled by its

subject, and which must issue in its final salvation. Now, of such grace our Church knows nothing, and of course, therefore, means not by regeneration at baptism, the first influx of such grace. That the sins, original and actual, of the faithful recipient of baptism, are washed away, she doth indeed believe ; and also that grace is given to him by the immediate agency of the Holy Spirit; yet so that the conscience thus cleansed may be again defiled, and that the baptized person may, and often does, by his own fault, fall again into sin. in which if he die he shall without doubt perish everlastingly ; his condemnation not being avoided, but rather increased, by his baptismal privilege.”

 

 

John Calvin:

 

 

But the fanatics, such as Schuencfeldius, absurdly pervert this testimony, while they seek to take away from sacraments all their power and effect. For Peter did not mean here to teach that Christ’s institution is vain and inefficacious, but only to exclude hypocrites from the hope of salvation, who, as far as they can, deprave and corrupt baptism. Moreover, when we speak of sacraments, two things are to be considered, the sign and the thing itself. In baptism the sign is water, but the thing is the washing of the soul by the blood of Christ and the mortifying of the flesh. The institution of Christ includes these two things. Now that the sign appears often inefficacious and fruitless, this happens through the abuse of men, which does not take away the nature of the sacrament. Let us then learn not to tear away the thing signified from the sign. We must at the same time beware of another evil, such as prevails among the Papists; for as they distinguish not as they ought between the thing and the sign, they stop at the outward element, and on that fix their hope of salvation. Therefore the sight of the water takes away their thoughts from the blood of Christ and the power of the Spirit. They do not regard Christ as the only author of all the blessings therein offered to us; they transfer the glory of his death to the water, they tie the secret power of the Spirit to the visible sign.

What then ought we to do? Not to separate what has been joined together by the Lord. We ought to acknowledge in baptism a spiritual washing, we ought to embrace therein the testimony of the remission of sin and the pledge of our renovation, and yet so as to leave to Christ his own honour, and also to the Holy Spirit; so that no part of our salvation should be transferred to the sign. Doubtless when Peter, having mentioned baptism, immediately made this exception, that it is not the putting off of the filth of the flesh, he sufficiently shewed that baptism to some is only the outward act, and that the outward sign of itself avails nothing.

 

John Calvin and John Owen, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 118–119.

 

We must hold, therefore, that there is a mutual relation between faith and the sacraments, and hence, that the sacraments are effective through faith. Man’s unworthiness does not detract anything from them, for they always retain their nature. Baptism is the laver of regeneration, although the whole world should be incredulous: (Tit. iii.5) the Supper of Christ is the communication of his body and blood, (I Cor. x.16) although there were not a spark of faith in the world: but we do not perceive the grace which is offered to us; and although spiritual things always remain the same, yet we do not obtain their effect, nor perceive their value, unless we are cautious that our want of faith should not profane what God has consecrated to our salvation.

 

I actually understand your position more now from the above reading.

 

God bless,

William

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Some interesting quotes, I don't mean to start a game of quotation ping pong, but this is from the side of Presbyterians. By all means include some Lutheran ones too. First thing that is apparent, Baptismal Regeneration doesn't seem to mean what it once meant. Just like common grace doesn't convey effectual grace. You'll find no contention by me on the subject of whether baptism conveys "grace". Having stated that, I don't know if you'll agree to the below comments, but I find myself "more" agreeing with your position now that I understand the distinctions below. I do not believe that there is much separating us on this topic, and remember, Luther and Calvin were both from the RCC. Makes me wonder if your other ongoing debate is confusing because both the Catholics and Lutherans are using the same term but with different meanings? Dunno, but it is like a debate between a Catholic and Protestant on Justification, without first clarifying the meaning of Justification it's really confusing:

 

Matthew Henry:

 

Henry Continues:

 

Charles Hodge:

 

John Calvin:

 

I actually understand your position more now from the above reading.

 

God bless,

William

 

I don't want this to be one Presbyterian author countered by another Lutheran author because then what I had hoped would be a productive discussion would become an unnecessary competition ( your " quotation ping- pong"). Yeah, not only were Luther and Calvin both from the RCC, they had studied St. Augustine extensively. The difference is that Luther was a German monk while Calvin was a French lawyer. Understanding this might help one comprehend the differing methods and approaches each individual took in formulating their respective theologies. In Baptism, as in many other areas, Luther took a classically Catholic position and altered it very little.

What is Baptism?

 

Baptism is not water only, but it is water used together with God's Word and by his command.

 

What is this Word?

 

In Matthew 28 our Lord Jesus Christ says:

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.

What benefits does God give in baptism?

 

In Baptism God forgives sin, delivers from death and the devil, and gives everlasting salvation to all who believe what he has promised.

 

What is God's promise?

 

In Mark 16 our Lord Jesus Christ says:

 

He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not will be condemned.

 

How can water do such great things?

 

It is not water that does these things, but God's Word with the water and our trust in this Word. Water by itself is only water, but with the Word of God it is a life-giving water which by grace gives the new birth through the Holy Spirit.

 

St. Paul writes in Titus 3:

He saved us . . .in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life. This saying is sure.

What does Baptism mean for daily living?

 

It means that our sinful self, with all its evil deeds and desires, should be drowned through daily repentance; and that day after day a new self should arise to live with God in righteousness and purity forever.

St. Paul writes in Romans 6:

 

We were buried therefore with him by Baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Dear God,

 

Help me, God, to be honest with myself when I'm wrong. Thanks for reminding me that no matter how much I mess up, you will give me a fresh start each day. Starting over is a precious gift. Thank you. Amen

 

 

 

John Calvin was.. er.. very verbose in his position on baptism. I'm not sure that much of a conflict exists between Reformed and Lutheran understandings of the Sacrament:

John Calvin on Infant Baptism

 

Excerpt from Institutes of the Christian Religion,

Book 4, Chapter 16; translated by Henry Beveridge

 

Edited by Dennis Bratcher

 

 

[Editor’s Note: With the exception of replacing the first paragraphs with a more exact translation of the original French edition, the changes to the translation mostly involve substituting more modern words for archaic ones, and using synonyms for seldom used terms (such as "obstinate" for "contumacious," or "womb" for "matrix"). Other minor changes include breaking long paragraphs into shorter ones, updating punctuation, and using American English in place of the British spelling of some words.]

 

1. Now, inasmuch as we see that the practice which we have of baptizing little children is impugned and assailed by some malignant spirits, as if it had not been appointed by God, but newly invented by men, or at least some years after the days of the Apostles, I think it will be very seasonable to confirm weak consciences in this matter, and refute the lying objections which such seducers might make, in order to overthrow the truth of God in the hearts of the simple, who might not be skilled in answering their cavils and objections.

 

The argument by which infant baptism is assailed is, no doubt, specious, that is, that it is not founded on the institution of God, but was introduced merely by human presumption and depraved curiosity, and afterwards, by a foolish facility, rashly received in practice; whereas a sacrament has not a thread to hang upon, if it rest not on the sure foundation of the word of God. But what if, when the matter is properly attended to, it should be found that a calumny is falsely and unjustly brought against the holy ordinance of the Lord? -1-

 

First, then, let us inquire into its origin. Should it appear to have been devised merely by human rashness, let us abandon it, and regulate the true observance of baptism entirely by the will of the Lord; but should it be proved to be by no means destitute of his sure authority, let us beware of discarding the sacred institutions of God, and thereby insulting their Author.

 

2. In the first place, then, it is a well-known doctrine, and one as to which all the pious are agreed, - that the right consideration of signs does not lie merely in the outward ceremonies but depends chiefly on the promise and the spiritual mysteries, to typify which, the ceremonies themselves are appointed. He, therefore, who would thoroughly understand the effect of baptism - its object and true character - must not stop short at the element and corporeal object, but look forward to the divine promises which are therein offered to us, and rise to the internal secrets which are therein represented. He who understands these has reached the solid truth, and, so to speak, the whole substance of baptism, and will thence perceive the nature and use of outward sprinkling.

 

On the other hand, he who passes them by in contempt, and keeps his thoughts entirely fixed on the visible ceremony, will neither understand the force, nor the proper nature of baptism, nor comprehend what is meant, or what end is gained by the use of water. This is confirmed by passages of Scripture too numerous and too clear to make it necessary here to discuss them more at length. It remains, therefore, to inquire into the nature and efficacy of baptism, as evinced by the promises therein given. Scripture shows, first, that it points to that cleansing from sin which we obtain by the blood of Christ; and, secondly, to the mortification of the flesh, which consists in participation in his death, by which believers are regenerated to newness of life, and thereby to the fellowship of Christ. To these general heads may be referred all that the Scriptures teach concerning baptism, with this addition, that it is also a symbol to testify our religion to men.

 

3. Now, since prior to the institution of baptism, the people of God had circumcision in its stead, let us see how far these two signs differ, and how far they resemble each other. In this way it will appear what analogy there is between them. When the Lord enjoins Abraham to observe circumcision (Gen. 17:10), he premises that he would be a God unto him and to his seed, adding, that in himself was a perfect sufficiency of all things, and that Abraham might reckon on his hand as a fountain of every blessing. These words include the promise of eternal life, as our Savior interprets when he employs it to prove the immortality and resurrection of believers: "God," says he, "is not the God of the dead, but of the living" (Matt. 22:32).

 

Hence, too, Paul, when showing to the Ephesians how great the destruction was from which the Lord had delivered them, seeing that they had not been admitted to the covenant of circumcision, infers that at that time they were aliens from the covenant of promise, without God, and without hope (Eph. 2:12), all these being comprehended in the covenant.

 

Now, the first access to God, the first entrance to immortal life, is the remission of sins. Hence it follows, that this corresponds to the promise of our cleansing in baptism. The Lord afterwards covenants with Abraham, that he is to walk before him in sincerity and innocence of heart: this applies to mortification or regeneration. And lest any should doubt whether circumcision were the sign of mortification, Moses explains more clearly elsewhere when he exhorts the people of Israel to circumcise the foreskin of their heart, because the Lord had chosen them for his own people, out of all the nations of the earth.

 

As the Lord, in choosing the posterity of Abraham for his people, commands them to be circumcised, so Moses declares that they are to be circumcised in heart, thus explaining what is typified by that carnal circumcision. Then, lest any one should attempt this in his own strength, he shows that it is the work of divine grace. All this is so often inculcated by the prophets, that there is no occasion here to collect the passages which everywhere occur.

 

We have, therefore, a spiritual promise given to the fathers in circumcision, similar to that which is given to us in baptism, since it figured to them both the forgiveness of sins and the mortification of the flesh. Besides, as we have shown that Christ, in whom both of these reside, is the foundation of baptism, so must he also be the foundation of circumcision. For he is promised to Abraham, and in him all nations are blessed. To seal this grace, the sign of circumcision is added.

 

4. There is now no difficulty in seeing wherein the two signs agree, and wherein they differ. The promise, in which we have shown that the power of the signs consists, is one in both, that is, the promise of the paternal favor of God, of forgiveness of sins, and eternal life. And the thing figured is one and the same, that is, regeneration. The foundation on which the completion of these things depends is one in both.

 

Therefore, there is no difference in the internal meaning, from which the whole power and peculiar nature of the sacrament is to be estimated. The only difference which remains is in the external ceremony, which is the least part of it, the chief part consisting in the promise and the thing signified. Hence we may conclude that every thing applicable to circumcision applies also to baptism, excepting always the difference in the visible ceremony.

 

To this analogy and comparison we are led by that rule of the apostle, in which he enjoins us to bring every interpretation of Scripture to the analogy of faith (Rom. 12:3, 6). And certainly in this matter the truth may almost be felt. For just as circumcision, which was a kind of badge to the Jews, assuring them that they were adopted as the people and family of God, was their first entrance into the Church, while they, in their turn, professed their allegiance to God, so now we are initiated by baptism, so as to be enrolled among his people, and at the same time swear unto his name. Hence it is incontrovertible, that baptism has been substituted for circumcision, and performs the same office.

 

5. Now, if we are to investigate whether or not baptism is justly given to infants, will we not say that the man trifles, or rather is delirious, who would stop short at the element of water, and the external observance, and not allow his mind to rise to the spiritual mystery? If reason is listened to, it will undoubtedly appear that baptism is properly administered to infants as a thing due to them. The Lord did not anciently bestow circumcision upon them without making them partakers of all the things signified by circumcision. He would have deluded his people with mere imposture, had he quieted them with fallacious symbols: the very idea is shocking.

 

He distinctly declares that the circumcision of the infant will be instead of a seal of the promise of the covenant. But if the covenant remains firm and fixed, it is no less applicable to the children of Christians in the present day, than to the children of the Jews under the Old Testament. Now, if they are partakers of the thing signified, how can they be denied the sign? If they obtain the reality, how can they be refused the figure? The external sign is so united in the sacrament with the word, that it cannot be separated from it; but if they can be separated, to which of the two shall we attach the greater value?

 

Surely, when we see that the sign is subservient to the word, we shall say that it is subordinate, and assign it the inferior place. Since, then, the word of baptism is destined for infants why should we deny them the sign which is an appendage of the word? This one reason, could no other be furnished, would be amply sufficient to refute all gainsayers. The objection, that there was a fixed day for circumcision, is a mere quibble. We admit that we are not now, like the Jews, tied down to certain days; but when the Lord declares that though he prescribes no day, yet he is pleased that infants shall be formally admitted to his covenant, what more do we ask?

 

6. Scripture gives us a still clearer knowledge of the truth. For it is most evident that the covenant, which the Lord once made with Abraham, is not less applicable to Christians now than it was anciently to the Jewish people, and, therefore, that word has no less reference to Christians than to Jews. Unless, indeed, we imagine that Christ, by his advent, diminished or curtailed the grace of the Father - an idea not free from appalling blasphemy. Wherefore, both the children of the Jews, because, when made heirs of that covenant, they were separated from the heathen, were called a holy seed, and for the same reason the children of Christians, or those who have only one believing parent, are called holy, and, by the testimony of the apostle, differ from the impure seed of idolaters. Then, since the Lord, immediately after the covenant was made with Abraham ordered it to be sealed, infants by an outward sacrament, how can it be said that Christians are not to attest it in the present day, and seal it in their children?

 

Let it not be objected that the only symbol by which the Lord ordered his covenant to be confirmed was that of circumcision, which was long ago abrogated. It is easy to answer, that in accordance with the form of the old dispensation, he appointed circumcision to confirm his covenant, but that it being abrogated, the same reason for confirmation still continues, a reason which we have in common with the Jews.

 

Hence it is always necessary carefully to consider what is common to both, and wherein they differed from us. The covenant is common, and the reason for confirming it is common. The mode of confirming it is so far different that they had circumcision, instead of which we now have baptism. Otherwise, if the testimony by which the Jews were assured of the salvation of their seed is taken from us, the consequence will be, that, by the advent of Christ, the grace of God, which was formerly given to the Jews, is more obscure and less perfectly attested to us. If this cannot be said without extreme insult to Christ, by whom the infinite goodness of the Father has been more brightly and benignly than ever shed upon the earth, and declared to men, it must be confessed that it cannot be more confined, and less clearly manifested, than under the obscure shadows of the law.

 

7. Hence our Lord Jesus Christ, to give an example from which the world might learn that he had come to enlarge rather than to limit the grace of the Father, kindly takes the little children in his arms, and rebukes his disciples for attempting to prevent them from coming (Matt. 19:13), because they were keeping those to whom the kingdom of heaven belonged away from him, through whom alone there is access to heaven.

 

But it will be asked, What resemblance is there between baptism and our Savior embracing little children? He is not said to have baptized, but to have received, embraced, and blessed them; and, therefore, if we would imitate his example, we must give infants the benefit of our prayers, not baptize them.

 

But let us attend to the act of our Savior a little more carefully than these men do. For we must not lightly overlook the fact, that our Savior, in ordering little children to be brought to him, adds the reason, "of such is the kingdom of heaven." And he afterwards testifies his good will by act, when he embraces them, and with prayer and benediction commends them to his Father. If it is right that children should be brought to Christ, why should they not be admitted to baptism, the symbol of our communion and fellowship with Christ? If the kingdom of heaven is theirs, why should they be denied the sign by which access, as it were, is opened to the Church, that being admitted into it they may be enrolled among the heirs of the heavenly kingdom? How unjust were we to drive away those whom Christ invites to himself, to spoil those whom he adorns with his gifts, to exclude those whom he spontaneously admits.

 

But if we insist on discussing the difference between our Savior’s act and baptism, in how much higher esteem shall we hold baptism, (by which we testify that infants are included in the divine covenant,) than the taking up, embracing, laying hands on children, and praying over them, acts by which Christ, when present, declares both that they are his, and are sanctified by him?

 

By the other cavils by which the objectors endeavor to evade this passage, they only betray their ignorance: they quibble that, because our Savior says, "Suffer little children to come," they must have been several years old, and fit to come. But they are called by the Evangelists brethe kai paidia, terms which denote infants still at their mothers' breasts. The term "come" is used simply for "approach."

 

See the quibbles to which men are obliged to have recourse when they have hardened themselves against the truth! There is nothing more solid in their allegation, that the kingdom of heaven is not assigned to children, but to those like children, since the expression is, "of such," not "of themselves." If this is admitted, what will be the reason which our Savior employs to show that they are not strangers to him from nonage? When he orders that little children shall be allowed to come to him, nothing is plainer than that mere infancy is meant. Lest this should seem absurd, he adds, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven." But if infants must necessarily be comprehended the expression, "of such," clearly shows that infants themselves, and those like them, are intended.

 

8. Every one must now see that infant baptism, which receives such strong support from Scripture, is by no means of human invention. Nor is there anything plausible in the objection, that we no where read of even one infant having been baptized by the hands of the apostles. For although this is not expressly narrated by the Evangelists, yet as they are not expressly excluded when mention is made of any baptized family (Acts 16:15, 32), what man of sense will argue from this that they were not baptized?

 

If such kinds of argument were good, it would be necessary, in like manner, to prohibit women from the Lord's Supper, since we do not read that they were ever admitted to it in the days of the apostles. But here we are contented with the rule of faith. For when we reflect on the nature of the ordinance of the Lord's Supper, we easily judge who the persons are to whom the use of it is to be communicated. The same we observe in the case of baptism. For, attending to the end for which it was instituted, we clearly perceive that it is not less applicable to children than to those of more advanced years and that therefore, they cannot be deprived of it without manifest fraud to the will of its divine Author. The assertion which they disseminate among the common people, that a long series of years elapsed after the resurrection at Christ, during which infant baptism was unknown, is a shameful falsehood, since there is no writer, however ancient, who does not trace its origin to the days of the apostles.

 

9. It remains briefly to indicate what benefit redounds from the observance, both to believers who bring their children to the church to be baptized, and to the infants themselves, to whom the sacred water is applied, that no one may despise the ordinance as useless or superfluous: though any one who would think of ridiculing baptism under this pretence, would also ridicule the divine ordinance of circumcision: for what can they adduce to impugn the one, that may not be retorted against the other? Thus the Lord punishes the arrogance of those who forthwith condemn whatever their carnal sense cannot comprehend.

 

But God furnishes us with other weapons to repress their stupidity. His holy institution, from which we feel that our faith derives admirable consolation, deserves not to be called superfluous. For the divine symbol communicated to the child, as with the impress of a seal, confirms the promise given to the godly parent, and declares that the Lord will be a God not to him only but to his seed: not merely visiting him with his grace and goodness, but his posterity also to the thousandth generation.

 

When the infinite goodness of God is thus displayed, it, in the first place, furnishes most ample materials for proclaiming his glory, and fills pious breasts with no ordinary joy, urging them more strongly to love their affectionate Parent, when they see that, on their account, he extends his care to their posterity. I am not moved by the objection that the promise ought to be sufficient to confirm the salvation of our children. It has seemed otherwise to God, who, seeing our weakness, has herein been pleased to condescend to it. Let those, then, who embrace the promise of mercy to their children, consider it as their duty to offer them to the Church, to be sealed with the symbol of mercy, and animate themselves to surer confidence, on seeing with the bodily eye the covenant of the Lord engraved on the bodies of their children.

 

On the other hand, children derive some benefit from their baptism, when, being ingrafted into the body of the church, they are made an object of greater interest to the other members. Then when they have grown up, they are thereby strongly urged to an earnest desire of serving God, who has received them as sons by the formal symbol of adoption, before, from nonage, they were able to recognize him as their Father. In summary, we ought to stand greatly in awe of the denunciations that God will take vengeance on every one who despises to impress the symbol of the covenant on his child, (Genesis 17:15) such contempt being a rejection, and, as it were, renunciation of the offered grace.

 

10. Let us now discuss the arguments by which some furious madmen cease not to assail this holy ordinance of God. And, first, feeling themselves pressed beyond measure by the resemblance between baptism and circumcision, they contend that there is a wide difference between the two signs, that the one has nothing in common with the other. They maintain that the things meant are different, that the covenant is altogether different, and that the persons included under the name of children are different.

 

When they first proceed to the proof, they pretend that circumcision was a figure of mortification, not of baptism. This we willingly concede to them, for it admirably supports our view, in support of which the only proof we use is, that baptism and circumcision are signs of mortification. Hence we conclude that the one was substituted for the other, baptism representing to us the very thing which circumcision signified to the Jews. In asserting a difference of covenant, with what barbarian audacity do they corrupt and destroy scripture? and that not in one passage only, but so as not to leave any passage safe and entire. The Jews they depict as so carnal as to resemble brutes more than men, representing the covenant which was made with them as reaching no farther than a temporary life, and the promises which were given to them as dwindling down into present and corporeal blessings.

 

If this dogma is received, what remains but that the Jewish nation was overloaded for a time with divine kindness (just as swine are gorged in their sty), that they might at last perish eternally? Whenever we quote circumcision and the promises annexed to it, they answer, that circumcision was a literal sign, and that its promises were carnal.

 

11. Certainly, if circumcision was a literal sign, the same view must be taken of baptism, since, in the second chapter to the Colossians, the apostle makes the one to be not a bit more spiritual than the other. For he says that in Christ we "are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ." In explanation of his sentiment he immediately adds, that we are "buried with him in baptism."

 

What do these words mean, but just that the truth and completion of baptism is the truth and completion of circumcision, since they represent one thing? For his object is to show that baptism is the same thing to Christians that circumcision formerly was to the Jews. Now, since we have already clearly shown that the promises of both signs, and the mysteries which are represented by them, agree, we shall not dwell on the point longer at present. I would only remind believers to reflect, without anything being said by me, whether that is to be regarded as an earthly and literal sign, which has nothing heavenly or spiritual under it.

 

But lest they should blind the simple with their smoke, we shall, in passing, dispose of one objection by which they cloak this most impudent falsehood. It is absolutely certain that the original promises comprehending the covenant which God made with the Israelites under the old dispensation were spiritual, and had reference to eternal life, and were, of course, in like manner spiritually received by the fathers, that they might thence entertain a sure hope of immortality, and aspire to it with their whole soul. Meanwhile, we are far from denying that he testified his kindness to them by carnal and earthly blessings; though we hold that by these the hope of spiritual promises was confirmed.

 

In this manner, when he promised eternal blessedness to his servant Abraham, he, in order to place a manifest indication of favor before his eye, added the promise of possession of the land of Canaan. In the same way we should understand all the terrestrial promises which were given to the Jewish nation, the spiritual promise, as the head to which the others bore reference, always holding the first place. Having handled this subject fully when treating of the difference between the old and the hew dispensations, I now only glance at it.

 

12. Under the appellation of "children" the difference they observe is this that the children of Abraham, under the old dispensation, were those who derived their origin from his seed. But now the appellation is given to those who imitate his faith; therefore that physical infancy that was ingrafted into the fellowship of the covenant by circumcision typified the spiritual children of the new covenant, who are regenerated by the word of God to immortal life.

 

In these words we indeed discover a small spark of truth, but these giddy spirits err grievously in this, that laying hold of whatever comes first to their hand, when they ought to proceed farther and compare many things together; they obstinately fasten upon one single word. Hence it cannot but happen that they are every now and then deluded, because they do not exert themselves to obtain a full knowledge of any subject.

 

We certainly admit that the physical seed of Abraham for a time held the place of the spiritual seed, which is ingrafted into him by faith, (Gal. 4:28; Rom. 4:12). For we are called his sons, though we have no natural relationship with him. But if they mean, as they not obscurely show, that the spiritual promise was never made to the physical seed of Abraham, they are greatly mistaken. We must, therefore, take a better aim, one to which we are directed by the infallible guidance of Scripture. The Lord therefore promises to Abraham that he shall have a seed in whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed, and at the same time assures him that he will be a God both to him and his seed. All who in faith receive Christ as the author of the blessing are the heirs of this promise, and accordingly are called the children of Abraham.

 

13. Although, after the resurrection of Christ, the boundaries of the kingdom of God began to be extended far and wide into all nations indiscriminately, so that, according to the declaration of Christ, believers were collected from all quarters to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 8:11), still, for many ages before, the Jews had enjoyed this great mercy. And as he had selected them (while passing by all other nations) to be for a time the depositaries of his favor, he designated them as his peculiar purchased people (Exod. 19:5).

 

In attestation of this kindness, he appointed circumcision, by which symbol the Jews were taught that God watched over their safety, and they were thereby raised to the hope of eternal life. For what can ever be wanting to him whom God has once taken under his protection? Wherefore the apostle, to prove that the Gentiles, as well as the Jews, were the children of Abraham, speaks in this way: "Faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcisions or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed to them also: and the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had yet being uncircumcised" (Rom. 4:9-12).

 

Do we not see that both are made equal in dignity? For, to the time appointed by the divine decree, he was the father of circumcision. But when, as the apostle elsewhere writes (Eph. 2:14), the wall of partition, which separated the Gentiles from the Jews was broken down, to them, also, access was given to the kingdom of God, and he became their fathers and that without the sign of circumcisions, its place being supplied by baptism. In saying expressly that Abraham was not the feather of those who were of the circumcision only, his object was to repress the arrogance of some who, laying aside all regard to godliness, plumed themselves on mere ceremonies. In like manner, we may, in the present day, refute the vanity of those who, in baptism, seek nothing but water.

 

14. But in opposition to this is produced a passage from the Epistle to the Romans, in which the apostle says, that those who are of the flesh are not the children of Abraham, but that those only who are the children of promise are considered as the seed (Rom. 9:7). For he seems to insinuate, that physical relationship to Abraham, which we think of some consequence, is nothing.

 

But we must attend carefully to the subject which the apostle is there treating. His object was to show to the Jews that the goodness of God was not restricted to the seed of Abraham, nay, that of itself it contributes nothing, produces, in proof of the fact, the cases of Ishmael and Esau. These being rejected, just as if they had been strangers, although, according to the flesh, they were the genuine offspring of Abraham, the blessing resides in Isaac and Jacob.

 

This proves what he afterwards affirms, that is, that salvation depends on the mercy which God bestows on whomsoever he pleases, but that the Jews have no ground to glory or plume themselves on the name of the covenant, unless they keep the law of the covenant, that is, obey the word. On the other hand, after casting down their vain confidence in their origin, because he was aware that the covenant which had been made with the posterity of Abraham could not properly prove fruitless, he declares, that due honor should still be paid to physical relationship to Abraham, in consequence of which, the Jews were the primary and native heirs of the gospel, unless in so far as they were, for their ingratitude, rejected as unworthy, and yet rejected so as not to leave their nations utterly destitute of the heavenly blessing.

 

For this reason, though they were obstinate breakers of the covenant, he styles them holy (such respect does he pay to the holy generation which God had honored with his sacred covenant), while we, in comparison of them, are termed posthumous, or abortive children of Abraham and that not by nature, but by adoption, just as if a twig were broken from its own tree, and ingrafted on another stock.

 

Therefore, that they might not be defrauded of their privilege, it was necessary that the gospel should first be preached to them. For they are, as it were, the first-born in the family of God. The honor due, on this account, must therefore be paid them, until they have rejected the offer, and, by their ingratitude, caused it to be transferred to the Gentiles. Nor, however great the stubbornness with which they persist in warring against the gospel, are we therefore to despise them. We must consider, that in respect of the promise, the blessing of God still resides among them; And, as the apostle testifies, will never entirely depart from them, seeing that "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance" (Rom. 11:29).

 

15. Such is the value of the promise given to the posterity of Abraham, - such the balance in which it is to be weighed. Hence though we have no doubt that in distinguishing the children of God from illegitimate children and foreigners that the election of God reigns freely, we, at the same time, perceive that he was pleased especially to embrace the seed of Abraham with his mercy, and, for the better attestation of it, to seal it by circumcision.

 

The case of the Christian Church is entirely of the same description; for as Paul there declares that the Jews are sanctified by their parents, so he elsewhere says that the children of Christians derive sanctification from their parents. Hence it is inferred that those who are chargeable with impurity are justly separated from others. Now who can have any doubt as to the falsehood of their subsequent averments that is, that the infants who were formerly circumcised only typified the spiritual infancy which is produced by the regeneration of the word of God? When the apostle says, that "Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers" (Rom. 15:8), he does not philosophize subtlety, as if he had said, “Since the covenant made with Abraham has respect unto his seed, Christ, in order to perform and discharge the promise made by the Father, came for the salvation of the Jewish nation.”

 

Do you see how he considers that, after the resurrection of Christ, the promise is to be fulfilled to the seed of Abraham, not allegorically, but literally, as the words express? To the same effect is the declaration of Peter to the Jews: "The promise is unto you and to your children" (Acts 2:39); and in the next chapters he calls them the children of the covenant, that is, heirs. Not widely different from this is the other passage of the apostle, above quoted, in which he regards and describes circumcision performed on infants as an attestation to the communion which they have with Christ.

 

And, indeed, if we listen to the absurdities of those men, what will become of the promise by which the Lord, in the second commandment of his law, engages to be gracious to the seed of his servants for a thousand generations? Shall we here have recourse to allegory? This would be the merest quibble. Shall we say that it has been abrogated? In this way, we should do away with the law which Christ came not to destroy, but to fulfill, inasmuch as it turns to our everlasting good. Therefore, let it be without controversy, that God is so good and liberal to his people, that he is pleased, as a mark of his favor, to extend their privileges to the children born to them.

 

16. The distinctions which these men attempt to draw between baptism and circumcision are not only ridiculous, and void of all semblance of reason, but at variance with each other. For, when they affirm that baptism refers to the first day of spiritual contest, and circumcision to the eighth day, mortification being already accomplished they immediately forget the distinction, and change their song, representing circumcision as typifying the mortification of the flesh, and baptism as the burial, which is given to none but those who are already dead. What are these giddy contradictions but frenzied dreams?

 

According to the former view, baptism ought to precede circumcision; according to the latter, it should come after it. It is not the first time we have seen the minds of men wander to and fro when they substitute their dreams for the infallible word of God. We hold, therefore, that their former distinction is a mere imagination. Were we disposed to make the allegory of the eighth day, theirs would not be the proper mode of it.

 

It would be much better with the early Christians to refer the number eight to the resurrection, which took place on the eighth day, and on which we know that newness of life depends; or to the whole course of the present life, during which, mortification ought to be in progress, only terminating when life itself terminates. Yet, it would seem that God intended to provide for the tenderness of infancy by deferring circumcision to the eighth day, as the wound would have been more dangerous if inflicted immediately after birth. How much more rational is the declaration of Scripture, that we, when already dead, are buried by baptism (Rom. 6:4), since it distinctly states, that we are buried into death that we may thoroughly die, and thenceforth aim at that mortification?

 

Equally ingenious is their cavil, that women should not be baptized if baptism is to be made conformable to circumcision. For if it is most certain that the sanctification of the seed of Israel was attested by the sign of circumcision, it cannot be doubted that it was appointed alike for the sanctification of males and females. But though the rite could only be performed on males, yet the females were, through them, partners and associates in circumcision. Wherefore, disregarding all such quibbling distinctions, let us fix on the very complete resemblance between baptism and circumcision, as seen in the internal office, the promise, the use, and the effect.

 

17. They seem to think they produce their strongest reason for denying baptism to children, when they allege that they are as yet unfit, from nonage, to understand the mystery which is there sealed, that is, spiritual regeneration, which is not applicable to earliest infancy. Hence they infer that children are only to be regarded as sons of Adam until they have attained an age fit for the reception of the second birth.

 

But all this is directly opposed to the truth of God. For if they are to be accounted sons of Adam, they are left in death, since, in Adam, we can do nothing but die. On the contrary, Christ bids them be brought to him. Why so? Because he is life. Therefore, that he may quicken them, he makes them partners with himself; whereas these men would drive them away from Christ, and adjudge them to death.

 

For if they pretend that infants do not perish when they are accounted the sons of Adam, the error is more than sufficiently confuted by the testimony of Scripture (1 Cor. 15:22). For, seeing it declares that in Adam all die, it follows, that no hope of life remains unless in Christ. Therefore that we may become heirs of life, we must communicate with him. Again, seeing it is elsewhere written that we are all by nature the children of wrath (Eph. 2:3) and conceived in sin (Ps. 51:5) of which condemnation is the inseparable attendant, we must part with our own nature before we have any access to the kingdom of God. And what can be clearer than the expression, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God?" (1 Cor. 15:50).

 

Therefore, let every thing that is our own be abolished, (this cannot be without regeneration,) and then we shall perceive this possession of the kingdom. In summary, if Christ speaks truly when he declares that he is life, we must necessarily be ingrafted into him by whom we are delivered from the bondage of death.

 

But how, they ask, are infants regenerated, when not possessing a knowledge of either good or evil? We answer, that the work of God, though beyond the reach of our capacity, is not therefore null. Moreover, infants who are to be saved (and that some are saved at this age is certain) must, without question, be previously regenerated by the Lord. For if they bring innate corruption with them from their mother's womb, they must be purified before they can be admitted into the kingdom of God, into which shall not enter any thing that defiles (Rev. 21:27). If they are born sinners, as David and Paul affirm, they must either remain unaccepted and hated by God, or be justified. And why do we ask more, when the Judge himself publicly declares, that "except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God?" (John 3:3).

 

But to silence this class of objectors, God gave, in the case of John the Baptist, whom he sanctified from his mother's womb (Luke 1:15), a proof of what he might do in others. They gain nothing by the quibble to which they here resort, that is, that this was only once done, and, therefore, it does not forthwith follow that the Lord always acts thus with infants. That is not the mode in which we reason. Our only object is to show that they unjustly and malignantly confine the power of God within limits, within which it cannot be confined.

 

As little weight is due to another subterfuge. They allege that, by the usual phraseology of Scriptures "from the womb," has the same meaning as "from childhood." But it is easy to see that the angel had a different meaning when he announced to Zacharias that the child not yet born would be filled with the Holy Spirit. Instead of attempting to give a law to God, let us hold that he sanctifies whom he pleases in the way in which he sanctified John, seeing that his power is not impaired.

 

18. And, indeed, Christ was sanctified from earliest infancy, that he might sanctify his elect in himself at any age, without distinction. For as he, in order to wipe away the guilt of disobedience which had been committed in our flesh assumed that very flesh, that in it he might, on our account and in our stead, perform a perfect obedience, so he was conceived by the Holy Spirit, that, completely pervaded with his holiness in the flesh which he had assumed he might transfuse it into us. If in Christ we have a perfect pattern of all the grace, which God bestows on all his children, in this instance we have a proof that the age of infancy is not incapable of receiving sanctification. This, at least, we set down as incontrovertible, that none of the elect is called away from the present life without being previously sanctified and regenerated by the Spirit of God.

 

As to their objection that, in Scriptures the Spirit acknowledges no sanctification save that from incorruptible seed, that is, the word of God, they erroneously interpret Peter's words, in which he comprehends only believers who had been taught by the preaching of the gospel (1 Pet. 1:23). We confess, indeed, that the word of the Lord is the only seed of spiritual regeneration; but we deny the inference that, therefore, the power of God cannot regenerate infants. This is as possible and easy for him as it is wondrous and incomprehensible to us. It would be dangerous to deny that the Lord is able to furnish them with the knowledge of himself in any way he pleases.

 

19. But faith, they says comes by hearing, the use of which infants have not yet obtained, nor can they be fit to know God, being, as Moses declares, without the knowledge of good and evil (Deut. 1:39.) But they observe not that where the apostle makes hearing the beginning of faith, he is only describing the usual economy and dispensation which the Lord usually employs in calling his people, and not laying down an invariable rule for which no other method can be substituted.

 

Many he certainly has called and endued with the true knowledge of himself by internal means by the illumination of the Spirit, without the intervention of preaching. But since they deem it very absurd to attribute any knowledge of God to infants, whom Moses makes void of the knowledge of good and evil, let them tell me where the danger lies if they are said now to receive some part of that grace, of which they are to have the full measure shortly after.

 

For if fullness of life consists in the perfect knowledge of God, since some of those whom death hurries away in the first moments of infancy pass into life eternal, they are certainly admitted to behold the immediate presence of God. Those therefore whom the Lord is to illumine with the full brightness of his light, why may he not, if he so pleases, irradiate at present with some small beam, especially if he does not remove their ignorance before he delivers them from the prison of the flesh? I would not rashly affirm that they are endued with the same faith which we experience in ourselves or have any knowledge at all resembling faith, (this I would rather leave undecided), but I would somewhat curb the stolid arrogance of those men who, as with inflated cheeks affirm or deny whatever suits them.

 

20. In order to gain a stronger footing here, they add that baptism is a sacrament of penitence and faith, and as neither of these is applicable to tender infancy we must beware of rendering its meaning empty and vain by admitting infants to the communion of baptism. But these darts are directed more against God than against us; since the fact that circumcision was a sign of repentance is completely established by many passages of Scripture (Jer. 4:4). Thus Paul terms it a seal of the righteousness of faith (Rom. 4:11).

 

Let God, then, be demanded why he ordered circumcision to be performed on the bodies of infants? For baptism and circumcision being here in the same case, they cannot give any thing to the latter without conceding it to the former. If they recur to their usual evasion, that, by the age of infancy, spiritual infants were then figured, we have already closed this means of escape against them. We say then that since God imparted circumcision, the sign of repentance and faith, to infants, it should not seem absurd that they are now made partakers of baptisms unless men choose to clamor against an institution of God.

 

But as in all his acts, so here also enough of wisdom and righteousness shines forth to repress the slanders of the ungodly. For although infants, at the moment when they were circumcised did not comprehend what the sign meant, still they were truly circumcised for the mortification of their corrupt and polluted nature, - a mortification at which they afterwards aspired when adults.

 

In summary, the objection is easily disposed of by the fact that children are baptized for future repentance and faith. Though these are not yet formed in them, yet the seed of both lies hid in them by the secret operation of the Spirit. This answer at once overthrows all the objections which are twisted against us out of the meaning of baptism; for instance, the title by which Paul distinguishes it when he terms it the "washing of regeneration and renewing" (Tit. 3:5). Hence they argue that it is not to be given to any but to those who are capable of such feelings. But we, on the other hand, may object that neither ought circumcision, which is designated regeneration, to be conferred on any but the regenerate. In this way, we shall condemn a divine institution.

 

Thus, as we have already hinted, all the arguments which tend to shake circumcision are of no force in assailing baptism. Nor can they escape by saying, that everything which rests on the authority of God is absolutely fixed, though there should be no reason for it, but that this reverence is not due to infant baptism, nor other similar things which are not recommended to us by the express word of God. They always remain caught in this dilemma. The command of God to circumcise infants was either legitimate and exempt from cavil, or deserved reprehension. If there was nothing incompetent or absurd in it, no absurdity can be shown in the observance of infant baptism.

 

21. The charge of absurdity with which they attempt to stigmatize it we thus dispose of. If those on whom the Lord has bestowed his election, after receiving the sign of regeneration, depart this life before they become adults, he, by the incomprehensible energy of his Spirit, renews them in the way which he alone sees to be expedient. Should they reach an age when they can be instructed in the meaning of baptism, they will thereby be animated to greater zeal for renovation, the badge of which they will learn that they received in earliest infancy, in order that they might aspire to it during their whole lives.

 

To the same effect are the two passages in which Paul teaches that we are buried with Christ by baptism, (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12). For by this he means not that he who is to be initiated by baptism must have previously been buried with Christ; he simply declares the doctrine which is taught by baptism, and that to those already baptized: so that the most senseless cannot maintain from this passage that it ought to precede baptism. In this way, Moses and the prophets reminded the people of the thing meant by circumcision, which however infants received.

 

To the same effect Paul says to the Galatians, "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Gal. 3:27). Why so? That they might thereafter live to Christ, to whom previously they had not lived. And though, in adults, the receiving of the sign ought to follow the understanding of its meaning, yet, as will shortly be explained, a different rule must be followed with children.

 

No other conclusion can be drawn from a passage in Peter, on which they strongly found. He says, that baptism is "not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 3:21). From this they contend that nothing is left for infant baptism, which becomes mere empty smoke, as being altogether at variance with the meaning of baptism. But the delusion which misleads them is that they would always have the thing to precede the sign in the order of time. For the truth of circumcision consisted in the same answer of a good conscience; but if the truth must necessarily have preceded, infants would never have been circumcised by the command of God.

 

But he himself, showing that the answer of a good conscience forms the truth of circumcision, and, at the same time, commanding infants to be circumcised, plainly intimates that, in their case, circumcision had reference to the future. Wherefore, nothing more of present effect is to be required in infant baptism, than to confirm and sanction the covenant which the Lord has made with them. The other part of the meaning of the sacrament will follow at the time which God himself has provided.

 

22. Every one must, I think, clearly perceive that all arguments of this stamp are mere perversions of Scripture. The other remaining arguments akin to these we shall cursorily examine. They object that baptism is given for the remission of sins. When this is conceded it strongly supports our view; for, seeing we are born sinners, we stand in need of forgiveness and pardon from the very womb. Moreover, since God does not preclude this age from the hope of mercy, but rather gives assurance of it, why should we deprive it of the sign, which is much inferior to the reality? The arrow, therefore, which they aim at us, we throw back upon themselves. Infants receive forgiveness of sins; therefore, they are not to be deprived of the sign.

 

They adduce the passage from the Ephesians, that Christ gave himself for the Church, "that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word" (Eph. 5:26). Nothing could be quoted more appropriate than this to overthrow their error: it furnishes us with an easy proof. If, by baptism, Christ intends to attest the ablution by which he cleanses his Church, it would seem not equitable to deny this attestation to infants, who are justly deemed part of the Church, seeing they are called heirs of the heavenly kingdom. For Paul comprehends the whole Church when he says that it was cleansed by the washing of water. In like manner, from his expression in another place, that by baptism we are ingrafted into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13), we infer, that infants, whom he enumerates among his members, are to be baptized in order that they may not be dissevered from his body. See the violent onset which they make with all their engines on the bulwarks of our faith.

 

23. They now come down to the custom and practice of the apostolic age, alleging that there is no instance of any one having been admitted to baptism without a previous profession of faith and repentance. For when Peter is asked by his hearers, who were pricked in their heart, "What shall we do?" his advice is, "Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:37, 38). In like manner, when Philip was asked by the eunuch to baptize him, he answered, "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." [KJV, Acts 8:37] -2-

 

Hence they think they can make out that baptism cannot be lawfully given to any one without previous faith and repentance. If we yield to this argument, the former passage in which there is no mention of faith will prove that repentance alone is sufficient, and the latter, which makes no requirement of repentance, that there is need only of faith.

 

They will object, I presume, that the one passage helps the other, and that both, therefore, are to be connected. I, in my turn, maintain that these two must be compared with other passages which contribute somewhat to the solution of this difficulty. There are many passages of Scripture whose meaning depends on their peculiar position. Of this we have an example in the present instance. Those to whom these things are said by Peter and Philip are of an age fit to aim at repentance, and receive faith. We strenuously insist that such men are not to be baptized unless their conversion and faith are discerned, at least in as far as human judgment can ascertain it.

 

But it is perfectly clear that infants must be placed in a different class. For when any one formerly joined the religious communion of Israel, he behaved to be taught the covenant, and instructed in the law of the Lord, before he received circumcision, because he was of a different nation; in other words, an alien from the people of Israel, with whom the covenant, which circumcision sanctioned, had been made.

 

24. Thus the Lord, when he chose Abraham for himself, did not commence with circumcision, in the meanwhile concealing what he meant by that sign, but first announced that he intended to make a covenant with him, and, after his faith in the promise, made him partaker of the sacrament. Why does the sacrament come after faith in Abraham, and precede all intelligence in his son Isaac? It is right that he who, in adult age is admitted to the fellowship of a covenant by one from whom he had hitherto been alienated, should previously learn its conditions; but it is not so with the infant born to him. He, according to the terms of the promise, is included in the promise by hereditary right from his mother's womb. Or, to state the matter more briefly and more clearly, if the children of believers without the help of understanding, are partakers of the covenant, there is no reason why they should be denied the sign because they are unable to swear to its stipulations.

 

This undoubtedly is the reason why the Lord sometimes declares that the children born to the Israelites are begotten and born to him (Ezek. 16:20; 23:37). For he undoubtedly gives the place of sons to the children of those to whose seed he has promised that he will be a Father. But the child descended from unbelieving parents is deemed an alien to the covenant until he is united to God by faith. Hence, it is not strange that the sign is withheld when the thing signified would be vain and fallacious. In that view, Paul says that the Gentiles, so long as they were plunged in idolatry, were strangers to the covenants (Eph. 2:11).

 

The whole matter may, if I mistake not, be thus briefly and clearly expounded: Those who, in adult age, embrace the faith of Christ, having hitherto been aliens from the covenant, are not to receive the sign of baptism without previous faith and repentance. These alone can give them access to the fellowship of the covenant, whereas children, deriving their origin from Christians, as they are immediately on their birth received by God as heirs of the covenant, are also to be admitted to baptism. To this we must refer the narrative of the Evangelist, that those who were baptized by John confessed their sin (Matt. 3:6). This example, we hold, ought to be observed in the present day. Were a Turk to offer himself for baptism, we would not at once perform the rite without receiving a confession which was satisfactory to the Church.

 

25. Another passage which they adduce is from the third chapter of John, where our Savior’s words seem to them to imply that a present regeneration is required in baptism, "Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). See, they say, how baptism is termed regeneration by the lips of our Lord himself, and on what pretext, therefore, with what consistency is baptism given to those who, it is perfectly obvious, are not at all capable of regeneration?

 

First, they are in error in imagining that there is any mention of baptism in this passage, merely because the word water is used. Nicodemus, after our Savior had explained to him the corruption of nature and the necessity of being born again, kept dreaming of a corporeal birth. So, our Savior intimates the mode in which God regenerates us, that is, by water and the Spirit; in other words, by the Spirit, who, in irrigating and cleansing the soul of believers, operates in the manner of water.

 

By "water and the Spirit," therefore, I simply understand the Spirit, which is water. Nor is the expression new. It perfectly accords with that which is used in the third chapter of Matthew, "He that comes after me is mightier than I;" "he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire" (Matt. 3:11). Therefore, as to baptize with the Holy Spirit, and with fire, is to confer the Holy Spirit, who, in regeneration, has the office and nature of fire, so to be born again of water, and of the Spirit, is nothing else than to receive that power of the Spirit, which has the same effect on the soul that water has on the body.

 

I know that a different interpretation is given, but I have no doubt that this is the genuine meaning, because our Savior’s only purpose was to teach that all who aspire to the kingdom of heaven must lay aside their own disposition. And yet were we disposed to imitate these men in their mode of quibbling, we might easily, after conceding what they wish, reply to them, that baptism is prior to faith and repentance, since, in this passage, our Savior mentions it before the Spirit. This certainly must be understood of spiritual gifts, and if they follow baptism, I have gained all I contend for. But, caviling aside, the simple interpretation to be adopted is, that which I have given; that is, that no man, until renewed by living water, that is, by the Spirit, can enter the kingdom of God.

 

26. This, moreover, plainly explodes the fiction of those who consign all the unbaptized to eternal death. Let us suppose, then, that as they insist, baptism is administered to adults only. What will they make of a youth who, after being imbued duly and properly with the rudiments of piety, while waiting for the day of baptism, is unexpectedly carried off by sudden death? The promise of our Lord is clear, "He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24) .We nowhere read of his having condemned him who was not yet baptized.

 

I would not be understood as insinuating that baptism may be condemned with impunity. So far from excusing this contempt, I hold that it violates the covenant of the Lord. The passage only serves to show, that we must not deem baptism so necessary as to suppose that every one who has lost the opportunity of obtaining it has forthwith perished. By assenting to their fiction, we should condemn all, without exception, whom any accident may have prevented from procuring baptism, no matter how much they may have been endued with the faith by which Christ himself is possessed. Moreover, baptism being, as they hold, necessary to salvation, they, in denying it to infants, consign them all to eternal death.

 

Let them now consider what kind of agreement they have with the words of Christ, who says that "of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 19:14). And though we were to concede every thing to them, in regard to the meaning of this passage, they will extract nothing from it, until they have previously overthrown the doctrine which we have already established concerning the regeneration of infants.

 

27. But they boast of having their strongest bulwark in the very institution of baptism, which they find in the last chapter of Matthew, where Christ, sending his disciples into all the world, commands them to teach and then baptize. Then in the last chapter of Mark, it is added "He that believes, and is baptized, shall be saved" (Mark 16:16). What more (say they) do we ask, since the words of Christ distinctly declare, that teaching must precede baptism, and assign to baptism the place next to faith?

 

Of this arrangement our Lord himself gave an example, in choosing not to be baptized till his thirtieth year. In how many ways do they here entangle themselves, and betray their ignorance! They err more than childishly in this, that they derive the first institution of baptism from this passage, whereas Christ had from the commencement of his ministry ordered it to be administered by the apostles.

 

There is no ground, therefore, for contending that the law and rule of baptism is to be sought from these two passages, as containing the first institution. But to indulge them in their error, how nerveless is this mode of arguing? Were I disposed to evasion, I have not only a place of escape, but a wide field to expatiate in. For when they cling so desperately to the order of the words, insisting that because it is said, "Go, preach and baptize," and again, "Whosoever believes and is baptized," they must preach before baptizing, and believe before being baptized, why may not we in our turn object, that they must baptize before teaching the observance of those things which Christ commanded, because it is said, "Baptize, teaching whatsoever I have commanded you?"

 

The same thing we observed in the other passage in which Christ speaks of the regeneration of water and of the Spirit. For if we interpret as they insist, then baptism must take precedence of spiritual regeneration, because it is first mentioned. Christ teaches that we are to be born again, not of the Spirit and of water, but of water and of the Spirit.

 

28. This unassailable argument, in which they confide so much, seems already to be considerably shaken; but as we have sufficient protection in the simplicity of truth, I am unwilling to evade the point by paltry subtleties. Let them, therefore, have a solid answer. The command here given by Christ relates principally to the preaching of the gospel: to it baptism is added as a kind of appendage. Then he merely speaks of baptism in so far as the dispensation of it is subordinate to the fiction of teaching. For Christ sends his disciples to publish the gospel to all nations of the World, that by the doctrine of salvation they may gather men, who were previously lost into his kingdom.

 

But who or what are those men? It is certain that mention is made only of those who are fit to receive his doctrine. He subjoins, that such, after being taught, were to be baptized, adding the promise, Whosoever believes, and is baptized, shall be saved. Is there one syllable about infants in the whole discourse? What, then, is the form of argument with which they assail us? Those who are of adult age are to be instructed and brought to the faith, before being baptized, and, therefore, it is unlawful to make baptism common to infants. They cannot, at the very utmost, prove any other thing out of this passage, than that the gospel must be preached to those who are capable of hearing it before they are baptized: for of such only the passage speaks. From this let them, if they can, throw an obstacle in the way of baptizing infants.

 

29. But I will make their fallacies palpable even to the blind, by a very plain similitude. Should any one insist that infants are to be deprived of food on the pretence that the apostle permits none to eat but those who labor (2 Thess. 3:10), would he not deserve to be scouted by all? Why so? Because that which was said of a certain class of men and a certain age, he wrests and applies to all indifferently. The dexterity of these men in the present instance is no greater. That which every one sees to be intended for adult age merely, they apply to infants, subjecting them to a rule which was laid down only for those of riper years.

 

With regard to the example of our Savior, it gives no countenance to their case. He was not baptized before his thirtieth year. This is, indeed, true, but the reason is obvious; because he then determined to lay the solid foundation of baptism by his preaching, or rather to confirm the foundation which John had previously laid. Therefore when he was pleased with his doctrine to institute baptism, that he might give the greater authority to his institution, he sanctified it in his own person, and that at the most befitting time, namely, the commencement of his ministry.

 

In summary, they can prove nothing more than that baptism received its origin and commencement with the preaching of the gospel. But if they are pleased to fix upon the thirtieth year, why do they not observe it, but admit any one to baptism according to the view which they may have formed of his proficiency? Nay, even Servetus, one of their masters, although he stubbornly insisted on this period, had begun to act the prophet in his twenty-first year; as if any man could be tolerated in arrogating to himself the office of a teacher in the Church before he was a member of the Church.

 

30. At length they object, that there is not greater reason for admitting infants to baptism than to the Lord's Supper, to which, however, they are never admitted: as if Scripture did not in every way draw a wide distinction between them. In the early Church, indeed, the Lord's Supper was frequently given to infants, as appears from Cyprian and Augustine, (August. ad Bonif. Lib. 1;) but the practice justly became obsolete. For if we attend to the peculiar nature of baptism, it is a kind of entrance, and as it were initiation into the Church, by which we are ranked among the people of God, a sign of our spiritual regeneration, by which we are again born to be children of God, whereas on the contrary the Supper is intended for those of riper years, who, having passed the tender period of infancy, are fit to bear solid food.

 

This distinction is very clearly pointed out in Scripture. For there, as far as regards baptism, the Lord makes no selection of age, whereas he does not admit all to partake of the Supper, but confines it to those who are fit to discern the body and blood of the Lord, to examine their own conscience, to show forth the Lord's death, and understand its power. Can we wish anything clearer than what the apostle says, when he thus exhorts, "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup?" (1 Cor. 11:28). Examination, therefore, must precede, and this it were vain to expect from infants. Again, "He that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." If they cannot partake worthily without being able duly to discern the sanctity of the Lord's body, why should we stretch out poison to our young children instead of vivifying food?

 

Then what is our Lord's injunction? "Do this in remembrance of me." And what the inference which the apostle draws from this? "As often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you show the Lord's death till he comes." How, pray, can we require infants to commemorate any event of which they have no understanding; how require them to "show forth the Lord's death," of the nature and benefit of which they have no idea?

 

Nothing of the kind is prescribed by baptism. Therefore, there is the greatest difference between the two signs. This also we observe in similar signs under the old dispensation. Circumcision, which, as is well known, corresponds to our baptism, was intended for infants, but the Passover, for which the Supper is substituted, did not admit all kinds of guests promiscuously, but was duly eaten only by those who were of an age sufficient to ask its meaning (Exod. 12:26). Had these men the least particle of soundness in their brain, would they be thus blind as to a matter so very clear and obvious?

 

31. Though I am unwilling to annoy the reader with the series of conceits which Servetus, not the least among the Anabaptists, nay, the great honor of this crew, when girding himself for battle, deemed, when he adduced them, to be specious arguments, it will be worth while briefly to dispose of them. He pretends that as the symbols of Christ are perfect, they require persons who are perfect, or, at least, capable of perfection.

 

But the answer is plain. The perfection of baptism, which extends even to death, is improperly restricted to one moment of time; moreover, perfection, in which baptism invites us to make continual progress during life, is foolishly exacted by him all at once. He objects that the symbols of Christ were appointed for remembrance, that every one may remember that he was buried together with Christ. I answer, that what he coined out of his own brain does not need refutation, nay, that which he transfers to baptism properly belongs to the Supper, as appears from Paul's words, "Let a man examine himself," words similar to which are nowhere used with reference to baptism. From this we infer, that those who from nonage are incapable of examination are duly baptized.

 

His third point is, That all who believe not in the Son remain in death, the wrath of God abides on them, (John 3:36) and, therefore, infants who are unable to believe lie under condemnation. I answer, that Christ does not there speak of the general guilt in which all the posterity of Adam are involved, but only threatens the despisers of the gospel, who proudly and obstinately spurn the grace which is offered to them. But this has nothing to do with infants.

 

At the same time, I meet him with the opposite argument. Every one whom Christ blesses is exempted from the curse of Adam and the wrath of God. Therefore, seeing it is certain that infants are blessed by him, it follows that they are freed from death. He next falsely quotes a passage which is nowhere found, Whosoever is born of the Spirit, hears the voice of the Spirit. Though we should grant that such a passage occurs in Scripture, all he can extract from it is, that believers, according as the Spirit works in them, are framed to obedience. But that which is said of a certain number, it is illogical to apply to all alike.

 

His fourth objection is, As that which precedes is animal (1 Cor. 15:46), we must wait the full time for baptism, which is spiritual. But while I admit that all the posterity of Adam, born of the flesh, bear their condemnation with them from the womb, I hold that this is no obstacle to the immediate application of the divine remedy. Servetus cannot show that by divine appointment, several years must elapse before the new spiritual life begins. Paul's testimony is, that though lost by nature, the children of believers are holy by supernatural grace.

 

He afterwards brings forward the allegory that David when going up into mount Zion, took with him neither the blind nor the lame, but vigorous soldiers (2 Sam. 5:8). But what if I meet this with the parable in which God invites to the heavenly feast the lame and the blind? In what way will Servetus disentangle this knot? I ask, moreover whether the lame and the maimed had not previously served with David? But it is superfluous to dwell longer on this argument, which as the reader will learn from the sacred history, is founded on mere misquotation.

 

He adds another allegory, that is, that the apostles were fishers of men, not of children. I ask, then, What does our Savior mean when he says that in the net are caught all kinds of fishes? (Matt. 4:19; 13:47). But as I have no pleasure in sporting with allegory, I answer, that when the office of teaching was committed to the apostles they were not prohibited from baptizing infants. Moreover, I should like to know why, when the Evangelist uses the termanthropous, (which comprehends the whole human race without exception,) he denies that infants are included.

 

His seventh argument is, Since spiritual things accord with spiritual (l Cor. 2:13), infants, not being spiritual are unfit for baptism. It is plain how perversely he wrests this passage of Paul. It relates to doctrine. The Corinthians, pluming themselves excessively on a vain acuteness, Paul rebukes their folly, because they still required to be instilled with the first rudiments of heavenly doctrine. Who can infer from this that baptism is to be denied to infants, whom, when begotten of the flesh, the Lord consecrates to himself by gratuitous adoption?

 

His objection, that if they are new men they must be fed with spiritual food, is easily obviated. By baptism they are admitted into the fold of Christ, and the symbol of adoption is sufficient for them, until they grow up and become fit to bear solid food. We must, therefore, wait for the time of examination, which God distinctly demands in the sacred Supper.

 

His next objection is, that Christ invites all his people to the sacred supper. But as it is plain that he admits those only who are prepared to celebrate the commemoration of his death, it follows that infants whom he honored with his embrace, remain in a distinct and peculiar position until they grow up, and yet are not aliens. When he objects, that it is strange why the infant does not partake of the Supper, I answer, that souls are fed by other food than the external eating of the Supper, and that accordingly Christ is the food of infants though they partake not of the symbol. The case is different with baptism, by which the door of the Church is thrown open to them.

 

He again objects that a good householder distributes meat to his household in due season (Matt. 24:45). This I willingly admit; but how will he define the time of baptism, so as to prove that it is not seasonably given to infants? He, moreover, adduces Christ's command to the apostles to make haste, because the fields are already white to the harvest (John 4: 35). Our Savior only means that the apostles, seeing the present fruit of their labor, should bestir themselves with more alacrity to teach. Who will infer from this, that harvest only is the fit time for baptism?

 

His eleventh argument is, That in the primitive Church, Christians and disciples were the same; but we have already seen that he argues unskillfully from the part to the whole. The name of disciples is given to men of full age, who had already been taught, and had assumed the name of Christ, just as the Jews behaved to be disciples under the law of Moses. Still none could rightly infer from this that infants, whom the Lord declared to be of his household, were strangers.

 

Moreover he alleges that all Christians are brethren and that infants cannot belong to this class so long as we exclude them from the Supper. But I return to my position, first, that none are heirs of the kingdom of heaven but those who are the members of Christ; and, secondly, that the embracing of Christ was the true badge of adoption, in which infants are joined in common with adults, and that temporary abstinence from the Supper does not prevent them from belonging to the body of the Church. The thief on the cross, when converted, became the brother of believers, though he never partook of the Lord's Supper.

 

Servetus afterwards adds, that no man becomes our brother unless by the Spirit of adoption, who is only conferred by the hearing of faith. I answer, that he always falls back into the same paralogism [logical fallacy], because he preposterously applies to infants what is said only of adults. Paul there teaches that the ordinary way in which God calls his elect, and brings them to the faith, is by raising up faithful teachers and thus stretching out his hand to them by their ministry and labors. Who will presume from this to give the law to God, and say that he may not ingraft infants into Christ by some other secret method?

 

He objects, that Cornelius was baptized after receiving the Holy Spirit; but how absurdly he would convert a single example into a general rule is apparent from the case of the Eunuch and the Samaritans, in regard to whom the Lord observed a different order, baptism preceding the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

 

The fifteenth argument is more than absurd. He says that we become gods by regeneration, but that they are gods to whom the word of God is sent (John 10:35; 2 Pet. 1:4), a thing not possible to infant children. The attributing of deity to believers is one of his ravings which this is not the proper place to discuss; but it betrays the utmost effrontery to wrest the passage in the psalm (Ps. 82:6) to a meaning so alien to it. Christ says that kings and magistrates are called gods by the prophet because they perform an office divinely appointed them. This dexterous interpreter transfers what is addressed by special command to certain individuals to the doctrine of the Gospel, so as to exterminate infants from the Church.

 

Again, he objects, that infants cannot be regarded as new men, because they are not begotten by the word. But what I have said again and again I now repeat, that, for regenerating us doctrine is an incorruptible seed, if indeed we are fit to perceive it; but when, from nonage we are incapable of being taught, God takes his own methods of regenerating.

 

He afterwards returns to his allegories and says that under the law, the sheep and the goat were not offered in sacrifice the moment they were birthed (Exod. 12:5). Were I disposed to deal in figures I might obviously reply, first, that all the first-born on opening the womb, were sacred to the Lord, (Exod. 13:12), and, secondly, that a lamb of a year old was to be sacrificed. From this, it follows that it was not necessary to wait for mature age, the young and tender offspring having been selected by God for sacrifice.

 

He contends, moreover, that none could come to Christ but those who were previously prepared by John; as if John's ministry had not been temporary. But, to omit this, assuredly there was no such preparation in the children whom Christ took up in his arms and blessed. Wherefore let us have done with his false principle.

 

He at length calls in the assistance of Trismegistus and the Sibyls to prove that sacred ablutions [washing, that is, baptism] are fit only for adults. See how honorably he thinks of Christian baptism when he tests it by the profane rites of the Gentiles, and will not have it administered except in the way pleasing to Trismegistus.

 

We defer more to the authority of God, who has seen it meet to consecrate infants to himself, and initiate them by a sacred symbol, the significance of which they are unable from nonage to understand. We do not think it lawful to borrow from the expiations of the Gentiles, in order to change in our baptism that eternal and inviolable law which God enacted in circumcision.

 

His last argument is, If infants, without understanding, may be baptized, baptism may be mimicked and jestingly administered by boys in sport. Here let him plead the matter with God, by whose command circumcision was common to infants before they received understanding. Was it, then, a fit matter for ridicule or boyish sport, to overthrow the sacred institution of God? But no wonder that these reprobate spirits, as if they were under the influence of frenzy, introduce the grossest absurdities in defense of their errors, because God, by this spirit of giddiness, justly avenges their pride and obstinacy. I trust I have made it apparent how feebly Servetus has supported his friends the Anabaptists.

 

32. No sound man, I presume, can now doubt how rashly the Church is disturbed by those who excite quarrels and disturbances because of infant baptism. For it is of importance to observe what Satan means by all this craft, that is, to rob us of the singular blessing of confidence and spiritual joy, which is hence to be derived, and in so far to detract from the glory of the divine goodness. For how sweet is it to pious minds to be assured not only by word, but even by visible demonstration, that they are so much in favor with their heavenly Father, that he interests himself in their posterity! Here we may see how he acts towards us as a most provident parent, not ceasing to care for us even after our death, but consulting and providing for our children. Ought not our whole heart to be stirred up within us, as David's was, (Ps. 48: 11,) to bless his name for such a manifestation of goodness?

 

Doubtless, the design of Satan in assaulting infant baptism with all his forces is to keep out of view, and gradually efface, that attestation of divine grace which the promise itself presents to our eyes. In this way, not only would men be impiously ungrateful for the mercy of God, but be less careful in training their children to piety. For it is no slight stimulus to us to bring them up in the fear of God, and the observance of his law, when we reflect, that from their birth they have been considered and acknowledged by him as his children. Wherefore, if we would not maliciously obscure the kindness of God, let us present to him our infants, to whom he has assigned a place among his friends and family that is, the members of the Church.

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Okay, I'm just going to leave off from the quotations at the moment. I'm not sure if there is a vital difference in understanding of the sacramental nature of Baptism between the Lutherans and the Reformed, and after reading Luther's and Calvin's words on the subject, I agree that they are very close indeed. Remember that Martin Luther was approaching this topic from the point of view of a German monk, while Calvin was examining things from the perspective of a French lawyer. They seem to have developed their respective theologies from these perspectives. They were also students of St. Augustine, as well. They really are fascinating studies.

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