Pastor David B. Curtis


Paedobaptism? - Part 1

Galatians 3:26


If you were to look through one of our visitor packs or go to our web page and read the section entitled "About Us", you would find this brief description of Berean Bible Church:

Although labels are sometimes detrimental, they are occasionally helpful in identifying the major beliefs for which a particular church stands. While the following labels or terms are not exhaustive of the particular beliefs adhered to by our church, we hope that they are helpful in understanding us better.

First of all, we are reformed in the way that we view the world and the Bible. This means that we consider ourselves to have historically descended from those churches of the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century. We believe in the absolute sovereignty of the Almighty God, "Sola fide" (salvation by grace through faith alone) and "Sola Scriptua" (the Scriptures alone).

Secondly, we are orthodox in our theology. This means that we accept the Bible as the inerrant and authoritative source of all that we believe and teach. Furthermore, we have no standard outside the Bible by which we judge its authority. It is completely self-authenticating. Creeds, councils, and statements of belief, although highly useful in understanding the Scripture, may contain error. The Bible, alone, is the only inspired test for orthodoxy.

Thirdly, we are Presbyterian in our form of church government. In our case, this means that we are ruled by elders. We believe that the Bible emphasizes two important principles of church government: plurality and representative. Multiple elders are chosen by God and recognized by the congregation to represent the people. Our elders are responsible for the teaching, spiritual oversight, and discipline of individual members. We believe that elder rule is the form of government that best illustrates the principle that Jesus Christ, alone, is the Head of His Church.

Fourthly, we are an independent Bible church with reference to denominational affiliation. This means that we are not part of an official denominational structure. We use the designation "independent", however, simply for a lack of a more descriptive term. In reality, we are not independent of other Christians at all. We are "interdependent" with other like-minded believers, regardless of their denominational affiliation.

Finally, we consider ourselves Bereans. This is in reference to those in the church at Berea, who "received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11b). We are eagerly open to be taught by God's Word. However, we also are continually searching the Scriptures to test if what we have seen or heard accurately reflects what the Scriptures teach.

Now, this is a fairly good description of BBC. With that in mind, I want us to look this morning at the subject of paedobaptism or infant baptism. At BBC, we are Reformed - we consider ourselves to stand theologically with those churches of the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century. We stand with the Reformers (Luther, Calvin, Zwingly, Knox, Cramner) on the truth that "Salvation is of the Lord." The German reformer, the Swiss reformer, the French reformer, the Scottish reformer, the English reformer - everyone of them believed not only in Grace but sovereign grace. The majority of believers today try to have the grace without the sovereignty of the grace. All the reformers believed that grace was not only provided but applied. We believe that God is sovereign in the salvation of man, as well as every other area of life.

Although we stand with the Reformers on the sovereignty of grace, we depart from them on the issue of infant baptism. Now, the question that is asked is, "Can you hold to the rich tradition of reformed theology, which involves in it paedobaptism, and yet maintain believer's baptism?" Is there a logical inconsistency here? I don't think so.

I believe that the scriptures clearly teach believer's baptism. By that we simply mean that only those who profess faith in Christ are to receive the ordinance of baptism. We don't baptize infants because infants can't believe the gospel. I have no ax to grind with my Presbyterian brothers - I am simply attempting to line up with the Scripture. In the short description of BBC, we not only said that we are Reformed, but we also stated that we consider ourselves BEREANS. And as Bereans, our responsibility is to search the scriptures to see if these teachings on infant baptism are so. Just because the majority of those who consider themselves Reformed baptize infants doesn't make it right. We must search the Scriptures to see what they teach on the subject.

It is alleged by the paedobaptists that infant baptism insures the beautiful harmony with Old Testament circumcision. A male child was circumcised on the eighth day under the Old Covenant. And if we're going to see the unity of God's plan from the Old Covenant into the New Covenant, then we will likewise baptize our infants, because the pattern of the old is to be followed in the new. They will say that believer's baptism is a harsh departure from that Old Testament pattern. To not baptize our infants is an injustice to the continuity of the Bible, and to rob our children of certain spiritual privileges.

How do we respond to this? We respond by saying that we preserve the rich continuity between the Old and New Covenants in three ways:

1. By Understanding Old Covenant Types.

A type in the Bible is a picture or a shadow of something that is to come. It is something physical in nature that is depicting something greater that is to come that may be spiritual.

The Lord Jesus Christ had a type, the lamb who was slain on Passover.

1 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV) Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.

The children of Israel, on a given day, sacrificed their Passover lamb. Now, Paul says our Passover lamb has been sacrificed, that is Jesus Christ. The Passover lamb was a type or picture of Jesus Christ. As that lamb was slain and its blood applied to the door posts of that home, it provided a covering whereby the inhabitants of that home were protected from the just judgment of God, and entered into God's salvation. When the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed upon the cross of Calvary is applied by faith to the life of an individual, that constitutes a deliverance from the just judgment of God upon us so that we are saved. Christ is the anti-type or fulfillment of the Passover lamb. The Passover lamb died for Israel, picturing Christ who would come and die for all God's elect. The lamb was a type giving an indication of one who would come and fulfill the position of that Lamb.

In Hebrews 9:9, the writer says, "The Old Covenant system stood in types."

Hebrews 9:9 (NKJV) It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience;

The OC was a type, verses anti-type, it was a shadow. Paul said:

Colossians 2:16-17 (NKJV) So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

Paul clearly says the Old Covenant was a shadow of good things to come.

The Mosaic sacrificial system was divinely instituted in the anticipation of the atoning death of the Messiah of which the former is a prefigurement or type. It is through the Messiah's death that the Mosaic system is fully understood and fulfilled, and the Mosaic system through which the meaning behind the Messiah's death is illumined. This correspondence between the Old and New Testament by means of objects, people, events, institutions, or ceremonies has come to be referred to as typology

In Genesis 17, we see three types that we want to look at and trace them through to the New Covenant to see their fulfillment. The first type that we want to see is the SEED.

Genesis 17:7-8 (NKJV) "And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants (zera', seed)after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. 8 "Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."

God talks to Abraham about his "seed." God is speaking to Abraham in this context of his literal, physical, biological offspring. Those who will come from his loins. Who is in the covenant with Abraham? Abraham and his seed, his physical offspring. Concerning this seed, God promised that if would be very fruitful, they will multiply. God is telling Abraham that his physical offspring will be many.

Let's look at what God promised Abraham in -

Genesis 15:5 (NKJV) Then He brought him outside and said, "Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be."

He is speaking about the physical descendants of Abraham. They will be as many as the stars in the sky.

Genesis 22:17 (NKJV) "blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.

They will not only be as the stars of the sky, but they will also be as the sands of the sea shore - another metaphor to show Abraham that his biological seed, who are all in the covenant, shall multiply greatly.

This promise of the seed and its multiplication is traced throughout the book of Genesis. In Genesis 26:4 it is given to Isaac.

Genesis 26:4 (NKJV) "And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed;

It is given to Jacob in -

Genesis 28:14 (NKJV) "Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

Let me ask you a question. "Did God keep his promise to the physical seed of Abraham? Did they ever become as many as the sand on the seashore and the stars of heaven? That is, so great as to be almost innumerable?" Yes! Notice what is said in 1 Kings, speaking of the golden age when Solomon was the king:

1 Kings 4:20 (NKJV) Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking and rejoicing.

There was a literal promise given to Abraham and there was a literal fulfillment of this promise. Now, that literal promise of God is a type pointing to something that was yet to come. There is more significance to this type than literal seed.

Let's look at the second type of the LAND:

Genesis 17:8 (NKJV) "Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."

God is here promising a literal land to Abraham's seed - Cannan. It was a literal parcel of land between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea. Did God ever fulfill this promise in a literal fashion? Yes! Look at -

Joshua 21:43 (NKJV) So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it.

Abraham's literal decendents took possession of the literal land.

Joshua 21:45 (NKJV) Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.

The promises that God made to Abraham were all literally fulfilled.

1 Kings 4:21 (NKJV) So Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. They brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.

This is even beyond what the Lord originally promised them. So, we see again literal promise, literal fulfillment. Is that all of the significance of God's promise of seed and land? No. But it was a literal promise, and it was literally fulfilled. This is our second type pointing to something yet to come.

The third type in this chapter of Genesis 17 is CIRCUMCISION.

Genesis 17:10-11 (NKJV) "This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; 11 "and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.

On the eighth day, the biological offspring of Abraham, those who were to literally have the land, were to literally have the foreskin of their penis' cut. That was the sign of the covenant. These things were understood literally and they were obeyed literally. This cutting was to distinguish Abraham's offspring from all of mankind. If a male was not circumcised, they were cast out of Israel.

So, the Old Covenant was understood literally. Who was in this covenant? It was the literal seed of Abraham, who were distinguished by circumcision. This is the third type. It is to have us look forward in the New Covenant to something even greater. So, with these three types in our minds, let's move on to our second point:

As Reformed believers who practice believers baptism, we preserve the continuity between the Old and New Covenants by -

1. Understanding Old Covenant types.

2. By recognizing New Covenant fulfillments.

So far, everything that we talked about was physically fulfilled. But now, as we come into the New Covenant, these Old Covenant ceremonies like the sacrificing of bulls and goats are fulfilled. They were shadows, they were not an end in themselves. They were shadows of spiritual realities - they pointed to the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the same manner, the covenant of circumcision and the physical seed and land are sources of spiritual instruction that are inferior and point to New Covenant realities. And we have got to be able to make the transition from the type to the real thing.

Let's look at these three types and see if we can see the anti-type. We saw in the Old Covenant that the seed referred to the physical offspring that came from Abraham. But, in the New Covenant, we find that the physicalness is broken. In the New Covenant, we find that the seed of Abraham represents believers, who are called His seed.

Galatians 3:16 (NKJV) Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ.
Galatians 3:26 (NKJV) For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:29 (NKJV) And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

So, that literal dimension of being physical offspring is broken for a spiritual and greater sense in the New Covenant. And we must not get bogged down in the physical of it and miss its true sense. We must move from the type to the anti-type.

Let's consider what the tern "father" means. We understand that a father is the physical head of a family. But the concept of father also refers to a class of individuals. Notice what is said in -

Genesis 4:20-21 (NKJV) And Adah bore Jabal. He was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. 21 His brother's name was Jubal. He was the father of all those who play the harp and flute.

Jabal is said to be the "father" of all who lived in tents and raised livestock. Did Moses mean to say that everyone who lived in a tent and had livestock were physical offspring of Jabal? No, of course not. They followed the pattern of this man, Jabal.

It also says that Jubal is the father of all who play the harp or flute. It is not that all harp players and flute players are the physical decendents of Jubal. It is referring to them following the pattern of the first man who played the harp.

Paul picks up this theme as he identifies for us that spiritual reality of "seed." Let's look at Romans:

Romans 4:11-12 (NKJV) And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.

We see here that the physicalness is broken, "the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised" - even Gentiles are sons of Abraham. Because they follow the pattern of faith that Abraham set in his life - " but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham...."

What does it mean to be "seed" of Abraham, to have Abraham as our father? It means that you are a man or woman who walks in the faith of our father, Abraham. We believe the promises of God, as did our father Abraham. This causes us to be his offspring. There is a distinction between the physicalness of the Old and the figurative of the New. Look at how Paul breaks the physicalness of the Old Covenant types by what he says in -

Romans 2:28-29 (NKJV) For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

Jew means: "a true son of Abraham who brings praise to God." Paul shows that to be a son of Abraham is no longer physical, it is now spiritual!

Who is it that is a member and participant in the New Covenant? The answer is: "the children of Abraham." If we go back to the physical biological offspring, we're getting bogged down and fixating upon the type and we're missing the reality. In the same way, we haven't seen the New Covenant reality if we say that our infants, who cannot walk in the faith of Abraham, are in the New Covenant. In the New Covenant, all those, and ONLY those who have the faith of Abraham, are the children of Abraham.

The Lord Jesus Christ foreshadows this transition from the physical to the spiritual. Remember, in John, chapter 8, the Jews say to him, "Abraham is our father" and the Lord responds:

John 8:39 (NKJV) They answered and said to Him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham.

He was telling them that the true children of Abraham were children of faith. The issue is no longer biological offspring, that reverts back to the shadows. To say that biological offspring are in the covenant is tantamount to worshiping with bulls and goats. It is looking upon the shadow and not perceiving the reality found in Christ and in the New Covenant.

Who are the true children of Abraham? Is it the physical offspring of Christians?

Galatians 3:6-7 (NKJV) just as Abraham "believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." 7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.

Only those who believe are the children of Abraham. So, why would we give the New Covenant sign - baptism to those who are not in the New Covenant?

So, that is New Covenant fulfillment recognizing the issue with the first type - seed. Now let's go to the second type that we spoke of earlier.

LAND - How does land come through to the New Covenant in our study of types? We know in the Old Covenant, the physical land of Canaan was promised to the literal man Abraham and his physical decendents. We saw that the promise of the land was physically fulfilled in the days of Joshua and Solomon. But the land points to and represents something even higher. It points to a heavenly home for all who have faith like father Abraham. It points to a place called the New Jerusalem. Abraham left his native home and became a sojourner looking for a land that was promised to him, but he never fully enjoyed it.

Hebrews 11:9-10 (NKJV) By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Abraham dwelt in the land, but he looked for something much greater.

Hebrews 11:16 (NKJV) But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

Where is this city? It is the New Jerusalem, God dwelling with man. The type of the land was pointing to the New Jerusalem. This is our New Covenant city, we NOW dwell in God's presence. The land was a type that was fulfilled in the New Jerusalem - the anti-type.

Let's move on to the final type that we saw, and that is - CIRCUMCISION. It was the physical cutting of the flesh. Was that the end of circumcision in and of itself? No, it pointed to something much greater. In the New Testament, we see that it represents the spiritual cutting of the heart where by a man is made a new creature.

In the Old Covenant, in Deuteronomy, chapter 30, the Lord said through Moses that in the future the Lord would circumcise Israel's hearts and minds.

Deuteronomy 30:6 (NKJV) "And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.

The Israelite's were already circumcised physically. The Lord was telling them that there was something more to come.

Jeremiah promised the New Covenant.

Jeremiah 31:33 (NKJV) "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

Paul brings home the theological reality of that type in -

Romans 2:28-29 (NKJV) For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

The physical concept of circumcision matures in the New Covenant into the grand reality of a man having a circumcised heart and not merely circumcised flesh. This is what distinguishes a believer from the rest of mankind.

What was it that distinguished the Jewish males from all of the Gentiles? It was a physical cutting that had taken place on their bodies. What is it now that distinguishes believers from all the rest of mankind? It is the fact that your heart has been circumcised by a sovereign act of God.

Philippians 3:3 (NKJV) For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,

The "we" here is Paul and the Philippian Christians. Who is it that has the blessings of the promises that were given to Abraham long ago? Is it the Zionest, who are fighting for freedom for Jerusalem from the Arabs? No, it is no longer physical! The promise of blessing is to those who have their hearts circumcised and walk in faith.

What is the common link that all of God's children share? Is it a common bloodline? No! Is it that we have all lived in the same household under the same nurture? No! The promise of God is not in bloodlines, but in FAITH lines.

John 1:12-13 (NKJV) But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

It is only those of faith that receive the blessing of Abraham. We need to move beyond type to the spiritual reality. This is why we do not baptize infants.

Do you see the beautiful continuity and harmony between the Old and New Covenant? New Covenant seed is not biological, but spiritual seed. New Covenant Land is not a physical land, but a spiritual land. New Covenant circumcision is not a physical cutting, but a spiritual change of heart.

So, we preserve the continuity between the Old and New Covenants by:

1. Understanding Old Covenant types.

2. By recognizing New Covenant fulfillments.

3. By drawing sound coventental conclusions.

We are reformed here at BBC. We see continuity in the Bible, but not a physical continuity, we see it figuratively as the New Testament writer saw it. We have a Bible that is in harmony. It sees unity between the Old and New Testaments, but it also sees development. In Abraham and Moses, things were veiled, types were given. But in the New in Christ, it is unveiled. We see the distinctions between the Old and New as well as the harmony.

Seed, the offspring of Abraham become like the sands of the sea shore. That is believers!

Revelation 7:9 (NKJV) After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,

A multitude that cannot be counted dwelling in Heaven. What distinguishes us from the rest who are consigned to the lake of fire? We have circumcised hearts.

We are reformed, but we are baptistic. Who is it that is to rightly receive the outward sign of the New Covenant? If you are still stuck on the types, you will say, "Well, in the Old Covenant it was the seed of an Israelite, a biological offspring. So, in the New Covenant it is biological offspring, also. Therefore, the seed of a Christian parent is to be baptized, also."

This does not understand the distinction and development between the Old and New Testament. Who is it that is to rightly receive the outward sign of the New Covenant? It is those who are the seed of Abraham, those who believe in Christ. Those of faith. When does a child enter the New Covenant? Only when he trusts Christ.

The practical importance of this position:

Our position avoids the dangerous peril of spiritual presumption. If we believe as the paedobaptists do, that our biological offspring are in the covenant, then we are really saying that our children are born Christian. Only Christians are in the New Covenant.

In the Cannons of Dort it says, "Godly parents have no reason to doubt the election and salvation of their children." This is presumption! Abraham Kipper writes this, "As long as the children of the covenant do not reveal to the contrary, we shall have to precede on the presumption that they are in possession of the covenant life."

This is dangerous. The Bible says in Psalms:

Psalms 51:5 (NKJV) Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.

Children, all children, are totally depraved. In Christianity, it is different than in the US court system. In Christianity, it is not, "Innocent until proven guilty." It is "guilty until proven innocent." And the way you are proven innocent is by FAITH! All are born depraved.

Is there any advantage then of being born in a Christian home? Yes, much, in every way.

1 Corinthians 7:14 (NKJV) For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.

There is much advantage in being born in a Christian home. We must not confuse nurture privilege with covenant life. Our children must come to a personal faith in Jesus Christ.

We, at Berean Bible Church, are Reformed, but we do not baptize infants because the Bible teaches that only those with the faith of Abraham are in the New Covenant. Since infants can't believe, we do not give them the New Covenant sign of baptism.

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