Stunning

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas Everyone!

2006/12/26
And to all!
Category: Tartan Talk :
Author: tartanarmy (9:21 pm)
Merry Christmas Everyone!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

"MY HEART'S DESIRE"

2006/12/22
"MY HEART'S DESIRE"
Category: Tartan Talk :
Author: tartanarmy (5:31 am)



"MY HEART'S DESIRE"
Romans 10:1

Sometimes I hear men preach who do not appear to have any real burden upon their hearts. Their doctrine is orthodox. They are well prepared. And they have unquestionable ability. But they do not seem to really care whether people believe or do not believe, whether their hearers are saved or damned.

They just come before men and lay out the facts. The apostle Paul was not such a man! He had a message from the heart of God, which he had experienced in his own heart. And he delivered his message to the hearts of men, as one who could not endure the thought of men and women perishing without Christ. Knowing the terror of the Lord, he persuaded sinners to flee to Christ (II Cor. 5:10-11).

He reveals his heart's emotions in his epistle to the Romans. "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.

For I could wish myself accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh" (9:1-3). Paul the apostle was moved to record those words by the same Spirit who moved Moses the prophet to say to the Lord, If thou wilt not forgive their sin, "blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written" (Ex. 32:32). Most of the commentators I have read try very hard to make these passages say what they do not say.

They cannot understand orthodox men making such statements. I am confident that both Moses and Paul meant exactly what they said! They loved the people to whom they preached. Yes, they spoke extravagantly. But love speaks extravagantly! Love does not speak in calculated terms, without feeling. Love, when it is bursting to make itself known, will often speak beyond pure rationality.

Of course, in more sober moments, no man would give up Christ for another, or exchange his own soul's salvation for another's. And any believer knows that such a ransom could never be accepted by God. But a genuine love for the souls of men and an earnest desire for their salvation, for the glory of Christ, compelled these men of God to speak beyond mere rationality. They spoke as dying men to dying men! God make me such a preacher. Men with aching hearts are likely to hear men whose hearts ache for them.

Effectual Atonement

2006/12/22
Effectual Atonement
Category: Tartan Talk :
Author: tartanarmy (5:24 am)



Effectual Atonement
Isaiah 53:10-12

What happened at Calvary? Did the Lord Jesus Christ redeem us from all iniquity; or did he merely make us redeemable? Did he actually put away our sins; or did he merely make it possible for our sins to be put away? Did the Lamb of God reconcile us to God; or did he merely make us reconcilable? Did he justify his people; or did he simply make it possible for them to be justified?

Did he effectually secure the salvation of those for whom he died; or did he only make salvation a possibility for them? Did the incarnate Son of God actually make atonement for sin by the shedding of his blood; or did he just make a stab at it? Hear the Word of God as it was spoken by the mouth of his prophet Isaiah. Isaiah 53:10-12 is a true, divinely inspired description of the sin-atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ and its results. Read every word with thoughtful reverence, and learn the Bible doctrine of the atonement

Did you catch the phrase, "He shall be satisfied"? How I love this word of promise! Let me state it as emphatically as I possibly can. "He," the Son of God, our glorious Substitute, our great Sin Offering, our divine Savior, the one who died in our place at Calvary, "shall," without a doubt, without the possibility of hindrance, most assuredly, "be satisfied," fully, completely, eternally satisfied!

He was satisfied with the terms of redemption proposed to him as our Surety in the covenant of grace before the world was made. He is satisfied with his purchased possession, his bride the Church. He is satisfied with himself as a ransom price for the satisfaction of justice. He shall be satisfied with us, his redeemed ones.

This is an inspired declaration of complete, effectual redemption accomplished by Jehovah’s Righteous Servant, our Substitute and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. "He shall not fail!" The Son of God can never be frustrated in his purpose, defeated in his design, or hindered in his work. Christ was not conquered at Calvary.

He conquered! "He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied!" The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ shall never be discovered a miscarriage. The Lion of the tribe of Judah must prevail. Isaiah prophesied of, and the Word of God universally teaches, the infallible efficacy of Christ’s atonement. I want you to see from the Word of God the glorious, absolute, saving efficacy of Christ’s atonement.

The subject matter before us is a matter of utmost concern. The one thing that characterizes every messenger of Satan is a denial of the efficacy of Christ’s atonement. The one point of doctrine upon which all false prophets are agreed is this – They all deny that every soul for whom Christ died shall be saved.

They may give lip service to Bible doctrine and Bible terms; but they deny the very foundation of the gospel, which is substitution. The modern day prophets of Baal preach a redemption that redeems no one, an atonement that atones for nothing, and a salvation that saves no one. They preach possibility redemption, possibility atonement, possibility grace, and possibility salvation. The Word Of God teaches that every sinner for whom Christ died shall, upon the grounds of justice satisfied, be saved.

FOR WHOM DID CHRIST DIE?

2006/12/22
FOR WHOM DID CHRIST DIE?
Category: Tartan Talk :
Author: tartanarmy (5:12 am)



FOR WHOM DID CHRIST DIE?

HIS PEOPLE

Isaiah 53:8

The objects of redemption are described by such words and characteristics as show them to be a special and distinct people. Particularly, those who are the objects of redemption are called, the people of God our Savior. "For the transgressions of my people", says the Lord our God, "was he stricken", stricken by the rod of divine justice to make satisfaction for our sins and to redeem us from them.

When he was about to come and redeem us, Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, at his birth said, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people". Thus he prophesied that God would redeem and save his elect by sending Christ, the dayspring from on high, as he called him. He visited his people in the flesh and redeemed them by his blood (Luke 1:68, 78).

Therefore, the angel that appeared to Joseph, and instructed him to call the Son who was to be born of his wife, Mary, by the name of Jesus, gave this reason, "for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21).

Someone may say, "All men are the people of God." In a sense that is true, inasmuch as they are his creatures. Yet, the Scriptures expressly tell us that they are not all his redeemed people. Those who are redeemed by Christ are redeemed "out of every people"(Rev. 5:9). The redeemed are God's covenant people; of whom he says, "They shall be my people, and I will be their God."

We are his portion and his inheritance, a people near and dear unto him, a people given to Christ to be redeemed and saved by him; of whom it is said, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power".

Redemption is not universal. By the precious blood of Christ atonement has been effectually accomplished and redemption has been obtained for God's elect. Christ is not the Redeemer of all men, but of many. If the redeemed are those who are the objects of God's special love and favor, then not all men are redeemed.

There are some of whom it is said, "He that made them, will not have mercy on them; and he that formed them, will show them no favour" (Isa. 27:11). To say that Christ died and made atonement, that he redeemed those people, is to declare that his death, his blood, and his redemption is the work, gift, and good favor of God!

If, as the Scriptures teach, the redeemed are the elect of God, and them only, then not all men are redeemed; for all are not chosen. "The election hath obtained it, and the rest are blinded" (Rom. 11:7). If only those are redeemed for whom Christ became a Surety, then not all men are redeemed. Christ did not engage to pay the debts of all men.

If the redeemed are the people of God and Christ, then not all are redeemed. There are some on whom God writes a "Loammi", saying, "Ye are not my people; and I will not be your God" (Hos. 1:9). If the redeemed are the sheep of Christ to whom he gives eternal life, then the goats, who will go into everlasting punishment, are not redeemed. If the redeemed are the children of God and the church and spouse of Christ to whom he gives the gift of faith, then not all men are redeemed, "For all men have not faith!"

PROPITIATION

2006/12/22
PROPITIATION
Category: Tartan Talk :
Author: tartanarmy (5:06 am)



PROPITIATION
Romans 3:25

Propitiation is the appeasement of God’s wrath by the blood of Christ. The word "propitiation" is used three times in the New Testament. In all three places, we are told that Christ is our propitiation. The very same Greek word translated "propitiation" in the New Testament is translated "mercy seat" in the Greek version of Exodus 25:21 and in Hebrews 9:5. The mercy seat which covered the ark of the covenant and covered God’s broken law, upon which the cherubim were fixed, upon which they constantly looked, was the place where the atonement blood of the paschal lamb was sprinkled.

The mercy seat was the seat of Divine Majesty where God promised to meet his people in mercy. To the mercy seat men were bidden look in the hope of obtaining mercy from and communing with God through the blood-stained mercy seat, just as we are bidden to come to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need, because there Christ has sprinkled his blood.

The publican mentioned by our Lord in Luke’s gospel had a glimpse of Christ as the one represented in the mercy seat. He cried, God be merciful (be propitious) to me a sinner" (Lk. 18:13). He sought mercy through the propitiatory sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Let me show you how this word propitiation is used in reference to Christ and his sacrifice for sin.

ROMANS 3:25 –"Whom God hat set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God." The Lord Jesus Christ was set forth by God the Father to be our propitiation. He is the One who has made propitiation for us, the One in whom propitiation is found, the One for whose sake God is propitious to sinners, and the One who is himself our Propitiation. Christ is our Mercy Seat.

He alone is the place where God meets with sinners, receives us, and blesses us. He is the One by whom justice has been appeased. He is the One who is our Peace. He is the propitiatory Sacrifice for our sins. Just as God, in the Old Testament types smelled the sweet savor of the typical, legal sacrifices, and was ceremonially content with them, so Christ’s precious blood is a sweet smelling savor to him. John Gill wrote, "His sacrifice was an offering of a sweet smelling savour to (the Father). He was well pleased with it. It gave him contentment and satisfaction, because his justice was appeased by it and the demands of his law were answered. Yea, it was magnified and made honorable."

How has God the Father set forth his dear Son as our Mediator to be the propitiation for our sins? Obviously, Paul does not suggest that the Son was compelled to be subservient to the Father. Not at all. This thing was agreed upon by both the Father and the Son.

The Son was just as willing to be our Propitiation as the Father is willing to receive his propitiatory sacrifice. Yet, the Holy Spirit here tells us that it was God the Father who set forth his Son to be a propitiation. How has he done this? Christ was set forth to be the propitiation for our sins in the eternal purposes and decrees of God. He is the Lamb of God who, verily, was foreordained, before the foundation of the world, to be slain as the ransom price and propitiatory sacrifice for his people.

His sufferings and death as such were according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God (1 Pet. 1:19; Acts 2:23; 4:28). He was set forth to be our Propitiation in all the promises, prophecies, and pictures of the Old Testament Scriptures. He is the Seed of the woman promised to Adam and Eve in the Garden who must come to crush the serpent’s head. He is the paschal lamb, the brazen serpent, the morning and evening sacrifice, and the promised Substitute of whom the prophets wrote.

In the fulness of time, the Son of God was set forth as our Propitiation in human flesh. He was actually made of a woman, made under the law, that he might redeem his people who were under the law. Christ is still set forth in the gospel to be the Propitiation for our sins, and shall be until time shall be no more. As God’s servants faithfully expound the Book of God, preaching the gospel in the power of his Spirit, Christ is set forth as the only and all-sufficient, effectual Propitiation for our sins.

1 JOHN 2:2 – "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." He is the propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of Gods elect, Jews and Gentiles, throughout all the world, the sacrifice upon which God is merciful to us, being pacified towards us for all that we have done (Heb. 8:12; Ezek. 16:6).

1 JOHN 4:10 – "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." Because of his great love for us, God the Father sent his darling Son into the world to be the propitiation for our sins by offering up his soul and body as a sacrifice to Divine justice to make atonement for us.(Don Fortner)

Friday, December 22, 2006

ARE YOU ONE OF GOD'S ELECT?

2006/12/22
ARE YOU ONE OF GOD'S ELECT?
Category: Tartan Talk :
Author: tartanarmy (4:54 am)



When Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica, he spoke confidently to God's saints there about the indisputable fact of their election.

He gave thanks to God for them, their faith in Christ, their love to one another, and the other blessings of God's grace upon them, because he knew that all these things were to be traced to their election unto salvation by God. I know that many have never even heard of God's electing love and grace; and many are terribly confused about it. Here are three practical statements, which may help to clarify some things regarding this soul-cheering, God honoring, gospel doctrine.

Listen carefully.

1. ELECTION IS NOT THE FIRST THING TO BE LEARNED.

Precious, delightful, important as this doctrine is, it is not the first thing to be learned. We preach this doctrine without apology.

I preach it everywhere I go. We teach it in our Sunday School classes, beginning with the toddlers. We are not, in the least, bashful about proclaiming God's electing love. However, it is not our mission in this world to convince people that the doctrine of election is true.

A person can go to hell believing election as well as he can go to hell denying it. Our mission is to get sinners to believe, trust, and come to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Any sinner who bows to Christ as Lord will have no problem with the doctrine of election.

Yet, the first question to be settled in your heart and mind is not, "Am I one of the elect?"

It is impossible for you, me, or anyone else to determine that until the matter of first importance is settled. "Do I trust the Lord Jesus Christ?" "Am I a believer?" That is the matter of first importance.

If you trust the Son of God, your faith in him is the proof of your election. The first thing to be learned is faith in Christ. Where faith is found in the heart, election is believed and loved.

2. God's sovereign election of some to salvation and eternal life in Christ is in no way inconsistent with the promises of God in the gospel.

All the promises of God in Christ Jesus are yea and amen.

You may not be able to see how election can be true and the promises of the gospel to sinners are also true; but they are! Hear the promises God makes to sinners in the gospel.

Come to Christ, whoever you are, believe on Christ, whatever you have done, trust the Son of God and these promises are yours! (Read Matt. 11:28-30; Mk. 16:15-16; John 3:36; 6:37; 7:37-38; Acts 16:31; Rom. 10:8-13; Rev. 22:16-17).

3. God's election, this gospel doctrine of sovereign electing grace, does not, to any degree or in any way, remove or destroy your responsibility to obey the gospel.

God commands all men, everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).

Our responsibility is not derived from the decree of God, but from the Word of God.

We are not responsible for what God has purposed; but we are responsible for what he has commanded.

We are all responsible to be perfectly holy, but we can't!

We are responsible to make complete atonement for our sins, but we can't!

We are responsible to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as our only righteousness and our only redemption, but we cannot even do that!

We are therefore shut up to God's sovereign grace in Christ! When all things are finished, it shall be said, as we read in Romans 11:7, "The election hath obtained it." And all those elect ones, all who obtain God's salvation say,

AMEN!--Grace Baptist Church of Danville--




AMEN

Sunday, December 17, 2006

True message of Christmas.

2006/12/16
True message of Christmas.
Category: Tartan Talk :
Author: tartanarmy (1:22 pm)


The Message of Matthew 1:21

"And she will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins."

This angelic proclamation to Joseph is possibly one of the most culturally incorrect statements within the Gospel birth narratives. In this one sentence, the angel sent from God delivers to Joseph a message that runs contrary to most popular Christmas messages you are likely to hear on TV, radio, and from many pulpits. It also runs contrary to the worldly understanding of the message of Christmas, and what the birth of Christ means for the world.

She Will Bear a Son

The angel informed Joseph that his betrothed was to become supernaturally pregnant. In verse 23, Matthew says that this startling revelation is a fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy (Is. 7:14). It has never ceased to amaze me how some try to wiggle around the idea that this was, indeed, a real virgin birth. Yes, the Greek term parthenos can be used to refer to a young maiden.

However, in the context of the passage, the Lord was encouraging Ahaz to ask for a sign, something remarkable that would indicate to him God's hand at work. "Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; make it deep," God says to Ahaz; but Ahaz does not want to be presumptuous, so the Lord offers the sign in 7:14. If all the Lord meant was "a young maiden will become pregnant and bear a son," that hardly seems a remarkable sign.

Many young maidens became pregnant. Where is the "deep sign" demonstrating an act of God?

Furthermore, this child was to be a son (huios), not a divine principle: a real, tangible, human being. But not just a mere human being. This was to be Emmanuel, "God with us." Was he just supposed to be a symbol of God's presence among His people, like the ancient Tabernacle? Not according to the gospel accounts. The angel spoke of a real child; Mary carried true flesh and blood in her womb for nine months. But this flesh and blood was more than merely a man. He was born "of a virgin" by supernatural intervention. This child was was God with us--literally. The baby that lay in the manger was fully man and fully God: God incarnate.

He Shall Save His People from Their Sins

Now the angel tells Joseph the purpose of God becoming incarnate. The child's name was to be Jesus, which is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Yeshua meaning "God saves." Who is God going to save? According to the angel, "His people." For those interested in textual variants, there is a variant at this point. The Curetonian Syriac text actually reads ton kosmon here, making the angel say that Jesus will save "the world." There are two things to note about this.

First, this is the only text that says this; all other manuscripts, including the Byzantine manuscripts read ton laon autou, "His people." Second, this maverick reading in the Curetonian Syriac more than likely came about due to scribal error since the Syriac for "people" (`ama), is very similar to the Syriac word for "world" (`alma). (If you want to see this for yourself, take a look at this blog entry in Evangelical Textual Criticism.

I am indebted to this entry by P. J. Williams for this information.) Christ did not come into the world to save every man. If He did, then you can be assured that everyone, from the most pious saint to the worst reprobate will be in Heaven when they die. Whatever God plans to do comes to pass (Psalm 33:11), so if God planned to save every person in the world, He surely would. Yet, we know He hasn't (John 6:44; Acts 13:48).

So, God is coming into the world as a man to save a particular group of people that He will call His own. But what is God going to save them from? Sickness? Famine? Disease? Oppression and poverty? Every year, we are told by the secular media that the point of Christmas is peace, and that the birth of Jesus symbolizes God's love, so we need to share that love and peace in order to end all the evils to which we are subjected every day.

That's what Christmas is all about, we are told. But that is not what the angel says. The angel says that Jesus Christ came into the world with one objective in mind: to save His people from their sins. If Christ came to do anything other than this, then there is no hope for us.

The evil in the world is not caused by wrong thinking, mismanagement, poverty, abuse by authority, or bad upbringing. Evil exists in the hearts of men because man is at enmity with God. Until sin is dealt with, man can never be at peace with God. And men cannot hope to have true, lasting peace with one another without first having peace with God. World peace does not begin at the UN; it begins with proclamation of the Gospel: "You shall call his name Jesus; for He will save His people from their sins."

God has made provision for the sins of men. Peace on earth is now possible, because Christ has come to reconcile God and man. God's perfect justice that demands payment for sin has been satisfied in Christ on behalf of His people.

This is the message of Matthew 1:21, and the true message of Christmas. As our world becomes increasingly secular, and the images of Christmas--and even the word "Christmas"--become replaced with warm feelings and empty platitudes, it becomes more important for us not to forget this. May the Lord be pleased to ignite our hearts with love and gratitude to Him for His awesome grace!

http://aomin.org/index.php?itemid=1645

Friday, December 01, 2006

Benny and the Jets.

2006/12/01
Benny and the Jets.
Category: Tartan Talk :
Author: tartanarmy (1:55 am)



Calling out evil for that is what it is.

Your name will be placed prominently in a special area of Dove One where I study and pray during my travels, where I will also pray for you and your family as I go around the world preaching the Gospel. Everywhere I fly, your name will travel with me, millions of miles and for years to come, reminding me that you have made it possible for me to go and preach as God has called me to do.
(Benny Hinn)




Heres some comments from James White.....Click Here

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A strange day.

2006/11/21
A strange day.
Category:
Author: tartanarmy (11:34 pm)

It is not every day you nearly get lost at sea is it?



Just relaxing at the beach with my 3 daughters, when suddenly, everything changes.
I am about waist deep in the water and hugging my daughters boogie board. I drift off for maybe 2 minutes floating upon it.

Well, there is a westerly wind and it starts a blowing.

First of all, I realise I cannot touch the bottom, then I see that the beach is kinda further away than I remembered!

I think, no big deal, I will simply paddle back, right?

5 feet forward, then 7 feet back, 7 feet forward, then 10 feet back!
Sigh! Is this really happening?

I stop, then go another 10 feet back. And then another 10 feet.
The beach is becoming smaller and smaller and smaller.

I see people running along the beach and I hear screams from my children.

I look over my shoulder and about 200 meters to my right is the rocks where the fisherman fish. I think how brave they are to be fishing off of there, but then realise I am past where they are. This is where the local sharks breed I remember being told!

I am now about 500 meters or so from the shoreline.
Now I decide to panic. Everything seems to be in slow motion except me drifting further out. There are no lifeguards at this beach today.
I am still holding this silly board and deciding whether I should just ditch it and start swimming.

I am not a very good swimmer, plus my leg is starting to cramp.
Then it completely cramps and I am just holding this foam board and drifting further out to sea.

Typical of me I think. Typical.

In the end a teenage girl and my next door neighbour have come along side me. This girl on a board, the other man swims out to me.
They help pull be back to shore which takes a good 20 minutes or so effort. I thought the three of us might never get back but these fine human beings paced themselves.

A strange day for me.
My girls are calmed down, I am extremely thankful.
A strange day.

Mark

UPDATE..............................................
Oh what an even stranger night!

After the daytime mishap’s at sea, the night time proved to be another reminder as to how vulnerable we are. What a day.

About 2.00am I found my wife unconscious and having a fit of some awful sort, and had to get an ambulance to get her to the hospital. It took 40 minutes before they came, and it seemed like hours.
She has suffered a reaction to some medication that she was being prescribed.

I really thought she was dying on me, and again, the children were in a panic for the second time in 7 hours.
They had seen both their parents nearly taken away from them in the one day.
My little 7 year old said to me just after the ambulance left with her mum, that God was trying our faith in Him.
She makes me so proud, and as it says in Scripture.

Psa 8:2 Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings You have ordained strength, because of ones vexing You, to cause the enemy and the avenger to cease.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Dogmatic Tolerance

2006/11/20
Dogmatic Tolerance
Category: Tartan Talk :
Author: tartanarmy (11:30 pm)



Dogmatic Tolerance
by Christopher Alexion

If someone were to rank the favourite words of contemporary thought, tolerance would be pretty high on the list. We often hear about the importance of respecting others and tolerating those with whom we disagree. In one sense tolerance is a very important virtue—we don’t use an Uzi to end an argument, for instance. Nor is it acceptable to burn down mosques or force dissenters to attend classes with which they disagree. The views of law-abiding people should be tolerated (i.e., they should not be violently suppressed), and their lives and property must be respected.

But the catch phrases and buzzwords we hear go beyond this simple truth. All too frequently the term “tolerance” is used as a synonym for “respect” or even “agreement.” And since Christians are characteristically unwilling to “respect” what they believe to be false doctrine or even (gasp) sin, they are, by means of this nifty equivocation, branded as intolerant and unenlightened.

What is swept under the rug is that tolerance is not synonymous with respect. There is no inconsistency, for example, in saying that I tolerate Buddhism in one sense and detest it in another; indeed, the very word “tolerate,” in common usage, implies that I am putting up with something I don’t like. I would be more than happy if every Buddhist in the world came to see his error and converted to Christianity. But until or unless that happens, I will tolerate Buddhism and respect the rights of Buddhists. This doesn’t mean that I respect the doctrines that Buddhists teach, or that even for a moment I can possibly consider these doctrines to be on equal footing with Christianity—that won’t happen until I become either a Buddhist or an atheist.

Christ recognised this distinction between the adherents of a doctrine and the doctrine itself. Thus He could command us to love everyone, even our enemies, without pretending to love or accept the false teaching (or, worse, considering all doctrine equally true). In other words, because of His belief in objective truth, Christ was able to describe His opponents as “blind guides,” “hypocrites,” and even “vipers.” Our enlightened moderns, or, more accurately, postmoderns, would surely have criticised the Lord on this point. (Bertrand Russell, in particular, took issue with His “vindictive fury” and compared Him unfavourably with the “bland and urbane” Socrates.) “Narrow-minded,” “extreme,” and “insensitive” are three other pejorative terms that come to mind.

His apostles were no less politically-incorrect. Paul asserted that unbelievers’ minds are “darkened,” their imaginations “vain” (Rom. 1:21; cf. II Cor. 4:4), and their doctrines “a lie” (Rom. 1:25)—i.e., knowledge “falsely so called” (I Tim. 6:20), to which he would give no ground, “no, not for an hour” (Gal. 2:5). Peter did not hesitate to describe false doctrines as “damnable heresies” (II Pet. 2:1) and “great swelling words of vanity” (II Pet. 2:18). Even John, who emphasised love so much that he is often called the apostle of love, was not afraid to say, “He that hath not the Son hath not life” (I Jn. 5:12).1 (He even had the gall to say that some people were liars, and the truth was not in them.)

This, of course, does not mean that Christians are not to be loving, or that in order to be spiritual we must become hard-nosed sourpusses who delight to tell people they’re wrong (cf. Rom. 9:1-3). What it does mean is that when it comes down to a question of truth and falsehood, Christians are bound to confess the truth and denounce the falsehood. Is this bigotry, then? I don’t think so. Rather, it is simple logic: A and not-A simply cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense, and no amount of tolerance or multiculturalism can make it so. It would seem that modern tolerance fanatics don’t have a problem with Christianity. They have a problem with the law of contradiction.

But unfortunately the confusion goes deeper still. Not only do non-Christians fail to distinguish logic from bigotry, their arguments often lead them to reject logic and embrace bigotry. Take an editorial from my local paper as an example. In it the author, who has been patiently explaining why we need a law to prevent discrimination against sodomy, comes to deal with certain “religious opposition” to the bill:

Some of the opponents of [Delaware House of Representatives Bill] 99 believe that all sex outside marriage between a man and a woman is wrong and sinful. For many, this belief is based in religious conviction and is therefore unassailable by logic or rational debate. Such beliefs deserve respect. But people who hold such convictions shouldn’t insist that everyone embrace them as well. Yet discussions about H.B. 99 often devolve into narrow religious-based pronouncements that single out homosexuality for condemnation.2

This enlightened and erudite journalist says that we should respect “religious conviction” but we shouldn’t insist that everyone embrace it. In other words, while biblical beliefs deserve respect, it is also not the case that they deserve respect. All dogs go to heaven. Some dogs do not go to heaven.

It seems that it’s this kind of thinking that is “unassailable by logic or rational debate.” If the author had said that “such beliefs should be tolerated,” he would have made perfect sense. But when he says that “such beliefs deserve respect” and then goes on to trample them underfoot, we should begin to question not only his logic but maybe his seriousness, since it becomes clear that he too makes “narrow religious-based pronouncements that single out” certain beliefs for condemnation. As Douglas Jones put it,

Claims of neutrality are always a hidden stab in the back to opposing claims of truth.… Multiculturalism calls Christ a liar. What more anti-multicultural, ideologically tyrannical statement can you find than “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14:6)? Multicultural “tolerance” doesn’t…give Christ an equal place at the table of worldviews, it assumes from the start that His claims cannot be true.3

And in a strange sort of irony, people like my local editor are willing to enlist the coercive arm of the state to enforce their narrow views. Persecution is always worse when it wraps itself in the mantle of tolerance. Christianity, at least, is intellectually honest: truth is objective, and Christ’s Word is objective truth. I can see nothing wrong or “bigoted” about that—especially since its opponents must necessarily be just as “bigoted.” Isn’t it better to be openly dogmatic than to hide your dogmatism in a “tolerant” smoke screen?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The God Delusion: David Quinn & Richard Dawkins debate.

2006/11/14
The God Delusion: David Quinn & Richard Dawkins debate
Category: Tartan Talk :
Author: tartanarmy (2:46 am)



Quite interesting, especially when Dawkins gets away with so much, usually! But not this time!



Here is the MP3

http://origins.swau.edu/misc/Dawkins2.mp3

And here is a transcript.

http://catholiceducation.org/articles/science/sc0086.htm

Ever Wonder?


2006/11/14
Ever Wonder?
Category: Tartan Talk :
Author: tartanarmy (2:08 am)


When dog food is new and improved tasting, who tests it?

Why didn't Noah swat those two mosquitoes?

Why do they sterilize the needle for lethal injections?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Your Best Life Now By Joel Osteen

2006/11/07
Your Best Life Now By Joel Osteen
Category: Tartan Talk :
Author: tartanarmy (3:15 am)

Your Best Life Now



By Joel Osteen
Reviewed by Greg Gilbert

Someone might legitimately raise the question why we are reviewing this book. After all, the pattern here at 9Marks has been that we review Christian books.

I suppose we must be branching out now, because Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now is decidedly not one of those. Open the book to any random page, and you will likely find some mention of God or even a reference to Scripture. Yet that is just window-dressing.

When you wring the book out, what you end up with is nothing more than the soggy old self-help pop-psychology that people have been lapping up for a generation—with the word "God" thrown in every once in a while for good measure.

It was Benjamin Franklin, not Jesus, who said, "God helps those who help themselves." That is Osteen’s message, too, only it is more like "God helps those who think well of themselves." Imagine yourself to be a winner, and someday you will be a winner! Visualize yourself in a big house or a Lexus, and one day you will find yourself with both!

As Osteen puts it, "God wants to give you your own house. God has a big dream for your life" (35). The key to realizing that big dream is to follow Osteen’s seven steps to living up to your full potential:

1) Enlarge your vision. Believe that God will make you successful—not saved, not redeemed, not forgiven. Just successful. Expect God to do good things for you. "Perhaps you’re searching for a parking spot in a crowded lot," Osteen sympathizes. "Say, ‘Father, I thank you for leading and guiding me. Your favor will cause me to get a good spot" (41).

Also, expect other people to do good things for you. "I’ve come to expect to be treated differently," Osteen says. "I’ve learned to expect people to want to help me. My attitude is: I’m a child of the Most High God. My Father created the whole universe. He has crowned me with favor, therefore, I can expect preferential treatment" (39). And don’t think for a second that he’s kidding.

2) Develop a healthy self-image. After all, just like in the case of Gideon, "God sees you as strong and courageous, as a man or woman of great honor and value." So stop thinking of yourself as a loser with a bad job, a small apartment, and a lemon of a car. Start believing that you can become what God says you can become. Take Sarah, for example. It took a long time for God to fulfill his promise that she would become pregnant. Why so long? "The key to the promise coming to pass was that Sarah had to conceive it in her heart before she was able to conceive it in her physical body" (80).

And we all have promises from God, don’t we? "I wonder how many great things God is trying to do in your life. We’re just like Sarah. We can’t conceive it. We’re not in agreement with God, so we’re missing out on His blessings" (80). So start believing. "God didn’t make you to be average. God created you to excel." Therefore, "if you will start acting like it, talking like it, seeing yourself as more than a conqueror, you will live a prosperous and victorious life" (82-83).

3) Discover the power of your thoughts and words. If you think negative thoughts all the time, how can you expect God to bless you? But "when you think positive, excellent thoughts, you will be propelled toward greatness, inevitably bound for increase, promotion, and God’s supernatural blessings." "The Bible tells us that we need to ‘transformed by the renewing of our mind.’ If you will transform your mind, God will transform your life" (108).

4) Let go of the past. You can’t live successfully and with "God’s favor all over you" if you are bitter and disappointed all the time. "You can’t unscramble eggs," so just "fill your horn with oil," like Samuel did—which Osteen apparently does not realize was to anoint the king—and be happy (175, 181)!

5) Find strength through adversity. "God wants you to be a winner, not a whiner" (191). So take challenges in your life head-on. Don’t back down from them, because "God has promised that He will turn your challenges into stepping-stones for promotion" (217).

6) Live to give! Be compassionate, empathetic, and kind. God has created you to give, and whatever wealth, possessions, and success he gives you, he intends for you to use for the good of other people. Besides, if you plant seed in other people’s lives, God will cause there to be a great harvest sometime down the road. So when a waiter offers to pay for your breakfast in a fancy hotel—even when the breakfast is included in the price of the room and would be free anyway—don’t tell him! No, no! Better to leave the poor guy in the dark. For, as you whisper sagely to your wife, "We can’t rob him of his blessing. He’s planted a seed by doing something good for us. We don’t want to pull his seed out of the ground and give it back." So let him spend forty bucks for no reason, because you know "that when he planted that seed in the ground, God was going to multiply it back to him." (255)

7) Choose to be happy. Happiness is a choice. So smile a lot. God will bless you if you do. Also, become a person of excellence. "God doesn’t bless mediocrity. He blesses excellence." (282) So do you want a new car? Then wash the one you have. You want a bigger house? "Keep it looking nice. Make sure it looks like a person of excellence lives there." "If you will start taking care of what God has given you, He’ll be more likely to give you something better." (283) God has great things in store for you, so start living with some enthusiasm. If you will do all these things—follow these seven steps—then "God will take you places you’ve never dreamed of, and you will be living your best life now!" (306)

What exactly does one say about all this? A few things, actually.

First, even if you take Osteen’s book for what it really is—one more self-help manual focusing on the power of positive thinking—it simply doesn’t work. Thinking highly of yourself is not a pathway to success. Most of the time, it’s a pathway to having your office colleagues talk about you behind your back. You don’t believe me? Then try this: The next time you go into the office, try Osteen’s tactic of demanding "preferential treatment" because you’re a child of God. See how far that gets you.

More importantly, though, it should be noted clearly and widely that there is nothing Christian about this book. Yes, Osteen talks about God throughout, but it is not the God of the Bible he has in mind. Osteen’s God is little more than the mechanism that gives the power to positive thinking. There is no cross. There is no sin. There is no redemption or salvation or eternity. Even Jesus himself is mentioned only two or three times in the book, and one of those is as the punch-line of the story about the little tree who has a bad self-esteem until he figures out he’s being turned into the cross on which Jesus is to be crucified. That story may have Jesus’ name in it, but it’s not a story about Jesus. It, like the rest of the book, is a story about feeling good about yourself.

If Joel Osteen wants to be the Norman Vincent Peale of the twenty-first century, he has every right to give it a shot. But he should stop marketing his message as Christianity, because it is not. You cannot simply make reference to God, quote some Scripture, call what you’re saying "spiritual principles," and pass it off as Christianity. That’s the kind of thing that will have people "enlarging their vision" and "choosing to be happy" all the way to hell.

The really frightening thing is that 5 million people have bought Your Best Life Now, and a good portion of those have probably walked away thinking they have read the Christian gospel. They think they understand the message of the Bible, and it is me. My success. My self-esteem. My house. My car. My promotion.

If that is what is passing for Christianity today, then the need for true gospel preachers is more than severe. Someone needs to tell these people—even if they are not inclined to hear; even if it’s over the heads of their own "pastors"—that the gospel is not about collaborating with God to make yourself successful. It is not about getting more stuff and being more prosperous. It is about God forgiving people for their sin through the death of his Son, bringing them to life from the spiritual dead, and conforming them to the image of Jesus Christ. Whether Joel Osteen preaches those truths in his church of thirty-thousand, I have no idea. But he certainly has not written about them.

Greg Gilbert is the lead writer on the gospel for 9Marks and an elder at Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, KY.

October 2006
Greg Gilbert
©9Marks. Website: www.9Marks.org.

Monday, November 06, 2006

2006 Alpha & Omega Pulpit Crimes Conference and Cruise

2006/11/05
2006 Alpha & Omega Pulpit Crimes Conference and Cruise
Category: Tartan Talk :
Author: tartanarmy (6:21 am)



Current Debate Blog HERE!
Good stuff

http://www.pulpitcrimes.blogspot.com/

Mark

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Caners meltdown. Truth is the victim, again.

2006/10/11
The Caners meltdown. Truth is the victim, again.
Category: Tartan Talk :
Author: tartanarmy (3:35 am)

I do not want to say much about the cancelled debate at Liberty between the Caners and James White/Tom Ascol.
It might cause me to sin.
It has been one roller coaster ride for sure.

But, I did read the following comment over at the founders blog, and I believe there is much merit in these comments.

Limited (Definite) Atonement is the big problem here. The administration is only too happy to invoke the sovereignty of God occasionally as appropriate, but in recent months it has been impressed on us that staying true to the General Atonement is a key mission of the school, literally a part of our identity, to be projected far into the future. Were the debate to go badly for Liberty, it would tend to undermine that perceived mission, which is viewed as critical to the larger mission of world evangelism. Hence, a solid move to Reformed theology would detract from the effort to save the world through the therapy of Open Theism, Feel Good Theism, what have you.




UPDATE

It seems the above comments at the Founders blog were spot on.
Ergun Caner, the self appointed Evangelical "Pitbull" has commented regarding the debate not going ahead, with these words,

This sad chapter is behind us, and I go back to being the President of a Seminary that stands firmly on the side of general atonement, like 90-95% of the Southern Baptist Convention. Let the Calvinists and the Hyper-Calvinists fight over the remaining 5-10%.


The very fact that this guy is President of a Seminary, tells me how sick the evangelical Church is today.
I have decided, that I no longer want to be called an evangelical.
The same thing happened with the term "fundamentalist" btw.

Mark

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Free Introduction to Theology book online.

2006/10/08
Free Introduction to Theology book online.
Category: Tartan Talk :
Author: tartanarmy (2:17 am)



Not much free stuff these days. Please enjoy the following.

Mark

http://www.biblicaltraining.org/books/PocketGuide/index.html

Saturday, October 07, 2006

MISSIONARY SPOTLIGHT

2006/10/06
MISSIONARY SPOTLIGHT
Category: Tartan Talk :
Author: tartanarmy (9:45 pm)



The way forward in Sierra Leone

Christopher Jonah, his wife Betty and baby Ciel have set off on a lonely path. They have, with the help of friends in the UK, set up their own mission — Truth Mission. Saddened by the way in which the Bible is mishandled throughout the country, and by the prevalence of ‘prosperity’ teaching, Truth Mission sets out to model faithful exposition of the Scriptures.

False teaching

The gospel in Sierra Leone is being submerged in a sea of false teaching that — as Christopher put it — ‘promises so much but delivers so little’. He had to do something about it. Prosperity teaching had infected many Evangelical churches and para-church groups, and nobody, it seemed, was ready to stand against it.

As a young Christian, Christopher attended a church where discipleship was a serious business and the Bible treated with respect. Correct interpretation was emphasised. ‘Read the passage several times’, they were taught. ‘Look at the context. Is your understanding of the passage in accord with Scripture teaching elsewhere?’ Such were the questions they had to ask themselves.

During his time at university, Christopher was a volunteer worker with a para-church group and began to see increasing carelessness in its handling of God’s Word. People imposed their own ideas on a Bible text and often ignored the main point of the passage. This worried him. At that time, too, he read a couple of books that introduced him to the doctrines of grace.

In 2001/2 he was given a scholarship to attend the Cornhill Training Course in London. He was greatly encouraged by what he heard there. Systematic expository preaching was both modelled and taught; such preaching was never heard in Sierra Leone. He realised what his own people were missing.

Vision

One Cornhill student from Africa exclaimed in amazement, ‘Why, it is all Bible from 9.00am ’til we finish. We have nothing like this back home!’ Christopher heartily agreed.

So a year after he got home, Christopher opened his Truth Mission. There are three ways he seeks to accomplish this task.

Firstly, he teaches a small local group of potential church leaders, giving plenty of opportunities for practice. Secondly, he produces a radio broadcast, exemplifying good Bible teaching and preaching.

Thirdly, he is seeking to reach out to small towns and villages in the provinces with good Bible-based courses. This will also provide opportunities of fellowship for pastors who live in isolated areas.

For the last eighteen months Truth Mission has worked very closely with missionaries from UFM Worldwide, who share the same burden as he does. Christopher Jonah says, ‘I find the partnership encouraging and stimulating. I hope more people with the same burden for the true gospel and Sierra Leone will join us’.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Food for thought.

2006/09/24
Food for thought.
Category: Tartan Talk :
Author: tartanarmy (4:23 am)



Luk 23:40 But answering, the other rebuked him, saying, Do you not fear God, since you are in the same condemnation.

Luk 23:41 And we indeed justly so, for we receive the due reward of our deeds, but this Man has done nothing amiss.

Luk 23:42 And he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.

Did the thief grasp even slightly the doctrines of grace?

He knew he was depraved. He confessed this depravity by admitting that he and the other thief were getting what they deserved.
He also saw that this Jesus dying had a kingdom to enter into. He saw this in this man dying upon a cross, which is really quite amazing when you think about it.
Having a kingdom he was able to grasp that such would have subjects in it. Such would have been there through no merit of their own but by sheer grace alone! Elected unconditionally if you will, to this Kingdom of this Christ.

The thief saw the resurrection obviously, therefore proving the words of Paul who only desired to know Christ and Him crucified. And whilst he started out railing against Christ and mocking with the other thief, he also came to perceived that this man was dying for someone else’s sins and not His own, by the thief’s own testimony! That right there is a particular atonement by definition.

And the thief saw that! He perceived that this Jesus was dying for someone else.

Perceiving these things in Christ's weakest humiliation, he would have obviously grasped God’s grace and mercy for himself, and certainly at this time upon his own just demise he was irresistibly drawn to the Saviour.
And we know that he most certainly was drawn, and by virtue that this thief was able to see this dying Christ coming into His Kingdom, we can very well imagine that this thief who had already grasped all of this! was certainly able to take this guilty sinner there and keep him there.

So what is my point?
It has been suggested to me that sinners do not necessarily have to know the doctrines of grace or the 5 points in order to be saved, and quite often the thief upon the cross is pushed up as the ultimate proof of such a notion.
I see the doctrines of grace all over that little event. Makes you think doesn’t it?

That thief saw things amazing, in a dying man upon a tree and yet he may have had more faith than any of us.

Mark

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The best sermon I have ever heard.

2006/09/22
The best sermon I have ever heard.
Category: Tartan Talk :
Author: tartanarmy (3:32 pm)



This is Eternal Life!
Heard it 13 years ago, and it is still the best sermon I have ever had the privy to hear. 22 years old and completely timeless and relevant. Why?...Listen and find out for yourselves.

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?currSection=sermonsspeaker&sermonID=5220621622

Friday, September 22, 2006

A Contemporary Reformed Defense of Infant Baptism Part 3

2006/09/21
A Contemporary Reformed Defense of Infant Baptism Part 3
Category: Tartan Talk :
Author: tartanarmy (8:17 pm)

Should Infants Come to the Lord's Table?

God has instituted two types of sacraments. Circumcision, like baptism was a sacrament of initiation into the visible covenant community. The Passover feast (along with the other feasts), like the Lord's Supper, was a sign of covenant renewal for strengthening God's people. So different sacraments perform different functions and have different participants and different requirements.80

It is clear, from the institution of the Passover, that the children who participated had to be old enough to understand the significance of the Passover. 81 This same requirement was not made of infants to be circumcised. This distinction flows from the different functions of the signs and seals. Circumcision was a sign of entrance into the covenant applied to infants and to adults neither of whom had ever been circumcised. By its nature circumcision, (and baptism as its replacement), cannot be applied again. 82 The Lord's supper, however, by its nature is intended to be celebrated repeatedly in the life of the believer. 83 This is because the sign and seal of initiation distinct from the sign and seal of renewal.

This same principle was also in effect in the New Covenant community. It is latent in the Apostle Paul's principle that one who partakes of the Lord's supper must be aware of the Spiritual nature of the supper (1 Corinthians 11:29). On this principle (each sign has its own function) it is proper for infants to be baptized but improper to permit infants to partake in the supper.

Conclusion

The answer to questions about baptism lies in God's nature. He does not change and his promises do not change. He does not change the way he saves his people. Only the circumstances change, in which that promise is administered.

God is a faithful, gracious, loving, patient, kind, merciful, covenant (promise) making and keeping God.84 Our gracious covenant God made a covenant-promise to give Abraham a "seed" and to send a Savior, which he fulfilled in Jesus Christ. 85 In Christ, we become Abraham's descendants and heirs. The same promise God made to Abraham, he has made to us,

I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your children after you for the generations to come, to be your God and your children's God.86

God was gracious to Abraham, God is gracious to us. He has given us visible reminders and marks of that grace, one of those is baptism.

Be a Berean, search the Scriptures to see if what has been said here is true.87 The Word of God is, after all, our absolute rule for faith and life. If you are a Christian parent who has not presented your children for baptism, I urge you to do so as soon as possible.

If you have made a profession of faith in Jesus as your Savior and Lord, but have not been baptized, I urge you to find a Biblical and confessionally Reformed church in your area and seek membership and baptism.

If you are baptized, but have neglected God's grace, by neglecting your baptism, by not living gratefully, by not serving and loving Jesus with all your heart, I call you to turn away from your ingratitude, confess your sins, ask and receive God's forgiveness.88

Christian, your baptism is good news, a reminder and promise that, if you believe, you have been bought with a price and sprinkled with the blood of Christ.89 Rejoice in God's grace and be faithful to God's Word. If your children have received covenant baptism, be sure to take your oath seriously. Remember, you have sworn an oath to bring up your children "in the training and instruction of the Lord." by catechizing them at home in God's Word and in a Reformed confession such as the Heidelberg Catechism (1563) or the Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647) and by enrolling them in catechism instruction in a confessionally faithful Reformed congregation.90

SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY

Adams, J. E., The Meaning and Mode of Baptism (Phillipsburg: 1980).

Aland, K., Did The Early Church Baptize Infants? trans. G. R. Beasley-Murray (London: 1963).

Bavinck, H., Our Reasonable Faith (Grand Rapids: 1975).

Beasley-Murray, G. R., Baptism in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: 1962).

Berkhof, L., The History of Christian Doctrines (Edinburgh: 1937).

--Manual of Christian Doctrine (Grand Rapids: 1953).

--Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: 1941)

Berkouwer, G. C., Studies in Dogmatics: The Sacraments (Grand Rapids: 1969).

Brady, R. J., "An Examination of the Reformed Doctrine of Infant Baptism." M.A. Thesis (Wheaton College, 1965).

Bridge, D. and David Phypers, The Water that Divides: The Baptism Debate (Downers Grove: 1977).

Calvin, J., The Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 vol., trans., F. L. Battles., J. T. McNeill ed. (Philadelphia: 1961).

--Treatises Against the Anabaptists and Against the Libertines (Grand Rapids: 1982).

Chaney, J. M., William the Baptist (Grand Rapids, repr., 1982).

Cramer, P., Baptism and Change in the Early Middle Ages, c. 200-c. 1150 (Cambridge: 1993).

Cullmann, O., Baptism in the New Testament (London: 1962).

Cunningham, W., Historical Theology, 2 vol. (Edinburgh: repr., 1979).

Dabney, R. L., Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, repr.: 1975).

Dale, J. W., An Inquiry into the Usage of Baptizo, and the Nature of Judaic Baptism. 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: 1869 [repr. 1991-5]).

Fairbairn, P., Typology (Welwyn, repr.,: 1975.

Hodge, A. A. Evangelical Theology: Lectures on Doctrine (Edinburgh: repr., 1976).

--Outlines of Theology, n.d., n.p.

Hodge, C., Systematic Theology, 3 vol. (Grand Rapids, repr: 1982).

Jeremias, J., Infant Baptism in the First Four Centuries. trans David Cairns (Philadelphia: 1960).

Jewett, P. K., 'Baptism', The Encyclopedia of Christianity, 4 vol., (Marshallton, DE: 1964).

Kitchen, K.A., Ancient Orient and the Old Testament. (Downers Grove: 1966).

Kline, M.G., The Structure of Biblical Authority. Grand Rapids, 1972.

--Treaty of the Great King (Grand Rapids: 1963).

--By Oath Consigned (Grand Rapids: 1968).

Marcel, P.C., The Biblical Doctrine of Infant Baptism (Cambridge: 1953).

Mendenhall, G. E, Law and Covenant in Israel and the Ancient Near East (Pittsburgh, 1955).

Murray, J. Christian Baptism (Philadelphia: 1952).

Olevianus, C. A Firm Foundation: An Aid to Interpreting the Heidelberg Catechism, trans. and ed. Lyle D. Bierma (Grand Rapids: 1995).

Sartelle, J. P. What Christian Parents Should Know About Infant Baptism (Phillipsburg, 1985).

Shedd, W. G. T. History of Christian Doctrine, 2 vol. (New York: 1889).

Tenney, Merrill C. "Baptism and the Lord's Supper," Basic Christian Doctrines, C.F.H. Henry, ed., (New York: 1962).

Vos, J.G. Baptism: Its Subjects and Modes (Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, n.d.)

Wall, W., The History of Infant Baptism (London, 1705).

Warfield, B.B. "The Archeology of the Mode of Baptism," Studies in Theology, (Oxford: 1932).

--,"The Polemics of Infant Baptism," ibid.

Endnotes

* Revised August, 2004. References to the Greek New Testament are drawn from the United Bible Society's Greek New Testament 3rd edition and the Nestle-Aland 26th edition. The references to the Hebrew Bible are drawn from the Biblia Hebriaca Stuttgartesnsia (© 1977). References from the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the O.T. used by the N.T. authors, abbreviated LXX) are from the Rahlfs edition. In most instances I have provided my own English translations. Nevertheless, this essay has consulted a number of English Bible translations, among them the New International Version (©1984, International Bible Society), the New American Standard (1971) and the Revised Standard Version (1951).

1 These categories are rough and ready. For example, by Baptist I do not mean only those who attend Baptist congregations, but rather most non-infant baptizing evangelical congregations in North America. Note also that there are other Christian traditions not in this list which wield some influence in North America. For example, the Campellite tradition (The Church of Christ; the Christian Church) teaches a type of baptismal regeneration, (formally resembling the Lutheran position) but denies infant baptism (formally resembling the Baptist position).

2 See the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994), 1210-84.

3 The Baptist Faith and Message adopted by the Southern Baptist Church (San Francisco, 1962), Article 8 says, "Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper. The Lord's Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate his second coming." The Baptist position has received the significant support of Karl Barth in his Church Dogmatics.

Many Baptistic churches also allow the practice of baby dedication. It would appear that this rite substitutes for baptism of the children of believers. Why? Because believers instinctively know that they need to present their children to God. Like the altar call this is a human substitute for divinely instituted covenant signs and seals of baptism and the Lord's Supper. Baptism is the sign of entrance or initiation into the visible Covenant assembly (church). Baby dedication fulfills this function. Similarly, the altar call often effectively replaces the Lord's Supper as an opportunity for believers to respond to God's grace.

Regarding the mode of baptism there are two major procedures: effusion (sprinkling, pouring) and immersion. Historically orthodox Christians have accepted any mode of Christian baptism. Baptists, however, usually acknowledge only immersion. Although this has not always been the case. "The original Baptists did not immerse" (B. B. Warfield, "The Archeology of the Mode of Baptism," Studies in Theology [Oxford, 1932], 347, n.10). This also unites them with the Campbellites and distinguishes them from the Reformed position. The latter have historically practiced effusion.

The argument over mode is really an argument about what is the appropriate action in baptism to symbolize the truths of baptism. If baptism is the gospel made visible and if we are baptized as an act of identity with Christ's death, then how we ought best symbolize those truths?

The Reformed practice of effusion draws from the rich history of the Biblical practice of sprinkling for sanctification and salvation. The typical Hebrew term for effusion/sprinkling is Zaraq (e.g., Exodus 29.16-21) which is translated with a variety of terms in the LXX. Two of the more interesting passages for understanding the Biblical background and basis for the Reformed practice of effusion are the Passover painting of the door-posts with the blood of the Lamb (Exodus 12:22) and Exodus 24:1-8.

In the former case, the Hebrew verb "to dip" is Tabal which was translated in the LXX with Baptizen, apparently strengthening the Baptist case. Yet, notice that the hyssop branch was "dipped" but the redeeming blood was "touch[ed]" (RSV) to the door-post. In the latter case, Moses "took the blood and sprinkled (Zaraq/Kataskedannumi) it upon the people, and said, "Behold the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you...". This is the sort of image Peter meant to invoke when he spoke of the sprinkling (Rantismos) of Christians with the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:2).

In fact the word baptize and its cognate Baptein is used routinely in the LXX to describe ceremonial washings. The Jews were not in the habit of immersing objects for purification. Look at two notable immersions in the Old Covenant Scriptures. Peter compares God's judgment-flood to baptism (1 Peter 3:20,21, See also 2 Peter 3;6,
7). Notice in the case of Noah's baptism who was dry and who was immersed. The same is true of Moses' "baptism" in the Red Sea (See 1 Corinthians 10:1-13). Exodus repeatedly reminds us that Moses and the Israelites went through "on dry ground" (See Exodus 14:16, 22; 15:19; Psalm 66:6; Hebrews 11:29). Paul explicitly makes the point that Israel was "baptized in the sea" and yet it was dry baptism. The only ones immersed were Pharaoh's armies. It would seem, in the Israelite mind, that to be immersed would constitute an identification not with the God of the Exodus, but Pharaoh. This would hardly be appropriate for Christian baptism.

"Why," one might ask, "in the New Testament, do people go "down" to or "in" the river to be baptized?" (See Matthew 3:6,16; Acts 8:38). It is not certain that either John or Jesus was immersed. Practically, if one is to baptize in the desert, one must stand in the water. In the mass baptism of Acts 2:41 it is unlikely that 3000 people were immersed in the city's water supply. If the Ethiopian Eunuch was immersed, so was Philip who baptized him. Both men are governed by the same Greek preposition (Eis). So, if the immersionist view is correct, that the jailer was immersed, then both men went "into" (i.e., were immersed) the water. More likely, both men went "to" the water or perhaps both men stood "in" the water. For more information on the verb Baptize see J. W. Dale, Baptizo (Philadelphia, 1869 [repr. 1991-5]). See also Jay Adams, The Meaning and Mode of Baptism. Reformed churches who sprinkle infants do so on strong Biblical grounds and not out of sentiment or personal preference.

4 Article 9 of the Augsburg Confession (1530) says, "Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into God's grace. They condemn the Anabaptists, who reject the baptism of children, and say that children are saved without Baptism."

5 The Heidelberg Catechism (1563), Q.69 says, 'How is it signified and sealed to you in Holy Baptism, that you have part in the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross? Thus: that Christ instituted this outward washing with water and joined therewith this promise: that I am washed with his blood and Spirit from the pollution of my soul, that is, from all my sins, as certainly as I am washed outwardly with water, whereby commonly the filthiness of the body is taken away; Q.70: 'What is it to be washed with the blood and Spirit of Christ? It is to have the forgiveness of sins from God through grace, for the sake of Christ's blood, which he shed for us in his sacrifice on the cross; and also, to be renewed by the Holy Spirit and sanctified to be members of Christ, that so we may more and more die unto sin and lead holy and unblamable lives'; Q.72: 'Is then the outward washing with water itself the washing away of sins? No, for only the blood of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit cleanse us from all sin'. See Belgic Confession (1561), Art.34; Art. 27 of the Thirty Nine Articles (1662); Westminster Confession (1647), chapter 28.

6 The Southern Baptist Convention is America's largest Protestant denomination. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) are smaller, but much larger than all the confessional Reformed denominations added together.

7 The technical word for those who baptize the children of believers is paedobaptist from the Greek word for child Pais plus the Greek Baptizo which has been brought directly into English.

8 See B. A. Gerrish, Grace and Reason. A Study in the Theology of Luther (Oxford, 1962); R. S. Wallace, Calvin's Doctrine of Word and Sacrament (Edinburgh, 1953); W. P. Stephens, The Theology of Huldrych Zwingli (Oxford, 1984).

9 W. Wall, The History of Infant Baptism (London, 1705). Joachim Jeremias, Infant Baptism in the First Four Centuries, trans. David Cairns (Philadelphia: 1960) and The Origins of Infant Baptism: A Further Study (Naperville: 1963) defends a paedobaptist reading of ancient church practice. For a Baptist reading see Kurt Aland, Did The Early Church Baptize Infants? trans. G. R. Beasley-Murray (London: 1963).

10 Many liberal mainline denominations do not confess the Bible to be the infallible, inerrant Word of God and appear to practice paedobaptism more out of sentiment more than Biblical conviction. Covenant baptism should be sharply distinguished from the unfortunate practices of those churches who baptize children regardless of the spiritual state of the parents. Baptist practice is also abused. Just as there are churches who baptize infants without any regard for Biblical restrictions, so there are Baptist churches who also abuse Baptism even by Baptist standards.

11 Please see Jeremiah 36.27; 1 Corinthians 2.13; 2 Corinthians 13.3; 1 Thessalonians 2.13; Hebrews 1.5; 2 Timothy 3.16; 2 Peter 3.17.

12 The absolute authority of God's Word is a crucial starting point. It is not Bible Study to assume beforehand what Scripture must say.

13 See Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 22:7-23.

14 Genesis chapter 17 [all]; Exodus chapter 12 [all].

15 The Biblical teaching of the covenant is perhaps the sharpest dividing line between the Baptist and Reformed understandings of the Bible. Baptist scholars do write about the covenants. Christian theologians have been using the Biblical doctrine of the covenant of grace to teach the unity of God's people, the unity of the way of salvation (Christ) since the 2nd century A. D. Since the early 16th century, however, Reformed scholars have worked most closely with this Biblical thread as a way of uniting the Biblical doctrine of justification with the Biblical doctrine of sanctification. Since the early 1520's there has been a steady stream of Reformed scholars who have been working out the relations between the covenant of grace and baptism.

16 Genesis 3.14-16.

17 Genesis 6.18; 9:9-17.

18 Genesis 15:1-18; 17 [all]; 1 Chronicles 16:16; Ps 105:8; Acts 3:25; 7 [all]; Romans 4 [all]; 9 [all]; Galatians 3 [all].

19 Genesis 17.10-14

20 Exodus 2:24; 6.4,5.

21 Exodus 12:24-27.

22 Exodus 19:5. Do not confuse a sacerdotal (from the Latin n. sacerdos, priest) view, which regards the minister as priest who procures salvation for God's people through sacraments, with the term sacrament. Sacrament comes from the Latin noun sacramentum. The term referred originally to a deposit (escrow account) held as part of a law suit. The term also signified an oath. This latter meaning was carried over into the church to describe the covenant (oath) signs and seals. See Lewis and Short, A Latin Dictionary (Oxford, 1879), s.v., sacramentum.

23 Jeremiah 31.32,33; Ezekiel 34:35.

24 Luke 22:20; 2 Corinthians 3:7-18; Hebrews 8:1-10:18.

25 Luke 22:20.

26 2 Corinthians 3:6.

27 Luke 1:54,55,72,73; Acts chapter 7.

28 1 Peter 1:10-12.

29 Hebrews 1:2; 1 Peter 1:20.

30 John 14:25-27; 15:26,27.

31 This is why the Bible speaks of "types" and "shadows." See Romans 5:14 (NIV-uses "pattern"); 1 Corinthians 10:1-13; Hebrews 8 [all].

32 Compare Jeremiah 31.31-34 with Hebrews 7.22, chapter 8, 9:15, 10:24.

33 See Genesis 3:14-16. Jesus fulfilled this promise by his death on the Cross.

34 Romans 4:11,17.

35 Ephesians 2:1-22, gentiles were brought into covenantal relationship with God by faith; compare Romans 11:17-24.

36 Genesis 17:10-14

37 God nearly took Moses' life because he failed to circumcise his second son. See Exodus 4:24-26. On the threats attached to circumcisions see Genesis 17:14.

38 Genesis 15.18, Exodus 24.8, 34.27; Deuteronomy 4.23,5.2, 9.9.

39 For a clear example of this curse bearing see the book of Jeremiah. Repeatedly God prosecutes Israel for failing to live up to the "terms of the covenant." In 34: 17-20 the Lord says, "The men who have violated my covenant and have not fulfilled the terms of the covenant they made before me, I will treat like the calf they cut in two and then walked between its pieces. The leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials, the priests and all the people of the land who walked between the pieces of the calf. I will hand over to their enemies who seek their lives. Their dead bodies will become food for the birds of the air and the beast s of the earth." This is a direct re-enactment of the covenant-oath ceremony of Genesis 15:8-21. God graciously, sovereignly enters into a covenant with his people, i.e., "I will be your God, you will be my people." That Covenant-oath-promise is always sealed in blood. This is a common practice of the Ancient Near Eastern world. See K. A. Kitchen, Ancient Orient and the Old Testament (Downers Grove, 1966); M. G. Kline, The Structure of Biblical Authority, (Grand Rapids, 1972); ibid, Treaty of the Great King, (Grand Rapids, 1963); G. E. Mendenhall, Law and Covenant in Israel and the Ancient Near East (Pittsburgh, 1955). This is not just an Old Covenant occurrence. In Galatians 5:12, Paul wishes this very curse upon enemies of the gospel.

40 See the Song of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 52:13-53:12.

41 Isaiah 53:4,8; Hebrews 13:12; see the section above on being "cut off" from the covenant. See also Deuteronomy 21:22,23.

4242 Ephesians 1:1-15; 2:1-10.

43 Hebrews 9:11-10:1.

44 2 Timothy 2:11; Romans 6:2,5,6,8.

45 Ephesians 2:1-13 3:6; 1 Peter 2:9,10, 4:17.

46 Romans 4:11,17.

47 1 Corinthians 10:3; Ephesians 2:8-9.

48 Galatians 5:2-6.

49 The first word of v.39 "having been buried" (suntapheis from sunthapto) is a participle which describes the circumstances in which believers are circumcised. See the excellent discussion of the relationship between circumcision and baptism in Patrick Fairbairn, Typology (Welwyn, [repr.] 1975), 308-315.

50 Acts 15:1-21; Galatians 2:12, 3:13,14, 5:15 and 6:12 teach that the circumcision has been fulfilled.

51 Galatians 5:12.

52 This was evident even under Moses. See Deuteronomy 10:16 where God tells the Israelites to "circumcise your hearts." See also Romans 4:11; Galatians 3:6-14; Deuteronomy 10:16, 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4; Romans 2:28-9.

53 Genesis 17:10-14.

54 1 Peter 3:21.

55 It is sometimes said, "I was baptized as an infant but did not come to faith until much later, so I was re-baptized." Might it not be the case that if one is baptized in infancy and later comes to faith, God has been faithful to his promise in the sign. The sign is like a seed which God through his sovereign, gracious Holy Spirit, brought to fruition. We should rejoice that we believe and all that baptism promises is true for us.

56 John 1:12,13; 3:16; 4:3; 5:45.46; 6:32-58; 8:56; 20:31; Romans 4; Galatians 2:15-21; Ephesians 2:8,9; Hebrews 11:1; 1 Corinthians 10:1-5.

57 New covenant writers often remind readers of their baptism to encourage them to good works. See Romans 6:1-14; Ephesians 4:1-6; Colossians 2:[all]; Galatians 3:27; 1 Peter 3:8-22. Hebrews 6:4-6 probably refers to the fact that certain persons had shared the Lord's Supper, confessed their faith and then left the assembly. In 1 Corinthians 11 17-34 Paul complains about Corinthian abuse of the Lord's Supper. Their misuse of the Supper reflected their immaturity in Christ.

58 1 Peter 3:20-1.

59 It is possible that Colossians was written for largely the same purpose. 2 Corinthians chapters 3 [all] and 4 [all] deal with a similar topic as does Hebrews chapters 4-9. Romans 4 [all] also addresses the same topic.

60 Ephesians 6:1, Colossians 3:20-1. Be careful not to confuse the Biblical notion of "clean," with the notions of "saved" or "justified." To be "clean," in this sense, means to be formally or legally eligible to receive the sign and seals of the covenant. In the administration of his Covenant of Grace, not all who are legally eligible to receive the sign also receive what the sign signifies, but this does not mean that they should not receive the sign. We cannot decide a priori, whom God has or has not elected to saving faith. We must obey God’s Word and administer the sign to all who are eligible to receive it.

61 Y. Feenstra, "Baptism" in The Encyclopedia of Christianity Vol. 1, E. H. Palmer, ed., 526-537. See also 1 Samuel 22:16,19; Genesis 17;12,23, 18:19, 45:17-19, 46:6,7 for clear examples of the Biblical idea of 'household'.

62 The Bible's emphasis on families and the visible assembly of the saints (the Church) is much different from American individualism in many evangelical churches. God does save individuals and no one else can believe for you. But throughout Scripture, God often saves and blesses whole groups (e.g., families) at one time. The actions or faith of one member of the group often affects the whole group. This is because God has set up a representative (or federal) system of salvation. Adam was our first representative. The old puritan rhyme had it right: "In Adam's fall, sinned we all." Adam's sin affected everyone at once. So Jesus saved all his people at the same time on the cross. See Romans 5 [all].

63 The New Testament word is Oikos from which we get our English word economic.

64 Matthew 10:12-14; Luke 19:9; John 4:53; Acts 10:2; 11:14; 1 Corinthians 1:6; 2 Timothy 1:16; Hebrews 11:7-9. See also Genesis 7:1.

65 "God-fearer" is the term Jews applied to Gentiles who worshipped in their synagogues. As a frequent worshipper of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Lydia heard the Word of God read regularly. She would have been familiar with the Old Covenant requirements to receive the sign of entrance in the covenant community.

66 Acts 16 :14-15. In fact, recent archeological research has uncovered the fact that it was not uncommon for single or widowed women to "head" a household composed of an entire entourage of employees, and family members. Chloe is one likely example. See Luke 8:2,3; 1 Corinthians 1:11; Romans 16:3-5; 12. N. T. scholar S. M. Baugh (among others) has shown that slaves, in the N. T. world, owned other slaves and property. So the word "household" includes not only an immediate family but slaves and their families. See S. M. Baugh "Paul and Ephesus: The Apostle Among His Contemporaries" (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Irvine).

67 Every Israelite and every Gentile convert confessed the Shema, "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one" Deuteronomy 6:4).

68 Some argue that only believers were baptized in the New Covenant. This is only supposition. It is illogical to argue from what is to what is not. If I tell you that I can find only blue cars on Antioch Road it does not follow that there are never any red cars on Antioch Road. It is true that adults are baptized in the New covenant. It is not true that only adults are baptized in the New Covenant.

69 2 Corinthians 3.14; Galatians 3.17; Hebrews 8.6; 9:15,16.

70 That is, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

71 See Genesis 17. The word Patriarchs refers to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

72 Hebrews 2.16; Romans 4; 9.7,8; James 2.20-23.

73 John 8:56.

74 Please see Hebrews 3:14ff; 11:8-10,16; 12:18-24; 13:13.

75 Please see Romans 4:11; Galatians 3:6-14; Deuteronomy 10:16, 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4; Romans 2:28,29. If Jews received earthly blessings for simply being Jews then "it is no more of faith, but of works." In fact the point of the exile is that judgment came to Israel because she lacked faith. If blessings were dependent upon circumcision and race then the exile is meaningless.

76 It is astonishing that many Bible-believing Christians think Abraham was saved by works. This is not true. No one in the history of the fallen human race has ever been saved by works. When Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through me." (John 14:6) he was speaking of Abraham and Moses as well as us. See John 12:41 where John says, "Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him."

77 Genesis 17:27.

78 1 Corinthians 10.31-13. teaches that Old Covenant believers also obeyed God in faith.

79 We weren't saved because, first of all, we chose Christ, but because he loved us and chose us. See Romans 8:28-39; Ephesians 1:1-15; 2:8-10. We believe because God saved us. We receive salvation through faith.

80 Although the Lord's Supper corresponds to Passover generally, it is also likely that the New Covenant communion feast summarizes all of the great Old Covenant feasts and not just Passover. Each of those feasts was a renewal of the covenant and a reminder of God's saving grace.

8181 Exodus 12:26.

82 This is an area of sharp disagreement between Baptists and Paedobaptists. If the Reformed understanding of God's Word is correct, then baptism does not need to be applied more than once just as circumcision cannot be done more than once.

83 This is a serious problem with the Baptist view. The roles of the covenant signs are confused. Because baptism is viewed as the primary symbol of professing one's faith and renewing one's relationship to Christ baptism becomes the means for Covenant renewal. But this is properly the function of the Lord's Supper. On top of this, many Baptistic churches practice the "altar call" as a means of professing or renewing a profession of faith. The result is that in many Baptistic churches, the Lord's supper then becomes somewhat meaningless. In some Baptistic churches the Lord's Supper is hardly practiced at all.

84 Hebrews 13:8.

85 Galatians 3:16.

8686 Genesis 17:7.

87 Acts 17:11.

88 1 John 1.9.

89 1 Peter 1:2

90 Ephesians 6:4

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Some scary stuff.

2006/09/18
Some scary stuff.
Category: Tartan Talk :
Author: tartanarmy (4:49 pm)

Emperor Manuel Paleologos II speaking to a Persian scholar on the conflict between Christianity and Islam in the 14th century, was quoted by the Pope during a scholarly discussion, and as a result the whole Islamic world is up in riot.

Churches are burned and people are killed.

Makes you realise the truth of those words quoted so long ago that caused this recent thin skinned response from the Muslim world.

The words were,

"Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Some scary stuff...

2006/09/16
Some scary stuff...
Category: Tartan Talk :
Author: tartanarmy (12:30 pm)



"If you stay in your faith, you are going to get paid. I'm living now in my reward."

Joyce Meyer


Mat 6:5 And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward.

Mat 6:2 Therefore when you do your merciful deeds, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may have glory from men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A Contemporary Reformed Defense of Infant Baptism Part 2

2006/09/13
A Contemporary Reformed Defense of Infant Baptism Part 2
Category: Tartan Talk :
Author: tartanarmy (4:55 pm)
A Contemporary Reformed Defense of Infant Baptism
(c) 2005 R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.

Part 2 0f 3


Where Does the New Covenant Teach Infant Baptism?

From the point of view of the covenant of grace, every command to baptize, is a command to baptize the children of believers.

Because the promise of the covenant of grace, God is a God not only to adult believers, but also to their children. That is why, in 1 Corinthians 7:14, Paul said that children of believers are "holy." Paul deliberately used Old Covenant, ceremonial, language to teach the Corinthians that their children shouldn't be considered outside of the visible people of God. To use old covenant language, children of believers are "clean," and therefore have a right to share in the blessings of being a part of the visible people of God, including baptism.

Jesus made the same argument in Mark 10:14. He says that the Kingdom of God "belongs" to children of believers. In Acts 2:39, Peter specifically includes children in the fulfillment of the promise. In Ephesians 6:1 Paul addresses children as if they were in the covenant people of God .60

From this perspective, Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38,39 are direct commands to baptize infants. It is true that there is no explicit command "baptize infants." There is no such command because there is no need for such a command. Neither is there an explicit verse which states God is One in three persons, but God's Word teaches the existence of the Trinity throughout.

Nowhere in Scripture, however, is there a declaration that children are no longer to receive a covenant sign. If one needs an explicit command to baptize children then we should stop admitting women to the Lord's table, since there is no direct command to allow women to come to the table. This is clearly absurd.

The proper question therefore, is not where does Scripture explicitly teach infant baptism, but rather where does it reverse God's command to Abraham to administer the covenant sign and seal to children of believing parents. For two thousand years God's people had been applying the sign of God's covenant to the children of believers. Every faithful Jew understood circumcision to be a visible reminder that he was a part of the people of God. To fail to circumcise one's sons, would be to declare them to be cut off from God's people, grace and promises. To fail to circumcise one's children was unthinkable.

Some argue that because the new covenant is new children should no longer receive the sign of the covenant. It is true that changes attend the institution of the new covenant. Formerly the sign of admission was applied to males only. Now, males and females receive the sign of admission. These are changes which flow from the change from typical, promissory signs (circumcision) to signs of fulfillment (baptism). Thus, the change from circumcision to baptism was a change in circumstances, not substance.

To exclude the children of believing parents from the sign of admission to the visible covenant people or to say that God no longer wishes children to be considered a part of the visible community of God's people is no mere change in circumstance but rather a radical change in God's way of dealing with his people.

To change God's clear command to Abraham, one would expect a clear Word from God on the subject, but nowhere does God's Word tell believers to stop applying the sign of the covenant to their children. Since the new covenant Scriptures never tell us not to apply the covenant sign to our children, we have every reason to believe that the children of believers must receive the sign of entrance into the covenant people.

The Apostles Baptized the Children of Believers

In fact, there is a good deal of positive evidence in the New Testament Scriptures that baptism was applied to infants.

In both the old covenant and the new covenant, God speaks to households and "saves" them. In the language of the Bible, one's house does not refer incidentally, but primarily to the children.61 The emphasis on "household" or "family" points to a continuity between the Old Covenant corporate view-point and that of the New covenant.62 Children are viewed as being part of a covenant household, a covenantal unit. The sign, in Scripture, is applied to the whole household unit.63

Scripture uses this household formula in several clear passages which show a great deal of unity between old covenant practice and New Covenant (baptismal) practice.64 We know that when Luke wrote Acts he was selective in his reporting. So it is important to note that proportionally, when we compare the number of household baptisms to other baptisms in Acts, household baptisms are common. In Acts, as with circumcision in the old covenant, baptism is a household affair and the household texts prove it.

Lydia, the Jailer and Crispus.

In Philippi, in a "place of prayer," Paul and his co-workers met Lydia, a Gentile who was called "a God-fearer," i.e. someone on the fringes of the synagogue but not a full-member.65 After hearing the gospel, "the Lord opened her heart" and "she and the members of her household were baptized." It cannot be argued reasonably that there were no children in this "household." 66

Paul was jailed for his ministry to a demon possessed girl. Jesus delivered them from jail by sending an earthquake. Their jailer hears the gospel and professed his faith.

Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized....he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God -he and his whole family (Acts 16: 33,34).

As in the case of Lydia, Luke communicated the covenantal nature of baptism through the use of the oikos (household formula).

After Paul had been rejected by the synagogue in Corinth he went "next door" to the house of Titius Justus, another "God-fearing" Gentile. There "Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized" (Acts 18:8).

These patterns were identical with what occurred in Israel for 2000 years: The adult Gentile converts were circumcised along with their male children in accordance with Genesis 17:10-14. Certainly those adult converts had to confess their faith.67 Both believing adults and their children are described by the word "household."68

Abraham is a New Covenant Figure

It is also important to remember that not everything which was given before Jesus is eliminated in the New Covenant. The fact that our Bibles are divided into the Old and new Testaments, gives some believers the impression that everything which occurs before Jesus' birth is part of the Old Covenant. This is not accurate.

When the Bible uses the term "old covenant" it refers to the period of Moses until the beginning of the New Covenant. Not everything which happens in the Bible before Jesus-namely the period of Adam to Abraham-belongs in the old covenant proper.69

Jesus said in John 7:22 that circumcision was not from Moses, but from the Patriarchs.70 That means that circumcision does not belong, originally to the Old Covenant (Moses) but to Abraham.

Abraham has a very special relationship to New Covenant believers. In Romans 4:1-25, Paul says that Abraham is the "Father" of those who believe. Likewise, in Galatians 3:29 all believers are said to be "Abraham's offspring and heirs according to the promise." 71

In many ways, Abraham is a New Covenant figure. Believers are his spiritual descendants. 72 He is said to have looked forward to Jesus' first coming.73 He is a model of faith for believers in Hebrews 11:8-19; Galatians chapters 3 and 4. So what is true of Abraham is usually true of New Covenant believers. Just as Abraham's faith in Jesus (John 8:56) sets the pattern for New Covenant believers, so also his circumcision, and that of Isaac, sets the pattern for New Covenant baptism.

But Wasn't Circumcision a Sign of External Blessings Only?

In Romans 4:9-11 Paul says that Abraham believed before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a sign of God's grace to him. Abraham loved God, not the promised land. Hebrews teaches us repeatedly that Abraham and Moses and other believers who were born before Jesus, looked for a heavenly city and not simply at the earthly Canaan.74

Believers born before Jesus received no blessing apart from faith. Like New Covenant baptism, the meaning of circumcision was spiritual and not just outward.75

How Can We Baptize Children Who Don't Understand What is Happening to Them?

Did the babies circumcised under Abraham and Moses understand what was happening to them? Of course not. How were Abraham, Isaac and Jacob saved? By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.76 The fact God require children of the believers to understand the sign of admission to the visible covenant community before it was given, doesn't mean that they did not need to understand it as they grew up. They certainly did. The same responsibility rests with every Christian today. Every time Christians come to the Lord's table, they renew the covenant, receive the promise of the Gospel again, take up their oath of obedience to God and renew their baptism.

In fact, every complaint raised against Covenant baptism can be raised against covenant circumcision. If those complaints were invalid for circumcision, they are invalid for baptism.

Isn't Repentance and Faith Required Before Baptism?

It is true, that when speaking to adult Jews (Acts 2:38) Peter commanded, "Repent and be baptized everyone of you for the forgiveness of your sins." It does not follow, however, that only adults who can understand and follow this command may receive the sign of entrance into the covenant community. This would have eliminated all infant circumcisions. Obviously, God commanded circumcision of the children of believers.

Substitute the word "circumcised" for the word "baptized" in Acts 2:38. To Jews, whose Bible was the Old Covenant Scriptures, this would have made perfect sense: Renounce sin and receive the sign of the covenant. The case in Acts 2:38 is parallel to that of the foreigner who took the sign of entrance into the covenant people Israel. He had to turn from his old ways and embrace the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The fact that adults were required to make a profession of faith before circumcision, did not prevent the Lord from demanding that they circumcise their infant sons.77

Nor should one ignore Acts 2:39 where Peter gives the positive reason for baptism:

The promise is to you and your children and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call (italics mine).

God's Word says the promise is to the children of believers as well as to those old enough to repent. Peter was deliberately repeating the Abrahamic-covenant promise in Genesis 17:7 and commanding them to baptize their children.

Isn't Faith Necessary for Entering the Christian Life?

This question seems to imply that somehow faith was not as necessary for Moses or Abraham. Such an implication is false. Hebrews chapter 11 teaches that all the heroes of the faith who lived before Jesus birth obeyed God in faith.78 If faith was necessary in the Old Covenant and yet infants received the sign of the covenant, then the fact that adults needed to express their faith by circumcision does not rule out the children of believers receiving the sign of the covenant in the New Covenant.

The point of view expressed in this objection denies the unity of the Covenant of Grace. It argues that God deals with his people in two substantially different ways in the Bible.

To say that baptism is primarily an expression of my faith also misunderstands faith, salvation, and the sign of God's grace. Baptism is God's sign which he applies to me through the Church whether as infant or adult. It is God's sign of what he has done. Baptism is not, primarily, a sign of my faith. Baptism is a sign (and seal) of God's grace.79 Circumcision is always a sign of the grace of God in making the covenant with Abraham. So also baptism is a sign of God's grace which includes adult converts or infant children of believers.