Monday, September 23, 2013

Infant Baptism, Objections Answered, 7

7. Since we assert that baptism is a symbol of regeneration, our opponents object that sense many who are baptized never partake of the grace and regeneration, our system corrupts the church by filling it with unconverted people.

There is much to take issue with in this objection. Even if it could be proven, and even if it were conceded that a majority of those who are baptized never partake of the grace of regeneration that is signified by baptism, this says nothing about the significance or efficacy of the sacrament.

Let me ask a question: How many people read the Bible without profit? How many people attend church without profit? How many people read Christian books without profit? How many people listen to Christian radio, attend Christian conferences, attend regular Bible studies, or partake in any other number of church-based activities without benefiting from them? By the above logic urged against infant baptism we would be forced to discard all of these things. Should we jettison reading of the Bible because some people don't profit from reading it? Again, the same objection could be made about circumcision. Circumcision, as well as baptism, was a symbol of regeneration and spiritual cleansing. But how many received it without receiving the spiritual benefit? In fact the same objection can be raised against everything God has instituted. Surely if God has instituted anything, it is richly significant and spiritually meaningful simply by virtue of the fact it was God who instituted it. But because the influence of said institutions is moral, the influence may be defeated by unbelief. We are not Roman Catholics who hold the ex opere operato view of the sacraments. The sacraments do not exert physical power, or save by inherent energy, and for that reason and that reason alone, it is possible for someone to receive their administration without receiving the benefit it was intended to convey. They are signs and seals of God's promise.

Let's take a short diversion to illustrate my point. While Adam remained sinless, the Tree of Life was a sacrament to him. It signified God's promise of eternal life, and it sealed this promise to him. But as soon as he fell, God forbade him the use of this tree because he was no longer eligible to receive God's covenant promise of eternal life by the covenant of works. Adam could've eaten from the tree, but it would not have had the earlier pre-Fall effect. Scripture does not intend to imply that the fruit of the tree was magical and that therefore Adam would never have died had he eaten of it after the Fall. God's point is that Adam had no right to lay claim to God's covenant promise because he had broken the covenant . That is precisely what we're saying here in reference to the sacraments of the New Testament. The only ones who have reason to expect God's covenant to be signified and sealed to them in the sacraments are those who use them as God instituted. 

Back to the matter at hand. The fact of the matter is, our children are placed in very favorable circumstances when they are baptized. Because baptism is a symbol of regeneration, it binds Christian parents to teach this important spiritual truth their children as soon as they are capable of understanding and receiving instruction. The covenant children of the church are placed in the best of all possible schools for learning practically and doctrinally the things of God. Besides, we are all aware of the fact that many children who grow up in Christian homes return to fellowship with her after a brief time of temporary wandering. I do not see how anyone can say that infant baptism seldom realizes its meaning. There seems to me to be no objective way to quantify such a statement especially in the light of the biblical promise of Proverbs 22:6.

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