Baptism is ALWAYS the washing of regeneration

The way that the Reformed believe baptism to be efficacious has many problems. If baptism is only a means of grace for the elect and not always the washing of regeneration for the recipient, then how can I know whether my baptism was just a sign of judgment as one only in the external administration of the covenant or not? Reformed paedobaptists argue against the credobaptists by saying that they have a low view of the sacrament by seeing it is a work of man (as an act of obedience and sign of one's profession) rather than a work of God (as a seal of God's covenant faithfulness), but when it all comes down to it, I don't see a big difference.

Presbyterians say that baptism doesn't actually regenerate the infant, but is a sign and seal given to them that they can look back to after they have been regenerated by the Word, and in that sense it is efficacious. Particular Baptists say that baptism doesn't regenerate the recipient, but is a sign and seal given to them that they can look to as those who have professed faith in Christ after being regenerated by the Word, and in that sense it is efficacious. Rather than baptism actually being the washing of regeneration, as St. Paul says it is in Titus 3:5, it is reduced down to something that merely signifies regeneration and sanctifies the person who has already been regenerated by the Word, as they look to it by faith.

If baptism is the washing of regeneration, then that means baptism regenerates. Yes, it must be received by faith, but if it’s not and thus not regenerative for the recipient, the problem lies not within the efficacy of the baptism and the grace given in the sacrament, but within the person’s rejection of it with a heart of unbelief. In the case of infants, we have no reason to doubt that because God has said that the promise of the forgiveness of sins and gift of the Holy Spirit through baptism is also to them (Acts 2:38-39) that baptism actually does those things for them. Therefore, it is unnecessary and unbiblical to argue that grace is not always given when the sacraments are administered because that’s what they are—God’s means of saving grace. Baptism regenerates and forgives sins. If the person is given baptism, but doesn’t receive it by faith (e.g., Simon the Magician in ch. 8 of Acts), that doesn’t lead us to say that the efficacy isn’t tied to the administration of the sacrament, but acknowledge that the sacrament must be received by faith.

The Reformed view complicates the efficacy of the sacraments by saying that saving grace isn’t always given through them because that would contradict TULIP. So baptism then becomes something that is somehow efficacious at a time other than when the baptism was actually administered and places the emphasis on the recipient trusting the promises of God given through it at a time other than when they were actually baptized. In Calvinism, saving grace is ONLY given when received by faith because God’s grace is limited to the elect. In Lutheranism, saving grace is ALWAYS given through the sacraments because God’s grace is universal.


Salvation age accountants error

The logical implications of age of accountability view:

1) not just one exception to the rule all have sinned (like Rome with Mary) but now millions even possibly billions of exceptions to that throughout history based on those who were born and didn't make it to that age

2) not just a few mortal sins as to walk away from salvation but now all sins are mortal sins when one comes of age

3) for those many who never make it to that age and never sin in that view, then Christ never died for their sins since they don't have sins needed dying for, hence Christ didn't die for all but just those of age.

4) two ways to be saved, by grace through faith for those of age and by being below such age

Doctrine matters. A wrong view on one issue like this touches on other biblical themes.

Here we stand.


Life is hard. The Gospel is easy.

Life never turns out the way we expect. I never expected to be divorced. I never expected financial troubles. I never expected child heartbreak.

But I also never expected the pure Gospel.

The pure Gospel is always outside of you. Always forgiving in gracious Words. Always poured over you. Always placed on your tongue and poured down your throat.

God's gracious Words always come to us through the mouth of the minister and are always effective, regardless of what others think of us. Regardless of even what the minister thinks of us. Regardless of what even we think of the minister.

No matter where you are at in life. No matter how dark your past or present or future is. No matter how much you have lost.

Christ was crucified FOR YOU.

Christ is delivered TO YOU in Baptism. In Absolution. In the Supper.

Objectively and certainly.

Because this God wrapped in His Word and Sacraments in Christ is always gracious. Always forgiving.

He remembers that we are but dust. Therefore He does not break the bruised reed, nor does He put out the smoldering wick.

Your sins are forgiven.


Response to John MacArthur on infant baptism, Part 1

Here’s a paragraph  from an online sermon by John MacArthur, used by many folks who want to defame the view of infant baptism and those who hold to them:

For example, Friedrich Schleiermacher, the German theologian wrote, ‘All traces of infant baptism which are asserted to be found in the New Testament must first be inserted there.’ And he would come from a Lutheran tradition,but affirm…you would have to put it into the Bible because it isn’t there. The host of German and front-rank theologians and scholars of the Church of England have united to affirm not only the absence of infant baptism from the New Testament, but the absence from apostolic and post-apostolic writers. This is the Anglican Church, the Church of England that does infant baptism. This is the Lutheran Church that affirms and does infant baptism saying it’s not in the Bible.”

Besides the fact that it is not true to say that the Lutheran and Anglican churches hold to that infant baptism isn’t taught in the Bible or by the earliest fathers (passing off a heretic as Lutheran or speaking for Lutherans is like saying Marcion or Arius had sound doctrines and spoke for the early church), it is also very ironic that MacArthur would want to even appeal to the Apostolic and post-Apostolic fathers as argument infant baptism is not true since it is absent from them.

Here’s why: do you know what is absent not only from them but also from all of earliest Christianity and for many centuries afterwards? MacArthur’s own denials that baptism being means of grace and own view of baptism being a symbol that does nothing to save.

A future article will point out what the Lutheran Church teaches in regards to infant baptism in relations to what the Bible and earliest Christians taught, and why what he said about that church is completely untrue there.

This article will point out the whole idea of baptism being a mere symbol that does nothing is completely foreign to the thoughts of the early church. Outside the Incarnation denying Gnostics, who reject any use for any sacrament, MacArthur has no one on his side. And it is seriously doubtful he wants to claim Gnostics Irenaeus and Tertullian wrote against, given he actually has use for them as ordinances.

Consider what the Apostolic and post-Apostolic fathers (the very ones MacArthur wants to claim on his side) have to say on baptism:

Epistle of Barnabas Chapter 11: “This means, that we indeed descend into the water full of sins and defilement, but come up, bearing fruit in our heart, having the fear [of God] and trust in Jesus in our spirit.”

Shepherd of Hermas, Ninth Similitude, Chapter XVI: “Accordingly they descended with them into the water, and again ascended. [But these descended alive and rose up again alive; whereas they who had previously fallen asleep descended dead, but rose up again alive. ] By these, then, were they quickened and made to know the name of the Son of God.”

Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians, Chapter 18: “For our God, Jesus Christ, was, according to the appointment of God, conceived in the womb by Mary, of the seed of David, but by the Holy Ghost. He was born and baptized, that by His passion He might purify the water.”

Epistle of Ignatius to Polycarp, Chapter 6: “ Let your baptism endure as your arms; your faith as your helmet; your love as your spear; your patience as a complete panoply.”

The Didache, Chapter 9: “But let no one eat or drink of your Thanksgiving (Eucharist), but they who have been baptized into the name of the Lord.”

None of the writings of earliest (Apostolic) fathers treated baptism as a mere symbol disconnected from salvation and rebirth. Ignatius told Polycarp to endure his baptism as his salvation based on his view of baptism being sanctified water based on the fact Christ was baptized. The other writings like Barnabas and Hermes spoke of baptism in terms of rebirth and forgiving sins.

Nor can MacArthur find any support from the fathers afterwards on the topic that baptism is just a symbol we do after inward change in us:

First Apology of Justin, Chapter 61: “Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water.”

Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 18: “Wash therefore, and be now clean, and put away iniquity from your souls, as God bids you be washed in this laver, and be circumcised with the true circumcision.”

Irenaeus’ Fragment 34: “ It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [it served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions; being spiritually regenerated as new-born babes, even as the Lord has declared: Unless a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Irenaeus’ Demonstration of Apostolic Preaching: “First of all it bids us bear in mind that we have received baptism for the remission of sins, in the name of God the Father, and in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was incarnate and died and rose again, and in the Holy Spirit of God. And that this baptism is the seal of eternal life, and is the new birth unto God, that we should no longer be the sons of mortal men, but of the eternal and perpetual God; and that what is everlasting and continuing is made God.”

Irenaeus’ Against Heresies, Book I, Chapter 21: “And when we come to refute them, we shall show in its fitting-place, that this class of men have been instigated by Satan to a denial of that baptism which is regeneration to God, and thus to a renunciation of the whole [Christian] faith.”

Theophilus' To Autolycus, Book II: “On the fifth day the living creatures which proceed from the waters were produced, through which also is revealed the manifold wisdom of God in these things; for who could count their multitude and very various kinds? Moreover, the things proceeding from the waters were blessed by God, that this also might be a sign of men's being destined to receive repentance and remission of sins, through the water and laver of regeneration—as many as come to the truth, and are born again, and receive blessing from God.”

Tertullian’s On Baptism: “Happy is our sacrament of water, in that, by washing away the sins of our early blindness, we are set free and admitted into eternal life!”

And the list goes on and on. These fathers held to the views of baptism that MacArthur would have deemed as heretical even more so than holding to infant baptism by itself in non-salvation ways.

So when he tried to play card of look at what the fathers taught on baptism as proof how wrong others are, it falls flat. It’s disingenuous to appeal to them on the baptism issue when he would see their views as completely heretical. 

Even if we assume he is right infant baptism wasn’t taught early on, it would still predate his view of baptism as doing nothing towards salvation (among Trinity believers) by many, many many centuries. 

Here we stand.