John, the baptist???
Matt. 3:1 Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven 1is at hand.” 3 For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said,
“THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS,
‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD,
MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT!’”
4 Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; 6 and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.
What kind of baptist was John?
John was a levite priest. He was the son of Zacharias. He was born to this world 6 months prior to Christ. He was Jesus’ cousin. The scriptures do not elaborate on what John actually did in the temple as a Levite.
We can ascertain from the book of Hebrews that John did perform one ritual:
Heb. 9:6 Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship, 7 but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. 8 The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, 9 which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, 10 since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the 1body imposed until a time of reformation.
‘Various washings’. This word in the Greek is rendered as ‘baptism’.
909. βαπτισμός baptismos; from 907; (the act of) a dipping or washing: —washing(1), washings(2).
This is essentially the same word used to describe the baptism that went on in Acts, chapter 2:
Acts 2:41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.
Was this baptism that was occurring under Peter’s preaching at the Pentecost event the same type of baptism that John was calling people to? Not entirely. Similar, but not one and the same.
John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance; it was different in that Christ had not yet died and officially, it was not the new sign, yet. As well, the question to ask, even in light of all the most prominent commentators agreeing that John’s baptism was a Christian baptism, is, did John baptize in the commissional formula of the Trinity? If not, can it be a Christian baptism?
John Lightfoot says it was not Trinitarian:
III. The baptism of proselytes was an obligation to perform the law; that of John was an obligation to repentance. For although proselytical baptism admitted of some ends,—and circumcision of others,—yet a traditional and erroneous doctrine at that time had joined this to both, that the proselyte covenanted in both, and obliged himself to perform the law; to which that of the apostle relates, Gal. 5:3, “I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.”
But the baptism of John was a ‘baptism of repentance;’ Mark 1:4: which being undertaken, they who were baptized professed to renounce their own legal righteousness; and, on the contrary, acknowledged themselves to be obliged to repentance and faith in the Messias to come. How much the Pharisaical doctrine of justification differed from the evangelical, so much the obligation undertaken in the baptism of proselytes differed from the obligation undertaken in the baptism of John: which obligation also holds amongst Christians to the end of the world.
IV. That the baptism of John was by plunging the body (after the same manner as the washing of unclean persons, and the baptism of proselytes was), seems to appear from those things which are related of him; namely, that he “baptized in Jordan;” that he baptized “in Ænon, because there was much water there;” and that Christ, being baptized, “came up out of the water:” to which that seems to be parallel, Acts 8:38, “Philip and the eunuch went down into the water,” &c. Some complain, that this rite is not retained in the Christian church, as though it something derogated from the truth of baptism; or as though it were to be called an innovation, when the sprinkling of water is used instead of plunging. This is no place to dispute of these things. Let us return these three things only for a present answer:—
1. That the notion of washing in John’s baptism differs from ours, in that be baptized none who were not brought over from one religion, and that an irreligious one too,—into another, and that a true one. But there is no place for this among us who are born Christians: the condition, therefore, being varied, the rite is not only lawfully, but deservedly, varied also. Our baptism argues defilement, indeed, and uncleanness; and demonstrates this doctrinally,—that we, being polluted, have need of washing: but this is to be understood of our natural and sinful stain, to be washed away by the blood of Christ and the grace of God: with which stain, indeed, they were defiled who were baptized by John. But to denote this washing by a sacramental sign, the sprinkling of water is as sufficient as the dipping into water,—when, in truth, this argues washing and purification as well as that. But those who were baptized by John were blemished with another stain, and that an outward one, and after a manner visible; that is, a polluted religion,—namely, Judaism, or heathenism; from which, if, according to the custom of the nation, they passed by a deeper and severer washing,—they neither underwent it without reason; nor with any reason may it be laid upon us, whose condition is different from theirs.
2. Since dipping was a rite used only in the Jewish nation and proper to it, it were something hard, if all nations should be subjected under it; but especially, when it is neither necessarily to be esteemed of the essence of baptism, and is moreover so harsh and dangerous, that, in regard of these things, it scarcely gave place to circumcision. We read that some, leavened with Judaism to the highest degree, yet wished that dipping in purification might be taken away, because it was accompanied with so much severity. “In the days of R. Joshua Ben Levi, some endeavoured to abolish this dipping, for the sake of the women of Galilee; because, by reason of the cold, they became barren. R. Joshua Ben Levi said unto them, Do ye go about to take away that which hedges in Israel from transgression?” Surely it is hard to lay this yoke upon the neck of all nations, which seemed too rough to the Jews themselves, and not to be borne by them, men too much given to such kind of severer rites. And if it be demanded of them who went about to take away that dipping, Would you have no purification at all by water? it is probable that they would have allowed of the sprinkling of water, which is less harsh, and not less agreeable to the thing itself.
3. The following ages, with good reason, and by divine prescript, administered a baptism differing in a greater matter from the baptism of John; and therefore it was less to differ in a less matter. The application of water was necessarily of the essence of baptism; but the application of it in this or that manner speaks but a circumstance: the adding also of the word was of the nature of a sacrament; but the changing of the word into this or that form, would you not call this a circumstance also? And yet we read the form of baptism so changed, that you may observe it to have been threefold in the history of the New Testament.
Secondly, In reference to the form of John’s baptism [which thing we have propounded to consider in the second place], it is not at all to be doubted but he baptized “in the name of the Messias now ready to come:” and it may be gathered from his words, and from his story. As yet he knew not that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messias: which he confesseth himself, John 1:31: yet he knew well enough, that the Messias was coming; therefore, he baptized those that came to him in his name, instructing them in the doctrine of the gospel, concerning faith in the Messias, and repentance; that they might be the readier to receive the Messias when he should manifest himself. Consider well Mal. 3:1, Luke 1:17, John 1:7, 31, &c. The apostles, baptizing the Jews, baptized them “in the name of Jesus;” because Jesus of Nazareth had now been revealed for the Messias; and that they did, when it had been before commanded them by Christ, “Baptize all nations in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” So you must understand that which is spoken, John 3:23, 4:2, concerning the disciples of Christ baptizing; namely, that they baptized in ‘the name of Jesus,’ that thence it might be known that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messias, in the name of whom, suddenly to come, John had baptized. That of St. Peter is plain, Acts 2:38; “Be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ:” and that, Acts 8:16, “They were baptized in the name of Jesus.”
But the apostles baptized the Gentiles, according to the precept of our Lord, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” Matt, 28:19
John Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, Matthew-1 Corinthians, Matthew-Mark, vol. 2 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 63–66.
Mark 1:4 John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Luke 3:3 And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins;
Acts 13:24 after John had proclaimed before 1His coming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Acts 19:1 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” Acts 19:3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Acts 19:4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” Acts 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
Lets discuss a bit about who John was calling out at the Jordan. Question: Could Jews have any contact with Gentiles?
Eph. 2:14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,
Calvin writes on this passage:
“And breaking down the middle wall of partitions. To understand this passage, two things must be observed. The Jews were separated, for a certain time, from the Gentiles, by the appointment of God; and ceremonial observances were the open and avowed symbols of that separation. Passing by the Gentiles, God had chosen the Jews to be a peculiar people to himself. A wide distinction was thus made, when the one class were “fellow-citizens and of the household” (Ephesians 2:19) of the Church, and the other were foreigners. This is stated in the Song of Moses:
“When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel for the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.” (Deuteronomy 32:8,9)”
John 4:9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
“How dost thou, who art a Jew? This is a reproach, by which she retorts upon him the contempt which was generally entertained by his nation. The Samaritans are known to have been the scum of a people gathered from among foreigners. Having corrupted the worship of God, and introduced many spurious and wicked ceremonies, they were justly regarded by the Jews with detestation. Yet it cannot be doubted that the Jews, for the most part, held out their zeal for the law as a cloak for their carnal hatred; for many were actuated more by ambition and envy, and by displeasure at seeing the country which had been allotted to them occupied by the Samaritans, than by grief and uneasiness because the worship of God had been corrupted. There was just ground for the separation, provided that their feelings had been pure and well regulated. For this reason Christ, when he first sends the Apostles to proclaim the Gospel, forbids them to turn aside to the Samaritans, (Matthew 10:5.)”
So, when John was calling people, he was calling Jews. What would a Levite have to do with Gentiles and Samaritans? This was for the people of God. These peoples included the federal heads of the family. The federal headship understood the gravity of what their job was. They always functioned as a family unit. It was never individual; no one was independent of the federal headship. Federal heads had already placed the sign on their children prior to this event. There is no way that a faithful Jew would have thought for a moment that this washing was a replacement to the covenantal command to circumcise; it was in addition to.
The point is, John was actually a paedobaptist (or a man devoted to God’s covenant and command to place the sign on his children). Paedobaptists function along the same lines as the Old testament saint in regards to the sign. In the Old, there was circumcision, in the new, there is water baptism.
I previously asked in a facebook thread, as well as the one on K. Gentry’s wall in regard to the topic of paedobaptism, if God would destroy the Earth with water again.
Will God ever destroy the Earth with water again? Why or why not?
Obviously the answer is No! Why? Because God is a God of faithfulness and covenant. When God covens w/ His people, that covenant remains forever. This is the first thing that the credo fails to understand. All the covenants are perpetual, in all time frames and men are accountable to all of them. God is faithful; we can believe Him in regards to the Noahic covenant and that He will not destroy the world again with water. Why does the credo not appreciate the Abrahamic covenant in the same way? We have no problem dealing with the covenant of redemption or the covenant of grace. It is a bit nonsensical.
One of the first things that should be noted is that the credo misunderstands covenant and misunderstands the nature of baptism: The sign and the thing signified are not one and the same thing.
The WCF clearly illuminates the idea:
I. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church, but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life: which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in his Church until the end of the world.
II. The outward element to be used in the sacrament is water, wherewith the party is to be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a minister of the gospel, lawfully called thereunto.
III. Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person.
IV. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one or both believing parents are to be baptized.
V. Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it, or that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.
VI. The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in his appointed time.
*Pay particular attention to section 1 and 6. The efficacy of baptism is not ‘tied to that moment wherein it is administered’. It is efficacious as God wills, but not on every occasion.
I have made mention that it is important to understand that a sign is a sign. In the OT, the sign was circumcision, in the New, water baptism. The Old Testament sign was to Abraham and all his seed; it was imperative he obeyed God’s command to place the sign on even foreigners living in his household. The warning in Gen 17 is so that one is not ‘cut off’ from the people of God.
Gen. 17:9 And God said to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; 11 and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. 13 He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”
Cut off??? That is a terrifying statement. Notice it says,
“you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.”
Look what happened to Moses’ failure to comply:
Ex. 4:24 Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that the LORD met him and asought to put him to death. 25 Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and threw it at Moses’ feet, and she said, “You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me.” 26 So He let him alone. At that time she said, “You are a bridegroom of blood” — because of the circumcision.
Calvin’s comments on this passage support the view that God’s anger toward Moses at this time was because of his failure to circumcise his son as commanded.
When does this command end? In glory! We are to place the sign until glory.
Since this command is ‘everlasting’, the present ages after Christ are not free to disregard this command. We see no biblical abrogation of the command-thats because it is perpetual just like all the other covenants. Are we not the seed of Abraham?
As well, if you look at the book of Acts, it is again repeated and endorsed: “For the promise is unto you and to your children…” You see this trend throughout the book of Acts. What promise is the apostle referring to? The same promise previously cited above, of course. One cannot miss the language. The error in interpretation rests in a skewed hermeneutic. It comes from not taking into account the whole of scripture when you look at this idea. Most of the credobaptists are guilty of this due to their dispensationalism. It is hard to avoid the fact that God does not change and the theme of families and covenant permeate the scriptures. The argument that we see no positive command in the New Testament is flawed. The thinking should be, ‘we see no command to put the children out of the equation’. There is no abrogation of the principle, so hence, we commit to what God has commanded.
Rom. 4:16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all
A sign is a sign. Much like God having the option to change the last day of the week Sabbath to the first day of the week, He changes the sign after the cross. Struggling with this idea must cause one to deal with the Lord’s day Sabbath change. You can’t struggle with one and not the other!
The other important factor that most credo’s miss is that the Covenant of grace begins in gen 3. The Mosaic is an administration of the C of G. The Mosaic is not a republishing of the C of W’s, but the engine that ran the C of W’s. When the scripture speaks of the old, one must consider that the Mosaic cannot be a tablet of death and a tablet of grace at the same time. When the scriptures call it death, it is referring to being outside of the C of G, hence, it is still part of the C of W’s. I repeat, it is not the C of W’s but an integral part of that covenant-the engine.
Having said this, since the C of G starts in gen 3, all men overtime, in Christ, have been saved in the same fashion; justified by faith alone. The Holy Spirit at Pentecost was no more than a ‘amplification’ for the progression of the church during that age. The OT saint had the HS in the same way we have it today.
I want to make mention that the divines of Westminster used the terms, ‘covenant of grace’ and ‘new covenant interchangeably’:
Q. 162. What is a sacrament?
A. A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ in his church, to signify, seal, and exhibit unto those that are within the *covenant of grace*, the benefits of his mediation; to strengthen and increase their faith, and all other graces; to oblige them to obedience; to testify and cherish their love and communion one with another; and to distinguish them from those that are without.
Quest. 92. What is a sacrament?
Ans. 92. A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ, wherein, by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the *new covenant*, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.(1)
(1) Gen. 17:7, 10; Exod. 12; I Cor. 11:23, 26.
*My emphasis added
The OPC website uses the term: ‘new covenant of grace‘
“Under the new covenant of grace man was to receive a greater degree of blessing than that which the Old Testament saints received. These blessings were not to be of an entirely different kind from those experienced under the Old Testament dispensation. They were essentially the same kind of blessings but showered forth in greater abundance and in a higher degree (see Heb. 8:6–11).
Under the new covenant of grace man received a clearer and fuller revelation of grace than that received by the Old Testament saints.”
It is well argued by the Credo that their lynchpin, i.e. Jer 31 reveals a whole new ballgame. However, to think that the converted in Gen 3 did not have a portion of this, ‘now and not yet’ prophesy is at best silly. For instance, what does the credo do with the idea that this passage states that when this occurs, we will no longer need ‘teachers’? We still need teachers, right? Only in glory will we no longer need to teach our neighbors. What about ‘all will know me’ ? All of us know people who have failed to continue the race. The person had been baptized and he or she no longer walks. That’s the point, it is a now and not yet. When we get to glory, all will know him, flawlessly. As well, you will find that at the end of this passage it says:
“36 “If those ordinances depart
From before Me, says the LORD,
Then the seed of Israel shall also cease
From being a nation before Me forever.”
Jer. 31:37 Thus says the LORD:
“If heaven above can be measured,
And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath,
I will also cast off all the seed of Israel
For all that they have done, says the LORD. ”
Do you get that? God is threatening the believers in the day of Jeremiah. Why would he do that if the prophesy has nothing to do with present day. How many years before Pentecost was this????
“He had said before that God’s covenant with Abraham’s children could no more fail than the laws of nature: he now says, that if any could measure the heaven, and investigate the foundations of the earth, that is, penetrate into the very center of the earth, then, he says, I will reject the seed of Israel. But God brings before us these strange and impossible things, that we may know that he will at length be reconciled to his people after having justly punished them. And this promise could not have afforded any consolation to hypocrites, because God does not include the whole seed of Abraham, but says, that he would not allow the whole seed of Abraham to perish, for some remnant would continue, according to what is said by Isaiah,
“Though thy people were as the sand of the sea,
a remnant shall be saved.” (Isaiah 10:22)”
Is new really new or is it refreshed? Revitalized? Revamped? What happens at the cross is not new, it is a consummation of time. Christ was the lamb slain outside of time, before the foundation of the world! Yes, He died in time, but the efficacious nature to that sacrifice dates back, as I said earlier to Gen 3. The same gospel that I had preached to me was preached to Abraham. The cross was a fulfillment, a consummation. To think otherwise is dispensational. Since it is a consummation, How is it new?
I will quote Matthew McMahon on the subject:
“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah — “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” I love this passage.
The Dispensationalist will say: Jeremiah is prophesying that the New Covenant to come is going to be different than the Old Covenant in that it is in the heart. The Old Covenant was not in the heart. This is the New Testament writers’ point in Hebrews 8. Those in the New Testament church will be saved and regenerate. The New Testament presumes a regenerate membership in the church when they write. Regenerate people are the only ones in the New Covenant. Jesus will radically bring about a new kind of way in dealing with men. There will be no more need to teach the law because God will teach it to men and write it on their hearts. Pentecost shows us this when the Spirit comes and now dwells in men.
This is nonsensical. Romans 8:9 “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” Abraham was as much saved and filled with the Spirit as any Christian.
We ask this question, “Is Jer. 31 speaking of a new covenant?”
One says, “New.” It’s right there in black and white. “New!”
I understand that, but you should always take time to do a word study or two, and be sure of your syntax and grammar. Even though we are talking simplistically about the covenant, we should address the word here. This is a little deeper than how we have been talking, and may be a bit technical. The Hebrew word is not just the simple “new” but “renew” or “refresh.” The word for “new” is an adjective that is used 53 times in the Old Testament. It comes from the verb form of the word. That verb form is its root and its basic meaning. When we trace the verb through the Old Testament, it is used to mean, “renew or repair;” cf. Isa 61:4; 2 Chron. 24:4, 12; Psalm 51:10 (12) Lam. 5:21; 1 Sam. 11:14; 2 Chron. 15:8; Job 10:17; Psalm 104:30; Psa. 103:5; 2 Chron. 24:4; 24:12; and etc. The idea around the word itself as an adjective means taking something already existing and “renewing it” – either repairing it to a previous state or in taking something that was already and making it better. As both a noun and adjective this word refers to things new in this sense, and to things restored. Now some like to think that this word is exclusively meant as “brand new.” But this does injustice to its use in the Old Testament. They will quote verses like, Exodus 1:8. Now there arose up a new king over Egypt,” or Isaiah 43:19. “I will do a new thing.” These surely seem like “new” is “brand new don’t they?
There is more to it than just quoting a verse or two. For example, without going into great detail, is the station of “kingship” new or not? Is having a new king something brand new or a renewal of the class of kingship? How does the Hebrew mind think about this? How does the rest of Scripture demonstrate this? A new king does not make the class of “kingness” new, although a new king is a good element of fulfillment to kingship. What about Isaiah 43:19 – how would you explain new things that God does? Does God do “new” things, or is He eternally immutable? It seems we have a theological conundrum. How would one reconcile the eternal immutably of God, and Him doing “new things?” I mean, after the act of creation and containment of creation, does He change from doing old things to doing new things?
The answer to that is yes and no. For God, no. He never does “new” things. It is not like He had a plan, made a mistake, and decided to do something “new.” But in our eyes, the realities surrounding the fulfillment of anything God does makes it new to us. For instance, if I have an old car, say a 1979 Ford Fairmont, and I buy a new car, that car is a brand new car in relation to the junk car I am giving to the junkyard. But if I take the old Fairmont and “mint it out” then the old car becomes new. It is not really “new” but “renewed.” Yet, when I sit in it, it surely is a new car to me. It puts a smile on my face to drive it.
Think of this: The Lord’s mercies are completely new every morning, but also “renewed” every morning. (Lam. 3:23). Job desired that his glory was “fresh” in him, Job 29:20. This does not mean “new” but renewed. God’s glory cannot be “new,” as in brand new since it always is. A survey of the Old Testament will show that such a “renewing” in Hebrew is considered as new, though its cognate is old, and simply refreshed. It is almost never used of “new, as in “brand new,” even when God says he does “new things” or “new kings” are put on thrones. There is more to the Hebrew mind and language than thinking one dimensionally about words.
Considering the context of Jeremiah 31. Chapters 30-33 have an overall structure that uses a repetition of “Behold” four times. It structures the “Restoration” ideas surrounding “Israel” and “Judah.” (Restoration passages are VERY important.) They were in exile and God is promises to bring them out of exile and renew the covenant He had with them. He is not going to renew it like the covenant he made with Moses – with burdensome Laws, so to speak. Rather, He will fulfill it in Christ. The context of Jeremiah is comparing Abraham’s covenant with the Mosaic Law, the tablets of stone, and the promises of the Lord to Abraham, of which we know Christ is the fulfillment. Abraham’s covenant is not new. It is refreshed, renewed, fulfilled, completed, etc., in Christ (which ultimately points to the use of this passage in Hebrews 8). For instance, we are dealing with the same God, the same law, the same people (the elect), the same fallen status of people (in sin), the same status of God (gracious and longsuffering, but also judicious), the same status of justification (by faith alone), the same stipulation (blood covers sin), the same provision of the stipulation (Christ), and the same reward (peace with God and everlasting life). What is really new?
Now a classic Dispensationalist will say, “I would have said that regeneration is the new thing – the law written on the heart.” But that does not seem to fit well. Was Abraham regenerate??
The greater context does not limit Jeremiah 31 to just “regenerate people.” The restoration ideas do not limit the passage to merely an internal aspect to the covenant. If that were really true, then things like the Lord’s Supper, and Baptism, outward and external sacraments in the New Covenant, would not be necessary. But Jeremiah 31 is not simply speaking about something internal – it is much bigger than that. It includes Israel’s children, and the fulfillment of all the promises to Abraham. Jeremiah 30:20 says, “Their children also shall be as before, And their congregation shall be established before Me; And I will punish all who oppress them.” And Jeremiah 31:17, right before our passage says this, “There is hope in your future, says the LORD, That your children shall come back to their own border.” Listen to what Jeremiah 32:18 says, “You show lovingkindness to thousands, and repay the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them — the Great, the Mighty God, whose name is the LORD of hosts.” And we should not forget Jeremiah 32:39 says, just a chapter after, but in the same context, “then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them.” If it is really just about “a regenerate church membership” then why mention the “good of the children?” Oftentimes Jeremiah 31:31 is ripped from its context, and misread.
Now we are talking about a “renewed Covenant” or a “refreshed Covenant” in Jesus Christ, which makes a lot of difference.
Next question: What covenant is in contrast with this renewed or refreshed covenant in this passage? Is it Abraham’s? No. It’s the Mosaic covenant. The covenant here is a renewing, or refreshing of the Abrahamic promise over the scaffolding of the Mosaic covenant.
The covenant made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, one that the Messiah will bring in, is going to be the Abrahamic Covenant fulfilled.
What about writing the law on the heart?
It is clear that the contrast is one of regeneration. But ask, was Abraham regenerate?
Is Paul stupid to use Abraham as the Father of our faith?
We would have to say “yes, Abraham was regenerate.”
Was he saved by grace through faith? Yes.
Did he have the Spirit indwelling him as you and I do? Romans 8:8!!
If this is the case, what makes this renewed covenant in Jeremiah 31 different?
What about Hebrews 8? It quotes this at length surrounding the ministry of Jesus as High priest forever? Is Hebrews wrong? What is wrong is the interpretation of Jeremiah 31 that YOU bring to Hebrews 8. Hebrews 8 quotes the whole passage in Jeremiah. But what if you misunderstand Jeremiah 31? Will you ever understand Hebrew 8? No!
This is a renewed covenant, the scaffolding of the Mosaic covenant is gone, and the writing is on the heart. But this is not new, it is the renewed covenant of Abraham, and that is an important point. What else is different about this renewed covenant?
It says no one will teach his neighbor saying know the Lord for they shall all know me from the least to the greatest. Isn’t this regeneration? But it can’t be that since it is the renewed covenant of Abraham fulfilled in Christ. Many think this meant that those in the New Testament church would be regenerate. That is why “our church only baptizes people on profession of faith.”
It cannot be talking about regeneration and just regeneration. Abraham, as you said, was regenerate and that happened before this promise. So Jeremiah’s “newness” or “renewed” covenant is not just talking about regeneration alone. Let’s ask this question: Do we have teachers today?
Yes, we have teachers today.
But the text says we will not have any more teachers in this renewed covenant. No one will “teach one another saying…”
But we have teachers today. Are we saying the New Covenant is not now?
The New Covenant, or Abrahamic Covenant, is a “now and not yet” covenant. In the Old Testament the Abrahamic Covenant was awaiting its fulfillment. But Abraham was saved. It was a “now” and “not yet” covenant. It was “now and not yet” in promise. Jeremiah, though, is quite plain and we need to take the text as it stands. In the New Covenant there will be no more teachers. The verb “teach one another” is “they teach one another.” It is third person. “No one [they] will teach his neighbor.” In the fulfillment of the New Covenant, the renewed covenant of Abraham, there will be no more teachers. When will everyone, from the least in the kingdom to the greatest in the kingdom, know the Lord? And remember, this is a time when there are no more teachers.
We would have to say in heaven. Only in heaven will everyone know the Lord completely and in heaven there will be no teachers.
The renewed covenant made with the house of Israel and Judah is the Abrahamic covenant fulfilled in Christ. It is set in contrast to the ceremonial and judicial laws given at Sinai because the blood of bulls and goats do not really save. Jesus Christ inaugurates the coming of this new kingdom and renewed covenant. In doing so, the New Covenant is “now” for us, since we are saved; but it is also “not yet,” in that in heaven all people will know the Lord form the least to the greatest. There are teachers now in inaugurating the renewed covenant, but there will be no teachers then. There are saved people now, just as in the Old Testament, but the “knowing” is complete only in heaven. No church, anywhere, is made up of all regenerate people, and is without teachers or pastors. Many people think that the New Testament church is supposed to be made up of only regenerate members. That is why dispensational churches only want to baptize regenerate people, those who simply make a profession of faith, and leave the children out. Although, in reality, they have no “proof” in any way of ensuring the person is saved, but they will baptize them anyway. But Jeremiah is not talking about excluding or including people in this way. In the time of Abraham, even people like Esau were included in the covenant, and the New Covenant, is not consummation with a completely regenerate “membership” until we get to heaven. Only then will we have no more teachers.”
Look at what the great commission tells us to do:
Matt. 28:18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
1) Make disciples
2) Baptize them
3) Teach them
It says nothing of belief or confessions.
It was also posed erroneously on Ken’s wall that infants cannot believe nor have faith. This is preposterous as what do we do with elect infants who die in infancy? The imbecile? Deaf and dumb? God Himself goes to these individuals and brings grace, gospel, faith and justifies.
The other thing to consider as well is that regeneration and conversion are not one and the same things; Infants, many times, have what was referred to as seeds of faith by the reformed. They are regenerated by the inward call of God as He sees fit and will later, under the preached word, be converted.
When John the Baptist was at the Jordan calling everyone out, do you think for a minute that he was not calling all the federal heads of the families? He was indeed! Those federal heads knew that God was a God of faithfulness and family and when He called, the federal heads brought everyone under their households, according to the Abrahamic covenant, to these events. It would be a bit bizarre for them to quit being Jewish, no? God has always been a God of families; if you blow this, you will always end up baptisitic.
In error, the credo assumes that when Pentecost arrived, the people present for a thing of holiness were singular. When the high holy days came upon early Jerusalem, did the family all go or was it individual? The federal head packed up all his family and often animals. The point is, the Jews did not cease being Jews for Pentecost. The call to repent and be baptized is the same call John cried out in the wilderness, where droves of families came.
Look what it says in Malachi:
Because the LORD has been witness
Between you and the wife of your youth,
With whom you have dealt treacherously;
Yet she is your companion
And your wife by covenant.
15 But did He not make them one,
Having a remnant of the Spirit?
And why one?
He seeks godly offspring.
Therefore take heed to your spirit,
And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.
God is looking for godly offspring? At least for another 400 years and then God will no longer look for godly offspring??? Foolishness.
Well the credo might say, ‘we are to apply the sign only to regenerate peoples!’
How can anyone do this as only God knows who are His? Is that what the commission commands? You may reply, “We tell by confession and fruit”. Yes. I understand. If you would have told Peter that Judas was not regenerate you would have been given a hefty rebuke! We are to apply the sign and teach. Let the fruit lie where they fall.
“You are still stuck in Rome!” Ah yes, the Romanist charge. Listen, Rome is not wrong on the covenant. They are wrong believing that in every instance, the baptism saves; it does not and that flies in the face of Justification by faith alone and the doctrine of election. The reformed do not embrace that error.
I would address the oikos issue but I don’t believe it is necessary in light of what I have extrapolated upon already. That is a given that households were baptized.
How about the issue of disciple? What is a disciple?
Lets refer to the words of Christ:
John 6:61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”
John 6:66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”
Judas was a disciple; Demas was a disciple. Ananias and his wife were disciples. Simon the Sorcerer was a disciple.
This makes much more sense in line of the words of the great commission, ‘make disciples’ and ‘teach them’. Not all disciples are regenerated and converted.
The parables raise an interesting point. Why was it that the disciples did not understand them?
Matt expounds on the issue:
“Matt. 13:10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”
Matt. 13:11 He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
“Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’
16 But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; 17 for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
Then later in the passage:
Matt. 13:36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”
Why did Christ have to explain it to His ‘disciples’? Because not all of the disciples were regenerate.
The other distinction that is not easily appreciated by the credo is visible and invisible church. The church is not a new testament phenomenon. It has always existed. Adam was the first elder. Since not all disciples are actually regenerate, they would be considered members of the local church, but in the external expression. No one knows who these people are but Christ. It’s His bride, He knows her! The elect, those regenerated are in the visible expressions.
In the same way, when we place the sign on infants, we place the sign by command on all infants holding fast to God’s promise. Some of these infants are reprobate. We don’t obsess over that fact but hold to God’s command in faith that He will convert our children in His good time. What about those that never come to faith, what does this baptism mean to them? It is a sign of condemnation. The elect have grace and the reprobate condemnation. You might ask, “Scott you quoted 1 Cor recently.
1Cor. 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through 1her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.
You said your children are ‘holy’? How is it that God considers the reprobate child Holy? How can that be? Your elect children are Holy and your reprobate children are holy? Isaac was Holy, but was Ishmael? Scripture tells us differently!”
This is a sticky wicket at first glance, for sure. The distinction needs to be considered when we speak of Holiness. God is Holy. Men seek holiness. The utensils in the temple were holy, but are they holy like God? No! Are the utensils holy like the Levites were? No! There is a difference. The utensils were ‘set apart’ for holy purposes as were the Levites. In the same way, even our unregenerate and reprobate children have been set apart. Whether these children perfect their baptism, time will tell. Lets talk Ishmael. Was Ishmael in covenant? Yes, Ismael was in covenant-the external aspect of it. How was he Holy? He is holy based on being a participant of the covenant blessings that come with it for the external aspect. For instance, would you consider it holy, that Ishmael was born into this family? How about his father’s standing with God? The preached word? The sacraments? Does not God make the statement in Gen 3 that He will be their God? yes he does. Whether one is reprobate does not change this fact. God is the God of all creation. It just depends upon how that it received by each particular person. The elect receive this by grace alone through faith alone. The reprobate receive it in the flesh alone; none the less, they do receive it.
In the past, I have been charged with eisegesis when it comes to the doctrine of paedo baptism. I am told, “You cannot find paedobaptism in scripture, anywhere in the bible”. This is accurate. A few things need to be said in response: Keep in mind, again I reiterate, when we use the term, we are speaking specifically about God’s covenant with His people as described in Gen 17; Like the Sabbath day change, God has the prerogative to change the sign to whatever he wants, whenever he wants. A sign is just that, a sign. It always points to something. The Paedobaptist comes to their conclusions not based on eisegesis but good and necessary inference. There are numerous doctrines that we have come to over the ages by this process. The following is taken from my website; it is short so I will just post it here in this paper:
The following doctrines are found in scripture by necessary inference; they are biblical doctrines that are seen by certain themes found in Holy writ. You will not find these items literally stated, but drawn out of scripture by the theme the scriptures portray. They are facts that are implied alongside other facts in scripture. Jesus uses this biblical tool of interpretation when speaking with the Sadducees in Matthew 22:
23 The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, 24 saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up children for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother. 26 So too the second and third, down to the seventh. 27 After them all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.”
29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 ’I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” 33 And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.
2) The Trinity
3) The Covenant of grace and redemption
4) The change in the sabbath from the last day of the week to the first day
5) Woman taking the supper
6) The local church vs the Universal Church
7) The Regulative Principle
9) Baptism of adult children belonging to Christian parents
10) Mode of baptism
11) Church Polity
Another anomalous item is the ‘baby dedication’ by the credo’s. Baby dedications are completely eisegetical, anti biblical and aberrant; they only reason you do it is because the image of God in you demands it. This silliness is taken from the book of judges where Hannah dedicate Samuel. The thing that most credo’s fail to acknowledge are two important things: 1) Samuel had the sign placed on him at birth and 2) Hannah leaves Samuel with the Levites for 3 years or so. I have yet to see a credo follow the bible accurately in this regard.
Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.
The problem with this verse is easily reconciled. Are you still thinking like a Jew or are you pressing an American mentality into it? Look at an earlier verse in Acts 2:
Acts 2:5 Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven.
“Devout men”! How were these men devout and in what? Covenant? Yes, covenant. They understood. These were federal heads. Their families were in tow. No devout man broke responsibility with this mentality after all, God instituted the hierarchical standard in the garden. Christ the head of man, man the head of woman, etc. To think that, out of the blue, these ‘devout’ men abandoned this mentality is silly. To think that when the book of Acts says:
Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost 1had come, they were all together in one place.
Acts 2:14 But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. ”
Surely ‘all who live in jerusalem’ included women and children of all ages. To think otherwise is dispensational and a bit bizarre if you ask me. Peter goes on to quote from Joel:
‘AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’ God says,
‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND;
AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY,
AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS,
AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS;
How is it that he mentions ‘sons and daughters’ yet the credo misses this most important facet? Well, you get the point I am sure. As well, this call from Peter in no way contradicts the words of Christ in the Great commission. Peter is consistent and he highly understands covenant. Quit working your presuppositions into the texts! Think like a Jew!
I believe it is important to note that the credo baptist comes out of an individualized attitude that is rooted deep down in their person based on their theology. It is unavoidable. It is not biblical and is due to bad eisegesis on their part. The dispensationalism that is inherent to their discipline is evidenced in how they understand God and covenant. The credo is generally are not confessional, by and large. They are independent of any real oversight this being seen in their polity. This reflects in their understanding of God. God commands the sign. The federal head of the family submits. The wife and children obey. The biblical hierarchical standard is reflected not only in their actions but it is reflected in the polity that they subscribe to at their Presbyterian church. There is no independency per se. In the credo setting, each person is independent of the other. There is no sign binding them to Christ or the church or each other. This is not biblical and problematic. You will notice, as I have alluded to recently, all the crackpots come from within the credo rank and file. This is due to the problematic polity that they have. The credo camp is a mixed bag; some have Calvinists principles onboard, but the masses do not. In fact, the majority of credo’s are dispensational and Arminian. All of the aberrant groups are credo. The JW’s, The Mormons, The Word of Faith movement and TBN, etc. Because of this, the paedo baptist has to yank off the backs of the credo all the different types of baggage before they can even have a conversation about this doctrine. Say one is an Arminian credo; you have to deal with the Arminianism first, right? Well, you get the picture. It is near to impossible to have a conversation based on logic and God’s word with one who is all bound up in error to begin with.
You will never find an intentional Arminian Presbyterian-they do not exist. So, because of this ‘mixed bag’, you get what you get. Independency is not biblical and God hates it. Independency is schismatic. Credo baptism is schismatic and independant of God’s covenant; the WCF calls the restriction by credo parents, ‘a great sin’. Nowhere else in the document is language like this used.
Paedo baptism is a reflection of the very essence of God and His character towards His people. To miss this fact is to miss the trees for the forest. That is concerning. I consider the credo baptist a brother in the faith as long as they hold to justification by faith alone; if not, I do not. I consider the credo in error and it would do them well to study the issue of covenant as it stands and falls on this item. Until one understands covenant, they will never truly understand God.
Here is a previous Facebook conversation I had on paedobaptism:
My friend Tim Naab made mention of a few points on the subject:
1. God gave His law to His Covenant People.
2. The Law instructs children to honor their parents.
3. Children are in the covenant.
4. Paul repeats this command in the new testament telling children to obey their parents.
Q #1. Why would Paul include children in the covenant commandments if children were not in the covenant?
Q #2. If it was only for believing children, then does this mean that unbelieving children did not have to obey their parents?
This line of thinking is biblically consistent. To approach them in any other means is dispensational.
Eph. 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
How is it that the apostle is telling Children to ‘obey your parents in the Lord’ if in fact they have no relationship to the ‘Lord’? Think about that.