July 6 – LD 27, Day 5: Understanding the Unity of the Covenant

Read: Ephesians 2:11-22

Some reject the practice of infant baptism. They say that scripture speaks of two covenants, one in the days of the Old Testament with the Jews, and another in the New Testament age with the Gentiles. So they would maintain that even though children in the Old Testament were circumcised, it does not follow that children of covenant parents in the New Testament should be baptized.

The Reformed church maintains that the covenant in the Old and New Testament is one. God has one covenant people. There is only one way of salvation and that is through faith in Jesus Christ. God established an everlasting covenant with Abraham who is the father of all the faithful from both the Jews and the Gentiles. Eph 2, which you were asked to read, as well as other passages of scripture speak of Jews and Gentiles being made one in Christ. The middle wall of partition has been broken down. The Gentiles who were once aliens and strangers to the covenant of God are now one with the Jews in the household of faith. The same promises that were made in the Old Testament to the Jews are in the New Testament given to the Gentiles, who are now gathered from all the nations of the world.

Baptism is a sign of God’s one everlasting covenant with believers and their children, even as many as the Lord would call. It therefore follows that if children of believers in the Old Testament were distinguished from children of the heathen by the covenant sign of circumcision, this ought also to be done in the New Testament by the covenant sign of baptism. For this reason, when the Spirit of Christ was poured out upon the church on the day of Pentecost the apostle Peter declared to those who repented and believed that they should be baptized because of God’s covenant promise to them and also amazingly, to their children. See Acts 2:39. Children were not suddenly for some strange reason excluded from the covenant.

In the book of Acts, we find a number of examples of the baptism of whole families at once. The important thing about these examples is not whether or not at the time of baptism there were infant children in these families. The important thing is that whole families were baptized at once because of the truth of God’s covenant which is with believers and their children.

The practice of infant baptism does not imply that all the children of believers are God’s elect. History has indeed shown that this is not the case. In the Old Testament times, Esau and Jacob had the same covenant parents. Jacob was loved of God. He was a child of the covenant, but Esau was a reprobate. Both of these sons of Isaac and Rebecca were circumcised. So are all children of believers to be baptized. God’s election of grace alone determines whether one belongs truly and spiritually to the covenant of God.

Exactly because salvation is by grace alone, covenant children can and ought to be baptized on the basis of the covenant promise of God. Even though some of these children might in later life show that they are not truly children of God, it was not wrong to baptize them. All children born of covenant parents must be instructed in the truth of the promises of the covenant and be exhorted and admonished to repent and turn to the Lord Who is the only hope of salvation. God will realize His covenant purposes in the lives of children of believers by His Spirit of grace according to His purposes of election.

Last modified on 07 July 2015

Additional Info

  • Date: 6-July
den Hartog, Arie

Rev. Arie denHartog (Wife: Sherry)

Ordained: October 1974

Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1974; Foreign Missionary, Singapore - 1979; Randolph, WI - 1987; Redlands, CA - 1990; Minister-on-Loan, Singapore - 2001; Southwest, Grandville, MI - 2005; emeritus, Dec.31, 2016

Website: www.southwestprc.org/

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    616-532-4846
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