One of the arguments for family or infant baptism is the correspondence between baptism and circumcision. This is not so easy to see, since the outward signs appear to be so entirely different from one another.
The point is, however, (1) that what we refer to as baptism and circumcision are only the signs; and (2) that as far as the meaning of these signs is concerned, they are exactly the same! The reality of circumcision is exactly the same as the reality of baptism.
Both circumcision and baptism are (we are now referring to the real circumcision and baptism, not the signs) pictures of salvation and especially of that which is most important in our salvation, the removal of sin by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. This is clear in the case of circumcision from Deuteronomy 30:6 and Colossians 2:11, and in the case of baptism from Romans 6:6 and I Peter 3:21.
Especially because both symbolize the heart of our salvation this is very important. To say that the two are different is to fall into the error of dispensationalism and to say that there are two different ways of salvation in the OT and the NT. Most Baptists try to avoid this by insisting, in spite of Deuteronomy 30:6, and Colossians 2:11, that circumcision in the OT was not a sign of salvation but some sort of mark to identify the members of the nation of Israel.
This Paul rejects in Romans 2:28, where he insists that the outward circumcision is not the real thing at all and that, therefore, to be a Jew outwardly is nothing - that the only circumcision is that of the heart and the only Jew he who is one inwardly. All those who wish to maintain that there is something special about being a natural descendant of Abraham ought to read this passage.
Why then the difference between the outward signs of circumcision and baptism? That is easy to see in light of the chief difference between the OT and the NT. In the OT all those things that pointed ahead to Christ involved the shedding of blood (Heb. 9:22), but once the blood of Christ was shed there could be no more shedding of blood (Heb. 10:12).
That is the only difference between circumcision and baptism. In meaning and reality they are exactly the same. Thus, too, Scripture itself identifies them in Colossians 2:11, 12. Perhaps because this is one long sentence in two verses, we are inclined to miss the point Paul is making: to be circumcised is to be baptized!
This is in fact one of the main points of the chapter. Speaking to Gentile believers, he is saying to them that they have all things in Christ (v. 10), including circumcision! They lack nothing at all in Christ in whom dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily (v. 9).
That circumcision and baptism not only have the same meaning, but are the same as far as their spiritual realities are concerned is the reason, we believe, that their outward signs must be administered (under the one everlasting covenant of God) to the same people (including infants) in the OT and in the NT.
- Volume: 7
- Issue: 6
Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: November 1979
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/
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