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HOUSEHOLDS OF FAITH, WHAT ARE THEY ?
Beautiful building blocks in the kingdom of heaven ...
So much is said about baptism that it can become nauseous. However, it is important to safeguard the faith from
sacramentalism on the one hand, and
atomism on the other.
In generic terms, a reader could consult News 51*1, EXCURSION IN BAPTISM, AN EXAMPLE OF VITALITY, and of
A DEATH WHICH DOES NOT KILL
(and also Questions and Answers 11 for a fuller and more general treatment, as well as
The Pitter-Patter of Prophetic Feet Ch. 5,
What is the Chaff to the Wheat Ch. 1, with
Of the Earth Earthy, or Celestial in Christ Ch. 12).
There is scope to consider this matter in the context of the kingdom of heaven, and the continuity of the principles of God, and the underlying Gospel throughout His dealings with this race, and to this we turn today. One seeks to show the wonder in the kingdom of heaven of that beautiful building block, the household of faith, for households are what Acts designates in faith results in Acts 16:15, 32-34, I Corinthians 1:16; and it was these which were statedly baptised. This was the unit from Abraham on, and it stayed as it was, is stated as it was and is as it was.
In this time of arrant and erratic cultural and political grasping, children being divorceable from their parents either by their own will, or by intervention from civic institutions (see Mystery of Iniquity), on grounds which could include, in the UN case, bringing them up on a Christian basis, depending on the mode of enforcement and the corruption of culture, it is important to know the meaning of a household in the faith.
It is only when this is clearly grasped that the entire force of the biblical basis for security from sequestration for the entire family can be appreciated, being built into its very mode of spiritual existence.
The pulse of extremes has often afflicted the Christian church, when wily wolves use sensationalism to make ludicrous extremes, which then according to the flesh generate other extremes, and much heat and irritation on the way, while confused Ra-Ra experts barrack for this or that 'side', in a way that it is little short of hideous. We have seen something of these extremes in considering the Islands and the Mainland issues*A . It is necessary to return to the biblical depth on the one hand, and its simplicity on the other, bearing all things in their place and order, with strength and stability (cf. Isaiah 33:6).
Let us then look at baptism, and first of all, see it with the Lord's Supper. That latter is biblical. Romanism turned it into an idolatrous mass (cf. SMR pp. 1088A ff.). The Lord's Supper itself, however, remains biblical. Abuse does not extirpate it, nor does it change its nature, usage or propriety. Disease does not remove health, except in the body concerned. Health itself continues ...
Baptism likewise has been captured and mischievously misused. It has in parallel with the Lord's Supper, been turned into an ex opere operatum magic, sacramentalistic error.
The Bible has never given such a status to sacraments (cf. SMR loc. cit., and Questions and Answers 2 ).
As with Mass, so with baptism, this capture and misuse must go; but the sacrament AS a sacarment, as biblical, remains. It is not slithered or slashed, quashed or gashed because of such misuse.
What then is biblical baptism ? This is to found only from the Bible as in the Chapters noted at the head of this Chapter. Today, however, our interest is rather specialised.
In restoring it, we need to be sure ignorance, cultural antics and developments do not distort our own vision, and that we do not follow the crowd instead of the Christ, the bellowing of culture rather than the call of the Bible.
In modern times, and indeed for over 150 years, there has been a strong culture of human atoms - families are increasingly irrelevant. TV becomes a shrine, and you hear of people WANTING fellowship with someone they visit, but finding the TV in the bosom of the house, just as parents find it with children, and probably often enough, children with their parents. Clubs, societies, overtime, rules, political correctness and social worker charm for dealing with politically incorrect parents: all of these things weigh heavily into the atomisation of the family. After all, if the State wants glory, as an implement of humanism, then the competition needs to be crushed, and a great job is being done in the family's destruction. Same-sex abominations, misnamed 'marriages' by some, worthy of death in the Old Testament and exclusive of the kingdom of heaven in the New (I Timothy 1:10, I Corinthians 5-6), became dispersive patterns, and the joint contributions of genes in general, and of specialised roles become disrupted.
In religion, too, the move to the condition of "my will and mine only" as something too sacred almost to touch, a heart of relaxed insubordination to any rule or law or being or reality, becomes common, despite John 1:12 and Romans 9:16, as if it all depends on me, and I must be wooed, charmed, balmed, excited, recited or in some way GOT into some SLOT, so that I am in someone's hands. It is almost certainly not in God's hands, when the will is so sacrilegiously inflamed, almost as if it created the religion, or as one used car salesman put it, the gospel could be negotiated with God for the sake of gaining ... him!
Even God, then, in this sinuous scenario, must wait. He must wait upon 'my will', according to this lawless lore. Perhaps in-laws will become in-lores, here today and gone tomorrow, in the kaleidoscope of wilful relationships. Human atoms are the cultural in-thing, and they detach from whatever at will, attach by desire, not design. No more is it this, as it is biblically: that those who become Christians are born NOT of the flesh nor of blood nor of the will of man; but in unhallowed substitution, man's will is a sort of nascent god. Naturally such a charming fellow must be baptised when he believes, and not as an infant, whatever the scripture says, for how otherwise can his magnificence be relayed! The Bible ? it does not seem to matter at all, and the revealed principles of God are changed at the flash of a hand.
Now it is true that God does not force His way into the heart of a man or woman, or child, but it is no less true that in fulfilling His OWN statement that He would like to reconcile ALL things in heaven and earth through the blood of the Cross (Colossians 1:19ff.), HE does the deed in His own way, past all the rantings of man's diseased condition, and the ebb and flow of his follies. It is HIS call in a sinner's gouged out spiritual eyes, and it is HE who knows where love is to be fulfilled. It is He who creates all over again, but once more in His own image (Colossians 3:10, II Corinthians 4:6, John 3), the miscreant man.
It is not exclusion but knowledge; as it says, WHOM HE FOREKNEW, these He predestinated (Romans 8:29ff.), and as Romans 9 tells us, no less than Romans 3 and Ephesians 2, it is not based on what we do; it is literally HIS knowledge which in wisdom finds His own. Nor is it their merits, for they have none (Romans 1, 3), at the level needed; and as only Christ has the merits, so only those who come to Him get them, from Him; and none comes to Him unless the Father draws (John 6:44,65), indeed grants it. With this, we must recall that the Son reveals the Father to whom that Son of Man WILLS it, for the trinity is ONE.
At once, you may say, This is neither Calvinism nor Arminianism. True, but it IS in accord with the correct 5 points of Calvinism, read in a biblical context, and not the Bible read in the 5 points' context. Neither Calvinism nor Wesleyism is biblically permissible specifically (I Corinthians 3), in any case, though sometimes theologians say helpful things, which may be noted, but not roted. The Westminster Confession in due and appealing humility is very good on this distinction. To what then do we come biblically ?
God in entire irresistible sovereignty DOES take His own; but in so doing, He DOES fulfil with almighty power His STATED desire to have all, being moved by His own hallowed principles, integral to Himself who always is and has been, before time, what He would be. Thus is love satisfied with what He knows to be His. Love never uses force to fulfil itself. When it is the love of God, He knows, past all sin, even where before and beyond it (He chose in Christ before the foundation of the world), and so beyond the relative matters of comparative sin. He sees beyond and before it, NOT based on works, and TRULY based on merit, but Christ's only!
There at once you see a reversion from two islands to the mainline scripture. Similarly, you revert from the islands of baptismal sacramentalism, specialised presentations never in accord with the clearly stated unchangeable principles of God, and adult baptism only, astray for the same reason. These clangorous twins are both wrong, and have reason enough to find fault with each other. If aristocratic rule had something to do with the one excess, then democratic procedures have much to do with the other. Suppose however, that we forget culture and return to the word of God. Then the full blessing of God can replace a twisted and scarred substitute.
In divorcing, accordingly, baptism from Romish sacramentalism (or any other), we need to keep to the Bible ONLY, and not to be captured by godless culture, as a new hurricane to deplete godliness.
Parents are to bring up their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4 - or the comprehensive training and discipline), whatever that State-thing may think, or that cultural thing may suggest. To be sure, dedication is not a refusal to see the difference, but when this is all that is given to the infant, then the ceremonial attestation of the divine hold on the household is sacrificed for the political swim or the psychological preference.
Such currents as these, thus, without being the sina qua non of baptistic expression, nevertheless swirl to a vast increment to its appeal to some. The sense of the dramatic and the sensing of Peter as in John 13:9, of something embracive at the physical level is certainly also highly impactive with some, yet sensationalism is also an eminence in our culture, so that it is by no means a coincidence that so many sects having arisen in the very time of this atomistic misconception, relative to family, are especially prone to the baptistic error. While reasons may be multiplied, the results are clear.
The objective nature of the covenant is foregone, and the enshrinement of its provisions is lost. Human will comes into the picture, not symbolic presentation of the divine.
The intense and immense emphasis on the covenant of the Lord from the time of Abraham (Genesis 17), when the signal and sign on the child's body was part of the very constitution of the agreement (like a wedding ring), to that of Moses (Exodus 4), when death for failure was threatened, is part of the very nature of what the Old Testament (like the New), calls the household. It is a household of faith*B, a family UNIT, something covenantally inviolate, where NOTHING the parent or the child thinks can interfere with the entire dedication THROUGH the parents of ALL the family members to God.
This in no way changes the heart (directly at least), but it vastly changes the nature of what CAN and cannot happen, of the nature of liberty in that household and of the quality of life which it will permit. It is AFFIANCED to Christ, and if at an age, a child divorces from such a condition, so be it. In the interim, the household has had character, covenant, grace and favour.
Inventing God's nature, name, principles, covenantal attitudes and procedures is not wise. It is best to proceed with what He gives until it is fulfilled, and then to do what new thing is shown. Nothing should be invented, since that is what Christ declared, that EVERY part of the law and the prophets would be fulfilled, that He had not come to abort these things. So it is either fulfilled or rests the same, since God is the same. You never invent the principles, word or procedures of God. What paint would you use for such a house as that!
Thus whether in the day of Abraham, Moses or Paul at Philippi as in Acts 16, the sacrament is applicable to the household. That is the relevant usage for the "circumcision of Christ", which Paul declares baptism to be in Colossians 2:11-12. You do not remove the chief, the primary application of covenantal imprint from the process, because of a misplaced sense of democracy or any other garland of human philosophy. That is irrelevant when you come to the supreme Monarch, the Messiah. HE wills it, and none comes to Him except it be given of the Father (John 6:44,65), and He reveals the Father to the One HE CHOOSES (as is the correct translation of Matthew 11:27, as the NKJV rightly makes clear).
Always, the sacrament is applicable, in biblical terms, to the "household", the principle 'unfuflilled' and hence applicable, clear in God's divine constancy.The covenantal correlation in Colossians 2 and the concert of the meaning of both circumcision and baptism in portent, as a view of the usage in each Testament simply shows - these are relative to cleansing, union with Christ and divine concern expressed in a symbol expressly conveying the meaning of the covenant (Romans 6, I Peter 3:21, Ezekiel 44:7-9, Jeremiah 6:19, 9:26, Genesis 17:9-14). So intense was the sense of unity in the Lord, that the uncircumcised in the closely governed theocracy would be cut off; and on the other hand, so unsacramental was it, at the same time, that God freely declares that He will destroy the circumcised with the uncircumised (Jeremiah 9:25), when the heart ... is uncircumcised.
It is not then some magical squad, but a covenantal symbol of distinguishing character, essential and distinctive kind, not subjective and not merely private. It is irremovable as an investment with truth symbolically, for it will always be true that it happened and held much portent for good; but it will never be the substitute it was never intended to be, for faith. This was not so from the first, and is not so to the last! Faith always is essential where faith may be (Deuteronomy 29 gives an excellent example of deviousness replacing what should be faith, even in a covenantal assemblage). Covenantal relationship is always essential with any godly household. These conditions are not 'fulfilled', and so remain; nor is "the circumcision of Christ", statedly present when one is baptised as in Colossians 2:11-12, any signal that God has decided to ignore His previous enormous insistence on the covenantal imprint!
There is no change. If there were, not only must you show where in the Bible the Lord announced this fundamental change, where God advised of this change of conception concerning sin, mankind or families and revising His understanding, said so, a ludicrous proposition empirically as rationally: but it would be well to show HOW , or in what way you could explain such an alleged text (though there is none) in terms of God's unchanging nature and the creation of man not only as a KIND, humankind, but as a kind in His own image, which does not change. You can move from symbol to substance, though this is not even that, being all symbol in the area concerned; but when the substance in view back of the symbols, when this is subjected to human mutation, even the very conception concerned in the express declaration of deity, as shown in application of the sacrament, then that is frankly a feeble foozle, at the most gracious interpretation.
Part of the fear and admonition of the Lord, and of the covenant, now the New one announced at the Last Supper (as in Matthew 26), is following the instructions from the first. NOTHING changes UNLESS in this, that it is fulfilled: that is the word of Christ, about whom the whole matter concerns itself! (Matthew 5:17-20). He was most emphatic on this in His language (cf. SMR Appendix D), to the point it would be hard to see how it could have been aptly made more so! In the Old Covenant, the sign to which Paul refers in Colossians 2, in the phrase 'circumcision of Christ', meant a sign quite crucial to infancy and family alike, where opportunity existed (Exodus 4:22); in the New Covenant, we read simply of the "household" as a terminological continuation, this itself being baptised. Nothing changes here, but blood to water, since His blood is now finally spilt; and that, it is precisely fulfilment! HE fulfilled the blood part, and water replaces it therefore as a cleansing symbol.
Having divorced baptism from Romanism, because that heresy changed the very nature of baptism into a ex opere operatum priestliness, and sacramentalism, we do not rightly divorce it from the Bible. We do not, like some toboggan, swirling neatly to a fresh level place, push off into the void on the view that having moved, we might as well make a habit of it. THIS movement was necessary and a fulfilment of what was said before; the envisaged dispensing with the infancy symbol is a defilement of the divine diction and conception as already given, an illegal and vain flight without warrant, authority or wisdom, in the very face of the word of God concerning the jots and tittles being fulfilled or continuing.
What then ? God is changeless and His image, being His, must have the same nature as before; families do not alter, and the terms for the spreading of image-bearers do not change, but continue constant. It is man who defiles that image, not God who defiles His own conception of His own creation.
Thus in Colossians 2:11-12, we see that it could rightly be said as to the new symbol, that if you had this, baptism, you were circumcised. Indeed, you have "the circumcision of Christ", the New Testament equivalent, which is not obtained by divorcing its primary point of application, the infant. It is apparent that we are not in any sense dealing with the physical circumcision of Christ as such, but its meaning; and hence this phrase designates what the baptism means, just as does the statement that having been baptised, we are circumcised. Thus both aspects coincide, the baptism being the circumcision of Christ and amounting to reception of circumcision.
Because Christ is rich in forgiveness, this does NOT at all mean that He is lax in realism; for He knew what is in the heart of man, as John tells us! Do not think I have come to destroy the law! He cried. He did not reconceptualise, reconstruct, abort or abolish and verily said so. What HE changes, changes, and symbol into fulfilment is done; but symbol into symbol, the circumcision of Christ and baptism, this is the divine equivalence specified twice in these verses, and any endeavour to ignore this is merely to court corruption.
What was, fulfilment of the blood aspect apart, required of a family, and that sternly, in the Old Testament is not now waved away, subject to waiver by human autonomy; but it remains, as does the Lord's Supper replacing the Passover BECAUSE that sacrament was fulfilled in His sacrifice, and what remained was now the reflection of the sacrifice, not a preliminary animal enactment. The nature of man and of his sin and of his families is not altered because the covenant has blood spilt; the fulfilment of sacrifice does not remove the need of conveying symbolically the necessity for it, or the propriety of marking on the infant the covenantal reality, whether it be conceived in preparatory mode or in consummation. That would be simply to confuse the phase of sin depiction and cover, with the need of the grace of God to show it where it is to be placed, and when. The medium of exchange has changed, being fulfilled; the need for its application is all the more certain, if possible! because it is now a completed matter, and its omission would be the greater insult to God.
Circumcision's definition here in Colossians confirms merely the basic and underlying realities that there is one God who being merciful by means of sacrifice (preparatory as for Mary, as in Luke 2:22ff., consummatory thereafter in what it depicts), wishes a certain relationship of symbol to EACH infant in a family unit. There of course that infant is not a cognising chap, but an arena for action, a life for exhibition, a place where covenant fits, whatever the eventual outcome. Here lies the impress from God as the mark of the parents’ desire, determination and submissive surrender to the Lord, so that NONE and NOTHING can intervene in these marked goods, no State, no fate. GOD is involved, and whatever the ways of will, this is the condition marked as before Him, for the family as it grows. Such will be the ways of wisdom and here is the stamp in the brick, whether it break or not. Such is the way for bricks in this house, and NOTHING will be omitted of such a symbol at such a time for such a family for such a God as this! who changes not at all.
God has no more disjoined His covenantal interest in families, because we have moved from what Hebrews calls shadow to substance, in moving from the Old to the New Covenant which Christ so specified, than the term 'household' from the examples of baptism as seen in the book of Acts. What shocking imagination to think that the God whose words are clear with perspicuity should so dash the perspicacity of His people as to talk of the NEW covenant and of the baptism as signifying CIRCUMCISION and use the term HOUSEHOLD repeatedly of those being baptised, while really, by some surreptitious and contrary mode, He is imagined to have in mind something utterly other for the infant, for the household, something no more a covenantal impress and expression of generic kind, co-extensive with the faith and the household mutually.
How gross if He still had in mind, in some inscrutable and unrevealed manner, something other than so marking infants, in the new mode, that without blood, some nostrum other than households, something other than requiring such information stamped, all the time… if He had changed from utter emphasis to unrevealed de-emphasis, to be gathered by some kind of subjective flash in the mind of the believer. What a defilement of His glory this would be! and what a contrary addition to His truth, from the mere heart of man!
This sort of thing, if it were discovered in some teaching class being reviewed, it would involve a student teacher in a fit of embarrassment or something such; for it would be the acme of being misleading and the end and consummation of confusion. Definitions of terms would change without notice, of covenants without ground, and continuity as stressed so much in Hebrews, would be displaced by a new covenant indeed, indeed a novel one, one in which fulfilment is NOT the only removal van, but refurnishing entirely is the gutting, as for a new KIND, something not man at all. In fact, however, the new man is restored to the image of Him who created him (Colossians 3:10).
Nothing changes. Indeed, now in Colossians we see further He has equated the vital significance and signification of these two modes of sacrament, circumcision and baptism, doubly, in His word. What does it take ?
Baptism could not INCORPORATE circumcision, unless it covered its whole nature, one part of which is VITAL as a household coverage, and relates to the glory of His name, as shown with Moses in Exodus 4.
That it has nothing to do with salvation as a gift of eternal life, but rather all to do with symbolising it and applying its exhibition to ALL in the house to which it might refer, nothing to do with sacramentalistic 'salvation': this does nothing to reduce the impact which God has shown to be His will, namelly the covenantal act itself as an infancy imprint for godly homes. If an engagement ring is not a marriage one, does this make it not a ring ? Does the wisdom of God have to be replaced by those so pre-occupied with 'will, will, will', that they re-write the divine mind in this realm: as paralleled in the modern political nostrums, where for example many try to force democracy on people whose hearts are not in it, since they do not know the background of freedom, and hence fail to value it, especially where Christianity is so missing that liberty to seek God in it, is little valued by many.
In vain, then is any red herring, for if God wanted it that way, it is HIS wisdom which for millenia so desired such depiction without the warrant of salvation from it (as in Jeremiah 9:25-26), but with exhibition of His own place as Lord over the household, and the tangible exhibition of this in standardised covenantal form.
Further, this unity is precisely what the biblical usage shows for both household depictions, that of baptism and that of circumcision: the terminological and the semantic are the same. What is depicted is sin, its cleansing, union with God, with covenantal cover specific and written, so that to be 'uncircumcised in heart' is like having idols, lacking cleansing from sin, being free from the function of knowing and walking, working and sharing the way with God. You find such things in Genesis 17, Exodus 4, Ezekiel 44:7-10. You see them in Jeremiah 4:1-3:
"If you wilt return, O Israel, says the LORD, return unto Me: and if you wilt put away your abominations out of my sight, then will you not remove. And you will swear, The LORD lives, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations will bless themselves in Him, and in Him shall they glory.
"For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem,
'Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, you men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest My fury come forth like fire, and burn so that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.' "
Here the removal of the "foreskin of the heart" implies: firstly a return to the Lord, secondly a putting away of abominations, thirdly a solemnised ability to put everything under the Lord, in His hands and to rely on Him absolutely, to glory in Him, a removal of life-elements outside the abiding in Himself, an activation of the whole life in holiness in Him, a removal of the sin barrier between man and God.
This is what is SIGNIFIED by the SYMBOL; and it is the same as in baptism, which likewise involved a planting with Christ, a crucifixion with Christ and a participation in His resurrection power by virtue of a solemn covenant here solemnised.
It is natural that this equivalence of intention should be so in what is before God, in that HE is the same, sin is the same, mankind is the same and what He confers is the same, although now reaching culmination in Christ, yet a culmination already in principle present, since it was known He would come; and what God had passed over as in Acts 17, was not passed over for nothing, but in view of Christ who would come (Acts 17:30-31). The passing over is BECAUSE He has appointed a day in which CHRIST is all for all, and out of Him comes anything for any.
It is equally natural that there should be this second equivalence (cf. Barbs... 17), that of terminology in both covenants, relative to the key point of households, as that of identification, thirdly, in Colossians.
Let us review. Why then was the initial covenant ever required and why was it given a new format, when the 'circumcision of Christ' became a notation for baptism ?
It was always an outward symbol that someone who was God had claim over you as a member of your kind, a thing made manifest where parents had awakened to recognise this; and since it was so whether or not it was realised, it was especially necessary, testimonially, to impart it where parents sought the Lord, sought holiness, sought to bring His name into all they did, in the very way He specified. Thus it would be and was separable from all the devotional aspirations and intentions and dimensions of man seeking whatever he sought in whatever way he sought it; and it became the divine fiat for covenant just as there had been at the commencement, the divine fiat for man to be created!
THIS created the post of recipient of grace, as that of race!
Thus, in such a testimonial family, whatever you did from infancy, and whatever YOU might do, the mode and the meaning of His salvation was symbolically spelled out and markedly imprinted or displayed, capable of witness in flesh or in public New Testament ceremony; and it showed whose rule would apply to ALL the household, as household, as under the rule of the parents. It did not create a new heart; but it attested it. It did not confer holiness, but it was a form of obedience by the parents which attested it.
If it does not change the heart in itself, yet it DOES attest whose the household is, as distinct from your own, or the State's, or culture's, or that of some threatening bandits. It sets up on an express covenantal basis, express for millennia, the bloom of the bud of the Old Testament from the same God with the same mind and the same pattern for the same family unit for the same reason, now most conspicuous, what is defined. It is irrevocable, a deed done, attestable, and it is solemn before God: and this is vitally important even the more, in these our contemporary days of grasping political, cultural, educational and social talons, yes and even neological and debased ecclesiastical ones, since so much has fallen as prophetically prescribed for our period and end of Age terminus (cf. II Timothy 3, 4, II Peter 2; News 51, Mystery of Iniquity, News 121, 122, SMR Ch. 4).
Meanwhile, its testimonial and embracing value does not constitute a symbolism efficient without any change at all, when Christ has made the greatest redemption in history: that sufficient for all, adapted to all and offered to all, through His own blood (Colossians 1:19ff.). Change correlative to this consummation is obviously necessary, and precisely in terms of it.
Thus your house is not rebuilt when your wife comes home from holidays; but she does adorn it. The foundations and principles are not changed when redemption is fulfilled, but the adornment of Christ requires its open acknowledgement, precisely as in the Lord's Supper, rather than the Passover, and Sunday as the rest day, rather than the Saturday which held no rest, till the light of the new rest day dawned, and rest and worship followed as day from night, a night of deep distress!*C
Hence the blood of sacrifice as seen in Luke 2 with Mary at Christ's circumcision, could no more flow: it needed no symbol continuing, since it was FINISHED! (John 19, Hebrews 9:12), "everlasting redemption" having been purchased through ONE sacrifice, once made, once and for all (Hebrews 9:27-10:14).
The point of the ineradicable reality having been once symbolised, for application of the mould of the covenant of redemption, it continued symbolised, for neither did the blood of bulls nor water do the actual cleansing (as in I Peter 3:21, where the baptism which cleanses is one in conscience and heart and faith). Hence water - as in Ezekiel 36's depiction of the return to their land phase for Israel after so long a time in exile, a return coming to the very rule of Christ in the continuing consummation to which it led, water became the new medium associated. It was sprinkled as prophetically depiced in Ezekiel 36, after the former mode of the blood, for symbol is symbol as Christ so earnestly showed Peter (John 13:8-10). It was this which of necessity, based on fulfilment in that sacrificial domain, became the new fluid, to displace the outgoing blood.
The "various baptisms" (correct translation of the Greek base word) of which Hebrews 9:10 speaks, with sprinklings and such covers shown in the verses following as illustrations, now become ONE, with ONE Christ, in ONE place at ONE time doing ONE action which paid ONCE for all the price. Almost all things are purified by blood, Hebrews 9:22 declares, so these various preliminary symbols being displaced by the actuality now shown, there was a need to replace this with what signalled the new phase, a cleansing for which the BLOOD had already been PAID!
God does not change His word, His principles but He does consummate what He foretells, and in changing the preliminary covenant, the Old, to the consummation covenant, the New, He has stripped not the stamp of covenant, but the fluid which Christ fulfilled, from it. As He swears by Himself (Malachi 3:6), He does not change - merely fulfils, and here the fulfilment is of the blood component in the covenantal imprint; and with this, there is the enlargement to male and female, perhaps not least because blood is spilt in circumcision, although not as such, sacrificially. ALL blood component however is gone, and only water remains.
ALWAYS the covenant applied to all; now its symbolism could apply to all.
In short, the Cross having fulfilled one sector of the sacrament, it was required to alter sprinkling to water (Ezekiel 36:22), as foretold of those Jews who would return at last to "Me whom they pierced" (Zechariah 12:10), the Lord and God Himself. Thus even the nature of this New Covenant advent in symbolism to those returning to the Lord is specified, and both the mode and the substance is specified, as well as exhibited in the New Testament, in terms either of actual exhibits, things happening, or principles enunciated in explication.
To vary what God has not varied, to announce change where God has made no such announcement, to ignore the constant terminology where God keeps it relentlessly on target, in the New as in the Old, the same, to transgress by changing the purificatory or covenantal mode where He has not declared it changed, simply to delete the main field of application of essential introductory covenantal symbol, infants, where He has not deleted such things: this is in principle just as fallacious as the seeking to keep the Romanist sacramentalism, from which the Reformation delivered His people.
It is just as intrusive and just as illegal, in this: that it ignores the constraints of God's word, the refusal to add, the insistence on principles unchanged, on terminology and theological explication, and following whatever political theory or psychological desire, it proceeds to implement the human desire in oblivion of that very Lord to whom it is ostensibly directed.
This is not to say that one would refuse fellowship with those who have not comprehended these things, and indeed in a Presbyterian field it is normal to allow those who do not yet see these things even to become members, since all must grow, though of course teaching elders and elders in general should never be in this position, since they must lead. However, when it is allied with free will Baptist ideas, or with sacramentalistic emphasis and insistence, it does break fellowship, not because of the failure to perceive, but because of the increasingly deep and more and more central errors which, being then embraced, lead astray and endanger the congregation. Nor does this challenge the sincerity of many Baptists; but it does categorically seek the advance from that error.
Many fear the sacramentalism, not of baptism itself as in some Baptist circles, where this or that mode is required and this or that approach, but of the old-fashioned Romish variety, where there is some inherent mutation within the baptised one. This is a just fear, but not here. This is not taught. Moreover it is far from constituting an excuse for going to the opposite extreme, a folly with many applications and fields, which has hindered the Church, perhaps, as much as any other impediment. It is always necessary to return to the Bible, to put fears aside, to use prudence, and with great care and skill, to follow what it says, inventing NOTHING, and avoiding NOTHING in case you do this or that, provided it is given there. If you try to avoid oncoming traffic with great zeal, you may run into a road-side tree.
It is not so much 'balance' which is required, as fidelity.
Then the whole gamut of grace may be more fully realised, and the character of the kingdom of heaven more accurately understood. Now it becomes more truly and indubitably the case that Christian is the name and the conduct of the home, and the requirement for the child, a covenant child, not thereby regenerated, but to be preserved as far as parental power extends, from degeneration, whether from home or State, social worker or teacher, teachings or literature or any other thing. It speaks clearly to the UN, and leaves no mask, as if there were some 'child's authority' which the State can then grab, and deploy against parents in order to subvert it to some form of ludicrous humanism, such as many States love so well, that they do not see their fate written large in such default of morals, principles and direction from the Lord.
Thus do many political bodies make their own psychological cripples by the million, milling about with psychological teachers who have no basis when stricken with humanism, in this context as common as sand.
The beauty of holiness is intractable, and its means are un-negotiable, and there is an answer to any approach from any quarter, which would invade the home; and there is a signal between man and God, duly and officially and normatively and covenantally applied, to which, as a bride to a marriage ring, one may look. It is not that the ring means so much, but that the symbolism has shown itself in known declaration which does not vary, for richer for poorer, in health or sickness ... whatever.
The kingdom of heaven is not a rank kingdom, nor are symbols substance; but it is a thankful kingdom, where whatever God has prescribed, whatever means of grace, whatever testimony of place, whether with covenantal signal or with word of testimony by the mouth, whether by Christian character or by fearless denunciation of evil principles, as one had to do in seminary: there is the clarity of heaven, the fidelity of faith and the unflinching application of the word of God. Its proportions do not vary; its clarity is on all sides, like that of crystal: its provisions do not change, merely develop to maturity. Its centre in Christ is as predicted for millennia, and then as specified and discovered on earth, for more millennia, while the ways of God vary not even as the seasons, but like a continual equability, proceed on their immovable course.
If He becomes angry – though He is slow to anger, it is for good reason; and if He blesses and confers the life beyond the biological, where this is mere base, that too is for grounds profound, payment provided, grace shown, call uttered, adoption attained, grant given; and as to that, it is in Christ Jesus the Lord, the same today, yesterday and forever.
Like a massive cliff of granite, attacked by wayward seas,
hated by many who want to grab the kingdom
and universe for themselves, like arrant adolescents without wisdom;
despite the foretold and fulfilled attacks upon Him, as seen in Psalm 2 in prophecy; and
in fulfilling history, while no less
His grace in
His Gospel continue,
though thousands have sought to abort it,
and its conditions do not change.
Nothing changes where truth rests; and as to Him who is the truth, His ways do not change. This is as to be expected of the truth, for it has nothing to learn: knowing all, and being personal, it is the acme of human desire, the desire of the nations, and this though like excited hounds, they look for rabbits when steak is already at hand, like hunters, they seek squirrel where venison stands and like artists, they use scraps of soiled paper, where brilliant canvas is placed.
the life beyond the biological, where this is mere base, that too is for grounds profound, payment provided, grace shown, call uttered, adoption attained, grant given; and as to that, it is in Christ Jesus the Lord, the same today, yesterday and forever. Like a massive cliff of granite, attacked by wayward seas, He continues, hated by many who want to grab the kingdom and universe for themselves, like arrant adolescents without wisdom; His Son continues despite the foretold and fulfilled attacks upon Him, as seen in Psalm 2 in prophecy and the Gospels in fulfilling history, His grace and His Gospel continues, though thousands have sought to abort it, and its conditions do not change.
Nothing changes where truth lies; and as to Him who is the truth, His ways do not change. This is as to be expected of the truth, for it has nothing to learn: knowing all, and being personal, it is the acme of human desire, the desire of the nations, though like excited hounds, they look for rabbits when steak is already at hand, like hunters, they seek squirrel where venison stands, like artists, they use scraps of soiled paper, where brilliant canvas is placed.
*A On this, see:
ISLAND AND MAINLINE SITUATION AND APPEAL, the 9 cases:
Tender Times ... Ch. 2
(and considered list of six misguided philosophic slugging matches):
Tender Times Ch. 2, End-note 1 on predestination - relationship to ism-itis q.v.,
Repent or Perish 1, pp.12ff., QAA 7, End-note 1;
and note the 7th island - parallel on millenialism, NFF 16, SMR Appendix A);
Questions and Answers 13, pp. 183-184 (and singing, music: parallels elsewhere - theological harmonics through scriptural precision, and the avoidance of philosophical extremes, alien intruders) -
the 4th island in TTT 2;
also guidance, the 8th island - LL 7, pp. 119ff.;
and Isaiah, and the 9th island, LL Excursion ...,
Celestial Harmony for the Terrestrial Host Ch. 6; unity in the pure word of God minus evanescent intrusions and extremes of flesh - gives an overview of the whole situation of extremes and harmony.
The term ‘household of faith’ like the parallel ‘household of God’, found in order, in Galatians 6:10 and Ephesians 2:19, is in those instances used in an enlarged manner, more or less correlative with the concept of the ‘body of Christ’ in Ephesians 4:15-16, Romans 12:4-5 where it is explained in this amplified aspect as a concept, and I Corinthians 12:12ff..
It is thus applied to the WHOLE church in these cases as a total family with one locale, in Christ, serving in this way to signalise the togetherness of the saints. After all, it implies or substantially states, our households are many, but when you see them incorporated in Christ via the Church, the lively and actual Church, His body, then He as Head becomes head of the household of faith. In this way, the underlying concept of ‘household’ where by faith it is instituted and led, for one Christian family, grows into that of Christ as Head of His household, governing all, each according to the case.
In the former case, it deals with the entirety of the Christian body, and so would include the infants in concept. In the former case, it is speaking to the minds of the actual believers as listening, and hence is an essentialising past the boundaries of actual church, or local church, to those who in faith can comprehend. Even there, however, as in the divine appointment in Deuteronomy 29, in the Old Testament where the groupings are chosen by God, the presence of the children at least is involved, though it is in no way implied that they themselves, with their parents, perhaps not yet equipped with the power to comprehend, are necessarily saved souls.
Whether however the concept be extended to the entirety of the believing families in the Church, or to the entirety of those who in faith can understand, it is that of a household which is involved, depending for extent on the case in mind; and it is used to express the group affinity to God, whether of all who know and believe God for themselves, or in the instance where the reference is to all who are families in the church, taken as one body, to the collection of families involved.
In this our theme, it is the usage of household which is important, as a dominant concept and involvement in the very kingdom of heaven: the population of the faithful in their abodes, whether as a household of believers, or with all that this portends, a collection of the households of believers as designable units conceived as one. It is to these that ‘good’ is to be done, and of course this would include all whom the household family embraces and constitutes, by no means least all its junior inhabitants, dear to the hearts of the parents, to whose care they are devoted, a care to which the Church might address itself (as in Acts 6, Galatians 6:10).
When it is a designable household in a physical sense, to which one may go or in which visit, as in Acts 16, there is nothing metaphorical, and it implies as always in such cases, all who are in it as family, as in the usage of millennia. The 'family' would never be less than the actual family members. As normal in language, degrees of extension or figurative usage are always possible, using the known to flavour concepts for the mind to grasp, when other matters are in view, and need support. When it is metaphorical, it depends on what idea of what sort of ‘household’ other than the norm, you wish to instil. If it is constituted by believers, then such it is; if it is constituted of all godly families, then such it is.
The base has many applications, just as the human mind can make many distillations; but what it is which is distilled is the whole basis for thought. It is this which makes applications possible. As to that, it is illustrated continually in the Old Testament, and without further definition in so simple a case, remains as it was, a stable unit in concept with respect to the family, and a standard conception. Nothing changes there.
Biblical Blessings (BB) Chs. 12 , 9,
BB Appendix News, Appendix II,
Barbs... 13, Things Old and New Ch. 8, News 51;
What is the Chaff to the Wheat ? Ch. 1.