Greetings in the Name of the Lord!
I am sending our monthly pastoral letter a bit early this month. As you know next week Brandy, Lily, Mackenzie, Iain, and I will be welcoming a new addition to our family. Brandy is scheduled for a C-Section on November 27th. For this of course we covet your prayers. My parents should be down for a visit the last weekend of December and we are planning to do the baptism then. I also want to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving!
One of the things that set us apart as Presbyterians is that we baptize our infants. So I thought it would be a good idea in this month’s letter to talk a little bit about why we baptize infants as we prepare to baptize our new son. The first thing we need to do is look at what the Bible says about baptizing babies. But before we do that we need understand a little about how the Bible is organized. God organizes the Bible into two covenants, the Covenant made with Adam and the Covenant made with Christ. This first covenant was broken by Adam in the Garden and while all men are under this covenant as covenant of life it pleased God to make a second covenant, a covenant of grace with Christ, which is made in Christ for Him and His sheep (Romans 5:17). The covenants we see in Scripture after the one made with Adam (Genesis 1:16-17) are all a part of this one covenant of Grace made with Christ (Gen 3:15). This is why we can say that the covenant made with Abraham (Genesis 12, 15, 17), is an everlasting covenant that is still applicable today. The “sign” of the covenant made to Abraham was of course the circumcision of boys on the eighth day. Again these covenant promises made to Abraham have not gone away with the end of the Old Testament, but the way in which we mark this promise has. In the New Testament it has been changed from circumcision of the child to indicate this covenant promise to baptism by water for all children, not just baby boys. To be clear just as the circumcision of an Israelite child did not save them, neither does baptism of a Christian child bring them into a state of salvation. Even in the Old Testament this was understood, this is why Moses speaks of the necessity of receiving the “circumcision of the heart” (Deuteronomy 30:6). What baptism does do however in the New Testament is give a sign and seal of the gifts and promises of the Covenant of Grace made in Christ. The various “household baptisms” (Acts 16:15, Acts 18:18, 1 Corinthians 1:16) and Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 7:14 are in keeping with the practice of the Old Testament when it came to circumcising converts (Exodus 12:48). There is nothing in the New Testament that tells us this practice of recognizing the children of Israelites/believers as members of the covenant family was done away with in the way other Old Testament ways of doing things (like not eating shellfish or pork, Mark 7:18) have been abolished. So while there is of course no “Thou Shalt Baptize Children of Believers” passage, the baptism of infants is consistent with the way we understand that the sign of the covenant made with Abraham applies just as much to believers and their children today as it did to Israelites and their children in the Old Testament.
I am also continuing to plan for some classes to introduce us to the ARP. I am looking to do the classes on Sunday Night’s at 5:00pm and this would have us move Bible Study to Wednesday Night at 6:00pm starting at the first of the year. I would be interested in any feedback you would have on these intro classes. As always if there is anything I can do for you do not hesitate to give me a ring or stop by the study during the week!
In God’s Love,
Rev. Benjamin P. Glaser, Pastor, Ellisville Presbyterian Church