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MISUNDERSTANDINGS ABOUT BAPTISM AND THE COVENANT (1)|
Dear brother Pickett and all those concerned, (Chateau, Montana USA, letter wrote Oct. 2008)
It was and it is not my intention to strive with you about your Baptist-opinion on baptism, but to admonish you as my brother in the love of Christ as long as you accept this admonition. Your heavy accusation against baptism of children needs of course a biblical correction and a serious admonition. I have and I feel the duty to tell you what the Holy Word of God teaches us about the doctrine of baptism and the Word of God is the end of all opposition of men. I am wondering if you still know what you have preached AGAINST religious traditions, because you yourself are more imprisoned in your own Baptist-baptism traditions than you think.
I have never condemned the (strict)Baptists in their opinion about baptism, because true believers are not allowed to condemn each other, but they have to bear burdens of each other and that is the law of Christ. But if you claim that 'baptism of children' is Roman Catholic, then that is a big insinuation against the Scriptural doctrine of baptism and the covenant of God, and also a slandering against all believers who are baptized as a child, like Rev. William Huntington was baptized. Your claim that Huntington was re-baptized as an adult-believer is an invention. For a moment Huntington has considered to become a Baptist, because he was offered a bigger salary if he would become a Baptist-minister. But, when he bowed his knees before God about this matter, he heard a voice asking him: "Huntington, why do you want to be a baptist-minister?" His answer was: "To make 400 pounds a year!" Huntington was convinced of his foolishness and therefore he ignored the call of the Baptists.
However, in many ways Huntington's doctrine was closer to the Reformation and more based on the Scripture than the doctrine of the (strict)Baptists, even though, the Strict-Baptists have had many God-fearing church-members and ministers. But (excuse me) the reformers (Luther and Calvin), and later on, especially dr. H.F. Kohlbrugge (Dutch minister and theologian in Elberfeld, Germany), his son-in-law, dr. E. Böhl (theological professor in Vienna) and again: the illiterate Rev. W. Huntington, as well-taught by God theologians, weigh a couple pounds heavier than most Puritan- and (strict)Baptist-ministers. (Philpot's testimony about Huntington's superior theological knowledge is also very clear). Huntington's opinion about (adult) underwater-baptism is very biblical, when he says: "Baptism with the Holy Spirit is indispensable for salvation, but baptism with water along with that is not important, even if you were to drag someone through the water from Dover to Calais, it wouldn't help him." (Out of: "The life of William Huntington" by Thomas Wright).
On our way home, I felt that the Lord laid a burden on my heart, because of your accusation against infant-baptism, in the framework of children of the covenant. I am sure that you need a real repentance before the Lord, your congregation and us about your rude accusation. I am sure that you don't realize what you have said about this matter.
Again, I do not have a strive against flesh, the Lord is my Witness, but woe unto me if I keep my mouth shut about this matter. Not me, not you, but only the truth of the Gospel and for the sake of God's holy Name is that which counts.
In a certain sense I write this letter in the framework of Galatians 2 -conflict between Paul and Peter in Antioch- because Peter made a separation between true believers by sitting down with the Jewish Christians and with his back to the heathen Christians. Peter's behaviour was legalistic and against the truth of the Gospel. Then Paul stood up and reprimanded Peter in the presence of everyone, so that everybody feared. I do the same with you, because your behaviour in the framework of being the church is exactly the same as Peter's mistake in Antioch. If Paul would not have reprimanded Peter, the First Christian Church would have been separated and also the Body of Christ. In our days not many Christians feel the burden of the (outward) separation of the Body of Christ. Everybody strives for their own church and their own rules, but everywhere there is death in the pot (2 Kings 4:40).
First of all I have to say that all true believers among the Baptists, the Puritans and all the reformed Christians from all times and places have believed and believe in the doctrine of baptism. The holy sacrament of Baptism is commanded by Christ (Matth. 28:19), but because of much ignorance and a lack of experience of faith concerning Gal. 2:19 there can be many misunderstandings in practice about what kind of people must be baptized and also what the right way of baptism must be. Be aware that you are mixing adult-baptism in a mission-situation with baptism in the framework of the covenant. The last mentioned baptism infants are involved as children of the covenant.
Secondly I have to say that DIFFERENCES IN JUDGMENT ABOUT WATER BAPTISM CANNOT BE A BAR TO HAVE SPIRITUAL COMMUNION WITH OTHER TRUE BELIEVERS. And that is also what John Bunyan -a real converted Baptist(!) and a called minister- teaches in his works.
(Refer to the link: http://www.bunyanministries.org/works/vol2/37_water_baptism_no_bar_to_communion.pdf).
If you are familiar with the works of John Bunyan, then you will know that Bunyan condemns all Baptists who refuse to have communion of Saints (at the Lord's Supper) with other true believers who are baptized as a child, or even when they are not baptized. And he is right, because in the first place the Body of Christ can never be separated. And secondly, faith can never be a foundation for baptism. And I have to tell you that Baptists failed and still fail in understanding the Scripture about the doctrine of baptism. They make a foundation of their faith to be baptized. That is a harsh mistake, because the foundation of baptism is not my faith, but the covenant of God. Baptism is a requirement of the covenant, not a medal of faith. There is not a church on earth that exists with only Gods' people. If you claim to be such a church, you are on a slippery way, because then you make yourself a legalistic sect.
During our conversation on Sunday (Oct. 28) I couldn't help that I felt a strong feeling that you became something with your baptism ideas and that your strict-Baptist church is the only right one, but the Holy Spirit says in Galatians 6:3: "For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself." I feel a strong spiritual bond with some strict-Baptist ministers, Philpot, Warburton, Gadsby, etc., and the differences about the way of baptism has never been a stumbling block to acknowledge them as my brothers in Christ. But let me say that Philpot was not so strong in the doctrine of justification. Gadsby corrected Philpot in that and brothers in Christ have the duty to do so. However, the Baptists have never been the most truthful theologians in theological sense. For example, dr. H.F. Kohlbrugge has revealed many more hidden secrets of the divine Truth, also in the framework of the experiences of faith. There are not so many ministers and children of God who know a second conversion by experience (Luk 22:32).
Note: The King-James translation of Luk. 22:32 is wrong and not according to the original Greek language. 'Epi'strepho' means 'conversion of conversion' "Turn again!" To whom? To the legal Husband, Christ! This means a second conversion.
After having denied his Master, Peter lost his conversion in the chamber of Caiaphas when he looked in the eternal eyes of love of Jesus. When Peter died to his conversion, then Jesus became his Conversion. The fulfillment of Luke 22:32!
However, I have to tell you that you did not yet die to the tradition of Strict-Baptism. One of the reasons is that there must be a lack of understanding the law. The law does not require faith, not baptism, but complete works. So, we cannot appear before the Lord with a baptism-opinion, but in CHRIST only. God's people are died in the death of Christ. That means that there is no movement that people of God have to do as an addition to salvation. The Baptists are doing something with their baptism. They are not ungodly anymore, who are justified by faith alone, but 'holy believers' who have been baptized. The result of that attitude is ecclesiastical sectarism in being a church. You have some 'special' baptized members in the church and the rest of the church-goers are second hand Christians, or even heathen. You won't find that kind of church in the Bible. The church is not first. Even God's people are not first. The covenant of God is first, a Triune God is the First. God has made His covenant in the eternity and the two Parties were the Father and the Son. And everyone who is born in the framework of the covenant must be baptized, because God deals by means of His servants only in the framework of the covenant. There is written: "For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?" 2 Cor. 2:15-16.
How can this two-fold service take place if there are only converted members in the church? Don't you see? Only the Lord's Supper is intended for God's people, but was the tax collector in the back of the church a member of the church, or not? Was Judas Iscariot a member of the church, or not? Was Demas a member of the church, or not? Was Simon the sorcerer a member of the church, or not? Were Ananias and Sapphira his wife members of the church, or not? Peter used the key of discipline to Simon the sorcerer and also to Ananias and Sapphira, BECAUSE THEY WERE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH! The biblical discipline in the church is intended for all church members, converted or not. Why? Because the Old- AND the New-testament church are revealed in the framework of the covenant.
Unfortunately, you are very easy in condemning other churches WITHOUT ANY investigation in the framework of the Scripture. I know, there is a lot of false religion in the reformed churches (in the Baptist churches too), but if you are judging other churches and believers only based on what you have heard about them, than you are opposing the command: "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor", Ex. 20:16. And worse, you are not being a brother in love anymore. We have to judge a righteous judgment, brother, to start with ourselves. In that framework we have to judge false doctrines, but only after a thorough investigation, based on the Word of God and never on what we have heard about it ourselves, or based on human church rules. Or even on what we sometimes read about it. Who is the author? You said that Calvin was responsible for the killing of many Anabaptists, but the history books are not the Bible. I have warned you about history books already. Did you read Calvin's own writings about this? Did you read his Institution? I'm not saying that I agree with all of the doctrine of Calvin, because he is concentrated too much on the doctrine of regeneration at the expense of the doctrine of the justification of the ungodly. However, I never had the intention to accuse Calvin based on history books. That you do that, has something to say about your intention brother…..
To the point
Sometimes it sounds sharp what I am writing, but I am writing in love and truth. However, the truth can be sharp, no it is "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart", Hebr. 4:12.
Your argument that we have no right to sit down at the table of another family as long as they have not invited us, has nothing to do with the Body of Christ and the holy communion of the members of that Body. The law of nature can never be equalized with the divine law of faith, because in nature we have different bodies, but in spiritual life there is only ONE Body with only ONE Head, namely Christ. Even an allegorical and sometimes also a wrong literal way of exegesis of the doctrine of the Scripture has nothing to do with the divine opinion of the Holy Spirit. Many texts of the Bible are meant literally, but also many texts are meant spiritually. Your knowledge about baptism is because of your literal understanding of the Bible, unfortunately, it is a lacking knowledge.
And if you think that every church (separation) is allowed to have its own rules and rights, then I have to say that you do not have a biblical understanding about the institutions of Christ, the Body of Christ and His congregation. And even worse, then you have no spiritual knowledge about the Holy unity of the Church of Christ on earth and in heaven. "For as the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ", 1 Cor. 12:12.
Government, discipline, covenant and baptism
There must be a government in the church by office-bearers (elders, deacons and ministers) ministers called by God and installed by shaking the right hand of fellowship of true believers in the congregation of Christ (Gal. 2:9).
There are two kinds of elders, namely 'preaching and teaching elders' and elders who govern the church by means of pastoral visits, by the keys of discipline and to check the preaching based on the Word of God. There are sometimes some extra-ordinary exceptions (for example: Huntington never had a consistory), but that can never be a ticket to govern the church in any way people feel like.
When we are talking about the discipline of the congregation of Christ, there are two keys. The discipline of the Word and the discipline of the Christian ban. But nobody is allowed to misuse those keys because of so many different church-separations and different church rules. Remember, there is only One Holy Catholic Church, one LORD, one faith, one baptism, and all the true children of God, scattered around the World, belong to that Church, the Body of Christ, and they are the living members of that Body, of which Christ is the divine Head. But there are also dead and unfruitful branches (members) of the church. Listen to the holy Word of God: "Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit", John 15:2. How is it possible that some branches are cut off, if all the members of the church have to be God's people? If you have spiritual ears, you hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to the congregation of Christ.
So, there is no church on earth without hypocrites. Even among the twelve disciples there was a Judas. And the true disciples asked Jesus: "Am I it, Lord?" And again, in the first Christian Church, there was an Ananias and a Sapphira. Remember, except the apostles of Christ in doctrine, the Church is never infallible in knowledge and judgment. But the Strict-Baptists are claiming to be so. However, only the Lord knows every heart and every intention. Of course, we have to bow under the authority of the Holy Scripture. But let us never forget that the most exercised child of God knows for a part and prophesies for a part (1 Cor. 13:9). That does not mean that the Word of God is unclear about the doctrine of salvation and holy baptism. If we are born in line of our forefather believers and their generations, our children are children of the covenant and covenant children must be baptized. "And God said to Abraham: "Thou shalt keep My covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations", Gen. 17:9. Remember, Abraham is called the father of all believers, among Jews AND heathen, until the last elected child of God is saved in time by true faith. True faith goes further than the Old Testament, right? So, circumcision was only intended to the Old Testament Jewish people, because they all lived in the framework of the unfulfilled covenant with Moses as mediator. But Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant (Hebr. 7:22).
That does not mean that all the children of the covenant are heir to Christ. The Bible teaches us about inward and outward children of the covenant, also concerning adults. For example: Jacob and Esau, they were both children of the covenant, but only Jacob was the heir to Christ. Esau was not a heathen, nevertheless he was hated by the Lord and He has loved Jacob. All the Jewish male-children were circumcised, because all of them were children of the covenant. I can give you more biblical examples: the rich man in hell calls Abraham "father" and Abraham calls the rich man "son", because he was a covenant child, however without an inward calling (Luk. 16:24-25). Christian children and adults are both 'children of the covenant', and they must receive the sign of that covenant as a little child, like as in the Old testament. No, baptism is not instead of circumcision, because circumcision belonged only to the O.T.-Jews. Baptism belongs to GOD for His Name and His covenant sake and He requires that all the children who have been born in the framework of the covenant must be baptized. In the first Christian Church, complete households have been baptized by the apostles.
Quest.: Why are the little children not so clearly mentioned to be baptized in the Bible?
Answer: In the Old Testament, girls and women were involved in the male-members and they were not circumcised and it is also impossible. In the New Testament, children are not so clearly mentioned by name concerning baptism, but they are involved by the head of the family. In the Old Testament there was an order: God the Head of Christ, Christ the Head of man and the man the head of the woman and their children. The man stood before God with a covered head. Many times his children are not mentioned, but they were surely involved, right? Christ is still the Head of man and the man is still the head of the woman. Now, in the New Testament the woman must cover her head, because the marriage of man and woman is a real image of Christ and His Church. The woman is not allowed to vote in the church and she may not speak in the congregation (1 Tim. 2), because the divine order is still there: God the Head of Christ, Christ the Head of man and the man the head of the woman. And do you claim that Christ, the Head of His Body is without little children who don't carry the sign of His covenant? The devil believes it, but he trembles. Why? The devil believes the Scripture, that means the heaven is full of little children. "And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den", Is. 11:8. And in Psalms 127:3 we read: "Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD, and the fruit of the womb is his reward." And there is written in Matth. 21:15-16: "But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying in the temple and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased and said unto Him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have you never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise'?"
Now I have something more to tell you what the Holy Scripture is teaching us about the covenant. The New Testament does not speak of another covenant in contrary to the Old Testament, because there is only ONE covenant of grace which God has made with His Son in the eternity and which He has established with Abraham, the father of all believers, AND HIS SEED, both among Jews and heathen (Gen. 22:18 - Gal. 3:8 - Gal. 3:14). God accepts no angels, but the Seed of Abraham, which is Christ and also all those who are in Christ by true faith. I will show you the proof that the seed of Abraham does not mean many seeds, but ONE, namely Christ. "Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy Seed, which is Christ", Gal. 3:16. What does this mean? The Seed is Christ and He is the Head and the Mediator of the Covenant of grace. And He still requires that all the children of the covenant, -outwardly and inwardly- must be baptized, to carry the sign of that covenant. "One Lord, one faith, one baptism", Ef 4:5.
Baptism with water is an expression of the visible Gospel and an image if the forgiveness of sins by the blood of Jesus. Underwater baptism adventures are not necessary, because one drop of the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all our sins. That means that sprinkling baptism water points to the sprinkling of the blood by the high priest on the mercy seat. That sprinkling act points to the precious blood of Jesus on the cross. And only under the cross as a hell-deserving sinner, you can get one drop of Jesus' blood to be saved for ever. Without blood, without an application of the blood of Christ, there is no forgiveness. But one drop of His precious blood is enough for ever. One kiss from Jesus' mouth is enough for eternal salvation. One blessing with His hands is enough to be blessed for ever.
But remember, there are two kinds of covenant-children: outward and inward members. Christ has given us a clear image of the members of the Christian church: Five wise and five foolish virgins. All the virgins belong to the covenant, five in a real sense and five in an outward sense. In the framework of the covenant God makes His election effective in the inward calling of some dead sinners to be alive in Christ. We have no say in this! By baptizing adult believers only, you are working with God's election AND you deny the doctrine of the justification of the ungodly. Not baptism with water counts to be a living member of the body of Christ, but only the baptism with the Holy Spirit by faith and His witness in our spirit that we are children of God.
Baptists come to God with their faith to be baptized, but the Bible teaches us the very opposite. God comes with His covenant to us, to be our God, for us and our seed. That we do not believe God, is one of the main reasons that we are lost, but the Word of God is saying in Genesis 17:7: "And I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee."
That is the same in the New Testament. Hear Peter in Acts 2:39: "For the promise is unto you and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."
Do you hear it? "…TO YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN…..AS MANY AS THE LORD OUR GOD SHALL CALL."
In the framework of the covenant God calls His elected ones with an inward calling and when that happens, then they are regenerated, justified and sanctified by true faith. Spiritual life starts with the revelation of Christ by His Word and Spirit in the forgiveness of all our sins. Do the others remain uncalled? NO, the content of the calling remains the same for outwardly and inwardly called covenant children. "For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ in them that are saved and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life", 2 Cor. 2:15-16.
Now, who is calling? True believers? NO, ONLY GOD! "For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth", Rom. 9:11.
To whom is He calling? To those who are killed to the law through the law, being in the grave of hell! (Gal. 2:19a). Hear the calling of God for totally lost and hell-deserving sinners: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live", John 5:25.
So, who is acting after His call? True believers? NO! ONLY GOD IN CHRIST! Christ died for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6) and only dead people, who are killed by the law, are baptized in the death of Christ (Rom. 6:3). And in the death of our state, in the grave of our sins, Christ was there in my grave and in my death, but eternal wonder: He has killed the death, the sin and the grave of me and for me. He stood in my place as a curse for God and He was cursed and condemned by the law instead of me. "Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification", Rom. 4:25. How come? Because He loved His people from eternity and Christ was willing to obey and to fulfill the requirements of His Father's law and sacrificed His own Life to death to glorify the honour of God and to reconcile His Father with an unspotted righteousness. Secondly, to save His people from eternal destruction. That is the reason that Christ is the only Head of a better covenant, and He alone. My faith cannot move His covenant, no, His covenant moves me to faith, because in due time He died for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6). And after justification get at it? No, because Christ is also our Sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30).
Again: "…by so much was Jesus made a surety of a better covenant", Hebr. 7:22. Yes, better than the covenant of works, because the first Adam failed and we in him, but the second Adam stands for ever and we in Him only by true faith. And even better of the unfulfilled covenant under the law!
The reason that I tell you these things is because of your misunderstanding of the covenant of grace and the consequences of a misunderstanding of the covenant results in many mistakes concerning church-being, church-government, church membership, holy baptism, discipline concerning the partakers of the Lord's Supper, offer of free grace, etc. etc.
(will be continued on the next page)