The Divine Calling of a Man and Woman’s Role in Marriage

Marriage was created to be a beautiful, sacred covenant made between a man and a women, and unfortunately many believers today may not understand the biblical roles they are called to within it. The world continues to offer many opinions and perspectives on what marriage should look like. These opinions are often derived from fleshly, unbiblical desires, which can affect the Christian’s expectations of marriage. The only way to truly understand how God intended marriage is by faithfully studying and submitting to Scripture. The Bible outlines for us what marriage is, what it is signifies, and what our roles are in it as men and women.

Biblical marriage exemplifies the gospel itself. The relationship between a husband and his wife is intended to glorify Christ by symbolizing the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church. A married couple can reflect this glorious relationship by taking on the roles that they have been purposefully commanded to obey. In Scripture, the roles of a man and a woman in this covenantal relationship are outlined in quite a few passages.

Our society in America has been immersed with the ideals of the modern feminist movement, which makes us come to this issue with many biases and assumptions. While cultures never stop changing, God’s Word never changes. Since creation, wives have been under their husbands’ authority, and since the fall, women have tried to overstep that authority. After Eve coerced her husband into eating the forbidden fruit, God spoke to the her, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16) The curse described here shows the sinful dynamic between man and woman. Because of it, in her sin she would desire all her life to step outside of her gender role to be dominant over man, while the male in his sin would desire to subdue her and rule over her in a sinful manner. The desire to exploit weaknesses in the other sex is a product of our sinful nature, that we are called to kill and turn from (Romans 8:13, Acts 3:19). A woman in her sinful flesh makes her inherently desire usurping the authority of her husband in marriage, producing quarrelsomeness, which Scripture warns against (Proverbs 21:9). In the man’s case, his sinful flesh can cause abuse of his headship or not take on the headship role at all. Before the fall, Eve lived in humility and perfect, joyful submission to her husband, and Adam lived in perfect servant leadership to his wife.

As a woman in 21st century America, this can at first easily seem unsettling and unfair. It can be painful to be called to a role of submission in a country where so many men have been conditioned to be feminine, weak, cowardly, and irresponsible. But when we look closer into the unique divine callings of men and women within marriage, we see that the way the Lord designed it is beautiful as it reflects Christ and the church. As we take a look into Ephesians chapter 5, we can truly see what marriage represents and a more descriptive role each gender is to take on.

The terms submission and headship can rattle some ears in our generation. The current political climate we live in makes it seem like the biblical roles within marriage are oppressive and unequal. The biblical meaning behind these terms couldn’t be farther from that! In Paul’s letter to the saints in Ephesus, he outlines each role. He uses the terms “submit” and “head” to describe their distinct positions. Wives are commanded:

…submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (21-24)

 Wives are commanded to submit because the husband is the head of the family, and, most importantly, to model the relationship between Christ and His church. As a wife, your role is not to assume authority, but to submit to the one who has been divinely called to headship over you. The rest of the passage goes on from verses 25-27 commanding husbands to

love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

The husband is commanded to love his wife as Christ loves the Church. We know as believers that Christ has been gracious, kind, and selfless toward His Church, humbling himself to the point of dying for her. Here in Ephesians 5, husbands are commanded to do the same for their wives. As Christ died for His church, so husbands are to selflessly and joyfully lay down their own pride, ambition, and selfish desires for the sake of building up his wife and marriage. If it comes down to it, husbands are to even die to protect their wives.

Marriage is a glorious representation of the gospel. It represents the love Christ has for His church, and the church who submits to His authority. Marriage can paint a beautiful picture of the relationship between the Creator and His elect. The terms “submission” and “headship” are not used as a means of oppressive authority towards a helpless slave, but are used to describe the true roles each gender has been commanded to take on inside of marriage. We shouldn’t complain that we have to follow these rules, but we should thank God that we get to glorify Him through such a beautiful picture of our relationship with Jesus. Once again, it is not about us, but about how much glory can be brought to Christ through obeying his perfect design for the roles in marriage.

The most prominent perversion the world has given to the definition of the word ‘submission’ is seen when it is associated with having inferior value. Women are not worth less than men and men are not worth less than women. Submitting does not make someone of lesser value. Take, for example, the doctrine of the Trinity, with an emphasis on the relationship between God the Father and Jesus Christ. Both of them, fully and equally God in being, but differing in personhood and role, display a relationship of submission and leadership. In the Incarnation of Christ, Christ fully submitted to the will of the Father (Philippians 2:5-11; John 8:28, 29). Does Christ’s submission deem His lesser in value and worth to the Father? Since Christ submitted to the Father, does that make the Son any less God? No! In fact, it was because of Christ’s perfect submission to the Father that He finished His great work of atonement for the church (Romans 3:21-26; Galatians 1:3-4). The same principle applies to marriage; a wife’s submission to her husband does not mean that she is of little or no value compared to that of her husband. As Christ’s joyful and willful submission was pleasing to the Father, so a wife’s joyful and willful submission to her husband is pleasing to the Father as well.

The same way Christ is a gracious and selfless leader to his church, a husband is to be gracious and selfless. This is a high standard that leaves no room for oppression, abuse, or cowardice. Submission is not a call to be a slave, catering to every need of her husband; rather, submission is the divine calling for women to support, love, and respect the leadership the Lord willed for her husband to have. Wives submitting to their husbands in love and trust is how the Lord commanded the relationship to be, for it represents the submission of the church to Christ. It’s much bigger than how we may feel about it; it is about exalting Christ and his perfect design for marriage. Women are called to submit, for their husband is the head. The husband accepting his divine calling as the head of the family leads, protects, and loves his wife the way Christ loves the Church. It is not about how he feels or how his flesh may seemingly want to not take on this position, it is about displaying the Gospel by denying himself and taking on the role commanded of him.

A common argument frequently brought up on this subject of marital roles is that of cultural differences; marital roles outlined in the Bible are simply the product of ancient, misogynistic cultural influences. This argument is debunked in 1 Timothy 2:12-14 with Paul who states in the context of church:

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

 Because Paul references the creation story, we know that the purpose of women not assuming spiritual authority over men is rooted in creation itself, not some ancient cultural norm. Wives taking on the role of submission rather than headship is not meant to demean or belittle them, and it definitely is not meant to promote husbands taking advantage of their wives’ role. It is meant to be a balance, as the two become one in marriage (Mark 10:8). As stated above, Husbands are called to love how Christ loves the church, which is never a condescending love, but a love that offers a never ending amount of grace,forgiveness, and understanding.

During a time where every movie, song, instagram post, and every media outlet can make it seem like biblical gender roles are oppressive and unfair, may we go back to the Scriptures to be reminded of Christ’s divine calling to men and women in marriage. May we remember that this is about the glory of Christ, and not the glory of ourselves, and that we are not the ones with the right to define marriage, but God is. May we honor him either nor or in the future in marriage by accepting where we have been called and what we have each been designed for. If it seems illogical or harsh to you, wrestle with those emotions and wrestle with the text. Let us keep in mind that throughout the Bible, God has called His people to do things that they find very uncomfortable and may even find irrational. Being a believer has always been countercultural and we were always meant to live in contrast to the world. Joshua had to trust God when he was told to march around Jericho. Abraham had to trust God when he was told to sacrifice his precious son. Do not avoid studying this out of fear, and definitely do not twist Scripture, but trust God’s heart and submit your beliefs and your very life to Him, knowing that His commands are for your greatest good and His glory. The Lord has graciously gifted us with earthly marriage to reflect his great work that He will bring to completion one day (Philippians 1:6). So when we struggle with the concepts associated with biblical marriage, we must look to Christ who has never let His church down and will never cease to bring us into clarification and by association, sactivication no matter how much we mess up and let him down. Grace must abound, because the Lord’s cup of grace that pours out onto His Church never runs dry.

God’s Presence in Depression

Depression was never something I understood until I experienced it myself.

Death is what triggered my depression. I lost my grandmother, whom I was very close to, and her death was a very traumatic experience for my family and me. I simply didn’t understand why God had taken her so soon, or the circumstances which we had lost her under. I was angry with Him and I felt abandoned. I then began to question a lot of the things I believed and felt extremely separated from God. I isolated myself, shutting out family and friends. I had convinced myself that I was alone and refused to be told otherwise. I decided this was something I needed to get through on my own. While grief and depression have many similarities, they are different. My grief transformed into a depression that consumed me, and I saw how in isolation the lies of the enemy are the loudest.

I don’t believe depression has a timestamp. For some people, it may consume weeks, months, or years of their lives. I was afraid to label what I went through as “depression” because I thought it couldn’t possibly compare to what other people were experiencing, but depression looks different for everyone and awareness of that is extremely important. Those 14 months when I was depressed were the darkest times of my life.

Is it weird to say that my depression is what brought me closer to God?

Here are two key points I’d like to share with you.

  1. Know what the Word says about depression.
  2. Know you are never alone.

The Bible on Depression
It’s crazy how so much of what we deal with is addressed in the Bible. Proverbs 12:25 touches on depression directly, stating that “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad” (NKJV). Anxiety is the opposite of peace. An anxious heart can lead one into a downward spiral. The word anxious is found in Philippians 4:6, which encourages us to “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God,” (NKJV). Hope is to be found in what the word says. Another area of scripture where this is addressed is when Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all of you who carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (NLT). The Bible is a window into the heart of God. We can often find rest from being reminded of His truth through His Holy Word.

God is Near
You might hear this a lot, but trust me when I tell you how true it is that God is near. Though it was easy and comfortable for me to stay isolated during my depression, there were a lot people who refused to give up on me. We may try to run as far as we can from God, but we can never truly escape the love and grace He provides. A friend of mine met with me during my depression, and upon expressing to her how abandoned and separated I felt from God, she encouraged me by telling me that nothing about God had changed. She said that God is the same he was yesterday, is today and will be tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). She also encouraged me to think about how God had protected me and blessed me thus far. I couldn’t count the number of times he had done so, as He had been covering me since I entered the world. To sum up the message she was sending me: she was encouraging me to not let my circumstance push me far from God, but rather closer to Him. Psalms 40:2 reads “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along” (NLT).

So, to my friend who is struggling, who feels separated and weighed down by any amount of grief, weariness, anxiety, or depression, know and be encouraged that “The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed” Psalm 34:17-18 (NLT).

What is Presuppositional Apologetics?

Everyone has Presuppositions

Christians who obey the Great Commission and go out to share the Gospel are bound to come across people who demand a logical defense of our faith, yet many Christians either feel unequipped to answer these questions or possibly don’t even believe that it is possible. After all, we can’t prove that God exists, can we?

Before Christians can respond to this, they have to understand the question of whether or not God can be proven holds within itself certain assumptions. These previously held assumptions are called presuppositions. They are what people assume before an argument, question, or other line of thought begins. The presuppositions that people hold will impact their final conclusion on a matter, even if they don’t consciously think about them. This explains why an atheist, for example, can look at the complexity of the eye and determine that it was a result of evolution, while a Christian will look at the same eye and conclude it was a result of God’s intelligent design. In this case, the atheist’s prior assumption is that God does not exist, whereas the Christian’s is that He does and has revealed himself through the Bible.

The problem here is that the atheist and the Christian live in the same world and experience the same reality. Concepts like truth, morality, and logic are all wrapped up in the human experience. When someone asks a question about proving something, like the one above, they are presupposing certain fundamental things:

  1. Truth exists: the question, by nature, demands an absolutely true answer.
  2. Morality exists: the unbeliever expects the person answering the question to have integrity when conversing by not lying about their claims.
  3. Logic exists: the question, by nature, demands a logical response.

What is presupposed by the unbeliever here are three fundamental standards that are universal, unchanging, and eternal. Truth, logic, and morality all existed before humans, apply to all humans, and do not change. It is impossible for the atheist to avoid appealing to these three fundamental standards because they live in God’s world and because God is the standard of all truth (John 14:6), all logic (Col. 2:3), and all morality (Luke 18:19). Therefore, when we argue with the unbeliever, we aren’t claiming that they don’t appeal to truth, morality, or logic, but rather we are claiming that they cannot account for these things, given their perspective. This will be better understood when we examine what the atheistic, or unbelieving, worldview has to offer.

Cosmic Stardust and Worldview Theft

The atheist’s worldview is impossible to consistently live out because they live in God’s world. They presuppose His existence in everything they do. For starters, every atheist appeals to truth to attempt to justify their beliefs. Absolute truth is unavoidable and the claim that it isn’t can be easily self-refuted. If someone claims there is no absolute truth, that in itself is an absolute truth.

It is clear that their worldview is epistemologically bankrupt when it comes to their appeal to truth at all. They have no foundation for making truthful claims, because in their worldview, we all evolved from primordial soup and are all essentially just cosmic stardust. Where does anybody get truth out of stardust? If evolution were true, then we couldn’t know anything to be true. The atheist cannot account for truth, let alone try and account for logic and morality since they are universal, unchanging, and immaterial.

When we converse with unbelievers that raise objections to Christianity, all we have to do to dismantle their worldview is to expose their presuppositions about what they believe and show how they cannot consistently live it out. In essence, we are showing them that they must borrow from the Christian worldview in order to make sense of their own. This is because they can only account for truth, logic, and morality from within the Christian worldview. The Christian worldview provides this account of truth, morality, and logic because we presuppose God, which is the necessary precondition to have and make sense of any truth, morality, or logic. Without God we cannot know anything to be true, so in actuality, any question about God presupposes God.

The Biblical Case for Defending the Faith Presuppositionally

When we defend the faith in such a way as this, we are staying faithful to our Lord and what He says about the unbelieving mind, rather than attempting to begin from a neutral standpoint and argue our way up to God. The Bible even tells us in Colossians 2:8,

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

This verse is commanding Christians to put Christ as the foundation of all things, which includes apologetics. When Christians defend the faith evidentially, we actually give the unbeliever the authority as ultimate judge over the evidence for God. Christians should not merely be concerned with arguing over the evidence to prove God’s existence since it is evident that each side will interpret the evidence through the lens of their presuppositions. The Christian, in fact, does not even need to prove God’s existence to the unbeliever, because the unbeliever already knows Him, as Paul tells us in Romans 1:18-23,

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Since God has already made Himself known to every person (v.19), we don’t need to prove His existence. When we contend for the faith, we need to trust in God’s word, and if we do, then we know that our focus needs to be on exposing the unbeliever to the fact that they do know the God who created them and that they are actively holding down and denying that truth (v.18). Paul tells us elsewhere the reason for the unbeliever’s failure to receive Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says,

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

As scripture indicates, the problem isn’t a lack of evidence for God. God’s word clearly tells us that it is because the unbeliever stands morally opposed to God in their unrighteous natural state that they claim they don’t believe in Him. One of the best Christian apologists of our time, Dr. James R. White, puts it nicely when he says that “our theology determines our apologetic, not the other way around.” Consistent Biblical theology paves the way for us to defend the faith presuppositionally, rather than evidentially, because according to what the Bible says, the atheist’s problem isn’t a lack of evidence, but a lack of spiritual discernment. This is only possible through the work of God in their heart (John 6:44).

It is important to understand and have this foundation when arguing with unbelievers because it not only leads us to discuss the fundamental assumptions about each person’s perspective, but more importantly, causes our apologetic to be intimately wrapped up into the proclamation of the Gospel. When we expose the failure of the atheistic worldview and explain to the unbeliever that they are denying the truth of God because of their love for sin (John 3:19), we are then to provide the truth of God’s justice and judgment against sin and the glorious news of Christ who came to save us from that judgment. Ultimately, no matter how “good” we become at defending the faith, the Gospel is what holds the power to turn hearts to Christ, which should be our ultimate goal in apologetics.

The Reason for Apologetics

God has given Christians the capability to defend the faith in such a way that brings glory to Him, but if all we are seeking to do in apologetics is to win an argument, then we have utterly failed. Our goal needs to be proclaiming the Gospel to the lost soul that we are engaged in argumentation with, because ultimately, we aren’t the ones that can save them. When having conversations with unbelievers, we shouldn’t come to them preaching with lofty speech or human wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:1-2), but the beauty of the presuppositional approach is that it doesn’t depend on human wisdom or lofty speech because its foundation is the wisdom and word of God. This apologetic method must be conjoined with the Gospel.

We know that the proclamation of Christ and Him crucified is what brings the hope of salvation. So, when we are successful in exposing folly of the unbeliever’s worldview, we need to provide them the hope that is in Christ, or else all we have done is left them without excuse before their Creator, with their only hope being an eternity under God’s wrath. If we aren’t seeking the lost in our apologetic, then we are failing at apologetics, no matter which method we use. With our constant desire to see people come to Christ, our first priority should be to seek out a gospel conversation as the result of an apologetic encounter. Our apologetic should be so intertwined with sharing the Gospel that when we hear of a Christian doing apologetics, we assume it’s synonymous with evangelism. Although both apologetics and evangelism have different purposes, we should seek the same result: sharing the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What is Baptism? (A Credobaptist View)

The discussion of baptism is one that has been prominent in Christianity since the second century of the Church. Even saying the word “baptism” will draw many people into a debate as they plant their flags and defend their respective position. It is important to note that both the paedobaptist (infant baptism) view and the credobaptist (believer’s baptism) view believe that baptism is a command from God. When we engage in either practice without the utmost conviction that it is what God has commanded in Scripture, we put words in God’s mouth which is blasphemous. We must derive all teachings from Scripture and study them earnestly rather than haphazardly holding to a teaching because it is the tradition of our denomination or family. Regardless of where you fall on this issue, I pray that this article leads a greater understanding and more importantly a greater love for one another. We must recognize that despite our slight difference in teaching, we are both children of God.

I believe that the best way to begin explaining why I affirm believer’s baptism is to show why I do not affirm infant baptism. Before I begin, I want to state something that both sides of this argument can agree on: baptism does not save you. This is a clear teaching in Scripture that is fundamental to understanding salvation and baptism.

Baptism = Circumcision

Paedobaptists will often equate baptism to circumcision in the Old Testament and propose that, like circumcision, baptism is a sign of God’s covenant. We see in Romans 4:11 that Abraham “received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith.” Scripture is clear that circumcision was a sign of the Old Covenant, while baptism is never called a sign of the New Covenant. Scripture tells us what God’s sign of the New Covenant is in Ephesians 1:13-14: “In Him you also – when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you also believed – were sealed in Him with the promised Holy Spirit.” God seals His people with the Holy Spirit after their belief in Christ (also see Eph 4:30 and 2 Cor. 1:22). To say that baptism is the sign or seal of God’s covenant is to contradict Scripture. Circumcision and baptism are mentioned many times in Scripture, but no verse ever makes a one-to-one comparison between the two. The Israelites’ sign was circumcision but as those under the New Covenant, ours is the Holy Spirit.

Household Baptisms

Household baptisms are another prominent argument for infant baptism. The book of Acts is most referred to when speaking of household baptisms because it accounts for the household baptisms of Cornelius (Acts 10:24-48), Lydia (Acts 16:11-15), and the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:25-34). Many people who hold to infant baptism will say that they cannot prove that there were infants in these household baptisms. Nonetheless, they argue, based upon the silence of Scripture, that “household” includes infants. In each of the accounts of household baptisms, Luke emphasizes that God’s word was taught. This indicates that people heard and comprehended the gospel message. In the stories of both Cornelius and Lydia, there is mention of the Holy Spirit moving among the people and drawing them to God.

Finally, in every passage mentioned above there is an account of baptism. This is not an uncommon procession throughout Scripture. In most occasions of salvation recorded in Scripture, it is noted that people heard the word of God preached, understood it, repented of their sins, and rejoiced over their baptism. An infant is incapable to do any of those. We must remember that Scripture teaches that belief must precede baptism (Mk. 16:16, Acts 8:37, Rom. 10:10-11, 1 Cor. 1:21, and Eph. 1:21).

Jesus’ Baptism

One of the greatest arguments for believer’s baptism is the story of Jesus’ own baptism. It is mentioned in all four of the Gospel’s and is detailed in Matthew 3. Matthew 3:14-15 says,

But John tried to stop Him [from being baptized] saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then John allowed him to be baptized.

What is the significance of Jesus being baptized? There are many significant parts to the baptism of Jesus, but Jesus only mentioned one – to show the way we are to fulfill righteousness. Christ, at that moment, identified with sinners. His own baptism symbolized the sinner’s own baptism into the fulfillment of righteousness. Acts 2:37-38;41 says,

Now when they [the crowds] heard this [the Gospel], they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do now?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.’ … So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

These verses reveal a brief look at Pentecost. In these three verses, we see some very essential truths regarding salvation. First, we see that after hearing the Gospel, people were pierced to the heart. Peter responded by telling them to repent of their sins so that they may have forgiveness of their sins. After they repented, he baptized them. Secondly, we see that the promise of salvation is offered to them and their children. This does not mean that their children had to be baptized for this promise to be fulfilled. Peter is stating that the Gospel is open to everyone. It is not just reserved for certain people but it is a promise given to all if they repent. Thirdly, after Peter had told them to repent, Scripture tells us that those who had received his word were baptized. Here we see that the act of baptism is reserved only for those who were pierced to the heart, repented, and received the Holy Spirit. Luke, the writer of Acts, was very clear about this. Believers are expected to, by the power of the Spirit, rid themselves of their old nature and put on their new found identity in Christ. Baptism is a public declaration of this new identity. In order words, it is a outer expression of an inward reality. Through baptism, we publicly declare that we are a new creation in Christ and that we have passed from death to life, just as Christ has done.

In Christ,
Nicolas Olson

What is Baptism? (A Paedobaptist View)

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:38-39)

The practice of infant baptism (paedobaptism) has been both administered and present throughout the history of the church as opposed to believer’s baptism (credobaptism). This topic is highly controversial because infant baptism is not explicitly commanded in scripture and therefore reprimanded by many Christians. However, it is important to realize that it is not explicitly admonished in Scripture either and is given an account in several places in Scripture (Acts 16).  Infant baptism is practiced because it is believed to be the New Covenant fulfillment of circumcision in the Old Covenant. Therefore, in order to fully understand the practice, it is necessary to understand the relationship between circumcision and infant baptism and the view of Scripture through the lens of covenant theology.

What is covenant theology? Covenant theology is the view of Scripture through the various covenants established between God and His people. It is where God establishes that “I will be their God and they will be my people.” It is the belief that covenants are the way God has established His kingdom expansion here on earth, and this is clearly displayed throughout Scripture. Covenant theology links both the Old Testament and the New Testament together in order to see a unified view of God throughout Scripture. Most importantly, covenant theology displays how the Old Testament points to the coming Messiah and how the New Testament shows the fulfillment of the covenant relationship with God and His people through Christ.

If infant baptism is not explicitly commanded in scripture, why is it practiced?  Covenant theology views the modern-day church as the fulfillment of Israel in the Old Testament. Covenant theology replaces the sacraments of the bloody signs of God’s covenant in the Old Testament with the bloodless signs of the new covenant in Christ. For example, the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament is a replacement of the Passover in the Old Testament. Both sacraments are similar, as they occur more than once and the partakers of the sacrament are active participants. However, the Lord’s Supper does not require  a sacrifice because Christ’s death and resurrection are a fulfillment of that necessary sacrifice. Likewise, the sacrament of infant baptism, like circumcision in the Old Testament, is similar, as it is administered once to believers and their households.

Infant baptism, like circumcision, is a promise of the covenant. The purpose of infant baptism is to demonstrate the sign of a covenant establishment from God through Christ on a family and the seal of that promise. Infant baptism does not save a person, but is a promise given to a child and signifies them becoming apart of the Church and being accepted and committed to the Church. After infants are baptized, they become a non-communicant  member of the Church. A non-communicant member of the church has become a member of the church, but because they have yet to put their faith in Christ can not participate in the Lord’s supper. The Church promises to raise, support, and nurture the faith of the children who are administered infant baptism. This ceremony is a beautiful picture of covenant theology and a charge to the parents and the church to raise their children in truth in hopes that the child will one day put their trust in Christ.

A better understanding of baptism as an established seal of the covenant might better take place once paralleled with an account of circumcision in the Old Testament. In Genesis 17, God gives the sign and seal of the Abrahamic Covenant to Abraham, which is circumcision. God commands Abraham to be circumcised along with his whole family, slaves, and any male older than eight days old. This is an establishment and a sign of the Abrahamic Covenant between God and Abraham as God says, “This is my covenant which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you.” Romans 4 continues to talk about Abraham’s circumcision as a seal of the Covenant, as it says,  Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. Abraham circumcised Isaac when he was eight days old as God commanded Him to. Isaac received circumcision as a seal of the righteousness through the covenant given to Abraham’s family by God.  Similarly, in the New Testament, under the New Covenant of grace in Christ, the Philippian jailer and his family are brought to faith and he and his family are baptized as a representation of God’s covenant with the whole family it says “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household. And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God” (Acts 16:31-33).

Both of these passages, through the lens of covenant theology show how God works the same way in both the Old and New Testament. However, in the New Testament, the covenant is fulfilled in Christ and the bloody sign of circumcision is no longer needed and replaced with the bloodless sign of baptism. Abraham’s household and the Philippian jailer’s household are both given the sign and seal of the covenant: circumcision being one and baptism the other. Colossians 2 continues to show the connection between circumcision and baptism. Paul writes,

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. -Colossians 2:11-12

Through these passages, we can clearly see the established relationship of baptism in the New Testament with circumcision in the Old Testament.

Infant baptism displays the sovereignty of God and His grace towards His people through salvation in a new light. While believer’s baptism focuses specifically on the individual’s decision to choose and follow Jesus, infant baptism represents God’s sovereign hand over His chosen people. When an infant is baptized, it demonstrates the sovereignty of God over the individual’s life. Infant baptism shows the extent of God’s grace to a believer and shows the very extent of our depravity and helplessness in salvation. Just as we were dead in our sin and helpless, much like an infant, God so graciously pulled us out of our depravity and gave us new life. This is what infant baptism hopes to picture, as it is a sign and seal to the child of his/her salvation under the covenant of grace.  It represents how the salvation of a believer is an act of mercy and was in no way contributed by the individual. Infant baptism displays this truth in a new light as God promises to extend His grace towards the believer and their children. (Acts 2:39) Infant baptism, unlike credobaptism, places the focus on the work of God in His people’s hearts, instead of putting the focus on the individual and their decision.

In the end, if anything, I hope this article gave you a Biblical defense of infant baptism through the lens of covenant theology. I understand that this topic is highly controversial and not without its immense depth and complexities. I hope that I was able to give you a little clarity on the topic and insight to the reasoning behind infant baptism. I would love to discuss any further questions or comments you have.

In Christ,
Julia

What is Baptism?

What does it mean to be baptized? The word “baptize” comes from the Greek root word “baptizo” which means to immerse in something. It is quite fascinating that when a new believer is baptized, because they are literally and figuratively immersed in the grace and new salvation given through the cross of Jesus. When lifted out of the water, the new believer has a new responsibility to observe Christ’s teachings, particularly the Great Commission. The Great Commission, as taught in Matthew 28:19, is threefold: go make disciples, baptize them, and teach them what you have been taught.

Baptism gets its meaning and its importance from the death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in our place and for our sins, and from his triumph over death in the resurrection that guarantees our new and everlasting life. 
-John Piper

This quote illustrates that:

  1. Baptism is only important because of Jesus’ sacrifice
  2. Baptism is a symbolic gesture we’re commanded to partake in
  3. Baptism does not save you

Baptism is only important because of Jesus’ sacrifice

Piper’s quote shows the importance and symbolism of baptism, but also the power and justice which comes with the cross. The distinctions and opinions about baptism are entirely dependent on Jesus’ death and resurrection. Without Jesus’ actions on the cross, baptism has no value. Baptism is about Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.

Baptism is a symbolic gesture we’re commanded to partake in

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
-Matthew 28:19

Upon his ascension to heaven, Jesus commanded his disciples to make more disciples. Jesus called them to teach the words that he taught them and then to baptize them. Jesus instructed an immediate call to action after one confesses faith. After the disciples go and make more disciples, they are instructed to qualify the new believers faith through an action. This action is baptism.

Baptism does not save you

To be clear, salvation does not depend on baptism. Baptism is a command of Christ and it is important to remember that it is purely symbolic. Baptism is a symbol of faith, grace, and the power of Christ. Although it does sound harsh, if you are a believer and you have not been baptized, you are directly disobeying one of Christ’s final commands, so get baptized! It is often referred to as “an outward expression of an inward reality,” and Scripture commands us to partake in this action which displays our belief in Jesus.