Infants and the Sign of the Covenant

One of the elements of a biblical view of the covenant is the fact that infant children of believers are in the covenant and therefore baptized.  While there is a lot of biblical teaching undergirding this practice, I would like to address one question that is sometimes raised about infant baptism.  If the New Testament calls people to repent before they are baptized, why baptize infants who cannot repent?  This question is actually more involved than it seems.  But let’s consider the question’s assumption that the sign of the covenant should only given after faith and repentance.  Since Abraham is our arch example of faith (Romans 4:1-25; Galatians 3:5-29), his experience is instructive.  After being on the road of faith and repentance, the Lord revealed his promises more fully and Abraham believed.  The Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).  Then after the Lord gave him further promises, Abraham expressed his faith by circumcising himself and the males of his household; infant sons were included (See Genesis 17:12).  In other words, Abraham believed God’s promise and then expressed his faith by receiving the sign of the covenant and giving it to his sons.  If he had refused to circumcise his infant sons, he would have demonstrated unbelief and set them up to be covenant breakers (Genesis 17:14)

There is a foundational pattern here.  In both the Old and New Testaments, adults members of the covenant are called to believe God’s promises.  One way they express their belief is by giving their children the sign of the covenant.  Of course, they must back this up with faithful nurture of their children, but I jump ahead.  The main point is that the Bible commands godly parents to give their infants the sign of the covenant before they personally express faith and repentance.

Of course, I have assumed several things that I haven’t proven here.  I do plan to bring the rest out on the table and explain myself.  For now I leave you with this pattern: Abraham believed God, received the sign of the covenant and gave it to his infant sons.  Adults who come to believe the gospel of Christ receive the sign of the covenant and then give it to their infant children.  


4 thoughts on “Infants and the Sign of the Covenant

  1. Michelle December 6, 2013 / 7:10 am

    This has whet my appetite! I can’t wait to read more as you flesh out these ideas.

  2. Anonymous September 3, 2013 / 9:50 pm

    Enjoyed this Randy. Will look forward to your remarks to come. Tanya

  3. Anonymous September 3, 2013 / 9:48 pm

    Enjoyed this, will look forward to your next posting regarding this subject. Tanya

  4. Anonymous September 3, 2013 / 9:46 pm

    i enjoyed this Randy. Will be anxious to read your follow-up lessons.

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