FRANCIS A. SCHAEFFER: BAPTISM (INFANT BAPTISM - New Testament Practice and Church History)



New Testament Practice
These questions would be further aggravated by what this saved Jew himself would have heard taught in the New Testament time. For example, he would have heard Peter in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2: 38, 39:
"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 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." 
Remember, Peter said this to Jews, Jews who were used to having the outward sign of their faith applied to their children.

With all these things in his mind, he would expect his child to be baptized. If it were refused, what would you have done in his place? You would have asked the Apostles the reason why. So would the thousands of Christian Jews in that day. The question would have been asked in a hundred meetings; and Peter, John, Paul, and the others would have sat down and written in their Epistles to clear up the matter, just as they answered other questions that arose. The New Testament would have contained the clear answer as to why in the Old Testament the Covenant sign was applied to the infants of believers, but in the New Testament it was to be withheld from them.

The only reason possible for the New Testament not dealing with this problem is that the problem did not exist. The only possible reason that there was no problem in the Jews' minds was that the believing Jews did apply the covenant sign to their children. They baptized their babies as they had circumcised them in the Old Testament dispensation.

In the light of the teaching of the whole Bible, for not to baptize babies there would have to be a clear command in Scripture not to do so. Instead of that, the emphasis is all the other way. Of the seven cases of water baptism mentioned in the New Testament, three were of families. Someone may say, "But it does not say that them were infants involved." I would point out to you that in the light of the natural expectancy of the saved Jew, if babies were not baptized, the Scripture would have made it clear that such was the case. God deals with families in the 0. T. and in the N. T. too. The promise made to the Philippian jailer, Acts 16:31b, "And thou shalt be saved, and thy house," adequately shows this. No matter what interpretation we, individually, may hold concerning this passage, certainly God here does show that He deals with families not only in the Old Testament but in the New Testament as well.

Let us never forget, God's use of signs is found in every era. He gave Noah the rainbow He gave circumcision and the Passover to the Old Testament Jew. He has given the visible church in this age the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper.

The dispensational change from Circumcision to Baptism is no more than that of the change from the seventh day to the first as the day of worship.

Church History
Church history continues with the same lesson concerning infant baptism. Origen was born about 180 A.D. and he was baptized as an infant, remember, this was eighty years or less after the death of the Apostle John. There are still earlier references which seem to speak of infant baptism, but there is no question in the case of Origen.* The first ones who argued against infant baptism, for example Tertullian, did not do so as though it were a new practice being brought in, but did so because they had come to the un-Biblical position that one should wait until just before death to be baptized.* Their arguments are therefore an incidental proof that the Church baptized infants from the beginning, for, if it were an innovation, these men who were against it because of their un-Biblical views would have delighted to have pointed out that infant baptism was not an Apostolic practice. Saint Augustine, writing concerning infant baptism, said, "This doctrine is held by the whole church, not instituted by councils, but always retained." Those who would teach that the practice of the early Church was not infant baptism should be able to show in Church History when it started. There is no such break recorded.

In the light of this, the claim that infant baptism is a product of the Roman Catholic Church is totally mistaken.

Therefore, for now almost four thousand years, since the day of Abraham, those who have been saved by faith have been marked at the command of God by an external sign, and this external sign has, without a break, been applied not only to them but to their children.

We believe in Infant Baptism because of the unity of the spiritual promises in all dispensations. The national promises are for the Jews alone, but there is a unity of the spiritual promises throughout the whole Word of God. The basis of this unity is the great central fact of Scripture that all men of all eras are saved on the basis of the finished work of Christ through faith in Him, plus nothing, or they are not saved at all. This spiritual unity does not disturb the fact of the differences between the different eras, nor does it disturb our peculiar privileges as those saved and living in this age.

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