Last week we began a discussion of some of our differences on the nature of the sacraments in general, and of baptism in particular. On this program, the hosts will continue this discussion and will also address the thorny issue of baptismal regeneration. Finally, the hosts will conclude their discussion with the question as to whether Protestant churches should baptize infants. Is this merely a holdover from Catholicism, or is there a biblical warrant for this ancient practice?
“Baptism is a form of good news, the gospel…What is given in Baptism according to the reformed tradition is not something different than what is given in the Word or in the Lord’s Supper. It’s Christ. The whole Christ with all of his benefits is given through three different media: preached, washed, and eating and drinking. But God doesn’t need baptism in order to save us. We need it in order to be assured of God’s forgiveness and cleansing power. We need to know that this is for me, not just for everybody else, but this is for me. I am washed.”Michael Horton
TERM TO LEARN
“The Keys of the Kingdom”
83 Q. What are the keys of the kingdom?
A. The preaching of the holy gospel and Christian discipline toward repentance. Both preaching and discipline open the kingdom of heaven to believers and close it to unbelievers.
84 Q. How does preaching the gospel open and close the kingdom of heaven?
A. According to the command of Christ: The kingdom of heaven is opened by proclaiming and publicly declaring to each and every believer that, as often as he accepts the gospel promise in true faith, God, because of what Christ has done, truly forgives all his sins. The kingdom of heaven is closed, however, by proclaiming and publicly declaring to unbelievers and hypocrites that, as long as they do not repent, the anger of God and eternal condemnation rest on them. God’s judgment, both in this life and in the life to come, is based on this gospel testimony.
85 Q. How is the kingdom of heaven closed and opened by Christian discipline?
A. According to the command of Christ: If anyone, though called a Christian, professes unchristian teachings or lives an unchristian life, if after repeated brotherly counsel, he refuses to abandon his errors and wickedness, and, if after being reported to the church, that is, to its officers, he fails to respond also to their admonition—such a one the officers exclude from the Christian fellowship by withholding the sacraments from him, and God himself excludes him from the kingdom of Christ. Such a person, when he promises and demonstrates genuine reform, is received again as a member of Christ and of his church.
(The Heidelberg Catechism, Questions 83–85)