As we discovered in our last post, God is not doing anything new in the New Testament; rather, he is doing things differently. God’s grace and purpose is always the same, but His administration of that grace is different between the Old and New Testaments
As I was talking with a dear friend recently he asked me how I came to believe in infant baptism and when I would baptize my daughter, McClaine. He was shocked when I told him that I, in fact, do not believe in infant baptism! Nowhere is there Scriptural warrant to baptize infants. Instead, I told him that I firmly believe in household baptism. That is, God never calls us to indiscriminately baptize any baby that is in our midst; rather, God calls us to baptize households, which include infants of believing parents.
The Importance of Household
We can see this most clearly in Genesis 17.9-14 where God establishes his covenant with Abraham. Abraham is told that the sign of God’s grace and love for him is circumcision. Circumcision, however, was not for Abraham only; all his offspring eight days old and every male member of his household were to receive circumcision. In fact, the words household and offspring are mentioned five times in those six verses and God sternly warns Abraham,
“Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant” (v.14).
Circumcision was not for Abraham only; all his offspring eight days old and every male member of his household were to receive circumcision.
Pattern of Baptism in New Testament
The principle of signifying God’s covenant grace and love is the same for New Testament believers. Just as God’s covenant sign of circumcision was for Abraham and his household and offspring, so too is baptism for the household and offspring of believers. In Acts 16.31-34, Paul and Silas respond to a new believer’s question “what must I do to be saved?”
And they said, “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 house. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that had believed in God.”
Paul followed this same pattern in Corinth:
“I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else” (1 Corinthians 1.16).
Just as God’s people, regardless of age, were circumcised as a sign of God’s grace in the Old Testament, so too God’s people, regardless of age, are baptized as a sign of God’s grace in the New Testament. That is because God is interested in building a household of faith where He is our Father!
God is interested in building a household of faith where He is our Father!
So, when my daughter McClaine is baptized in the near future, we will not celebrate her baptism for baptisms sake, as if it were just a symbol or rite of passage! Rather, we will celebrate her as a new member in God’s household of faith! The Christian household of a man and wife, united together, nurturing and raising covenant children is a faint reflection of Jesus Christ and His bride, the church, united together by Holy Spirit, nurturing and raising new members of God’s household.
My daughter has been baptized and it is comforting to know that she has been ushered into a greater home than my wife Hannah and I could ever provide. She is being ushered into the household of God along with Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Naomi, Paul, John, Peter, and Mephibosheth!