During discussions on baptism (other doctrines too) it is sometimes necessary to pause and re-affirm our love for the brethren based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which unites us. Else we become too consumed with proving our brothers wrong and defending our position that we lose sight of the truth. We both have the same foundation and He is Christ the Lord. If we lose our focus it is easy to become overtaken with bitterness and hatred for one another.
This is why I pause in the discussion of baptism to say that I really do love my paedobaptist brethren. I cannot forget their love for Christ and their labor and love for Him. Their defense of the Christian faith and example of truly contending for it. One thinks of that little one time monk from Wittenberg. A giant of the faith- Martin Luther. One may say whatever they wish in regards to his view of baptism. What must be admitted is his love for Christ and his boldness in the face of death to proclaim the truth and defend it. Every Christian today owes respect and is indebted to such a great man of God.
Ask me again why I love my paedobaptist brethren. I answer with their own words-
What is the Gospel but the sermon that Christ gave Himself for us that He might save us from sin, that all who believe this might certainly be saved in this manner, and that thus sinners, despairing of their own efforts, might cling to Christ alone and rely on Him. this is a very lovely and consoling declaration and readily enters such hearts as are despondent about their own efforts. Therefore the word “evangel” means a sweet, kind, and gracious message which gladdens and cheers a sorrowful and terrified heart.*
Question 60. How art thou righteous before God?
Answer. Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ; so that, though my conscience accuse me that I have grossly transgressed all the commands of God, and kept none of them, and am still inclined to all evil; notwithstanding God, without any merit of mine, but only of mere grace, grants and imputes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ; even so, as if I never had had, nor committed any sin; yea, as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ hath accomplished for me; inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a believing heart.
The doctrine of justification, which now follows, is one of the chief articles of our faith, not only because it treats of those things which are fundamental, but also because it is most frequently called in question by heretics. The controversies between the church and heretics have respect principally to two points: the one is concerning God, and the other concerning the justification of man in the sight of God. And such is the importance of these doctrines that if either one of them be overthrown, the other parts of our faith easily fall to pieces. Hence it becomes necessary for us to fortify and establish ourselves, especially in these doctrines, against all the assaults of heretics. Concerning the doctrine of justification (for we have already spoken of the doctrine concerning God) of which the above questions of the Catechism treat, the following things are to be considered…
Righteousness is derived from right, which is the law, and is a conformity with the law, as sin or unrighteousness is the transgression of the law. It may be defined in general, as consisting in a conformity with God and the divine law; although a definition can hardly be given so general as to agree at the same time with God and creatures. Uncreated righteousness is God himself, the foundation, and rule or pattern of all righteousness. Created righteousness is an effect of uncreated or divine righteousness in rational creatures. Righteousness, therefore, in general, as far as it has respect to creatures, consists in fulfilling those laws which pertain to rational creatures; or, it is a conformity on the part of rational creatures with those laws which have respect to them. Finally, righteousness is the fulfillment of the law, and a conformity with the law is righteousness itself. This must be observed and held fast to, because our justification can only be effected by fulfilling the law. Evangelical righteousness is the fulfilling of the law, and does not conflict with it in the least. The gospel does not abolish the law, but establishes it.*
According to the New Testament, all these different testimonies of the law and the prophets culminate in Christ. The whole Old Testament is basically fulfilled in him. In him all the promises of God are yes and amen (Rom. 15:8; 2 Cor. 1:20). He is the true Messiah, the king of David’s house (Matt. 2:2; 21:5; 27:11, 37; Luke 1:32; etc.); the prophet who proclaims good news to the poor (Luke 4:17f.); the priest who, according to the Letter to the Hebrews, in his person, office, appointment, sacrifice, and sanctuary far exceeds the priesthood of the Old Testament. He is the Servant of the Lord who as a slave (δουλος, Phil. 2:7–8) came to serve (Mark 10:45), submitted to the law (Gal. 4:4), fulfilled all righteousness (Matt. 3:15), and was obedient to the death on the cross (Rom. 5:19; Phil. 2:8; Heb. 5:8). As such Jesus made a distinction between the kingdom of God as it was now being founded by him in a spiritual sense and as it would one day be revealed in glory; between his first and his second coming, events that in Old Testament prophecy still coincided; between his work in the state of humiliation and that in the state of exaltation. The Christ had to enter glory through suffering (Luke 24:26).
The work that Christ now accomplishes in the state of humiliation is described in the New Testament from many different angles. It is a work that the Father gave him to do (John 4:34; 5:36; 17:4); generally speaking, it consisted in doing God’s will (Matt. 26:42; John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38) and specifically included the “exegesis” of God (John 1:18), the revelation and glorification of his name (17:4, 6, 26), the communication of God’s words (17:8, 14), and so on. Christ is a prophet, mighty in words and deeds (Luke 24:19); he is not a new legislator but interprets the law (Matt. 5–7; 22:40; Luke 9:23; 10:28; John 13:34; 1 John 2:7–8), proclaims the gospel (Matt. 12:16–21; Luke 4:17–21), and in both preaches himself as the fulfiller of the former and the content of the latter. He is the law and the gospel in his own person.*
CHRISTIANITY is pre-eminently a religion of redemption. It proceeds on the assumption that man’s relation was disturbed by the entrance of sin into the world, and that the present natural development of his life is so abnormal that it, left to itself, can only terminate in eternal destruction. And it teaches us that God does not permit sin to run its free course and to encompass the whole human race in utter ruin. It brings a message of reconciliation and offers a way of escape from the ravages of sin and from its destructive power,—and this way is the way of the cross. Reconciliation through atonement by the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
The doctrine of atonement has always been regarded as central in the Christian religion and as the very marrow of theology. It has been called “the chief part of our salvation,” “the anchor of faith,” “the refuge of hope,” “the heart of the gospel,” “the keystone of the Christian religion,” and so on. Robert S. Franks says in his valuable History of the Doctrine of the Work of Christ, I, p. 5: “For where in the whole doctrinal system is there a single doctrine which is more a microcosm of the whole? The doctrine of ‘the saving effects of Christ’s incarnation, life, passion, death, and resurrection’ is indeed in miniature the whole of Christianity, and has indeed more than once in the history of the Church been treated so as to include practically the whole of Christianity.” Even modern liberal theologians often speak of it as a central and essential truth, though they differ widely in their conception of it from the interpretation which the Church of all ages has given of this important truth.*
This is why I love my paedobaptist brethren. Soli Deo Gloria!
For His Glory,
* Ewald M. Plass, What Luther Says (St. Louis, Mo: Concordia Publishing House, 1959), p. 562
*Ursinus, Z., & Williard, G. W. (1888). The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism (324–325). Cincinnati, OH: Elm Street Printing Company.
*Bavinck, H., Bolt, J., & Vriend, J. (2006). Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ (337–339). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
*Berkhof, L. (1936). Vicarious Atonement Through Christ (11–12). Grand Rapids, MI: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.