The Acid Test


Today we had our final “Scripture” class at the high school for this term. After a summary of the term’s lessons and a final gospel presentation, students were asked to fill out a form and tick some boxes. It was encouraging to see how many students ticked the “I made a decision for God today” box (or words to that effect). And which kids tick that box is always very surprising. God is at work.

Which left us to decide what to do next term. We can’t just do the basics again (and believe me, the lessons we are doing now are kindy stuff). I suggested we challenge those who made decisions to join a church and get baptized. Look of horror from the Anglican teacher.

But why not? It’s easy to tick a box. Submitting to baptism as a public testimony to one’s faith is an immediate tool God gave us to join faith with action. It deals with gnosticism right there and then. Perhaps this is why there is such an insistance from the FV people that the water does something to the baby. I agree. The water is efficacious, but only after faith. For goodness’ sake, have a baby dedication and use baptism the way the apostles quite evidently did. Only believers get baptized in the Bible. It is never involuntary. [1] How many confirmations are there in the New Testament?

Why should insisting on baptism as the next step be so shocking? It is the acid test that separates the men from the boys. Will you testify? [2]

This is the purpose of baptism in the New Testament, and it shows how far removed from the Scriptures our clever Covenant systems can get us when we are using them to prove something that is inherently extra-biblical. As I have written before, I agree with everything the FV says about baptism as long as it’s not applied to infants. This solves the paedocommunion debate with one fell swoop, too. If they are old enough to speak, they are old enough to testify and eat at the Lord’s table.[3]

For the faithful, baptism is the Jordan, the laver before the Promised Land. For those who just ticked a box, it is a lake of fire before the throne.[4]

[1] If you want to push the “household” argument, there is a literary factor here. The passages, like all of Acts, follow the matrix pattern, and every mention of household appears at Tabernacles. Just like the mention of sailing under the sign of the Twins appears at Atonement (Laver, two goats, etc). Even Luke’s confusing reference that links faith and baptism to salvation only mentions baptism because the structure is at the “Laver” step. Totus Christus has a pretty full outline of the Book of Acts, so you can see it for yourself. I believe all this rings true, and if it does, the literary devices used by the apostles, whether consciously or unconsciously, have a great bearing on some doctrinal debates.
[2] Seems to me like baptist gnosticism comes from some other quarter than their actual baptism. They might have a truncated view of the Covenant, but it’s the paedos who are gettin’ around nekked. See Healing in His … Tassels?
[3] See Comparing Apples with Apples. To me, the paedocommunion debate is like a bunch of driving instructors who insist that toddlers be given driving licenses arguing over whether or not they should then actually be allowed behind the steering wheel.
[4] The “lake of fire” passages in Revelation follow the Bible matrix pattern and put the lake at the “laver” step. For the saints, fire is purification in preparation for government. For the sinners, it is incineration.

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2 Responses to “The Acid Test”

  • Kelby Carlson Says:

    I am really kind of baffled as to how you can say “baptism is never involuntary” and then go right around and claim babies should be baptized. Do I think infant baptism is bad? No I don’t, but I also don’t think the water “does anything” to the baby. it is a covenant sign of witness; it is a *sign* which symbolizes and reflects something that a baby simply does not understand.

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Hi Kelby

    Sorry I wasn’t clear. I think believing children should be baptized, but not infants.

    Baptizing babies is not the kind of witness we see in the New Testament. Baptism symbolically puts us into the “government” of the New Covenant church. Those other articles I link to explain this fully.

    I don’t believe the water is magical. But I do believe God honours the obedience with more grace, as He does at the Lord’s supper. There is a “physical” effect.

    The Covenant sign reflects the nature of the NC church as opposed to the nature of Israel. It is about bravely testifying, professing, because we are filled with the Spirit.