The Angels of Death Are We

Blood Shed for Bloodshedders


“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.”  2 Cor. 2:14-16

For those who questioned whether the image of Day 5′s swarms corresponds to the clouds of incense as armies of God, Paul himself does it in 2 Corinthians 2.[1] The saints are soldiers who wield the two-edged sword of the gospel. It brings both life and death, depending on whether those warned respond like Rahab or not. Which brings me to my point.

Doug Wilson recently posted about the sacraments being promises of salvation.

“Every sacrament, by definition, contains and manifests a promise of salvation. That is what a sacrament is. The sacrament of baptism contains a promise of salvation at its inception, and the Supper contains a promise of salvation related to perseverance. What God began God will complete. These promises are apprehended with the heart, whenever someone receives them in faith.”

There is much he wrote that I agree with, but what he said highlighted the major difference between paedo- and credobaptism. Here’s my response for what it’s worth. It does repeat some things I have posted elsewhere here, but it might make my position clearer to some, and the reasons for it. It’s not an argument I’ve seen used by credobaptists, so it might be of interest to you.




Dear Pastor Wilson,

Hope you don’t mind some feedback from a baptist.

The fact that you left out a baptism received by faith stands out like a sore thumb. You swapped baptism for Word.

Circumcision was a promise of salvation (Jesus’ death). Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are not. Baptism is a promise of resurrection and the Lord’s supper of eating at His table as kings. In these the faithful enter weekly into the new government established after His resurrection and enthronement.

Circumcision was for an infant church. The NT sacraments are for a mature one.
I thought the rest of your post was excellent of course. I know this isn’t really the place for such a debate, and it wasn’t the point of your post, but I just had to say something. I appreciate your ministry very much.

Michael, don’t mind your feedback at all. But I am not sure I get your objection. In what sense would “resurrection” not be salvation? Or assumption of kingly status in Christ not part of salvation? 

Thanks. Just the order of events.

All this comes under “salvation”, for sure, but the Bible repeatedly shows us the process of salvation in a specific order.

We leave the old city under a covering of blood shed for us by the Father (circumcision/Passover/Red Sea). Obedience to the gospel puts us under the blood. It takes us out of the old Adam, through whom every child was born a sinner. Circumcision is about the bloody Covenant head. It kills the first birth with the sword. It makes a new people.

But in baptism we enter the new city to shed blood for the Son (baptism/Atonement/ Jordan). It is not about the head but about the whole body, a robe of office. It is the second birth. It makes, not a new people, but an army. It hands the sword to us.

So baptism is a promise of government, not of salvation, within this biblical structure. This is the theme of the New Covenant. Infant baptism confounds the picture by conflating the two waters.To illustrate, in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus’ baptism was “Red Sea/Passover.” After the wilderness and the sermon on the mount (as Deut.), the Jordan waters are Jesus crossing the Sea with His disciples (body) and expelling the demons into pigs as Atonement.[2]

In His baptism, He is alone. He ascends to govern. In ours, we enter the place He has gone to prepare for us. That is the promise. That is why I believe infant baptism as a promise of salvation messes up the picture. Baptism is a robe of office for those who have already been obedient to the gospel. It is a sacrament for warriors. You can’t have re-entry as a mediator unless you have exited the old city. You can’t shed blood (preach the gospel) unless you have bowed in obedience under the blood shed. You can’t wield the sword of Joshua unless you have been slain in Christ already.

Hope all that makes sense. It might sound persnickety but this pattern appears in the Bible a million times. Mediator (head), Mediators (body).

Tim commented:

“Sacrament” is not a word occurring in the Bible, and the concept is an inductive one. Therefore, one had better be cautious stating “what a sacrament must contain.” There is danger, perhaps one that cannot be fixed, of arbitrariness or circularity.

 Dear Tim,

I agree with that. But we have the entire freight train of carefully structured Old Testament typology bearing down on these two simple rites. Each one is a whole world in a drop of water or wine. We might be left wondering but we are not left guessing.

[1] See A Terrible Marvel.
[2] See Why Jesus Healed Some.

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3 Responses to “The Angels of Death Are We”

  • Doug Roorda Says:


    Greetings in Christ. I’ve been reading and enjoying your blog for some time. Now that we have met on another list, I feel more free to comment collegially, rather than as some random troll on the internet. And I probably won’t be able to respond in a lot of detail to anything that comes up, at least immediately, so it could be a slow conversation.

    Anyway, you write “Circumcision was a promise of salvation (Jesus’ death). Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are not.” My simple question – God promised salvation to the children of believers before the time of Christ, and commanded parents to treat them as fellow believers and disciples (and commended parents who did so). When did God stop promising salvation to children of believers in this age?

    I don’t see any problem with handing a sword to an infant in Christ though (And Jesus saith to them, ‘Yes, did ye never read, that, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou didst prepare praise? Matthew 21:16)

    Keep up the wonderful blog, and have a blessed Christmas!

    Blessings in Christ
    Doug Roorda

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Hi Doug

    Thanks for visiting! And for your comment.

    Both salvation and resurrection have always been part of the promise. But I think applying the promise to Israel’s children has to be qualified, or at least updated, concerning the New Covenant.

    Yes, we have children whom we raise for God in hope, but the promise is not to our physical seed. Israel is no longer a nation bound by blood but by Spirit. The NT speaks of family and children as those who do what Jesus says. He has taken it to the next level, and the “sacramental boundary marker” reflects this. It is for the obedient.

    For sure, children can have strong faith and say profound things (mine do!) but if this is the case, if they believe and testify, they should be baptized. Infants cannot testify. But a credo-paedo-baptism I think should certainly be promoted by baptists! If a child believes, it should be “commissioned” by baptism.

    Regarding history, all Israel was saved. The promises were fulfilled, and I believe the first resurrection occurred in AD70. That was the end of Israel according to the flesh.

    Have a great Christmas. As you freeze, think of us as we swelter.


  • Doug Roorda Says:

    Thanks Mike. I’ll try to send some detailed thoughts back on this after a while. I like your willingness to believe the testimony of the young’uns; most paedo-baptists [at least in principle] don’t because they deny communion to those they say believe and profess. And I have some knee-jerk paedo-bapits reaction to some other things you wrote, which I won’t respond to immediately since I don’t feel like I really know what you’re thinking yet. But I’m curious though, why you say that infants cannot testify?

    We had 16″ of snow a week ago in Iowa; maybe more coming in a few days. So sweltering sounds like fun.

    Doug Roorda