Blood to Blood, Water to Water


Doug Wilson writes:

“It is of course true that real religion is concerned with the state of the heart, and not with whether a man has jumped through all the right ceremonial hoops. When a man believes the covenant promise he points away from himself . . . To look away from the heart to an objective Christ is not to neglect the heart; to look away in this fashion is the only way to be justified and put right with God” (To a Thousand Generations, p. 46).

This is an excellent statement. It’s perfect fruit for a pie but Pastor Wilson is sticking it in a casserole.

The thrust of Pastor Wilson’s argument here is:

“[Abraham] was the father of all who believe, whether circumcised or uncircumcised. Further, he was never the father of those who never believed, whether or not they had been physically circumcised. This means that the blessedness promised to Abraham came upon those circumcised in infancy, who later believed…” (TATG, p. 45)

Four-horned Altar, Four-cornered Land

Paul, in Galatians, is not saying that it was never about “flesh succession” and always about Spirit. The genealogies were important, but all they did was put the meat on the Altar, ready for the casserole. Circumcision marked a national boundary in blood, in the same way that Abraham planted trees (Garden) and Jacob set up Altar stones (Land). Israel itself was a living Sinai, with a bloody border. When Moses returned to this “mountain,” his sons had to be circumcised. When Israel approached Canaan, as meat for the earthen Altar, their wilderness-born sons had to be circumcised.

But that’s flesh, not Spirit. The blessing did not fall until they believed. The Law is only a blessing because it brings us to Christ. Only Caleb and Joshua had circumcised hearts, believing the promise from the beginning, and survived to enter into Canaan. Only the first century Jews who believed the gospel inherited the heavenly country.

Circumcision is the “spreading out of the heavens.” It is only the beginning of the creative (or restorative) process. It sets Israel apart under cover of darkness.  [1] It is a delegation of authority, the beginning of the mission. It begins with a circumcised exterior and ends with a circumcised interior; blood-to-blood, type to reality.

Paedobaptism is Bad Wiring

Baptism is not a parallel to this. It works as a serial connection, both historically in God’s people and individually in each person. It is water-to-water. It begins with the washing of one who now has internal law and ends with their actual resurrection, from type to reality.

So it is the Law bringing conviction by the Spirit until we repent, and the Spirit bringing salvation until we are resurrected. The water of baptism has not replaced the blood of circumcision. The rock has to be split before the waters can flow — in each believer. Yes, baptists can be dangerously individualistic, but paedobaptists can be dangerously corporate.

Circumcision was “delegation.” Baptism is “vindication.” Besides the washings, New Covenant baptism parallels not circumcision but the Israelite robe, with four blue wings, flowing as rivers to the four corners of the world. Instead of a border of death-by-spear, the sick touch the hem of our garments and are healed. We mediate the clean. Baptism is this robe. Under the New Covenant, every believer is a blood-covered, white-robed mediator ministering as a New Jerusalem. Every believer is a slain Lamb shining within a crystal city, a walking, talking marriage of heaven and earth.

That’s why the firstfruits church began with Jesus’s resurrection and ended with the first resurrection. And this gospel age began in earnest with the first resurrection and will end with the second resurrection: water-to-water, just as the Old Covenant was continually blood-to-blood.

All Nations, and Every Knee

Circumcision is the nakedness of Adam, the disobedient man who “veils his face” from the Law of God. Baptism clothes the Adam who has already crushed the serpent, and is now vindicated and may mediate that to others. Which brings up another point. Some good online friends have commented that if credobaptism is correct, should we let our children pray and sing? This highlights the wrong-headedness of the Paedobaptist practice. Paedobaptistic thinking is all about “who can come in?” It is the Old Covenant walls and bars and gates. Worse than than, it is the Mosaic Tabernacle, the silent tent, the death of Adam. The New Covenant is the open, all-inclusive Tabernacle of David.

Under the New Covenant, the boundary of flesh is now all nations. All nations are marked and under the Gospel law, commanded to repent. When Paul says the sins of the nations would no longer be “overlooked” (Acts 17:30), he means the seven Spirits of God, the Lampstand eyes of the Law, are now watching over the entire world as God’s Altar-Land. All are under conviction. God has moved the goalposts.

All nations are invited to come and sing and hear the Word. The worship is no longer hidden. The Holy Place is safe for all. So baptism has nothing to do with who can come in. It is for mediators. Baptism is for those who can go out as Temple water chariots, like the Ethiopian eunuch, and bring life to the world. Baptism is for those who can touch things and make them clean: individuals, families, cultures, music, the arts, lepers and even pork.

The Arm of Flesh

Which brings us back to the casserole. The “meat border” is now at the ends of the earth. And the water border (Laver) has expanded to include both men and women. What paedobaptists do is get these two borders mixed up, mostly because the water border is (kind of) where the blood border used to be.

Imagine a circle within a square. The square is the blood boundary, the Land (Altar), and the circle is the Water boundary, the priesthood (Laver). The blood boundary now encompasses the entire world. The water boundary now encompasses all believers, men and women.

History has moved on. The territory claimed by Christ has expanded. The main course is over and God is up to dessert, the sweet, bridal Incense Altar.

Victory unto Victory

All of which ties in perfectly and vindicates Doug Wilson’s postmillennial thinking. The blood border claims the Land for God. As the blood of Christ, it now claims all nations because the old national wall was broken down. Everyone is welcome to come in, and when they believe, and the Gospel is vindicated, we baptize them and send them out again. Baptism is not the beginning of one’s entrance, one’s conviction under the Law, but the beginning of one’s exit, a commission. Circumcision and baptism are not parallels. They are two parts of an historical process that works corporately and personally, and this is reflected in who is qualified for baptism.

So the objective/subjective argument seems to me to be irrelevant. As with any marriage, it is both. The Old Covenant highlighted the territorial claim with a knife — a plot of red Land, blood to blood. The New Covenant highlights the bridal response — the full-grown fruits of the Spirit.

Our physical birth begins the blood, and the cutting of our hearts ends it. Receiving Christ (corporately and personally) transcends all our blood ties and unites us together in Christ’s death. Blood to blood. Faith then leads us in obedience to the waters of baptism and the life of faith ends in the waters of resurrection. Water to water.

[1] All the Tabernacle furniture, when carried, was hidden under “midnight-coloured” veils. But the Table of the Facebread was singled out with one extra element. On the Table, under the veil of midnight, there was also a scarlet-coloured cloth. The presentation of the firstfruits Lamb allowed God to send His Spirit and bless the harvest of Pentecost.

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15 Responses to “Blood to Blood, Water to Water”

  • Daniel Says:

    I’m curious – do you think the baptism of an infant is illegitimate such that if/when that child later consciously converts as an adult, they would have to be re=baptized?

  • Mike Bull Says:

    I think so. Circumcised Jewish males (unity of flesh) got baptized when they believed (unity of Spirit). And the public testimony/witness element is missing from infant baptism. It’s not illegitimacy so much as counting chicks before they hatch. Baptism is for the spiritually hatched.

  • Susan Black Says:

    Interesting article

  • Susan Black Says:

    Thank you.

  • Trev McCallum Says:

    So Mike – what would your definition of a Christian be? And would you call the early Church, in say Corinth, Christian?

    Working through the argument here.

    Hope you are well. Bible Matrix has been a great blessing and is shaping the way I think about Scripture…thank you.

  • Trev McCallum Says:

    Your comments on how I have looked at Matthew 25:14-30 would be great if you have the time:

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Hi Trev

    A Christian is a tree with fruit, linking the Land (Bronze Altar) with heaven (Incense Altar). Circumcision marked out a plot of Land. It classified Adamic caterpillars, not Evian butterflies. There’s a death and resurrection in the middle : )

    So, our children can be “Christian” even if they are not yet Christians. There is an outflow from the source of the Spirit into family and culture. But the young are receivers, not the springs. Christians are the true fonts.

    Not sure what you mean about the early church. We have water-to-water from Christ’s baptism to His resurrection, then water-to-water from Pentecost to the first resurrection, and water-to-water from then till the second resurrection. It’s Garden, Land, World – they are all “church.” But each period has its distinctives. Paul uses the Red Sea history to call for perseverance through trials and spiritual unity in 1 Cor 10. But it’s still water to water (see my comments to John under Shakin’ the Tree).

    Glad Bible Matrix is a help. I’ll check out your comments on Matthew 25 later today.

    Kind regards,

  • Trev McCallum Says:

    The Church question came from PJL’s: “Church history provides a compelling argument in favor of infant baptism, but not in the usual way. The argument is not that there is evidence of the practice of infant baptism throughout church history (though there is). The argument is rather that the shape of church history is more compatible with paedobaptist than with credobaptist beliefs.

    That is: The church did not appear in history in fully mature form; it is still far from fully mature. Were the infant churches of the apostolic age Christian churches? Did the troubled Corinthian congregation count as a Christian communion? Galatia? We should say Yes, since Paul treated these churches as churches.

    Infant churches are Christian churches, immature and inadequate though they may be. Ergo….”

    So even though there were OT infant baptisms (e.g. 1 Cor 10 reference) you are arguing that this aspect of the covenant has been altered/reduced to exclude children who are born to Christian parents in the new world? And at the same time you are arguing that the new covenant is more glorious?

    Are you not limiting your definition of what a Christian is to maturity? Can my 3 year old have the faith of a 3 year old? Are you implying that my 3 year old must first grow up and work through unto maturity before being baptised in order to be sent out? How do I then bring my little Children to Jesus to be fed and watered?

    I have read the tos and fros and so this is probably repeated.

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Hi Trev

    Those who argue for infant baptism have really muddied the waters. It’s really not that difficult. Raise your kids to believe in Christ and baptize them when they do. This will take some wisdom, but it takes wisdom with adults as well!

    Regarding “infant” churches, baptism is the beginning of ministry, not life. The foundation of the church was the beginning of Israel’s full ministry to all nations.

  • Trev McCallum Says:

    Mike – so the Church started out both federally and individually mature in her ministerial duties to the nations of the world?

    So, children can never love God from their mothers womb/breasts? They need to first mature somewhat? Again, when my three year says he loves Jesus do I wait until he can intellectually defend the faith – ie minister to the nations? You seem to be pushing maturity as a baptismal prerequisite; please define the parameters of maturity.

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Hi Trev

    Baptism is the beginning of ministry, but it certainly isn’t the end of maturity, any more than it is for a newly hatched chick. FVs think being born and being born again can be tied together. One even told me that “born again” was only referring to the church as a body, and I should check the Greek. But it takes sheep to make a flock.

    People are either outside the New Jerusalem, or inside the New Jerusalem by faith. It’s not a “carnal” city, so no one is in there simply by inheritance. Maturity is simply “resurrection life,” the Spirit within.

    When your three year old is converted, baptized him. He doesn’t have to be William Lane Craig before you do this, but if he is, let me know and we can pit him against Sam Harris.

  • Trev Says:

    Thanks Mike.

    I get the argument that “people are either outside the New Jerusalem, or inside the New Jerusalem by faith.” I don’t think this is in dispute. Abraham believed and it was accreditied to him as righteousness. Salvation, entrance into the kingdom has always been by faith. There were always those who confessed or were part of the body and then fell away and were pruned out. Is the church and its members, in history, the same thing as the New Jerusalem?

    Wilson & Jordan explain that there is the church in/through history (warts and all) and the eschatological church – the 2 books of the roll and of life?

    So when we are commanded to bring the little children/infants to Jesus, for Him to lay His hands on them, do we bring them to Him via another means than the church?

    “When your three year old is converted, baptized him.” My wife grew up with a Christian mum, she never had a watershed moment that she could identify. Her mum tauight her the faith from day dot. She believed as long as she can remember. I have taught my 3 (9, 6 and 2) year old the faith since he was in his mothers womb. So what am I looking for in conversion – must he show the fruit of the spirit in the sense that a 3 year old can (obeying mummy and daddy, being kind etc) or must he be more mature, more filled with the spirit? Surely maturity also implies growing up in the faith, working out our salvation in history in fear and trembling. Jesus as the Federal Head brings humanity/His people to maturity, surely not every member of the body is mature in an individual sense? I am not as mature as Moses (etc) on a personal level, but am much more so on a corporate sense?

    What does the “Spirit within” mean? If Jesus could receive praise from children and babes on His entrance to Jerusalem surely He can now too?

    I am thinking the arguments through, not attacking your position. Trying to understand it and challange mine with Scripture.

    Thanks for engaging, I am enjoying it.


  • Mike Bull Says:

    Hi Trev

    I appreciate your comments.

    This is the difference between the Old Covenant people and the New. The Old was about cutting off the flesh. Even Herod’s slaughter of the innocents counts toward this (Matthew puts the event at “Division”, corresponding with Circumcision.)

    In the New, we are to be righteous judges, discerning the spirits, not simply outward deeds. So there is a gap between the historical church and the eschatological church, but our job is to minimise it, close the gap, be discerning.

    As mentioned in another post, bringing children to Jesus is one thing. Baptism is about recognising their conversion and readiness to “send out” again.

    I also know people who’ve believed as long as they can remember. Three of them are my children. So, we baptized them (two down, one to go). It doesn’t matter if we can’t identify “the moment.” We know it happened. If it hadn’t happened, it would be apparent.

    Psalm 8 refers to Deut 31:21 (or was it 21:31?) Anyhow, it’s the Lord’s command to train the kids in the Law by rote, so that when they sing it (without understanding) they will unknowingly be condemning their parents who have strayed. So the Hosannas of the children condemned the Herods. The RSV gives a much better rendition, and I will be posting an analysis of the Psalm’s structure later today.

    “Spirit within” simply means regenerate. No one is born regenerate. No one is born convicted of sin! The Word always comes first. You have to have a tree before you can cut it down. Circumcision made Israel a tree with the shadow of an angelic sword continually hanging over it’s “firstborn” to kill Cain and avenge Abel.

    I don’t see any of your objections as attacks, and I appreciate your attitude – it is about the text, not human traditions or denominations. The Word has a way of using these, but also smashing them up to build something new.

    Kind regards,

  • Trev McCallum Says:

    “In the New, we are to be righteous judges, discerning the spirits, not simply outward deeds.”

    This seems to drive a false wedge between Old and New Covenants. Surely Abraham’s act of faith was not merely an outward deed? His deed was such due to his inward circumcision?

  • Mike Bull Says:

    No wedge. The individual is a microcosm of the entire history. Abraham heard the gospel and believed. If he lived now, we would baptize him – at that point of faith.