Seven Mysteries About Children of the New Covenant Believers
by Ven Dr I. U. Ibeme http://priscaquila.t35.com
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Comment on The Chapel Blog; https://thechapelofgrace.wordpress.com
The Church has overwhelmed herself with what the Bible did not say about children of believers so much so, that she has disdained and almost overthrown what the Bible did say about the children of New Covenant parents. It is certain that the New Covenant reaches further than the Old and makes possible what the Old was incapable of.
Most Churches agree on the spiritual journey adults and baptism of adult converts, but differ in the approach to children.
• Some baptize (initiate-dedicate) their children with water in infancy and ‘confirm’ them without water in adolescence.
• Others ‘dedicate’ them without water in infancy and baptize them with water in adolescence.
• Still some do nothing but leave their children to find their own way, while
• Others baptise even non-covenant (pagan) children.
Reasons for these choices vary from original sin to original innocence, from election grace to universal grace, from covenant Church to congregation Church, from traditions to revisions, etc. But what saith the Scriptures about the Kingdom status and the spiritual journey for children of Christian believers?
1. Together with all humanity, they are naturally conceived and born in sin (Psa_51:5; Rom_3:23; Rom_5:12; Gal_3:22; Eph_2:3); but as children belonging to New Covenant parents (unlike pagan children (Exo_20:5-6; Luk_7:33), they are clean and holy (Rom_11:16 b; 1Co_7:14) by covenant (ritual/spiritual) grace not by personal (moral) commitment. Such children should therefore partake with their parents all in covenant rites and promises (Gen_17:7-14; Act_2:38-39) as well as covenant rallies and fellowships (Deu_29:10-13; Joe_2:16; Act_21:5) with their parents.
2. As covenant offsprings, (whether children, young children, little ones, suckling babes or even babes in the womb), they should not be despised, because God regards them great in His Kingdom (Mat_18:4; Mar_10:13-16) and they are constantly represented by their Angels (without the help of adults) before God (Mat_18:10); and even in the womb, they could be filled with the Holy Spirit (Luk_1:15) or be divinely ordained to prophesy (Jer_1:5).
3. Despite their lack of communicable discretion, they are explicitly declared by Christ’s warning to be ‘believers’ as their parents are (Mat_18:6-7), and of ‘great’ regard in His Kingdom (Mat_18:2-4); so also were the Apostles persuaded about believers’ children (2Ti_1:5; Act_16:31).
4. Their social deficiency in cognitive communication does not imply spiritual irrelevance, exclusion or disadvantage (Psa_8:2; Mat_11:25; Mat_21:15-16).
5. Their believing parents should not forbid/fail to bring them for full covenanting and consecration to God (Gen_17:14; Exo_4:24-26; Mar_10:13-14), while the Church should not refuse to receive them for every ministrations, ordinances and rites of the New Covenant (e.g. baptismal initiation, benedictory dedication, instructive and intercessory impartations) done in Christ’s Name (Mat_18:5; Mar_10:15-16; Act_2:38-39).
6. Through MINISTRATION in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Church should (by covenant ritual/spiritual grace) bring them to
• be outwardly ‘born’/baptized (‘covenanted’ or initiated) with Water (Eze_36:25-27; Mat_3:11; Joh_3:5; Joh_13:7-10; Act_2:38-39; Tit_3:5; 1Pe_3:21) and
• be dedicated/blessed with prayer (Mar_10:15-16);
through prayerful and exemplary INSTRUCTION, they should thereafter be cleansed with the truth and spirit of the Word (Joh_6:63; Joh_15:3; Joh_17:17; Eph_5:26; Heb_4:12) until they (by personal moral commitment)
• become inwardly reborn from above (‘converted’ or recreated) of the Holy Spirit and by the Word (Joh_3:6-8; Tit_3:5; 1Pe_1:22-23) and subsequently,
• continue be cleansed and equipped to grow by the Word (Eph_4:11-14; Eph_5:26-27; 2Ti_3:15-17; 1Pe_2:2).
7. As they grow up in stature and wisdom, they should be equipped to mature in the Faith, in the Word and in the Spirit while they with diligence, consciously work out their salvation which God graciously works in them (Php_2:12-13; 2Pe_1:10).
Circumcisional initiation was a sign of the covenant and seal of righteousness by faith (Gen_17:9-14; Rom_4:11 a) and was administered to the neonate children of the Abrahamic covenant. Today, because of Christ’s death and resurrection, baptismal initiation has replaced circumcision as the sign of the covenant and seal of righteousness by faith (Act_16:31-33; Act_18:8; Col_2:11-13), and so has always been administered to New Covenant children from Apostolic times. However after new questions were raised by the 16th century Anabaptists on the status of children and the meaning of the Church, some churches began to exclude children from baptism. Later in the 19th century, some of these had to start dedicating them instead. Christ was indignant against excluding (Mar_10:13-14) and strongly warned with woes against deceiving and despising (Mat_18:6-10) covenant Children in His Church and Kingdom.
The Anabaptists (a 16th century radical but not very biblical reform movement) believed that all Children indiscriminately have no sin, so need no baptism and cannot be part of the Church since they cannot consciously believe nor can they communicate their faith; neither can they be dedicated or be baptized since no parent or adult has the right to consecrate or covenant another person. To the Anabaptists, the Church is not a covenant fellowship it is only a local gathering of called-out adult believers. The pre-reformation Church baptized children indiscriminately, irrespective of their parents’ faith.
Notice that in Gen 17, God warned that circumcision into the Abrahamic Covenant with all its ethnic limitation and weakness was necessary to initiate covenant infants (not only adults and big children). In the same way baptism into Christ’s Covenant with its universality and power is more so applicable to initiate and dedicate covenant infants (little ones). No wonder in Mat 18:2-11, Christ also warned that they be not despised in matters of His Kingdom or be deceived into sin, but rather be received upon His Name (i.e be initiated by Christ’s baptism or “dedication”?), because His Kingdom is accessible for them also; and despite their mental, lingual, moral and other incapacities, that they “believe” in Him (Ask Him how!), as well as relate with His heavenly Father (through Angels NOT through Adults). Again, as sinful humans, they are among the morally lost, that Christ came to save by grace.
Therefore, the Church has nothing to gain scripturally speaking, when we refuse to baptize (initiate) and dedicate our little children. Nor have our little children any thing to lose scripturally speaking, when we baptize and dedicate them. On the other hand, we all gain everything if we baptize (initiate) and dedicate them, knowing that they could otherwise be initiated into demonic bondage and be intensely possessed from childhood (Mar_9:20-21). The infants are free from the possibility of being cut off (Gen_17:10-14) and the Church is free from the possibility of offense and woe (Mat_18:5-10).
The spiritual journey of believers’ children is thus:
1. Born in sin but under mercy of divine covenant.
2. Initiated-dedicated and trained-up in the covenant.
3. Recreated and equipped to maturity.
The spiritual journey of pagan adults and their children is thus:
1. Born in sin and under wrath of divine condemnation.
2. Recreated, initiated and equipped to maturity.
Updated January 31, 2011 by Ven. Dr. I. U. Ibeme
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