30 Orange Grove Road, down Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore 258352
Mailing Address: 1 Goldhill Plaza, #03-35, Singapore 308899
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: http://www.truelifebpc.org.sg
(Ring Pastor Jeffrey Khoo 62561189 Anytime)
|“The LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep SILENCE before him.”|
“But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them” (Ps 103:17–18).
God desires to bless His people. Children are God’s gift to us (Ps 127:3). As Christian parents it is our duty to bring them up in the fear and knowledge of God (Prov 22:6). God Himself is interested in the spiritual development of our children. His way of reminding us of His concern is in the ceremony of water baptism which is a sign and seal of the covenant of grace. Children of Christian parents are also recipients of this covenant sign and seal. Christian parents ought to have their babies baptised as soon as possible. God is pleased with this act, and will bless both parent and child accordingly.
I need to correct an inaccurate conception of baptism held by our Baptist brethren. According to them, only adults who can confess and believe in Christ can be baptised. Infants are excluded since they are unable to exercise faith. The Baptists cannot see how God can bless a believer and his family including his children who have yet to trust in Christ. They view God’s covenant as something very individualistic—the believer and him alone. They fail to see that God is not only interested in the believer, but also his family, that the Scriptures not only teach believer’s baptism but also household baptism.
This is where a proper understanding of Covenant Theology comes in. Let me explain briefly. The period between Adam’s creation and the time of his fall is called the Covenant of Works. It is called the Covenant of Works because (1) of the absence of sin, and (2) of God’s requirement of works to enter heaven. God put man to the test. If Adam wants to live with God forever, he must work for it. God tested Adam with this command, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen 2:16–17). Adam failed the test by eating the forbidden fruit. His disobedience led to his total depravity.
But God planned a way of salvation for mankind. From the time of the fall till this day, we are living in a period called the Covenant of Grace. This period began when God made this promise in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” God promised to send a Saviour. This Saviour would be born of a virgin (note: “seed of a woman”). The Saviour will be crucified (“bruise his heel”), but His crucifixion will defeat Satan totally (“bruise thy head”). Man is saved solely by grace through faith in Christ.
This Covenant of Grace is divided into 2 periods: the Old Testament (OT) and the New Testament (NT). The central Figure of both Testaments is Jesus Christ. The people in the OT were saved by looking forward to the cross (John 8:56), and those in the NT are saved by looking back at the cross. In the OT, God taught the people through symbols (eg, tabernacle, sacrifices, etc). All these symbols point to Christ. In the NT, God revealed Himself through His Son (Heb 1:1–3). Christ fulfilled all the OT symbols and rituals. As such, in the NT, the OT passover and circumcision have been replaced with the Lord’s supper and water baptism respectively (Luke 22:14–20, Col 2:11–12). There is a certain unity and continuity between the 2 Testaments.
Now, let us focus on the OT rite of circumcision, and the NT rite of baptism. They are quite similar. Paul in Colossians 2:11–12 calls water baptism “the circumcision of Christ.” Water baptism is Christian circumcision. When a Jew is circumcised, he is telling people that He believes in Jehovah, and that he is a member of the nation of Israel. When a believer goes through water baptism, he is telling everyone that he believes in Christ, and that he is a member of the church. In the OT, male babies are circumcised. In the NT, we baptise our babies for they are also under God’s covenant promises.
Why were Jewish babies circumcised? And why are babies born to Christian parents baptised? It is because God is interested in the family. When God saves one in the family, He also desires to save all. God’s covenant promises are given not only to the individual but also to those who are part of his family (Gen 17:7–14). This family concept is very important.
In the OT we find the following instances where God saved not only a person but also his family from destruction. Consider Noah and his family (Gen 7:1) and Abraham and his seed (Gen 17:12–13,23,27). Our God is a familial God.
The same family concept is found in the NT. When Peter and Paul preached the gospel, they called not only individuals to salvation but also their families (Acts 2:38–39, Acts 16:31). Consider these families whom God had saved: Martha, Mary and Lazarus of Bethany (John 11:1); Cornelius and his family (Acts 10:44–48, 11:14–16); Lydia and her family (Acts 16:14–15); the Philippian jailor and his family (Acts 16:31–33).
It must be said that salvation is not automatic. It does not mean that when one member of the family becomes saved, the rest automatically become saved even when they have yet to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Each person of age must personally believe in Christ for his or her salvation. When we talk about family salvation, we are saying that God is deeply interested in the eternal destiny of our loved ones. We have a moral responsibility to preach the Gospel to them, and bear a Christlike testimony at home. When we prayerfully and diligently do our part, God according to His omniscience and election will do His part to bring our children and loved ones to a saving knowledge of Himself by grace through faith. “Salvation is of the LORD” (Jon 2:9).
This is especially the case with children. As Christian parents, this should be our primary concern—that our children come to know Christ as their Saviour as early as possible. It is a heavy responsibility to be parents. We have brought one more sinner into the world. And if he or she does not believe in Christ, eternal punishment awaits. I am sure we do not wish any of our children to spend eternity in the lake of fire. God does not desire that either (2 Pet 3:9). He encourages us with a promise that He will be faithful to save our children according to His will when we are faithful in bringing them up according to His way.
When we bring to the Lord our infants for baptism, we are in effect pleading with God to have mercy on them and claiming His promise to save them. In infant baptism, parents make the commitment to bring their children up in the fear and nurture of the Lord. It is about parental responsibility, not baptismal regeneration. Parents have publicly promised to pray for their children and teach them the Holy Scriptures. It is important to understand that at the baptismal service, it is the parents’ faith that is exercised, not the child’s. It is faith in the covenant promise of God for the family. As Christian parents, may we not neglect our biblical duty to God and to our children. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Prov 22:6). JK
WELCOME TO THE FAMILY
Are you a part of God’s family or are you apart from God’s family?
What is family? According to Chambers Dictionary, “family” is “the household, or all those who live in one house, parents and their children, a group of people related to one another, or otherwise connected.” We find such a concept in the Scriptures. The word “family” is used 125 times in the Bible, and the word “household” 61 times. So there is a whole lot of biblical teaching on this. And for our own good, we better know what the Bible has to say about the family.
We are living in a darkening and destructive world that is becoming more and more anti-Christ and anti-family. The godless philosophies of evolutionism, liberalism and feminism, the abominable promotion of abortion and homosexuality, the prevalence of pornography, premarital sex and adultery destroy relationships. They have all wreaked havoc in society and in the family. Society and family are under attack like never before.
In our church camp this week, we are going to get acquainted with the theology of the family as taught in the Scriptures. We need to guard our minds and hearts from being tempted and seduced by the godless philosophies and lustful practices of this world. Theology is the key. The Bible says, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” (1 Tim 4:16).
As the camp theme reveals, the theology of the family consists of these three parts: (1) God’s Family, (2) Church Family, (3) My Family. Before we can even talk about our own family and how to keep it in order, we have to talk about our relationship with God and how we must become part of His family. When God is our Father and Christ our Brother, we will also have the extended family of the church for extra help. When we have a right relationship with God through the Gospel, and a healthy and harmonious church solidly grounded in God’s Word, then our very own family can find safety and security if we stay connected with the Lord and with His church.
Know the Gospel for it is vital for both personal and family salvation. Acts 16:31 says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Don’t forget the Church for she plays an important role in family survival and sustenance. John Calvin rightly said, “The Church is the mother of all believers of all ages, even as the Apostle has declared, the new and heavenly Jerusalem to be ‘the mother of us all’ (Gal 4:26)…. From the title mother, as given to the Church, we are to learn that we are conceived by her, born of her, nourished at her breast, and continually preserved under her care and government to the end of our lives.”
We shall embark on a study of the Bible and see what it has to say about “God’s Family, Church Family, My Family”, and may the Lord by His Spirit guide us into all truth and save not only us but also our families. JK
See you soon at the Royale Chulan in historic Georgetown, Penang.
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