Revelation 2:18, The Christ and City of Thyatira.

“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira, write, ‘The things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass….’ 

Once again, we’ve had to divide our thoughts into separate posts.

1. The City of the Epistle.

Thyatira was located in a valley linking two other valleys.  Because it had no natural fortification and was wide open to attack, a garrison was usually stationed there.  This defended the town, but had the added benefit in that it guarded the road into Pergamos, the capital of the province.

Because of its favorable location on the route between Pergamos and Sardis, Thyatira soon became a prosperous commercial center.  Many trade-guilds are known to have existed there.  One of her merchants is even mentioned in Scripture:  Lydia, a seller of purple, Acts 16:14.  What’s noted about her, though, isn’t her commerce, but her conversion.  She is described as one whose heart the Lord opened to hear the things spoken by Paul.  There’s so much I could say about this in these days of the widespread belief that God is impotent or at least unable to act until we give Him permission.  That is not the God of Scripture.

Membership in the appropriate guild was essential to a tradesman and his business and social life was severely impacted if he refused to join.  But each guild had its own “god” and membership implied worship of that god.  Moreover, the periodic feasts of the guild, beside honoring their god, deteriorated into drunken orgies.  Perhaps this was one of the main problems facing the church there.

Although Thyatira was the smallest of the seven cities, its letter is the longest.

If we follow the idea that each church foreshadows an era of church history, then Thyatira represents that time between 500 and 1500 AD, when Romanism was savagely predominant.  I use the word “savagely” intentionally, in view of the rivers of blood Rome shed of those who refused to join with her.   The name, Thyatira, is particularly significant, made up as it is of two words which can be interpreted as meaning “a continual sacrifice.”  The continual offering of the Mass – the so-called “unbloody sacrifice” of the Lord Jesus – is the central blasphemy of Romanism.  The partaking of communion was never intended by our Lord to be a continuation of His sacrifice or a repetition of it.  It was never meant to be some sort of “magic potion” bringing “grace” to those who partake of it.  He Himself said it was to be a reminder of Him.  In 1 Corinthians 11:25, He told the disciples, This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”   It’s a memorial to His life and death.  Perhaps it’s significant that our Lord said this in the part of Communion involved in the drinking of the fruit of the vine, which is withheld from the communicant in Rome’s version.  The fruit of the vine represents His blood, without which there is no salvation.

This brings us to our next thought.

2. The Christ of the Epistle, v. 18.

This is important.  In this day of “pluralism” and “diversity,” it’s vital to remember that our Lord taught that there’s only one way of salvation and that’s through Him.  All roads do not lead to heaven.  He Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me,” John 14:6.  And not just the “Jesus” of a lot of modern thought, who was only a good man or a prophet or whose death was accidental or a mistake, or who is even, as some now teach, only a figment of the imagination.

There’s only salvation in a Christ Who is God, Who deliberately set aside His glory as God, deliberately came into this world through means of a virgin, deliberately lived a perfect life, deliberately died a horrible death, deliberately and willingly suffered the justice of God against sin, deliberately rose again from the dead and Who, one day, will deliberately return to this world.  There was nothing accidental or unintentional in a single thing that He ever did.  This is the Christ who saves, and He alone.

The Son of God.  This is the only place in these epistles where the Lord Jesus is so named.  Perhaps, in the wisdom of God, this is to warn people not to be deluded into thinking of Him merely as the Son of Mary.  Perhaps there’s something to be learned from her last recorded words in Scripture.  She had attempted to get Him to do something, perhaps just being a mother and not really thinking about it.  He told her that it wasn’t yet time for Him to be subject to man’s will.  Her response?  His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it,” John 2:5, emphasis added.  That’s still good advice.  There’s nothing more she can say or do.

Eyes like a Flame of Fire.

– to uncover and destroy works of error and apostasy.

We’ve almost completely lost sight of this facet of our Lord’s being and of His Father’s.  We seem to have this idea of God as this beneficent-type grandfather who winks and chuckles at the foibles of His wayward grandchildren.  We seem to think that it doesn’t really matter what He says in His Word, if it is His Word.  Academics argue and quibble over this and that, but they never seem actually to read what He says.  From a misunderstanding of Revelation 3:20, we picture our Lord as being on the outside and wanting us to let Him in so badly.  One preacher even went so far as to call Him “the Christ of the bloody knuckles”!  This is not the Christ of Scripture!

God is indeed very long-suffering and patient.  For that, I am very thankful.  If He were not, we’d all be in Hell, where we belong.  But one of these days, as Rolfe Barnard, a great preacher of another generation, put it, one of these days we’re going to run into the end of that patience and we’ll reap what we’ve sown.  I think we’re getting there.  Look at the headlines, the lead stories on TV, the sorry condition of the major candidates running for the highest office in our land.

When the Lord comes back, He’s not going to be “gentle Jesus, meek and mild.”  He’s not going to suffer the humiliation and rejection He did the first time. Scripture describes that time when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  And Zechariah 14:9-21 gives us something of the nature and character of His reign on this earth when He gets here.

That’s a picture of our Lord that the church needs today.  He has no time for diversity and “tolerance,” especially of sin or error.  He doesn’t celebrate “inclusiveness,” at least not as it’s practiced today.  The Gospel is indeed “inclusive” in that there is no one to whom it isn’t addressed, or who does not need to heed and obey it.  But there is no such thing as “religious freedom” in Scripture – that we can take it or leave it, or twist it around to suit ourselves.

I’ve heard people say what the Scripture “means to them.”  The problem is, we need to understand what it means to God.  What does He mean?  Not what do the “notes” say it means.  Not what the preacher on TV says it means.  What it says it means.  These other things may or may not be useful.  We need to read and study the Scriptures themselves, not just read about them.  Not everybody is on the road to heaven.  Our Lord indicated that most people are on the other road, Matthew 7:13, that broad way that leads to destruction.

His feet like fine brass.

Revelation 19:15 says, He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

The Old Testament describes something of this:  Isaiah 63:1-6; Zechariah 14:1-3, 12-15.  The world may gather its armies together in one last desperate attempt to destroy Israel, and they may seem to be successful, but the Lord will come back and that will be that.  The world will finally see something of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

Satan will no longer, and not much longer, we pray, be the god of this world. 

Even so, come, Lord Jesus.  Amen.

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Hebrews 12:2, 3, “Looking Unto Jesus.”

[2]looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
[3]For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
(NKJV)

The writer has just gone through a whole list of “faith-worthies,” many of whom did great things or who suffered great things.  But then, as it were, he shifts gears.  While he does want his readers to know about these ancestors in faith, he doesn’t want their attention focused on them.  There is someone else to whom they were to look, and so are we:  Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

The word translated “author,” refers to a founder, author, prince or leader.  I think the word “founder” gives the best idea here.  Moses and the prophets didn’t “found” Christianity, in spite of those who look to them for guidance.  They indeed laid the groundwork, as it were, foreshadowing and prophesying that One who would come and fulfill all those types and shadows.  However, there is no pattern, no blueprint, for how we are to do things.  There is no salvation in those OT things; there is salvation only in the One who came to fulfill them.

We don’t like that idea in this day of “diversity” and “inclusiveness.”  We want to believe that “all roads lead to heaven,” that the pagan who worships nature or the woman who sacrifices her baby to a river or a person who follows a religion that denies and contradicts every teaching of Scripture, these are all “children of God.”

However, our Lord said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me,” John 14:6.  Later on, standing before the leaders of the nation, Peter affirmed this, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved,” Acts 4:12.  And there is coming a time when this will be universally and unequivocally acknowledged.  Men may have put Jesus on the Cross, may reject Him and ridicule His claims, even deny His existence and do all they can to stamp out every mention of Him in society, but Paul wrote that God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, Philippians 2:9-11.

Some believe that these verses in Philippians teach that everyone will eventually be saved, but that view contradicts Scripture, which teaches otherwise.  The verses simply mean that there’s coming a time after it’s too late that unbelievers and skeptics will be forced to admit who Jesus is, that He was and is who He claimed to be.  After all, they will stand before Him in judgment.  But there will be no salvation for them, no “second chance” after death.

But there’s more in Hebrews 12:2:  He is the “finisher” of our faith.  A couple of things here.  First, there is no word corresponding to “our” in the original language.  Jesus is the Founder and “finisher” of faith.  It’s common in our time to hear of “faith-based” works or organizations.  It’s become a synonym for “religion.”  However, there are many works and religious organizations that have nothing to do with Scripture.  But there is only one “faith,” the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints, Jude 3, and the Lord Jesus was the One who revealed it.  And He did that through the Scriptures.

Not only did He reveal it, but He “completed” it.  That’s the meaning of the word translated, “finisher.”  “Faith” isn’t about what men say or do.  It’s about what He did.  There’s nothing to be added to what He did.  Some churches blasphemously teach that there are things which we must do in addition to what the Lord did on the Cross:  we must be baptized, or we must offer the “unbloody sacrifice of the Mass,” or a host of other things.  Or they falsely teach that they, too, have a revelation from God.  They have their own prophet or founder.  Or they teach that theirs is the only accepted group.  Only with them is there truth and salvation.  Several groups teach that.  But there is only one Name that God will accept as Savior and Lord, and it’s not the name of some church or denomination or religious group.  It is the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  No one, no one, comes to God except through Him.

for the joy set before Him.

I’ve read at least one person who believed that it’s wrong to serve God for the sake of “reward.”  Such an attitude is selfish, it is said; we should serve God simply because we love Him.  And it’s true, we should serve God out of love; I doubt if any other motivation is acceptable to Him.

At the same time, though, it’s said of our Lord that He was anticipating a reward for His suffering: “the joy set before Him.”  You see, His death wasn’t just some haphazard affair, with its outcome left to fallible and sinful men.  Nor was it “a mistake,” as Schweitzer claimed.  It was carefully planned in every detail well before Genesis 1:1.  Cf. 1 Peter 1:20.

It was this hope, this expectation, that enabled our Lord to endure the cross, “despising the shame.”  We’ve never seen a crucifixion.  It was an awful and bloody thing.  We’ve cleaned it up and sanitized it, with a cloth strategically covering His body.  One branch of the church even boasts that there is no blood in their pictures.  But in addition to the torture of the whipping He received before the Crucifixion, a whipping that often killed those who endured it, and the agony of the spikes which held Him to the Cross, He hung naked, open to the gaze of all who looked at Him.

We don’t think anything of nudity in our debased society, some even extol it, but back then it was a terrible thing, a thing of “shame.”

Our Lord “despised the shame” because He knew that this wasn’t the end of things.  In some ways, rather, it was the beginning.  A look at the future isn’t the purpose of this post; I’ve done that enough in other posts, but it was “the future” which enabled the Lord to “endure” the present.

And make no mistake; He “endured” the Cross.  It was no walk in the park for Him.  It was no little thing, this matter of crucifixion.  Even though the Romans were concerned about “justice,” and there were some restrictions about who could suffer this or that treatment, there was no such thing as “criminal rights” in that day.  There was no concern about “cruel and unusual punishment” like we have in our day, in which any punishment seems to be considered cruel and unusual.  Some men took days to die on a cross.  That’s why Pilate was so surprised when Nicodemus came to ask for the body, and why Pilate had a centurion verify Jesus’ death.

But beside the physical suffering, about which we might have some idea, there was also the suffering because He bore the weight of God’s wrath against sin, about which we have no idea, no standard of comparison.  We read of no outcry when they whipped Him, or when they drove the spikes into His wrists and feet.  We read of no response to the ridicule of the leadership as they scoffed at Him, and mocked His claims.  It was only His treatment by the Father that forced an anguished cry from His lips,

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?!”

Ah, that goes far beyond any mere human experience.

We think we know so much with our “Drs. of Theology,” and our arguments over various doctrines and teachings.  I’ve done a lot of that in this blog.  And I’m not against “education.”  I just wish it was more about the Bible itself, reading the Scripture itself and seeing what it says, and less about what men say that the Bible says.  But when it comes to the Cross, we likely know even less about the sufferings of our Savior than a newborn infant knows of the suffering of his mother in bringing him to birth.  I don’t know that we’ll ever be able to understand anything of that suffering.

That suffering was tempered by the fact that His suffering wasn’t the end of things.  It was not in vain.  It was not “meaningless”.  There was “joy” beyond.  Joy that will last for an eternity….

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning, Psalm 30:5.

Infant Baptism, Part 2: Circumcision, Passover, Baptism and Communion.

In our first post, we looked at how the apostles and disciples of our Lord understood His instructions in the Great Commission.  We looked at the several examples of baptism in the NT and saw in each case that faith preceded baptism and that there was no evidence that children or infants were baptized.  Then we looked at “household” baptism and concluded that there is no reason to believe that, even if there were infants or children in a particular household, the apostles would have baptized them.  We finished with Acts 2:39, For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar, as many as the Lord our God shall call (NKJV, and everywhere, unless otherwise noted).  Since Peter was addressing a Jewish audience at the time, this brings us to our next point.

– What was Circumcision?

One of the main arguments for infant baptism comes from the Reformed identification of the Old Testament nation of Israel with the New Testament church.  In his book, “The Glorious Body of Christ,” p. 23, R. B. Kuiper says, “…the church of the new dispensation is the continuation of the church of the old dispensation.”  On p. 201, he says, “In the old dispensation God instituted two sacraments, circumcision and the Passover.  In the new dispensation, the Lord Jesus Christ substituted baptism for circumcision and holy communion for the Passover.”

As a result of this view, we read the following:  “Children were admitted into the Old Testament church by a formal ordinance, from the time of Abraham downward.  That ordinance was circumcision,” J. C. Ryle, “Knots Untied,” p, 80 (emphasis his).  On the same page he says, “Now, if children were considered to be capable of admission into the church by an ordinance in the Old Testament, it is difficult to see why they cannot be admitted in the New.  The general tendency of the Gospel is to increase spiritual privileges and not to diminish them.”  However, as we shall see, inclusion in the nation of Israel (the “church” was unknown in the OT.  It simply introduces confusion into the issue to say that Israel was a “church.”), inclusion in the nation of Israel wasn’t necessarily “spiritual” at all.  It was genealogical and natural.  Many Jews were lost, circumcision notwithstanding.

What was circumcision to the OT Jew?

There are about 40 references to circumcision in the Bible.  In Genesis 17 it was given to Abraham as a physical sign of the covenant already given to him and to his descendants in Genesis 15.  However, even though all the males in his household were circumcised, Genesis 17:23-27, the covenant itself was established with Isaac, 17:21, “…in Isaac shall your seed be called,” Genesis 21:12.  This reminds us of Peter’s statement in Acts 2:39, “…even as many as the Lord our God shall call.  Beyond being part of a godly household, circumcision was of no benefit whatever to Ishmael, the sons of Keturah later on, or others who weren’t descendants of Isaac.  Of Isaac’s sons, Jacob was favored and Esau was rejected, Genesis 25:23.  In time, Jacob’s twelve sons became the twelve tribes of Israel. The twelve tribes were formed into a nation at Mt. Sinai, where circumcision was incorporated into the Mosaic Covenant, Exodus 12:44, 48; Leviticus 12:3.

Circumcision was solemnly enjoined and strictly enforced, Genesis 17:4.  Moses himself found this out the hard way, Exodus 4:24-26.

What, then, was circumcision?  Reformed folks like to call it “a sign and seal of the covenant.”  Referring both to the Lord’s Supper and baptism, Small says, “Primarily, then, the function of sacraments as expressed by the words ‘sign’ and ‘seal,’ is to signify and certify a relationship,” p. 71.  However, circumcision itself did not “signify and certify” that relationship.  We see this in Ezra 2:62, 63 and Nehemiah 7:64, 65, in the case of several men who were barred from the priesthood, not because they were not circumcised, but because they had no genealogical evidence of their descent from Aaron.  Though this was a case of inclusion or not in the priesthood, it’s the same for the nation.  In other words, “membership” in the “covenant community,” or nation, was obtained by being born into it, not by being circumcised. Circumcision simply testified to the fact of that birth.  We’ve already seen in the cases of Ishmael, Esau and the sons of Keturah, that they were circumcised, indeed, were the physical children of Abraham or Isaac, yet had no place in the covenant or “the covenant community.”

Paul tells us clearly what circumcision was a “sign” of in Romans 4:9-11.  After referring to the blessing of justification, that is, of one being declared righteous in God’s sight, Paul continued, [9]Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also?  For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness.  [10]How then was it accounted?  While he was circumcised or uncircumcised?  Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised.  [11]And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised…. (emphasis added).

Circumcision wasn’t just a “seal, or sign, of the covenant,” Genesis 17, but of faith.  Without Abraham’s faith, there wouldn’t have been a covenant.  Likewise, baptism is to be a sign of faith, not of some relationship to the church.  Without faith in the individual, baptism has no meaning at all.

In the Old Testament, circumcision wasn’t just about something done to 8-day old male children.  It was never considered as an end in itself.  It was intended as the object lesson of a profound spiritual truth.  Moses declared this at the outset of his instructions to Israel.  In Deuteronomy 10:16, after declaring God’s specific love for “the fathers,” he said, “Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart and be no more stiff-necked.”

In other words, they weren’t to be content with a mere physical ceremony or to presume on mere physical descent.  There had to be something on the inside as well.  David later recognized the truth of this when he wrote Psalm 51:6, his own great repentant confession of sin:  Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts.

For all that, Moses recognized that the people would never take his admonitions seriously. He never addressed them with any idea that they would actually obey what God said through him, but that they would continue to be rebellious.  In Deuteronomy 31:27, he said, “for I know your rebellion and your stiff neck.  If today, while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the LORD, then how much more after my death?”  God concurred with this assessment, “…for I know the inclination of their behavior today, even before I have brought them to the land of which I swore to give them,”  Deuteronomy 31:21.

This melancholy refrain continues throughout the Old Testament.  Ezekiel admonished Israel, “…O house of Israel, let us have no more of all your abominations, when you brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in My sanctuary, to defile it….  Also see Jeremiah 9:25, 26.  Both of these passages correlate the circumcision of the heart and of the flesh.  The outward “sign” was meant to be indicative of an inward work, not done by or to the Israelite, but in him.

Nothing changed in the New Testament.  Addressing the Sanhedrin, Stephen called them,“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears,” Acts 7:51.  The Reformation Study Bible has this note:  “These metaphors are Old Testament figures meaning spiritually stubborn and unregenerate” (p. 1571).  Indeed, Israel’s unregenerate condition, as shown in their representatives, was the underlying reason they crucified their Messiah.

– Circumcision and Baptism: Are OT symbols replaced by NT symbols?

Is the Reformed view Scriptural?  We quote Kuiper again: “In the new dispensation the Lord Jesus Christ substituted baptism for circumcision and holy communion for Passover.”  Did He?  Did He just replace one symbol with another?

The New Testament teaches that OT symbols were not simply exchanged for new symbols, but were fulfilled by the realities they foreshadowed.  This is clearly seen in the Passover.  In 1 Corinthians 5:7, Paul wrote, …For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.  The Passover wasn’t replaced by another symbol of the death of Christ, but by the death of Christ itself.  Our Lord has imbued the elements of the Lord’s Supper, the fruit of the vine and the bread, with sublime meaning far greater than mere symbolism.  They are memorials, reminding us that Christ has died, that His was a real body that hung on a Cross, and it was real human blood that He shed in payment for our sins.  You may argue that I’m quibbling about words, and perhaps I am, but we offer no “symbolic” death of Christ when we observe the Lord’s Supper.  There is no blasphemous “unbloody sacrifice,” as if something more than the actual sacrifice of Christ were necessary.  The Lord’s Supper portrays the glad reality that the Cross is empty, which seems to have escaped those who picture Him as still on it, and so is the tomb in which He was buried, for our Lord told us to observe His death until He comes back.  He can’t do this if He’s still dead.

In partaking of the Supper, we confess that it is only through His death and payment for sin that we have forgiveness.  Further, it is implicit that it’s only through Him that we have everything we need if we are to stand in God’s presence uncondemned.  One of the terms for this is “justification,” a theme along with some others that Paul develops fully in Romans 1:18-8:39.  We’ve just touched it lightly here.  Christ rose from the dead because death had no claim on Him.  Death had no claim on Him because sin has no place in Him.  It was “our” sins for which He died, not His own.  Sin no longer has any claim on us, either, if we are His.  The Resurrection was God’s testimony to the sinlessness of Christ.  The Resurrection was also the receipt, if you will, for the redemption that was purchased for the sons and daughters of men.  (I find it telling that the word processing program I use didn’t know either “uncondemned” or “sinlessness.”)  The Lord’s Supper tells us, “It has been finished!”   By faith, we rejoice in this as we observe communion.

As for circumcision, the Old Testament connects physical circumcision with the circumcision “of the heart,” that is, of regeneration.  Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit.  Paul wrote to Titus, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, Titus 3:5.  In Galatians 6:15, Paul dismissed circumcision as having no meaning at all for the Christian:  …in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.  He describes this “new creation” in these words:  In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh… Colossians 2:11.  “Made without hands,” either ours or the action of some official with a drop or two of water, or even of full immersion if we’re adult.  It’s a matter of obedience, not salvation.

If in the Lord’s Supper we testify that “it is finished,” then in believer’s baptism we testify, in effect, that “it has begun.” That is, the work of salvation, the work of the Holy Spirit, has begun in us, as evidenced by our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, faith which we already have, not “faith” which may be ours some day.

Here is the real difficulty we have with infant baptism.  Charles Hodge wrote the following in his Systematic Theology, III, p. 588:  “…those parents sin grievously against the souls of their little children who neglect to consecrate them to God in the ordinance of baptism.  Do let the little ones have their names written in the Lamb’s book of life, even if they afterwards choose to erase them.  Being thus enrolled may be the means of their salvation” (emphasis added).  In “Baptism Not for Infants,” T. E. Watson responds to this assertion, “This is astounding.  Is Hodge serious?  Does he really believe that the Lamb’s book of life is, as it were, a heavenly baptismal role [sic]?” p. 77.  As a Baptist who mainly agrees with the Reformed view of salvation in the doctrines of grace, though not a Reformed Baptist, I find it incredible that Hodge could even think of such a thing.  The only verse in the Bible which refers to names being written in the Lamb’s book of life says that they were written there from the foundation of the world, Revelation 17:8.  I’m afraid Hodge’s statement is on a par with the radio preacher years ago who informed us (and it was “confirmed by a brother” – his words) that the last page of the Lamb’s book of life was beginning to be filled in.  * sigh *  However, according to the inspired apostle, the pages have already been filled in!

Finally, there is a statement by Dr. Norman Shepherd, Chairman of the Department of Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, “Baptism rather than regeneration is the point of transition from lostness in death to salvation in life” (As quoted in “The Banner of Truth Magazine,” Issue 166-167, p. 60, italics added).  In addition, there is the note in the Reformation Study Bible on Colossians 2:11: “Baptism is ‘the circumcision of Christ,’ and it signifies the washing away of sin, personal renewal by the Spirit of God, and membership in the body of Christ” (p. 1730).  We cannot at all agree with Dr. Shepherd and even if the RSB statement is true for the believer, who, as we’ve seen, is the only suitable New Testament candidate for baptism, it certainly is not true for an unaware infant with a drop or two of water on its forehead.

Next:  Israel, the Church and the Covenants.