Precision Questions on Baptism
Below is a series of nine questions on baptism from my sent folder, intended to highlight the difference between the position of the Reformed tradition and someone who prefers administering baptism only to those who profess faith. Yes, all of the citations are confessional texts, not biblical texts, because these questions were designed to show what our doctrine is. Nor are these all the important questions and such about baptism.
Is repentance/belief a necessary prerequisite to receive the sacrament of baptism?
No, repentance/belief is not a necessary prerequisite. The sacrament confirms Christ’s action and is a means by which Christ through his Spirit works repentance/belief (WCF 27. 3, 28.1, 28.6; WLC 161-162, 165-166, 177).
Does the covenant of grace include the promise of regeneration, remission of sins, and justification? Do the sacraments of the covenant of grace sign and seal all of the covenant of grace and its benefits…
What is Christ’s Commission in Matthew 28?
This was originally posted in February, 2022 but I edited and wanted to re-up the essay.
Starting from the position that Jesus here, in what is often called the Great Commission, appoints every individual Christian to go and share the gospel as the central mandate of the church and Christian life ignores Matthew on his own terms. The 11 apostles are specifically identified as the ones who received this command from Jesus; the question is, What does that commission have to do with the church today? What does it mean to be a Great Commission church?
We see two things are given here. The first is the authority that Christ has received over all heaven and earth. The second is the command given by Jesus to disciple all the nations. The command to disciple is linked to the authority given to Christ. Because Jesus has received authority, he is giving the task of discipleship. The task given and those who received the task is intertwined with the nature of the authority Christ received….
Article up at Ref21: ‘A Missing Question in the Westminster Catechisms?’
Read the article at ref21. Here is an excerpt:
Westminster Shorter Catechism 85 asks, “What doth God require of us that we may escape his wrath and curse due to us for sin?” This is a hugely important question! The answer comes in three parts: 1) Faith in Jesus Christ. 2) Repentance unto life. 3) An answer that may make any self-respecting, sola gratia & sola fide holding Protestant spit out their coffee: The diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption.
There are things and our use of things that God requires for us to escape his wrath and curse. These things and our use of them is how Jesus gives us the benefits of redemption. In other words, this is how Jesus gives us salvation… This allows us to ask our question, “How is prayer made effectual for salvation…”
Why A Weekly Confession of Sin
Modified, from my sent folder in answer to the question “What are your best theological arguments for a weekly confession of sin?”
Pray without ceasing.
And anyone who is opposed to weekly confessing their sins probably needs to be confessing their sins more than that.
I’m assuming that you’re talking about during the Sunday worship service and corporately reciting a prayer together. If that’s the case, I would be unwilling to make the argument that the practice is necessary. However, confessing sin in the worship service is required by scripture.
1. Prayer is required in public worship (cf. WCF 21.3-4). A lot of the argument is going to hang on liturgical hermeneutics. Is prayer as described in the Bible, the New Testament especially, a private or a corporate affair? The Reformed tradition (history is theology) has said that prayer is part of worship and is corporate, not only private. “Our Father…” So when we see prayer prescribed in the New Testament, especially the epistles, it is aimed at the church gathered…
Sacraments and Ruling (Lay) Elders
Modified from a text conversation.
Why should only Teaching Elders (pastors) and not Ruling Elders (lay elders) administer the sacraments? Why are the sacraments (normally) not properly administered otherwise? Here are the broad strokes of my reasoning, with particular application to the EPC. A more detailed breakdown can be found on pages 30-38 of the document linked in this post.
Biblical theology: The sacraments are part of the churchly ministry granted to the apostles (e.g. Matthew 16:19, 18:18-19, 28:19; John 20:23; 1 Corinthians 4:1, 11:23). The authority to administer sacraments is not entrusted to just anyone in the church. Teaching Elders as pastors stand in continuity with this apostolic ministry (i.e. apostolic succession) – e.g. Romans 15:15-17; 1 Corinthians 12:27-29, 14:1; Ephesians 2:20-22, 3:7, 4:9-11; 1 Peter 5:1. Whatever Ruling Elders are, they are not an apostolic, sacramental office. Pastors (or bishops, or ministers, or Teaching Elders, or whatever your preferred term) do stand in ministerial, apostolic succession, and therefore do have a sacramental nature to their office. Teaching Elders have been authorized by Christ to administer the sacraments, Ruling Elders have not…