Saturday, December 1, 2007

Westminster on Baptism

Westminster Confession of Faith 28:6
The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, not withstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God's own will, in His appointed time.
The confession makes a point to state that the grace in baptism is only given to those "that grace belongs unto." This seems to fly in the face of the so-called 'Federal Vision.'

As best I can discern, this view says that the grace of baptism is given to all that are baptized. That is, that baptsim is the means God uses for justifying people. For example, Rich Lusk makes this comment in his article Faith, Baptism, & Justification,

The Westminster Standards point in this same direction. On the one hand the Confession says no one is actually justified until Christ is applied to them (11.4). But the Shorter Catechism specifically says one function of baptism is to apply Christ to the believer (92). Putting these two statements together yields this conclusion: Baptism is the instrument through which Christ is applied to us unto justification.

Thus, we can say that faith is the instrument of justification on our end, while baptism is the instrument on God’s side.

However, one must keep in mind that justification can be lost, not for the decretaly elect, but the non-elect, in this sense, can have justification and lose it. This is what leads to saying that the grace in baptism is for all baptized.

This group would do better to use all the qualification on baptism that the confession gives.

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