Where do our children stand with respect to God’s covenant? How should we treat them as Christian parents? Why do we baptize infants? Those questions fill the mind of parents. They were never more on our mind this summer than as we drove to participate in extended family gatherings on both sides of our family.
In that drive time, we listened to Ted Donnelly’s six sermon series on infant baptism. He is a now-retired pastor in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland. Though the sermons were preached nine years ago, the timeless truth of God’s word is preached from a grandfatherly man who not only knows the Scripture but who has experienced the blessing of it in the various stages of life, too. In this series, he handles not only the technical aspects of baptism, but each message is drenched with pastoral love and tenderness.
Preaching from Genesis 17, Donnelly says: “Circumcision and baptism are not signs of our commitment to God; they are signs of God’s commitment to us… Every single administration of the covenant in the Old Testament – it always involved the children of believers. Always. Not just the covenant with Abraham. The covenant with Adam involved his children. The covenant with Noah involved his children. The covenant with Moses involved his children. The covenant with David involved his children. They are always included. That is definitive of the nature of God’s covenants. That is what they are. And in our individualistic age we need to get back to this corporate togetherness of our covenant keeping God. God to you and to your descendants after you. We’re not surprised then, when we come to the New Testament, to find that in that richer and fuller administration of the covenant our children have no lesser privileges than these children at the beginning of God’s redemption.”
Indeed, God’s gave the sign of his covenant to Abraham in Genesis 17 promising to be God to him and to his offspring after him and to make him the father of a multitude of nations – in him all the families of the earth would be blessed. In the same way at Pentecost, God commanded the sign of his covenant and assured New Testament believers that the promise was for them, and for their children, and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself (Acts 2-38-39). The nature of God’s covenant has not changed. What a great comfort, delight, and motivation for Christian parents today!
That is merely one of many rich truths Donnelly unpacks. Each message is approximately 30 minutes long. Download and listen – you will be blessed.