Because we are walking in the path of our Reformed fathers, we practice infant baptism. Because we walk in the path of our evangelical fathers, we confess that faith is the sole instrument of our justification. Now because this child who is about to be baptized is not going to make a profession of faith, what are we doing? How can we reconcile these two things?
Faith is the only instrument that God uses at the moment of any sinner’s justification. But there are secondary means that God uses, leading up to that moment. These would be things like preached sermons, or evangelistic literature, or godly parenting, or . . . infant baptism.
This baptism does not effect regeneration. This baptism seals the child’s membership in the visible covenant people of God, and places on the child a strong imperative—love Jesus, love His gospel, love His people, and all by faith alone.
Water is therefore no substitute for faith. And if it were, it would be a poor substitute. Water alone is as ineffectual as the blood of bulls and goats. Water by itself, whenever or however it is applied, before a profession of faith or after, or prior to true conversion or after, is a lame salvation. You think you can wash off your lusts with water?
No. Only the blood of Christ washes us clean that way. This water is a faithful witness, and in accordance with the Word, it points to that blood. It is the duty of every baptized person to see to it that their faith points the same direction that the water points.
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