Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 25, 1958
NUMBER 21, PAGE 12-13b

Did Baptism Come In The Room Of Circumcision? -- Yes

James Hunt, St: Catherines, Ontario, Canada

Brother J. E. Cooper in his article "Foolish Preaching on Infant Baptist, No. 2", needs to examine again the parallel between circumcision and baptism.

In his anxiety to prove the unscripturalness of Infant Baptism, he has gone overboard himself to the extent that he denies that circumcision — the Old Covenant, and Baptism — the New Covenant, are type and anti-type.

Surely Brother Cooper is aware that when a person became a Jew under the Old Testament he had to be circumcised, just as we in this present day have to be baptized in order to enter into a relationship with God.

Certainly we know that the Old Testament is not binding upon us today, and if there are those who think so; then this article is justified. However, I cannot comprehend members of the church not being able to discern the difference between the two covenants; it is elementary.

Can Brother Cooper not see that as animal sacrifices was a type of the sacrifice of Christ; that Moses was a type of Christ; that the temple was a type of the church; so circumcision is a type of baptism. And as both are applied to the individual then surely this is further proof that one has taken the place of the other.

The reason for this statement is that there are other types of baptism in the Old Testament which were not applicable to the individual as circumcision was — or as baptism is today.

The flood in Noah's day was a type of baptism, but note, it applied to a family. The sea and cloud was another type of baptism (Moses) but note again, it was applied to a nation. Only circumcision and baptism were and are applied to the individual.

It might be interesting to note what happened at the point of circumcision. God said, "This is my covenant, etc." Was something else the covenant ? No. Circumcision was the covenant; God said so (Gen. 17:10). Those who were not circumcised were cut off.

I would like to add here that I have found many church members confused as to the nature of the Old Testament. In the broadest sense, I believe all the Scriptures from Genesis to Malachi constitute the Old Testament. Then, if you narrow it down a bit, the laws and ordinances of Moses could be and are referred to as the Old Testament.

But, now, can we narrow it down still further? The chosen people of God in the Old Testament were the descendents of Abraham. He was the Father, and it was to him that the God of Heaven made knows the terms of the Covenant. This covenant, circumcision, brought about a two-fold promise. (1) the land of Canaan, (2) all the nations of the world to be blessed through his seed, which was Christ. And so it was at the point of circumcision that the promise was made, and this is the Covenant in a nutshell.

The Law of Moses was merely added because of the sins of the people (Gal. 3). The Law didn't justify anybody because no one could keep it. In fact, it condemned them.

But Moses did bring something down from the Mount, which is never mentioned by anybody that I know. This was circumcision (John 7:22; Psa. 105:8-10).

Now in the present dispensation Christians also are in covenant relationship with God. But how is man justified today? Does he have to obey completely, or in part, Christ's sermon on the mount ? We certainly have to try, but if God's acceptance of us depends on our keeping these teachings explicitly, then we are all going to be lost. The same is true of the apostles' epistles. Certainly they are part and parcel of the New Covenant, but what is the covenant in a nutshell? The New Birth, obviously (John 3:5). We know this to refer to baptism and baptism is the covenant through which God reconciles us unto himself today (Rom. 11:27; Jer. 31:31-34). Why does Bro. Cooper suppose that we emphasize baptism so much? Why did the Jews emphasize circumcision? Even the apostles and elders had to confer in Jerusalem, at great inconvenience, the question. The only wrong these Jews were doing was to apply the Old Covenant to the present dispensation, when actually Christ had taken it away, nailed it to the cross, and introduced the New Covenant, which was effective on the day of Pentecost.

Just think of all the sincere, earnest, and zealous people (denominations) who are cut off, separated, and even lost because they stumble at baptism. What was Paul talking about in Acts 13:41. "Behold ye despisers and wonder and perish, for I work a work in your day, a work which ye shall be no wise believe even though a man declare it unto you"? Acts 13:38, "Be it known therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins" (Check Acts 2:28; 22:16; Rom. 11:27). Baptism is the work that Paul is talking about here, and baptism is that which brings forgiveness of sins. Baptism is the gospel in a nutshell.

When Jesus went down into the grave, then rose again, this is the good news of salvation, the Lord's part finished completely. Our part is to follow him in baptism (Rom. 6), the agreement that God made with us for today.

To return to Bro. Cooper's rejection of infant baptism. Of course, we are in agreement. Only let us not do an injustice to the Holy Scriptures in order to do so. Baptism does take the place of circumcision, just as the New Covenant supersedes the Old Testament.

Normally infants received circumcision when they were eight days old. Today baptism is never applied to children except in the following sense. Jesus said, "Suffer little children to come unto me, etc." (Mark 10:4). But he also made it clear that they had to become as little children in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 18:3). No matter how old a person is, he must become as a little child if he is to become a Christian. A new life begins at baptism, exactly as it did in circumcision. The New Birth (Jno. 3:5).

Paul says, "And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power, in whom also ye are circumcised (Christians) with the circumcision made without hands in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God who raised him from the dead. And you being dead in your sins and uncircumcision of your flesh hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven all trespasses, blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was contrary to us, taking it out of the way and nailing it to the cross (Col. 2:10-14). Circumcision made physical Jews. Baptism creates spiritual Jews. (Rom. 2:28-29; Rev. 2:9; 3:9; 2 Cot 3:6; Acts 7:51; Rom. 9:6).