Who Should Be Baptized?—a Covenant Dialogue

by Stanley D. Gale

The LORD God = bold
Abram/Abraham = regular type
Date: circa 2000 BC

Abraham, I am entering into covenant with you. I will be your God. But this special relationship with me is not just for you. It’s also for your children after you. From you I will form a people for my own possession.  (Genesis 12:2-3)

Lord, is this relationship just for Jews, who will descend from me? (Romans 9:6-8)

No, you will be a blessing to the nations.  My promise will be for Jews and for Gentiles—for all who will believe.  (Genesis 15:5-6; Galatians 3:6-9)

Lord, what will be the sign of this promise of blessing?  (Romans 3:29-4:25)

All the males in your household are to be circumcised.  It will represent my promise to you and to them.  It will show they are distinct from the families of the world that do not know me. (Genesis 17:9-13)

Lord, I have believed you.  Should I be circumcised?

Yes, you should be circumcised, as should your 13-year-old son, Ishmael, as should your newborn son, Isaac.  (Genesis 17:24-25; Genesis 21:3)

Lord, I have faith, but Ishmael has not believed.  And Isaac is only a baby!  Should we all receive this sign of your covenant?

Yes, Abraham. This sign of the covenant does not point to your faith. It is not an outward sign of your inner faith. Nor does it guarantee that Ishmael or Isaac will believe.  It points to my promise of blessing.  (Romans 4:13-16; James 2:21-23)

Lord, will this sign be for all generations, even in the day of the Messiah to come that I rejoice to see? (John 8:56; Galatians 3:13-14)

Yes, my friend, I will always have a sign of my covenant for believers and their children. In the new covenant when Messiah comes the sign will be water baptism, and applied to females as well as males as part of my covenant community, the church. (Isaiah 41:8; Ezekiel 36:25-28; Acts 16:33-34)

Lord, will water baptism be a sign of the same thing as circumcision? (Colossians 2:11-12)

Yes, Abraham, it too will be a sign, not of faith but of my promise to faith.  As my servant Peter will later proclaim in Jerusalem on the day you long to see: “For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:38-39)