Free E-Book Friday! “Baptism Discovered Plainly & Faithfully” – John Norcott

norcott baptismIn Steve Weaver’s post earlier this week we discovered that John Norcott was the Second Pastor of

London’s oldest Baptist church which was then the meeting in the Wapping area of London. [See Ernest F. Kevan, London’s Oldest Baptist Church (London: The Kingsgate Press, 1933) for the remarkable first three hundred years of history of this congregation. The church is still in existence and is now called Church Hill Baptist Church, Walthamstow. Their website is:]


The second pastor of this congregation, John Norcott, is believed to have been one of a small number of Baptists who were actually ejected from their pulpits in Church of England in 1662. [For a discussion of the evidence, please see Geoffrey F. Nuttall, “Another Baptist Ejection (1662): The Case of John Norcott” in Pilgrim Pathways: Essays in Baptist History in Honour of B. R. White, eds. William H. Brackney and Paul S. Fiddes with John H. Y. Briggs (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1999), 185-188.]

It is also noted by Joseph Ivimey that Benjamin Keach published “A Summons to the Grave; being Mr. John Norcot’s Finieral Sermon”. 12mo. 1676 (A History of the English Baptists, Vol. II)

This makes his book one of the earliest on the subject of Baptism.

Below is John Norcott’s “Baptism Discovered Plainly and Faithfully, According to the Word of God“, Third Edition, corrected by William Kiffin, and Richard Claridge, with an Appendix by Another Hand. Re-printed by the Assigns of Widow Norcott


Baptism As A Means Of Grace by Fred Malone, Jason Walter & Tom Hicks [Audio]


Building Tomorrows Church Conference audio is up. I recently benefited greatly from two sermons regarding Baptism as a Means of Grace, one is from the 2011 ARBCA GA by Fred Malone:



Here are some notes from Tom Hicks on the sermon:

Is baptism a means of grace?

1. There is no ex opere operato (from the work performed) grace conveyed in baptism.

2. Baptism is not a “seal” of the new covenant.  The Holy Spirit is the “seal.”  Baptism is a “sign” of covenant membership.

3. Baptism is a means of grace appointed by God to strengthen and encourage the faith of the believer who is baptized. Baptism also strengthens other believers and proclaims the gospel to unbelievers who witness the ordinance. 

4. Some Baptists wrongly think baptism completes conversion. That notion is neither taught in Scripture nor the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession of Faith. Those who would make baptism a part of conversion overturn the Bible’s gracious doctrine of justification by faith alone because of Christ alone.


How is baptism a means of grace? 

1. Baptism is a sign to the person baptized of the full salvation accomplished by Jesus Christ.  We should never think of baptism without thinking of the Lord Jesus Christ and saving union with Him. The work of Christ on Calvary’s hill must always take precedence in our minds and hearts over the ordinance of baptism itself. As the believer joins faith to his baptism, the Spirit of Christ strengthens the believer’s faith, which lays hold of Christ who is proclaimed in the ordinance.

2. Baptism confirms forgiveness of sins in the heart of the believer. It testifies to the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. But, baptism itself has no power to accomplish forgiveness of sin, either as an atonement or as a means of appropriating the atonement.

3. Baptism is an appeal to God from a good conscience. We are not to appeal to baptism itself, but we are to appeal to the Lord Jesus Christ directly in baptism. Baptism, therefore, calls us to turn from sin and to Jesus Christ.

4. Baptism becomes a means of grace in older believers who reflect on their previous baptism.  It reminds them of Christ and so strengthens their faith.

5. Baptism is a sign of the believer’s future resurrection from the dead in glorification.


Jason Walter (Christ Reformed Baptist Church – Vista, CA) has a sermon on baptism:


The Visible Church & Its Means of Grace [Audio]: 2013 Building Tomorrow’s Church Conference – Barcellos & Ron Baines


Audio from all sessions of the 2013 Building Tomorrow’s Church conference for Reformed Baptist young adults in Prescott, Arizona are now online. Audio features Richard Barcellos and Ron Baines:


Definition of the Means of Grace by Richard Barcellos [mp3]:

Baptism as a Means of Grace by Ron Baines [mp3]:

The Lord’s Supper as a Means of Grace by Richard Barcellos [mp3]:

Prayer as a Means of Grace by Ron Baines [mp3]:

Preaching as a Means of Grace by Richard Barcellos [mp3]:


UPDATE 06/21/2013 – Q&A also posted (includes Sam Waldron & John Giarrizzo):

BTC 2013 Questions & Answers Part 1 [mp3]:

BTC 2013 Questions & Answers Part 2 [mp3]:

An open letter to our Reformed Paedobaptist brethren… from 1677

From Particular Voices:

This is a portion of the brief introduction to the appendix on baptism attached to the 1677 publication of the 2nd London Baptist Confession of Faith:


…if any of the Servants of our Lord Jesus shall, in the Spirit of meekness, attempt to convince us of any mistake either in judgement or practice, we shall diligently ponder his arguments; and accompt him our chiefest friend that shall be an instrument to convert us from any error that is in our ways, for we cannot wittingly do any thing against the truth, but all things for the truth.

Read the entire transcript.

Doug Wilson Claims Church in Disarray because of Non-Paedobaptist – Fred Malone Responds

Fred Malone responds to the writing and charge of Doug Wilson (this comes from his review of the book The Case For Covenantal Infant Baptism):

case covenantal infant baptismDouglas Wilson says that the church today is in disarray because Baptists do not let their children be baptized and Presbyterians do not admit their children to the Lord’s Supper (300). Such thinking, he claims, ignores the way that the Scripture deals with children of believers “as a class” (287). Wilson calls for a theology of children in Scripture beyond the usual texts regarding baptism. He reminds the reader that God’s intention has always been to raise up a godly seed of faithful parents (Mal. 2:15; 289).

Building on the immutability of God, he postulates that God’s promises do not change (290). Then Wilson surveys several OT texts to show that God has promises to the faithful concerning their seed from generation to generation, even in the New Covenant prophecies (Deut. 5:9–10, 7:9; Ezek. 37:24–27; Isa. 65:22–23; Psa. 103:17–18; Jer. 32:38–40). He sees the same promise in many NT texts (Eph. 6:1–4; 1 Cor. 7:14; Acts 2:37–39; Lk. 18:15–16). These passages, which demonstrate of children that “of such is the kingdom of God,” are confirmed in the household baptisms of Acts (290–298). If we do not return to a theology of children, and instead continue to treat them like unbelievers, they will conclude that they are unbelievers. Instead, parents should accept God’s promises by faith and disciple their children by baptizing and teaching them (Matt. 28:18–20), treating them as believers until they prove otherwise. A theology of children, which recognizes God’s blessing from generation to generation, will strengthen the church and the family (298–301).

Contra 14. Wilson’s claim that the church today is in disarray because Baptists do not baptize their children and Presbyterians do not admit their infant baptized children to the Lord’s Supper is both overstated and astounding. Is the church in disarray because Christians do not think of their children covenantally? Can the disarray of the church today not be charged more convincingly to liberalism, postmodernism, Arminianism, justification by works, easy believism, antinomianism, or other high-profile errors? Wilson sounds like a sacramentalist.

…Wilson’s statements seem to charge that these two groups do not take seriously God’s promises to believers concerning their children. Again, he is wrong. There are many Baptists and Presbyterians who believe that God has promised to save “from among” their children from generation to generation (Deut. 30:6), and so exercise faith in God’s promises in prayer without succumbing either to Wilson’s paedobaptist or his paedocommunion positions. He almost seems to believe that if we will just treat our children as believers, baptizing them, teaching them as Christians, and serving them the Lord’s Supper, that God will have to treat them as Christians by covenant and the children will consider themselves believers. Here Wilson reinterprets the Great Commission to mean “make disciples by baptizing and teaching,” rather than the widely agreed understanding, “make disciples, then baptize and teach them.” And what if the children who are told that they are Christians really are not? What if we have given them false assurance of salvation, though unregenerate all their lives? What if they have never repented and submitted to Christ in saving faith while maintaining an upright life and church membership? Suppose they die in this state, having never been challenged to examine themselves to see if they are in the faith? Wilson’s horror is that if we treat our children as unbelievers, they might conclude that they are unbelievers, even though they really may be. My horror is that infant baptism’s privileges so replace the gospel call to repentance and faith that children may live and die with a false assurance of salvation without ever having been challenged with the gospel. Why cannot God extend His promises to parents by preaching the gospel to their unregenerate children, sovereignly saving whom He will from generation to generation, instead of withholding calls to repentance and faith? Wilson’s views undermine the evangelism of children and the doctrine of Christian assurance. Upon these errors, the church will surely end up in disarray.

Vol. 2: The Reformed Baptist Theological Review Volume 2. 2005 (1) (155–157). Owensboro, KY: Reformed Baptist Theological Review.

[source: Reformed For His Glory]

From Circumcision to Baptism by Greg Welty (+ more)

“From Circumcision to Baptism: A Baptist Covenantal Rejoinder to John Calvin” by Greg Welty 

Calvin’s argument for infant baptism (which has become the standard justification
for the practice in Reformed paedobaptist churches) applies to the church God’s
command that Abraham circumcise his household, and appeals to the New Testament
analogy between circumcision and baptism as a strong confirmation of this application.
In this paper I argue that Calvin (and his Reformed paedobaptist heirs) misapplies the
command and misconstrues the analogy. In fact, the biblical material to which Calvin
appeals provides significant reason to reject infant baptism and embrace its alternative:
believers’ baptism. I close by noting some advantages of the believers’ baptism view.

Read the rest here [PDF].

And then there is this from Founders:


As a Baptist student at a Reformed seminary, I encountered many theological pressures — from students and teachers alike — to convert to a paedobaptistic view. After much study, I came out convinced that “Reformed Baptist” was not a contradiction of terms (as my paedobaptist peers admonished me), but a qualification of terms, a subjecting of the traditionally Reformed version of covenant theology to a more careful biblical scrutiny. And so while abundantly grateful for my training in Reformed theology at seminary, for both the piety and the scholarship of my professors, I have concluded that the doctrine of infant baptism is neither a good nor necessary consequence deduced from Scripture (to use the language of the Westminster Confession of Faith,

In my readings on the subject of baptism, Paul K. Jewett’s Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace was a revolutionary treatment of the subject. It was the first full-length book I had seen which actually critiqued the doctrine of infant baptism from the perspective of covenant theology itself. Some may debate as to how faithful Jewett actually is to the details of covenant theology, as those details are spelled out in the Reformed confessions. But his basic identification of the problem as one of biblical theology was quite insightful. Avoiding a blatantly dispensational approach, he applies the Reformed emphasis on unity and progress in redemptive history to the sacraments themselves, thus beating the paedobaptists at their own game of continuity and discontinuity. To those who are familiar with Jewett, it will be clear that I am indebted to him at several points.

This paper was originally written to fill a primary need among the seminary interns and other young men at my church. My own experience has taught me that nondispensational, Calvinistic baptists are perpetually tempted to look over the fence of their small and often divisive camp and covet the ministry opportunities available in conservative Presbyterian circles. Many have made this leap, and often do so because they simply don’t have a deep, Scripturally-based conviction that the baptist view is correct. Rather, they have absorbed their baptistic sentiments culturally and emotionally, and thus often lose them by the same means. Many have not been presented with an extended series of biblical arguments against infant baptism, a set of arguments which is at the same time consistent with their own nondispensational and Calvinistic perspective. So consider the following to be a resource for seminary and Bible students who want a quick, clear, and accessible summary of the leading reasons why Reformed Baptists (and all biblical Christians) ought not to embrace the doctrine of infant baptism.

Read the rest here.

Dr. Welty is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Forst Worth, Texas. His educational degrees include D.Phil., Oriel College, University of Oxford in 2007; M.Phil., Oriel College, University of Oxford, 2000; M.Div., Westminster Theological Seminary, California, 1996; B.A. Philosophy, University of California, Los Angeles, 1993. He is a member of Heritage Baptist Church, Mansfield, Texas. [bio]

“But What About Your Children?” – Fred Malone Answers R.C. Sproul Jr.

Fred Malone answers the question (this comes from his review of the book The Case For Covenantal Infant Baptism):

15. “In Jesus’ Name, Amen”

what about the children - the covenant onesR.C. Sproul, Jr. ties the issue of infant baptism to family worship. He says that baptism increases the odds that our children will be saved (306). It gives them the right to pray in Jesus’ name, something unbaptized children cannot do since it is assumed that they are not saved. Baptism is a sign of faith. As far as we know, baptized children are in the faith, the church, the kingdom, and the covenant. Family worship brings them before the King as their King with a right to approach Him in prayer. Even though infant or household baptism is not an ironclad guarantee of salvation, we should assume that they are in the faith till they prove otherwise and are excommunicated as apostates. This is how God worked in His OT covenant arrangements and we should assume that He is the same today (307–309). The primary question is: how do we see our covenant children? If we see them as unsaved, then family worship will take on the character of evangelism; we must warn them of wrath and the need of repentance. However, if we see our children as young servants and recipients of grace, we come before God in family worship as a whole family. Our children will think of God as a loving Father rather than an angry judge. So, the goal of family worship becomes sanctification, not conversion. We must still preach the gospel and pray with them. Family worship makes us think more clearly about the issue of infant baptism (310).

Contra 15. Family worship is certainly an issue in all our homes, whether Baptist or paedobaptist. Some paedobaptists have caricatured the Baptist position, claiming that Baptists can only evangelize their unbaptized children as children of Satan, never teaching them to pray and depend upon God as a believer. Yet, on what basis did Noah and Job teach their uncircumcised children to worship God? On the contrary, family worship becomes the opportunity to call our children to pray to God as His creatures (who are totally dependent on Him for food, shelter, and salvation) and as the blessed children of Christian parents. We call them to believe that they are God’s saved children if they are depending upon Christ’s blood and righteousness alone. Therefore, we sing hymns together, read Scripture together, pray for requests together. Sproul’s appeal to God’s immutability as the basis for generational blessings is illogical and ill-conceived. God called Abraham to circumcise his descendants everlastingly (Gen. 17:13) yet ceased circumcision under the New Covenant fulfillment (Acts 15).

Overall, Sproul’s argument is from emotion, not revelation. It is no less a manipulation of parental affections to establish infant baptism than the manipulation of one’s emotions to walk an aisle all the way into the baptismal tank. Such arguments are not worthy to establish the validity of a sacrament. Christ institutes Sacraments through revelation, not through emotional appeals to debated issues. Nevertheless, Sproul’s call to the importance of family worship is well taken.

Vol. 2: The Reformed Baptist Theological Review Volume 2. 2005 (1) (157–158). Owensboro, KY: Reformed Baptist Theological Review.

[source: Reformed For His Glory]

Free e-book Friday: Abraham Booth’s “An Apology For The Baptists”

Earlier this week we received a request for resources regarding “the relationship of credobaptism with local church membership”.

From a Reformed Baptist’s perspective we found the books below. If you are aware of any others please feel free to let us know!

  • William Kiffin’s “A Sober Discourse of Right to Church Communion: Wherein is proved by Scripture, the example of the Primitive times, and the practice of all that Have professed the Christian Religion: That no unbaptized person may Be regularly admitted to the Lord’s Supper
  • John L. Dagg’s, “Manual of Church Order, Chapter 1; Baptism, Section IV: Design of Baptism

And today’s free e-book (PDF),

  • Abraham Booth’s “An Apology for the Baptists [download]; In which they are vindicated from the imputation of laying an unwarrantable stress on the ordinance of baptism and against the charge of bigotry in refusing communion at the Lord’s Table to Paedobaptists

Samuel & Micah Renihan On Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology & Biblical Theology [PDF]

This material was presented by the authors to students of Westminster Seminary California during a lunch hour on campus in response to their inquiries about how Reformed Baptists view covenant theology. Given the time constraints of a one-hour presentation, the focus of the material was on areas of positive argument for the credobaptist position where it differs from paedobaptism. Key points of covenant theology are absent from this presentation, not because they do not form a part of Reformed Baptist covenant theology, but because there is no disagreement between our position and that of the paedobaptists. For example, there is no discussion of the covenant of works, fully affirmed by the London Baptist and Westminster confessions, and there is no discussion of the definition of a covenant since we agree with the basic definition formulated by Meredith G. Kline: a commitment with divine sanctions between a lord and a servant. Other arguments and significant points were omitted for the sake of time, such as the relation between kingdom and covenant or exegetical discussions of specific key passages around which this dialogue normally revolves. What follows are foundational assertions arguing for a Reformed Baptist view of covenant theology and biblical theology, applied specifically to credobaptism.

Read it here:

Download (PDF, 237KB)

David Kingdon: The Silence That Breaks The Silence

David Kingdon on the New Testament’s silence of infant baptism and the place of John the Baptist in Redemptive History:


… the question that needs to be put is this: “Is there reason to believe that Reformed paedobaptists have overlooked a key element in redemptive history that calls into question their common assumption that it is possible to jump from circumcision to the baptism of infants?” I believe there is. It is the ministry of John the Baptist which we must now consider.

For full text see David Kingdon’s “John the Baptist: The Silence That Breaks The Silence” from Founders Journal, Spring 2002, pp. 5-16.



Credo-Baptism During The Reformation

Reformed Forum’s Christ the Center podcast, a while back, interviewed James Dolezal on Credo Baptism during the Reformation, great listen:

” James Dolezal argues for viewing three distinct categories: Anabaptists, general baptists, and particular baptists. The theological differences between these groups are as great as the differences among all forms of paedo-baptism.”




Is Baptism a Secondary Doctrine? Nathan Finn Responds

“Mohler himself uses baptism as one of his examples as a secondary doctrine. How should Baptists, and particularly Southern Baptists, think of the doctrine of baptism (and ecclesiology in general)? Is baptism a second-order doctrine?…But as Southern Baptists, it is important to recognize that a particular understanding of baptism–the full immersion of professed believers–is a core distinctive of our churches and our denomination. While every Southern Baptist I know would agree that baptism doesn’t contribute to our salvation, almost every Southern Baptist I know would argue that confessor’s baptism by immersion is the explicit teaching of the New Testament and that other Christians who sprinkle babies and call it baptism are in error, even if they don’t know it.”

Read the entire article.