The whole Bible is God’s written revelation of His covenant of salvation – His promise to save to His chosen people through faith in His Son Jesus Christ.
When God saved Abraham by granting him repentance and faith in Christ, He entered into a covenant of friendship with him, promising him, “I will be a God to you and to your descendants after you” (Gen. 17:7); which is why God commanded Abraham to give the sign of this covenant (circumcision) to himself and his descendants, including infants (Gen 17:11-14).
God did not promise to save all of Abraham’s descendants; but He did promise to circumcise (regenerate) the hearts of His elect (males and females) in the generations of believing families. “God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart” (Deut. 30:6). “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved” (Isaiah 10:22; cf. Rom. 9:27; 11:4-5). It was this covenant promise that distinguished the seed of believers as a “holy seed” (Ezra 9:2; cf. Isaiah 65:9).
All parents belonging to the covenant community were required to train their children to trust in the Messiah alone for salvation and to obey God’s commands out of thankfulness, trusting God to circumcise the hearts of His elect so they repent and believe (Gen. 18:19; Joshua 24:15; Prov. 22:6). The goal was to prepare their children to make their own confession of faith so they could be confirmed as full members of the congregation of Israel and be admitted to the Passover (cf. Luke 2:41-47).
The new covenant did not abolish God’s covenant of salvation with believers and their children (Gal. 3:6-29); only the sign changed from circumcision to baptism (Gen. 17:21; 21:12; Acts 2:38-39; Rom. 2:28-29; 4:11; Col. 2:11-12). For example, when Lydia (an adult convert, like Abraham) believed, “she and her household were baptized” (Acts 16:15) – just like Abraham believed and he and his household were circumcised (Gen. 17:23-24)! The children of believers are still “holy” (1 Cor. 7:14) – still set apart for the sake of God’s covenant promise to save His elect among them (Luke 19:9; Acts 11:14; 16:15; 2 Tim. 1:5). The children of believers are still to be trained in the faith from early childhood (Eph. 6:4; 2 Tim. 3:15) so they can make their own confession of faith and be confirmed as full members of the church, and be admitted to the Lord’s Supper (which replaces Passover).
When our covenant children were baptized, they received the sign and seal of God’s covenant promise to save His elect among our descendants by granting them repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But the only way to be confident that this miracle has taken place in their hearts is if they are taught what it means to be a believer, so they can know and confess that they are one. For this reason, our covenant children are taught in Sunday school, what it means to be a Christian. If our covenant children find themselves repenting of their sins and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, they can be assured that God has confirmed His covenant promise to save His elect through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). “No one can say that Jesus is LORD except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3).
When our covenant children are ready to confess to the Spiritual Council (the pastor and elders) that they hate their sins, are trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation, and are obeying Him out of thankfulness for salvation, then the church has a ceremony to confirm (recognize) a covenant child as a full member of the Christian church. After they take the membership vows, they join the congregation in partaking of the Lord’s Supper.
- Do you believe the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, to be the inerrant and infallible Word of God, and its doctrine, summarized in the confessions of this Church, to be the perfect and only true doctrine of salvation?
- Do you confess that because of your sinfulness you abhor and humble yourself before God, and that you trust for salvation not in yourself but in Jesus Christ alone?
- Do you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your sovereign Lord; and do you promise, in reliance on the grace of God, to serve Him with your whole heart, to forsake the world, to mortify your old nature, and to lead a godly life?
- Do you agree to submit in the Lord to the government of this church, and in case you should be found delinquent in doctrine or life, to obey its discipline?