I’ve preached two series on Samson in the last 12 months, at two different churches. It has occurred to me this week that Samson’s life is a good model for paedobaptism:
- God made a Nazirite vow (see Numbers ch6) with Samson before he was born and God would prove to be faithful to Samson as long as Samson kept his vows.
- Samson broke the first vow, not to touch a dead body, when he scraped honey from the guts of a rotting lion. But God remained with Samson and faithful to him.
- Samson broke the second vow, not to drink wine, at his wedding feast. But God was still with him, as Samson killed 30 men with his bare hands.
- Samson was hanging by a thread, two vows down, one to go.
- Samson slept with a prostitute and God was still with him as he used the strength God gave him to rip up 3 or 4 tonne city gates and heaved them up a hill.
- God only left Samson when the last of his three vows was broken. Samson’s hair was cut.
- God walked away from Samson, but that is not the end of the story. The suffering which Samson then endured led him to repentance.
How does this support paedobaptism?
- God makes vows with children shortly after their birth. And God will remain faithful to these children as long as they keep their vows.
- The vow of baptism is to repent of sin and believe in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
- The vow is not a vow never to sin, only to repent of it, as Samson eventually did. Children should be encouraged to repentance as they grow.
- More importantly, the vow is never to deny Christ. Children should be taught what it means to be in covenant relationship with Christ and never to renounce him.
He who is not with me is against me,
and he who does not gather with me scatters.
And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men,
but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.
(The words of Jesus in Matthew 12:30-31)
What is blasphemy against the Spirit? Living as if Jesus never lived.
Living as if Jesus never died on the cross for our sins. Blasphemy against the Spirit is to publicly deny Christ.
Just as God was faithful to Samson until he publicly renounced his last vow, made before he was born, so God is faithful to baptised children until they publicly renounce their baptismal vows. Parents of baptised children need to remind their kids of what their baptismal vows mean; that their baptism points them to Christ and seals them in a covenant relationship with God, that they should practice repentance and never renounce Christ.
How, then, do children break their covenant vows? They renounce Jesus, saying something like; “I once believed that Jesus was the Son of God. I once believed he lived and died on a cross because he loved me before I loved him, he died for my sins. I once believed that by not any more.” That’s when God walks away from his baptised children.