Suppose a husband is committing adultery. Is he still a husband? Being a husband is not just a state of mind; it's not just a private decision. Being a husband is a public relationship made from a public exchange of vows, an objective covenant. An adulterous husband is a covenant-breaking husband but still a husband. Being a husband is what makes his infidelity so horrendous. In the same way, when people are baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, they are ushered into an objective, visible, covenant relationship. Regardless of the state of their heart, regardless of any hypocrisy, regardless of whether or not they mean it, such people are now visible saints, Christians. A Christian is one who would be identified as such by a Muslim. Membership in the Christian faith is objective--it can be photographed and fingerprinted. In baptism, God names us and imposes gracious obligations upon us. Douglas Wilson goes on to build his case for the biblical idea of covenant binding the believer under the condition of grace.
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