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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.
This book by Douglas Wilson shows that many who call themselves Reformed have in fact lost the older Calvinistic teaching about the objectivity of the covenant and the promises made to Christians at baptism. Multitudes of faithless, corrupt Christians show that they do not believe what God said at their baptism. They live like adulterous husbands. But the tragedy is that many conscientious conservative Christians also do not believe what God said at their baptism.