“When the Lord breathes faith into us” and also into our babies, continued Calvin, “He regenerates us in a hidden and secret way that is unknown to us. But when faith has been given, we grasp with a lively awareness not only the grace of adoption but also newness of life and the other gifts of the Holy Spirit…. Faith receives Christ…. We begin to be the sons of God, only after we believe."
Right after John's birth, his father Zacharias prophesied that John would go out before the Lord Messiah to prepare His ways. That Messiah was 'the Dayspring from on high.' Already at His conception — and also when soon thereafter acknowledged by the prenatal John — that Messianic Dayspring had already dawned. The Messiah, exulted Zacharias, "has visited us — to give light to them that sit in darkness."102
Commented Rev. Dr. John Calvin:103 "The mere sight of his son, while still a child, led Zacharias to discourse in so lofty a strain respecting the grace and power of Christ before He was born…. The Holy Spirit bore testimony, while He was still in His mother's womb."
After John's birth and Infant Circumcision, "the child grew and became strong in spirit."104 Here Calvin commented105 that this "implies that the great and uncommon excellence of the child gave proof that there [already] dwelt in him a Heavenly Spirit [cf. Luke 1:15-17 & 1:41-44]…. John remained unknown in the deserts…till the day on which the Lord had purposed to bring him into public view…, though he was fully aware of his calling."
24. The sinless Jesus was holy from His human conception onward
Six months after John's birth, Jesus Himself was born. One week later, He — the sinless One -was circumcised.106 Then, when Jesus was later reaching puberty, "the child grew and became strong in Spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him….
“He was twelve years old…. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favour — with God and man."107
Here Calvin commented108 about Christ that "the endowments of His mind grew with His age. The gifts and graces of the Spirit grew also and increased in Him. Hence we infer that this progress or advancement relates to His human nature. For the divine nature could receive no increase.
"But a question arises. From the time that He was conceived in His mother's womb — did He
not abound in all fulness of spiritual gifts? For it appears absurd to say that the Son of God [ever did lack or] wanted anything that was necessary to perfection.
"The reply is easy…. He chose not only to grow in body, but to make progress in mind…. Christ received, in His human nature, according to His age and capacity, an increase of the free gifts of the Spirit — so that 'out of His fullness' (John 1:16) He may pour them out upon us. For we draw grace — out of His grace."
25. John the Baptizer demanded faith from others before baptizing them
With the later commencement of the mature ministry of John the Baptizer, Circumcision now began to yield to Baptism. It is clear that when John baptized — he did not believe that Baptism regenerated. To the contrary. He looked for evidences of the prior existence of renewal and repentance and faith in the people — before he baptized them.
Thus John came — "preaching in the desert of Judaea and saying, 'Repent!'"109 Indeed, "John the Baptizer was in the desert, preaching a Baptism of repentance."110 This was his message to all the believing people — whether crowds, tax-collectors, or soldiers.111