by Sam Renihan
The practice of baptizing professing believers is grounded upon two complementary foundations. The first is an argument from the covenants of Scripture. The second is an argument from the commands of Scripture related to those covenants. Credobaptists and paedobaptists often assume, or argue, that the people of a given covenant receive the covenant sign. Thus, in the case of the subjects of baptism one must simply identify the covenant people. This is insufficient. The administration of covenantal ordinances is governed by specific laws, which must be obeyed strictly. For example, women were members of Abraham’s covenant but they were not recipients of its sign, circumcision. Likewise, infant males were circumcised, but only on the eighth day. As a result, to determine the subjects of baptism one must first identify and distinguish the covenants involved and then examine the accompanying laws.
1. A positive credobaptist argument asserts that the relevant covenant involved is the new covenant, and that this covenant is distinct from the biblical covenants that preceded it in history, particularly the Abrahamic covenant. Simply put, the Abrahamic covenant promised earthly blessings to an earthly people (Abraham and his offspring) in an earthly land. This covenantal relationship was expanded and developed in the Mosaic covenant….
Read the entire article here.
CHAPTER 29-THE BAPTISM THAT SAVES #Mt 3:13-15
At a banquet honoring some athletic celebrities, Helen Wills Moody was called on for a speech. She said something like this: “To be seen one has to stand; to be understood one has to speak distinctly; and to be appreciated one has to sit down.”
In this message I want to affirm something and then support that affirmation. I affirm that there is a baptism that saves. In this message we shall discover that baptism. What is baptism?
1. The baptism that saves is not the baptism of the sinner in water. It is not denied that water baptism saves figuratively and symbolically. Saul was already saved when he was told by Ananias to arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins. He was converted and called into the ministry when he met Jesus on the Damascus road. Water has cleansing properties and is a fit emblem of the blood of Christ that actually cleanses from all sin. It is also an emblem of the Holy Spirit and of the word of God.
1. The contention that water baptism saves is unreasonable as well as unscriptural. If water baptism is essential to salvation, then all who are unbaptized are in their sins and lost, regardless of how much evidence they may give of a birth from above. This theory shuts out all Quakers who do not believe in water baptism at all, but among whom can be found many people of evident spirituality. It also shuts out of heaven all unimmersed Presbyterians and Methodists. This view limits the number of the saved to a small denomination of professing Christians. The implication is narrow, carnal, and cruel.
2. Passages that may seem to teach baptismal remission can be fairly, honestly, and intelligently interpreted in the figurative sense. “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (#Joh 3:5). Water is here made by some to mean baptism. But it is a false and dangerous scheme of interpretation to make water and baptism interchangeable terms. Water is often used where there can be no possible allusion to baptism. “Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again” (#Joh 4:13); “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (#Joh 7:38); “Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me” (#Joh 13:8); Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (#Joh 15:3). All through the gospel of John water is used in a figurative and spiritual sense to make John 3:5 refer to literal water of baptism is to use the word water in a different sense in which it is used in all the other places. And besides, the word baptism is not in #Joh 3:5 and to introduce baptism here is to violate the meaning of water in the gospel of John.
3. Water baptism cannot save because of the subject to be baptized. Baptism is for believers only and the believer is a saved person. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (#Joh 3:16); “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (#Joh 3:36); “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (#Joh 20:31); “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (#Ac 16:31). The pastor is looking for people to baptize; where will he find them among the saved or lost? The answer is obvious.
4. Water baptism cannot save because baptism is no part of the gospel which is the power of God unto salvation. “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (#1Co 15:3,4). Paul thanked God that he had not baptized many of the Corinthians. “I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;” (#1Co 1:14). “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (#1Co 4:15).
5. Water baptism cannot save because of the design of baptism. Baptism is not a saving sacrament but a symbol of what does save; namely the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Baptism speaks of the legal union between Christ and the believer. The believer is dead to the guilt of sin and alive unto God and to this, baptism testifies. Baptism is a burial and a burial testifies to the death of a person. Our old man was crucified with Christ. Old man does not mean our old nature, our old nature is still very much alive. The old man is the man of old the person I once was under law and cursed by it and awaiting the day of execution. As a believer in Christ I can look back at the cross and see the sentence of death against me executed in the death of Christ. Christ had my guilt upon Himself and died under it, then rose again, and as my Surety and substitute, I died and rose again in His death and resurrection. Now the purpose of baptism is to symbolize all this, to put it before our eyes in visible symbol.
This death and resurrection is not something to be felt, but something to be reckoned as so because God says so. “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (#Ro 6:11). Reason may argue, but I do not feel dead to sin. But feeling has nothing to do with it. What God says is the important thing. And God says that what Christ did on the cross and in coming out of the tomb is what saves us. The believer is declared to be dead to the guilt of sin and alive unto God on the ground of the death and resurrection of Christ.
2. The baptism that saves is not the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
1. Because of the design of Spiritual baptism. Spiritual baptism was not for salvation but for power. Holy Spirit baptism was associated with the miraculous. The disciples (who were already saved) were told to tarry in Jerusalem until the coming of the Holy Spirit who would empower them for witnessing. Holy Spirit baptism at Pentecost enabled the disciples to speak in tongues or languages they did not know. “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (#Ac 2:16). In Acts 8 the Samaritans who had been converted under Philip’s preaching and had been baptized in water received the Spiritual baptism through the laying on of the hands of Peter and John. “Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost” (#Ac 8:17). In Acts 10, Cornelius and others heard Peter say that whoever believed in Christ should receive remission of sins. And as Peter spake they believed and the Spirit fell on them and they spake in tongues. “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God” (#Ac 10:43-46). I do not believe we have Holy Spirit Baptism today; else we would have people speaking in languages unknown to them as well as performing other miracles as they did in the early church. “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (#Eph 5:18).
And so the baptism that saves is neither water baptism nor Spiritual baptism. It is not the baptism of the sinner in anything. The baptism that saves is the baptism of the Savior at Calvary. The Bible speaks of baptism in water, in the Holy Spirit, in fire, and in suffering. And the way to be saved is to trust in what Christ suffered on the cross.
John the Baptist was baptizing in the Jordan River. He was baptizing people who came to him confessing their sins. He refused to baptize anyone else. He turned down the Jews who wanted to be baptized as descendants of Abraham. Jesus walked from Galilee to the Jordan and asked John to baptize Him. John demurred, saying, “I have need to be baptized of thee and comest thou to me?” (#Mt 3:14). John was baptizing self confessed sinners and he could not think of Jesus as a sinner. But Jesus prevailed by saying. “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (#Mt 3:15). John then baptized Him. Jesus was not a sinner but He was in the sinner’s place and to save sinners He must work out a perfect righteousness for them. “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (#Php 2:8). And so John’s baptism of Jesus fulfilled all righteousness only typically and figuratively. It pointed to another baptism of Jesus when He would be baptized in suffering and thus provide righteousness for sinners. The baptism of Jesus was a prophecy and pledge of the cross.
And so the baptism that saves was the baptism of Christ at Calvary. We find Christ speaking of another baptism after His water baptism. On His last trip to Jerusalem He told His disciples of His approaching death under the figure of a baptism. “Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able” (#Mt 20:20-22); “But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” (#Lu 12:50).
On the cross our dear Savior was immersed in suffering. Hear Him in the prophetic word: “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me” (#Ps 18:4,5).
The cross is the place to look for salvation. The way of the cross leads home. The water baptism of Christ typified His baptism of suffering; and our baptism in water symbolizes what He did in his death and resurrection. His water baptism looked forward to the cross and our water baptism looks back to the cross. The baptismal pool that actually washes away sin was filled at Calvary, filled with the blood of Christ.
“There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Emanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.
“The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day;
And there may I,
though vile as he,
Wash all my sins away.
“Ere since by faith,
I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die.”
C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3
CHAPTER 27-BAPTISM #Mt 3:15
Baptism is one of the most familiar subjects to Baptists and we may come to think that we have learned all about it. Many Baptists think they have graduated in this one subject if in no other. But the word of God is so wonderful that we never learn all there is to learn on any subject. Just the last few days I have seen things in the Scriptures on Baptism that I had never seen and understood before. The Bible uses baptism in a literal and figurative way. Literally baptism is the plunging of a person in water and then raising him out of the water. It is both an immersion and an emersion. Figuratively, it is used of suffering and of joy as well. John said that he could only baptize in water but that Christ would baptize in the Holy Spirit and in fire. Christ would perform two kinds of baptism. He would baptize in the Holy Spirit. The first time He baptized in the Holy Spirit was on the day of Pentecost. All the lost who have died physically are in a baptism of fire and after the day of judgment all the wicked will be baptized in the lake of fire.
THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST
Why was Christ baptized? Why did John at first refuse to baptize Him? What does it mean to fulfill all righteousness? In what way did His baptism fulfill all righteousness? Only in a typical way. It was His pledge to go to the cross and actually provide for sinners the righteousness they so much need.
Christ had another baptism. “But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able” (#Mt 20:22); “But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” (#Lu 12:50). This baptism was essential to our salvation. A baptism of suffering.
THE BAPTISM OF BELIEVERS
1. Symbolizes faith in the righteousness He provided in His baptism of suffering.
2. It is like putting on a uniform. “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (#Ga 3:27).
3. It ought to be submitted to promptly and gladly. “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan (sixty miles) unto John, to be baptized of him” (#Mt 3:13).
4. Washes away sin pictorially.
THE BAPTISM OF UNBELIEVERS
1. Baptism of fire.
2. Begins immediately after death. “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom” (#Lu 16:23).
3. Continues forever in the lake of fire. “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (#Re 20:14).
C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3
CHAPTER 27-SACRAMENTALISM AND BAPTISM #Mt 3:11 12:41 Ac 2:38 1Pe 3:21
It is the glory of Baptists that we have preached a non- sacramental gospel. We are about the only great denomination in the world that holds that baptism neither saves, helps save, or keeps us saved. We have consistently held to the symbolism of the ordinances over against the sacramental idea. Baptism symbolizes a salvation already obtained through faith and sets forth in beautiful picture the great redemptive acts which are its objective causes.
Catholics have seven sacraments, Protestants have two, and Baptists have none. W. C. Taylor says that sacrament is a word of pagan militarism, alien to the New Testament and to apostolic Christianity. It took centuries to get the false translation of the word out of the printed Bibles, but the idea has outlived the word, and many religionists have no other concept of the ordinances.
And the idea is still expressed in the sacramental translation of the preposition eis. Sacramentalists make the preposition look only to the future, expressing purpose and never backwards, expressing cause. It can look either way and the context determines whether it looks forward in the sense of purpose or backwards in the sense of cause. Dr. Robertson says that it is not Greek grammar that determines the translations, but whether a man is evangelical or not. The general idea of the preposition eis is with reference to the context determining what the reference is “I indeed baptize you with water unto (eis) repentance” (#Mt 3:11). Phillips, an Anglican, translates #Mt 3:11: “I baptize you as a sign that your hearts are changed.” Baptism is with reference to repentance; not in order to get a man to repent, but because he has repented.
Nineveh repented eis the preaching of Jonah; not in order to get Jonah to preach but because of his preaching.
“Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (#Ac 2:38) :etc. C. B. W.: “You must repent and, as expression of it, let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ that you may have your sins forgiven.” W. C. Taylor: “Be baptized on the basis of the remission of sins previously obtained by repentance.”
“The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (#1Pe 3:21). R. S. V.: “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience.” In the Greek, the word for body is sarx, meaning the old sinful nature and the word for dirt is the word that means moral defilement. What Peter is saying is that Baptism saves only in figure and is not the washing away of the moral turpitude of depravity. “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still” (#Re 22:11); “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (#Jas 1:21): James is not prescribing a physical bath for salvation. He is speaking of moral filth.
Sacrament: “In classical usage means an oath, especially a military oath, and also a gauge in money laid down by two contending parties in court, is not strictly a Scriptural term, but occurs repeatedly in the Latin Vulgate as a translation of the Greek mysterion (mystery). It was first loosely employed for all sacred doctrines and ceremonies, and then more particularly for baptism and the Eucharist, and a few other solemn rites connected with Christian worship.” Schaff Hyphen Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge.
“The word was used in two senses
1. as a legal term to denote the sum of money deposited by two parties to a suit which was forfeited by the loser and appropriated to sacred uses;
2. as a military term to designate the oath of obedience taken by newly enlisted soldiers.” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3
Building Tomorrows Church Conference audio is up. I recently benefited greatly from two sermons regarding Baptism as a Means of Grace, one is from the 2011 ARBCA GA by Fred Malone:
Here are some notes from Tom Hicks on the sermon:
Is baptism a means of grace?
1. There is no ex opere operato (from the work performed) grace conveyed in baptism.
2. Baptism is not a “seal” of the new covenant. The Holy Spirit is the “seal.” Baptism is a “sign” of covenant membership.
3. Baptism is a means of grace appointed by God to strengthen and encourage the faith of the believer who is baptized. Baptism also strengthens other believers and proclaims the gospel to unbelievers who witness the ordinance.
4. Some Baptists wrongly think baptism completes conversion. That notion is neither taught in Scripture nor the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession of Faith. Those who would make baptism a part of conversion overturn the Bible’s gracious doctrine of justification by faith alone because of Christ alone.
How is baptism a means of grace?
1. Baptism is a sign to the person baptized of the full salvation accomplished by Jesus Christ. We should never think of baptism without thinking of the Lord Jesus Christ and saving union with Him. The work of Christ on Calvary’s hill must always take precedence in our minds and hearts over the ordinance of baptism itself. As the believer joins faith to his baptism, the Spirit of Christ strengthens the believer’s faith, which lays hold of Christ who is proclaimed in the ordinance.
2. Baptism confirms forgiveness of sins in the heart of the believer. It testifies to the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. But, baptism itself has no power to accomplish forgiveness of sin, either as an atonement or as a means of appropriating the atonement.
3. Baptism is an appeal to God from a good conscience. We are not to appeal to baptism itself, but we are to appeal to the Lord Jesus Christ directly in baptism. Baptism, therefore, calls us to turn from sin and to Jesus Christ.
4. Baptism becomes a means of grace in older believers who reflect on their previous baptism. It reminds them of Christ and so strengthens their faith.
5. Baptism is a sign of the believer’s future resurrection from the dead in glorification.
Jason Walter (Christ Reformed Baptist Church – Vista, CA) has a sermon on baptism:
Source [Confessing Baptist]
CHAPTER 26-THE MEANING OF BAPTISM
Christendom seems to be hopelessly split over the ordinances. It is split over ordinances because split over the way of salvation. The ordinances are closely related to the gospel and the way of salvation. Christendom not even agreed on how many ordinances there are. Some say three, some two and some none. To me it is obviously true there are two, baptism and the Lord’s supper. Not the gospel, but picture or represent the gospel. Do not save, but testify to what does save.
Baptism is not an empty ceremony. It has a deep and blessed meaning. It was given for a purpose and when we find the purpose, we find the mode or act. The mode was changed because the design or purpose was perverted. This is easy to see: when men began to think that baptism saves they naturally changed the mode. Here is a lost man; he is sick and can not be immersed but he must be baptized to be saved, so he is sprinkled. Novatian, 250 A. D.
In most of our English translations of the Bible, the word for baptize is not translated, it is anglicised. King James I ordered the translators to keep the old ecclesiastical words without translating them. Baptize is not a translation. The Greek verb is baptizo. It is anglicised by changing the last letter from o to e. The Greek word for sprinkle is rhantizo and it is rightly translated sprinkle. If they had dealt with that word like they did baptizo they would have anglicised it and call it rhantize. Those who have been sprinkled have been rhantized, not baptized.
John Calvin: “But whether the person who is baptized be wholly immersed, and whether thrice or once, or whether water be only poured or sprinkled upon him, is of no importance; churches ought to be left at liberty, in this respect, to act according to the differences of countries. The very word baptize, however, signifies to immerse; and it is certain that immersion was the practice of the ancient church.”
WHAT BAPTISM IS NOT FOR:
It is not for the purpose of saving the sinner. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation, but baptism is not any part of the Gospel. The three gospel facts are the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Paul: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect” (#1Co 1:17); “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” (#1Pe 3:21); “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (#Ac 22:16).
WHAT BAPTISM IS FOR:
1. Baptism is to commemorate the death and burial of Christ. It commemorates by symbol the three facts of Gospel. Baptism testifies to the death of Christ. To commemorate His death we take a sinner who is dead to sin and plant him in the likeness of Christ’s death and raise him up in likeness of his resurrection. We take a sinner trusting in Christ and bury him in the liquid grave and then lift him out of it.
2. Baptism illustrates the believer’s position before the law of God. What is the believer’s legal status or station? He is dead to sin and alive unto God through Jesus Christ. It is not something to be felt but to be reckoned. “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (#Ro 6:11). I must take this by faith. I do not feel as if I am dead to sin, but God says I am, and I take it on faith. Now if I am dead I must be buried and then raised up out of the grave. I must symbolize my own burial and resurrection. As a believer in Christ I have been crucified, buried and raised, and this is what is symbolized in my baptism. I did not know this when I was baptized. You believers here tonight have this advantage over me. I can see the meaning of my baptism now, but I did not see it then. You have a new life to walk in, and this new life is symbolized by the resurrection part of baptism.
So your baptism testifies to the faith you have in Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. By faith you are united to Him and occupy His position before God in the legal sense. As the old man you have sinned and the sentence of death has been executed on your surety Jesus Christ. And now before the law as a new man you are to walk in the new life. This new life is to be lived by faith, faith that you have been crucified with Christ, faith “that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (#Php 1:6). “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (#Col 3:1).
3. Baptism anticipates the believer’s bodily resurrection from the dead. “Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him” (#Ro 6:8); “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” (#1Co 15:29).
Baptism commemorates the resurrection of Christ. It illustrates the believer’s death to sin and resurrection to walk in a new life he has in Christ. It anticipates the resurrection of His people.
C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3
by Tom Chantry
I would probably be a happier, healthier Baptist if I just kept my nose out of the ongoing kerfuffle debate over at Reformation21 over the question of closed communion among Baptists. I just wanted to say that right up front so that you would all realize that I recognize the fact.
However, having been critical of some of the Presbyterian brethren there in the past when their treatment of Baptists – and particularly of Reformed Baptists – left just a bit to be desired, and having once written that both sides should “reign in the bullies,” I don’t know that I have a choice. So here are my thoughts in what is so far an unfinished discussion. I’ll try to keep them brief.
Obviously “Baptists” are those who believe that true baptism is the immersion of those who have professed faith in Christ. Other baptism, whether of infants who can make no profession or by some other mode than immersion, is not regarded as pure baptism in the New Testament sense. That this is what it means to be “Baptist” is scarcely controversial.
Read the entire article here.