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Look Back – to BAPTISM?

06/12/2022

Catechism Class. Lord’s Day 26 Q69 and 70 – Baptism

The catechist wants us to look at the two sacraments individually and we begin with baptism. In Lord’s Day 26, Q69 he asks, Q/A 69. How is it signified and sealed to you in Holy Baptism that you have part in the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross? Our answer is, “Thus: that Christ instituted this outward washing with water and joined to it this promise, that I am washed with His blood and Spirit from the pollution of my soul, that is, from all my sins, as certainly as I am washed outwardly with water, whereby commonly the filthiness of the body is taken away.”

When a Christian sins, the Holy Spirit will convict him or her, and their conscience will trouble him, until he or she repents. So, what do YOU think about when you have sinned? A modern version of the catechism rewords Q69 in a way that is easier for us to understand. “How does baptism REMIND you and assure you that Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross is for you personally?” Firstly, baptism is a constant reminder for when we sin. Then, baptism speaks to us of our personal salvation.

Listen to the PODCAST HERE.

So our first proposition is that when we fall short, when we yield to temptation and sin, we should think about our baptism. That may sound very odd indeed to most modern evangelicals. Baptism is something we do – once, and we forget about it afterwards. But it shouldn’t be like that. Lutherans speak frequently of their baptism, of how it points them to their cleansing from sin by Jesus. When you sin, think of your baptism, and think that just as sure as the water washes our outward skin, so Christ’s shed blood on the cross cleanses us from all our sins. 

Now, some Christians get this mixed up. They think that if they sin, they have to ‘get saved’ all over again. That’s not so. READ:  John 13:4-10. We must be washed, not just with water, outwardly, but washed from sin, and when that washing has been applied to us, it is a ‘once for all’ event, that never needs to be applied again. But we walk through this dirty world. We see things we should not see, and we hear things we should not hear, and we are soiled by the filth, and some of it sticks. We are washed in the blood of the lamb, we are every whit clean, but we do need that old worldly dirt washed off us every day, and that’s where meditating on our baptism, and its significance really helps us to understand how we have been cleansed by Christ. So  …I am washed with His blood and Spirit from the pollution of my soul, that is, from all my sins, as certainly as I am washed outwardly with water, whereby commonly the filthiness of the body is taken away.” Think about that, when you are tempted and when you yield to temptation.

But what if I can’t remember my baptism! When we attend a baptism, we are reminded of the sacrament as we observe it being celebrated. And our churches should have the visible evidence of baptism in our church furniture. At the front of most of our church buildings we have the Lord’s Table,  so that even when we are not participating in a communion service, we are aware that communion is part of our worship, – that it is a pointer to Calvary and to the Lord’s Return – yet until recently, at our church at Ballymacashon, we had no reminder of the sacrament of baptism. We see the pulpit, central and above all, with the furniture of baptism and communion. 

That brings me to our second proposition, that my baptism emphasises my personal redemption. …I am washed with His blood and Spirit from the pollution of my soul, that is, from all my sins, as certainly as I am washed outwardly with water, whereby commonly the filthiness of the body is taken away.” Baptism reminds me that MY sins have been dealt with by MY Saviour on the cross. Jesus died for ME. There’s a hymn that says, “When he was on the cross, I was on his mind.” That really is how personal my salvation is. The catechist reminds us that my salvation is not only accomplished by Christ, but it applied to my life by the Holy Spirit. Perhaps he’s thinking of the words of John the Baptist in Matthew 3:11  

At regeneration, the Holy Spirit indwells the believer, cleansing us and giving us new life, we are born again, making us cringe away from our sins, loathe those sins and sorrow over them, in repentance seeking forgiveness from the Lord, so that every day we grow closer to Christ, and live lives that are more pleasing to God.  READ: Romans 6:3-4 In the following question, Q70 we see his explanation of this sanctifying works of the Spirit, Q/A 70. What is it to be washed with the blood and Spirit of Christ, It is to have the forgiveness of sins from God through grace, for the sake of Christ’s blood, which He shed for us in His sacrifice on the cross; and also to be renewed by the Holy Spirit and sanctified to be members of Christ, so that we may more and more die unto sin and lead holy and unblamable lives.  We are reminded of all of that, in Christian baptism.

One final point. Baptism was instituted in the church by Jesus himself.  It is part of the Great Commission. Matthew 28:19-20. It is our duty as Christians to MAKE DISCIPLES, and we are told by Jesus himself how we are to do this. We do it by GOING, – it’s a missionary calling for all of us, and by TEACHING, – specifically teaching these new disciples to be obedient to the commands of Christ, and by BAPTISING them, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. That’s how important baptism is. We must never neglect it, we must keep it foremost in our minds.

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