LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 237

Reflections on the Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689

23 Aug 14 began a perhaps unbroken, orderly, and personal journey through my favorite written confession of faith. These are my personal reflections on this beloved historic Particular Baptist confession of the Christian Faith.


Chapter 29. Of Baptism. Paragraph 1b: “…ordained by Jesus Christ, to be unto the party baptized, a sign of his fellowship with him, in his death and resurrection; of his being engrafted into him; of remission of sins; and of giving up into God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life.”

The main reason I can deduce for which Jesus was baptized was that he might identify himself as the Savior of those who’d later follow him in baptism. Just as he passed through the womb for his own, so he passed through the waters of baptism to in part sum up all things in himself. He the living identifies with the dying in it. He was born once through Mary so that we could be born twice through him. Baptism reminds us of the death he died for the life we live. He underwent baptism at the start of his public ministry. It was by immersion from every detail derivable. Matthew 3:16, etc. Several years later, Jesus commanded that his disciples baptize other disciples as they went out. Matthew 28:19. It was his idea.

Christ ordained water baptism for his own, but there’s a baptism of the Spirit that is what the water ceremony is to point to. His death on Calvary being that which made this possible it’s fitting that the other ordinance of the church is the bread and cup. It wasn’t the church’s idea to do baptism it was the church’s head’s idea. It’s a picture of death and therefore unity between the believer and the Savior. If Christ came in his Second Coming this afternoon the overwhelming majority of his people would have obviously gone through the door of death. Baptism pictures this in several ways. For us then our baptism is showing Christ’s death as our death. Colossians 3:3. His Resurrection our resurrection. Romans 6:4. His life our life. Colossians 3:4. Baptism models all this in our lives. Baptism is a spiritual thing. Like all works done in God it is a means of grace. The chief means of grace in works I’d say. Every place in the Bible where the word “baptism” is mentioned is not speaking of the water ceremony we’re to do once only. Context makes this clear. 1 Peter 3:21 for example has nothing to do with our water ceremonies. It’s not a bath, Peter says, it’s that we’re in Christ and will be saved from wrath as they were in the days of Noah when the waters never touched them. Peter speaks directly of the true, spiritual nature of the union with Christ by which we’re saved. Baptism shows how, if we have the Spirit, we began to walk in newness of life. Baptism infuses every moment of the believer’s life with Christian meaning. It looks both backwards and forwards. Back to that moment when we believe we were given life in our calling and ahead to the moment when we’ll be given eternal glorification. Romans 8:30. Some baptize babies in the hopes of the reality of it to come.

We are not saved by our works. No one should ascribe salvation or regeneration to the waters of baptism. Those who do so often forfeit the Gospel completely and whore it up to works. Luther erroneously couched it as the means of regeneration in a wider doctrine of God’s grace and so is not condemned, but the remnants of Rome still float on the surface of the water. Baptism in water doesn’t save. Many, like Aquinas wrongly said it washes away Original Sin, but this is not sound biblical counsel. Should God choose to ever truly regenrate someone commensurately at their baptism, amen, but the ordinance is not to this end.

The baptized should remember all their lives why they were baptized.

Joseph Pittano

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