Chapter 29, Of Baptism

Please note: The following are only rough notes for this chapter, and are not a complete commentary. But I am posting them in the event they prove useful until the commentary for this chapter is complete.

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  1. Baptism is an ordinance[1] of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be unto the party baptized, a sign of his fellowship with him, in his death and resurrection;[2]of his being engrafted into him; of remission of sins; and of giving up into God, through Jesus Christ, to live and[3] walk in newness of life.[4] (Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2;12; Galatians 3:27; Mark 1:4;Acts 22:16;Romans 6:4)
  • Baptist Catechism #97
  • Q: What is Baptism?
  • A: Baptism in a sacrament of the new covenant instituted by Jesus Christ, to be unto the person baptized a sign of his fellowship with Him, in His death, burial, and resurrection; of his being ingrafted into Him; of remission of sins; and of his giving up himself unto God through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life.[5]

 

Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ

As we just touched on in chapter 28, section 1:

  • “Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances of positive and sovereign institution.”

What is an Ordinance: “Authoritative direction how to proceed or act;”   Oxford English Dictionary

 

to be unto the party baptized,

  • The first question is who instituted it? Jesus did, thus establishing its validity. Having that question resolved, we now need to ask, “Who should be baptized?” This will be answered explicitly in section 2.

 

A sign of Fellowship in Christ’s Death

  • Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. Romans 6:3-5 (ESV)

 

Fellowship with his resurrection

  • Having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. Col 2:12 (ESV)

 

Being engrafted into Christ

  • For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Gal 3:27 (ESV)

We want to keep in mind that our union with and into Christ is not absorption, assimilation, or a loss of our identity, but in experiential terms it is fellowship ‘in’ and ‘with’ Christ.

Engrafting: To attach something permanently to something else by a process resembling grafting.

I think of John 15:

  • As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.   John 15:4-6 (ESV)

 

Of remission of sins

  • John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.   Mark 1:4 (ESV)

 

Remission: a release from a debt, penalty, or obligation.

  • And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’   Acts 22:16 (ESV)

 

To live and walk in newness of life.

  • We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4 (ESV)

________________

  1. Those who do actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to, our Lord Jesus Christ, are the only proper subjects of this ordinance.[6] ( Mark 16:16; Acts 8:36, 37;Acts 2:41;Acts 8:12;Acts 18:8 )

 

Here get to the explicit statement addressing who is to be baptized.  Only those who:

  • Actually profess repentance towards God
  • Faith in and to our Lord Jesus Christ
  • Obedience to, our Lord Jesus Christ,

 

They must do it of their own accord if they meet the criteria.

  • Infants cannot do this.
  • Temporary believers should not do this
  • Unbelievers should not do this

 

This is a “believer’s baptism” ONLY!  IT is a creedal baptism only.

  • Baptist Catechism
  • Q98: To whom is baptism to be administered?
  • A98: Baptism is to be administered to all those who credibly profess repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and to none other.[7]

 

  • Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.   Mark 16:16 (ESV)
  • And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” Acts 8:37 (ESV)
  • Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” 37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Acts 8:36-37 (NKJV)
  • So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.   Acts 2:41 (ESV)
  • But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Acts 8:12 (ESV)
  • Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. Acts 18:8 (ESV)

“Though baptism certainly has significance for the world and the church, its primary significance is for the one being baptized.  This is so because baptism is a covenantal transaction or ceremony before God and the individual.”[8]    Samuel  Waldron

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  1. The outward element to be used in this ordinance is water, wherein[9] the party is to be baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit[10]. [11] ( Matthew 28:19, 20; Acts 8:38 )
  • Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”   Matt 28:19-20 (ESV)
  • And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.   Acts 8:38 (ESV)

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  1. Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance.[12] ( Matthew 3:16; John 3:23 )

You may be interested to know how this varies from the Savoy Declaration and the Westminster Confession which state:

  • III.   “Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but Baptism is rightly administered by pouring, or sprinkling water upon the person.”
  • Baptist Catechism
  • Q99: How is baptism rightly administered?
  • A99: Baptism is rightly administered by immersion, or dipping the whole body of the believer in the water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, according Christ’s institution, and the practice of the apostles, and not by sprinkling or pouring water, or dipping some part of the body, after the tradition of men.

 

  • And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; Matt 3:16 (ESV)
  • John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized   John 3:23 (ESV)
  • Baptism literally means to immerse; figuratively it means to overwhelm. Baptism points to our being completely and spiritually immersed into Christ and overwhelmed by his Spirit. It points to the spiritual wealth and power we posses in Christ. Nothing less than immersion or such pouring as literally overwhelms properly symbolized this truth.[13]   Samuel Waldron

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[1] The 1689 Confession uses ‘ordinance’ in lieu of the WCF and Savoy Declaration’s ‘sacrament.

[2] The 1689 Confession adds this to the WCF and the Savoy Declaration. The source is presumably Collins.

[3] The 1689 Confession adds; ‘to live and’ to the WCF and Savoy Declaration in lieu of, “to walk in newness of life.’

[4] There is wording in this section that is omitted from the Savoy Declaration and the WCF. We presume this is from the work of Collins and the others in the 1677 meeting.

[5] Contrast this with the Westminster Shorter Catechism: Q94: What is baptism? A94: Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.

[6] This entire section has no source in the Savoy Declaration of the WCF. The source is presumably the 1677 meeting of the particular Baptists in London, involving Collins and others.

[7]Contrast this with the Westminster Shorter Catechism: Q95: To whom is baptism to be administered? A95: Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him; but the infants of such as are members of the visible church are to be baptized.

[8] Samuel Waldron, 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith: A Modern Exposition (Evangelical Press: Darlington, England), pg. 345.

[9] The 1689 Confession adds ‘wherein’ to the Savoy Declaration and WCF in lieu of ‘wherewith.’ The source is presumably Collins.

[10] The 1689 Confession adds ‘Spirit’ to the Savoy and WCF in lieu of ‘Ghost’. The source is presumably Collins.

[11] The 1689 Confession’s section 3, is from section 2 of the Savoy Declaration and the WCF.

[12] The 1689 Confession varies here from the Savoy Declaration and the WCF. It is interesting to see though how this section 4 in the 1689 Confession is modeled after the two other confessions in their section 3.  The Savoy Declaration and the WCF state: “Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but Baptism is rightly administered by pouring, or sprinkling water upon the person.”

[13] Samuel Waldron, 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith: A Modern Exposition (Evangelical Press: Darlington, England), pg. 358-359.

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