In our current series we’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in 1648. We’ve learnt about the covenant of grace by which God forgives sin and grants eternal life. We’ve also seen that the covenant of grace was shown in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament. This week I want to look at how the covenant of grace is shown in the ordinance of baptism.
In the New Testament age we have two ordinances from God: baptism and the Lord’s supper. Baptism involves a person being immersed in water in front of other believers.
Baptism is indeed an important part of Christianity. Jesus commanded his disciples to baptise believers before he departed from this world: ‘And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you’ (Matthew 28:18-20).
But baptism is not simply important because Jesus commanded his people to be baptised. Baptism is a clear visual example of God’s grace.
For example, when someone is baptised in water they are proclaiming to others that their sins have been washed away. We see this when Paul was instructed at his baptism: ‘Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name’ (Acts 22:16).
Also when someone is baptised they are proclaiming to people that they have died with Christ, been buried with Christ and been raised with Christ. Paul teaches this in Romans: ‘Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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 6:3-4). Being buried in water and coming up shows people that you have died with Christ and come back to life as a new forgiven person. All of which is by God’s grace.
So have you displayed God’s grace through being baptised?
Joel Radford, Preaching Elder.