Welcome to the Cornerstone Baptist church podcast. My name is Justin Wheeler, I am the preaching pastor for Cornerstone and today we are in week 26 of our journey through the Heidelberg Catechism. Today, I will be talking to you about questions 69-71.
This week, we are following up on the topic that we introduced last week; the Holy Sacraments or Ordinances of the church. We discussed the ordinances in order to get a better understanding of what they are and the role they play in our lives as believers. Today, we are going to be looking at one of those ordinances specifically; the baptism of believers.
Lord’s Day Focus...
Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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."
For most of us this is a very familiar passage. It is what we call the Great Commission and in these few verses we get our marching orders as the church in the gospel age.
Jesus tells us here, what we must not fail to do in our service to Him and for His kingdom. We could fail at many of the things that churches seek to accomplish today and it wouldn’t cause me to lose an hour of sleep; but if we fail to make disciples, that would be a different story, because making disciples is what Christ has commissioned us to do. Making disciples is the reason we are still here.
In this passage there is one main verb and three participles that modify or reinforce the main action. The main verb is Make Disciples (imp) and it is not a suggestion, it is a command. Then you have Go, Baptizing and Teaching which are the participles. The way that we should read this text is to see the command to make disciples as the one that carries the most force. The participles help us to understand how we are going to make disciples.
First, we “go” and this word could be translated “as you are going” because it is meant to encompass all of life. As we are going we are to be making disciples. Next, the manner in which we are to go about this task of making disciples is through Baptizing and Teaching. We are to baptize new disciples in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and we are to teach them all that Christ has commanded.
This is our great task. This is what we are called to do. This is what we must seek to get right as a church. Our charge is to share the good news of Jesus Christ and to urge others to receive Christ and to become His disciple. This command of Christ should inform and undergird all of our interaction with one another and our interaction with unbelievers.
We should take the task of evangelism seriously. We should take the responsibility of teaching and instructing disciples seriously. But this passage also helps us to understand that we should take baptism seriously? Baptism is an important part of the Great Commission and we shouldn’t ignore it, downplay it or fail to let the Scriptures inform us as to how we go about it.
Now, I think it is important to point out that my view of baptism and the view that our church holds (CBC) is different than the view being promoted in this catechism. Heidelberg holds to a paedobaptist view of this ordinance, while we hold to a credobaptism view. But the differences between these two theological views will not be made plain until next week.
This week, we are looking at the symbolism of baptism and trying to grasp what this sign means for believers in Christ.
Question 69: How does baptism remind you and assure you that Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross is for you personally?
Answer: In this way: Christ instituted this outward washing and with it gave the promise that, as surely as water washes away the dirt from the body, so certainly His blood and His Spirit wash away my soul’s impurity, in other words, all my sins.
We already looked at the Great Commission to learn what Christ has commanded us to do and we learned that He wants us to baptize new disciples and then to teach them His truth. But how are we to baptize? To answer that question, we should no doubt be looking to the Scriptures.
When we look at the type of baptisms administered by John the Baptist, Jesus, and Jesus disciples; we see a rather uniform pattern. Adults came to hear their message of Good News and upon believing that message, men and women were baptized to show their acceptance of the gospel and their desire to follow the teachings of Jesus as a disciple.
The practice of baptism in the New Testament was carried out in one way; the person being baptized was immersed or put completely under the water and then brought back up again. From the baptism of Jesus by John on into the early church immersion was the mode of baptism employed. In fact, the word baptizo means to plunge or immerse something in water. And this is the most common meaning of the term both inside and outside the Bible (Grudem).
Not only does this word give us the picture of NT baptism by immersion but the text itself gives us this picture. When Jesus is baptized by John the text tells us that he came up out of the water and this is only necessary if he had been lowered down into it (Mark 1:10).
John sought out a place in the Jordan River where there was much water because the mode of baptism was to immerse people in it. The text suggests that not only does the word mean immerse, but the early churched practiced immersion exclusively.
The reason I am pointing this out is to draw attention to the symbolism that baptism is meant to convey. Being plunged beneath the water symbolizes our need to be washed clean of our sin, from head to toe. They didn’t simply need to wash their heads, or hands or even their feet; they needed to have their entire body washed clean from all of the sin that corrupts us.
Question 70: What does it mean to be washed with Christ’s blood and Spirit?
Answer: To be washed with Christ’s blood means that God, by grace, has forgiven my sins because of Christ’s blood poured out for me in His sacrifice on the cross. To be washed with Christ’s Spirit means that the Holy Spirit has renewed me and set me apart to be a member of Christ so that more and more I become dead to sin and increasingly live a holy and blameless life.
When we think about being washed, the last thing that we would choose to wash ourselves with would be blood. In fact, most of us want nothing to do with blood, except to make sure ours stays inside our bodies. But in the bible blood has a pretty significant role.
God designed a way for man’s sin to be forgiven in His sight and it required the blood of a lamb to be shed as a substitute for the person who needed forgiveness. The men would place his hands on the animal to signify a transfer of guilt. The animal would then be sacrificed, made to suffer the penalty that the man deserved. The blood of that animal would be gathered into a bowl and then poured out on the altar of God as a sign that God’s wrath had been paid in full. The blood was also sprinkled on the man to show that the transaction was complete.
In this way, blood didn’t make them filthy, it actually made them clean. The same spiritual reality is true for those who believe in Jesus as their Savior and Lord. His blood atoned for our sin on the altar of God. His blood also covers us and makes us clean. Baptism is a sign that by our faith in Christ we have been washed clean in the eyes of God and have been set apart from the world to live for Jesus, in a holy and blameless life of faith.
Question 71: Where does Christ promise that we are washed with His blood and Spirit as surely as we are washed with the water of baptism?
Answer: In the institution of baptism where He says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe is condemned.” This promise is repeated when Scripture calls baptism the washing of rebirth and the washing away of sins.
The NT is full of passages teaching on baptism and making the connection that is addressed here in Heidelberg. Baptism is a sign of our having truly believed in Christ and it symbolizes our having been washed clean by His blood
Mark 16:16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
Titus 3:4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit
Acts 22:16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.
Baptism is a beautiful display of the work of Christ in our lives. It is a sign and a seal of our union with Jesus. It serves as a joyful reminder of the spiritual reality of our new life in Him. It is a burden relieving picture that our sins have been washed away. But it is so much more.
Next week we will continue our study of this ordinance and I hope that you will join me again next week as we look at Lord’s Day 27 and questions 72-74.
If you want to learn more about Cornerstone Baptist church, you can find us online at Cornerstonewylie.org. You can follow us on Twitter or Instagram @cbcwylie. You can find us on Facebook at facebook.com/cornerstonewylie. You can also subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or google play to stay up to date on all the new content.
Thanks for listening.
 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology. Chapter 49. Baptism on page 967.