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New Horizons

July, 2000: Baptism

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Baptism as a Seal

God communicates his love to us through the means of grace (the Word, the sacraments, and prayer)—especially, as I argued in the May 2000 issue of New Horizons, in the preaching of the Word. While preaching may be primary among the means of grace, the Holy Spirit (who makes effectual the means of grace) also uses the sacraments (holy baptism and holy communion, or the Lord's Supper) to convey the love and grace of God to us. As with preaching, the content of baptism and the Lord's Supper is the gospel—the blessings and benefits that are ours because of the person and work of Christ. Precisely the same thing, then, is communicated to us in the sacraments as in the preaching of the gospel.

Think of it this way: as we hear the gospel preached, we hear God, by the Holy Spirit, saying to us, "I love you." After the preaching of the Word, in the administration of the sacrament of holy communion, we not only hear God tell us that he loves us, but we see, touch, smell, and taste that God loves us. Just as when a man tells his wife that he loves her and she joyfully believes his declaration of love, so in preaching we are blessed as we joyfully believe God in his declaration of love for us. When a man kisses his wife, he not only demonstrates that he loves her, but also conveys love. A kiss is certainly a sign of love, a visible attestation of the man's love. But it is more than just a sign; it is also a seal: the love of man and woman is sealed with a kiss because the kiss itself is an act of love, a physical conveying of the love that is in the heart of the man, a visible demonstration of his inward love. Read more

Is Immersion Necessary for Baptism?

You have finally gotten your Baptist friends to join you for worship. “Now they will hear a good Reformed sermon and experience real biblical worship conformed to the regulative principle!” you say to yourself.

The hoped-for Sunday arrives. You and your Baptist friends are seated and ready for worship. Then you notice in the bulletin that there is to be a baptism that day. Gulp! What will your friends say? Read more

The Biblical Basis for Infant Baptism

Many evangelical, Bible-believing Christians believe that baptism should be reserved for those who make a profession of faith. They point to the clear teaching in the Bible that converts should be baptized (see, for example, Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:37-38; 8:12; 18:8). The baptism warranted in the Bible by precept and example, they say, is believers' baptism.

But wait a minute! The ordinary practice in baptistic churches has no more direct biblical support than the practice in churches that baptize infants. In both groups of churches, those who are converted from outside the church are baptized as new believers. That kind of "believers' baptism" is not at issue. What is at issue is what to do with those who are born and raised within the church. Should they be baptized as infants or should their baptism be withheld until they make their own profession of faith? Read more

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