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New City Catechism - Question 44
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Posted by Josiah Kenniv, worship director intern

 

New City Catechism - Question 44

 

Q44: What is baptism?

A:  Baptism is the washing with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; it signifies and seals our adoption into Christ, our cleansing from sin, and our commitment to belong to the Lord and to his church.

Kids’ Answer:  Baptism is the washing with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

 

SCRIPTURE TO MEMORIZE:

 

Matthew 28:19 - "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. . ."

 

ADDITIONAL SCRIPTURE TO READ:

 

1 Peter 3:21; Colossians 2:12; Acts 2:38-41

 

LIFE APPLICATION:

 

In order to answer this question fully let’s start with a comprehensive definition of baptism.

 

Baptism is an ordinance of the Lord by which those who have repented and come to faith express their union with Christ in His death and resurrection, by being immersed in water in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19-20; Romans 6:3-4; Acts 8:37-38; Colossians 2:11-12).

 

From this definition we can see several different aspects of baptism. Let’s unpack each of them in turn.

 

First, we see that baptism is an ordinance of the Lord. What I mean by ordinance is simply that Jesus commanded (ordained) it in such a way that it ought to be an ongoing practice of the church. Matthew 28:19-20 says, “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. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Jesus called us to make disciples and commands us in our disciple-making to baptize and teach. So, making disciples of all nations includes baptizing them. The time frame of this command is bound up in verse 20. Jesus’ promise to help us for as long as the age lasts prompts us to believe that we are to baptize disciples for just as long.

 

Second, baptism “expresses union with Christ in His death and resurrection.” Romans 6:3-4 offers valuable insight.

 

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.

 

An often-used analogy compares baptism to the symbolic use of a wedding ring. In the same way that wearing a wedding ring (or removing one) does not make one more or less married, baptism is not the means by which we are united to Christ. Instead, like a wedding ring, baptism symbolizes the union between the believer and Christ.

 

Third, though churches from various denominations perform baptisms in a variety of ways, we believe the mode of baptism should be immersion in water. The clearest place to see this is in the above quoted passage from Romans 6:3-4. Paul describe the act of baptism as burial and rising from the dead. This is beautifully illustrated by being "buried" under water and then rising from the water signifying rising from the grave.

 

Fourth, baptism is in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is what Jesus said in Matthew 28:19 when he says, “Go therefore and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” This would mean that not just any immersion is baptism, but that the holy appeal to the Trinity to make the act true and real ought to be present during baptism.

 

Fifth, baptism is for believers only. Colossians 2:11-12 serves to bolster this statement. Paul states:

 

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 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.

 

The image of spiritual circumcision is tied closely to the image of baptism in this passage. The old “body of the flesh” was cut away in conversion and similarly you died and rose again in baptism. The words “through faith” bear special significance to driving this point home. Baptism representing the death and resurrection of Christ gets its meaning from the faith that it represents. If we are representing faith in Christ through baptism then it follows that the faith we represent must be our own.

 

To summarize, baptism is an ordinance of the Lord by which those who have repented and come to faith express their union with Christ in His death and resurrection, by being immersed in water in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19-20; Romans 6:3-4; Acts 8:37-38; Colossians 2:11-12).

 

CONNECTION TO CORNERSTONE'S STATEMENT OF FAITH:

 

THE LORD'S SUPPER AND BAPTISM  
We believe that the Lord's Supper and Water Baptism by immersion are ordinances to be observed by the church during this present age.  They are, however, not to be regarded as means of salvation.  (Mt. 28:191 Cor. 11:23-26)

 

 



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