What is Baptism?

Posted: June 16, 2010 by Rick Hogaboam in Baptism
Tags: , ,

In short, John Piper says the following in his exposition of 1 Peter3:21:

In verse 21 he does say, “Baptism now saves you” – that sounds like the water has a saving effect in and of itself apart from faith. He knows that is what it sounds like and so he adds immediately, “Not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (Or your version might have: “the pledge of a good conscience toward God”).But the point seems to be this: When I speak of baptism saving, Peter says, I don’t mean that the water, immersing the body and cleansing the flesh, is of any saving effect; what I mean is that, insofar as baptism is “an appeal to God for a good conscience,” (or is “a pledge of a good conscience toward God”), it saves. Paul said in Romans 10:13, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord – everyone who appeals to the Lord – will be saved.” Paul does not mean that faith alone fails to save. He means that faith calls on God. That’s what faith does. Now Peter is saying, “Baptism is the God-ordained, symbolic expression of that call to God. It is an appeal to God – either in the form of repentance or in the form of commitment.

What is baptism? Baptism is a symbolic expression of the heart’s “appeal to God.” Baptism is a calling on God. It is a way of saying to God with our whole body, “I trust you to take me into Christ like Noah was taken into the ark, and to make Jesus the substitute for my sins and to bring me through these waters of death and judgment into new and everlasting life through the resurrection of Jesus my Lord.”

I did my senior paper on 1 Peter 3:21 and became a convinced credo-baptist precisely because of the theology Peter has on baptism. I think Peter was a credo-baptist and always viewed baptism as an appeal to God from the one being baptized, NOT as an appeal from sponsors on behalf of the one being baptized. Baptism is truly a one-time full-body participatory prayer of sorts that acts as an expression of faith and lays hold of God’s promise to save us from His judgment. It is sacramental in that God imparts assurance as His answer to this special pledge/prayer from the recipient.

My heart is overjoyed when I hear Cody and Kira talk about their baptismal pledge to God in faith. They entrusted their whole bodies to the Savior and are assured of His promise to save. It was their pledge to the triune God and entrance into His Church by faith. They are full members of the body of Christ because they have joined the faithful. They are not partial members, nor “one foot in” members, nor “dedicated” members, they are full members of the Covenant of Grace because God has graciously saved them and put them into His Church. Unless they apostatize, I am not to think otherwise, but rather am to use the keys of the kingdom to open wide the doors that admits the faithful.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s