Posts Tagged ‘Baptism’

There is a great book that I read some time back, titled “Believer’s Baptism: The Sign of the New Covenant in Christ”. There is a chapter titled, “Baptism and the Relationship Between the Covenants” by Stephen Wellum, which is a response to some recent works such as Gregg Strawbridge’s, “The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism”.

Wellum’s chapter summarizes well the whole idea of how baptism relates to the covenant and why covenantal paedo-baptists and credo-baptists disagree. You will want to read both Strawbridge and this book. They represent two of the better current books from both perspectives. Wellum’s chapter is available for free via pdf at this link:

Trevor Wax interviewed a panel of Romanian Baptist pastors, asking some probing questions about catechesis, baptism, and rebaptism. You can find the link here.

One issue that personally troubles me is that 40% of reported baptisms in the U.S. are re-baptisms. Trevor Wax asked about this issue and I was impressed with Pastor Doru Hnatiuc’s answer:

Trevin Wax: How would you advise Southern Baptists in America regarding this problem of rebaptism?

Doru Hnatiuc: There is no simple answer. The question has major theological and doctrinal implications. The practice of the church in this matter leads to a reorientation around other key doctrines (like church discipline, methods of evangelism, the gospel, salvation, evangelistic invitations, decision/faith, etc.).

In the U.S., I once helped at a church where the pastor offered a Bible to all those who had been baptized the week before. One of the baptized people was his wife, who had declared that her baptism at 10 years old had been invalid. The pastor and his wife were in that church for many years. She had been a teacher in Sunday School. She had led many children to Christ, who had later been baptized. She had taught these children the way of faith, lived in obedience to the Lord, and had raised her own children in godliness.

Was all of this fruit invalid? Or just her baptism? No one at the church was thinking through these sorts of implications. She might have said that her fruit is not invalid just as it is possible for a lost pastor to lead others to Christ and to baptize them, and his state before God not affect the act of baptism.

My question is this: If there is evidence of a new life in Christ, of a life of obedience to him, why then does that evidence not confirm the validity of the early decision and baptism? We need to think about these implications and make some decisions. Otherwise, we are going to wind up in ridiculous situations, teaching deformed doctrines and leading others in aberrant practices.

I share the same concerns as my Romanian brother in Christ. We believe in “One Baptism”, upon which our unity in Christ is partly based. Baptism is an objective act which seals the “believer” in unity with Christ and His Church. One might later be convinced that the baptism wasn’t valid due to a lack of genuine faith, but that doesn’t change the fact that they were already baptized and marked off as a member of Christ’s Church.

Marriage is an objective act as well. One might be later convinced that they really didn’t love their spouse and got married for the wrong reasons, but none of that changes the fact that they are objectively married. You don’t get remarried, nor ought you to repudiate the marriage, but you are called to live in the reality of the covenantal vows that were made, whether you initially meant them or not. There are way too many baptism annulments in the U.S. Church and I am troubled by the lack of understanding on this issue. I think that folks have overemphasized their personal narrative in relation to baptism and this has caused some folks to want to be rebaptized as many as 4 or 5 times in their lifetime, constantly seeking assurance and reassurance. This is unhealthy. The fact is that our walk with Christ, just like our marriages, may go through ups and downs. The solution isn’t to get remarried to seek some emotional catapult, but rather to bring oneself under the discipline of the marital vows. Maybe you never believed, or walked away from the faith, but the fact is that you are still wearing Christ in your baptism. The fact that one is baptized actually makes such sins that much more serious, as they should be dealt with within the jurisdiction of the local church; just as infidelity in marriage is worse precisely because you are married, irregardless of what you thought of your marital vows. The judge won’t care what you were thinking when you got married when settling custody disputes, alimony, child support, etc.

The fault, however, rests much more severely upon the American church. The American church has pretty much abandoned any guarding of the sacraments, membership, discipline, etc. The church has aided and abetted by trampling previous baptisms in annulling them with great joy as they celebrate yet another baptism they will mark in their books as their own. I have been asked about rebaptism from some folks and have graciously explained why I couldn’t, in good conscience, rebaptize them (the only exception being infant baptism, which I don’t repudiate if they hold it in good conscience as their valid sign and seal of regeneration in Christ and the Church). I’m grateful that the folks I have spoken to have been understanding. The common question I pose is, “What makes you so certain that this 2nd, 3rd, 4th baptism is genuine?” and “Do you expect me to baptize you again in a few years should you be convinced that you are not really regenerate right now?

My Baptism Bibliography

Posted: August 5, 2010 by Rick Hogaboam in Baptism
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This is a Baptism Bibliography of works I have read:

Adams, Jay E.. Meaning & Mode of Baptism. Philidelphia: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company, 1979. Print.

Aland, Kurt. Did the Early Church Baptize Infants?. Eugene: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2004. Print.

Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ (Nac Studies in Bible & Theology). Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Publishing Group, 2008. Print.

Bridge, Donald, and David Phypers. The Water that Divides: Two Views on Baptism Explored. Ross-Shire: Christian Focus, 2008. Print.

Castelein, John D., Robert Kolb, Richard L., Tom J. Nettles, and Jr. Pratt. Understanding 4 Views on Baptism (Counterpoints: Church Life). Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing Company, 2004. Print.

Ferguson, Everett. Backgrounds of Early Christianity     **ISBN: 9780802822215**. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Pub Co, 2003. Print.

Ferguson, Everett. Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology, and Liturgy in the First Five Centuries. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008. Print.

Ferguson, Sinclair B., and David F. Wright. Baptism:: Three Views. Surrey: Ivp Academic, 2009. Print.

Green, Michael. Baptism: It’s Purpose, Practise and Power. Carlisle: Paternoster, 2007. Print.

Jeremias, Joachim. The Origins of Infant Baptism: A Further Study in Reply to Kurt Aland. Naperville, IL: Alec R. Allenson, Inc., Naperville, Il, 1963. Print.

Jeremias, Joachim. Infant Baptism in the First Four Centuries. Eugene: Wipf &Amp; Stock Publishers, 2000. Print.

Jewett, Paul King. Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace: An Appraisal of the Argument That As Infants Were Once Circumcised, So They Shoud Now Be Baptized. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978. Print.

Marcel, Pierre Ch.. The Biblical Doctrine of Infant Baptism: Sacrament of the Covenant of Grace. Eugene: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1953. Print.

Murray, George R.Beasley-. Baptism in the New Testament (Biblical & Theological Classics Library). 2nd ed. Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1997. Print.

Murray, John. Christian Baptism     **ISBN: 9780875523439**. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed Pub Co, 1980. Print.

The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2003. Print.

Over on Facebook, Pastor Rick wrote:

…if there was continuity in the constituting [of] God’s covenant people, Jesus would never have told Nicodemus that he must be born again. How dare Jesus be so pietistic as to tell a respected “covenant” member that he needs to be born again.

He echoes a question I once asked: why would Jesus tell Nicodemus that he must be born again if he was already in the covenant by circumcision?

Someone pointed out to me that “…Jesus is not talking about individual regeneration in John 3. Rather, he is talking about the need for a new Israel, a new humanity. Nicodemus needs to follow Jesus into the new world through death and resurrection. Being baptized will unite him with the disciples of Jesus, with those who are following Jesus into a new world.”

James Jordan puts it this way:

Nicodemus is brilliant. He says to Jesus, “You jest, surely. How many times have we been born again? the Flood, Sinai, Elijah, Cyrus. But it has never taken. You would have to back into mother’s womb and start over.”

“Yep,” says Jesus. “And watch me do it.”

Sure enough, Nicodemus is there when Jesus is buried back into mother’s womb. I’m certain Nicodemus knew Jesus would rise again, born anew from the soil. Maybe the disciples had doubts, but Nicodemus knew.

In union with Jesus’ resurrection we are all born anew from mother’s womb.

He also points out that John describes the tomb as a virgin:

19.41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.

(Genesis 24.16 The young woman was very attractive in appearance, a maiden whom no man had known.)

Put this together with Luke’s record of Jesus vs. Sadducees on resurrection where he says that one becomes a son of God by being a son of the resurrection, and Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 about the “birth pangs” of death being unable to stop Jesus, the use of Psalm 2 (“today I have begotten you”) in the preaching of the resurrection of Jesus in Acts, the title “firstborn of the death,” Romans all over the place…. (more…)

Here is a link to the audio.

Here is my sermon outline:

Romans 5:18-6:14 Baptism Signifies a Changed Identity

Pastor Rick Hogaboam, Sovereign Grace Fellowship, 6.20.2010 A.D.

Romans 5:18–6:14 (ESV) — 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

–          A Changed Identity

–          Who’s your daddy?

  • The whole human race is represented by one of two heads, Adam or Christ.
    • Everyone is born into Adam by natural birth, an enmity with God because of the fall and the infection of sin into the whole human race.
    • You are only born into Christ by rebirth, regeneration, being “born again”.  Paul shows how baptism corresponds to this reality of dying and newness of life.
      • 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 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

20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–          The Superior power of Grace

1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

–          Grace is not licentiousness!!! You died to sin, past tense. In Christ, judicially but also in actuality. Sin no longer has reign over you.

A Confirmation –

3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 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.

–          There are realities in baptism, namely that it signifies a very real union with Christ. This of baptism as your wedding ring.

  • In some sense, we are to wear our baptism.
  • It is dangerous if someone is tempted to remove their wedding ring, usually leads to trouble, a desire to show oneself available.
  • Our baptism signifies a dying to one life and a rising to a new one. It signifies our transfer from darkness to light, from death to life, from Adam to Jesus.
  • Marriage also signifies this transfer from Rick being Rick, to being one with Mimi. I am no longer myself and alone, but and wedded with another.

–          “in order that” – very important, pay attention.

–          “we too might walk in newness of life” – connected with Jesus’ resurrection which allowed Him to walk in the realities of exalted Lord, a newness, so also we.

  • Paul corresponds with our future hope, but also in the present newness, an actual newness that we are to walk in. (more…)

What is Baptism?

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

Peter Leithart on Baptism

Posted: June 15, 2010 by Rick Hogaboam in Baptism
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Peter Leithart posts a thoughtful and beautiful reflection on baptism that I amen throughout, but only if he qualifies his last comments:

That is the calling that baptism lays on your son today.  His baptism calls him, of course, to obedience and faith, but not only that.  Through baptism, he is brought into the company of the blessed who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

I agree that Baptism has a binding calling upon the recipient, so agree with him there, but would also add that baptism is only to be admitted to those who have repented and believed. Baptism necessitates this initial turning to Christ, and also calls for further obedience. I also agree with the final sentence where Letihart declares the one baptized as belonging to the company of the “blessed…”, granted that they believe. Their union to Christ and His Church necessitates faith as a sign of regeneration. Circumcision in the Old Covenant called for faith, whereas baptism in the New Covenant is administered only to those who have faith and yet calls for further faith.