Monday, July 21, 2008

Believer's baptism

David Mathis at Desiring God explains what baptism is and why it is important:
The drama of baptism gets its meaning from the gospel.

It pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. It's not mainly about ritual or tradition but Jesus and his magnificent saving work of dying for sinners and rising again in triumph.

Baptism is:
  1. a command of Jesus,
  2. that expresses union with him,
  3. by immersion in water,
  4. in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit,
  5. for believers only.
A sense of the continuity of the old and new covenants leads some people to baptize infants. But the argument for infant baptism doesn't work textually or covenantally.

Textually, the apostle Paul makes plain that baptism is for those who have been raised with Jesus through faith (Col. 2:12) and are sons of God through faith (Gal. 3:26–27). Baptism is not for those who don't have faith in Jesus—whether adult unbelievers or infants.

Covenantally, while the old-covenant sign of circumcision was administered to males after their physical birth into the national people of God, the new-covenant sign of baptism is to be administered to both males and females after their spiritual birth into the international people of God. New birth by the gospel now provides entrance into the people of God, not physical birth, and is marked by believer baptism, not circumcision.

Both baptism and local-church membership are serious and important. May God grant us the wisdom of Christ not to minimize either. [more, with a link to the series on baptism and church membership]

What Is Baptism, and How Important Is It? :: Desiring God


  1. Can you point me toward a good source for more information on the baptism/circumcision connection? I had not heard of such a connection until a few months ago, when I began to talk with some Lutheran friends about baptism, and don't understand where this belief comes from.

  2. I don't think I understand either but there are a couple of links here to people who do believe in infant baptism that might help: In Defense of Paedobaptism


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