HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, LORD’S DAY 26 & 27
How does baptism remind you and assure you that Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross is for you personally?
In this way: Christ instituted this outward washing and with it gave the promise that, as surely as water washes away the dirt from the body, so certainly his blood and his Spirit wash away my soul’s impurity, in other words, all my sins.
What does it mean to be washed with Christ’s blood and Spirit?
To be washed with Christ’s blood means that God, by grace, has forgiven my sins because of Christ’s blood poured out for me in his sacrifice on the cross.
To be washed with Christ’s Spirit means that the Holy Spirit has renewed me and set me apart to be a member of Christ so that more and more I become dead to sin and increasingly live a holy and blameless life.
Where does Christ promise that we are washed with his blood and Spirit as surely as we are washed with the water of baptism?
In the institution of baptism where he says: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” This promise is repeated when Scripture calls baptism the washing of rebirth and the washing away of sins.
Does this outward washing with water itself wash away sins?
No, only Jesus Christ’s blood and the Holy Spirit cleanse us from all sins.
Why then does the Holy Spirit call baptism the washing of rebirth and the washing away of sins?
God has good reason for these words. He wants to teach us that the blood and Spirit of Christ wash away our sins just as water washes away dirt from our bodies. But more important, he wants to assure us, by this divine pledge and sign, that the washing away of our sins spiritually is as real as physical washing with water.
Should infants, too, be baptized?
Yes. Infants, as well as adults, are in God’s covenant and are his people. They, no less than adults, are promised the forgiveness of sin through Christ’s blood and the Holy Spirit who produces faith. Therefore, by baptism, the mark of the covenant, infants should be received into the Christian church and should be distinguished from the children of unbelievers. This was done in the Old Testament by circumcision, which was replaced in the New Testament by baptism.
Thursday, June 22: Psalm 40
The hymn When Peace Like A River is dearly loved, and for good reason. The words resound in our souls. Horatio G. Spafford penned the powerful words as he sailed over the place where all his four children had perished during an ocean liner journey from the United States to Europe. His wife had been found in the water, still alive and was waiting for him in Europe. Yet, even in the midst of his grief and loss, Spafford wrote, “It is well with my soul.” The waters of baptism, the promise of the gospel, the redemption found in Christ’s sacrifice do not promise us peace, do not promise us an easy life. Redemption does not mean that we will not face difficult times or face loss. But Scripture promises “neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).” As we continue to study and explore baptism, I pray that you will feel God’s comforting waters wash over you, whatever you face in this life.
When peace life a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blest assurance control;
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and has shed his own blood for my soul.
My sin – oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! – my sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more; praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
O Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend, even so, it is well with my soul.
It is well (it is well) with my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul!
Chaplain Sarah Hoogendoorn