Lecture on Baptism:
1689 - Chapter 29
Baptist Lecture: 1689 - Chapter 29
By: Pastor Kamaron Gray
1689 - Chapter 29
Good morning, brothers and sisters. The topic assigned to me today is Baptism,
Chapter 29 in the 2nd London Baptist Confession.
Let’s begin by reading Chapter 29.
Paragraph 1 - Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be unto the party baptized, a sign of his fellowship with him, in his death and resurrection; of his being engrafted into him; of remission of sins; and of giving up into God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life.
Paragraph 2 - Those who do actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to, our Lord Jesus Christ, are the only proper subjects of this ordinance.
Paragraph 3 - The outward element to be used in this ordinance is water, wherein the party is to be baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit
Paragraph 4 - Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance.
Turn with me to Acts 2:37-41: "37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?' 38 And Peter said to them, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself. And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation."' 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls."
Let’s pray for God’s blessing upon our study of the doctrine of baptism.
I want to break down this study into three main sections
to help us take the confession in reasonable chunks.
Section 1: What does baptism mean….and what does it signify? (Paragraph 1)
Section 2: Who are the proper recipients of the ordinance of baptism? (Paragraph 2)
Section 3: How baptism is to be performed...what is the mode of administration? (Paragraphs 3-4)
And we’ll be looking through several scriptures. This isn’t the way I would normally preach a Lords’ Day sermon, much more of a lecture format.
But let’s begin by seeing how our Confession addresses question 1 - What does Baptism signify?
Baptism is first and foremost an ordinance given by Jesus Christ! We see His direct command and instruction in Matthew 28:18-20, the Great Commission passage: "18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This ordinance, given by Christ (commanded by Him) is a sign primarily to the person being baptized! I know oftentimes we think of baptism as an expression given to the rest of the congregation, and there is that aspect... but it’s PRIMARILY a picture, a sign, a mark for him or her that they are members of the New Covenant! That they have been purchased by the blood of Christ.
The baptismal ceremony is between two parties - God and the individual! And this ceremony is not always done in a large group setting of the local congregation (unlike the Lord’s Supper - taken as a gathered, corporate people), baptism is sometimes done in private in the Bible,
not done within the congregational setting.
For example, the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:36-38: s. "36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”[e] 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him." It was a private event, not in the gathered ekklesia!
Same in Acts 10 with Cornelius, family and friends gather to hear the message. The Spirit of God regenerates the heart, God grants repentance to the Gentiles, and Peter baptizes them! Again, a smaller, more private event.
We can say in some sense that these baptisms did “secondarily” proclaim to those around them that they are one of God’s marked off people. But that’s secondary, to the primary means of grace regarding the individual's covenantal connection to King Jesus! In Acts 8 and Acts 10, we see in both cases, the individuals respond in faith, and the next step in the obedience to Christ is baptism! It’s their response!
And this response in baptism signifies three things.
It signifies our being united to God through Christ. It’s a picture of our being
engrafted into the true vine, who is Jesus!
Those of us in this room understand this, experientially.
We who once followed the ways and patterns of this world, whose father was the devil - we were in bondage to our sins. We were as Paul says in Ephesians 2:3, "children of wrath." We were cut off from the promises of God, separated and without hope. This is all of us outside of Christ!
We followed in the footsteps of our first father Adam! And yet, what is signified in baptism is our being united to a new federal head! Being adopted into God’s family, we are now children of mercy and grace.
Romans 6:3-5, provides for us a Scriptural framework to our now being united to a new Master.
Romans 6:3-5: "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.
"5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be
united with him in a resurrection like his."
See that in verse 5- we have been united with him in death...and certainly we are united with him in resurrection! We are no longer spiritually dead sons and daughters of Adam, we are
spiritually raised saints united to Christ.
That’s the first thing baptism signifies!
Secondly, as we can see in our Romans 6:3-5 text, baptism also signifies (not just our union with Christ) but now our walking in newness of life!
Romans 6:4 - "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."
When someone is baptized, they are signifying that the old man of corruption is now done away with! This new believer is dead (positionally) to sin, and “practically” dead to sin. It’s not as if the water, in and of itself is doing this, but it is signifying that you’re buried and raised a new man!
And this is the glory of the New Covenant which is the realized covenant of grace. We are new people in Christ. We have the law of God written on our hearts. We know the Lord, intimately in relationship and covenant. We are given the Spirit of God and we are forgiven.
Baptism marks us as one who is walking in this new covenant life. Sin does not have a grip on you. Judicially, you are free. You’re forgiven! You are one who now obeys the Law of God because of what God has done internally in you.
The third thing that baptism signifies is our sins being washed away.
Turn to Acts 22:16, Paul recalling his conversion account - "Rise and be baptized and
wash away your sins, calling on his name."
The waters of baptism in a pool, a baptismal, a creek, a river, a tub, is not what washes away one’s sin in any legal form. Physical waters don’t wash away sin! But it does visualize cleansing!
In the OT, water was a cleansing agent, as it is still today. Water was used in purification rites. The priests would cleanse themselves in the temple before handling sacrifices. But it wasn’t the water that was washing away corruption, but it pointed to an internal washing!
Water does remove sin. What removes sin is the blood of the lamb! Of course, not the blood of the animal - that was typological for the true Lamb (Christ) whose blood would wash away our sins!
There are various groups that believe baptism is a necessary act for the “process” of salvation. The Church of Christ movement, for example, in extreme forms requires water baptism to be justified before God! They would hold that regeneration does not occur until water baptism!
The Roman Catholic “church” believes that baptism washes away “original sin.” It gives the child a clean slate to be injected with infused grace throughout their life. A wicked and distorted view of baptism.
Baptism is a means of grace, yes, intended to signify our union with Christ, our new life in Christ, and our sins being removed. We are immersed in water as a picture of our being washed by the waters of regeneration by the Spirit of God! Amen?
So that was the first question we addressed: what does baptism signify?
The second question our confession answers, is who are the proper recipients of baptism?
The 2nd London Confession is clear - Those who personally profess repentance toward God and faith in and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ are the proper recipients!
Acts 2:37-41 is a great text to look at. Let’s flip there again.
Acts 2:37 - "Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart (CONVICTION of SIN, grace of repentance and faith), and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?' 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Very clear. It’s those who respond. Because of their response in faith, they are baptized!
Look at verse 39: 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself. 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, 'Save yourselves from this crooked generation.' 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Why does Peter include the children here in verse 39? Doesn’t this mean
we should also baptize our children?
The point Peter is making to that 1st Century Jewish audience, is that even though they (that present perverse generation) killed the Messiah (just as Peter preached), they can be forgiven of their sins!
Right? They are crying out...what must I do to be saved?! Because the covenantal curses of God will fall upon them for murdering the Messiah! They knew this!!!
But Peter gives them good news: repent and be baptized, and you will receive the Spirit of God!
Not just you, but also your children. They won’t be cut off from the promise! They won’t receive generational curses! They too can come to Christ in faith. And also those who are far off (the Gentiles).
ALL WHOM THE LORD CALLS TO HIMSELF!
These are the rightful recipients. All whom our Lord calls to Himself! Nobody is excluded if they repent and believe. That’s the point!
And the promise for the repentant is the promise of the Holy Spirit! It’s for all whom
the Lord calls to Himself - effectual grace!
Case and point - those who repent and believe, who are regenerated and indwelt by the promise of the Holy Spirit, are baptized! In Acts 2:41 - we are told, those who received
his word were baptized. It’s believers baptism!!!!
There is no paedo-covenantal baptism in here at all!
And for those who make the case for that, then does that mean all the children of these believers are given the gift of the Holy Spirit? Because that’s the promise!
Because if they receive the Spirit, they are regenerate!
Now in our case as Confessional Baptists, we apply the covenant sign to covenant members, and you become a covenant member by faith, by new birth, not by physical birth! Those who are born again are those who are to be baptized!
Acts 2:37-41 is just one example, but it’s the earliest example we have in the NT Scriptures.
Another example of believer’s baptism is Matthew 28, the Great Commission text. The order in that passage, again, is clear. You MAKE DISCIPLES, baptize, then teach to obey! Conversion, Immersion, Instruction.
Romans 6:3 - the text we looked at earlier. It links baptism with a transformed life! You died with Christ, you are raised with Him, so that you walk in newness of life! How is that to be applied to an infant who cannot show the fruits of repentance?
1 Peter 3:21: "Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,"
The water doesn’t save! It’s the appeal to God (response); a subsequent act of obedience (baptism - pointing to His resurrection). For one to appeal to God, as mentioned here, it must be a RESPONSE! This, again, is a text for credo, or believer's, baptism!
Time does not permit that we go through the many texts in the book of Acts - where we see first - the response, then - the act of baptism which follows.
Acts 18:8 is a good example because this includes a “household baptism.” But let’s make sure we read the whole text. Acts 18:8 - "Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.
Notice the details. "Crispus believed... together with his household."
Meaning... they believed too! It’s straightforward.
And many of the Corinthians heard, believed, and were baptized! Again, believer's baptism. Even for the children (or the household), their baptism is an obedient step after their stated conversion!
Again, as Reformed Baptists, we understand baptism to be a response to the saving work of God’s gospel in our life! Thus, we reject the practice of paedo-baptism.
Let me just offer another very brief polemic here.
Our paedo-sprinkling brothers (whom we love), make the case that the Old Covenant sign was for both regenerate and unregenerate from infancy. Meaning the OC was a mixed covenant! Not all were saved members of the covenant of grace, but all had the administration / outward
mark of membership - circumcision!
Thus, the argument they make, as you get to the NT, we see no explicit statement to no longer give your children the mark of the covenant! And since they equate circumcision with baptism, we should baptize our babies. Perhaps, too simply stated, but that’s a basic argument for their position.
First off, as a rebuttal. Circumcision does not equal baptism.
ONE, the recipients are different. The Old Testament gave the mark of the covenant to only the males - circumcision. In the New Testament, the ordinance of baptism is for both male and female.
So is AT LEAST an admitted expansion in the New Covenant.
But more than that, the signs signify something different. In the OC, circumcision was an outward sign that demanded a new heart! If you didn’t have a new heart, you were cut off from the blessings of the covenant.
In the New Covenant, baptism actually professes the new heart! It doesn’t demand it like circumcision did! As Romans 6 says, it professes that we are truly united to Christ; buried and raised with him.
And this all makes sense when we understand that the New Covenant is a “new covenant.” The New Covenant is the covenant of grace! And the promise of this New Covenant is that all would have the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39; Jeremiah 31).
All members of the NEW COVT would have their sins forgiven, they all would know the LORD (not just the remnant few of the OC), and they would have the law written on the heart!
So, the logic goes for us as Reformed Baptists, if the sign of the NC is baptism, and to be in that covenant requires forgiveness of sins and the indwelling of the Spirit, then we should ONLY baptize believers, amen? Those who profess faith and obedience in Christ alone.
In regards to the two ordinances, baptism and Lord’s Supper, we strive to be consistent. Here’s what I mean. In our reading of God’s Word, we believe the covenant members should receive both
the sign and the meal! And both require self-examination!
I am always bewildered when one baptizes children but withholds the Table until they see fruits of repentance! I would just say, "Let’s be consistent!" The sign and the meal belong to the covenant members!
There’s much more to say, but I digress! What we are convinced of, by the final authority of the Scriptures, is that baptism requires examination and repentance (hence Acts 2 and Pentecost). It is the “mark of entrance” into the NC. The Lord’s Table is then that sustaining meal for the NC member! And to hold this consistency, it demands a believer’s baptism!
Lastly, the confession addresses the proper mode of this ordinance - baptism is performed in the name of the Triune God by immersion!
As paragraph 3 of our confession states, baptism is done in water. It’s obvious, so I’ll keep it brief. We see examples of baptism via water in Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3:16 - "And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water" OR again, the example of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8.
In addition, baptism is done in the name of the Triune God: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus explicitly gives this command in Matthew 28, "baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
The examples we read about in the book of Acts where they would baptize “in Jesus name”, was not the “verbal” formula they used! It meant they baptized by the authority of Jesus - “in Jesus’ name;” the one who commissioned them! We reject the Oneness/Modalism formula of baptism “in Jesus’ name” only.
We even have historical records from, for example the Didache, which provides for us the “formula” for baptism -This is how you should baptize:
Having recited all these things, baptize in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Our baptism is into the covenant with the Triune God of the Scriptures!
Lastly, in paragraph 4 of our confession...the authors address the mode of baptism, which is via immersion.
This has caused no little debate over the last several hundred years.
Should we baptize via immersion or sprinkling?
Well, some considerations:
The literal use of the phrase means “to immerse, submerge, to plunge, or to bathe.” And this is used some 80x in the TR in the NT Scriptures.
For example: Mark 1:5 - "And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins."
Acts 8:38 - "And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him."
The phrase in your Strong’s Concordance means literally to immerse or to plunge (dip).
The phrase baptize is also used figuratively, as to “submerge in sorrow or affliction.”
Not like they are sprinkled with troubles, but immersed into them.
Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink,
or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
As many commentators would describe this as a baptism into suffering. We of course know all the apostles, less John, were martyred for their faith. That baptism was a figurative IMMERSION into suffering.
So both the literal and figurative uses of the term baptizo mean immerse or plunge.
What about Mark 7:4? The trouble passage...
"and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash.[b] And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and
copper vessels and dining couches."[c])
Our Presbyterian friends would chuckle, "Surely this doesn’t mean they
would immerse their dining couches?! Haha…"
Well, yes it does! The tradition of the Pharisees was that upon touching someone who was common or unclean involved immersion and cleansing.
As John Gill notes in his commentary referencing the washing of cups, pots, vessels, and dining couches; All these things were, according to the traditions of the elders, washed by immersion: ‘in a laver, which holds forty seahs of water, which are not drawn, every defiled man dips himself, except a profluvious man; and in it, ‘they dip all unclean vessels.’ Which would include yes, dining couches!
Some may say, how can you dip a couch? The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - The couches were 'pallets' and could easily be dipped into water. It’s not like our modern couches...it was essentially a frame with cushions.
To take a passage like Mark 7:4 and to say that they poured water on the couches, not immerse them is 1) an incorrect use of BAPTIZO, and 2) to make an exception (if it actually is an exception) the rule!
And we all know you interpret the unclear passages by the clear passages!
Our brother Sam Waldron, in his excellent commentary on the 1689 confession also affirms that baptism literally means immerse and figuratively means to overwhelm. “Baptism points to our being completely and spiritually immersed in Christ and overwhelmed by His Spirit.” To which I say, AMEN!
Baptism is a powerful ordinance for the marking out of God’s people all who are united to Him through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit!
The London Baptist Confession does a masterful job of laying out for us what the sign of baptism means, who are the appropriate recipients, and the proper mode of the ordinance.
May God use this brief teaching of Chapter 29 for the good of us, His saints, and for His glory. Let’s pray.