Word, Water, and Spirit: A Reformed Perspective on Baptism


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Or to use the language of sacraments, they are signs and seals. Peter is not saying here that the water of baptism does not wash away or have the power to wash away physical dirt and filth from the body. We do not submit to baptism! Besides, strictly speaking, it would be incorrect to say that baptismal water does not wash away dirt, for it does have that power, although baptismal water is not usually applied in sufficient quantities to remove dirt from the body, nor do we scrub our bodies in baptismal water to achieve physical cleansing.

Notice what Paul in Colossians and Peter in 1 Peter are saying: neither apostle is speaking of a cleansing from dirt. Paul teaches that Christ puts away our sinful flesh when he regenerates us which, he says, is equivalent to spiritual circumcision made without hands, the circumcision of the heart celebrated in the Old Testament in passages such as Deuteronomy In other words, water baptism does not remove our sins: it does not justify and it does not sanctify us.

Peter, therefore, does not teach baptismal regeneration. Baptismal regeneration is the teaching of Roman Catholicism according to which the sacrament of baptism regenerates a person. If the baptized person is an infant, baptism washes away his original sin; if the baptized person is older, baptism washes away both his original and his actual sins. So what is the status of a baptized person in the Roman Catholic Church? In Roman Catholicism, concupiscence is a moral weakness, a tendency toward sin, which is itself not sin and which can be resisted by grace grace that God gives to everyone through the sacraments and through the good works of piety of a faithful church member.

But the Bible teaches that all sinners even believers have a sinful flesh, a totally depraved and corrupted nature, which is not only inclined to all evil, but is itself evil, and which can do nothing good. This sinful nature exists in all sinners, although in believers it has been dethroned.

Word, Water, and Spirit: A Reformed Perspective on Baptism - J. V. Fesko - Google книги

Nevertheless, even in believers the flesh is still very active and produces in us all kinds of evil. Why then does the Bible speak this way, linking the reality of salvation to the sign of baptism?


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The relationship between the sign baptism and the thing signified salvation is not one of identity. They are not the same, nor does the sign become the reality. A sign cannot be the reality; otherwise, it is not a sign. A sign cannot become the reality, otherwise it ceases to be a sign.

Nevertheless, sometimes the Bible gives the name of the thing signified to the sign itself, because God would have us associate the reality with the sign. I give a few examples to illustrate the point. Circumcision was not itself the covenant—it was the sign and seal of the covenant see Rom.

Yet the Bible speaks of one the sign in terms of the other the reality. The Bible is speaking of the sign baptism in terms of the reality regeneration and cleansing from sin. The same is true of 1 Peter baptism saves, but only as a figure, which figure points to true salvation in the blood of Christ.

Water can do that: it cleanses us of outward filth and dirt. What water cannot do, the blood and Spirit of Christ do. The conscience of a man is his inner judge placed there by God, which conscience evaluates all his actions, and either accuses or excuses him Rom. A conscience might be weak 1 Cor. But how does the believer have a good conscience? No ceremony or work of man can give a man a good conscience because no activity of man can remove the sin that gives him a guilty conscience. Baptism itself does not cleanse the conscience, but it does something else. Baptism is a pledge of that: in baptism we are seeking an answer to that question and God gives it.

Word, Water and Spirit: A Reformed Perspective on Baptism

How, then, does baptism save us? Not by baptismal regeneration; not by the putting away of the filth of the flesh; but by acting as a beautiful picture of the true cleansing in the blood of Christ, which is the fulfillment of the typical flood. God uses baptism to assure us that our sins are forgiven, not in the waters of the baptismal font, but only by the blood and Spirit of Christ. Classis East This email address is being protected from spambots.

You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. Classis West This email address is being protected from spambots. Design by Social Village. Monday, 11 November Last modified on 17 January Published in Articles. Related topics: sacraments means of grace baptism saving work of Christ Roman Catholicism flood types and shadows assurance of salvation spiritual washing.

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Word, Water and Spirit

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Reflecting a massive amount of research, against the background of an in-depth survey of various views of baptism in church history, Fesko provides an extensive exegetical and biblical-theological study of the covenantal and eschatological significance of baptism followed by systematic theological reflections on key issues like baptism as a means of grace, the efficacy of baptism, the biblical warrant for infant baptism and against paedocommunion and the importance of baptism for the church.

One need not agree with his reflections at every point to benefit from his considerable labors. Gaffin, Jr. Specifications Publisher Reformation Heritage Books. Customer Reviews. Write a review.

Do you have to be WATER baptized to be saved? Spirit vs Water baptism

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Word, Water, and Spirit: A Reformed Perspective on Baptism
Word, Water, and Spirit: A Reformed Perspective on Baptism
Word, Water, and Spirit: A Reformed Perspective on Baptism
Word, Water, and Spirit: A Reformed Perspective on Baptism
Word, Water, and Spirit: A Reformed Perspective on Baptism
Word, Water, and Spirit: A Reformed Perspective on Baptism
Word, Water, and Spirit: A Reformed Perspective on Baptism
Word, Water, and Spirit: A Reformed Perspective on Baptism

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