June 29 – LD 26, Day 5: The Meaning of Our Baptism
Wednesday the 29th of June
in Heidelberg Catechism Meditations
Read: Acts 22: 1 to 16
The simple but wonderful meaning of our baptism is that it signifies and seals unto us the washing away of our sins by the blood of Jesus Christ. The expression ‘blood of Jesus’ does not mean that we must be literally washed by the blood of Jesus. Rather, the blood of Jesus signifies the suffering and atonement of Christ by His precious sacrifice on the cross. It calls to mind the obedience and love of this sacrifice and all the shame, agony and suffering involved in this sacrifice of Jesus for us. As earthly water washes away the filth of the body, so the blood of Jesus washes away the guilt and corruption of our sins.
When Jesus gave us the sacraments, He gave very simple and plain signs, easy to understand. No one, not even the church, should add to the simple sacraments, any ritual or ceremony of their own devising. Such additions to the sacrament which Christ gave us simply obscure its simple and beautiful meaning.
- Heidelberg catechism has one of the best statements of any confession explaining the meaning of baptism. To the question, “What is it to be washed with the blood and Spirit of Christ?”, the catechism gives the answer, “It is to receive of God the remission of sins freely, for the sake of Christ’s blood which He shed for us by His sacrifice upon the cross; and also to be renewed by the Holy Ghost, and sanctified to be members of Christ, that so we may more and more die unto sin, and lead holy and unblamable lives.”
The simple meaning of baptism is that it signifies and seals to us that all our sins have been washed away by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. Our sins have two aspects. The guilt of our sins that make us worthy of condemnation has been atoned for by the satisfaction of Christ. Also, the corruption or spiritual defilement of our sins is washed way by the Spirit of Christ. We are made holy before God.
All our sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ, both our original sin which we inherited from our fallen parents, and sins which we commit personally every day. Every sin that we commit all our life long is washed away by the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ. The church of Rome teaches that only original sin and sins committed before baptism are washed away by baptism. The church of Rome has a very wrong understanding of baptism. Because of what she believes, she had to invent other sacraments which the Lord Himself never instituted in the church, to deal with sins committed after baptism. Because of this false idea, the church of Rome teaches her members that they still have to satisfy for sins not washed away by the blood of Christ. After death, they will be tormented for a time in purgatory before they can go to heaven. By this doctrine, the church of Rome held the saints of God captive in terror and at the same time compelled them to give money to the church to escape the torments of purgatory.
The Reformed Church restored the gospel truth concerning the meaning of baptism. This truth is that baptism signifies that all our sins are forever washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ. We therefore have peace with God and can die in great and blessed comfort. No additional sacrament is needed as a sign of atonement for sins committed after our baptism, for baptism is the sign of Christ that He has washed away all our sins.