Read Matthew 28: 16 - 20.
The sacraments are the precious gifts of Christ to His church. They are to be used with understanding of what they mean for the confirmation and assurance of believers and members of the church.
The very fact that our Lord Himself gave the sacraments to the church is of great significance. They were not mere inventions of men or even traditions begun in history by the church. Exactly for this reason, they are so significant. Even today, Christ by His grace and Spirit blesses His beloved church and her believers through the sacraments.
The first of the sacraments that Christ gave to the church is the sacrament of baptism. Baptism in its simple meaning, is the sign and seal of the washing away of our sins through the precious blood of Jesus Christ offered on the cross for us.
Already in the Old Testament, there were many ceremonies that involved cleansing. Some of these involved the washing with water, and others the sprinkling of the blood of bulls and goats. All these ceremonies testified to believing Israel that there could be no approach to the holy God except that first of all, our sins are dealt with, atoned for and washed away. We are always sinning, and every time we approach God to worship Him, we must be cleansed of our sins.
John the Baptist, we believe, under the direction of the Lord, took the Old Testament ceremonies of cleansing and made them the sign of his preaching. John the Baptist preached that the kingdom of God was now at hand, because Jesus the Son of God was come into the world. John was appointed of God to be the forerunner of Jesus. Jesus, through all of His ministry, His cross and resurrection, exaltation and return, would bring in the kingdom of God. Entrance into that kingdom is only by repentance and the forgiveness of sins. John preached the great urgency of repentance. Those who did repent and believed the message concerning the kingdom preached by John were baptized in the river Jordan as the blessed sign of the forgiveness of their sins.
The ministry of John the Baptist came to its climax when on a certain day, Jesus stood in the audience of John while John was preaching. John then declared to the people, “Behold, the lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.”
The next time Jesus was in the audience of John, Jesus came forward to be baptized of John. This was a great surprise for John. But Jesus told John, “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness” Matt 3:15.
The amazing fact that Jesus came forward to be baptized was a sign of the truth that Jesus accepted from God the Father the fearful reality that only He could make atonement for the sins of His people through the shedding of His own blood on the cross. There was no other way that we could become the citizens of the kingdom of God except through the washing away of our sins. The ceremonies of the Old Testament, no matter how many times they were repeated over and over again, could not themselves cleanse God’s people from their sins. These ceremonies were only types and pictures of a greater sacrifice which needed to be made. There was the need of a greater sacrifice. Jesus, the Lamb of God, alone could make that sacrifice.
Our baptism is a sign of this amazing truth!
Rev. Arie denHartog (Wife: Sherry)
Ordained: October 1974
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1974; Foreign Missionary, Singapore - 1979; Randolph, WI - 1987; Redlands, CA - 1990; Minister-on-Loan, Singapore - 2001; Southwest, Grandville, MI - 2005Website: www.southwestprc.org/
Address4895 Ivanrest Ave. SW
State or ProvinceMichigan
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