Read: I John 1
The opening question and answer of Lord’s Day 27 addresses the main error of the church of Rome with regard to its teaching about baptism. It also teaches us how serious this error really is. And finally it teaches us the blessed positive truth that the blood of Christ alone cleanses us from all sin.
When one believes that the external water of baptism itself cleanses us from sin, this means that there is another power besides the blood of Christ that cleanses us from sin. This is a denial of the perfection of the wonderful sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
We are all subject to falling into this kind of error. How easy it is for us to imagine that the mere going through a religious ritual and ceremony has some kind of spiritual value. We can also be superstitious about the external power of the sacraments. There are those who believe that somehow they have been saved simply because they were baptized.
The purpose of the sacrament of baptism is to teach us that nothing else but the blood of Jesus alone can wash away our sins. The term ‘blood of Jesus Christ’ is used often in scripture. I Pet 1:19 speaks of our being redeemed by “the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:”
We must remember that the scriptures are using figurative language. The ‘blood of Jesus Christ’ refers to the sacrifice of obedience and suffering which Jesus endured in order to atone for all of our sins and merit for us perfect righteousness before God. This sacrifice was the demonstration of the amazing greatness of God’s love for us. The reason why this blood is by Peter called ‘precious’ is because it was the blood of the Son of God in our flesh, who is in Himself infinitely precious, not only to us. Even more significantly, He is infinitely precious before God, His Father. The preciousness of the blood of Christ indicates further that His sacrifice on the cross involved the deepest misery, agony, shame and humiliation on the part of our Savior. The preciousness of the blood of Christ is also in that He offered Himself for us to God in perfect obedience and love. The sacrifice of Christ on the cross is therefore of infinite worth in the sight of God, abundantly sufficient to cover the guilt of the sins of all of His people for whom He died. Because of the infinite worth of the sacrifice of Christ, He was able to merit perfect and everlasting righteousness and life for His people.
Our baptism must lead us to trust in and glory in none other than in the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Receiving baptism with proper understanding involves a great exercise of our faith. Whenever we remember our own baptism, we must do so by meditating on the cross of Jesus Christ and all that it means for our salvation.
All our sins were atoned for at the cross because of the infinite worth of the once-and-for-all sacrifice of Christ. We therefore must not add any work of our own, nor trust in and glory in any mere ritual or ceremony, not even in the power of the sacraments themselves. The whole meaning of our baptism is Christ alone, all sufficient and all glorious, the only hope of our righteousness before God, and all our hope for favor and blessing, and life eternal in the presence of God.
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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