Discerning God’s Will……gone to pot?

26 Feb

Yesterday, Time Magazine reported the news of a professed Christian couple who run a medical marijuana dispensary in Sacramento and are in a battle over the IRS over taxes. I’m going to note that, as professing Christians, this couple has an obligation, as per Romans 13:1-7, to pay their taxes, and I’ll also add that I’m not wanting to wade into the debate over whether using pot is sinful and whether it should be legalized. But, there was an interesting quote from Bryan Davies, the co-owner of the shop, with his wife, about where he got his inspiration to open the dispensary. He evidently told the court: “I got on my knees, and I prayed to the Lord… And God said … ‘Open up a pot shop.’”

In my opinion, there are a couple interesting things about this statement. First off, it seems that Mr. Davies was already favorably disposed to the use of marijuana and was in need of cash, so it seems rather convenient that God then allegedly told him to open this business.  In short, it sounds like God was more or less ratifying this man’s desires that he already had, so I’m skeptical of the notion that that this is some sort of mission from God that the Davies’ seem to believe that they’re on. Secondly, I can’t help thinking that claiming that God basically told him to open this dispensary up, is a fairly arbitrary method. I suspect that there are those who would testify that God is very much against the use of marijuana. I raise this second point not to deny that God reveals His will for us, but to note that,  as people such as John MacArthur and R. Scott Clark , have helpfully pointed out: God has revealed His will for us in His Word, in particular that we are to be holy, and that in making decisions, we are at liberty to go with what we want to do, so long as it isn’t sinful.

A Call to Abolish the National Day of Prayer & the National Prayer Breakfast

10 Feb

This initially appeared as a Facebook note on February 6th.

I somehow missed the memo that this morning was the National Prayer Breakfast. But, the news that it took place this morning got me thinking. I think that we should do away with the National Prayer Breakfast and the National Day of Prayer. I say this not because I’m opposed to prayer or Christianity in the public square. On the contrary, those of us who are Christians need to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), including for the civil magistrates, and for our nation and, furthermore, we need to continue to remain strong in our witness in the public square. I’m not even necessarily opposed to having some sort of national day of prayer, per se and I’ll add that the notion of having a national day of prayer is something that’s far from foreign to my tradition (Reformed/Presbyterian). For example, the Article 66 of the ” Church Order of Dordt” (Dutch Reformed) states: “In times of war, pestilence, calamities, heavy persecution of the Churches, and other general distresses, the Ministers of the Churches shall request the Government to employ their authority and command that public days of Fasting and Prayer be appointed and set aside.” and the Directory for the Publick Worship of God (Presbyterian) states,”Concerning Publick Solemn Fasting”: “WHEN some great and notable judgments are either inflicted upon a people, or apparently imminent, or by some extraordinary provocations notoriously deserved; as also when some special blessing is to be sought and obtained, publick solemn fasting (which is to continue the whole day) is a duty that God expecteth from that nation or people.” However, with that being said, in my opinion, the National Prayer Breakfast and the National Day of Prayer, at least how they’re being observed in Washington, have, as a whole, become nothing more than high holy days for American civil religion, as opposed to advancing genuine Christian piety, and may as well be abolished.

The debate over the Christian origins of this country is a matter for another time, but, it probably goes without saying that if the U.S. is CURRENTLY a Christian nation, we have little to show for it. I’ve also noticed a couple other things: first off, while I don’t doubt that there are genuine Christians who partake in these things, the people who at least seem to dominate these events are politicians (I think our current president being one of the most notable one) who generally make any allusions to their faith only on these specific days. Secondly, the god who’s often invoked is not the God of Scripture, but an ambiguous deity who has America as the apple of his eye, and is always looking out for our nation’s best interests, but not much more, nor are they addressed in the name of Christ, so the prayers are as useless as if the prayers were addressed to the ancient gods of Greece and Rome.

America needs prayer, as do our leaders, and we should be praying for both in our private prayers and in our churches if we’re not already. But, I’m not sure if we need ceremonies to propagate American exceptionalism and American civil religion. What we need are godly leaders, genuine Christian piety and national repentance, but I think that, given the state of affairs in the U.S., in my opinion, it would be more than a little disingenuous to continue with the National Prayer Breakfast and National Day of Prayer.

An Interesting Article about Proverbs 31 & the church.

3 Sep

Many of us who are guys & have had experiences in Evangelicalism are familiar with the concept that all of us godly Christian men are familiar witht he notion that we need to find a “Proverbs 31 woman.” Yet, this interesting article (from a Lutheran perspective) makes some compelling arguments that Proverbs 31 one isn’t talking about some girl who all godly men should be seeking, but actually making reference to the CHURCH.  

http://lutheransandcontraception.blogspot.com/2011/01/proverbs-31-superwoman.html

What Sola Scriptura IS………..what it ISN’T & why it’s Biblical.

3 Sep

Recently, I’ve had some encounters with non-Protestants who deride the doctrine of Sola Scriptura,largely through straw-men. I thought it would be helpful, therefore to remind folks what Sola Scriptura is & what it isn’t.

Many Roman Catholics & even Eastern Orthodox seem to argue that Sola Scriptura opens the door to one’s own “private interpretation” of Scripture. They often also try to argue that the Sola Scriptura has lead to thousands of denominations.

Yet, what we seem to have amongst Protestants (both Lutheran & Reformed) is that the doctrine of Sola Scriptura was largely formulated as, a check against unbiblical doctrines & traditions within the church.

The Augsburg Confession observes the problems of when traditions are placed on par with Scripture: “Again, the authors of traditions do contrary to the command of God when they find matters of sin in foods, in days, and like things, and burden the Church with bondage of the law, as if there ought to be among Christians, in order to merit justification a service like the Levitical, the arrangement of which God had committed to the Apostles and bishops. For thus some of them write; and the Pontiffs in some measure seem to be misled by the example of the law of Moses. Hence are such burdens, as that they make it mortal sin, even without offense to others, to do manual labor on holy-days, a mortal sin to omit the Canonical Hours, that certain foods defile the conscience that fastings are works which appease God that sin in a reserved case cannot be forgiven but by the authority of him who reserved it; whereas the Canons themselves speak only of the reserving of the ecclesiastical penalty, and not of the reserving of the guilt.

Whence have the bishops the right to lay these traditions upon the Church for the ensnaring of consciences, when Peter, Acts 15:10, forbids to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, and Paul says, 2 Cor. 13:10, that the power given him was to edification not to destruction? Why, therefore, do they increase sins by these traditions?

But there are clear testimonies which prohibit the making of such traditions, as though they merited grace or were necessary to salvation. Paul says, Col. 2:16-23: Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy-day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath-days. If ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances (touch not; taste not; handle not, which all are to perish with the using) after the commandments and doctrines of men! which things have indeed a show of wisdom. Also in Titus 1:14 he openly forbids traditions: Not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men that turn from the truth.

And Christ, Matt. 15:14,13, says of those who require traditions: Let them alone; they be blind leaders of the blind; and He rejects such services: Every plant which My heavenly Father hath not planted shall be plucked up.

If bishops have the right to burden churches with infinite traditions, and to ensnare consciences, why does Scripture so often prohibit to make, and to listen to, traditions? Why does it call them ‘doctrines of devils’? 1 Tim. 4:1. Did the Holy Ghost in vain forewarn of these things?

Since, therefore, ordinances instituted as things necessary, or with an opinion of meriting grace, are contrary to the Gospel, it follows that it is not lawful for any bishop to institute or exact such services. For it is necessary that the doctrine of Christian liberty be preserved in the churches, namely, that the bondage of the Law is not necessary to justification, as it is written in the Epistle to the Galatians 5:1: Be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. It is necessary that the chief article of the Gospel be preserved, to wit, that we obtain grace freely by faith in Christ, and not for certain observances or acts of worship devised by men.”

Therefore, the “Comprehensive Summary, Rule and Norm According to which all dogmas should be judged, and the erroneous teachings [controversies]that have occurred should be decided and explained in a Christian way,” which is part of the”Epitome of the Formula of Concord” notes that:  “1] 1. We believe, teach, and confess that the sole rule and standard according to which all dogmas together with [all] teachers should be estimated and judged are the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures of the Old and of the New Testament alone, as it is written Ps. 119:105: Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. And St. Paul: Though an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, let him be accursed, Gal. 1:8.

2] Other writings, however, of ancient or modern teachers, whatever name they bear, must not be regarded as equal to the Holy Scriptures, but all of them together be subjected to them, and should not be received otherwise or further than as witnesses, [which are to show] in what manner after the time of the apostles, and at what places, this [pure] doctrine of the prophets and apostles was preserved.”

What it seems that the Lutherans were reacting against were those who were taking it upon themselves to add new rules & doctrines that are nowhere supported in Scripture, such as the doctrine of purgatory.

Amongst the Reformed (I myself being Reformed) there are similar sentiments.

In the Scots Confession of 1560, the Scots don’t completely argue against tradition, yet use Sola Scriptura as a check, saying in Chapter 20: “As we do not rashly damn that which godly men, assembled together in general councils, lawfully gathered, have proponed unto us; so without just examination dare we not receive whatsoever is obtruded unto men under the name of general councils. For plain it is, as they were men, so have some of them manifestly erred, and that in matters of great weight and importance. So far then as the council proves the determination and commandment that it gives by the plain word of God, so far do we reverence and embrace the same. But if men, under the name of a council, pretend to forge unto us new articles of our faith, or to make constitutions repugning to the word of God, then utterly we must refuse the same as the doctrine of devils, which draws our souls from the voice of our only God to follow the doctrines and constitutions of men.”

The Belgic Confession, written by Guido de Breis also ads, echoing the “Epitome of the Augsburg Confession” that: “We believe that this Holy Scripture contains the will of God completely and that everything one must believe to be saved is sufficiently taught in it. For since the entire manner of service which God requires of us is described in it at great length, no one– even an apostle or an angel from heaven, as Paul says–ought to teach other than what the Holy Scriptures have already taught us. For since it is forbidden to add to or subtract from the Word of God, this plainly demonstrates that the teaching is perfect and complete in all respects.

Therefore we must not consider human writings– no matter how holy their authors may have been– equal to the divine writings; nor may we put custom, nor the majority, nor age, nor the passage of time or persons, nor councils, decrees, or official decisions above the truth of God, for truth is above everything else.

For all human beings are liars by nature and more vain than vanity itself….”

This is also reiterated in Chapter 1 part 5 of the Westminster Confession: “X. The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.”

Having laid out the views of what Sola Scriptura IS, it must be noted what Sola Scriptura ISN’T.

Sola Scriptura is not, contrary to some claims, Solo Scriptura, that is “me, my Bible & my own private interpretation.” One of the problems that we, as Protestants, need to be very careful of is not confusing the two.

In fact, as Keith Matthison points out:  “The doctrine of solo scriptura, despite its claims to uniquely preserve the authority of the Word of God, destroys that authority by making the meaning of Scripture dependent upon the judgment of each individual. Rather than the Word of God being the one final court of appeal, the court of appeal becomes the multiplied minds of each believer. One is persuaded that Calvinism is more biblical. The other is persuaded that dispensationalism is more biblical. And by what standard does each decide? The standard is each individual’s opinion of what is biblical. The standard is necessarily individualistic, and therefore the standard is necessarily relativistic.” (1)

He goes on to say: ” The Christian Church today is split into literally tens of thousands of denominations with hundreds of new divisions arising daily. Much of the responsibility for this divisiveness rests with the doctrine of solo scriptura. When each individual’s conscience becomes the final authority for that individual, differences of opinion will occur. When men feel strongly enough about their individual interpretations, they separate from those they believe to be in error. In the world today, we have millions of believers and churches convinced of thousands of mutually contradictory doctrines, and all of them claim to base their beliefs on the authority of Scripture alone.

Not only has solo scriptura contributed heavily to this division and sectarianism, it can offer no possible solution. Solo scriptura is the ecclesiastical equivalent of a nation with a constitution but no court of law to interpret that constitution. Both can lead to chaos.” (2)

This also doesn’t mean that we throw the baby out with the bathwater in regards to church history & reject certain traditions altogether, as the Scots Confession reminds us. In fact, Paul, as many Roman Catholics & Eastern Orthodox seems to speak well of tradition in 1 Cor. 11:2, 2 Thess. 2:15 & 2 Thess. 3:6.

Furthermore, Reformed theologian R.C. Sproul notes that “Although tradition does not rule our interpretation, it does guide it. If upon reading a particular passage you have come up with an interpretation that has escaped the notice of every other Christian for two-thousand years, or has been championed by universally recognized heretics, chances are pretty good that you had better abandon your interpretation.”  (3)

Yet, the problem is when people teach unbiblical, or extra Biblical traditions, which Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for in Matthew 15 & Mark 7. While these two cases aren’t exactly the same as what the Roman Catholics (& even the Eastern Orthodox for that matter) we at least see a precedent.

Furthermore, we also have the commendation of the Church at Berea in Acts 17: “The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:10-11)

I’m going to be honest & conceede that I could be conpletely wrong about this & am open to correction, but I don’t see how an Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic could indeed be like the Bereans, if we regard tradition to be on the same level as Scripture. The question would be: how do we know that these traditions aren’t just made up on the whims of men? In a sense, this really has to do with epistomology, as well as authority.

I know that many Roman Catholics argue that tradition is inspired, along with Scripture. Yet, this begs the question: is there such a thing as latter-day revelation? While I believe that Roman Catholics would say no, outside perhaps the pope speaking ex cathedra, theoretically, the equating tradition to the level of Scripture could lead someone that way.

Sources

(1) http://www.the-highway.com/Sola_Scriptura_Mathison.html

(2) Ibid.

(3) http://effectualgrace.com/2011/10/17/well-done-phil/

The sacrament of baptism according to the Reformed confeessions.

2 Aug

Around the late summer, or early fall of last year, I became a paedobaptist, that is someone who believes that infants are to be baptized. Quite often I see accusations that the Reformed believe in baptismal regeneration, as the Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans & some Anglicans do. However, the Reformed DO believe that baptism is based on a covenantal framework.

This list of excerpts from the Reformed confessions came about due to someone asking about what the Reformed believe in regards to baptism in a group that I’m an administrator in on Facebook.

The confessions chosen are the Scots Confession (authored partially by the Scottish Reformer John Knox), the Belgic Confession (authored by Guido de Bres & which was presented to King Philip II of Spain in 1562), the Second Helvetic Confession (authored by Heinrich Bullinger), the Heidelberg Catechism (authored primarily by Zacharius Ursinus & having been comissioned by Elector Frederick III of the Palatinate) & the Westminster Confession of Faith & the Westminster Larger Catechism (drawn up by the Westminster divines in the 17th century).

From the Scots Confession (1560)

“Chapter 21: The Sacraments
As the fathers under the Law, besides the reality of the sacrifices, had two chief sacraments, that is, circumcision and the Passover, and those who rejected these were not reckoned among God’s people; so do we acknowledge and confess that now in the time of the gospel we have two chief sacraments, which alone were instituted by the Lord Jesus and commanded to be used by all who will be counted members of his body, that is, Baptism and the Supper or Table of the Lord Jesus, also called the Communion of His Body and Blood. These sacraments, both of the Old Testament and of the New, were instituted by God not only to make a visible distinction between his people and those who were without the Covenant, but also to exercise the faith of his children and, by participation of these sacraments, to seal in their hearts the assurance of his promise, and of that most blessed conjunction, union, and society, which the chosen have with their Head, Christ Jesus. And so we utterly condemn the vanity of those who affirm the sacraments to be nothing else than naked and bare signs. No, we assuredly believe that by Baptism we are engrafted into Christ Jesus, to be made partakers of his righteousness, by which our sins are covered and remitted, and also that in the Supper rightly used, Christ Jesus is so joined with us that he becomes the very nourishment and food for our souls. Not that we imagine any transubstantiation of bread into Christ’s body, and of wine into his natural blood, as the Romanists have perniciously taught and wrongly believed; but this union and conjunction which we have with the body and blood of Christ Jesus in the right use of the sacraments is wrought by means of the Holy Ghost, who by true faith carries us above all things that are visible, carnal, and earthly, and makes us feed upon the body and blood of Christ Jesus, once broken and shed for us but now in heaven, and appearing for us in the presence of his Father. Notwithstanding the distance between his glorified body in heaven and mortal men on earth, yet we must assuredly believe that the bread which we break is the communion of Christ’s body and the cup which we bless the communion of his blood. Thus we confess and believe without doubt that the faithful, in the right use of the Lord’s Table, do so eat the body and drink the blood of the Lord Jesus that he remains in them and they in him; they are so made flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone that as the eternal Godhood has given to the flesh of Christ Jesus, which by nature was corruptible and mortal, life and immortality, so the eating and drinking of the flesh and blood of Christ Jesus does the like for us. We grant that this is neither given to us merely at the time nor by the power and virtue of the sacrament alone, but we affirm that the faithful, in the right use of the Lord’s Table, have such union with Christ Jesus as the natural man cannot apprehend. Further we affirm that although the faithful, hindered by negligence and human weakness, do not profit as much as they ought in the actual moment of the Supper, yet afterwards it shall bring forth fruit, being living seed sown in good ground; for the Holy Spirit, who can never be separated from the right institution of the Lord Jesus, will not deprive the faithful of the fruit of that mystical action. Yet all this, we say again, comes of that true faith which apprehends Christ Jesus, who alone makes the sacrament effective in us. Therefore, if anyone slanders us by saying that we affirm or believe the sacraments to be symbols and nothing more, they are libelous and speak against the plain facts. On the other hand we readily admit that we make a distinction between Christ Jesus in his eternal substance and the elements of the sacramental signs. So we neither worship the elements, in place of that which they signify, nor yet do we despise them or undervalue them, but we use them with great reverence, examining ourselves diligently before we participate, since we are assured by the mouth of the apostle that ‘whoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.'”

From the Belgic Confession (circa 1561)

“Article 34: The Sacrament of Baptism

-We believe and confess that Jesus Christ, in whom the law is fulfilled, has by his shed blood put an end to every other shedding of blood, which anyone might do or wish to do in order to atone or satisfy for sins.

-Having abolished circumcision, which was done with blood, he established in its place the sacrament of baptism. By it we are received into God’s church and set apart from all other people and alien religions, that we may be dedicated entirely to him, bearing his mark and sign. It also witnesses to us that he will be our God forever, since he is our gracious Father.

-Therefore he has commanded that all those who belong to him be baptized with pure water in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.^76

In this way he signifies to us that just as water washes away the dirt of the body when it is poured on us and also is seen on the body of the baptized when it is sprinkled on him, so too the blood of Christ does the same thing internally, in the soul, by the Holy Spirit. It washes and cleanses it from its sins and transforms us from being the children of wrath into the children of God.

-This does not happen by the physical water but by the sprinkling of the precious blood of the Son of God, who is our Red Sea, through which we must pass to escape the tyranny of Pharoah, who is the devil, and to enter the spiritual land of Canaan.

-So ministers, as far as their work is concerned, give us the sacrament and what is visible, but our Lord gives what the sacrament signifies– namely the invisible gifts and graces; washing, purifying, and cleansing our souls of all filth and unrighteousness; renewing our hearts and filling them with all comfort; giving us true assurance of his fatherly goodness; clothing us with the ‘new man’ and stripping off the ‘old,’ with all its works.

-For this reason we believe that anyone who aspires to reach eternal life ought to be baptized only once without ever repeating it– for we cannot be born twice. Yet this baptism is profitable not only when the water is on us and when we receive it but throughout our entire lives.

-For that reason we detest the error of the Anabaptists who are not content with a single baptism once received and also condemn the baptism of the children of believers. We believe our children ought to be baptized and sealed with the sign of the covenant, as little children were circumcised in Israel on the basis of the same promises made to our children.

-And truly, Christ has shed his blood no less for washing the little children of believers than he did for adults.

-Therefore they ought to receive the sign and sacrament of what Christ has done for them, just as the Lord commanded in the law that by offering a lamb for them the sacrament of the suffering and death of Christ would be granted them shortly after their birth. This was the sacrament of Jesus Christ.

-Furthermore, baptism does for our children what circumcision did for the Jewish people. That is why Paul calls baptism the ‘circumcision of Christ.’^77

^76 Matt. 28:19 ^77 Col. 2:11″

From the Second Helvetic Confession (1562)

“CHAPTER XX Of Holy Baptism
THE INSTITUTION OF BAPTISM.
Baptism was instituted and consecrated by God. First John baptized, who dipped Christ in the water in Jordan. From him it came to the apostles, who also baptized with water. The Lord expressly commanded them to preach the Gospel and to baptize ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ (Matt. 28:19). And in The Acts, Peter said to the Jews who inquired what they ought to do: ‘Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 2:37 f.). Hence by some baptism is called a sign of initiation for God’s people, since by it the elect of God are consecrated to God.

ONE BAPTISM.
There is but one baptism in the Church of God; and it is sufficient to be once baptized or consecrated unto God. For baptism once received continues for all of life, and is a perpetual sealing of our adoption.

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE BAPTIZED.
Now to be baptized in the name of Christ is to be enrolled, entered, and received into the covenant and family, and so into the inheritance of the sons of God; yes, and in this life to be called after the name of God; that is to say, to be called a son of God; to be cleansed also from the filthiness of sins, and to be granted the manifold grace of God, in order to lead a new and innocent life. Baptism, therefore, calls to mind and renews the great favor God has shown to the race of mortal men. For we are all born in the pollution of sin and are the children of wrath. But God, who is rich in mercy, freely cleanses us from our sins by the blood of his Son, and in him adopts us to be his sons, and by a holy covenant joins us to himself, and enriches us with various gifts, that we might live a new life. All these things are assured by baptism. For inwardly we are regenerated, purified, and renewed by God through the Holy Spirit and outwardly we receive the assurance of the greatest gifts in the water, by which also those great benefits are represented, and, as it were, set before our eyes to be beheld.

WE ARE BAPTIZED WITH WATER.
And therefore we are baptized, that is, washed or sprinkled with visible water. For the water washes dirt away, and cools and refreshes hot and tired bodies. And the grace of God performs these things for souls, and does so invisibly or spiritually.

THE OBLIGATION OF BAPTISM.
Moreover, God also separates us from all strange religions and peoples by the symbol of baptism, and consecrates us to himself as his property. We, therefore, confess our faith when we are baptized, and obligate ourselves to God for obedience, mortification of the flesh, and newness of life. Hence, we are enlisted in the holy military service of Christ that all our life long we should fight against the world, Satan, and our own flesh. Moreover, we are baptized into one body of the Church, that with all members of the Church we might beautifully concur in the one religion and in mutual services.

THE FORM OF BAPTISM.
We believe that the most perfect form of baptism is that by which Christ was baptized, and by which the apostles baptized. Those things, therefore, which by man’s device were added afterwards and used in the Church we do not consider necessary to the perfection of baptism. Of this kind is exorcism, the use of burning lights, oil, salt, spittle, and such other things as that baptism is to be celebrated twice every year with a multitude of ceremonies. For we believe that one baptism of the Church has been sanctified in God’s first institution, and that it is consecrated by the Word and is also effectual today in virtue of God’s first blessing.

THE MINISTER OF BAPTISM.
We teach that baptism should not be administered in the Church by women or midwives. For Paul deprived women of ecclesiastical duties, and baptism has to do with these.

ANABAPTISTS.
We condemn the Anabaptists, who deny that newborn infants of the faithful are to be baptized. For according to evangelical teaching, of such is the Kingdom of God, and they are in the covenant of God. Why, then, should the sign of God’s covenant not be given to them? Whey should those who belong to God and are in his Church not be initiated by holy baptism? We condemn also the Anabaptists in the rest of their peculiar doctrines which they hold contrary to the Word of God. We therefore are not Anabaptists and have nothing in common with them.”

From the Heidelberg Catechism (1563)

“Of Holy Baptism

26. Lord’s Day

Question 69. How art thou admonished and assured by holy baptism, that the one sacrifice of Christ upon the cross is of real advantage to thee?

Answer: “Thus: That Christ appointed this external washing with water, (a) adding thereto this promise, (b) that I am as certainly washed by his blood and Spirit from all the pollution of my soul, that is, from all my sins, (c) as I am washed externally with water, by which the filthiness of the body is commonly washed away.

(a) Matt.28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (b) Matt.28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Matt.3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. John 1:33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. Rom.6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Rom.6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (c) 1 Pet.3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Mark 1:4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Luke 3:3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;”

Question 70. What is it to be washed with the blood and Spirit of Christ?

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; (a) 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. (b)

(a) Heb.12:24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. 1 Pet.1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. Rev.1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, Rev.7:14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Zech.13:1 In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness. Ezek.36:25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. (b) John 1:33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 1 Cor.6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Cor.12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. Rom.6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Col.2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”

Question 71. “Where has Christ promised us, that he will as certainly wash us by his blood and Spirit, as we are washed with the water of baptism?”

Answer: “In the institution of baptism, which is thus expressed: ‘Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”, Matt.28:19. And ‘he that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned.’, Mark 16:16. This promise is also repeated, where the scripture calls baptism the washing of regenerations” and the washing away of sins. Tit.3:5, Acts 22:16. (a)

(a) Tit.3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

27. Lord’s Day

Question 72. Is then the external baptism with water the washing away of sin itself?

Answer: Not at all: (a) for the blood of Jesus Christ only, and the Holy Ghost cleanse us from all sin. (b)

(a) Matt.3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 1 Pet.3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Eph.5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, Eph.5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (b) 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 1 Cor.6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Question 73. “Why then does the Holy Ghost call baptism ‘the washing of regeneration,’ and ‘the washing away of sins’?”
Answer: “God speaks thus not without great cause, to-wit, not only thereby to teach us, that as the filth of the body is purged away by water, so our sins are removed by the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ; (a) but especially that by this divine pledge and sign he may assure us, that we are spiritually cleansed from our sins as really, as we are externally washed with water. (b)

(a) Rev.1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, Rev.7:14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 1 Cor.6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (b) Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Gal.3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

Question 74. “Are infants also to be baptized?”                                      Answer: “Yes: for since they, as well as the adult, are included in the covenant and church of God; (a) and since redemption from sin (b) by the blood of Christ, and the Holy Ghost, the author of faith, is promised to them no less than to the adult; (c) they must therefore by baptism, as a sign of the covenant, be also admitted into the christian church; and be distinguished from the children of unbelievers (d) as was done in the old covenant or testament by circumcision, (e) instead of which baptism is instituted (f) in the new covenant.

(a) Gen.17:7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. (b) Matt.19:14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. (c) Luke 1:15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. Ps.22:10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly. Isa.44:1 Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen: Isa.44:2 Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen. Isa.44:3 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: Acts 2:39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. (d) Acts 10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? (e) Gen.17:14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant. (f) Col.2:11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Col.2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. Col.2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;”

From the Westminster Confession (1646)

“Chapter XXVIII: Of Baptism

I. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church; but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in the newness of life. Which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in His Church until the end of the world.

II. The outward element to be used in this sacrament is water, wherewith the party is to be baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a minister of the Gospel, lawfully called thereunto.

III. Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but Baptism is rightly administered by pouring, or sprinkling water upon the person.

IV. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one, or both, believing parents, are to be baptized.

V. Although it is a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it: or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.

VI. The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered;y et, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongs unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in His appointed time.

VII. The sacrament of Baptism is but once to be administered unto any person.”

Westminster Larger Catechism (1647):

“Question 165: What is Baptism?”

Answer: “Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein Christ has ordained the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, to be a sign and seal of ingrafting into himself, of remission of sins by his blood, and regeneration by his Spirit; of adoption, and resurrection unto everlasting life; and whereby the parties baptized are solemnly admitted into the visible church, and enter into an open and professed engagement to be wholly and only the Lord’s.”

Question 166: “Unto whom is Baptism to be administered?”

Answer: “Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, and so strangers from the covenant of promise, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him, but infants descending from parents, either both, or but one of them, professing faith in Christ, and obedience to him, are in that respect within the covenant, and to be baptized.”

Question 167: “How is our Baptism to be improved by us?”

Answer: “The needful but much neglected duty of improving our Baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others; by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein; by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to, the grace of baptism, and our engagements; by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament; by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace; and by endeavoring to live by faith, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness, as those that have therein given up their names to Christ; and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body.”

Link

A Link to my Old Blog

7 Apr

A Link to my Old Blog

Due to technical issues, I decided to move over from a Blogspot account to a WordPress Account. So, for my old followers, I’d like to welcome you aboard & for my new followers, I extend to you a link to my old blog.

Hello world!

7 Apr

Welcome to WordPress.com. After you read this, you should delete and write your own post, with a new title above. Or hit Add New on the left (of the admin dashboard) to start a fresh post.

Here are some suggestions for your first post.

  1. You can find new ideas for what to blog about by reading the Daily Post.
  2. Add PressThis to your browser. It creates a new blog post for you about any interesting  page you read on the web.
  3. Make some changes to this page, and then hit preview on the right. You can always preview any post or edit it before you share it to the world.