United with Christ in Baptism…

My three-month old daughter will be baptized this Sunday. This will be a significant day for us. Before coming to the Reformed Faith, I cared little about the sacraments. They were insignificant and tedious practices. In the tradition I partook of, the Lord’s Supper was administered once a month, and in case we had guest speakers it would be postponed another month. On the other hand, baptism was treated in a little more serious tone. Adults came to the baptismal pool and confessed their faith before the congregation and were immersed. This was my experience both in the Baptist and Brethren traditions. These baptisms took on a more public nature. It was celebrated. I never had any dispute concerning the legitimacy of those adult baptisms, except that for some, it had been the second or third time they were being baptized. Since a profession of faith was expected, most of them who had made early professions of faith and were consequently baptized in their youth, felt that their early baptisms were the result of an unclear and false faith. Naturally, many of my friends–myself included–went through the waters twice.

Coming to the Reformed faith meant accepting what Paul says in Ephesians that there is only one baptism, as there is one Lord and one faith. It is accepting that water poured/sprinkled on an infant actually confers the benefits of the covenant. As Peter Leithart observes:

When an infant is baptized, the baptism itself is a gift from God’s unmerited favor. Baptism itself gives the child membership in the church, an identity as a member of the people of God and as a Christian, a family of brothers and sisters whose Father is in heaven and whose Brother is on a heavenly throne, the gift of public identification with Christ, a place in the temple of the Holy Spirit, a commission to serve Christ, a deputation (to use Thomas’s language) to a place in the worship of God, and much more. These are not, I submit, merely offered or promised to the child, but actually delivered. And they are his, whether he believes and trusts or not.

Covenant children are baptized because they need a heavenly mother and heavenly Father. Baptism actually does what it says it will do: it saves (I Peter 3:21). It will bring my little daughter to the arms of her Lord just as He called the little children to Himself (Matthew 19:14), she will be united to He Savior in baptism (Romans 6) and she will partake of all the benefits of the covenant just as the children of the saints in the Old. As Abigail grows in her faith, believes in Her faithful Lord, she will be adorned and cleansed daily by the Spirit of God. When she disobeys she will look to the waters of life and be reminded of the graciousness of Her Lord. And when she repents in humble submission to her Messiah, she will know that God has been faithful to His promises.

About Uri Brito

I am the Pastor of Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola, Fl.
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5 Responses to United with Christ in Baptism…

  1. Johannine Logos says:

    Sir, I am afraid you do not understand Peter’s words if you think baptism has saved your child. Peter says that baptism is a “figure” of what happened to Noah. Doesn’t that raise the question of what happened to Noah? Hebrews 11 tells us, “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”

    Noah was saved by faith. This faith led to obedience, namely the building of an ark by which he and his family were “saved”. Or did Noah “earn” righteousness by his obedience? Likewise, do we earn the righteousness that justifies through water baptism or through faith? Interesting, isn’t it, that Peter makes the following qualification to his statement that the figure of baptism “saves”: “not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience”. The mechanical act of baptism does not save, but rather “an appeal to God for a good conscience.” In other words, Peter is saying that while baptism is a type/figure/symbol of salvation, what saves us is ultimately cognitive—faith.

    Faith must be present for baptism to mean anything. It is arguable whether Romans 6:3 refers to water baptism, but even if we assume it does, we should note that in the previous two chapters Paul hammers home the truth that “to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” (Rom. 4). Moving into Romans 6, Paul addresses believers whom he assumes are baptized (because, after all, those who believe ought to be baptized), which is why he can he say that those who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into His death. Let us not, however, read a logical priority into this text that is not supported by the context.

    One more comment on Romans 6:3. For Christ’s righteousness to be counted as my own, I have to be “in Him”, otherwise there is no legal basis for imputation. Technically, therefore, we are already “in Him” by the time we are baptized, so we shouldn’t take Romans 6:3 to mean that water baptism is the first time we are united with Christ.

    Let’s bring this back to your daughter’s salvation. Has your daughter believed on Him who justifies the ungodly? Has she made an appeal to God for a good conscience? If not then you have no basis for calling her saved. Moreover, I fear for her. I fear that she will trust in your work upon her rather than Christ’s work for her.

    On a separate topic, only those of faith are children of Abrahman and heirs according to the promise. The promises were made to the elect, otherwise every Jew would go to Heaven.

    Finally, I realize you have probably heard all of this before, just as I have heard all of your FV-esque arguments before. Nevertheless I desire, for your sake and those reading this, to bring to light the notable contradictions within your doctrine. I implore you to search the scriptures, especially given the fearful warning of James: “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”

  2. Uri Brito says:

    Dear sir, your concerns are unfounded. I too believe salvation is by faith. By salvation you are assuming eternal salvation, whereas I am assuming a covenant status with our blessed Lord. Thanks for your comments and a blessed Sunday of Pentecost.

  3. Johannine Logos says:

    Indeed, by “salvation” you are referring to a state merited by our obedience–i.e., salvation by works. Your “out” is to say that these works are by God’s grace. OK, how is that any different from Rome? Salvation by God-given “gracious” works is still salvation by works. Or do you agree that the righteousness that justifies is 100% Christ’s and 0% ours?

    Where does the Bible talk about a non-eternal salvation merited by our works that is separate from a salvation merited by Christ’s righteousness alone? It doesn’t. If FV proponents are truly trusting in Christ alone then they still deserve some kind of award for the most confusing, obfuscating theology in the history of Protestantism.

  4. Uri Brito says:

    Sir, thank you for visiting my blog again and bringing to my attention something I wrote 5 years ago. I have already made myself clear. If this helps, I will affirm that salvation is Trinitarian, and anything else is a violation of Christendom. The Father sends, the Son accomplishes, and the Spirit sustains. Salvation is a work of the Triune God, not of Jesus alone. Man is a recipient of this grace, and his good works are a manifestation of his Spirit-empowered covenantal life. Shalom in King Jesus.

  5. Johannine Logos says:

    This is a remarkably clear response to the question, “Do you believe that salvation is trinitarian?” Yet I never asked this question nor implied that you believe otherwise. What I asked is, “What percentage of the righteousness that justifies us (the elect) is Christ’s and what percentage is ours?” Please provide a clear answer to this question. Thank you!

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