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 baptised 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 baptised 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 Pharaoh, 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 baptised 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 baptised 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. Matthew 28:19 77. Colossians 2:11
Ephesians 2:11–22 (NIV)
11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)—12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.