Sermon Theme

Today we go back to where we left of in our Overview of the Teachings (Doctrines) of Scripture We have been following the Belgic Confession articles , now up to Article 34 Article 33 was an introductory article to the whole subject of Sacraments.

From our reading of article 34 we see it’s subject is ‘The Sacrament of Baptism’

It is a long article covering the following points:
* Baptism = replacement for sign of covenant membership, doing away with blood rite of circumcision
* Water baptism as a physical sign pointing to spiritually reality of Christ’s blood washing away our sins
* That such baptism need only being administered once
* Little children should also receive this sign of covenant membership

As this article includes subject of infant baptism, it is crucial we get the correct context of BOTH.. Baptism as a sign of membership of God’s community AND children’s part in that.

Sermon outline


Readings reproduced on this page:
The Holy Bible: New International Version. 1996, 1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan


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.


Genesis 17:1–14 (NIV)
17 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. 2 Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”
3 Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, 4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5 No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”
9 Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”