What Baptism Signifies
Heidelberg Catechism 69-71
69. How is it signified and sealed to you in Holy Baptism that you have part in the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross?
Thus: that Christ instituted this outward washing with water and joined to it this promise, that I am washed with His blood and Spirit from the pollution of my soul, that is, from all my sins, as certainly as I am washed outwardly with water, whereby commonly the filthiness of the body is taken away.
70. What is it to be washed with the blood and Spirit of Christ?
It is to have the forgiveness of sins from God through grace, for the sake of Christ’s blood, which He shed for us in His sacrifice on the cross; and also to be renewed by the Holy Spirit and sanctified to be members of Christ, so that we may more and more die unto sin and lead holy and unblamable lives.
71. Where has Christ promised that we are as certainly washed with His blood and Spirit as with the water of Baptism?
In the institution of Baptism, which says: “Go therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned.” This promise is also repeated where Scripture calls Baptism the washing of regeneration and the washing away of sins.
Baptism, as a sign of the new covenant, represents the washing away of sins through the shedding of blood, comforting those who respond in faith and condemning those who respond in disbelief.
I. What Can Wash Away My Sin?
A. Water or Blood? (Exodus 7:20-21; John 2:9; Revelation 7:14; Genesis 49:11)
B. Sign of Death and Judgment (1 Peter 3:21; 1 Corinthians 10:2; Mark 10:38; Colossians 2:11-12)
II. Nothing But the Blood of Jesus!
A. Cleansing through Judgment (cf. Hebrews 9:22)
B. The Promise
FOR NEXT TIME
HC Q. 72. Is, then, the outward washing with water itself the washing away of sins?
No, for only the blood of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit cleanse us from all sin.
HC Q. 73. Why then does the Holy Spirit call Baptism the washing of regeneration and the washing away of sins?
God speaks thus with great cause, namely, not only to teach us thereby that just as the filthiness of the body is taken away by water, so our sins are taken away by the blood and Spirit of Christ; but much more, that by this divine pledge and token He may assure us that we are as really washed from our sins spiritually as our bodies are washed with water.
HC Q. 74. Are infants also to be baptized?
Yes, for since they, as well as their parents, belong to the covenant and people of God, and through the blood of Christ both redemption from sin and the Holy Spirit, who works faith, are promised to them no less than to their parents, they are also by Baptism, as a sign of the covenant, to be ingrafted into the Christian Church, and distinguished from the children of unbelievers, as was done in the Old Testament by circumcision, in place of which in the New Testament Baptism is appointed.
God’s heart takes no delight in the death of the wicked, but rejoices when one turns to him and finds mercy and grace—it is this heart that must drive us in evangelism.