Anglican Morning Devotion for 7 July 2021 Anno Domini
A ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
- Of Baptism. Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of Regeneration or New-Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed, Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God. The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.
There are only two Sacraments presented in the Articles of Religion that bind the believer to Christ and His Church – Baptism and Holy Communion. Both are defined as “an outward and visible sing of an inward and spiritual grace.” Both suggest an outward appearance of faith which only He who sees the mysteries of the Heart can discern as real and effectual. Neither of these sacraments is able to save a soul, but, if undertaken with a sincere heart, point to a spiritual reality that reveals a real, spiritual bond with the Lord Jesus Christ. If the outward sign does not reflect that inward and spiritual grace, it is of no effect.
We have, in a previous devotion, discussed how Almighty God baptized the ancient world with the water of the Deluge. That was a water baptism. He then baptized a peculiar people set aside as His own as an example to all others of His favor. That was a water baptism. Our Lord Jesus Christ, too, was baptized with water in Jordan River. That was a water baptism. The process was a continual narrowing-down to the very individuals who are the chosen elect of God before the worlds were formed. We all must follow Christ in that water baptism. It symbolizes a covenant with God for His people just as circumcision represented the same covenantal bond of Abraham’s day. The covenant between God and His people is not reserved for adults only, but the entire household of the believer as demonstrated in the case of Zacchaeus. The infant remains in that covenantal relationship until sealed thereby in the Confirmation. This was widely understood by all the early church fathers for the first fifteen hundred years of the Church.
Baptism is not a work of salvation, but rather a public proclamation of it. The underlying value of baptism is not in its mode, but in its substance of faith. The act of Baptism in itself is not regenerative. It is nature in which the act is perceived in the heart of the baptized that determines its nature. In the Anglican Church, we recognize water baptism to symbolize the washing away of sin by the blood of Christ either by emersion, sprinkling or pouring. If the mode was the ruling factor, then baptism becomes a work of the hands of man and not of God; however, by warrant of Scripture, we baptize in “…the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 28:19*) Notice, the 27th Article refers to baptism as a SIGN of regeneration, not the very essence of regeneration thereof.
The thief on the cross was baptized in his heart at the promise of our Lord. It was a public expression of faith he made, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” (Luke 23:42 There could have been no more public expression of saving faith than this on the cross. Jesus responded, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43 If we make to much of a fuss about the method of baptism, the substance may be omitted. It is unlikely that God would expect believers of the northern reaches of the polar regions to be baptized in frozen waters. Hear what Bishop J. C. Ryle says about the mode of baptism: “I ask, then, any doubting mind to consider whether it is in the least probable that all the cases of baptism described in Scripture were cases of complete immersion? The three thousand baptized in one day at the feast of Pentecost (Acts ii. 41),—the jailor at Philippi suddenly baptized at midnight in prison (Acts xvi. 33)—is it at all likely or probable that they were all “dipped”? To my own mind, trying to take an impartial view, it seems in the highest degree improbable. Let those believe it who can.” Knots Untied, 1900.
There is a coming fourth baptism we scarcely hear mentioned – that of fire! “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:” (Matthew 3:11 This is a baptism of the Spirit. But the final baptism of this wicked world occurs at the last trump: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10) I prefer the earlier baptism of the heart to that of this latter baptism. How about you?
*all scripture quoted is from the King James Version