1. God justifies the ungodly
a. Our righteousness is incapable of fulfilling the demands of a Holy God. (Rom 1-3, especially Rom 3:19-20)
b. Christ came to be our righteousness while we were His enemies. (Eph 2:4-9, Rom 5:1-6)
c. Faith is not the basis of our salvation. Faith is what God gives to us that we can lay hold of Christ and His righteousness – the person and work of Christ is the basis of our salvation. We either stand clothed in Christ or stand in our own righteousness. (Rom 3:21-28, Gal 2:15-21)
2. The Gospel is the Good News that Christ has died to give victory over the grave and rose again in newness of life so that all who believe upon Him are saved in Him. (1 Cor 15:3-4)
3. Christ commanded His Church to make disciples of all the nations – baptizing them and teaching them. A person is made a disciple through baptism and a disciple is one who is taught. (Matt 28:18-20)
4. Baptism is not a sign of our faith. Baptism is not a sign of our parent’s faith. Baptism is a sign and a seal of God’s gracious covenant with man. Baptism is something done to us. We are passive in baptism.
a. God initiates grace but the hidden things belong to God (Deut 29:29)
b. Just like our Father Abraham, we need God to break into human history and give us something tangible in the present to confirm His promises of salvation to us. He confirms them by His oath and His person. (Genesis 15, Hebrews 6:13-20)
c. God not only Promises by two things that cannot be broken but He gives us a personal tangible sign just as He gave Abraham and his seed a sign in their flesh. (Genesis 17) Circumcision was not merely an outward mark but signified and sealed God’s Promise of salvation by faith to Abraham (Romans 4:9-12).
d. God gives us baptism as an “unbloody” circumcision to mark us out as holy, as His saints, in the world. (Col 2:11-14)
e. Through something we understand physically our minds are directed to what God is doing for us spiritually. It’s as if He is saying to us in baptism: “As surely as this water washes away the filth of your flesh, so are your sins forgiven if you trust in my Son, Jesus Christ.”
f. The Holy Spirit sovereignly connects our baptism to all the spiritual realities they signify. Baptism signifies and confirms the forgiveness of sins, our newness of life in Christ, our participation in Christ, and our membership in the New Covenant. . (Rom 6:3-5, Tit 3:5, Mark 1:4)
g. The minister in Christ’s Church does not magically give all the benefits that Baptism signifies but announces the Promises of God in the administration. The Holy Spirit grants the benefits signified by baptism when and where He pleases.
h. Baptism causes us to look to Christ outside of us as our salvation and not within at the strength of our faith. Baptism assures us of our salvation because God has promised each of us, in our baptisms, that He will save us if we place our trust in Christ.
i. The devil may rage against us when we sin and remind us that our faith can be sifted like wheat but our baptism reminds us that faith is ever a simple clinging to Christ and His righteousness. The Promises of God in our baptism confirm us in our assurance. Our faith may have been false when we were baptized but God’s Promise cannot be shaken! Let God be true and every man be a liar. (Rom 3:3-5)
j. God’s Covenant has always included family solidarity. In giving circumcision to Abraham and His posterity (which signified grace through faith), God was not pitting grace against creation but grace against sin. (Gen 17). Noah’s family and all the Israelites with Moses were baptized by God. (1 Pet 3:21-22, 1 Cor 10:1-4)
k. The grace of God restores the family relationship in Gen 17 and beyond. Malachi prophesies of John that he would turn the hearts of the fathers to their children. (Mal 4, Luke 1:17)
l. Peter utilized Covenant language to announce the Promise of salvation that would be signified by baptism. (Acts 2:38-29)
m. In the Epistles, the children of believers:
(1) Are holy (1 Cor 7:14)
(2) Are to be discipled by their parents in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Eph 6:4)
(3) Are given covenant promises when they honor their parents. (Eph 6:1-3)
n. Children are to be baptized not on the basis of their parents’ faith but because:
They are in the Covenant
They are to be discipled
God doesn’t break us up from our children but they are our inheritance (Psalm 127:3-5)
5. Today we get to witness the Promises of God announced. We get to see Christ held forth. Elizabeth, no less than us, is blessed to be in and among where God’s grace is announced. She, no less than us, must believe upon Jesus Christ for the Promise is salvation if she clings to Christ in faith. Her baptism, no less than ours, will be a source of assurance all the days of her life: a personal Promise to save her if she believes the Gospel.
As Christ is held forth today to Elizabeth, it is a sign to all of us to remember and to improve upon our own baptisms. Remember the Covenant promises of God. As surely as you witness the water washing the flesh of another so are you assured that your sins are washed if you have put your trust in Christ. You are assured that you have died to sin in Christ and rise again to newness of life.
For, indeed, the baptism of a child so small that it cannot talk is God speaking to us: My grace comes before your ability. I will have mercy upon you apart from your ability to do anything for me. I save you not because you are worthy, not because of your intellect or capacity but because I am a gracious God!
Indeed, this is the Gospel: His grace precedes faith. Trust in God little child. Cast yourself upon the Son all the days of your life and may the Church of Christ ever be the incubator that holds forth Christ and nourishes you now and until you draw your final breath!