Baptism: Part 1 (Discipleship Training)
Baptism: Part 1: As we continue our study of the ordinary means of grace, we have studied the word and prayer. The other major ordinary means of grace are the sacraments: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
In this study, we will explore the nature of sacraments in general, and then we will begin to study the details of the sacrament of baptism. Sacraments are not magical rites of priestcraft, but neither are they bare symbols.
Rather, sacraments function in a supportive role to the word of God. Sacraments do give symbolism to help us further understand the cleansing we have through the blood of Jesus, and the promise of Christ’s body broken and blood shed for us. More than that, though, sacraments are seals that confirm for us these realities. That is, God uses the sacraments to strengthen our faith in Christ.
To approach the sacraments as signs and seals of the covenant of grace.
Read and discuss:
- Genesis 9:12–17: The rainbow was a sign of God’s covenant with Noah
- Genesis 17:11; Romans 4:11: Circumcision was a sign of God’s covenant, confirming the promises that righteousness will come through faith
- Exodus 12:13; 13:9: Passover was a sign of God’s covenant with Israel.
- Exodus 31:13–17: The Sabbath is a sign that God is the one who sanctifies his people.
- Esther 8:9–14: A seal (v. 10) confirms the authenticity and the validity of a king’s decree.
- 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30: The Holy Spirit is the seal who authenticates God’s promises to us in Christ.
- Matthew 28:16–19: Christ commanded his disciples (lawfully ordained ministers) to administer the sacrament of baptism.
- 1 Corinthians 4:1: Only lawfully ordained ministers may administer the sacraments, as stewards of the mysteries of God.
- 1 Peter 3:21: Baptism is more than a mere symbol, since God uses baptism to save us.
Read and discuss:
- What does it mean for sacraments to be a “sign” of God’s covenant of grace?
- What does it mean for sacraments to be a “seal” of God’s covenant of grace?
- Why may only lawfully ordained ministers administer the sacraments?
- How is baptism a sign and a seal of God’s covenant of grace?
- What does Peter mean when he says that “baptism…now saves you” (1 Pet. 3:21)?
- Remember your baptism: Prayerfully seek to grow in your understanding of God’s grace conferred upon you at your baptism.
- Improve your baptism: This is an old phrase with an older meaning for “improve.” When Christians talk about improving their baptism, they do not mean improving upon their baptism, as though they could add anything to their baptism. Rather, the older sense of the word means “apply” or “put to use.” How does God intend you to put your baptism to good use in daily life?
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