Is Baptism the Sign of the New Covenant?

Let me start by saying that I have no theological axe to grind on this issue, and I am not trying to protect or attack any particular doctrinal view in raising this question. I am simply trying to think and speak more biblically about the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

With that said, my question is this: Is baptism the sign of the New Covenant? This seems to be the common assumption, but I think it is an assumption worth challenging. As I have begun to wrestle with this—and I am only now in the beginning stages—I have come to four conclusions:

First, the Bible does not use the word “sign” in connection with the New Covenant. The two candidates for the sign of the New Covenant would seem to be water baptism and the Lord’s Supper. But since neither one is explicitly referred to as the “sign” of the New Covenant, it is difficult to be dogmatic one way or the other.

Second, there is clear biblical data which seems to suggest that the Lord’s Supper is the sign of the New Covenant. At the Last Supper, when Jesus held up the bread and said to His disciples, “This is My body” (Luke 22:19), He meant that it symbolically represented or signified His body. Likewise, when He held up the cup and said “This cup…is the New Covenant” (Luke 22:20), He meant that it symbolically represented or signified the New Covenant. Therefore, as that which signifies the New Covenant, the Lord’s Supper at least appears to be the sign of the New Covenant.

Third, although baptism does symbolize the forgiveness of sins (Acts 22:16)—which is one of the key promises of the New Covenant—it is never explicitly connected to the New Covenant itself in the way that the Lord’s Supper is.

Fourth, the Lord’s Supper seems to be a more likely candidate for the sign of the New Covenant because believers celebrate it regularly—perhaps even weekly (1 Cor 11:23-26; Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7)—in contrast to how believers are baptized only once. This regular reminder seems to fit better with the pattern of the previous covenant signs which served as recurring reminders of their respective covenants: a rainbow periodically appears in the sky as a reminder of the Noahic Covenant (Gen 9:8-17); circumcision (or at least its effects) provided a regular reminder of the Abrahamic Covenant to the one who had been circumcised (Gen 17:10-14); and the Sabbath provided a weekly reminder of the Mosaic Covenant (Exod 31:12-17). In contrast, an individual is baptized just once, and when the ordinance has been completed, there is no recurring reminder (other than the baptism of other individuals).

Therefore, if there is but one sign of the New Covenant, and if that sign is the Lord’s Supper, then it would seem unbiblical to refer to baptism as the sign of the New Covenant. Two concluding questions:

  1. Where is the breakdown in this argument?
  2. If baptism is not “the sign of the New Covenant,” how exactly should we think of it and refer to it? In other words, precisely what relationship does baptism have to the New Covenant?
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56 responses to this post.

  1. How does this statement you made, “But since neither one is explicitly referred to as the “sign” of the New Covenant, it is difficult to be dogmatic one way or the other” line up with this statement, “Second, there is clear biblical data which seems to suggest that the Lord’s Supper is the sign of the New Covenant”???

    Am I missing something?

    I appreciate this series of posts by the way. I just purchased the book “Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ” edited by Schreiner and Wright today. I do not know when i will have time to read it but Dr. Bruce Ware says it is the best modern day book that deals with this topic.

    Blessings,
    Caleb

    By the way, i hope you are ready for some NFL. My Bears are going to reign in the NFC North once again. Favre should retire before Alex Brown or Tommie Harris injures him. We just need to convince Paul Lamey that the real games are played on Sunday (sadly).

  2. Posted by Matt Waymeyer on August 31, 2007 at 8:47 pm

    Caleb:

    Even though the Lord’s Supper is not referred to as the “sign” of the NC (i.e., the word “sign” itself is not used as a title for the LS or to describe the LS), there is clear evidence to suggest that it is the sign of the NC. At the same time, b/c it is not called the “sign” in the way that signs of previous covenants were clearly identified as signs in the OT, it is hard to be dogmatic (thus the words “seems to suggest”). Make sense?

    Seems easier to reconcile than how it is a smart guy like you could possibly be a Bears fan. But at least you know how to spell Favre’s name.

    Peace, brother.

    P.S. To any readers who may be concerned that Caleb and I are about to come to blows, our friendship has survived the Packer-Bear tension for years, and it’s not going anywhere any time soon–our friendship or the tension.

  3. I just struggle when you say there is “clear Biblical evidence” that suggests….. to me if you hold that conviction and believe it to be biblically sound and clear then you should be able to be somewhat dogmatic about it.

    This is good food for thought so again thanks for your posts.

    I have to keep my passions in check but i am very excited to see what Grossman and the Bears are going to do again this season. If we stay healthy we’ll be back in Super Bowl. Have a great day.

  4. Caleb,

    Yes it is true that real football takes place on Saturdays and primarily in one particular conference (SEC) but I am seeing signs of the end times with my NO Saints making a statement last year and hopefully this year also. I grew up a huge Saints fan when there was nothing to root for (which was every year until last season).

    As for “your” Bears, they are very lucky. Also I have to admit that it is hard to respect a man named “Lovey” although I’m sure he’s a fine gentleman.

    Matt, the Packers are finished and need to rebuild and look forward.

    New Covenant blessings to you both! Now let’s get back on topic.

  5. Posted by Juan on August 31, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    I have been wondering how important is getting baptized or taking part of the Last Super. I have several new converts who are elderly who can not get baptized due to health issues or handicaps. We have the Last Super once a month at our church.

    Why are these so important if they are not part of salvation but become issues of tradition?

    Thanks
    Juan

    PS- Chargers will beat the Bears in Week 1 and hopefully they do not choke this year!

  6. Posted by Chris Pixley on August 31, 2007 at 11:48 pm

    Matt-

    Would you be more comfortable saying baptism is the sign of _entrance_ into the New Covenant?

  7. Posted by Matt Waymeyer on September 1, 2007 at 12:13 am

    Chris: I think I’ve said my fill for now and would rather just sit back and listen, at least for a while. But I would definitely be interested in hearing what others think. If memory serves me correctly, Paul Lamey worded it in a similar way in a recent post here at ET, although I’m not sure he used the word “sign.”

  8. Posted by Chris Pixley on September 1, 2007 at 12:33 am

    Fair enough, Matt. I’ll do likewise!

  9. True that (as the kids say).

    What else can we say about the significance of baptism? [1] It is the initial way that a believer is identified with Christ (cf. Acts 2:38, 8:16, lit., “in the name of Jesus Christ”), [2] it outwardly identifies one with the Church (Acts 2:41) and [3] it identifies one with His mission (Matt. 28:19-20). The emphasis in these and other passages seems to be one of “initiation.”

    Therefore might we conclude that communion is the perpetual reminder of the New Covenant (1 Cor. 11:25-26) of what was initiated in salvation and will one day reach a final consummation (Luke 22:18)?

    Talk amongst yourselves.

  10. Here are a few quotes from my new book.

    “Baptism, as this book will demonstrate, is the initiation rite into the Christian church.”

    Tim George reminds us this issue (the mode of Baptism) does matter as many were willing to die for his/her convictions during the Reformation.

    “Believer’s baptism also demonstrates that the church is a new covenant community- all those within it know the Lord (Heb 8:11).

    “The Lord’s Supper is reserved for believers who have been baptized, but many paedobaptist do not allow children to partake of the Lord’s table until the children have expressed personal faith. But such a divide between baptism and the Lord’s Supper cannot be sustained from the NT, for it is clear that those baptized participated in communion…”

    I appreciate Paul’s desperate attempt to keep ET a very pastoral and scholarly blog. I must be the CJ Mahaney of the group…the non scholar who is always getting in trouble.

    But once again i am getting us off topic. The Big 10 rocks and go Bears!

  11. Caleb,

    Let’s get this over with. “The Big Ten?” That is a tire store here in town. Have you heard of the SEC? It’s the one with half its teams in the top 20 (which would be six) and some think Alabama may join them after a week or two. I like what LSU’ coach recently said,

    “I would like nothing better than to play USC for the title. I can tell you this: They have a much easier road to travel. They’re going to play real knock-down, drag-outs with UCLA and Washington, Cal-Berkeley, Stanford — some real juggernauts — and they’re going to end up, it would be my guess, in some position so if they win a game or two, that they’ll end up in the title [game]. I would like that path for us. I think the SEC provides much stiffer competition.”

  12. “The quality of life in the South is dependent upon good college football. Local economies, race relations and collective psychological health all would suffer without it. Sweet tea would not be as sweet. Fried chicken would not be as crispy. Country songs would be even sadder.”

    ~Pat Forde (ESPN)

  13. Posted by Matt Waymeyer on September 1, 2007 at 3:59 am

    Back in January of 1998, my Wisconsin Badgers played the Georgia Bulldogs in the Outback Bowl in Tampa. They got crushed 33-6. Magazine writer Mike Thomas attended the game with his wife, an alum of the University of Wisconsin, and he described part of his experience like this in Florida Magazine:

    “We stumbled over to the stadium, plopped in our seats, drank beer and munched on pats of butter. We then waited patiently for the game to end. It went pretty much as any game goes between a Big 10 team and a Southern team. The Big 10 quarterback goes ‘hut-hut,’ the Southern defensive linemen run in and tackle him, and then the Big 10 offensive linemen rise up out of their crouches and look for someone to block.”

    That was for you, Paul.

  14. Thanks Matt, there’s a small tear in my eye. Folks that don’t live in an SEC state can’t possibly understand the religious devotion.

    I’m no Bama fan (Auburn all the way) but it says something when you have 92,000+ fans show up for your Spring practice game where you play your own team and on top of that there’s only 50,000 people in the town where they played!!!!

  15. Posted by CalebKolstad on September 1, 2007 at 5:16 am

    Paul Lamey bit the bait and came out of his shell. He needed this y’all. I’m sure his sermon is done for this Sunday and he is working on next weeks already.

    I remember last season “P.J. Hill literally ran off the last four minutes of game clock as Wisconsin defeated Arkansas 17-14 in the Capital One Bowl giving Bret Bielema a school-record 12 wins in his first season as head coach.”

    Sadly, OU had to lose to Boise State and give credibility to those small conferences that don’t play anyone during the regular season.

    I am NFL guy so i need to stick with my guns and get out of this small town talk…

    College Heisman QB’s like Troy Smith have a hard time keeping a 3rd string QB spot in the NFL. Sorry guys the real action takes place after the morning worship service, before the evening Bible hour on Fox.

  16. Posted by CalebKolstad on September 1, 2007 at 5:32 am

    I’m waiting now for a Pastor from Waco, TX to start talking about H.S. football. Please don’t even go there…

    BTW, i do believe year in, year out the SEC is the top conference in football. The Big 10 is #2.

    Of course as much as i hate to admit it the Trojans from So Cal have had the best program in the game over the last 6 years.

    How all this connects to the New Covenant? I guess we’ll have to wait until Matt posts part 2 on Monday.

  17. Caleb,

    It all reveals the need for the New Cov.

  18. Posted by Forrest on September 1, 2007 at 8:51 am

    As a newcomer to this debate, and a first time commentor. I would think that baptism is the sign of salvation. It is the physical, visible demonstration of spiritual birth. Rom. 6:3-5 show that baptism is a sign of partaking of the death and resurrection of Christ, and based upon Luke 22:13-20 I would say that the Lord’s supper is the same sign with a slight twist.
    1. Instead of empasizing the change in the person, it emphasizes the glory of Christ’s suffering which is why we celebrate it on a regular basis.
    2. Since, the purpose of the Lord’s Supper is to remember Christ’s sacrifice only Christians can partake, since they are the only benefactors of his sacrifice.
    Using that logic, baptism should precede the Lord’s Supper since baptism is the proclamation of the change in a sinner and the Lord’s Supper is the adoration of Christ’s sacrifice.

  19. Posted by Scott Christensen on September 1, 2007 at 9:09 pm

    Matt,
    I like your argument so far. I am curious about what “Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ” says about the Lord’s Supper.

    My alma mater Penn St. regularly hosts 107,000 fans. I don’t think they let them in for practice though. Go JoePa! Matt, what do you think of my boy Jay Cutler? However, I don’t think Denver has what it takes to beat the Chargers this year.

  20. Posted by Jim Masters on September 4, 2007 at 11:59 pm

    Hey, Matt.
    Just checking out your blog and thought I’d contribute (in some meager way!). The sign of the Old Covenant would be circumcision (we would all agree on that). We would also all agree that circumcision is a type of what needed to happen with the heart (cf. Deut. 30). Part of the promise of the New Covenant that coincides with the heart change is the coming of the Holy Spirit (Ezek. 36). So, wouldn’t the (baptism in the) Holy Spirit (into the body of Christ) be the sign of the new covenant (cf. Acts 2:23-25)?
    I hope your doing well in ministry, my friend! Are u going to be preaching thru the gospel of John fairly soon (per our conversation at SC)?

    jim

  21. Posted by Matt Waymeyer on September 5, 2007 at 12:27 am

    Jim: Great to hear from you! I’ve thought of you often, and have been meaning to give you a call to thank you for your encouragement at SC. And yes, I have indeed starting the Gospel of John, and I have you to thank for it. It’s been very refreshing, and at the same time challenging, and yet (at least so far) not overwhelmingly so.

    Regarding the sign of the New Covenant, I am still wrestling through the relationship between physical circumcision and circumcision of the heart, so I’m not as locked in on that as most. But I think you make a good argument from Ezekiel 36. Gotta run to lunch, but let’s talk soon.

  22. Posted by Jim Masters on September 5, 2007 at 9:22 am

    right on! call me this week, if it works out for you…928-634-7388 (office #). it would be great to talk to you, matt!

  23. Jim,

    How did you get a hold of MacArthur’s cell phone #?

  24. Posted by Matt Waymeyer on September 5, 2007 at 10:07 pm

    Jim: This week is a little tight–might have to be next. Look forward to it.

    Paul: Could we return to the original topic and get back to talking football? All these tangents are distracting.

    Scott: Jay Cutler. Hmmmm. The name sounds familiar. Did he used to cut the lawn at Lambeau? Of course, I’ll probably be eating those words on Oct 29.

  25. Posted by Jim Masters on September 6, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    paul: when he dropped me off in flagstaff from his private jet.

    matt: no prob…looking forward too

  26. Matt,

    Sorry I got off topic. Since it’s the middle of the night here and I was somewhat awakened by a scared five year old let me propose a serious question for discussion.

    How many 5 year-olds could you fight off, before you were knocked out?

    I’m really curious about things like this. What do you guys think?

  27. I’ll start with my answer:

    If they have had no previous training (Dora’s Karate Adventure or Chuck Norris’ Deadly Knuckle Sandwiches for Kids video) then I think I could mix it up with about 20-25 five year olds before one got in a cheap shot and brought me down. Then they would use their amazing ability to kick hard and render me unconscious with a Stride-Rite to the temple.

    So 20-25 five-year olds is about all I could handle. However, if I yelled at the mob first then some would be reduced to tears and useless for fighting. I might then have a chance for victory.

  28. Posted by Matt Waymeyer on September 6, 2007 at 9:31 pm

    To the readers of ET:

    I just wanted to comfort you all with the news that I just got off from a conference call with Paul Lamey’s elders, and they assured me that the appropriate measures are being taken to restore Paul back to full health. He has been under a bit of a strain lately, what with the new building and all (not to mention what has been euphemistically dubbed “The Pulpit Incident”), but they are confident that three months of rest at an undisclosed location will bring back the Paul Lamey we’ve all come to know and love.

    I should mention that Paul will not have Internet access during his time-out, so any posts or comments bearing his name should be regarded as the work of an imposter.

    In the meantime, Chris Pixley will assume the role of site administrator.

  29. You dodged the question! Back to my cell.

  30. Posted by Matt Waymeyer on September 6, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    Friends, please continue to pray. The man is not well.

  31. Now i know why Paul did not want to go down this path. You guys get some sleep at night (it’s good for you).

    Caleb

  32. Posted by Chris Pixley on September 7, 2007 at 6:33 am

    Chris who?

  33. Posted by Matt Waymeyer on September 7, 2007 at 11:21 am

    Exactly.

  34. So would it be appropriate to say “Go Hokies” at this point? I think we’re gonna get ROLLED in Death Valley on Sat. night. But if God smiles upon the little school from SW Va. and we accomplish the nearly impossible, you WILL NOT EVER hear the end of it from me.

    That is all.

    Queue PL – “Don’t worry Rich, you won’t have to worry about that. NO ACC team ever beats the SEC, at home, at night.” Yeah, yeah yeah…

  35. Rich,

    Would you believe that I will be pulling for your Hokies this weekend. Just because I think the SEC is the strongest conference (qualifier: “overall”) does not mean I like all SEC teams. I’m one of those guys who would be perfectly content to see Alabama, Florida, and LSU lose every game where possible (by the way Auburn beat all three last year).

    Keep it real,
    PSL

  36. I noticed one comment referred to the handicapped…the handicapped need not fear. If they find the sign of the new testament (in regard to circumcision of Abraham’s circumcision).Abraham received ‘a seal of righteousness’. We do as well…in the Holy Spirit.

    Ro. 4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

    Several verses in the N.T. refer to believers receiving the ‘seal’ of righteousness’ in the Holy Spirit:

    II Cor. 1:22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts

    Eph. 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise

    Eph. 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption

    Our circumcision is done inwardly…

    Ro. 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

    Our circumcision is made without hands…

    Col. 2:11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

    We are complete ‘in Him’…

    Col.2:10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power

    Water baptism (or as you mentioned the communion) which is put for our sign and seal of the new testament doesn’t do it for me when I have the Holy Spirit which has done it (…according to the scriptures above).

    Therefore I am not concerned with the water baptism, or the form thereof; nor the ‘communion as being the sign or seal of the new testament; for I see it in the completion of the promise, which is the receiving of the Holy Spirit…

    Ro. 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

  37. Anyone can get baptized…anyone can take the communion… in a church…
    can anyone receive the Holy Spirit of promise ? …only true believers.

  38. Dave,

    I’m not sure I follow everything you said here. Could you clarify what you mean by, “Therefore I am not concerned with the water baptism, or the form thereof; nor the ‘communion as being the sign or seal of the new testament; for I see it in the completion of the promise, which is the receiving of the Holy Spirit…”

    I’m sure I could be mistaken but are you saying that baptism and communion do not matter at all or only in regards to certain realities?

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  39. Was the Apostle paul concerned with water baptism or communion as signs or seals of the new covenant?
    It appears that the gospel which effects the new covenant and the ‘seal’ thereof (which was the Holy Spirit) was his concern.

    Baptism and communion do not effect or affect salvation nor do they affect a relationship with God. Do you suppose they effect grace to the participants?

  40. In the receiving of the Holy Spirit, I see the sign or seal of the new covenant, for only true believers receive it.

    As you know, anyone can be baptized in water and anyone can take communion (believer or not).

  41. Posted by Matt Waymeyer on September 8, 2007 at 4:26 am

    Yes, and anyone can pray (believer or not), but we dare not regard prayer as insignificant or as something that the NT writers were unconcerned about. I guess I’m not really following you.

  42. What significance did the Apostle place upon water baptism or communion as being the sign or seal of the new covenant?

    Staying with the question here, I find that the significance place upon the receiving the promise of the Holy Spirit as the sign or seal of the new covenant.

  43. Perhaps you have a handicapped person or even a bedridden person, and they cannot participate in the water baptism ceremony or the communion ceremony, can they receive the sign or seal of the new covenant?

    They most certainly can.

  44. Posted by Matt Waymeyer on September 8, 2007 at 5:52 am

    Dave: The Bible does not refer to either baptism or the Lord’s Supper as the “seal” of the New Covenant. So if that’s what has you stressed out, you can relax and just know that we agree on that. Regarding whether baptism or the Lord’s Supper should be considered the “sign” of the New Covenant, well that’s the whole question that I’m wrestling with (see the original article).

    But in the end, if you want to put everyone at ease with what you’re saying, why don’t you just affirm in very clear terms that yes, the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper are very important to God and therefore should be very important to us. If you cannot affirm that without hesitation, however, then I guess we’re simply at an impasse.

  45. The question was:
    The circumcision of Abraham was referred to as a seal of the righteousness of the faith as seen in

    Ro. 4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

    The new covenant has a circumcision made without hands…as explained in

    Col. 2:11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

    The answer to the question: Is baptism the sign of the New Covenant? …is no.

  46. As you know (by reading Hebrews especially), the new covenant is something eternal that is not even represented by anything seen or by such a ceremony as water baptism or communion.

    II Cor. 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

    Symbols, signs, and such were of the tabernacle of the old covenant, which has passed away.

  47. Dave,

    I’m sure by now that its obvious to all that you have gone beyond the teaching of Scripture. Both Matt and myself asked a simple question which took you six disjointed comments to finally answer. Your answer:

    “the new covenant is something eternal that is not even represented by anything seen or by such a ceremony as water baptism or communion . . . Symbols, signs, and such were of the tabernacle of the old covenant, which has passed away.”

    Dave, it is unclear why you would insist on an unusual understanding of what the Lord instituted but it is clear that you oppose Christ and Scripture on things that are important. Unless you would like to post a retraction or a clarification that this is not what you believe then please do not post here anymore.

    Thanks
    Paul Lamey

  48. perhaps I have more to learn, thank you for helping.

  49. CLARIFICATION

    Baptism and communion are both indeed an acknowledgement of our unity with God and our Savior Jesus Christ, and our unity as the body of Christ. They are both acts which express honor and love to God, to Christ, and to one another.

    My previous postings are reflective of my study to see scripture from God’s point of view.

    As you know God desired to see a sign of Israel’s love and obedience to him expressed as righteousness, holiness, and mercy. However, he seen the opposite and was disgusted with their ceremonies.

    Amos 5:21 I despise your feast days
    Is. 1:11 What are your multiplied sacrifices to me

    God desires to see sincerity of heart and the complete expression of it.

    Col. 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

    I can certainly see from man’s point of view that both the baptism and communion are signs of the new covenant.

    I see the signs of new covenant from God’s point of view as the changed heart and a life lived in Christ; for God looks on the heart.

    I Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart

    Thanks for your work and help,
    Sincerely…Dave

  50. Posted by Matt Waymeyer on September 10, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    Dave: Thanks for the clarification.

    Caleb: Look on the bright side–If field goals counted for 15 points instead of 3, your Bears would have won. Of course, having a quarterback would help too.

  51. Posted by Chris Pixley on September 10, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    Since we’re talking football again, I’m wondering why PSL has fallen silent?

    I’m not even gonna say anything to Rich Ryan about the beat down my Tigers handed his Hokies on Saturday night. That would be downright unkind of me.

  52. Posted by Rich Ryan on September 10, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    Chris,

    You are a man who truly understands the mercy of the Cross. Thank you!

    I did call that we would get ROLLED and BOY did we. Sheesh! LSU vs. USC is going to be a whale of a MNC game. There will be enough speed on that field to potentially create a black hole.

    I was going to email Brad and Monica and give’em congrats. I was a little unbearable in 03 when we whacked the Tigers. I think they owe me. Send me their email if you have it.

    Rich

  53. We are obviously not paying our quarterback enough $$ at Auburn. It will be a long year for AU but beating BAMA and upsetting LSU or FLA will right a few wrongs…and every SEC fan knows that anything is possible.

    Are we now a sports blog? Let’s start a fantasy expositors league.

  54. Posted by Jason on February 4, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    Sorry, I am just getting around to reading this post…found it on Google. I agree very much with the idea that baptism is not referred to as the sign of the new covenant. You make a great point with the Lord Supper.

    I think the desire on the part of evangelicals is to give baptism some viable reason for existence in the modern Christian experience. Since baptism is no longer necessary for salvation and nothing tangible happens at baptism, than a heavy emphasis needs to be placed on it (in terms of a sign) to restore its previous dignity. Baptism in the NT was very much a part of the presentation of gospel. Now it simply symbolizes all of the realities of salvation and in many cases today, is not part of the gospel presentation at all.

    Could it be that something tangible and real happens at the occasion of baptism? I tend to think that baptism is an event only for those who have faith in Christ. I believe baptism is for the justified. However, doesn’t scripture at least give us a hint that with an appeal to God for a clear conscience, we also receive a very real “washing” away of sins? Doesn’t it also seem that the Holy Spirit is inextricably linked to the baptism experience in Scripture? Even in the odd situations of the Samaritans being baptized but not receiving the Spirit and Cornelius receiving the Spirit apart from baptism and the questions of the Ephesian brothers in Acts 17 – all of these situations are “strange” simply because the “normal” experience was water baptism and the receiving of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

    Just some thoughts. I think baptism is more than a sign (you are right, I can’t find a place where it is referred to as a sign) it is an occasion where very real spiritual realities come to play and take place.

    I am enjoying poking around your blog. Good thoughts.

    Peace

    j

  55. Posted by roger harrison on May 9, 2008 at 9:00 am

    1. Where is the breakdown in this argument?
    2. If baptism is not “the sign of the New Covenant,” how exactly should we think of it and refer to it? In other words, precisely what relationship does baptism have to the New Covenant?
    In answer to question #1: Some would say that Colossians 2:10-12 (NIV) 10and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. 11In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature,[a] not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. 13When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature,[b] God made you[c] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.
    Some say this is making a direct relation between old covenant circumcision and new covenant baptism. And romans states that circumcision is a sign and seal of the old covenant:
    Romans 4:11
    And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them.
    Further analogies can be made between the two concepts of circumcision and baptism:
    Circumcision was twofold in nature if you look at it right. There was a real (spiritual) circumcision of the heart and a ritual (physical) circumcision of the flesh. One a superior reality the other an inferior ritual. One without hands, by God, the other with hands by man. One represents spiritual israel one represents physical israel in that not all who are circumsized are israel, that is among the physically circumsized there will be a mix of tares and wheat. Baptism is the same way in that there is a spiritual baptism into Christ that is real accomplished by the Holy Spirit and a ritual baptism that is with water a rite that is thought by many to symbolize the purity of the real baptism that preceeded it others say it is a sign of entry into the church, (universal and local?). Cicumcision was applied to young and old and baptism is applied to young and old too. For those reasons and others I think is why people relate circumcision and baptism closely and that’s where they get the “sign”, “seal”, and “covenant” talk.

  56. Hi Matt, Thanks for an amazing blog. May I add a thought for consideration!

    Baptism in Jesus name was practiced by those who came into the new covenant through the new birth which was baptism instead of circumcision (John 3:5) First practiced by those who were the first to be born again of water and Spirit. (Acts 2:38)

    Is baptism the sign of the new covenant? Absolutely! Jesus baptism proves this too be so, for it was at his baptism he was first called “son” all who are sons have their sins remitted in his name. (Jews Acts 2. Gentiles Acts 10).

    Thanks for allowing me to respond.The Lord bless you
    Paul.

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