Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Buried with Christ

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on February 19, 2010 at 2:47 am

by R.C. Sproul

What does Paul mean when he talks about filling up that which is lacking in the afflictions of Christ if there is no deficiency of merit in Christ’s suffering? Christ, Who performs the perfect sacrifice once and for all, nevertheless calls His church to bear witness to His suffering until He returns, and there is still a measure of suffering that must take place in the history of redemption. This suffering will not add anything to Christ’s merit. Our suffering doesn’t atone for anybody’s sin, certainly not for our own, but God’s redemptive historical plan has to be finished, and that plan includes the afflictions of the people of God. Paul, being acutely conscious of that, spoke of his filling up the agenda of suffering, and you and I must do the same.

There is an authentic identification of God’s people with Christ’s humiliation and His exaltation, and that identification with Christ is signified by baptism. An individual’s baptism says to the world, “I belong to Christ and He belongs to me.” For this reason, the New Testament speaks of our being buried with Christ in baptism. Our baptism signifies our identity with Him in His humiliation and in His exaltation–in His suffering and in His resurrection.

Our Baptist friends are frequently critical of churches that practice infant baptism or those that baptize by sprinkling or dipping. They believe that the outward sign loses something when the church moves away from immersion because the immersion process more graphically communicates the sign of burial, going under the water, and resurrection, coming up out of the water. From an experiential viewpoint, I think they’re right. It is more dramatic to go under and come up. Virtually all the churches that practice dipping and sprinkling took the position historically that the preferential mode of baptism was immersion. Even Calvin said that it was better to immerse than to sprinkle. I would say that as well today, though immersion is not required for baptism to be authentic.

*****

From A Taste for Heaven: Worship in the Light of Eternity by R.C. Sproul.

  1. But how can Sproul agree with the immersion and yet be willing to apply it to all infants of believers? Surely he must know that to belong to Christ, we must be born of the Spirit and that there must be evidence of this regeneration. So why dunk all and sundry, including infants?

    All Scriptural passages in relation to baptism are sotereological in nature. This is why I’ve never been convinced that it should ever be applied to anyone except to one that shows evidence of being born of the Spirit. And not all infants of believers should be assumed to be so!

  2. Mr. Jade,
    What do you mean by saying not ALL infants? Are you saying that some are “safe” because their parents are believers? I just want to clear that up, brother 🙂

    In Christ
    Daniel

  3. Hi Daniel,
    sorry, no I didn’t mean that at all … it should have stated “All infants should NOT be assumed …” sorry, put the “not” in the wrong place!

    I simply meant to say that just because a child is an infant of a believer that one should NOT assume a sense of entitlement to the child (they seem to mis-read Acts 2:39) and hence baptize a child (apart from evidence of this regeneration). It is true that they are fortunate to be raise under the preaching of the Word, but the Lord is the only one who decides who will be born of spirit. One should only be baptized because of evidence of the Lord’s choosing. The issue of immersion does reflect the close relation one would have with Christ … such persons, who ever they may be biologically related to is irrelevant, but must be born again to have such a close relation with Christ. As John tells us, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

    I hope I’ve clarified it rather than obscured it….

    Jade
    (ps that would have to be Miss Jade … :D)

  4. Thank you Miss Jade for clarifying that. You are absolutely right. It is amazing that paedobaptists (I think I spelled that right) come to the conclusion they do about children being under the covenant because their parents are believers. I think in a way they are saying that some can be saved by a different means than what the Lord has already laid out in His Word. It is of GRACE and not of what we do or what our parents have done or who they are. The Lord bless you.

    I am wondering what verse in John that is. That is excellent in addressing the issue. Thank you.

    In Christ
    Daniel

  5. Hi Daniel,
    that verse is found in John 1:12-13. And yes, I agree with you that it would seem they are speaking of a different covenant established for their infants. But which covenant would that be?! Certainly not one the Bible speaks of….

    Here’s an interesting find: Dr. Gary Crampton, a well known paedobaptist, recently turned credobaptist. Here’s an interesting interview conducted by Dr. Rich Barcellos:

    1. http://www.mctsowensboro.org/mcts-blog/part-i-interview-with-dr-crampton-from-paedobaptism-to-credobaptism/

    2. http://www.mctsowensboro.org/mcts-blog/part-ii-interview-with-dr-crampton-from-paedobaptism-to-credobaptism/

    3. http://www.mctsowensboro.org/mcts-blog/part-iii-interview-with-dr-crampton-from-paedobaptism-to-credobaptism/

    Maybe one of these days, Dr. Barcellos will be conducting a similar interview with Dr. Sproul. 😀

  6. Hi Daniel,
    that verse is found in John 1:12-13. And I agree with you in that paedobaptist speak as if there’s a covenant specific (and separate) for their infants. But which covenant would that be?! Certainly a covenant not found in the Bible.

    Here’s an interesting find: Dr. Gary Crompton, a well known paedobaptist, turned credobaptist. Here’s an interesting interview conducted by Dr. Rich Barcellos with Dr. Gary Crompton:

    1. http://www.mctsowensboro.org/mcts-blog/part-i-interview-with-dr-crampton-from-paedobaptism-to-credobaptism/

    2. http://www.mctsowensboro.org/mcts-blog/part-ii-interview-with-dr-crampton-from-paedobaptism-to-credobaptism/

    3. http://www.mctsowensboro.org/mcts-blog/part-iii-interview-with-dr-crampton-from-paedobaptism-to-credobaptism/

    Maybe one of these days maybe Dr. Barcellos would be conducting a similar interview with Dr. Sproul. 😀

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