Q100. To whom is Baptism to be administered?
A100. Baptism is to be administered to all those who actually profess repentance towards God, faith in and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ, and to none other.
Acts 2:38. “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”
Matthew 3:6. “…and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.”
Mark 16:16. “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”
Acts 8:12, 36. “12 But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike… 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch *said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?”
Acts 10:47-48. “47 Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” 48 And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.”
The key to understanding this week’s catechism answer is found in last week’s catechism answer. Last week, our catechism established baptism as a sign of fellowship or union with Christ. This week our catechism explains the outworking of that truth in regard to the proper recipients of baptism.
The proper recipients of baptism are “all those who actually profess repentance towards God, faith in and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ, and to none other.” In the New Testament, some of the passages that provide the clearest evidence for this pattern are found in the Book of Acts. Three passages, in particular, provide this clear evidence.
First, in Acts 2 the Apostle Peter is preaching at Pentecost. In verse 38 he proclaims, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Three verses later in verse 41 Luke writes, “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.”
Second, in Acts 10 Peter is preaching to Gentiles in the house of Cornelius. In verse 44 “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message.” A few verses later in verse 48 Luke writes “And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.”
Third, in Acts 16, Paul and Silas are in prison. In verse 31 they preach to the Philippians jailer saying, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” In verse 32 they preach “the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house.” In verses 33-34 the Philippian jailer took Paul and Silas out of the prison. “He washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. 34 And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.
All three passages have a common theme. The Word is preached, the Word is received, and all who receive the Word receive baptism.
Elsewhere in Galatians 3:27, the Apostle Paul writes, “…all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” In Paul’s mind, being baptized into the body of Christ means that you have already received Christ by faith as your righteousness before God.
As Christians who are jealous for the glory of God, for the purity of true worship, and for Biblical practice in the Church, we must seek to worship God only in the ways that he has actually commanded and required. Therefore, by administering baptism as it is evidenced in the above passages, we demonstrate this crucial principle and, by so doing, honor the Lord.
May the Holy Spirit continue to grant repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to Adam’s fallen race.