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Sermon #8304


A Sermon on the Sacrament of Baptism



Sermon Description

What is the purpose of baptism? Why did Jesus teach baptism after someone is saved? In this sermon on the sacrament of baptism (the second sermon in his series on the sacraments of the church), Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones walks through a topic sometimes debated even amongst believers. Baptism’s meaning, he says, is an outward illustration of the inward cleansing from the pollution of sin. Its purpose is not to cleanse from sin and regenerate because that would mean that people are saved through the work of baptism, something that Scripture clearly denies. So, what does it accomplish? Baptism serves as a sign and seal of one’s justification and remission of sins. And yet, he says, not everyone is eligible to be baptized. This teaching runs counter to the Catholic teaching on baptism. What about infant baptism? Should babies be baptized? Running through a list of arguments for and against infant baptism, Dr. Lloyd-Jones shows from Scripture that this practice is not biblical since the Bible encourages only believers to be baptized. He also touches on another oft-controversial topic: should baptism only be full-immersion, or is sprinkling acceptable? He provides the historical and scriptural background for immersion and sprinkling, and aids the listener in coming to a biblically-supported position on the issue.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The word ‘sacrament’ is not found in Scripture but is used for convenience to refer to baptism and communion, the only two ordinances instituted by Christ.
  2. A sacrament is first and foremost a sign, pointing to and representing something. Secondly, it is a seal, confirming blessings to us. Thirdly, it is a badge of church membership.
  3. The two sacraments are baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We now consider baptism in detail.
  4. There has been much dispute over baptism. We must approach it cautiously and in a Christian spirit, avoiding dogmatism. Even learned Christians disagree on it.
  5. Baptism is not essential for salvation but is obligatory since Christ commanded it. It is a means of grace to strengthen faith.
  6. The earliest record of infant baptism is from AD 175. Tertullian opposed it, suggesting it was not originally apostolic. Augustine was born to Christian parents but not baptized as an infant. Infant baptism became universal by the Reformation.
  7. The meaning of baptism is union, as shown by phrases like “baptized into Christ.” Firstly, it signifies union with Christ. Secondly, it signifies cleansing from sin.
  8. The purpose of baptism is to seal to believers their redemption, forgiveness, union with Christ, and receiving the Spirit. It does not add grace but strengthens faith. It is primarily God’s act, not our testimony.
  9. The arguments for infant baptism are: Christ blessed infants; Acts 2:39 refers to children; Acts 16 refers to household baptisms; 1 Cor. 1:16 refers to a household baptism. But: Christ’s blessing is not baptism; Acts 2:39 refers to future generations, not just children; ‘household’ may not include infants; 1 Cor. 7:14 refers to sanctification, not baptism.
  10. The argument from circumcision fails because entry into the kingdom is now spiritual, not physical. The covenant argument wrongly interprets Acts 2:39.
  11. We cannot know if anyone, infant or adult, is regenerate. Many baptized as infants later lapse, as do some baptized as adults.
  12. Baptism seals regeneration, so is only for those who can understand it. Immersionists wrongly make mode essential.
  13. Historically, immersion was common for 1000 years. Some groups still immerse. The Greek and Russian Orthodox churches immerse. The Westminster Confession prefers sprinkling but only narrowly.
  14. The meaning of ‘baptizo’ is disputed. Luke 11:38 refers to sprinkling. Romans 6 refers to union with Christ, not the baptismal mode. Coming ‘out of’ water need not mean immersion. The OT used sprinkling. Mass immersions seem unlikely.
  15. The most likely mode is standing in water and sprinkling. Immersion is allowable but not essential. Insisting on immersion is unscriptural and verges on heresy.
  16. Baptism should be for adult believers. The mode can be sprinkling, immersion or a combination, but the meaning is what matters. Baptism seals to us our salvation and union with Christ.

Great Biblical Doctrines

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.