Various Baptisms Exemplifying One Baptism

According to Hebrews 9:10 (Gk), the Old Testament dispensation and its worship in connection with the first tabernacle stood in exterordinances and “various baptisms.” These baptisms were plain types of the New Testament’s “one baptism.” The Old Testament, we saw previously, reveals that these baptisms werewashings, as the King James Version correctly translates in Hebrews 9:10. We also examined ten pentateuchal instances of these baptisms which show them to be cases of “this the dipping in and sprinkling with water….” Here, too, we showed that the administration of baptism is neither either-or, i.e., either by dipping in, or sprinkling with water, nor a matter of both-and, i.e., both by dipping and sprinkling. There are neither two allowable modes of baptism, nor did the dipping happen to the baptized. So that the act of dipping was not the act of baptism; the act of sprinkling was. We saw, too, that there were old covenant baptisms that could be and were performed by anointing with blood, and by the pouring of oil on the head. Often it was that baptism was effected when men did wash, bathe, purify and cleanse

No one seriously questions the fact that circumcision was a sign of God’s covenant. Circumcision also clearly revealed who belonged to God’s covenant, namely, true Israelites (Rom. 2:28, 29) and their infant seed. But also these various washings and baptisms were signs of God’s covenant—certainly of nothing else or less—and revealed that the children no less than the parents belonged to God’s covenant. That is, they also belonged to His everlasting love. This is plain from Deut. 29:9-17, where the covenant is said to embrace “all of you . . . your captains, elders, officers, all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, for a people unto himself.” Covenant people are clearly identified as “the seed of Abraham,” “all Judah with their little ones, their wives and their children. (II Chron. 20:7, 13

We know from the New Testament that passing through the Red Sea, the Israelites were baptized. They were also baptized in the wilderness, and that asfamilies. A family baptism took place in a dry land, when “the heavens also dropped at the presence of God . . . Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful rain, whereby Thou didst confirm Thy inheritance . . . Thy congregation hath dwelt therein.” (Ps. 68:6-10) The families of Israel, by a plentiful rain, were baptized and dwelt (lived) in that baptism, just as we do now in ours. Referring to the baptism that took place passing through the Red Sea, the psalmist praises God that He had so. “redeemed Thy people.” Then he says, “The waters saw Thee, O God . . . they were afraid . . . the clouds poured out water, the skies sent out a sound, Thine arrows (missiles: raindrops) also went abroad . . . Thou leddest Thy people as a flock.” (Ps. 77:14-20) This throws light on I Cor. 10:1, 2, with implications perspicuous and powerful. 

Yet these various baptisms all pointed to but one baptism, still to come. “This external washing with water” pointed to the fact, now-realized, of our having been “washed by Christ’s blood and Spirit.” Baptism is a reality and has a sign of the reality. The sign of the real baptism is with the ablution of water. So that, the real baptism, merely signified with water, is actually and only with the blood and Spirit of Christ. (Heid. Catec., Of Holy Baptism, Lord’s Day, 26, Ques. 69-74). This one baptism, still to come, was continually put before the minds of God’s people, especially by the prophets. A prophecy, of it is had, first, in Proverbs 1:23, “Turn you at My reproof: behold, I will pour out My Spirit unto you.” Second, Isaiah prophesied that Israel would be troubled in heart “until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high.” (Is. 32:15) Third, through Isaiah the Lord promised, “For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thine offspring.” (Is. 44:3) Fourth, “Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness; let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together.” (Is. 45:8) Fifth, it is also prophesied how Christ himself should be the baptizer, and how He should effect His baptism: “So shall He sprinkle many nations.” (Is. 52:15) This was fulfilled in the execution of His great commission, “Go ye, (lit., having gone), disciple the nations, baptizing them . . . and teaching them. . . .” Sixth, God through Ezekiel promised, “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you . . . and I will put My Spirit within you” (Is. 36:25, 27). Seventh, in vision the Lord saw the promised baptism as already fulfilled: “for I have poured out My Spirit upon the house of Israel.” (Is. 39:29) Eighth, Israel was taught that this promised baptism of the Spirit included not only “the people, congregation, elders, priests and ministers, but the children, those that suck the breasts,” so that they all, including the infant seed of the congregation, were “Thine heritage.” To them the promise was, “I willpour out My Spirit upon all flesh,” including sons and daughters. “In those days will I pour out My Spirit.” (Joel 2:16, 17, 28, 29) Ninth, “I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace. . . .” (Zech. 12:10). You see, then, how severely biblical the Heidelberg Catechism is on baptism. It is quite in keeping with the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms. 

The theme we have really been treating is, Baptism With the Blood and Spirit of Christ (cp. Heid. Cat., Q. 70). Under that heading the divisions are, I. The Old Testament on Various Baptisms, and II. The New Testament on One Baptism. This brings us to the point where we now give consideration to baptism in the light of the New Testament. Besides the beautiful expression given to the doctrine of baptism as in the Heidelberg Catechism, as noted above, it is also beautifully put in the Belgic Confession of Faith. “Our gracious God and’ Father . . . has commanded all those who are His to be baptized with pure water . . . signifying to us that as water washes away the filth of the body when poured upon it, and is seen on the body of the baptized when sprinkled upon him, so does the blood of Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, internally sprinkle the soul, cleanse it from its sins, and regenerate us from children of wrath unto children of God. Not that this is effected by the external water, but by the sprinkling of the precious blood of the Son of God, who is our Red Sea, through, which we must pass to escape the tyranny of Pharaoh, that is, the devil Therefore, our Lord gives . . . the . . . washing, cleansing, and purging our souls of all filth . . . Neither does this baptism only avail us at the time when the water is poured upon us and received by us, but also through the whole course of our life.” (Art. XXXIV) 

When you then look at baptism as taught in the New Testament, you may expect that the New Testament doctrine of it will be in perfect harmony with what we have already seen of its Old Testament setting and exemplifications. It simply could not be otherwise. According to the New Testament, there were two great historical victories which were typical baptisms, prefigurations of the baptism with the blood (Mark 10:38) and Spirit of Christ. These events were the Flood (I Pet. 3:21) and the passage through the Red Sea. (I Cor. 10:1, 2) With the Flood there was a baptism of the church in seed form, the baptism of a family, and that on the faith-basis of Genesis 7:1, which see. In this instance, it is plain as can be that although the “world of the ungodly” (II Pet. 2:5) was immersed, it was not baptized, and that although Noah and his family were baptized, they were not immersed. Paul, writing of the other baptism victory, states “that all our fathers were under the cloud,” not underneath it; for the cloud was behind them, making separation between them and the Egyptians. They were under the cloud, under the dominance of its Presence, under the guidance of the Faces, Persons dwelling in the cloud. “And all passedthrough the sea,” certainly not under the sea; not evenin the sea, as we shall see. For they went through the sea dry shod and as on dry land. They “were all baptized unto Moses,” that is, in reference to Moses, who as a type of Christ led them through the sea in redeeming power. They were, as the Ring James Version (the best Bible version in all the world) has it, baptized “in the cloud and in the sea.” The preposition is the Greek en, used with the dative. It is properly translated in when it happens to be a dative of place, as “in the Jordan.” But when it happens to be a dative of means, as here, it is properly translated with. Then it properly reads, they were baptized “with the cloud andwith the sea.” So it is in the Greek Testament. The Dutch Bible has exactly the same as the Greek Testament. The German Bible correctly translates the Greek, “mit der wolche und mit dem meer,” that is, “with the cloud and with the sea.” It is not the place, but the means of baptism which is emphasized. According to the text, they were not in the cloud nor in the sea. They were under the cloud and through the sea. So that their baptism in this case was with the cloud and with the sea; one baptism with two aspects. Here occurred the baptism of a nation, one of the many nations referred to in Isaiah 52:15. The Egyptians were immersed, but not baptized, whereas the Israelites were baptized, but not immersed. According to Scripture, there is a great deal of difference between immersion and baptism. 

(To be continued, D.V.)