Lecture 9 – Baptismal Services

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[Editor’s note:  Pastor Martin has served faithfully for many years in a baptist church, and his teaching in this lesson reflects that perspective.  For those desiring the presbyterian perspective, we direct them to the Westminster Directory for Public Worship and its section on baptism.  Reformed churches can consult the liturgical form used for this purpose as well as the books of church order in the various denominations.  The rest of this lesson we leave exactly as pastor Martin originally wrote it with the exception that we have added a list of titles to the bibliography below supporting the presbyterian and Reformed perspective.]

Baptismal services

a. The circumstances of baptism

As a survey of all the recorded instances of baptisms will reveal, there is no consistent pattern relative to the circumstances in which it is legitimate to baptize.

Once more, the statement in the London Baptist Confession of Faith Chapter 1, Paragraph 6 is most helpful.

b. The subjects of baptism 

In this area, there is nothing indefinite about the biblical witness.

Acts 8:12
Mt. 28:18-19
Jn. 4:1-2
Acts 8:12
Acts 18:8


c. The spiritual significance of baptism

Westminster Confession of Faith Ch. 28, paragraph 1

Gal 3:27
Acts 22:14
Rom 6:1-4
Col. 2:12-14
1 Pet. 3:21

Baptism is a physical and material ritual, signifying and sealing to the one baptized the major blessings of new covenant salvation possessed through union with Jesus Christ.

Fairbairn, Patrick. The Revelation of Law in Scripture, (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1869), pp. 264-266.

d. The mode of baptism

Total immersion most comprehensively captures and illustrates the spiritual significance of baptism than does any other mode

Rom 6:1-4
Col 2:12-13
Acts 22:16

John L. Dagg, Manual of Theology A Treatise on Church Order, pp. 21-37.

e. Guidelines for conducting baptisms

1) Prior to any baptismal service

a) You should clearly and simply explain to those who are to be baptized the fundamental significance of their baptism.

b) I suggest using the following two booklets:

i) Introduction to Baptism, by Jack Seaton
ii) Baptism and Church Membership, by Errol Hulse.
iii) Baptism the Picture and its Purpose, by Peter Masters

c) You should describe to those who are being baptized the specific circumstances of performing the ordinance

2) At the baptismal service

a) Seize the opportunity to explain the visible ordinance with the exposition of the Word of God.

b) Seize the opportunity to preach the gospel to the unconverted.

Lk. 11:23

c) Seize the opportunity to remind the people of God of their obligations and privileges in the light of their past baptism.

Rom. 6:1-11

d) Use the opportunity to combat clericalism.

Book List:

Against paedo-baptism:

For paedo-baptism:


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