Heidelberg Catechism: Holy Baptism
Lord's Day 26
Q. How does holy baptism remind and assure you that Christ's one sacrifice on the cross benefits you personally?
A. In this way: Christ instituted this outward washing1 and with it promised that, as surely as water washes away the dirt from the body, so certainly his blood and his Spirit wash away my soul's impurity, that is, all my sins.2
1 Acts 2:38
2 Matt. 3:11; Rom. 6:3-10; 1 Pet. 3:21
Q. What does it mean to be washed with Christ's blood and Spirit?
A. To be washed with Christ's blood means that God, by grace, has forgiven our sins because of Christ's blood poured out for us in his sacrifice on the cross.1
To be washed with Christ's Spirit means that the Holy Spirit has renewed and sanctified us to be members of Christ, so that more and more we become dead to sin and live holy and blameless lives.2
1 Zech. 13:1; Eph. 1:7-8; Heb. 12:24; 1 Pet. 1:2; Rev. 1:5
2 Ezek. 36:25-27; John 3:5-8; Rom. 6:4; 1 Cor. 6:11; Col. 2:11-12
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."1
"The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned."2
This promise is repeated when Scripture calls baptism "the water of rebirth"3 and the washing away of sins.4
1 Matt. 28:19
2 Mark 16:16
3 Titus 3:5
4 Acts 22:16
Lord's Day 27
1 Matt. 3:11; 1 Pet. 3:21; 1 John 1:7
Q. Why then does the Holy Spirit call baptism the washing of rebirth and the washing away of sins?
A. God has good reason for these words. To begin with, God wants to teach us that the blood and Spirit of Christ take away our sins just as water removes dirt from the body.1
But more important, God wants to assure us, by this divine pledge and sign, that we are as truly washed of our sins spiritually as our bodies are washed with water physically.2
1 1 Cor. 6:11; Rev. 1:5; 7:14
2 Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27
Q. Should infants also be baptized?
A. Yes, Infants as well as adults are included in God's covenant and people,1 and they, no less than adults, are promised deliverance from sin through Christ's blood and the Holy Spirit who produces faith.2
Therefore, by baptism, the sign of the covenant, they too should be incorporated into the Christian church and distinguished from the children of unbelievers.3 This was done in the Old Testament by circumcision,4 which was replaced in the New Testament by baptism.5
1 Gen. 17:7; Matt. 19:14
2 Isa. 44:1-3; Acts 2:38-39; 16:31
3 Acts 10:47; 1 Cor. 7:14
4 Gen. 17:9-14
5 Col. 2:11-13