Friday, 3 June 2011

Is Sprinkling THE mode of baptism?

We've been reading the book of Exodus as part of our evening devotions, helped along by the sagacious and insightful Philip Graham Ryken. Last night, here is what we read as part of his commentary on Exodus 24 verse 6 {And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar.} Ryken comments:
In the old covenant, blood was sprinkled on the people as well as on the altar. Is there any equivalent for this in the new covenant? We enter into a covenant relationship with God simply by trusting in Jesus Christ and in his blood. Salvation comes by grace through faith. But we do get sprinkled, because the outward symbol of belonging to God by covenant is Christian baptism. Baptism is the formal act by whcih we become part of the covenant community. And in baptism we are sprinkled. With blood? No, because Jesus has made the one and only sacrifice for our sins. No other blood can be shed, and no other blood can be sprinkled. But God has given us the sprinkling with water in baptism as a sign of his covenant. This was promised already in the Old Testament, when God promised to send a saviour who would "sprinkle many nations" (Isaiah 52:15). Scholars debate whether the sprinkling Isaiah had in mind involved water or blood. Possibly both. Jesus saved the nations through the blood he sprinkled on the cross, and the nations are joined to God in covenant through the sprinkling of water baptism.
So, is sprinkling the mode of baptism? Discuss.

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