Do you remember your baptism?
It’s unlikely that you do if you were baptized as an infant. If, like me, you were baptized as an older child or teenager, you may remember a few details. And even if your baptism was only a few years ago, you probably don’t think about it every day.
Maybe we should.
The Westminster question puts it this way: “How is our Baptism to be improved by us?” The question seems odd: Can we really make our baptism better than it was? Of course not, so what did the writers of the question mean? Looking at the answer helps us understand.
The needful but much neglected duty of improving our Baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others; by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein; by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to, the grace of baptism, and our engagements; by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament; by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace; and by endeavoring to live by faith, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness, as those that have therein given up their names to Christ; and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body.
There’s a lot packed in that very long sentence, so here’s the point it is making, and it is found in that phrase “serious and thankful consideration (of our baptism).” We are to remember not so much the event of our baptism as we are to consider its meaning and power. And we should do it “all our life long.”
We are to remember, as we say on Ash Wednesday, “who we are and whose we are:” that we are redeemed sinners who belong to Jesus. Or as some have put it, we need to “preach the Gospel to ourselves every day.”
John Calvin put it this way:
“We must realize that at whatever time we are baptized, we are once and for all washed and purged for our whole life. Therefore, as often as we fall away, we ought to recall the memory of our baptism and fortify our mind with it, that we may always be sure and confident of the forgiveness of sins.”
We especially need to remember this when tempted, the Westminster writers say. In our spiritual battle against the world, the flesh and the devil, we can do battle by remembering who we are in Christ. Because it’s in those moments we most need to see again the great sacrifice Jesus made to redeem us.
We can remember our baptism at other times, too. Consider the main physical element that is present in baptism: water. What if, upon seeing or feeling water, we called to mind the very Gospel that baptism symbolizes.
Washing the dishes? Remember the way Jesus has washed your sins away.
Taking a shower? Remember that Jesus blood flowed so that you could be made right with God.
Running through a rainstorm? Remember that God showers you with spiritual blessing.
Walking along the beach? Remember that the waves of God’s grace never end for those who are His.
One of the things God tells His people over and over is to remember His promises. He knows we are prone to forget. But here’s a way to keep them front and center. Remember your baptism!