Herman Bavinck on Covenant Communion and Baptism

This is an excerpt from chapter one of “The Sacrifice of Praise,” written by Herman Bavinck. For an introduction to Bavinck, a biography can be found here.

The mystical union with Christ precedes all blessings . . . The offer and gift of Christ precedes all His benefits. It is God Who, in Christ, gives Himself to us and, in communion with Him, successively imparts to us all the blessings of the covenant and complete salvation.

Baptism is the sign and seal of this unspeakable gift of God’s grace . . . Baptism is a baptism in the name of God Triune.

When we are baptised in the name of the Father, God the Father witnesses and seals unto us that He makes an eternal covenant of grace with us and adopts us for His children and heirs, and therefore will provide us with every good thing and avert all evil or turn it to our profit.

And when we are baptised into the name of the Son, the Son seals unto us that He washes us in His blood from all our sins, incorporating us into the fellowship of His death and resurrection, so that we are freed from our sins and accounted righteous before God.

Likewise, when we are baptised into the name of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit assures us by this holy sacrament that He will dwell in us, and sanctify us to be members of Christ, imparting to us that which we have in Christ, namely, the washing away of our sins and the daily renewing of our lives, till we shall finally be presented without spot among the assembly of the elect in life eternal.

Baptism is our witness that God will be our God forever, being a merciful Father, for He has commanded to baptise all those who are His in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. In baptism the Lord gives us visible evidence that in Christ He gives Himself and adopts us to His children. That adoption is the basis of our confession.

How rare it is to hear baptism spoken of in this way! Baptism is usually spoken of as one’s public declaration of faith in Christ. And while it surely is, it is more deeply a seal of God’s covenant faithfulness to his people. Baptism symbolizes our identification with Christ’s death and resurrection, and it also symbolizes our having been cleansed of sin by the work of God in salvation.

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