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And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.

-Romans 4:11

    and graciously established by God. It emphasizes that which God accomplished for, and confessed to, His church; not that which a person has experienced and confessed.

While the previous five views overrate baptism, it is also possible to undervalue the significance Scripture gives to this sacrament.

Examples of undervaluing baptism are as follows:

1. Viewing baptism only as a sign -This view believes that baptism is only a sign; that it does not seal the truth of God's covenant promise. However, baptism, as circumcision, is both a sign and seal of the truth of God's gospel offer, its covenant promise (Romans 4: 11). Baptism is not half a sacrament.

2. Valuing baptism only out of custom -This view values baptism as little more than an outward ritual. It reasons that because the saving application of baptism's sign is dependent upon the Holy Spirit's baptism of the heart, therefore only the internal, spiritual cleansing matters. The outward, water baptism matters little. This practice denies all the valuable blessings of external covenant and church membership, as well as the wonderful encouragement and pleading ground provided by God's promise for His church.

After examining several overratings and undervaluings of baptism, the question remains: What is the true value of baptism according to God's Word? To provide a scripturally-balanced answer to this question, we must do so in a twofold manner, as Paul did to the Romans, by addressing its meaning inwardly and outwardly, as shown in the illustration below.


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