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Baptism into His Justice

By R. J. Rushdoony
January 01, 2003
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.
And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
(Ezekiel 36:25-28)

This text is about baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Spirit was a sign of the Messianic age (Is. 42:1; 44:3; 59:21; Joel 2:28f.), and so too was the baptism of both Jews and Gentiles. Baptism means in part purification; hence the use of water. We are all born into Adam's world and the heritage of sin and death; the world of Adam is a continuing re-run of man's fall. It is not surprising that a cyclical view of history is so common in paganism. An endless cycle of sin and death marks history outside of Jesus Christ.

The meaning of baptism is that this cycle is broken by the power of God in Jesus Christ. Sin and death are replaced with righteousness, or justice, and life. History moves forward to establish the kingdom of God among men and over men. Baptism is thus a sign of victory. It sets forth our faith that the repetitive pattern of sin and death has been broken by Jesus Christ. It summons us to become a part of a new creation, members of God's kingdom, and heirs in Christ. To be baptized, and to baptize our children, is thus a sign of faith and life.

God promises a new heart, i.e., a new human nature. This means new life in the new human race of Jesus Christ.

The new heart and the new spirit have "added" to them God's Spirit. The result is that the Holy Spirit causes us to walk in God's statutes and to keep His judgments (v. 27). God's law, His justice, begins to govern the affairs of man and his world. This leads to a marvelous goal, whether in the Old Testament era or now, we dwell in the good earth God gives us in peace and safety (v. 28).

Thus, we are baptized, or purified; we are made God's covenant people; we are given a new heart and spirit; we are empowered by God to further His kingdom, and this is all God's work and not ours.

Baptism is thus a kingdom sacrament and therefore must be seen by the administering church in relation to God and His kingdom rather than to the institution.

It means a cleansing from our sin and our idolatries so that we are prepared for His service.

Our children are given in baptism to be God's children, to be used by Him in His kingdom and to His glory. We are baptized into serving Him according to His commandments. We are thus baptized into His justice as our way of life.


Topics: Biblical Law, Reformed Thought

R. J. Rushdoony

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965.  His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.”  He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

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