Baptism = Sign *and* Seal of the New Covenant

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queenknitter

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm new to this stuff, and I'm still learning. But this forum seemed more appropriate than the wading pool.

Is baptism the sign *and* seal of the New Covenant? My husband is discussing this with another former-Baptist-turned-Presbyterian who is arguing that the Holy Spirit is the seal.

:duh:

Help me out here. I've searched and have found some valuable posts, but I need something more direct. Thots?

Thanks

C
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Thomas M'Crie's "Lectures on Christian Baptism" provides a good explanation:

Be pleased, then, to mark the sense in which we understand the word seal as applied to baptism. The term is used in three senses in Scripture. The first is in the sense of security, as when a person seals a letter. "The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his." (2 Tim. ii. 19.) The second is in the sense of distinction, as when a merchant puts his seal on his goods to appropriate and distinguish them. "In whom after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise." (Eph. i. 13.) The third is in the sense of confirmation, as when a seal is affixed to a charter or bargain. "And because of all this we make a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it." (Neh. ix. 38.)

Now, in applying the term seal to the ordinance of baptism, it is not either in the first or second senses here noticed that we are to understand it. It is not used in the sense of securing the person, or of distinguishing him from others. Baptism is not an assurance of salvation to any, or a pledge of sonship. In this sense it is the Spirit alone that is the seal of God's people. It is in the third sense only, namely, in that of the confirmation of a deed, that we use the term in relation to baptism. It is the seal which God has been pleased to append to the charter of his covenant. It is not like the signet which Pharaoh put on the hand of Joseph as a badge of distinction, or like the ring put on the hand of the penitent prodigal in token of acceptance; it is rather like the signet by which King Ahasuerus sealed the letters which saved the Jews from destruction.

Thus, while baptism viewed as a symbol has a relation to the grace of the covenant, viewed as a seal it stands related to the covenant itself. We must carefully distinguish between the grace of the covenant, and the covenant of grace. Baptism is the sign, but it is not, properly or directly, the seal of regeneration; it symbolizes the blessing, but it seals the covenant. By keeping this distinction in view, you will save yourselves from a world of confusion. By not attending to it our views have been sadly misrepresented. The distinction is very obvious. As a symbol, the ordinance addresses itself to the senses; as a seal, it appeals to faith. As a symbol, it is a badge of distinction from the world; as a seal, it stands related, not to the person, but to the covenant. A seal implies something spoken or written; and the design of baptism as a seal, is to confirm the faith of the Church in God's written Word, in his everlasting covenant with her. It is the visible pledge added to the verbal promise. And where is the inconsistency of supposing that God may ratify his word by an outward symbol? Has he not "confirmed his promise by an oath, that by two immutable things, wherein it was impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation?" And why not also confirm it by a seal? All bonds and covenants are thus confirmed, and God never made a covenant yet without a seal. The tree of life was the seal of Adam's covenant, the rainbow was the seal of Noah's, circumcision was the seal of Abraham's, and baptism is the seal of Christ's.

In accordance, therefore, with the very design of a sacrament, as well as with the uniform doctrine of the primitive church and of our reformers, we maintain that baptism is not merely a symbol of spiritual grace, but is the seal of God's holy covenant. And remember it is God's seal. It is not the baptizer's, nor the baptized's, but God's only. Its validity is independent of man's act. God delivers the promise signed and sealed, presenting it to all, and saying, "Here is my salvation: behold the seal of the King!" And there it stands, sealed and sure, whether we accept or reject it. "If we believe not, he abideth faithful; he cannot deny himself."
 

Roldan

Puritan Board Junior
I'm new to this stuff, and I'm still learning. But this forum seemed more appropriate than the wading pool.

Is baptism the sign *and* seal of the New Covenant? My husband is discussing this with another former-Baptist-turned-Presbyterian who is arguing that the Holy Spirit is the seal.

:duh:

Help me out here. I've searched and have found some valuable posts, but I need something more direct. Thots?

Thanks

C

Yes the Holy Spirit is the inward seal of the outward symbol/seal baptism hence baptism also being the outward sign of an inward reality.
 

CharlieJ

Puritan Board Junior
John Murray's Christian Baptism is a fine (and short!) book from a paedobaptist viewpoint. He says that baptism is both the sign and seal of the covenant of grace.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism:
Q. 94. What is baptism?
A. Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.
 

queenknitter

Puritan Board Freshman
Okay. Thanks, gentlemen. Why would someone argue otherwise? I mean, this seems pretty straightforward.

Here. I found a post where this is argued:

http:// truthwhys. blogspot.com/2008/05/covenant-signs-51508-addendum.html

(take out the spaces. This is the policy on a few other boards I'm on. I don't know if this is the custom here.)

So . . . what's up with that?

C
 
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