Thoughts For Keach’s Warrior Children: Confessionalism


[By: Mark Nenadov]


The title of this post comes from the title of John Frame’s essay regarding the squabbles in American Presbyterian history, Machen’s Warrior Children. This title is a spin-off of that article. That’s about where the similarity ends. The “Keach” part, of course, refers to the English Particular Baptist, Benjamin Keach (pictured here in what might be said to be the artistic tradition of “partial realism”). Keach was a signer of the Second London Baptist Confession. I will hereafter refer to the confession as “the 1689 Confession”, which is its common name, even though it was actually first published in 1677.

I’ve had this post bouncing around in my head for quite some time now. It wasn’t until more recently, though, that its come down to the tips of my fingers. This post is best understood as a bit of reflection on my readings of recent Reformed Baptist interactions on the Internet. I hope and trust you will find these observations charitably written, if not always agreeable to everyone. I write this both so others can hopefully benefit from it, but also so I can further clarify my thoughts and continue to apply these things to myself.

A Goodly Heritage

As Reformed Baptists, we have a wonderful heritage in the 1689 Confession. We also have some wonderful catechisms (such as Keach’s Catechism and An Orthodox Catechism). It would behoove us, however, to examine how we are using these excellent documents and also whether we are using them in a way that is consistent with the main objectives for which they were written. I will not purport to put forward such an examination in this post. Rather, I will just offer a few “thoughts for the journey”, so to speak.

Functional Thoughts

In my mind, a healthy confessionalism balances two functions: a restrictive function and a permissive function. On one hand, it narrows, restricts, and provides shelter from the other side of the line. On the other, it is generous, permissive, expansive, and fosters diversity, and provides leeway for genuine differences. When either one of these aspects take an unhealthy prominence to the exclusion of the other, problems arise and confessionalism becomes ugly.

Reformed Confessionalism, in general, can be a wonderful thing. And we have much reason to rejoice in somewhat of a revival in Baptist confessionalism over the last several decades.

However, when confessionalism turns elitist or provincial in nature, it becomes ugly, no matter how historic or doctrinally solid it is. Much attention is paid to the “what” of confessionalism, but we ought to pay attention to the “how” also.

Respect The Intent Of The Framers

Besides respecting and noting the intent of the framers in the doctrinal formulations contained in a confession, we should also respect and notice their overarching purposes, as those will be very helpful in looking at “how” we should be confessional.

Anyone who wants to use the 1689 Confession to produce an exclusive, critical, elitist, and narrow community seems to run counter to the framer’s stated intention that it be “for the information and satisfaction of those that did not thoroughly understand what our principles were”.

The document also was ecumenical, in the good sense of the word. It had the goal of standing “with many others whose orthodox Confessions have been published to the world”. Clearly, the signers themselves (especially Mr. Keach) were comfortable with diversity in at least some areas and unafraid to think outside of the box and even disagree with their brethren at times. And that’s without even knowing all the historical details of who was in the minority report in various areas of the confession.

Anyone who wants to hit someone over the head with the 1689 Confession should read the preface: “we hope we have also observed those rules of modesty and humility as will render our freedom in this respect inoffensive, even to those whose sentiments are different from ours”.

Our Posture To Others

In the spirit of our confession’s preface, we should give due honor to other good, orthodox confessions of faith such as the Westminister Confession, the Belgic Confession, the Abstract of Principles, the New Hampshire Confession, and others. It is, of course, appropriate to prefer the confession we subscribe to, but we need to guard against a provincial, dismissive attitude and the impulse to enlarge the “faults” of other confessions to just win some sort of playground game. That is ugly confessionalism. We should also, incidentally, be careful to not carelessly assume that being older and more detailed necessarily makes a confession better!

If we love and treasure our historic Reformed confessions, then it behooves us to adorn those confessions well, in gentlemanly and gracious conduct and kindness to those we interact with. 17th century theology doesn’t show well when elucidated by curmudgeons. Not that a curmudgeonly slant is always necessarily wrong, but we must seek balance! I think, in general, the Reformed community has enough warriors and bull dogs. We need more statesmen and ambassadors. But are we producing more statesmen and ambassadors? This is an important question to consider.

Could it be that some are so focused on negatively defining their theology, that they are losing a positive presentation of it? One can be so wrapped up in being not-dispensationalist, not-new-calvinist, not-charismatic, not-fundamentalist, not-new-covenant-theology, not-plain-vanilla-evangelical, not-baxterian, not-paedobaptistic, not-presbyterian, not-arminian, not-federal-visionist, etc., that they forget who they really are and end up presenting a very truncated and negative identity. Not to say that these areas of controversy are unimportant. It’s just that defining a community’s theology too exclusively on these lines may result on a stunted community that isn’t very robust.

Is easy (and true) to say that we must engage in polemic at times. It is far harder to have the discernment to have the necessary balance–to know how and when to do it. We must lose our proclivity to squabble at a drop of a hat. Sadly, sometimes contending becomes a pastime (and all-encompassing project in and of itself). Alas, to a man with a hammer, everything is a nail! For instance, many have been eager to engage with the topic of “New Calvinism”. Sadly, though, some have proceeded with an unfortunate style of polemic that lacks charity and lacks accuracy. I personally, along with Iain Murray from the Banner of Truth, have questions about the accuracy and usefulness of a strict Old/New dichotomy when it comes to modern Calvinism. But, in any case, if any “Old Calvinism” is not characterized by humility or brotherly love, it is worse than worthless.

Here is a burning question: Are we teaching the up and coming generation to thoughtfully engage the scriptures on these issues in a way that shows historic continuity and confessional integrity, or are we just trying to enlist new warriors to be “on our side” and subscribe fully without question to a confession? Ironically, ugly confessionalism turns into a subtle form of anti-confessionalism, turning people away from confessionalism in droves.

Guard Against Overplaying Confessionalism

It’s been often repeated that here is a “cage stage” with the Doctrines of Grace, when people who newly discover them need to be careful about being a little too zealous. What if the same thing applies to confessionalism? What if it is easy to overplay the benefits of confessionalism, especially before we’ve ridden along for the long-haul, and haven’t yet seen how messy and difficult some confessional issues can really be?

Perhaps some eager advocates of confessionalism, in overplaying their hand a bit, are over-promising in their rhetoric regarding confessionalism, and that makes confessionalism ugly. From watching people talking about confessionalism over the last several years, I’ve become convinced that sometimes confessionalism has even become a fad (old things can be fads too!) or “the cool thing to be” in the Reformed community. And then, of course there is sometimes a smug “and they aren’t confessional”. Almost but not quite accompanied by a proverbial thumb to the nose with a “na na na na na”.

Furthermore, I believe we must watch out that we don’t turn confessionalism into some sort of “blue pill” or panacea. As good and necessary as confessions may be, they are not panaceas! If we are going to adhere to Sola Scriptura, the church’s struggles are never going to be quite as simple as “just grab a confession and run”.

It is one thing to say that confessions are scripturally (or pragmatically) necessary, it is another to treat them like panaceas. They are not going to magically confer doctrinal stability, soundness, and accountability. They do not remove or necessarily solve some of the thorniest questions that are facing the church. Their effectiveness will also depend on our church polity. They come with a whole host of practical issues that must be resolved.

And then there are a host of other issues such as what level of subscription will be require, what role the confession plays in everyday church life, and many other issues. Are some of us, perhaps, in our zeal for the historic Reformed confessions, giving the wrong impression about what confessionalism actually accomplishes? Are the value of historic Reformed confessions, as valuable as they are, sometimes oversold? I would suggest that we lose credibility when we overplay what confessionalism actually confers.


So, in conclusion, we Reformed Christians have great confessions and catechisms. And yet, before smugly looking at all those non-confessional Christians, we ought to ask ourselves if we are actually living up to our creeds! Confessionalism must be something richer than merely being the “cool thing to do if you are Reformed”. We ought to conduct ourselves in ways that adorn our creeds, not in ways that make them ugly. And we must give careful thought to the HOW of confessionalism. Hopefully this will be an area which is thoughtfully explored further within the international Reformed Baptist community.

Here are three articles from Bob Gonzales (of Reformed Baptist Seminary) which are very much worth reading and hopefully will spur readers on in this direction:

This post originally appeared at All Things Expounded and is reproduced here with the author’s permission.

The Rhino Room|Covenant of Redemption

The Rhino Room

Rhino Room

Curious about the Rhino Room? Read our introduction here.

Does the Bible teach a pre-temporal Covenant of Redemption?

Nicolas Alford (Pastor, Grace Baptist Church of Taylors, South Carolina)

Yes! Jesus was a man on a mission, and that mission was to secure the covenant of grace for us by satisfying the covenant of works in fulfillment of the covenant of redemption. This topic is shrouded in mystery and glory, but the Scriptures clearly testify to a pre-temporal intra-Trinitarian pact in which the Father gave the Son an elect people to redeem, and they in turn purposed to send the Spirit to apply that redemption: Luke 4:14, 18; John 3:17, 5:26-9, 6:37-39, 8:16, 42, 10:27-8, 36, 11:42, 12:48-9, 14:16-17, 25, 15:26, 16:7, 13-15, 17:7-8, 24; Acts 2:33, 13:2, 16:7, 20:28; Rom. 5:12-19, 8:11; 1 Cor.12:11; Eph. 1:3, 11, 20-22; Phil. 2:9; 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5-6; Heb. 7:21, 28; 1 Peter 1:19, 20 (references complied by Pastor Greg Nichols).

Wayne Brandow (Pastor, Bible Baptist Church of Galway, New York)

Yes, though not taught expressly, it is implied. When you compare what Jesus said in John 6:37, 38 with Ephesians 1:4, it becomes apparent that those chosen (election) before time were given to the Son by the Father. Some sort of arrangement appears to be in view:
All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. . . .  And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day (John 6:37, 39).
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love (Ephesians 1:4).


Nicholas Kennicott (Pastor, Ephesus Church of Rincon, Georgia)

Yes, I believe the Bible does teach a Covenant of Redemption (pactum salutis, or eternal covenant), although not named explicitly. It is a pre-temporal (prior to creation/eternal), intra-trinitarian agreement in which the Father promises to redeem an elect people by sending the Son to earn and secure the salvation of those people by voluntarily becoming incarnate (putting on flesh, becoming a man with physical body and soul) and fulfilling the requirements set forth in the covenant agreement on behalf of mankind. In the Son’s active and passive obedience, He fulfills the conditions of the covenant, making the Father’s promises valid, thus earning the reward for his obedience which is the eternal salvation of the elect who become His bride. The Spirit’s role in the Covenant will take more characters than I’m allowed in this response!

Chris Marley (Pastor, Miller Valley Baptist Church of Miller Valley, Arizona)

Yes. Done. Boom. *Drops mic and walks away.

In all seriousness, though, it does. It probably didn’t look exactly like a covenant, as it occurred within the Trinitarian unity of an infinite God and (I believe) outside of time. Trying to describe that will make your ears bleed, yet I think covenant is the closest term we have. A number of passages somewhat deal with it, most famously Psalm 110, but it is where election took place. It was also somewhat contemporary (if we can say that) with the decree of God. I believe it’s due, necessary, and essential inference that God determined within himself the planned redemption of saints in election, the accomplished redemption in Christ’s work, and the applied redemption of the Holy Spirit’s work. God clearly did those things before creation, and for him to determine in perfect wisdom is for it to be as certain as a covenant.

Douglas Van Dorn (Pastor, Reformed Baptist Church of Northern Colorado)

The Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world (1 Pet 19-20; Rev 13:8). Sacrificial lambs only make sense in the context of covenants. Jesus told his disciples, “Just as my Father has granted me a kingdom, I grant you” (Luke 22:29). “Grants” are the language of covenants. In fact, the word here is diatithemi, the verb that relates to the noun diatheke (“covenant”). This is also said in the context of “the new covenant” Lord’s Supper, just prior to Jesus offering himself on the cross as the sacrifice. Therefore, the Trinity had a covenant arrangement planned out before Jesus came to earth. If the lamb was slain before the creation of the world, it follows that this arrangement was made with the persons of the Trinity even before that time.

The Rhino Room | Top Books

Rhino Room

Rhino Room

Curious about the Rhino Room? Read our introduction here.

Other than the Bible, what one book do you wish every Christian would read and why? Provide a brief summary.

Samuel Barber (Pastoral Assistant, Ephesus Church of Rincon, Georgia)

In an attempt to avoid being predictable, I tried to think of a book besides John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress; I just couldn’t do it. It is a must-read for every Christian. In this allegory Bunyan so wonderfully draws together story and theology, and depicts such vivid experimental Christianity that I glean from it every time I read it. It is the story of a man named Graceless (renamed Christian), who at the instruction of Evangelist, sets out from the City of Destruction for the Celestial City to flee from the wrath to come on account of his sin. The perilous journey upon which he embarks provides invaluable insights into the hardships, snares, triumphs, and glories of the Christian life. As the reader follows Christian’s journey to the Celestial City his heart is powerfully drawn toward heaven and he is given strength and grace to press on in his own pilgrimage.

Wayne Brandow (Pastor, Bible Baptist Church of Galway, New York)

I would recommend John Bunyan’s, Pilgrim’s Progress. Bunyan has given us pictures of the journey of the Christian life from being awakened to one’s sin and need of Christ, unto one’s crossing over the river of death and entrance into heaven. I used the word pictures, plural rather than singular, because more than one person’s life is chronicled in this allegory. The journeys of Christian, Faithful, Hopeful, Christiana, and Mercy are set before the reader. The similarities and differences they meet on the way make known that although some aspects are central to all, such as going through the wicket gate rather than climbing over the wall (Christ is the door), the Christian’s experiences are not uniformly the same.  We are all different, yet have the same basic need. This book shows us how to live the Christian life and the helps and the hindrances along the way.

Marc Grimaldi (Pastor, Grace Reformed Baptist Church of Merrick, New York)

Aside from the Bible, no book has greater impacted my life in a practical way more than, War of Words by Paul David Tripp. It is amazing to see how much our words reveal about what is going on in our hearts. Since we spend so much time speaking, it is thoroughly profitable to examine our speech as a critical means of addressing our hearts and working toward change, by way of the cross.

I wish every Christian would read this book as it is tremendously beneficial for enhancing unity, love, patience, long suffering, and basically every Christian virtue to which the Scriptures call us. Brother Tripp addresses this important subject humbly and tenderly, using his own personal struggles as a template for all that he attempts to get across.

Nicholas Kennicott (Pastor, Ephesus Church of Rincon, Georgia)

I wish every Christian would read and understand The Marrow of Modern Divinity by Edward Fisher (with Thomas Boston’s notes). My favorite preacher, Sinclair Ferguson, says anyone who “comes to grips with the issues raised in [this book] will almost certainly grow by leaps and bounds in understanding… the grace of God, the Christian life, and the very nature of the gospel itself.” The story of the books writing and publication is fascinating in itself, but more important is what it says. In my own personal life and ministry I have come to see a right understanding of the relationship between the law and the gospel as essential to fruitful, satisfying life with God and neighbor. Fisher provides a biblical corrective to both antinomianism and licentiousness in his captivating conversation through various interlocutors to lead his readers to a balanced, biblical understanding of the most essential truths of the faith.

Chris Marley (Pastor, Miller Valley Baptist Church of Miller Valley, Arizona)

This is a difficult question, because the book choice would very much depend on the individual. Pastors often “prescribe” books based on spiritual health, strengths, and weaknesses. For a man called to the ministry, it would be Horatius Bonar’s Words to Winners of Souls or Edmund Clowney’s Called to the Ministry. For the believer with a frail disposition, it would be Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening to give them a bi-daily refocusing and encouragement. I suppose the only book that covers the whole gamut would be Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress with both Christian’s and Christiana’s narratives. It has material for men, women, children, pastors, and ordinary saints. It reminds all of us that our personal narratives are part of a greater one, and that our trials have been successfully endured by those before us. It also does a great job of connecting human experience to Scripture passages.

Douglas Van Dorn (Pastor, Reformed Baptist Church of Northern Colorado)

I know you are out there, people who are just like I used to be. Try Stephen Lawhead’s Taliesen, the first book of the Pendragon Cycle. Why? Not because it is the best book I’ve ever read, though I absolutely love it. Not because it is theologically rich or necessary. It is just fiction. Rather, this book changed my life. This is the book that took me from hating reading to loving it. Somehow, and I’m not proud of this, I managed to make it half way through college without ever reading a full book. Ever. I can’t tell you how much I despised reading. If you hate reading, then it doesn’t matter what book I recommend to you, you won’t read it. Therefore, figure out what you love in life and start there. Learn to love reading first. Then I’ll recommend all sorts of books, like Calvin’s Institutes.

The Rhino Room | Social Media and Ministry

Rhino Room

Rhino Room

Curious about the Rhino Room? Read our introduction here.

Is it important for pastors to be on social media platforms?

Nicolas Alford (Pastor, Grace Baptist Church of Taylors, South Carolina)

Love it or loath it, social media is here to stay, and someone said that if you’re not online you don’t really exist to a person under 30. 

A person’s online presence reflects their construct of how they would like to be perceived and what they value- an inestimable insight for ministry and invaluable for pastoral insight. The ability to interact online is a vital element of 21st century ministry.

Now the danger- social media can become a monster that will eat your time and sap your productivity. You can lose yourself in the image you present there and the poison pride of counting likes, views, and follows. Worst of all, social media can depersonalize interaction and lead to a vicious narcissism that actually bleeds over into the real world.

So use social media- but remember that soli deo gloria and coram deo are as valid there as anywhere else.

Samuel Barber (Pastoral Assistant, Ephesus Church of Rincon, Georgia)

This seems like a catch-22 to me. On the one hand, I would say that it is important for pastors to know the people of the congregation over which they are guardians. This will likely mean being engaged on social media platforms — for understanding and communicating with the people. On the other hand, social media platforms tend to promote large amounts of wasted time, and they tend not to promote deep thinking, biblically passionate feeling, and intimate fellowship among the saints. So, I would say, it is important for a pastor to be on social media platforms to the degree that it enables him to engage his congregation, so long as he is able to maintain his self-discipline and not grow dull and sluggish so that he become lost in our culture’s social media platforms.

Wayne Brandow (Pastor, Bible Baptist Church of Galway, New York)

Think about what Paul writes in his epistles. While in prison, he relates how he feels while there (i.e. “I may die. For me to live is Christ and to die is gain, but for your sakes I hope that I will live”). Paul often tells us who he is, what he is doing, and gives his (the Lord’s) take upon what is happening in his world. Such a personal disclosure sounds like it could be a Facebook post.

Social media is all about making connection with others. A pastor ought to be there as it is today’s marketplace where people gather. However, we need to be careful what we say. Not only our words, but our tone and our “likes” convey to others who we really are, either to the advancement or detriment of Christ’s kingdom.

Matt Foreman (Pastor, Faith Reformed Baptist Church of Media, Pennsylvania)

I think pastors need to give it serious consideration (keeping watch on themselves, lest they too be tempted!). The church, spiritual as it is, is after all a news organization. And many, many people today are getting their news and spending their time on social media. It can be a great opportunity. But it also poses many dangers lived out before a literally watching world. And I’m not sure that as Christians, we have really figured out the opportunities, limitations, and guidelines for using the platform with wisdom.

Marc Grimaldi (Pastor, Grace Reformed Baptist Church of Merrick, New York)

I think the best answer is, “It depends.”

In God’s providence, we have advanced to a time where we can impact the world at the click of some buttons. Through social media such as Facebook, blogs, emailing,… etc, our outreach can be enormous. Furthermore, by these means, we can minister to and exchange profitable communication with our local church members, as well.

That said, social media can be a drawback, if it is abused. It is important that we do not allow social media to become so preferential, that we lose the essential importance of street level, face-to-face ministry and fellowship. Factoring in the online temptations with which some may struggle, and the very successful ministries of others who simply refuse to use social media, I think each individual pastor has to personally address this matter in accordance with their own conscience before God.

Nicholas Kennicott (Pastor, Ephesus Church of Rincon, Georgia)

I believe pastors who do not use social media on some level, are missing gospel opportunities and saying something to the people they are called to shepherd, perhaps unintentionally. If I do not use the primary means most American Christians are using on a daily basis to communicate with others about their lives, I may be telling them that I do not take interest in who they are and what they do. There are certainly many dangers in the use of social media (most counseling sessions will reveal this to any pastor), and it shouldn’t be our primary means of interaction, however the advantages are significant and every pastor should seriously consider how they can be helped in communicating the truth of God’s Word to the world and taking an active role in the lives of God’s people by using this free and global resource.

Chris Marley (Pastor, Miller Valley Baptist Church of Miller Valley, Arizona)

No! Of course it isn’t. Especially blogging platforms with other pastors… wait… The fact of the matter is, we almost have to be engaged in social media to some degree. I joined the book o’faces in 2007 for the express purpose of working with teenagers in Alford’s church wherein I interned, because they would announce to the “world” things about which it would have taken months of trust-building for them to talk to me. It’s a tool, but it shouldn’t be our only one, or even primary. We cannot overlook the face-to-face meetings, real-time investments, and genuine human interaction. It’s a temptation, especially for young pastors, to assume their blogging and tweeting “work” substitutes for visitation, but it really and genuinely does not. So I would say it is important, but not as much as we make it out to be.

Osinachi Nwoko (Sovereign Grace Bible Church of Lagos, Nigeria)

IT DEPENDS! Pastors are sheep set apart by Christ for the purpose of feeding His flock (Acts 20:28). Men saddled with such a weighty responsibility must place a premium on the usage of their time. His time should be employed primarily in managing his home (1Timothy 3), building up the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-14) and fulfilling the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20).

Where social media platforms can assist the pastor in fulfilling his God-given role, by all means he should make use of them; otherwise, it is advisable he steer clear. This doesn’t mean that social media platforms are sinful. The draw of most social media platforms is its ability to furnish the subscriber with a seemingly endless stream of information, much of which, it must be said, is of little or no profit. It is this addictive nature that poses a danger to the pastor who is not careful to assume control of these platforms and put them to profitable use but becomes a slave to them.

So a pastor’s use of social media depends on the pastor’s self-control and his motive for being on those platforms.

Douglas Van Dorn (Pastor, Reformed Baptist Church of Northern Colorado)

I’m not sure the question is specific enough. Yes, I think it is important for pastors to be on some form of social media. This is, after all, the dominant form of social interaction in the 21st century. To not be on any social media is to miss out on a variety of opportunities for social interaction, friendships, and apologetics. But a deeper question might be, “What are the dangers of social media?” This is a far more important question, because there are a variety of them. They can steal your time. They can steal your heart. They can tend diminish the actual humanity behind the keystrokes. Perhaps most importantly, they can take away from actual live physical interaction with other human beings. These technologies lend themselves to a kind of social Gnosticism. Christians and pastors need to think more carefully and be more discerning in how they use them.

Baptism as Clothing in Galatians 3:27: Baptism as a Means of Grace


In post 1, I argued that Galatians 3:27 provides a crucial insight into the meaning of baptism.  In post 2, I argued that it argues against the practice of infant baptism.  In this post, I now want to show that the verse also provides a crucial insight into how baptism is a means of grace – not just at the beginning of the Christian life, but a continuing means of grace.  Paul uses it as a defining reality with continued implications for the Christian life.

In America, we do not live in a very ritualistic culture, so we are not attuned to ritual and ceremony like many cultures.  New Testament Christianity is actually and deliberately not a very ritualistic religion: there are not many ceremonies and rituals given in the New Testament.  So when there is a ceremony in the New Testament, we should pay attention to it.  It has special importance.

What we’ve seen is that: Baptism is like a rite of passage ceremony.  In cultures that have rite of passage ceremonies, rites of passage are defining moments in life.  It’s an entrance into a new state of life – a comprehensive metaphor for your place in life.  Similarly, your baptism is a past, definitive spiritual act with ongoing implications for your life.

It’s to be an encouragement for your life today.  If you’ve been baptized into Christ, you have the assurance that you are a true child of God.  It’s a sign to you that God loves you, is pleased with you, and promises to be with you.  Like when Jesus was baptized, and the Holy Spirit came down upon him in the form of a dove, and a voice from heaven said, “This is my Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” – when someone is baptized in Jesus’ name, they know that they have been adopted in Christ, they are part of God’s family, and God promises to be with them.  They can say, “I am his and he is mine, forever and forever.”  (See Ephesians 1:13-14.)

But now, just like a rite of passage ceremony, you are supposed to live that out – or it might be better to say, live out of that reality.  You wake up the next day and you don’t wear the same clothes you wore before.  You get to put the new clothes back on.  Paul says, “You have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator… Put on then…” (Col.3:9-12).

Just because a 15 year old goes through a rite of passage and wakes up the next morning and gets to put on the toga virilis – that doesn’t mean he always acts like a responsible adult.  He still has to get up the next day and put on the right garment – and act like it!  If you’ve been baptized, you’ve been clothed in Christ, covered in Christ, given full acceptance by God.  You are to rest in that baptism and be motivated by that baptism now to continue to clothe yourself in him, to get up and act like it!

Paul says, “You must no longer walk as the Gentiles do… assuming that have heard about [Christ] and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life…and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph.4:17-24).  This is baptism language!  Paul is saying, ‘Your baptism has to be lived out every day.  Why would you want to go back to the garments of childhood?  You should want to live like an adult.  What does that look like?  It is increasingly looking like Christ, living like Christ, living up to what God has declared to be true of you.  You’re a Son of God.  You’re a prince of the kingdom.  Why do you act like a pauper?  Why do you act like a reject?  Why are you anxious, fearful, angry, frustrated?  You’ve been baptized into Christ.  You’ve put on Christ.  You’re an heir of the kingdom.  So wake up and put on the right garment again.  Show the world that Christ is your covering, Christ is your identity, in him you’re accepted, and you are displaying him to the world.’

In this way, baptism is a means of grace – at the beginning of the Christian life, and a reality that continues to affect you for the rest of your life, causing you to say: “I am his and he is mine forever and forever.”