Rebaptism?

The question has been brought to me a few times in the past months, and my answer has been the same. “Is it okay to be rebaptized?” and my answer is, “No.” But it is not just my answer. It is the answer of the Belgic Confession, the confession I took a vow to uphold as a minister. Article 34 states,

“…So ministers, as far as their work is concerned, give us the sacrament and what is visible, but our Lord gives what the sacrament signifies– namely the invisible gifts and graces; washing, purifying, and cleansing our souls of all filth and unrighteousness; renewing our hearts and filling them with all comfort; giving us true assurance of his fatherly goodness; clothing us with the “new man” and stripping off the “old,” with all its works. For this reason we believe that anyone who aspires to reach eternal life ought to be baptized only once without ever repeating it— for we cannot be born twice. Yet this baptism is profitable not only when the water is on us and when we receive it but throughout our entire lives.”

The Reformed, covenantal, view of the sacraments means that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are signs and seals of what God has done on behalf of His people. They are not moments of rededication. There acknowledgements of grace given. But the Belgic Confession is not alone in its proclamation. The author of the Heidelberg Catechism, Zacharius Ursinus writes this commenting on the catechism,

“…it is evident why baptism is not repeated; because it is the sign of our reception into the favor and covenant of God, which remains forever sure and valid in the case of those who repent. He, therefore, that has lost a sense of God’s favor by falling into sin, does not need another application of baptism, but repentance for his sins. The same thing is also evident from the fact, that regeneration does not take place more than once in the same individual. We are born but once, and renewed but once: for he who is once truly ingrafted into Christ, is never wholly cast away…Hence it is sufficient that baptism which is the washing of regeneration, should be received but once, especially since regeneration and salvation do not absolutely depend on baptism; otherwise it would be necessary for us to be rebatpized as often as we might sin. To these reasons we may yet add, that baptism has taken the place of circumcision, which was never performed more than once upon the same individual” Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, 359.

In other words, baptism is God’s doing and therefore needs no repetition, and the reapplication of His sacrament of grace may be considered an affront to the work of the cross. The Apostle Paul writes to the Ephesian church, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” Ephesians 4:4-6.

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