Issue 2 • Spring 2016
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Baptism, by Rev. W. Harinck

I am the Faithful One and I will remember My covenant forever….and you, Elisa, can be saved by the work of My Son, Christ Jesus.
 
These words were written by Rev. W. Harinck, an NRC minister in the Netherlands, in a book entitled Baptism. This book was first published in the Dutch language as Gedoopt and has now been translated by Early Foundations Publishers. Written especially for young people, it explains in eight chapters the meaning of baptism. The fact is that many people in our days do not understand the meaning of baptism. It is a sad proof of the ongoing secularization in Europe when people want to be de-baptized and ask for a document in which they openly take leave of the church. The church should never provide such a certificate.
 
Rev Harinck stresses the need and importance of good instruction regarding the true meaning of baptism. Unfortunately, there is a tendency among young people in some Reformed churches to want to be re-baptized. First they want to come to faith in God, and then in a special baptism service they want to show God and others that they have now chosen for Jesus.
 
At the same time, infant baptism can be overvalued in our days, and people think that it is enough for salvation. That is not true. Regeneration and faith in Christ are necessary and are gifts of God. On the other hand, there is also an undervaluing of baptism, especially of infant baptism in our days. In Chapter 2 Rev Harinck defends the reformed position that baptized children are included in the covenant of grace. Just as in the Old Testament Abraham and all his seed were circumcised, so in the New Testament baptism was administered to believers and their households. Only when someone comes from outside the church does he first need to be converted and testify of God’s grace in his life before being baptized. But for infant baptism it is true that baptism gets its value from God’s promises.
 
In Chapter 3 we find rich quotations from Rev. G.H. Kersten, who stresses the fact that God gathers His elect and confirms His promises to His people. Rev. J. van Haaren views the sacrament as an exclamation mark behind the rich meaning of the Gospel: …you can become My child, you can receive grace (p. 35).
 
In Chapter 4 we read about the firmness and steadfastness of a one-sided covenant of grace. The water of baptism shows that our sins can be washed away through the blood of the Lord Jesus. Baptism seals the reliability and the truth of this gospel. But we need discovering grace in order to feel the need for that washing and cleansing (p.49).
 
In Chapter 5 it is made clear that the water of baptism makes a separation and distinction just like the waters of the Red Sea made a separation between Israel and Egypt. Baptism makes a separation between the church and the world. The first question in the form of baptism that comes to the baptismal parents is about whether they believe that their children are children of wrath, but also whether they believe our children are sanctified in Christ. This doesn’t mean that the children are converted, but it does mean that our children are set apart (p.66).
 
In Chapter 6 the arguments against infant baptism are discussed further. The objections against infant baptism come mainly from the evangelical movement. Rev. Harinck points out the unity between the Old and New Testaments. Baptism has replaced circumcision and is not administered because of faith, but rather is a sign of the covenant of grace. This chapter is closed with a quotation from Martin Luther: I thank God and am happy that I was baptized as a child, for thus I have done what God commanded. Whether I believed or not, I have followed the command of God and been baptized.
 
Chapter 7 begins with some memories of Rev. C. Harinck, the father of Rev. W. Harinck. Rev. C. Harinck came from outside of the church and was baptized when he was 23 years old. As a damnable and rejectable sinner in himself, he was led to the waters of baptism where he experienced the forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ. The rich meaning of baptism is explained again. God puts a mark on our forehead. With baptism the Lord bids us and asks us to acquiesce to our baptism. The word acquiesce means “to agree with heart and life.” Rev. P. Immens had a lot of children and many times he spoke to them about this acquiescence.
 
In the last chapter Rev. Harinck once again explains the great value of baptism but also gives a serious warning not to despise our baptism. What will it be to go lost forever with a mark on our forehead! Then it will testify against us. He closes with some words of exhortation: Baptism will not save you, only faith in Christ will save you from your sins. That is what baptism signifies; the water shows the necessity of forgiveness and calls for a new life.
 
I hope and pray that many (young) people will read this book and that God may bless it to their hearts.
Rev. J.B. Zippro

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EFP was formed in 1997 with a mission to print books for our young people and families that promote Biblical morals and provide good role models. The founding members of EFP recognized a shortage of morally sound books that would interest children from ages 8 to 18. EFP was formed as an independent corporation and, because of the nature of our mission, has been recognized by the IRS as a charitable non-profit organization.
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