We hear people speaking in their prayers to the Saviour only. We hear them singing in their hymns to Jesus only. It is a kind of Jesus-only worship. A Reformed person does not join them. He calls this one-sided and shallow. He certainly can still approve of a song that comforts his soul, such as “Jesus your atoning death/Is the refuge of my heart.” He knows that this short sentence of “Jesus alone!” conceals a fundamental confession and a central truth. He would be the last to deny that man can only exist in Christ, his surety, and that he must be included eternally in Christ, his head, and remain united to him in order to be saved. He speaks of Christ’s Church, boasts in Christ’s cross, takes his refuge in Christ’s blood, and proclaims Christ’s death. All this is true, but that does not in the least take away the fact that Jesus is mediator, the mediator who brings him to the triune Being, and that he finds rest in the triune God.
Our gratitude for the absolute necessity of Jesus can never be enough, but Jesus does not consider himself as the ultimate goal of redemption. He sends his people, whom he bought at great cost, in his name to the Father. Think of those marvellous verses in John sixteen, verses twenty-six and seven, “I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: for the Father himself loveth you.”
Christ is not the moving but the meritorious cause of salvation. Having discovered his guilt, the sinner takes his refuge in Jesus and out of fear for God’s wrath creeps behind the cross, calling out, “Jesus, help me!” But he does not keep hiding behind that cross. A ray of light will later penetrate his soul: the Father gave me this Jesus. Indeed, from eternity this divine Being cherishes thoughts of peace. Christ is the visible revelation of these thoughts of peace, the living appearance, the express image.
The dim light of dawn then becomes the full light of midday in his heart, and he sees the harmonious operations of the three divine persons in the plan of salvation. The Father, through the Holy Spirit, sends the sinner, still unaware of this mission, to the Son for the washing away of his sins. The Son sends the healed and cleansed sinner through the same Holy Spirit back to the Father so that God in Trinity shall be all in all.
So we see that there is a striking relation in the baptism form between these phrases: the washing away of sins by Jesus Christ and baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Spirit. The small word, therefore, is here exactly in the right place and points to the ground. Clearly, because Christ’s blood was shed and his healing power is presented and sealed in baptism, therefore are we baptised in the name of the Trinity.
By B. Wielenga
(James R Hamilton, June 2018)