Baptism contains several rich and gracious benefits, both outwardly and inwardly. These benefits are as follows:
BENEFITS OF WATER BAPTISM (Baptism applied outwardly)
Water baptism places a person in an outward covenant relationship with the Lord and includes him as a member of God's church -the Church Visible. While not saving, the following seven benefits are valuable privileges of this external relationship. Water baptism testifies of benefits concerning:
1. Worship -Baptism places the person in the way of outward obedience to God's command, to gather together to worship Him on the weekly Lord's Day.
2. Instruction -Baptism brings one under the proclamation of God's Word, the warnings of His law and the invitations of His gospel, the means through which God has promised to work salvation.
3. Prayer -Baptism includes the person in the church prayers for its members.
4. Communion -Baptism brings the person in contact with God's children.
5. Testimony -Baptism includes the person in an outward relationship under the proclamation and seal of the truth of God's covenant promises -a rich encouragement to seek the confirmation and fulfillment of the promises personally by inward, spiritual, experiential grace.
6. Unity -Baptism places God's Name and mark on the person, outwardly separating him from the world and bringing him in personal contact with God. This provides a personal encouragement to plead for inward, spiritual separation and holiness.
7. Discipline -Baptism includes one under the church's warnings and discipline which are a means to restrain sin.
These seven benefits are what Paul was referring to, when after explaining that one's outward circumcision (or baptism) and covenant relationship are not of saving value, the question was asked,
How do those who deny the Church Visible, deny several rich benefits that God has given to church members?