Question 72: Does this outward washing with water itself wash away sins?
No, only Jesus Christ’s blood and the Holy Spirit cleanse us from all sins (1).
1 – Matt. 3:11; 1 Pet. 3:21; 1 John 1:7
Question 73: Why then does the Holy Spirit call baptism the washing of rebirth and the washing away of sins?
God has good reason for these words. To begin with, God wants to teach us that the blood and Spirit of Christ take away our sins just as water removes dirt from the body (1).
But more important, God wants to assure us, by this divine pledge and sign, that we are as truly washed of our sins spiritually as our bodies are washed with water physically (2).
1 – 1 Cor. 6:11; Rev. 1:5; 7:14
2 – Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27
*** The following questions/answers are from the Orthodox Catechism (1680) and will substitute for Question 74 in the Heidelberg Catechism ***
What is Baptism?
Immersion or dipping of the Person in Water in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, by such who are duly qualified by Christ (1).
1 – Mat. 3:16; John 3:23; Acts 8:38, 39; Rom. 6:4
Who are the proper Subjects of this Ordinance?
Those who do actually profess Repentance towards God, Faith in, and Obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ (1).
1 – Acts 2:38; Acts 8:36, 37