Hello Church Devotion Aug 2 2013
In the "ABC's of Christianity" we are to our second letter. B is for Baptism.
Baptism is a cornerstone of Christian Life. As Matthew 28:19 states: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
God utilizes Baptism as a means by which He makes disciples. In Baptism, God puts His name upon us. His Spirit enters and creates faith. He cleans and cleanses us "through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit Whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior so that having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:5ff
Generally, Christianity has followed two distinct paths involving Baptism.
1. Ordinance from God that we are to do as proof of our faith.
2. Sacrament that God works through His Word to create faith and sustain faith.
Interestingly, the group that understood Baptism as an ordinance were named "Ana-Baptists" because they denied the power of Baptism. Many denominations today call this kind of Baptism as one that is strictly for "believers only". This means also that you have to already be of faith so infants, young children, and those with mental limitations or special needs are left behind. Since it is an ordinance, they view Baptism as something that can be done repeatedly. Note that in this view, Baptism is something we do to please God.
The second understanding of Baptism as a Sacrament insists that it is something that God does to make disciples. In order to move us from the deadness of sin, the water and the Word of Baptism grants forgiveness of sins, initiates faith through the power of the Holy Spirit. The power of Baptism does not reside in the faith or faithfulness of the one being Baptized, but rather depends upon the promise and power of God's Word. The water is an earthly sign or symbol representing to the visible eye, the invisible working of God's Word upon the person being Baptized.
Therefore, since Baptism relies upon God for its power, it is made available to all people... infants, children, adults, those with various incapacities, etc.
Many have made much out of the amount of water needed in Baptism. Do you need to be sprinkled, sprayed, soaked, immersed, or bathed?
Scripture does not provide us with much direction in the amount of water. However, perhaps the definition of the word "Baptize" would be helpful. Basically, Baptize means to wash.
When we wash things, we sometimes immerse them. An example would be putting a dinner plate into a sink of hot soapy water.
We also sometimes soak things as a way of washing. An example would be a skillet crusted with food particles. Soaking it in hot water and soap can make the cleaning easier.
As far as spraying, when we wash a car in one of those pay as you go units, water is sprayed on the vehicle with sufficient pressure to cleanse the automobile.
Sprinkling is also a means for washing. If you have a spot on your shirt, you may sprinkle some water on it to offset the dirt.
The power of Baptism is not in the amount of water, but in the Word of God!
In Romans 6:1ff "Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through Baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."
In Baptism, our sins are put to death. They are washed away by the power of God's Word and Spirit. Since that is the case, then we have a new regenerated life as a forgiven child of God.
Another one of the neat things about our Baptism into Christ is that God speaks and acts individually upon us to move us from death into life in His Son.
Martin Luther said: "Tell me, with whom does God speak and deal when you are baptized? Is it not true that this Baptism is intended for you alone and for no other person? You derive the benefit of your Baptism, not others. If they want to be benefited by Baptism, they must also be baptized personally. Again, you are baptized into the death of Christ, into the truth that He died for you and by His death freed you from sins and death. How, then, could God speak in a friendlier way with you and more surely and specifically include your person in the Word than He does in Baptism?
In the Hymnal, the words of Hymn 593 titled "See This Wonder in the Making"
See this wonder in the making: God Himself this child is taking
As a lamb safe in His keeping, His to be, awake or sleeping.
Miracle each time it happens as the door to heaven opens
and the Father beams, "Beloved, Heir of gifts a king would covet!"
Far more tender than a mother, far more caring than a father,
God into Your arms we place them, with Your love and peace embrace them.
Here we bring a child of nature; home we take a newborn creature, Now God's precious son or daughter, born again by Word and water.
-- Words by Jaroslav J. Vajda, 1919-2008
Baptism is also something that affects every day of our sanctified lives. For in Baptism, we became a child and heir of God. We have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. What a life-long gift that God has given! What a comfort! What a joy! What a strength that is ours because of God's action of love towards us in Baptism.
Others have said that you need to be Baptized again in every Church you join. This is not true! One Baptism is all that God speaks of in His holy Word. St. Paul in Ephesians 4:4-5 says:"There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."
Jesus was Baptized and the Spirit descended to Him and the Father spoke from above. We are individually Baptized as a child of the living God.
O Christian! Remember God's work in your Baptism! He has forgiven you and you are His! Now... go and be the new creation you have been fashioned into by the hands of Almighty God!
1. Is Baptism an ordinance or Sacrament? What is the difference?
2. Does it matter if we "do" baptism or if God "does" baptism? Why?
3. Who should be baptized? See Matthew 28:19ff
4. How much water should be utilized?
5. What makes Baptism powerful?
6. Read Chapter six of Romans... How is Baptism integral to the life of a Christian?
Prayer: Saving Father and forgiving God, You have cared so very much for me that you announced a claim on me by speaking Your Word into my heart and Your name upon my body. By Your power, You have fashioned me from certain death into a life of repentance. By the breath of Your Spirit, You have placed hope, life, and salvation into the corpse of my sin filled body. Lord, You truly have called me by name. You have washed my sins away. May every day be one that starts and ends with my thanks to You for this incredible gift. In the name of my savior Jesus, I pray.