Tuesday, January 29, 2008

All Baptism is Infant Baptism

I want to direct this meditation in two directions this morning. First, to the saints of Holy Trinity: To some of you, it may seem a little odd to be having a baptism of this gentleman that we have just met a week or two ago. But the lesson that has just been read and others like it record the apostolic pattern of baptism. Paul explained that salvation is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and after speaking the word of the Lord to the jailor, he was baptized at that very hour, in the middle of the night! Jesus sent his apostles and ministers out into the world to make disciples by baptizing them and teaching them. This means that baptism ought not ordinarily to be the culmination of much study and training; rather it is the beginning of a life of discipleship, the enrollment in the school of Jesus. But this fact is actually re-enforced every time we have an infant or small child baptized. It was Jesus who said that “unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me” (Mt. 18:4-5). Jesus says that everyone who enters the kingdom of heaven enters as a child. In other words, every baptism is an infant baptism. Everyone who desires to come to God must come as a little child. This is why baptism comes at the beginning of discipleship and should happen as soon as possible. Whether a person is 2 weeks old or 30 years old or 60 years old when God interrupts a person’s life with his grace, that person enters the kingdom as a child, as an infant, completely new, completely helpless, completely dependent on the kindness and mercy of God. Salvation is all of grace. A forty year old can no more save himself than a two week old.

And it is in this light that I exhort you, Rocky. I call upon you to recognize that you are coming to God as a child. You come in need of forgiveness. You come in need of cleansing. You come in need of wisdom. You come in need of new life. And as a minister of the gospel, I have been authorized to declare to you that all of these things are found in the Lord Jesus Christ. And I call upon you to believe this. Believe it deep down in your bones. Your salvation, your forgiveness, your justification, all that God promises to give you is a free gift given you for the sake of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You cannot earn any of this. All of our best deeds are still filthy rags before the perfect holiness of our God. This baptism is your assurance that God forgives. He promises to remove your sin as far as the east is from the west, and from the moment of your baptism, you must know and believe that you are a beloved son of God and Dayla is a beloved daughter of God. This is the gospel, the good news, Rocky. And it is good news for you. Believe this good news, embrace it, and give thanks.

In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen!

1 comment:

Dad said...

Toby, Genesis 1-2 opens with a great deal, with a striking amount, of naming. God speaks the specifics of His creation into existence, and names what it is (Gen. 1:1-2:3). And there's also, as men have observed, rulers in each created realm that rule, govern and have their role (e.g. the sun is to rule and have its role in its realm). Then in chapter 2:18 and following, the woman is made from man, and he, Adam, names her: "woman." This starts out the story of their lives together in the garden. My point thus far, naming happens early on; chronologically speaking, it's early on. It's early on in the creation of the world; it's early on in the course of life for the man, Adam, and his wife. Of course, also, there's the naming of children and that happens early on. Adam knew his wife, Eve later gives birth and right away, early on, he's named---Cain (Gen. 4:1). Another related observation is the Bible's point about God naming or re-naming His people, they are given their names and that giving is associated with their calling, life, and circumstances---as rulers in their realm of discipleship. Abram goes to Abraham, as an example; Simon to Peter; Saul to Paul. These names are given at the beginning of the course of their life-long journey, to live out the way of faith. We can also ask: why the list of the names of the tribes; why the list of the names of the apostles---early on, early in the stories and settings where they are found in their respective Bible books? Naming comes at the first, at the beginning. It seems consistent, therefore, to make the observation that God with the administration of water baptism puts His own name on His people early on: "You are claimed as My own, here is your new name, 'Christian'---now, come and serve in My kingdom." Early on, chronologically speaking, is when this happens. Baptism first, now teaching unto discipleship (Matt. 28:19). And as you explained with infant baptism: it's God's beginning ways----His naming at the first, and His condescension of relationship to His own at the head of it all. It starts as the beginning of disciplehip--and yes, it's a disciplehip of following Christ, and He must be embraced by faith by that particular disciple. In this new life of discipleship, the baptized one follows, in faith, his King. The disciple serves and rules---in a godly pattern after his King---in this world. He is to go and make more disciples! All water baptisms are His naming; all God's children get their names at the first, just as infants do in our households. At the baptismal font, God says, "Welcome to the family, now from here on out, trust and obey for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus." Rocky, right along with his household, has begun the walk with the Lord as children (3 John 4). Dad