Monday Musings for October 01, 2018

Good morning, Musers,

I have a devotional thought today. It’s about adding to grace… which is a horrible thing to do! My prayer is that we can take a lesson from the church of Galatia and stop insulting Christ… because here’s the thing about Jesus: he taught continuously… and to the very end… and his last words were “it is finished” (John 19:30). So, all I can do is adjure Christians everywhere to take him at his word. That’s today’s lesson.

The problem with faith’s interlopers, though, is that they can be sneaky. Take baptism, for instance. A surprising number of Christians-who-should-know-better insist that people need to be baptized to be saved (… and I’m talking water baptism, here… not the baptism of the Holy Spirit which is indeed required). Belief is the key to salvation… not baptism (Acts 16:31). So, let’s not nail that ordinance to the cross with Jesus. But let’s not ignore it either… it’s part of the great commission! (Matthew 28:19-20). So, what should we do with it?

Here’s the interesting bit for me: the early church was wrestling with the idea of continuing with signs and symbols… and I can see the attraction. God’s people had been dealing with them for millennia! But now they had the Christ, and the symbols were no longer needed (Hebrews 1). But circumcision was a sign that the child and his family were identifying with covenant Israel… and shouldn’t we have something like that for the Church… an identifier?

Well… we have one. It’s the indwelling Holy Spirit (Galatians 4:6). The problem is he doesn’t show. So, what many of the Reformed churches do is replace the rite of circumcision with infant baptism… although they do not practice pedobaptism in a sacramental way as do the Roman Catholics. Instead, they treat it like circumcision. To them, infant baptism is a sign that the child and its family are claiming identification with the community of faith.

I don’t practice pedobaptism… but nor do I assign the churches that do to outer darkness. But as a non-Reformed evangelical, I see where the infant baptism could send the wrong message to people who do not have the special knowledge of what these churches mean when they perform this rite… and I wonder if this is why many Reformed churches do not practice it.

But note this well: neither circumcision, pedobaptism — or even a believer’s baptism — save anyone. That would be salvation by rite — as well as being deterministic — and for those two reasons alone it is decidedly against the gospel. Salvation requires the informed belief in Jesus Christ by an age-appropriate person. Once a person is saved, then they should submit to a believer’s baptism. It pleases God when they do this… and it gives the rest of us a clue as to who they are!

To read the article referenced above, visit the link below.

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