Thursday, July 30, 2009

Faith desires Baptism, Even the faith of Little Children

I would like to ask my readers, to help me here. could this argumentation be strengthened somewhere? Has this helped anyone in their thinking about infant baptism, or baptism in general? Did anyone read it?
Love gets Married, Faith gets Baptized.
Ephes. 5:25-33 (ESV)
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, [26] that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, [27] so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. [28] In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. [29] For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, [30] because we are members of his body. [31] "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." [32] This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. [33] However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word… This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
It strikes me as I am pondering this the great similarities between love and marriage, and faith and baptism. Love marries, faith gets baptized. Some would claim that it is love that they have for each other that possess them to shack up. It isn’t love. Love doesn’t test compatibility. Love makes itself compatible. Love gets married, it does not fear marriage. So those who have faith want to be baptized if they are not baptized already. To say you believe in Jesus Christ, and yet refuse to be baptized. Is very much akin to saying that you love a woman, and yet being afraid to marry her. Jesus desires to baptize us, to sanctify us, by cleaning us, by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present us, members of the church by faith, who together in faith are one, and his bride, to himself in splendor. Faith that refuses to be baptized is no faith at all. Faith responds in love to the one who first loved us, desiring to be clean and splendorous before our Lord. Even as a bride occupies a whole day doing herself up, so that she can present herself splendorous before her husband on the wedding day. Faith in and of itself desires this, so there is no dichotomy between believe and be baptized, or repent and be baptized. To believe is to be baptized, to repent is to be baptized. There in baptism we are sanctified, made holy, and are presented to our Lord. But perhaps, even worse than one refusing to be baptized themselves, though they profess to believe, would be to believe one’s child has faith, and refuse to baptize them. The Lord desires all who have faith to be baptized, and all who have faith desire to be baptized. Faith alone saves, but faith gets baptized.
When a man loves a woman, he marries her. This in some ways may even be against his nature. I am not here to go into the baseness of the man’s carnal mind. Suffice it to say we men are sinners. The old Adam in us would rather not marry. Add to this the current state of family law, and marriage isn’t necessarily the smartest institution for a man to enter. Yet, love refuses to abuse that which is loved. Husbands will, or at least are to, love their wives to the point of death. Just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Of course, from my perspective it might actually be a bit easier on a man to give his life up for his bride, than suffer divorce. That said if we are willing to give up our lives for the woman we are marrying, we might also be willing to gamble our temporal possessions on the woman too. Love refuses to treat a woman as a used car that needs a test drive, only to be dropped off on the same corner he found her on. Love doesn’t “shack up.” Love makes a commitment before it beds a woman, a commitment to be faithful, a commitment to support the woman in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer. Love makes a commitment not to run when the woman becomes pregnant.
Women tend to desire marriage also, especially, when they are “in love” with the man. This though can be dangerous. We make a commitment to love, not being in love. We do, contrary to majority opinion have some control over our emotions. Proverbs tells the man to: Proverbs 5:18-19 (ESV)
Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
[19] a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love. ( Proverbs 5:18-19 (ESV)
In other words be in love with your wife, and love her, “be intoxicated always in her love.” But it is also a fact that as sinners we often fall in and out of love. It is possible that there are days when a man will not be intoxicated by his wife’s love. At these times the woman and the man have still committed to loving one another. Love is not the same as being intoxicated, though it is easier when you are intoxicated by her love, or his love. The early days of love a couple finds it easy to love each other, and do things for each other to express that love. It is in the doing that there is love, taking time for each other, making time for each other. It is love that possesses a woman to do the typical “woman’s work.” A wife that cooks for her husband is a wife that is loving her husband. That is but one example. A man should learn to be intoxicated by such love. We aren’t the easiest to live with.
But back to my main point love marries, it desires to marry. A man who wants to marry his fiancée is a man that loves his fiancée. I don’t know of too many women who desire to be merely used for sexual gratification, or test driven like a used cars. Girls grow up planning weddings, dreaming of raising families, and day dreaming about the man that will love them enough to marry them when they are of age. That is until the feminist movement jades them into thinking that that is a subpar dream, and they should rather want to “be doctors and lawyers and such.” A man who loves a woman respects that in the woman, and desires to show his love, by marrying her. Love marries.
Faith gets baptized. Faith wants to be baptized. Faith is that which makes us members of the bride of Christ. The Lutheran confessions write about the nature of the church, Quoting John 10:3, that a seven year old child knows what the church is: holy believers and “the sheep who hear the voice of there shepherd.” (article 12 of the Smalcald Articles.) In fact, the Lutheran confessions are consistent in defining the church as an association of believers. That is the church consists of all who have faith in Jesus Christ, all who believe in him, and believe him, hear his voice. It refuses to align “the church” with any earthly institution, even the” Lutheran Church.” This makes sense, the church is made up of believers everywhere.
Now faith is much more than our mind can even comprehend, much less ascent to. First and foremost we must remember though, that faith is a gift from God. “ For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Ephes. 2:8 (ESV) This gift is imparted to us by the work of the Holy Spirit who calls us by the gospel. “ Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says "Jesus is accursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except in the Holy Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:3 (ESV) That is no one can confess “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit, and only he confesses who believes in his heart. (Romans 10:10.)
The Holy Spirit gives us faith. Faith is probably best described as a threefold cord that is not easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 12:6) My Lutheran bias comes out again as I quote Luther, but I think he is describing faith when he pens his meaning to the First commandment. “You shall have no other God’s before me. What does this mean? We should fear, love and trust in God above all things. The three cords that make up the strand of faith are “fear, love and trust” the same as any child should fear, love, and trust their dad. So our Father in heaven bids us to call him, Abba Father. (Galatians 4:6). And this adoptive relationship that God takes on with us men and women, might really be more to the root of what faith is than anything else. It is a relationship with God, a Father /son, Father/daughter relationship. God the Father loves us his children adopted through faith, we merely respond in fear, love and trust. God initiates faith, God initiates the relationship. For whoever heard of an orphan choosing his parents? For that matter, who has ever chosen his parents? I could talk about fear and trust and how these are part of the make up of faith, but I want to concentrate on love.
To have faith in God is to love God, and desire to do his will, as love always desires to please that which it loves. Wives who love their husbands desire to please their husbands. Husbands who love their wives desire to please their wives. If we love Jesus we desire to keep his commandments, and word so to please him. (John 14) And we do love if we have faith, not in and of ourselves but because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19) I do hesitate to equate baptism to a mere command, or make it into nothing but a law we are to keep. What happens in baptism is gospel. There are many dynamics to Baptism, which is a blessed gift from Jesus. In Baptism Jesus justifies us, sanctifies us, washes us clean, forgives our sins, and gives us the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:11, Mark 1:8, 1 Peter 3:21.) Yet we are told to be baptized and to refuse baptism is a dangerous proposition. Sure Mark 16:16 does not say those who are not baptized are condemned, but only those who do not believe. Yet Mark 16:16 assumes that those who believe will be baptized when given the opportunity. In Acts 2:38-39 the voice of Peter utters the command of Christ, repent and be baptized. The two go hand in hand to repent is to be baptized, to be baptized is to repent. No one repentant soul that day would have refused to be baptized. It would have shown un repentance. Besides who doesn’t want the gift of the Holy Spirit, that is offered to you and your children, and those far off. But not only does Jesus tell us to be baptized, he tells us to baptize. Matthew 28:18-19. He tells us to baptize all nations, which necessarily would included infants if not otherwise excluded, as one is a citizen of a nation upon birth.
However it is maintained by many that infants, and often children in general aren’t ready for baptism. I fail to see why. Christ seems to think it is adults who are not ready for the kingdom of God. “But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. [15] Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." (Mark 10:14-15 (ESV) And yet we learn that one cannot see the kingdom of God, unless they are “born again,” and in order to be born again one must be born of water and of the Spirit. John 3:3-5. Here I believe Jesus is referencing Ezekiel 36: I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. [26] And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:25-26 (ESV) And hinting to the fulfillment of this prophecy in His Baptism, where he baptizes us in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The disciples performed this baptism with water. (Acts 8:38; 10:47) In this baptism He places on our head, the Father’s name, the Son’s name, and the Name of the Holy Spirit. That is we are given all three. In baptism Christ gives us the Holy Spirit, the source of our sanctification. In baptism he gives us the kingdom of God, which belongs to such as little children, whom He dearly loves.
Jesus loves little children, and so desires them to be baptized, as he desires to baptize all who believe and are members thereby of the Church His bride. Just as the little children if they have faith at all, desire to be baptized. This poses a problem to those who would believe little children don’t need baptism to be saved, for we are justified by faith. (Romans 3:28) That is we are saved by faith alone, or apart from works of the law. (Ephesians 2:8, 2 Thessalonians 2:13) There is no other way, and faith desires to be baptized. One can only conclude that if infants are saved at all, it is through faith. If they have faith, then who are we to refuse them baptism?


Brigitte said...

I read it a couple of times before, seeing that you were looking to go somewhere with it.

I thought about the cooking and being enthralled by it. I just experienced that when I was visiting with the couple getting married both previously divorced. There was such a pleasure over the most mundane thing done for each other. They had suffered so much in their marriages, that every sandwich made was pure gratitude and celebration. It was such a pleasure to witness, I won't forget it. Maybe we can learn to love and praise each other better. As women, you perform so many service type jobs and often seem to earn only scorn or neglect for it, it is not right.

The other thing I thought, why would anyone deprive themselves of the joy of a baptism or a wedding. They are such a thrill and celebration of everything good, it ought not be missed. Those committed trusting relationships are all that really matter in the end. Really, truly.

Women, however, nowadays, mar weddings by being the "bridezilla". It would scare me, if I was a guy. It is all about me and my special day and what I want and don't want. I don't even know why you would marry such a person. Just have a simple church wedding, the way it used to be. Don't get so worked up. My parents have something like 5 pictures of their wedding and one Bible. It is enough stuff. The more effort it seems, the less serious about the essence, at times. Baptism is simple, too. Just water and the word. Finished. Do less and believe more.

The other thing that comes to me is the writing from the Treasury of Daily Prayer from yesterday. With taking the step comes a life of commitment that is indeed full of light and full of joy, but also sacrificial and moral. And many don't want that.

This was the writing: by Veit Dietrich: "Beloved Christians! The godly have their manner, and it is a good manner. The evil also have their characteristic, and it is an evil characteristic. The life of Christians is that they alone believe what is written about Christ in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets; next, that they through Christ hope in the resurrection of the dead and eternal life; and, in addition, that they practice and earnestly strive to have a good conscience everywhere, both toward God through faith in Christ and toward men through blameless conduct.

The life of the godless, on the other hand, is that they are terribly afraid of the preaching of the Holy Gospel and would rather not know it, lest it produce a heavy conscience; next, that they are secure and have hope that everywhere and in all things they may enjoy the benefits of the people and their prayers. Moreover, they conduct themselves and use their office in such a way that they do not lose the world's favor. God grant that all of us, both authorities and subjects, flee the vices of the children and rulers of the world and instead follow the manner of God's children and the Lord God's authorities, that we may forsake the evil and do the good, and thus have God's favor and blessing and live for His honor and for the welfare of every man, until death and our entrance into heaven. Amen."

Maybe that's not what you're looking for, since it is not about infant baptism.

Nancy said...

Brigitte...When you walk with the Lord for a long shows! No matter the "accent" of denominational speech...*; )

Bror Erickson said...

Thanks Brigitte,
The attitude you bring to marriage can mean a lot for that marriage.

Bror Erickson said...

You're still here!
Good to see the duck face. I have two ducks, you know, in my back yard. My boy loves animals, so I bought him a couple. Put in a little duck pen, we use a duck tales kiddie pool for a pond.
John's worried though I might eat them for thanksgiving. I wouldn't do that to him. But I hope they live past thanksgiving or he is going to be awfully suspicious. Yeah, I like to do duck rather than turkey, or in addition to.

Steve Martin said...

We ought not refuse anyone (Go unto all the world)baptism.

"Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them."

All should be baptized. And then taught what it means. And then we should live in our baptisms.

Bror Erickson said...

Yes we should baptize them. We need to learn how to communicate this to baptists.