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Life after Baptism

July 5, 2016
fuente baptismal

Early church baptismal font

6th Sunday of Holy Trinity
“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.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:3-11
—-

Martin Luther said “there is on earth no greater comfort than baptism” and he proved this in his personal life and experience. Luther admitted that when he was in the distress of affliction and anxiety he comforted himself by repeating, “I am baptized! I am baptized!”

In saying, “I’m baptized!” Luther affirmed, and rightly stated, that he belonged to God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. By this we learn that who you are, and whose you are, are important components of baptism.

There are many who wonder: which is the accurate baptism, infant baptism or adult baptism? This has been discussed for centuries and has given rise to the separation of Christians and the origin of different churches. We as Lutherans have inherited infant baptism. Although Martin Luther, as well as the Apostle Paul, emphasized: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph 4: 5) and although baptism is one, it is a requirement that it be the result of repentance. “Repent, and be baptized all of you in the name of Jesus Christ “(Acts 2:38).

Most of us have been baptized as children. According to the Bible, the most accurate is that baptism happens when you can remember it, that is, when one is aware of what one is doing. Why we still maintain this tradition of baptism of children? I know why and yet I do not know why. I know from church history and all possible explanations as to why infant baptism began to be put into practice. But I am not convinced about it from what I read easily in the Bible.

Still, if we may decide to be faithful to the Lutheran tradition or what we read in a simple way from the Bible, there is something that we must be clear: we must be aware that we have been baptized and that baptism has been made after a repenting of our sins. If having been baptized allows me to have full awareness of repentance and my faith in Christ and that drives me to live according to His commandments and to remain joint to the church, then little can be said about the way in which baptism has occurred.
If baptism was just one more example of a rite, costume or tradition and I do not consider myself as obedient to God and as being part of his Church, then something is not in order with that baptism. Should I be re-baptized? Maybe yes, and maybe not. Maybe yes, if you consider it appropriate within you; maybe not if you decide by faith, to tidy up your life with God and decide to believe in truth in Jesus Christ and surrender your life to Him by obeying his word.

In our churches, it’s needless to say, we also accept people who want to be baptized as adults, even those who consider it necessary to do it again for matters of faith and conscience. We don’t deny any form of baptism. But we must also recognize that salvation must be united not only to water but also to faith: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith” (Eph 2:8)

How has my life been since baptism? It is difficult to say how my life has been since baptism because most of us have been baptized as children. Then, we do should be able to answer the question: how has my life been since I’ve been baptized and have recognized and accepted Christ as my Savior and absolute Lord of my life? Of this we should have consciousness. If this moment is missing in your life, then no one can tell you that a new baptism and conversion is not valid and necessary for salvation.

As we said last Sunday, churches that obey the word of God are being blessed with the presence of God, that is, with His power and blessing; it is likewise for people who lead a life in obedience to Christ.

Are we aware that through baptism we have died to sin?
This question is not trying to tell us that we have become perfect people without sin. The question is intended to call attention and raise awareness to the fact that there are things that God asks us, through His word, to do, there are things to be put into practice in our lives if we are to say we are Christians.

I have two important questions to ask this morning. I would like us to reflect on these questions and possible answers during the week.
Why do I feel the need to come to church?
And the second question is:
Why are other members that also consider themselves to be ‘members’ but do not feel the need to come to church?
We all know that God is everywhere, that church is every day where we gather in the name of Christ, “For where two or three are gathered in my name.” But it is also true that we want to gather every Sunday on the day of rest to worship God and to share the bread, and the wine (the body and the blood of our Lord) and share the message of His word.

Why do some people have no need to be part of the ‘communion of saints’? They may think they are part of it because they come once a year or even less, but in fact they do not show it.
What is missing in these people than is present in others? I don’t want you to answer me now, but each of us can intimately answer this question.

When the apostle speaks of dying to sin, he is talking about to die to that part of us that continues to maintain a lifestyle that does not respect the word of God. This part keeps us from growing in faith and the communion of saints. That is proof of whether or not our baptism has really born fruit.

What do we do with these people? We cannot do anything. Those people will have to decide what to do with their life before God alone. The only thing we can do is pray for them and invite them whenever we can. Is it counterproductive or fruitless to invite people who don’t want to come to church? I do not know. But something I am clear about is that we do have to invite those who do have a need of God, and have spiritual needs and are desperate for help. But you not only have to invite them to church on Sunday, remember that each of us are the church. Perhaps that person is looking for a word of encouragement from the Bible (that we read daily) or we can try to pray together with that person. If we conduct ourselves in this way, each of us, our evangelizing power is multiplied by the number of members we are.

It doesn’t matter what the causes are why those who have already been baptized are not coming. They will be held accountable before God someday. What matters is that I do understand why am I here today in the church, the communion of saints, and what I think about my baptism.

If my baptism has been the fruit of repentance and has led me to a new life, then my baptism is of the form God asks for. If after my baptism I’m living a life where I put God first, then I’m living a new life in Christ. If I am aware, through daily reading of the word of God, what things are considered sin by God and what is not and I try to live in the things of God, then I’m living a new life in Christ after my baptism.

If that part is missing in your life today, it may perhaps be the occasion to ask for God’s forgiveness for your sins and to decide to be baptized or renew your faith relationship with Christ in order to truly live a new life of faith in Christ with every good thing that this means for your present and future life.

Faith is a relationship, a communion, a contact with God and a round trip to God through daily prayer, Bible reading and participation in the church and the sacraments; it is to live out Christ every day even with those who don’t believe in Him. If that is happening in your life, then there is no doubt that God is blessing you with his Holy Spirit and you are living a new life. Churches grow and thrive with this kind of Christian.
Let us ask God to awaken in this in every one of us and in each of those who consider themselves Christians because they have already been baptized. It is this conviction for the new and true life that leads to salvation. Amen

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One Comment leave one →
  1. margkahl permalink
    July 5, 2016 7:29 pm

    Thank you! Reading commentaries on Acts as Ede said that will be our focus of study in September and beyond. So very interesting, so many “firsts”in this book. Blessings Margaret

    More of You in me, Less of me in me, More of You in me, Less of me in me, All of You in me! None of me in me. M.Kahlmeier

    >

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