Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Goal of Christian Parenthood

Pastor Petersen had some beautiful insight today regarding baptism and raising children in the faith.  I can only paraphrase.

He was catechizing from the Book of Concord - Augsburg Confession, Article IX, where it is stated "Our churches teach that Baptism is necessary for salvation" (Mark 16:16, "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;"  I Peter 3:21 "Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you.").  We tend to fudge on this.   Can faith exist before baptism?  Yes, definitely.   Are there those who have been saved without it?  We have the example of the thief on the cross.  But these are exceptions, and they rely on God's mercy, and God is a merciful God.  I've had many friends who came to faith who put off baptism, because they already have faith.  That's not Biblical.  The Biblical example is the Ethiopian eunoch who after coming to faith says to Philip, "Here is water, why should I not be baptized?"

But God confers faith and blessing through baptism, so why would we not baptize when we are able?  Baptism is important.  The Holy Spirit is truly present and gives faith and forgiveness of sins through baptism.  The Bible talks about how we are made one with Christ's death in baptism.  If we die with Him, we will surely rise with Him. (Romans 6, Colossians 2).  It's critical.  It's important.  Do it. Scripture treats it like it is urgent, so why shouldn't we?

But also, baptism doesn't mean we are done.  As Pastor Petersen so concisely stated, "The goal isn't a baptized baby.  The goal is an old man who is saved and who has lived a life of good works."  So the next step is to have a child who is catechized and able to come to the Lord's Supper, because forgiveness of sins and strengthening of faith are there also.  God wants to bless us through Baptism, through the preaching of the Word, and through Holy Communion...always and often.  Do we say "No thanks Holy Spirit, I've had enough forgiveness and strengthening of faith.  I'm good."  No, we receive God's blessings where they are given and rejoice that they are plentiful, because we are constantly being attacked by Satan, the world, and our sinful flesh.  That's why they are called the Means of Grace.

In the end, we want a mature Christian --a person who knows their Scripture, who treasures Worship and the Sacraments, who fears and loves God and serves Him because has been saved by His love.

I love that.  "The goal is an old man who is saved and who has lived a life of good works."  Having come from a family that treated baptism and confirmation like items on the list to check off, it clarifies things.  And if the faith is taught this way to us, and emphasized to parents, doesn't that make those Sunday baseball games and all of those things that take children away from the Church clear?  Doesn't it put the responsiblities of parenthood into perspective?

It isn't to raise a good athlete or someone who will go to college and be successful in their career, or who will make lots of money (not that these things are bad, in and of themselves.  They are just not the ultimate end, and we often treat them like they are.  They decorate the Christian life, they are not what is in the end the most important).  For a Christian, to raise a child is to raise someone who will die in Christ.


Anonymous said...

Baptism is NOT required to be saved, Eph 2:8-9 says For by grace are ye saved thru faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, lest any man should boast.

Baptism is a step of obedience. Baptism is taken after one takes the step of faith and is therefore not required and should not be done to infants.

RPW said...

"He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned." Mark 16:16

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Romans 6:4

having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
Colossians 2:2

Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you... I Peter 3:21.

Baptism is not a step of obedience, it is a place where God tells us to come to meet Him to receive His gift of the Holy Spirit, who imparts faith, even into infants. It is not the pouring of water which is the act which saves, but the water, combined with the words "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." The command of Jesus, through which He promises to make us one with His death and His resurrection.

When I was baptized, or when I had my children baptized, it was not me that did the saving act through obedience or my parent's obedience. It was God who promised to work through the act of baptism. That is why He commands it so many times. It is much more important than a mere act of obedience on my part, that is a lowly symbol of what has already happened. God really gives forgiveness of sins through baptism, and it is one of the ways that we receive the Holy Spirit. Through the Word and through Holy Communion, where Jesus's real body and blood are present with the bread and the wine. I don't make that happen. God does.

RPW said...

This does not take away the grace. It is pure grace. Because it is not simply water. It is the gift promised through the water and the Word. It is still only truly grace.

It would be like saying, "I shouldn't go to church, because I am saved through grace, so not going emphasizes that. It is not what I do for God at church that matters, I am there to hear His Word and let the Holy Spirit use it to make me into who He wants me to be.

Anonymous said...

It would also be like telling a child he or she is saved because it is baptized....nope we all must come to the faith on our own. Baptism does not save a person, IT is a step of obedience, and that is the problem with denominational churches...they are headed into apostasy and keep teaching it.

Anonymous said...

Baptism is not necessary for salvation. It is the initiatory sign and seal into the covenant of grace. As circumcision referred to the cutting away of sin and to a change of heart (Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Jer. 4:4; 9:25,26; Ezk.44:7,9) baptism refers to the washing away of sin (Acts 2:38; 1 Pet. 3:21; Tit. 3:5) and to spiritual renewal (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:11-12). The circumcision of the heart is signified by the circumcision of the flesh, that is, baptism (Col. 2:11-12).

One last thought: If someone maintains that baptism is necessary for salvation, is he adding a work, his own, to the finished work of Christ? If the answer is yes, then that person would be in terrible risk of not being saved. If the answer is no, then why is baptism maintained as being necessary the same way as the Jews maintained that works were necessary?

RPW said...

First of all, I would like to respond to your accusation that denominations are headed into apostasy and keep teaching it.

Apostasy, "a total departure from the one's religion, principles, party, etc." ( is exactly what the purpose of a denomination is to prevent against. They tend to focus their energies on common teaching, training of theologians, etc. And while this does not preserve a denomination from entering into theological error and drifting away from the truth, it tends to happen much more slowly than in churches where you have one group of people who decide within their own building what they believe, and this is often strongly guided by the beliefs of whatever man they choose to be their senior pastor. I've been non-denominational. I saw a congregation go from a non-denominational church with a Baptist flavor to a non-denominational church with a Pentecostal flavor within weeks of the associate pastor becoming the senior pastor. The members also tend to skip around a lot more based upon their pet theological issue.

My denomination, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, teaches and confesses the same faith that it has taught and confessed since Martin Luther, who together with other solid theologians found that the Catholic Church was not teaching what the Bible taught, and backed it up with the teachings of the Ancient Church Fathers, who taught the faith very close to the time of Christ.

Disagreeing about what Scripture says about Baptism is not the same as apostasy. A complete and utter abandonment of Christianity is a denial of the Holy Trinity and the inerrancy of Scripture. Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Unitarians, etc. are apostate. And we definitely can put some of those mainline denominations in there like the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodists, Presbyterian Church USA, etc., who don't seem to have a problem with defining God in terms other than how He has revealed Himself to us, and proclaiming teachings formed in the desire to make everyone happy rather than what the Lord has taught and commands them to teach.

We all have a tendency to put our own preferences above the Word of God. Denominations, as a whole, tend to do this much more slowly because they have a common doctrine that they confess, the pastors are often taught in seminaries that teach this doctrine and send them out to the congregations, and they have a history to compare their teachings on these issues. They can engage in debate over these issues, and there is a certain amount of discipline where the hierarchy and other pastors, as well as laity can take action when false teaching takes place. This does not exist in non-denominational spheres, and historically speaking, groups that go off by themselves claiming that they have a better answer than any other congregation tend to be the ones who fall into heretical teachings and apostasy much more quickly than a denomination does. However, when it starts in a denomination, with one or two doctrinal issues, it does tend to be like dominoes, with all other important teachings falling rather quickly after that.

Susan said...

Anonymous refers to 1 Peter 3:21, which says Baptism now saves you.

So I think maybe baptism saves.

Gunfighter said...

I once read that a particular theologian became a member of the Orthodox church in late life, becausethe ELCA had become nearly Methodist, and the LCMS had become nearly Baptist.


I liked what you said here: "Disagreeing about what Scripture says about Baptism is not the same as apostasy."

I suppose the same thing can be said about a lot of what the various denominations believe. Certainly about themselves.