Friday, August 27, 2010
Jesus Delivers His Cleansing,
Where is the water in Baptism in the Epistles? This is the question asked by those who want to have a waterless Baptism which is secret to the eyes and where one receives the Holy Spirit. Here it is my doubting friends:
Ephesians 5:25 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. ESV
Some have said in response to this. “That is only one verse!” For the first 1500 years in the Holy Christian Church there were no major disputes about whether Baptisms included water. It was only at the time of the Reformation that we had a group wanting to cast off historic doctrine because it looked and sounded too popish. To do this one has to see the bible as a wax nose to twist and shape into any desired form. This is truly a mishandling of the word of God and is why we have such a mess yet today 500 years later. Sinners never being satisfied are always looking for new moving of the Spirit to hit them.
In baptism we receive the glorious cleansing of the connection of water with the word of God. In this promised gift Jesus cleanses us from all sin so that we are presented, in Jesus, totally clean without spot or wrinkle. This ends all the foolish strivings humans do in Christianity to move up a ladder in holiness. Certainly some changes happen to old habits. They, due to the love and gratitude to Jesus, become loathsome to the believer. When confronted with the remaining sin repentance is granted as well as forgiveness. When confronted again with this sin repentance happens and again the forgiveness of sin. This is a constant in the life of a believer and is the first purpose of the law in church. However, one remains clean and without spot or blemish is the promise we have in baptism.
How, it is asked, can water do this? The real activity is not in the water, the baby being baptized, the older child or adult submitting to baptism nor the minister applying the water. It is the combination of water and the name of the Triune God. We see clearly that it is Jesus who is actually doing the baptizing. Since this is Jesus’ powerful work for us we need not doubt its power. What wonderful assurance we have in this activity of Jesus. No longer do we have to examine our own holiness to know we are in Christ. No longer do we have to try and remember an inner experience from years ago. No longer do we have to wonder if a decision we made was sincere enough. When the accusations come we can say to the world, our own sinful flesh and Satan “I am baptized!”
In the name of Jesus. Amen. †