(Our final post today deals with that nagging question about rejection of baptism and rejection of faith as a whole and sums up our discussion. If you haven’t had a chance to read the discussion you start with pt. 1 here.)
Thinking about God doing the work in baptism what comfort and hope does this understanding of baptism convey to your Christian life?
This always brings about the question, what about those that are baptized and do not live the Christian life, never receive communion, never shadow a church doorstep, are heinous criminals and the worst of offenders are they still saved, are God’s promises still valid?
First, whenever we have this kind of discussion we have to remember that we are not and cannot play God. God alone calls His people home, not us. We can only talk about what we see on the outside not what is going on in the heart. This takes some humility and we have to let go of the desire to try to make these decisions on our own power.
With that said, baptism can be rejected and shunned because this is not a magic trick but a promise made in relationship between God and the person. Let me give you an illustration.
When my children were born I made a promise to them that I would not simply be their biological father but I would be their Dad. I would care for them, provide for them, give them the best of me and provide an inheritance for them spiritually, emotionally and physically. This is my promise to be their Dad. Now what my kids do with that promise on their end I cannot control. They could receive it, grow into it and at the last when I am gone receive their inheritance hopefully with fond remembrance of who I was in their life. Or they could reject me as their father, take advantage of my provision or throw it out the window, change their name to Cheeseburger and when the time to receive their inheritance comes reject it like they rejected me. I can only be in control of how I keep my end of the promise I made to my children when they were born, I can’t control what they do with it.
The same is true in baptism. To a much greater and perfect extent God’s promises in baptism to care for that little one (in His eyes whether they are grown or not), provide what is needed in this life however long that may be and to give them an eternal inheritance with Him. God is faithful to His eternal promises but what we do with baptism is something God chooses not to control. We could receive it with grateful hearts, learn more and more about the faith, grow into it and receive our eternal inheritance with gratitude or we could reject everything that is God and when the time of death comes scorn the gift of eternal life.
If we or someone we love finds themselves in this position, this doesn’t change God’s promise which is as secure as ever, but it would be a good time to repent of your stubborn attitude and gracefully receive and begin to respond to what God has done for you.
Finally, this is why when you are baptized you are baptized into a church family as well. God never means for baptism to be an isolated thing that we do on our own apart from the love and support of a church family. Baptism must always be followed up with instruction, nurture, care and Christian support that helps the person to grow into their trust and knowledge of who God is, what these promises mean and how they can respond to that promise with love towards God and love towards their neighbor.
This is God kneeling down into the mud for us, the mud of our lives and doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves—making eternal promises. God does not expect us to come out of the mud, clean ourselves off and somehow crawl out of the mud to Him, instead He comes exactly to where we are, mud and all, and promises us His love and an eternal inheritance with Him. It all starts and ends with who Jesus is.
(At the beginning of Pt. 1 I asked you to think of any questions you had about baptism. Did I answer them? Shoot me a comment and let’s talk about it or let me know your thoughts.)