Humble Dogs

That they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts. Matthew 13:15b

Archive for the tag “baptism”

Baptism – Not To Be Taken Lightly

Before I go on I want to say that this post is to clarify what I said about baptism in my previous blog post, Covenant: Signed, Sealed, Delivered; I’m Yours.

Many have described baptism as, “The outward sign of an inward grace”. Yes, that is true but—. The problem I have with this connection of the two is; the ‘Outward Sign’ of baptism is of our volition. The ‘Inward Grace’ is of God. Let us look at these in reverse order, actually, the proper order.

The Inward Grace

Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Romans 6:4, “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.”

It is at the Cross of Christ, Christ’s death and resurrection, where we were saved, when we were saved, not when we were immersed in or sprinkled with water. We were saved long before we turned to Christ in faith. That salvation, which is for the whole of the people on earth, is granted to us by the Grace of God. It is God’s most precious gift. What we care to do with that gift is up to each of us. It is the salvation earned for us by Christ that is the entry pass to the Kingdom of God and the receiving of the Holy Spirit that we may become part of God’s ‘Royal Priesthood’.

Christ’s death and resurrection is God’s guarantee of the covenant between Him and the people of His Kingdom to build up “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”, see Exodus: 19:5,6.

Cross, Empty for Christ is Risen

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Colossians 2:12, “..having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.”

1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Colossians 3:1-4, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

Acts 2:38-39, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.”

As Matthew-Henry Commentary says on Acts 2:38-39:

“This was the same duty that John the Baptist and Christ had preached, and now that the Spirit is poured out is it still insisted on: “Repent, repent; change your mind, change your way; admit an after-thought.’’ (2.) Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ; that is, “firmly believe the doctrine of Christ, and submit to his grace and government; and make an open solemn profession of this, and come under an engagement to abide by it, by submitting to the ordinance of baptism; be proselyted to Christ and to his holy religion, and renounce your infidelity.”

Because God has bestowed upon us the most precious gift of salvation through Christ Jesus, our spirit felt realization of this blessed truth of the Grace of God brings us to repentance and as a sign that we accept His gift we commit to Him in the ordinance of baptism.

We make a statement in our baptism: “I was crucified and buried with Christ and raised up to newness of life.”

Does our act of baptism bring us the gift of salvation? No! It is in response to our salvation that we commit to being baptized.
Does our baptism bring us the gift of the Holy Spirit? No! We are infilled with the Spirit of God upon our acceptance of the gift of salvation, the obedience of Christ Jesus to death on the cross and his glorious resurrection.
God is one, undivided, all aspects of God, all benefits and gifts and ministries are combined into that single package, SALVATION.

So what is the purpose of the outward sign of baptism?

The physical act, the outward sign, of baptism is a public display testifying to all in attendance that, “I have accepted the salvation offered through Christ and am from this day forward I am a reformed person. I know the one true and living God and I promise that I will in every way be a reflection of Him. Go ahead world, – judge me according to His standard.”

I now live for Christ. “But God forbid that I should boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.” Gal. 6:14

How much more powerful a statement would the act of baptism be if baptism was performed in public instead of within the private confines of a church.

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Covenant: Signed, Sealed, Delivered; I’m Yours

We are a people of covenant, a nation of covenants. Whether we buy or rent a house, buy or lease a car, even the contract you signed for your cell phone activation or for an internet provider is dependent on covenants. The list of covenants you or myself have signed goes on and on and covers most areas of our lives. Even to vote in an election which is a right guaranteed by constitution is under covenant, you make a statement of who you are and a promise to obey the election laws.

What is a covenant?

An old paper scroll with quill pen and inkwell

An old paper scroll with quill pen and inkwell

A covenant is a binding agreement; a contract which is guaranteed in writing under seal, and may include a clause as to performance under such contract. A covenant usually includes the action to be taken in which damages are sought for breach of the signed (sealed) agreement. Often a lawyer or notary public will place a seal as witness to the signatories.

What are Biblical covenants?

First we must understand that God is one God, from the beginning, now and always, God eternal. The same God in creation as to the peoples of the old covenant as to those of us covered by the new covenant, one God. In Biblical history we read of several covenants.

The covenant given to Noah which applied to all humanity and to all living creatures. God promised never again to destroy all life on Earth by flood. Genesis: 9:11 God created a rainbow as the sign of this “everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth”. Genesis: 9:12-17

The destroying ‘flood’ and the sign of the ‘rainbow’. Both hijacked in the ‘modern’ society and church. I will leave that commentary for another day.

The covenant of circumcision. Circumcision to be practiced on every male child to be the permanent sign of this everlasting covenant with Abraham and all his male descendants. They will be God’s people and “I will be their God”. Genesis 17:9–14

The Kingdom covenant. The Mosaic covenant found in Exodus: 19, is God’s promises contained in both the written Torah and the Oral Torah. In this covenant, God promises to make the Israelite his “treasured” possession among all people. Exodus: 19:5,6 God will build “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” providing they follow God’s commandments. This was a covenant under law.

A New covenant. Jeremiah 31:30–33, God makes a commitment that one day a new covenant, a new agreement between God and mankind will be revealed or written. What isn’t really explained is; does this new covenant replace the previous one or is it to be an extension to the old with a greater level of commitment to Holiness. One reason for ambiguity is because the Mosaic covenant applied only to the people of Israel, the Jews and converts to Judaism, where the new covenant is extended to all peoples.

In the Gospel accounts of “The Last Supper”, Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:18-26, Luke 22:7-23, where Jesus celebrates the Passover with his disciples, Jesus foretells His crucifixion and blesses the wine as the blood of the covenant. In translation, many have added the word “new”.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:23-25;
“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

What is important is Jesus words, “This cup that is poured out for you is the (new) covenant in my blood.” Christ Jesus has signed the covenant in His blood. Christ’s death and resurrection is God’s guarantee of the covenant between Him and the people of His Kingdom. Is this not a new realization of the old?
The replacement to the covenant given to Abraham is Baptism over Circumcision, now both men and women are independently covered. We are all God’s people.
Under the new covenant, God manifests his word to build; “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”. Under the ‘Moses’ covenant the ‘Kingdom’ was a rule by law. The new covenant is by rule of the “Holy Spirit” and the law is now written in our hearts. No one can claim ignorance of the Truth of God.
The transition from the old to the new was prophesied through Jeremiah. The transition from an earthly kingdom with an eye toward heaven to heavenly kingdom revealed on earth by His Church through Faith.

A point in law is that a binding agreement must be signed using the same ink, the same pen, as proof that both parties were present together and are each witness to the others signature. In like manner, since Jesus signed the covenant with His blood, by His death, so must each of us. How? By baptism. That is what our baptism is, our signature to the Covenant, our death. A signing by each of us unto death that we are in agreement with the covenant. Our old “man” is put to death. We are no longer as we were, sinners, ignoring God in our lives. As Jesus arose back to life, so then will we. Jesus became one in Spirit, a Spiritual reality, in confirmation of the covenant. By faith, we become born again in the Spirit of God.

Baptism Dove

the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” -Luke 3:21-22 The stained glass window art was photographed inside Saint Mary’s Church, Denville, NJ. Copyright 2009 Loci B. Lenar

Our lives, upon baptism, are to become one with Him in Spirit. We are now placed under God’s control not our own. God’s control, our acts of faith, are the visible confirmation to the world of the covenant between each of us and God. The law, or commandments are still in effect but, are manifest in Jesus’ words, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Luke 10:27.

Compare with the words given to Moses, Deuteronomy 6: 4-9,
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

I welcome your thoughts on my views of the covenant.

PS; Although I am not a Roman Catholic, I do appreciate a lot of the art work in their cathedrals.

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