Baptism Saves - Really!
We all get our children inoculated or immunized against disease. Why not have our babies baptized, too?
We inoculate or immunize children because man's laws demand it. But what if we were free? What if no law required us to immunize our children before enrolling them in school? Would we still do it?
Of COURSE we would! Why? Because disease poses a real threat, and immunization provides a real protection. We don't NEED the laws of men to demand that we protect our children. We love them, so we provide them what they need.
Something far worse than disease threatens our children. The Bible calls it sin.
Are babies sinful? Read Psalm 51:5, where the psalmist says that he was conceived sinful and born with sin.
Also, read Isaiah 53:6, which says that we all have gone astray. ALL have sinned and lack the glory of God (Romans 3:23). That means the WHOLE world is accountable to God (Romans 3:19). No one is righteous. No one does good. No one. (Romans 3:21).
Does this really mean that babies are in danger of the consequences of sin? Read Romans 6:23, where St. Paul says that the "wages of sin is death." Even babies die. If they couldn't, we wouldn't worry about inoculating them against mumps, measels and rubbela.
Something worse than disease infects us all. The Bible calls it sin, and the wages - the consequence - of sin is death. If you read the Bible, you will find that God poured out His wrath and judgment against a sinful world in Genesis. Only Noah and his family were saved in the ark. Read I Peter 3:18-21. There, St. Peter compares the work of God in saving Noah through the flood with His work of saving sinners through Baptism. Baptism saves because JESUS saves! It was GOD Who saved Noah and his family in the ark, but He used the ark to do it, and the same water that buried the sinful and rebellious world floated Noah and his family safely above the destruction below.
The Bible doesn't expressly SAY that babies were included when God poured out His wrath on a sinful world. It doesn't say women or teenagers or old men were included, either. It just says that God destroyed every living thing, because "the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth" (Gen. 8:21), and "that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Gen. 6:5).
If we pay attention to God's Word, especially at places like the world-wide flood of Noah, where God pours out His judgment on all humanity, we won't be so apt to say that babies don't need the protection God is happy to provide. The Bible says that God is "no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). He poured out His judgment in the past on young and old. He poured it out even on His Sinless Son - the ONLY One of us who SHOULDN'T have been punished. And then He freely pours out His blessings of life, forgiveness and salvation in Christ Jesus - to anyone - not respecting their gender, their nationality, or even their age. He is gracious that way. It is WE who look for something to distinguish people and make some more worthy than others of God's free grace. God is no respecter of persons.
Yet, we DO know how to be gracious, don't we? We inoculate or immunize our babies against what can kill them temporally. We do that when they are little, simply because they are in danger and because it will do them good. Why then would we neglect what can help and preserve them for eternity?
The Bible speaks of Holy Baptism as God's Means of inoculating us against sin, death, the power of the devil - even against the wrath of God! It does this by applying the very life, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus to sinners.
Read Romans 6:1-8. There, St. Paul says that the death and resurrection of Jesus are applied to us in Holy Baptism. When we immunize children, we use a weakened or defeated strain of the disease to build resistance. Christ defeated Death for us on the cross. He overcame the judgment of the Law by dying in our place. He swallowed sin by becoming a sin-sacrifice for us. Sin, death and Satan are defeated in Christ's Death and Resurrection. Through Holy Baptism, God applies the work of Christ to us so that we live.
There are, of course, real differences between immunizing children and baptizing them. Immunizations are injected. Baptism is the work of Christ laid over us. The Bible calls it "putting on" or "being clothed" with Christ (Gal. 3:27). In this sense, it is like wrapping our children in a blanket to keep them warm, or strapping them into a car seat to keep them safe. Only, Christ does more than keep us warm. He makes us holy and acceptable to God, and that makes sure that we are safe against the wrath of God against all sin. Now, when God looks at us, He sees us all wrapped up in His Son, and that makes us pleasing to Him. Because of Christ, God considers us righteous and stainless and holy and good. We are still sinners, but God looks at us in Christ. That is what Baptism means.
Inoculations are medicinal. Baptism is a miracle. Inoculations work because something is put INTO us. Baptism saves because we are grafted into Christ. Inoculations imunize regardless of what a person believes. By Baptism, God the Holy Spirit regenerates the sinner, making us alive, and working in us true and saving faith.
Read how St. Paul speaks of Holy Baptism as the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit in Titus 3:5. Our Lord speaks of Holy Baptism as a being born from above by water and the Spirit in John 3:5. Inoculating children does something for their bodies, but baptizing children does something for the whole person. It makes us a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthian 5:17).
Baptism is not magic, it's the miracle of God working new and eternal life in us by uniting us in the saving work of Christ Jesus. Bringing children physically into the world requires us to take care of them and feed them. So also, we never bring God's spiritual children into His Kingdom without likewise caring for them dearly.
Making baby Christians - disciples - by baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19-20) applies the saving life, death and resurrection of Christ to keep us safe against the threat of sin, death and Satan. It makes us alive in Christ, and that means we need to eat, to be nurished. So, the Baptized life is the life of daily living from the Promises of God in Jesus. It is the life of faith that is constantly nurtured on God's Word and turned to our neighbor in love! Baptism is not some empty ritual. It is not the work of men. It is the saving work of Christ, which begins a vital, vibrant, fruit-bearing life as we continue as branches grafted into the Vine.
Would you like to learn more about God's miracle of Holy Baptism?
Would you like to learn more about how God reveals His Saving work through Word and Water - from the Spirit hovering over the waters in Genesis 1:2, to Noah in the ark, baby Moses on the Nile, Israel through the Red Sea and Jordan River, Our Lord's own Baptism by John and His subsequent baptzing of disciples through His Holy Apostles, Christ's pouring forth both Water and Blood from His pierced side and much more? If you would, please return to this website.
Please email Pastor Sawyer with questions or visit us here at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. The Scriptures are wet with Baptismal references because God has always planned to pour salvation out freely in His Son. What comes from Jesus saves, and Baptism is His work and saving Gift. That's why we Lutherans are pleased to say . . .
Baptism Saves - Really!
Call Pastor Sawyer at (601) 992-4752, or email him. He'd be glad to speak with you about God's free giving through Holy Baptism - even for children.