Summary: Baptism. Why do we observe the sacrament of believer baptism instead of infant baptism? Why do we celebrate the dedication of a child to God instead of baptizing them right then and there? We will attempt to answer these questions in this sermon.
Aman lived in a country where a person’s religion was stamped on their birth certificate. His said muslim. He grew up in a muslim household. He was taken each week to the mosque. He read the koran. He kept all of the religious observances that he knew of.
One day Aman was listen to some music on his radio and while searching for another station he came across a station called World Mission Broadcast and they were talking about Jesus. He had heard very little about Jesus and that He was a prophet so Aman kept listening. He heard about sin and how it separates us from God. He heard that Jesus was actually God and not just a prophet. He heard that Jesus came to earth as a Man and died to pay the penalty for our sins and that three days later Jesus came back from the dead.
Aman could hardly believe his ears. Jesus, the Son of God, had died for his sins? Aman kept listening and one day He became a Christian. He didn’t tell anyone because he would be killed. Aman kept listening and heard that he should be baptized. It took some time for him to figure out what that meant. Eventually, he found another Christian and one night they snuck out to the river and secretly baptized each other as best as they knew how.
Aman and his friend have learned much from World Mission Radio and they try to spread the word about Jesus their Savior as best as they can even though it may mean their death by stoning.
But, it still says “muslim” on their birth certificate.
Did the actions of Aman's parents dictate his final belief?
Today we’ll be baptizing Crystal and Vicki Lynn. It does not specify any religion on their birth certificate. They are making this decision as adults.
Muslims specify the religion of a child at birth.
Jews have a ritual that they perform, at least on the boys, and it’s called circumcision.
The bible says in
“For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised …”
And again in
“On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised.”
This marks a boy as an Israelite. He is then a descendent of Abraham and is part of the covenant between Abraham and God. As it says in the verse, this is done on the eighth day after birth. The baby bow certainly feels the pain of the circumcision but he does not know the meaning.
This young boy is now marked as a Jew, a son of Abraham and as he grows his parents and the teaching of the Jewish elders have an impact on his life. But, the sins of this world and the deceit of the devil also pull at him.
There were many in Israel in the Old Testament who were circumcised who lived faithfully for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
And, yet, in the end of the Old Testament it seemed as if the whole nation turned away from God even though they had been circumcised from birth.
When Jeremiah is prophesying judgment against Israel what is his accusation?
“Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon, Moab and all who live in the wilderness in distant places. All these nations are really uncircumcised, and even the whole house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart.”
And in the New Testament as we read last week, as Stephen was testifying of Jesus the Christ to the Jewish elders he said
“You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!”
And so, we come to baptism. Some branches of Christianity practice infant baptism and basically it is for the same reason that Jews practice circumcision as they believe that it marks the child as a Christian in the eyes of God.
We, in the Church of The Nazarene generally do not perform infant baptism although it is allowed and included in the rituals section of the manual. However, if you read the section on infant baptism it much more closely resembles the baby dedication than it does the adult baptismal ritual.
We dedicate our babies to the Lord because we see this as a pattern in the Bible. Samuel was dedicated to the Lord by his mother Hannah.
Jesus was taken to the temple and presented to the Lord
“And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him (Jesus) up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord.”
“Then little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.