Summary: Four veiws of baptism
“Baptism: Uncomfortable Waters
As I stated last week today’s message is on baptism. The reason I am addressing baptism is because we are going to have a baptism celebration next Sunday, July 29. Right after the church service everyone in this congregation is invited over to Brian and Lisa Nosker’s home between Foxburg and Emlenton. And there in the Allegheny River we will be holding a baptism ceremony, as well a fellowship lunch.
This baptism celebration will sort of be a first for our church. I say this because we have never before had a baptism by immersion or as some fondly call it a good dunking. I’m excited about it and I hope you’ll come out for this celebration. Currently we have at least 4 people who will be stepping into the waters of baptism. And if anyone else is led by the Holy Spirit to be baptized please talk to me by Wednesday or Thursday.
Virtually all Christian, and many non-Christian, churches practice the ceremony of baptism. They do so for several reasons, the first and greatest reason is because Jesus in His final commission, found in Matthew 28:19, commanded us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Another reason we baptize is because Jesus was baptized (Jn 3:16) and in 1 Peter 2:21 we are called to follow in His footsteps. Also we find that in John 4:1-2 that the Lord Jesus approved of His disciples baptism. Baptism was also given an important place in the early church. As a matter of fact the early church never imagined a believer remaining unbaptized. And finally a last reason we baptize people in the church is that in Hebrews 6:1-3 baptism is termed as a foundational truth or doctrine which is no less optional or less significant than such doctrines as repentance, resurrection and judgment. We need to do this, to be baptized.
It’s almost universally agreed that baptism in some way is connected with the beginning of the Christian’s life, with one’s initiation into the universal, invisible church (1 Cor 12:13) as well as the local, visible church. Yet even with all this said there are considerable disagreements regarding baptism.
Three basic questions about baptism have been debated for centuries among good and faithful Christians. The first question is: What is the meaning of baptism? What does it actually accomplish? The second is: Who are the proper subjects of baptism? Is it restricted to those who are capable of exercising conscious faith in Jesus Christ, or may it also be administered to children and even infants? The third question regarding baptism is: How are we to baptism? Is it sprinkling, the pouring water or is it total immersion? This is then the what, who and how of baptism.
Knowing that these questions have been haggled over for centuries the chances that we are going to solve them this morning are slim to none. However I believe it’s important that we address this issue because we are all called to be baptized.
What I am going to do is address the four views of baptism and see how they answer the three questions: what, who, and how. The views I will be addressing are: the Church of Rome or Catholic, the Lutheran, the Presbyterian or Reformed and the Baptist view of baptism.
Let mean start out with the view held by the Church of Rome. They view baptism as a means of saving grace. Rome believes that the act of baptism in water actually conveys or passes on grace to the person baptized. What this means is that when a person is baptized it brings about a transformation in their life, that transformation is spiritual death to spiritual life. So for the Church of Rome faith has no part in ones salvation, so we could say that to the Church of Rome, or to Catholics to be baptized is to be saved.
This is why it’s so important that a Catholic priest baptizes infants. If the infant is baptized near birth their entrance into heaven is unhindered, however if they are not baptized they can in no way gain entrance to heaven. Instead they go to limbo, which is a place of natural happiness, but it is short of heaven because God is not there.
Listen to page 1213 from the Catechism of the Roman Church: “Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door to which gives access to the other sacraments. Through baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the church and made sharers in her mission: ‘Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.”