Summary: What is keeping me from recalling my baptism daily in my life? What is keeping me from loving the Lord my God with all my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength?
Questions from the reformers.
I want to start my message today with a verse of scripture. Luke 10:37 And he ( Jesus) answered, " YOU SHALL 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 YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."
I have been reading and studying the reformers Luther and Calvin the past few weeks in my seminary classes, and it has been both enlightening and convicting. The first thing that amazes me and has influenced me is their early age in which they acquired their learning and teaching. Calvin at age 12 was employed by the bishop. He then attended college in Paris and completed his studies there by age 17. He then attended two different universities and received his law degree at 23. At the young age of 27 wrote the first of his series of writing the Institutes of the Christian Religion, which we are part of texts and studied now in seminaries and universities around the world.
Luther as well entered school at age 14 and received from different universities two bachelor degrees, a masters degree, and his Doctor of Theology by age 29. He was ordained a priest at age 23 and was teaching theology in a university when he was 24. He was only 34 years old when he nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to a church door in Wittenburg and started the reformation.
I look at them and say, ”Wow.” The level of their commitmentto their faith we’d say was remarkable. But when I read the above passage from Luke again was it really? No, they were simply living out the two words continually repeated in the above commandment, “with all.” They were not doing anything extraordinary.
As pointed out by Jesus in Luke 17: 8-10, "But will he not say to him, ’Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? "He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? "So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ’We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’"
Like the slave in the passage above, all Luther and Calvin were doing is what they were commanded. Then why does their lives amaze us, amaze me? Because we have rationalized to ourselves that we are living up to the commandment in Luke 10. We have replaced the words “with all” in the commandment we live out with; “most of”, “some of”, “occasionally with”, “when convenient”, and “hardly ever” and consistently reward ourselves and the church who live out that perverted command as being acceptable.
Even so, one would say the level of their commitment to their faith was remarkable, what would one say is the level of yours?
The knowledge and wisdom these men acquired at such an early age and their strong devotion to their faith shames me compared to where I, both in knowledge and faith, were at their age. I realize more what the high qualifications and standards are for all, both lay and clergy, who are called to be disciples of Christ. And it confirms my decision to attend Asbury Theological Seminary as the knowledge I will gleam from studies here will make be a better equipped steward to the call he has placed on me.
Reading their writings also made me reflect on how I am living out that commandment. From The Babylonish Captivity of the Church Luther writes concerning the Sacrament of Baptism, “When Satan found himself unable to destroy the virtue of baptism in infants he still had power to destroy it in adults; so that there is scarcely now anyone who recalls he is baptized-to say nothing of glorying in his baptism- since so many other ways have been devised for securing remission of sins and entrance into the kingdom of heaven……Hence have arisen those endless burdens of vows, professions, works, satisfactions, pilgrimages, indulgences, sects, and from the oceans of books, questions, opinions, human traditions, which the whole world cannot now contain; so that the Church of God is now under a tyranny incomparably worse than that of any synagogue or any notion whatsoever…”
Are you, am I, “loving the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and my neighbor” by living my life daily with the full realization of my baptismal covenant, glorying in all the grace that through it I have received and the elevation of my being from depravity to an heir of the kingdom of God?
Do you remember when you did feel that way? That moment when just like when Jesus was in the river Jordan, God spoke to all the heavens and the earth concerning you, “This is my child in whom I am well pleased.” And then you responded by faith in Christ, “My Lord and my God, in whom I all well pleased.” That moment when a covenant was formed between you and God so strong that Paul declared in Romans 8,” Nothing again will be able to separate you from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.” Satan, though he may not have been able to stop you from being baptized, desperately wants you to forget that you are baptized, who you really are and who resides in you. To then effectually render your baptism ineffective, so you lead a life that is consistent with the lost, a walking, perverted, living illustration of what “Loving the Lord your God with your all” looks like for others to emulate.