Summary: John 15:16; 1 John 5:13; Mark 10:14 Baptism is God's initiative of Grace reaching all those created, even infants, & sinners.
WHO TELLS YOU WHO YOU ARE?
We Receive Our Identity From Others, From + Expectations Of Friends & Colleagues, From + Labels Society Puts Upon Us, & From + Influence Of Family.
To become Christian is to receive a NEW IDENTITY. You no longer allow others to tell you who you are. Christ now claims you & instructs you. A Christian is one who has “PUT ON CHRIST.”
Baptism celebrates becoming that new person.
That is why + church’s ritual begins with …
Putting Off + Old, Renouncing Sin
& + Evil Powers Of + World, & Pledging Our Loyalty 2 Christ.
GOD INITIATES + COVENANT
We also believe that in baptism God INITIATES a covenant with us, announced with + words, “+ Holy Spirit Works Within You, That Being Born Through Water & + Spirit, You May Be A
Faithful Disciple Of Jesus Christ.”
This is followed by + sign-act of laying hands on + head, or+signing of+Cross on + forehead with water. The word COVENANT is a biblical word describing God’s initiative in choosing Israel 2 be a people with a special mission in + world, &
Israel’s response in a life of faithfulness.
The baptismal covenant calls us to a similar vocation.
GOD HAS CHOSEN US
Christians have also understood + baptismal covenant in light of Jesus’ baptism.
At Jesus’ baptism, God said: “THIS IS MY SON.”
While Jesus’ relation to God as Son is unique, For Christians baptism means that God
has also Chosen Us As Daughters & Sons, & knows us intimately as a parent.
So the most important things about us,
OUR TRUE IDENTITY, is that we are
NOW SONS & DAUGHTERS OF GOD.
That is why + introduction 2 + Baptismal Covenant states, “We Are Incorporated Into God’s Mighty Acts Of Salvation & Given New Birth
Through Water & + Spirit.” + introduction also says,“Through + Sacrament Of Baptism, We Are Initiated Into Christ’s Holy Church.”
BAPTISM IS + DOOR
From + beginning, baptism has been + DOOR through which one enters + church. It was INCONCEIVABLE 2 many that one could respond 2 God’s grace by reciting + renunciations, affirming one’s faith in Christ & loyalty 2 + Kingdom, without joining + fellowship of those who are committed to mature in that faith. As the “Body of Christ” in + world, baptism commissions us 2 use our gifts
To Strengthen + Church & To Transform + World.
WHY BAPTIZE BABIES?
From + earliest times, children & infants were baptized & included in + church. As scriptural authority 4 this ancient tradition, some scholars cite Jesus’ words,
“Let + little children come 2 me…4 it is 2 such as these that + kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10:14).
However, a more consistent argument is that baptism, as a MEANS OF GRACE, signifies GOD’S INITIATIVE in + process of salvation.
• John Wesley preached “PREVENIENT GRACE,” + grace that works in our lives
Before We Are Aware Of It, Bringing Us 2 Faith.
• + baptism of children & their inclusion in + church before they can respond with
their own Confirmation of faith is
a vivid & compelling witness 2 prevenient grace.
BAPTISM IS FOREVER
Because baptism is a sacrament of God’s grace & a covenant that God has initiated,
IT SHOULD NOT BE REPEATED.
However, God’s continuing & patient forgiveness, God’s prevenient grace, will prompt us 2 RENEW + commitment first made at our baptism.
Instead of rebaptism, our Church offers
the ritual for+ Reaffirmation Of Baptismal Vows, which implies that, While God Remains Faithful 2 God’s Half Of + Covenant, WE ARE NOT ALWAYS FAITHFUL 2 OUR PROMISES.
Our half of + covenant is 2 CONFESS CHRIST
As Our Savior, TRUST IN HIS GRACE, SERVE HIM
As Lord In + Church, & Carry Out His Mission
AGAINST EVIL, INJUSTICE, & OPPRESSION.
BAPTISM IS + BEGINNING, NOT + END
If you experienced God’s grace & were baptized as an adult or received baptism as a child
& desire 2 reaffirm your baptismal vows, baptism still marks + beginning of a journey
in + Nurturing Fellowship Of the CARING, LEARNING, WORSHIPPING, SERVING congregation.
WHAT IS A SACRAMENT?
+ word sacrament is + Latin translation
of + Greek word MYSTERION.
From + early days of + church, baptism was associated with + mystery that surrounds God’s action in our lives. That means that at best our words can ONLY CIRCUMSCRIBE what happens, BUT NOT DEFINE IT.
We Cannot Rationally Explain why God would love us “While We Were Yet Sinners” & give his only begotten Son that we should
not perish but have eternal life.
That is + Most Sacred & Unfathomable Mystery of all. We can experience God’s grace at any time & in any place, but in + sacrament of baptism we routinely experience that amazing grace.
—From A United Methodist Understanding of Baptism by
Mark C. Trotter. Copyright © 2001 by + United Methodist Publishing