Daily Devotional for Sunday November 16, 2014
(Psalms 127:3; 1 Samuel 1:11, 26-28; Deuteronomy 6:4-7)
***ASK BILL: Pastor Bill, I believe Jesus was immaculately conceived by God and born of a virgin, but what about the sin of Mary? She wasn't born without sin, so how did her sin not pass to Jesus?
ANSWER: That is why our Lord was immaculately conceived by the Holy Spirit and not Joseph to a virgin. The fact Mary was a virgin, does NOT mean she was sinless. Despite being God's vessel for the birth of our Lord, she was a human being, conceived in the normal way, and like ALL people sinned during her life in addition to being born with "original sin" (the sin of Adam). If Jesus had been conceived by Joseph and Mary, their sin would have been passed on like Adam's sin is passed on to each person born. Being conceived by the Holy Spirit allowed Jesus to be born void of original sin, and the fact He lived a sinless life, is why He could die on the cross for the sins of all mankind.
This is a question that I get every day, so today I want to address this issue of infant baptism, and deal with baptism in general, since there is some erroneous teaching on this wonderful experience every follower of Christ should enjoy in their life. Like many people, I was "baptized" as a baby in the church I grew up in. Even though I was saved in 1970, rededicated my life to the Lord in 1990, it wasn't until Good Friday 1994 that I was actually baptized.
A dear man, Dave Scott, who became my spiritual father in 1992 and went home to be with the Lord earlier this year, donned a wet suit on that chilly Chicago morning in 1994. I was in just a pair of shorts as we waded out into the freezing waters of Lake Michigan off of Oak Street Beach. After we prayed, I went under the icy water and moments later came up, symbolizing the washing away of my sins and identifying my life with the life of Jesus. It was a special moment for me, and one that I will never forget as long as I live.
So let's get back to the initial question, is it proper to baptize your baby? The answer is NO! There is NOTHING Biblical about baptizing a baby. Baptism is the act of someone who has accepted Christ by faith, identifying their life with the life of Christ in this symbolic act. It is the act of a person who has made the choice to accept Christ into their heart and life by faith, and is symbolic of going into the water a sinner and coming out of the water washed clean by the blood of Jesus. Subsequently, since a baby is not yet at a place in their life to make the choice to accept or reject Christ, baptizing a baby is a meaningless act.
Please understand this important fact.
BAPTISM DOES NOT SAVE YOU!
You can't save your baby by having your baby baptized. Each person matures at a different pace, but at some point, every person with a sound mind reaches the place in their life where they are accountable for their decision to accept or reject Christ. A baby is clearly not able to mentally comprehend they are a sinner and make the conscious choice to accept or reject Christ in their life. The fact is that God will hold each person accountable for the light they have had in their life, so if a baby dies, they are without question forever with the Lord for all eternity.
What IS PROPER, is to dedicate your baby to the Lord. That is Biblical. We have the great example in 1 Samuel of Hannah dedicating her baby Samuel to the Lord. Every parent should have a time of dedication as they present their baby to God and dedicate that child's life to the Lord's service. As I have spoken often recently about parenting and a parent's greatest ministry being to their children, this is part of that responsibility, as you offer up your child to God and ask for God's blessings on your child's life.
Let me quickly address the erroneous teachings of a few churches on the issue of baptism. The Church of Christ denomination and some other churches hold to the false teaching that you have to be baptized in order to be saved. This is NOT true and it is NOT Scriptural. Ephesians 2:8 and 9 clearly tell us that we are saved by 1) faith in Jesus Christ, and 2) God's grace. PERIOD! Nothing else. No amount of good works can save you; no additional acts are required. Salvation is a supernatural spiritual experience that transforms the eternal soul of a person from being separated from God their Creator due to their sin, to being forever connected with God their Creator, because their sins have been forgiven by their faith in Christ. Baptism is a physical act.
THERE ARE NO PHYSICAL ACTS REQUIRED TO BE SAVED!
Please do me a favor. I am NOT going to engage anyone in an email debate over this issue. If you are part of the Church of Christ denomination or another church that teaches the unbiblical doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration, you are free to believe whatever you want. I am well aware of the arguments those who hold to this erroneous teaching make to try and support their position. But a careful and complete study of the WHOLE counsel of God clearly teaches that baptism is NOT part of the salvation process, simply an act of obedience AFTER a person is saved.
So why should a person even bother getting baptized if it isn't necessary for their salvation? Someone who has committed their heart and life to Christ by faith will have a deep desire to follow the life of Jesus, to identify with His life. Baptism is a public act of identification with Christ. It is the symbolic act of the washing away of our sins. It is a way for a follower of Christ to proclaim their allegiance to Him thru a physical act. I have had the honor to baptize hundreds of people over these past 15 years, and I would encourage anyone who has committed their heart and life to Jesus Christ by faith, to have this special experience. It is one you will cherish the rest of the days of your life.
I love you and care about you so much. I know many parents are confused about whether to have their babies baptized, and I pray this word today will help you understand that it makes no sense to baptize your baby, but is God's desire for you to dedicate your child to the Lord. I also want to encourage anyone who has accepted the Lord into your heart and life by faith and has never been baptized, to do so. Not so that you are saved; you are already saved. But to enjoy that wonderful experience of identifying your life with the life of Jesus. It is a special experience in the life of every Believer.
I will be praying for you today. Praying that as you go through your day-to-day life you will never forget that you are a child of God, a blood-bought son or daughter of the Lord Jesus Christ. A wonderful way to never forget that great truth is by being baptized. Every time you remember that special moment when you went under the water and came up, you will be reminded that your sins have been forgiven, that once you were lost and now you are found, that because of your faith in Jesus Christ you have the assurance of everlasting life, as well as the peace, joy, and abundance of this life. Baptism is a great reminder of your faith!
In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ,