Archive for the ‘The Sacraments’ Category

Baptism and Repentance

April 5, 2010

Baptism and repentance

Following our theme on baptism we move onto look at repentance.  This is important as it is linked to baptism.

Acts 2.38”Peter said to them, “(AY)Repent, and each of you be (AZ)baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

In my NAS bible dictionary it says, “ To repent is to change attitude, and the test of repentance is the altered conduct (matt 3.8,, lk 3.8), sorrow according to the will of God produces repentance without regret (2 cor 7.10).  Repentance is the first condition of forgiveness(acts 5.31)…This is initiated by the will of God.”

At its most basic level repentance is a ‘change of mind’.  (meta- change +  nous- mind = metanoia= change of mind ).

It is interesting that Jesus says that it is only the sick that need a doctor.  At the time of Jesus a lot of the Pharisees thought that they were perfect.  For example they kept the hundreds of the laws found in the Old Testament (especially torah and then added some to protect the torah).

Jesus made the point that from God’s point of view their attitude showed they were very deep in sin.  This is why sometimes people who are ‘lawless’ i.e. drunkards and hedonists are possibly closer to repentance.   Because of their stupid life style they have need to be made pure somehow.   This is basically why the story of Adam and Eve is so important.  They disobeyed God and sin came into the world.  We are all tainted with sin and have been separated from the presence of God.  However the Bible says that in the first Adam all die but in the second Adam (Christ) we can all be made alive.

The question you have to ask yourself is; before you can come into the church, the kingdom of God you need to repent and say sorry for your sins. Pray to God and confess your sins to Him and tell Him you are sorry.  Then accept, believe in your heart that Jesus was for you and believe, accept that your life is in his life through the resurrection. Make Christ your Lord and master.

Then you are ready to make a public statement through baptism that you belong to Christ and are now a member of the church.

The question of infant baptism and dedication

However as the centuries progressed, infant baptism such as in the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheren, Church of England chose infant baptism as the means for church membership.  The emphases moved from the individual to the family.  The order of faith was changed.  It was through the faith of the parents that a child came into the church.  However this must be linked to confirmation.  When the child is older, he or she has to confirm those promises made on their behalf when they are older.  This has been the main way for millions of Christians world wide.

There is a problem however: Where is repentance?

On the other hand of you reject this path what about your children whom you want to be in the church?

For some Christians the answer is dedication.  The child is dedicated to God’s gracious care until he is old enough to believe in Christ for himself or herself.

Obviously each parent has to go according to their own conscience before God.  However each path still needs faith on behalf of the child.


March 16, 2010

Last time we looked at water as a symbol and we discovered that water has been used as a symbol in all the major religions.  I now want to turn to the Church and ask the question: What does baptism mean to the Church?

Baptism is seen as an inititiation ceremony into the Church.  However not all churches use baptism as a gateway to church membership.  Some churches practice dedication as the main way for church baptism and put more emphasis on adult baptism.

I am not making any theological judgements on what I believe.  I am only stating these from an educational standpoint.

From my point of view, one of the best places to start is to look at the baptism of Christ our Saviour and Lord.  The fullness of the Godhead is found in him and yet he is also fully human.  Having past the various tests Satan threw at Jesus, he then went straight away to the river Jordan to be baptised by his cousin John the Baptist.  In the Jordan we see the fullness of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The Father from the heavens says “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”.  The Holy Spirit taking on the form of a dove descends onto Jesus.

For everyone else except Jesus this was a baptism of repentance.  Jesus’ baptism was different as Jesus ‘had no sin’!  There was no need for Jesus to be baptized as far as sin was concerned.  However the credentials of Jesus were being made clear and public at the beginning of his ministry culminating in his death and resurrection.  Anyhow Jesus being fully God within the economy of God and being fully human in the economy of man shows us the way into the presence of God.  Our baptism which is in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit leads us on a beautiful journey of blessing and help from this life and into eternity.

The Nature of Water

March 7, 2010

In the next few posts I am going to talk about baptism.  Let us not get all religious about it but start by looking at the nature of water.  When God decided to make water he invented to parts hydrogen and one part oxygen.   We now know that there is also water on the moon and Mars.

Why is this important to scientists?

The truth is: It is not only important to scientists, it is also important to all of us for without it we cannot stay alive.

So what is it about the quality of water that makes it so important to us and for that matter, the whole of the living world.

  • We drink it.
  • Plants grow with it.
  • We can drown with it.
  • We can float on it.
  • Some have even walked on it.
  • We can play with it, ski and swim on it.
  • It can hide things from us if it is deep enough.

Therefore it shouldn’t surprise us that water is used in all the major religions as a symbol as it is used by all of us and without it we would not exist!

The symbolism of water

Thus water has universal appeal.  So in religion what can water represent?

  • Purity
  • Death
  • Life
  • New life
  • Holiness
  • Growth

It is possible to add to this list.  Try to think some for yourself.



Obviouisly it can be a sign of purity because if we didn’t bathe at no time at all we would stink.  Thus

Purity can represent

  • No sex outside of marriage
  • Say kind things
  • No bad language

The list on purity can go on.

Holiness and sanctification

Purity and holiness are very closely linked.  If there is a difference it would be with the idea of separation.  Church objects such as the chalice have a particular religious job to do and only at the communion table.  It would be sacrilegious to use it for anything else such as drinking beer from it.

In the same way people are separated to be priests doing God’s work.  Indeed according to Bible teaching Christians are referred to as ‘priesthood’ for God’s purposes.

Life and New life

Again water can represent life, new life and eternal life: For all of the monotheistic religions God is the Giver and Sustainer of life.  This includes the ‘social life’.   In the western world the social life can be going out at the Weekends and having a good time at the Weekends.  This can result in having a hangover … In certain circumstances it can lead also to an anti-social life such as drunkenness, violence and sometimes death.

Anyhow whether we are religious or not religious including atheists there is an inner dimension to our lives that is ‘social’ and needs a social life to satisfy the inner cravings of our being.  For the Christian the Social life finds its fullness through the work and being of Christ as he brings peace and harmony into our lives that make us truly happy.