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The Sacrament of Baptism V - Final

   In the past four articles I have talked about who should be baptized and the joy that the sacrament of baptism brings.  Now I would like to briefly discuss who should not be baptized. 
    Baptism is a sacrament for believers.  However, it is not a magical rite and people are not saved by sprinkling (or immersing) (holy) water on them.  Let me give you an example.  When we lived in Belgium, there was a very devout German couple whose son did not walk in the faith, and he and his wife had a son.  The German couple wanted their grandson to be baptized, even though the parents were not Christian and never attended church.  Since the parents were not Christian, the baby should not have been baptized.
    Also, baptism is not necessary for salvation.  You can believe, not be baptized, and still get to heaven.  The best example is the thief on the cross.  He believed but was not baptized.  So baptizing someone quick before that person dies makes it a magical rite - almost as if that person is going to get into heaven because he has some holy water sprinkled on him. 
    If that person truly has a deathbed conversion, and repents of his sins, and believes in Jesus Christ, then he certainly should be baptized.  But baptism in and of itself does not make a person holy and it not a ticket to go to heaven, and is not a "Get of Jail (Hell)" card.

The Sacrament of Baptism IV

   Who should be baptized?  In the Old Testament we saw that circumcision was done in families, e.g., Abraham was circumcised as was his son Ishmael, as was all the men in his household, including the 318 fighting men.  So the circumcision was for the household.  If the head of the household believed, like Abraham, all the men were given the sign of the covenant.
    The continuity between the Old Testament (the foundation) and the New Testament (the building above ground) is often overlooked, but it is certainly there.  In the New Testament, there are six cases of baptism in the book of Acts.
   In Acts 2:38-39 at Pentecost, Peter says Repent and be baptized, every one of you . . .The promise is for you and your children."  Just like with Abraham, the believers would have baptized their entire family (and this time women would receive the sign).
   In Acts 9:36-38 Philip baptizes the Ethiopian eunuch.  
   In Acts 9:18 Ananias baptized Paul is baptized by himself, but since he is alone, this would be expected.
   In Acts 10 Peter baptized "a large gathering of people" (27, 47-48).  In the next chapter Peter says that "you and all your household will be saved" (11:14).
   In Acts 16:14 we read  "The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message.  15 When she and the members of her household were baptized . . . "  Note the pattern - Lydia believed and the members of her household were baptized (just like Abraham).
   Later in the same chapter, Paul baptizes the Philippian jailer and his household. 
  In Acts 18 Crispus and his entire household believed and were baptized.
   So in the book of Acts there are six baptisms recorded, and in four of the six, the household is baptized.  One, Paul, is all alone, so you would not expect a household to be baptized.  In the case of the Ethiopian eunuch, it states only that the eunuch was baptized.  And in the first chapter of I Corinthians Paul states that he baptized the household of Stephanas.  
   This pattern of household baptisms is what we expect to see based on the example of Abraham and the covenant of circumcision.

Thank you Lord for giving us this sign for our families.

The Sacrament of Baptism III

    Who should be baptized?  Today many are convinced that baptism is an individual action, but that view is based on the American view of individuality.  Baptism is a much broader concept.  Circumcision, on which baptism is based, was for households.  For example, in Genesis 17 the covenant of circumcision was given to Abraham.  God said:  "This is my covenant with you and your descendants after  you, the covenant you are to keep:  Every male among you is to be circumcised."  (Genesis 17:10).  Abraham followed the letter of the law and in Genesis 17:23 we read "On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him.  And again in verse 17 we read "And every male in Abraham's household, including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised."  Of note, three chapters earlier, in Genesis 14:14 we read that Abraham had 318 fighting men.  I would not like to have been in Abraham's sandals when he told his 318 fighting men that they were going to be circumcised.  But that is exactly what Abraham did.  You see, God works in a family way.

Lord God, Thank  you for working in and through families.