22 September 2016

Today's Catechesis: Baptism IV

Baptism, Part IV

Liturgy, p. 260

A reading from Colossians 2:

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. 

Catechism, p. 325

What does such baptizing with water indicate?

It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Where is this written?

St. Paul writes in Romans chapter six: "We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." (Rom. 6:4)


In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

People loved by God, we noted in the first catechesis on Baptism that there is a present tense to Baptism. Pastors usually express this by teaching their people to say: "I am baptized" and not "I was baptized."

Today's reading and the section from the catechism we reviewed deals with an important aspect of this "am-ness," namely, that Baptism gives you the gift both of a daily death and a daily resurrection. Baptism allows you to be dead to the old Adam, the old sinful self with its insistence on "I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it and you'd best not get in my way." Baptism frees you to rise anew from that dead with Christ, joyfully praying with Him to the Father: "Thy will, O Father, be done!" and to do so with joy from the heart.

This cutting off, this putting aside of the Old Self and this new man rising, these are by no means something YOU are able to pull off on you own, by an exertion of your own willpower. No, this is the work of the Spirit of God in Baptism going on inside you! HE gives you the daily gift of letting that old way drain away like dirty water, and the new life come pouring in fresh from the deep springs of the Spirit. 

But it is how He does this that is so amazing. "God made us alive together with Him having forgiven us all our trespasses." THIS is the secret of Baptism's dynamo in your life. Take that word "all" and underscore it three times, write it in gold letters, engrave it on your heart. When God forgives you in Baptism, He's not forgiving you a few of your sins, or merely the sins of the past. No, in a real sense Baptism actually doesn't forgive sins at all. It forgives sinners. It leaves absolutely nothing of yours unforgiven. Nothing. An entire life embraced and held tight in the loving Father's embrace. For all your sins were nailed to His Son's cross! All of them! 

"You are mine. My own. I love you. I forgive you, I forgive you absolutely all." Therein lies Baptism's huge power! This loving embrace of the Father that gives the saving flood its ongoing daily power to enable you to turn from all that would lead you away from Him or teach you to doubt Him or resent Him and turn to the waiting arms of your heavenly Father. 

Because Baptism's power of forgiveness reaches out over the whole of your life from conception through death to resurrection, it gives you the assignment and the strength to cut off (circumcise, if you will) everything that wars against that loving embrace, that would lure you from it, to do those things to death, all the while basking in the assurance of a heavenly Father's love and the certainty that Baptism gives you of being His much loved child, His heir, a joint-heir with Christ, raised with Him already in spirit and waiting to be raised by Him in your body on that last and joyous day. Baptism does indeed have "the strength divine to make life immortal mine," and for that all glory to God!

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Now let's sing this great comfort and assurance in the words of Hymn: 594 God's Own Child


For the servants of God, Allan and Jan, Tom, in critical conditional and all who cry out to God for His healing mercy; for missionaries Joe and Jenny Asher and for all who work to spread the good news that they be strengthened in God's mercy and filled with His endless joy, let us pray to the Lord: R. 

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