BAPTISM IN THE WATERS
“I baptize you with water”, Mat.3:11
Everywhere there is a huge fuss over this topic and over its practice. And where this gospel is preached, it will inevitably be mentioned and touched. It has become a useless discussion mostly, however, since I believe people keep themselves busy with what does not touch the inside of man so they may avoid discussing their own and personal sins without resentment against the light of God by doing that, by not changing the inward man putting own sins into the light of God unconditionally and without anymore loss of time or deviating and blinding issue to cover any exposure up. Any discussion makes men avoid and duck away from doing as they should and what they should be doing right from the start.
The people God chose to bear His name on earth (Israel) were religious people. They could have been something else, really, but because they were religious, God conceived a religious way out for them towards the reality of His own non-religious presence, just as He would do something else with somebody else elsewhere for the same purpose and achievement. God’s way became Jewish for the Jews. But, it does not mean God is not real. The ultimate end was intimacy with a living God, and then religiosity would be done away with because religious ways permit as far as intimacy with own ideas about a real God. The law of God substituted sacrifices of humans and animals to idols, by sacrifices of animals to God (and even made provision to replace humans who opened the womb for animals), ever since Cain conceived the way in first hand and people followed up because their hearts were as his mostly and the idea caught up like fire on dry grass on the people of Canaan, where they were to move to live for God for the world to see and be saved by seeing properly. That’s why God used current circumstances to make and create a way out of it for them, by sanctifying sacrifices through the Law of Moses at first. The end of it would unmistakably be the abolishment of it all, both the sacrifice as well as the Law which became useless after Emanuel, after God was with us for real.
The people needed an outward sign, however, to substitute and put an end to the signs of circumcision and sacrifice together – something the religious law brought to people. God wisely set in the signs of baptism in waters attached to genuine repentance, and Holy Communion attached to holiness and communion with a real God. To repentance it was added a kind of marriage-to-God vow which would become also a sign of abandonment of sin and of old Jewish and all other religious ways for good and forever, in exchange for a living way, and that done in front of people for them to perceive and desire that mere beginning of a way as well. We know what kind of effect any wedding ceremony has upon the minds and hearts of people (or at least what it should have): on those who marry and on such who look upon them. I am sure every single person present in that ceremony always thinks from then on there is no more hope to come to marry one of those two constituting that couple. This is mostly the kind of effect God intended for people to have who consecrated themselves against sin and old living ways. Sin will also take notice and it can’t but believe it won't have a baptized person ever again. But sin never takes any frustrating refusal and disappointment lightly or for granted - sin never looses hope on sin and hopelessness and desire for revenge serves always as its main source for strength against God. The secret of any man married to holiness, however, is to keep keeping his marriage instead of giving mind-time and resources to assaults from outside prompted by a surety impressed upon sin of having lost forever.
But, just as the wedding ring is not the wedding itself, in the same way baptism is not what is saving at all, since a starting point and a cleansing break away for real living is what it represents mostly. "Therefore... let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us", Heb.12:1. A marriage is not the ceremony at all, ever – real marriage is always the whole life inside and outside brought forth through, for, because and due to a bond between two and its reality which still lies ahead. The ceremony is a beautiful, appealing feast so people may be trapped into taking lifelong responsibilities upon themselves. The ceremony seals that but it is not what it is. Whatever serves to make people feel aware of having been married to God forever and which commitment can serve as a fresh start in the prompt and perpetual abandonment of what is not real of God or is against God, whether it is Public Profession of Faith that achieves that sort of sobriety in spirit, an anxious seat as Finney’s, an altar call, or Holy Communion in some places, it will always breed and have the same effect God instituted by the baptizing of people everywhere once they believed and needed to feel in themselves committed to close all doors back to an old alternative way of whatever kind, either sinful or godly in appearance. If Baptism turns to be religious, it looses all of its own powerful effect on people, the one it should have and bear for always on them. A commitment not only opens the door to a commitment to glorious responsibilities ahead, when those start to work out and become blessed to increase, but it also closes the door to a previous promiscuous life at random behind to let it dry itself unto death. Dare not to care just how it is going on with whatever you left behind - recall to mind what happened to Lot's wife (someone who had the promise of life upon her already) and fear for once to do that sort of sentimentalism which pleases self. People need a brand in their minds, just as cattle need it on their skin to feel it in themselves, and show to outsiders to whom they belong to from a point on as well.
“And also if anyone competes, he is not crowned unless he competes lawfully”, 2Tim.2:5. If they don’t do all of this in the presence of God (if He is not that real in them so the commitment will become between two present ones), if sins separate them from that presence of God still, it just won’t work or become accepted to be blessed or fanned into burning life. This is why simple things work out well on simple people: because they may have confessed all sins by name to people and to God, breaking down the “wall of separation” between them. This is why John baptized on confession of sins, breaking down the transgressions which separated people from God and impressed it upon people to bear fruit worth of repentance from then on as well.
The question now, however, is whether someone may put that brand on a child, promising such to God, just as Hannah promised Samuel to Him before birth, or shall I say, even before her womb was fruitful. God came to claim His ownership and blessing upon Samuel in due time because of that commitment of a mother who became holy herself by bearing him, since Samuel and God had an outstanding effect upon Hannah’s own living and life from then on through the reality of a vow and fulfilment by changing her motivation for having a child. She indeed became “holy by bearing children” and her motives were changed. Samuel was Hannah’s baptism for her. Samuel the child, on the other hand, by belonging to the temple since he was a youth, had it impressed upon his own mind to Whom he belonged because a mother’s vow and his circumstances were pressing it in and on him constantly. The circumcision was done upon a child because God said, “For I know him, that he will command his sons and his house after him, and they shall keep the way of Jehovah, to do justice and judgment”, Gen.18:19. Unholy Christian parents should not dare to baptize their children at all, since these parents are an abomination to God. Rather let them grow up to decide on their own to dedicate themselves to God from a point on or not. Amen.