WHO’S IN CHARGE HERE?

Forget the tweets and twitters. Never mind the election scandals. And fear not the terror that stalks by day or night. There is only one power and authority that is holding this earth and we its inhabitants together. That power is love. And love has a name. Jesus.

In Colossians 2:10 we read that Christ is the head over every power and authority and holds everything together. (Colossians 1:17)

No matter how it appears the Kingdom of God has arrived in fullness in Christ at his death and resurrection. It’s for all of us. It’s for you folks who even do not believe this. It’s not fake news. It has the highest reliability. It’s news that can be trusted. Listen we’ve had it, most of us, with the current news real or not. We need some good news and here it is. No matter who you are or what you have been or the doubts you have about the world or yourself you can know for certain that you are part of this Kingdom family that God has set up on this earth. God’s grace makes that possible and each step of faith brings us into his realm, where he and no other authority rule.

It’s not escapism. In fact living with Christ will place us solidly in the realm of love in this world. Heaven begins here. God’s influence is here.

Christ’s reign is not a dictatorial power but rather a strong disarming influence over the whole creation. It was love that held Jesus to the cross to remove the blindness of sin from the world so that more and more people would come under the sway of his heart changing love.

Even at this moment, in ways I don’t fully understand Christ is in the process of reconciling this world, this creation back to God. The towers of Babel are falling. Empires are tumbling. The stranded arks are finding dry land. The covenant that was made with Abraham is being fulfilled. Those who have sat in darkness are finally having light shine on them.

Death, terror and heartache abound but these are not the final words for this world. God won’t allow that for his beloved creation. Yes, suffering must be addressed but in the light of Christ not in a faithless void. No earthly power has the final say. No, the final words are from Jesus who tells us to fear not because the Father has given us the Kingdom. (Luke 12:32)

Five hundred years ago Martin Luther by the grace of God stood against the earthly powers to proclaim the realm and reality of Christ. He lived amidst danger, emperors, threats and plagues. But give a look to some of the words he wrote from his famous hymn, ‘A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD’.

‘And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us;
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly pow’rs, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth;
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.’

SOME THOUGHTS ON BAPTISM

I am of the reformed tradition where as part of covenant theology we baptize children of believers. Sometimes it’s call ‘paedobaptism’.

I believe that children are a part of the new covenant in Christ as much as the children of Abraham are part of that original covenant of identifying God’s people. And even though some turned their back on the Abrahamic Covenant the children were all baptized.

I realized there is little if any evidence in the New Testament of a child being baptized. The faith of the first century was an adult faith amidst an adult society and there is no particular reason for children being mentioned. Or is there?

Jesus took the children into his arms and blessed them conveying I believe God’s particular grace upon and within that child.

Jesus told people that unless they had faith like a child they would not enter the Kingdom of God.

When we see John the Baptist graced by God (filled with the Holy Spirit) (Luke 1:15), while still in the womb I would say he is part of the new covenant in Christ Jesus.

When Paul writes that the children of believers are holy, separated to God (1Cor. 7) I believe they are part of the covenant.

See if God’s covenant is a covenant of grace and not works and none of us deserves it then children most of all are the trusting recipients of God’s love and thus candidates of baptism.

As far as faith, confession, belief are concerned they are all part of the process of the new covenant, covenant theology. No one is saved without grace through faith. Children at birth are forgiven, not innocent. They too can come under the understanding of dying and rising with Christ through baptism and then faith.

And I love the passage in Psalm 139:

You are the one who created my innermost parts;
    you knit me together while I was still in my mother’s womb.
14 I give thanks to you that I was marvelously set apart.
    Your works are wonderful—I know that very well.
15 My bones weren’t hidden from you
    when I was being put together in a secret place,
    when I was being woven together in the deep parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my embryo,
    and on your scroll every day was written that was being formed for me,[b]
    before any one of them had yet happened.[c]
17 God, your plans are incomprehensible to me!
    Their total number is countless!
18 If I tried to count them—they outnumber grains of sand!
    If I came to the very end—I’d still be with you” (CEB in Gateway)

If this is how God’s grace impacts and surrounds the unborn then it is my humble opinion these little ones should be baptized as a was of showing they belong to Christ.

Children in the early church were part of the family’s interaction of faith and community. Most likely in the first century at least they would grow up to be believers. The problem today is that we practice ‘cheap grace’ willy nilly baptizing anything that moves. Parents who are not faithful have their children ‘done’. I had one woman tell me that her child’s baptism had to be on a certain date because the great grandmother’s dress would not fit otherwise. I have been guilty of that cheap grace, God forgive me. There should be strenuous testing of the faith and fruits of parents who want their children to be baptized.

Some ask ‘Why not baptize all children into the covenant?’ It’s a good question that could be answered in the affirmative if we sought to disciple people. Jesus said go and baptize all nations and ‘disciple’ them.

Well, I expect to hear from some folks and that’s good. I can always learn.

Grace and peace

george