How can you be sure?

Baptism…that’s how. 

Check out the great post concerning baptism and the assurance that God wants you to have in yours, over at http://fivepintlutheran.blogspot.com/

Who does the baptising?

If we do it, then how can we trust in it?

If God does it, then can’t it be fully trusted?

Does anything really happen in baptism, anyway?

Do you feel like you are a Christian and strong in the faith one day…and then the next day or week, you have almost forgotten about Jesus and wonder just how much of a Christian you really are?

Baptism is a topic that often flies under the radar, so we like to bring it out in the open every once in awhile.

Thanks to David over at ‘Five Pint Lutheran’ for bringing it to the fore yet once again.

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10 Responses

  1. St Steve,

    Yes baptism is a wonderful gift God has granted us.

    Thank you for linking to the post and your kind words.

    God’s peace. †

  2. Hi Steve. Now that Summer Greek is done, I’ve come up for air. Great post. Maybe it’s the punchy mood I’m in, but a great song to go with it would be The Rascals “How Can I Be Sure?” There’s probably a Youtube of it. Peace.

  3. Ivy,

    Congrats on getting through Summer Greek (did Anthony Quinn star in that one?) !

    Great idea about putting up the song from the Rascals along with the post.

    I tried putting up a you-tube awhile back but couldn’t figure out how to do it.
    I think I’m the one that needed Summer sckool.

    Keep up the good work at the Sem., Ivy!

    – Steve

  4. Hey Steve,

    A sincere question for you. In scripture we read about the close connection between belief, baptism, and recieving the holy spirit. Most I think would hold to importance of all three (although not necessarily in that order).

    In Acts 19, Paul asks a group of believers if they have recieved the Holy Spirit. The question is unusual because it presumes that recieving the Holy Spirit is something tangible that someone can point to and say “This is what happened when I recieved the Holy Spirit.” In the case of the Ephesian believers they spoke in tongues and prophesied. Now I am not a Pentecostal, but it seems to me as if assurance of salvation in Acts was some sort of manifestation of the Spirit in the life of the believer.

    Here is my question: Are me missing something today so that we have to go back to our experience of Baptism for our assurance of Salvation rather than our experience of the Holy Spirit?

  5. Eclectic Christian,

    It’s not our experience of baptism that is important (I was just an infant and have no experiences or actual memory of the act), but it is rather an actual event in my personal history where God has done something for me and to me.

    When the group at Ephesus told Paul that they didn’t know about the Holy Spirit. Paul asked , “Into what then were you baptised?” They told him the baptism of John. Then Paul explained the difference between John’s baptism (repentance) and Jesus’ baptism (recieve the Holy Spirit).

    I think what we need (today, as every other) is the assurance that we have the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. I don’t think this assurance can come from our our faith, because we are weak in faith. It can’t come from our performance because we are sinners. It has to come from outside ourselves where God has acted for us in a tangible way.

    This is why when Luther had doubts if he was doing the right thing, or if he was worthy enough, he returned (acknowledged, trusted in) his baptism. He trusted in God’s promise to kill him off (Romans 6) and then to raise him again with Christ (also Romans 6).

    The O.T. Jews would return to the places where God had acted for them, spoke His promises to them …Shiloh, Bethel, etc.

    We return to the places where God has acted for us. Our baptism, the Lord’s supper.

    In Acts Chapter 2, the scripture says that in baptism “we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

    I do think that God gave us these gifts (baptism, the Lords supper) that we might have something tangible where we can look to what He’s done for us rather than to try and whip up something inside ourselves to validate that we are true believers.

    This is why I believe that God commanded that we baptise in His name, and that we partake of Him in His supper.

    He never told us to do anything where He wouldn’t actually be present.

  6. Very nicely put. I may post my question and your answer on Eclectic Christian. It will be interesting to see if there are any other perspectives out there.

  7. Eclectic Christian,

    Thanks! Are you sure? Nobody ever lets me off the hook that easily!

    If you put that question and reply on your site, I’m sure some of your readers will take me to task!

    I’d be taken to task by a lot of the folks in my own congregation!

    Discussing these theological ideas is never boring, is it?

    Thanks E.C.!

    – Steve

  8. Steve,

    I am not sure that you completely answered my question. But what you wrote was very well written and thought out. I am still in the information gathering/brainstorming phase so to to speak, so I want to hear what people have to say and then formulate my own ideas on the subject.

  9. P.S. I have added your response to Eclectic Christian now.

  10. Eclectic Christian,

    Thanks for adding my response to your site. I am having a bit of computer trouble. I might be down here for awhile (I hope not), but I’ll be back soon to check in over at The Eclectic Christian.

    I think one of the biggest problems with trusting our experience of the Holy Spirit is that we often cannot tell one spirit from another, and we cannot trust our own feelings.

    St. Paul tells us that the devil himself can come all dressed up as an angel of light…how would we know?

    The certain feeling that we had today could’ve been last night’s pizza.

    Since we have the old Adam still in us wishing to wreck havoc with our trust in God, we can never really be sure of anything with respect to God outside of His Word and sacraments.

    I believe that is exactly why He commanded us to baptise and partake of Himself at the supper, so we could have something…from outside of ourselves and our own experience, that we can trust in, absolutely.
    Not that our experiences of the Spirit are always wrong. God gave us emotions for a reason and sometimes those experiences are real. The point is that we don’t know (for sure) and therefore should not trust in them.

    This is the reason that Lutherans put so much stock in the sacraments. This is the place where God has acted…for us. We can trust in this Word (visable Word) completely.

    Thanks E.C.!

    – Steve

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