Assurance, Baptism

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“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;”   – Ephesians 2:8

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The young man called out of the blue and wanted to talk. The next morning found him in my study, wringing his hands, full of doubt. He had been baptized and grew up in a Lutheran congregation. During his college years, a friend convinced him that his baptism meant nothing and that he must make a free-will decision to accept Christ. The next few years found him in a so-called non-denominational church.

He went on to describe a Christian life, as it had been presented to him, that was a source of chronic uncertainty. It began with the demand that he make a free-will decision. Then, the message he heard continually prodded the will to keep choosing, setting up Biblical principles for living, ladders of spiritual achievement, rules for godly living. The questions poured out of him. Am I doing what God wants? Am I praying often enough? Am I loving enough? Do I have enough faith? Am I sincere in wanting to love God or am I just afraid of judgment? When I die will I have done enough to escape God’s judgment? Am I really a sincere Christian? He had reached his limits. “If the Gospel is Good news”, he remarked, “why do I always feel so unsettled and uncertain?”

After listening to his litany of questions, I replied; “I don’t know you, but I can say with certainty that the answer to all your questions is ‘no’. At the same time, I can say with even more certainty that the answer to your doubts is Christ and what He has done for you. Basing faith on your decision for Christ is a formula for uncertainty. Basing faith on Christ’s decision for you in your baptism plants you firmly in the Gospel.”

What the young man who came to me was discovering is that when we look to ourselves, to what we have done, to our willing, all God will show us is our unwillingness. God deliberately drives us to uncertainty, doubt, despair, or, even worse, to pride. What I hoped he would see is that when we begin with baptism, with God’s decision for us, God shows us the righteousness that is His gift to us by faith, deliberately leading us away from ourselves to the foot of the cross, to the forgiveness that flows from His merciful heart.

 

“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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From Pastor Mark’s blogsite:

http://www.lightofthemaster.net/apps/blog

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6 Responses

  1. We each have our testimony. I was baptized as an infant and raised Lutheran. I had knowledge and presumption of Jesus as my Savior all my life. However, Jesus captured my heart several years ago and became my Lord and Savior! The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, Rom 8:16

    • Hi anonymous,

      I too, was baptized as an infant in the Catholic Church. When my lightswitch was turned on in my early forties (in a Romans class), and faith came, then my baptism was complete.

      But the promise given to us as infants were there, all along. God adopted us way back when. He gave us forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit. He never was away from us all that time.

      He does keep His promises.

      Thank you, friend, for stopping by and commenting.

  2. Hi cus… This makes me feel better in my current struggles in life. But I know that it will get better, and you do always remind me to have faith. Thank you, Stephen. I love you.

    • Hi there, Patti Ann,

      Fancy running into you here!

      So much of the time, I don’t have very much faith. Jesus told us that we don’t have the faith (the size of) a mustard seed. But He’s still there. It’s not how much faith, it’s the object of that faith that is important (Himself).

      You have gone through quite a lot in your life and you’re not done going through it. I do pray that things get better in your life.

      One Day, He will wipe away all our tears and mend all our broken hearts. It’ll be like when we were kids sitting all around Grandma’s big table, eating and laughing. It’ll be like that. Even better than that.

      I love you, Cuz.

  3. The picture of Darth Vader is scary! Looks a little like the author of the BLOG we were both banned from Steve! :-).

    Jon

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