On the Plains of Moab Blog
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September 12, 2011, 1:08 PM

The Temptations of Baptism Preaching

What a day it was yesterday!  Thanks to all of you who helped us fill our sanctuary up.  I know you can do it now!

Having my family there was a delight.

However, it was also a temptation.  I must take a few moments to explain my thinking process when presented with an opportunity to preach with family in the house.

This was my third crack at preaching a baptism sermon for one of my kids.  The first time, back in 2002, the family traveled to Orlando where I was interning at Woodbury Presbyterian Church.  I knew that most of my family was "baptistic" in their understanding of baptism, i.e. believer's baptism only.  "Jesus himself said" -- many in this camp often exclaim -- "the one who believes and is baptized will be saved.  Babies don't have the sophistication and depth to intellectually grasp and excercise saving faith.  End of subject.  Slam dunk!"

Not so fast, my friend!

I spoke on that glorious baptism day for Matthew of the promise of the Gospel being for "you and your children after you...."  I spoke of the wonder of the Shorter Catechism likening infant baptism as our "engagement" to the Lord.  We await the day when the child will make the faith their own in "marriage".  When they finally claim all of the promises they inherited by being born into a godly home.  And so on.

(I get chill bumps just by the mere thought of the moment!)

I preached hard and earnest.  Nobody in my family was convinced.

The next shot I had was with Rachel in Appomattox, 2004.  This time, I preached from Acts, and highlighted all of the household baptisms.  Children, I argued, were baptized on the basis of their parents profession.  I spoke of the beauty in the redemptive historical shift from circumcision to water baptism, and so on.  No more blood because of Christ.  Only washing away of sins.

I preached hard and earnest.  Nobody in my family was convinced.

They're all still Baptist.

And so, here we are in 2011.  I realize that no matter how hard I try, I'll never win over my hardened family on that matterwink.  Yesterday, my only goal was to go in and paint a beautiful picture of how God has delivered us all from our own "orphange" of sin.  The awe of adoption.  The way that baptizing our children rings so clearly with this metaphor.  In a sense, I just assumed the spot-on-ed-ness of the practice of the sacrament.  If you're listening as a believer's-baptism-only-person, then the least I hope you come away with is:  Maybe there's something there afterall. 

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