It has been said, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” Is there anything worse than sitting next to someone who obviously hasn’t bathed in a while? For all of the products that are available for keeping our body clean, there aren’t many for keeping our souls clean.
Titus 3 describes baptism as a washing of rebirth and renewal in the Holy Spirit. God acts in baptism with power to take away our guilt. 1 Peter 3:21 says that baptism actually saves us from our sins! Baptism isn’t the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. How you ask? It isn’t the water that is so powerful. God the Holy Spirit acts powerfully with his word in and with the water to create and strengthen faith, to remove guilt and forgive sins.
In my ministry some have questioned why we need baptism, because God has promised to work through his word alone. God gives us baptism not because he needs more help being merciful, but because we continually doubt his love! The problem is that we are so guilty we don’t even love ourselves. How could a holy God love us when we not only don’t live up to his standards, but actually rebel willingly against his will for our lives? That’s exactly what he does! Paul writes in Romans, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
What about babies? We know that babies are born sinful and we know that Jesus welcomed babies. The Greek word in Luke 18 is even used of unborn children. Jesus says that they can believe in him. The kingdom belongs to children then and now. The problem many Baptists have with infant baptism isn’t that children can’t believe. The problem isn’t that God can’t create faith in their little hearts. The problem that they see is that we can’t ask them to confess their faith. At Star of Bethlehem we will continue to bring baptized children up in the training and instruction of the Lord. We rejoice as they reflect their Spirit wrought faith in word and deed. Check out one of our children’s messages to see it in action. Or better come to a Sunday school class one Sunday to see them in action. Please contact me if you would like more information about baptism for your family.
If you wake up one day in your bed frozen under your covers by the weight of your shame and failure, there is one who will always love you. In baptism you have been claimed as God’s child. Nothing can change that. Is cleanliness next to godliness? It is in baptism! Our souls are squeaky clean before God – forgiven in Jesus.