Saturday, September 19, 2015

Sunday, The Goal of the Gospel---Freedom In Christ



A FEW YEARS AGO, I was asked to visit an elderly couple who desired to be baptized in the church where I served. I went to visit them to discuss this matter, as I always do, and as we also do as a church.

On the door was a sign printed in five languages. Although I did not understand the languages, I discerned that “Keep Out” was the essence of the message. After knocking I was cordially invited in and after some small talk, I pursued to the purpose of my visit. “Tell me why you want to be baptized,” I inquired. “Well,” the husband responded, “you see my wife and I are getting along in years. We have done nearly everything we can think of to make certain that we are going to heaven, but we have not yet been baptized. We thought that we would not leave any stone unturned, and so we would like your church to baptize us.”

Needless to say, after trying to make a clear presentation of the gospel, I had to inform this couple that I could not baptize them under such circumstances. To them, baptism was a minor inconvenience but well worth the effort if there was any chance that it would enhance their spiritual well-being.

The Galatian Christians looked at circumcision in a similar light. They viewed it as a ritualistic act, which although painful and inconvenient, was a small price to pay to be more spiritual. There are, of course, significant differences between the circumstances in the Galatian churches of Paul’s day and the situation of this couple. The Galatian saints were saved and wanted only to enhance their spiritual standing. The couple with whom I spoke were not saved, and were trying to earn salvation by the “work” of baptism. Furthermore, baptism is not associated with additional duties and obligations. This couple would be no better off, nor any worse off, for having been baptized.

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