1. Were you baptized as a child? If yes, proceed to 1 A
A. Did you openly profess your faith later during confirmation?
If YES, continue to 1 b. If NO, let Pastor Kevin (pk) know.
B. Do you feel you have adequately professed your faith as an adult?
If Yes, continue to read the article. If NO, let pk know.
2. Were you baptized as an adult? If yes proceed to 2 A
A. Did you openly profess your faith during the baptismal ceremony in front of the body of Christ, the church?
If YES, continue to read the article If NO, let Pastor Kevin (pk) know.
3. Do you feel you have ever slipped away from your faith to the point of needing to reaffirm your profession of faith to God and in the presence of the church?
If Yes, let pk know. If NO, then continue to read the article. [Thanks for “playing along”!!!]
God considers all persons as lost, helpless to save themselves, and in need of divine mercy and forgiveness. Romans 3.23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, While we have turned from God, God has not abandoned us. Instead, God graciously and continuously seeks to restore us to that loving relationship for which we were created, to make us into the persons that God would have us be. To this end God acts preveniently, that is, before we are aware of it, reaching out to save humankind. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, said that while baptism was neither “essential to” nor “sufficient for” salvation, it was the “ordinary means” that God designated for applying the benefits of the work of Christ in human lives. On the other hand, although he affirmed the regenerating grace of infant baptism, he also insisted upon the necessity of adult conversion for those who have fallen from grace. A person who matures into moral accountability must respond to God’s grace in repentance and faith. Without personal decision and commitment to Christ, the baptismal gift is rendered ineffective.
What was Wesley saying? That we Methodist’s believe in infant baptism. That God can provide grace regardless of age, race, sexual gender, nationality, etc… everyone is entitled to participate in God’s grace. As long as the parents are faithful believers vowing to raise their children in the faith then children are not to be turned away from the sacrament of baptism. God’s grace is prevenient for children as well as adults. Prevenient grace is the grace that comes to us before we know we need grace… it woos us, beckons us toward a relationship with God.
Wesley was also saying that being baptized isn’t “essential” for salvation nor does the act of baptism alone provide salvation. Salvation comes to us as a grace that God has given us. We believe (have faith) in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit AND this is the foundation of our salvation… God’s grace + our faith!!!!
Wesley was also saying that being baptized as an infant wasn’t “enough”; that, as adults, we need to profess our faith. Many have gone through a process known as confirmation as a believing youth or young adult and then made their public profession of faith. However if you didn’t participate in confirmation classes or if you feel like you were just going through the motions, then I would ask you to prayerfully consider what would be an appropriate way to profess your faith now, as an adult. Romans 10.9-10 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
Baptism is an “outward sign” of an “inner faith”. That’s often the way baptism is defined… we, as a believer, have an inner faith and we choose to express that faith publically during the act of baptism & profession of our faith. Faith is both a gift of God and a human response to God. It is the ability and willingness to say “yes” to the divine offer of salvation. Faith is our awareness of our utter dependence upon God, the surrender of our selfish wills, the trusting reliance upon divine mercy. The candidate for baptism answers “I do” to the question “Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord . . .” [The above was written using the UMC website; http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/by-water-and-the-spirit-a-united-methodist-understanding-of-baptism]
May the blessing of spring remind us of the renewal of our lives through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Pastor Kevin & Marlene