Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Continuing what?

More on the continuationism issue.  Since I have a Thursday night class I can no longer go to my 20-something Bible study.  So I decided to go back to Grace Fellowship's 5:15 service and join their young folks group afterward.

Now, the preacher is an okay guy.  He's never shown a Rob Bell video, so I keep showing up at his church.  He has Kingdom Now beliefs that get on my nerves, which is why I haven't gone in a while.  But I need fellowship with people my age and I know this church has it.

He must have heard some of Mark Driscoll's continuation rants.  His text was Acts 8, one of my favorite passages.  While preaching it, he told the crowd that some people call him too charismatic, and some people say he's not charismatic enough.  Many Christians say that God performed many miracles during the apostles' time, and miracles will happen when Jesus starts to come back, but there are no miracles now.  He believes that there are miracles now because the Holy Spirit works today in many people bringing revival and changing lives.

I agree with the latter part.  If the Holy Spirit did not work among us today, nobody would come to know Christ, poor people would not be reached, and there would be not church.  But that does not prove that there are miracles today.  Are people raised from the dead?  Are blind people healed apart from medical science?  There may be wonders in tribal areas of the planet where less people have heard of Jesus, but for the most part, we have a church that believes in Jesus because of the Word of God which is complete.  It is sufficient for everything we need to know and it awakens us to be able to accept the Gospel.  To believe that signs and wonders have stopped does not mean disbelief in the Holy Spirit's action today.  Since that's the member of the Trinity that we interact with most on this planet, he is the whole reason we have a visible church in the first place.

Later on, there was a point in Acts 8 where believers accepted Jesus but then Peter had to come and lay hands on them to receive the Holy Spirit.  So he took that to mean that people have to receive the Spirit after they become a Christian and said "Get over it."  So, not only does he have theology that may or may not be right, but he's arrogant about it.  But I know for a fact that all Christians receive the Holy Spirit when they accept Christ.  It may take them some time to grow in holiness.  It may take their whole lives, but if you're a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit.  I don't know why in this one case Peter had to come lay hands on the people, but it's not because they didn't receive the Holy Spirit.  It might be like baptism where you need to be baptized in the name of all three members of the Trinity for it to count.

Leading me to my final point.  There's a point where we read, "they baptized men and women."  He said, "It says nothing about infants."  I thought, why are you making this an issue?  It's a denominational difference.  It should not be in your sermon but simply in your practice.  Maybe if you do a sermon specifically about baptism and children, then you can mention that your church does not baptize infants but don't go all dogmatic about it.  Now, I understand many of my readers don't agree with infant baptism.  I'm actually in a minority with my beliefs, and so far I have not persuaded people to my side, but if you don't agree with it that's fine.  I just wish people would not so appalled at the fact that Presbyterians baptize infants and don't rebaptize people.

So I will explain my paedobaptist beliefs briefly then close this post.  I'm don't believe that baptism erases your original sin.  I don't believe baptism saves or is a sign that you are saved.  Baptism is a sign that you have entered God's covenant community.  Just like 8-day-old Jewish boys underwent circumcision so they could be considered part of the Israelite family, all Christians should get baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to show that they are in God's new covenant family.  Many people in Acts were already adults when they accepted Christ, so they had to have a Trinitarian baptism.  But also in Acts, when one head of a household accepted Christ, his whole family got baptized whether they understood or not.  So no, there are no explicit instances where we see some apostle baptizing a baby, but being a Calvinist, and knowing that God works through his own choosing and likes to use covenant communities, paedobaptism is quite alright theologically, and it's not unbiblical.

One last idea.  If a baby is born, are you going to leave him on your front porch until he decides he's in the family?  No, you take him in and raise him, welcoming him into the family.  Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me."  Children need to be fully immersed into church life by parents who know what they are doing.  We've failed so much in not letting parents know that they are the main Christian educators, not me the youth pastor.  I cringed every time I would see some unwed couple come to get their child baptized at my old church.  We need to let the parents know what raising a child in the Christian faith means.  Baptism and baby dedication aren't just some cute excuse to show off your baby.  It's a very serious commitment.  If you aren't living as a Christian, you're not going to be able to raise your child as a Christian whether Baptist or Presbyterian.  I hope the Lord leads me to know how to better equip my children's parents or at least the adults that bring kids to lead their children in devotions at home.

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