1 Peter 3:21-22
21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand--with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. Niv Bible Translation

Baptism and the grace of God

A meditation of Marc Aupiais

 

“In the same way, all of us, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether slave or free, have been baptized into one body by the same spirit, and we have been given one spirit to drink” St. Paul- 1 Corinthians 12 Verse 13- Good News Bible.

 

"1 Peter 3:21-22

21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand--with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. " Niv Bible Translation

1John 3 from Good News Bible

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23 What he commands is that we believe in his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as Christ commanded us. 24 Those who obey God's commands live in union with God and God lives in union with them. And because of the Spirit that God has given us we know that God lives in union with us. 

 

1 Timothy 3:14-16 from the Niv Tramslation:

"if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. "

 

20:23. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them: and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.
Quorum remiseritis peccata remittuntur eis quorum retinueritis detenta sunt
Whose sins, etc...
See here the commission, stamped by the broad seal of heaven, by virtue of which the pastors of Christ's church absolve repenting sinners upon their confession.” Douay Rheims Bible http://www.newadvent.org/bible/joh020.htm

 

“Those rivals of Christ came out of our own number, but they had never really belonged, if they had belonged, they would have stayed with us, but they left us to prove that not one of them ever belonged to us” 1 John 2 v 19 (quoted from http://kindstuff.scripturelink.net/theCatholicequation - which quotes the Jerusalem Bible)

 

From Marc Aupiais, but a lowly, and humble layman of God’s true church, knowing his position is low, and small, yet knowing there are perhaps many better and greater, determined still to show what little of the truth he can be sure of.

 

What else could dear Saint Paul mean, when he says that we have all been “baptized into one body by the same spirit”?

 

 Is he not showing, firstly, that there is but one church?

 (For this is clear in the third letter of John. It is shown; also, where the bible says “If they were of us, they would not have left us, but they left us to prove that they were not of us” see 1 John 2 verse 19). The early church cannot have been a group of independent bodies, for the bible again states, from the apostles, “They reject us because they rejected him”. All who rejected the authority of the apostles rejected God. We read in the Holy book of Acts “Saul tried to join the disciples”, even God’s greatest teacher determined to join the physical body of the church.

 

 John, in his third letter looks down on then man who rejected the messengers the church sent, but applauds the man, who despite the threats involved, accepted the messengers of the Apostles. When Jesus said, “He who rejects you rejects me”, was he not speaking to the apostles, and was not Judas one of the Apostles. Did not St. King David say “I will not lift my hand against the Lord’s Anointed” of the evil king Saul? Surely, God did not send his prophets to individuals in Israel, but to Israel as a whole. He sent them to her kings, and to the kings of Judah. Jude notices those who crept in unnoticed into the church. Some may have been “saved”, but their condition is worse. Why is it worse, but because their original faith means nothing. They have abandoned the way of truth, and so, the darkest death is reserved for them. The bible describes the wolves in sheep’s clothing, yet a “tree is known by its fruit”, and however they distraught the scriptures (II Peter chapter 3 verse 16), their craftiness does not change reality, but finds her followers (those who cleverly distort scripture) their destruction (verses 16, 7, 10).

 

And so, it is the ungodly, who do not respect authority (second (2) Peter chapter 3 verse 11 to 18), and “divisions in the church are evil” (Saint Paul). St. Augustine says that whatever they taught, the other sects of his time were not in God, for they rejected his church, and as such, they did not love. One must note of course that Jesus told his Apostles, not to stop another man from doing good deeds in his name. Those who seek the truth, and obey God as best they can, can be saved. This salvation not of ignorance, but from obedience, for that not of faith is sin, and disobedience is sin. It is also true that  men and women who knowingly reject the authority created by God, also reject what God has instituted (Romans chapter 13, 1 John 3 verse 1) and that those who “lead a sinful life… belong to the devil” (adapted from 1 john chapter 3 verse 1 – Jerusalem Bible). And so, knowing, that because the Old Law, was summed in “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and Love your neighbour as yourself”, thereby, the meaning of the Law was to love. We know that, even as many claim to come in his name, but belong to the devil (Mark Chapter 13 verses 5 to 7), yet, “he who loves knows God… he who loves not, knows not God”, and again, “anyone who claims to live in the light but hates his brother is still in the dark.” First John chapter 2 verse 9-10) But anyone who loves his brother is living in the light and need not be afraid of stumbling. Love is only Love if it acts in deeds, and is not only words (1 John 3 v 18). There are people, not in love, but sin. Of these, we know the Truth. He who is in the dark does not know where he is.

 

We too, know that as we are still under the Royal law of love, and we must leave “no debt outstanding, but that of continuous love”. The meaning of the Old Law was love, and so, it was the way in which love was shown to act to his neighbour, those parts specific to that time, faded, with that system, replaced by the death and resurrection of Christ and by the more meaning oriented law. What was not meaning orientated, were the circumstantial laws related to only that system. If we are still obligated to love God with all we are, then we must obey him as best we can, and obey the commands. This is how we treat our fellow man with love. We should study the ancient books of Law. We must do so, that we may not lag. Love, as Paul notes, does not commit adultery, nor harm his brother in any of the other ways forbidden by the law of Liberty. It obeys those commands as to how to live. That is why we need not circumcise, for we have a circumcision of the heart, and circumcision, a lesser sign has been replaced by the sign of Faith- of obedience in Baptism. He who obeys the Law, he is circumcised in his heart, even knowing nothing of the written command, but only his right conscience. For this, he obeys God, in all he can. This is why I believe in baptism of desire.

 

 So, if God, does not change, for it is impossible for him to change, and if the early church had a specific structure, and was a physical church, then, are we loving God, if we, for our dislike of that hierarchy, should choose not to join the church? Jesus told his disciples to “do what they say, but not what they do” of the corrupt Pharisees of the time, and God Prophesied via the high priest who suggested Jesus’ crucifixion. He did this, because he was ordained as the high priest of that year. Do we have any choice, but to admit, that the church, as the text says, is indeed, but one church? As it says elsewhere- the church is the very body of Christ, with Christ as the head. To not live in active love, as we know (1 John 2 v 3, 5 - 10, 18) is to not know God. Do we live in love, if we do not obey?

 

Second, it says “been baptized into” when it refers to this “one body”. Are we unable to admit, that, it is baptism, which admits us into this body of Christ? If he speaks not of baptism, then, what does he speak of? Why does he use the words he does or the sentence structure. God and Paul would have noticed that they would be interpreted towards baptism. Why, if this baptism is but symbolic, does Peter, in the house of Cornelius, think that baptism of water is a great gift? He thinks it a great gift, of which- “how can we deny them” baptism of water, “if God has given them his holy spirit” (Acts 10 verse 47), this when God acted outside of the usual system, in a beautiful baptism of desire, soon replaced with the water, and admittance to the church. We also note, that, next to baptism, the text (1 Corinthians 12 v 13) says “and we have been given one spirit to drink”. The Spirit is a deposit, a guarantee to those who persevere, of salvation (“For, it is God who makes us stand”, and in Hebrews, we hear “you have not yet resisted sin to the shedding of your blood”). Those 12 men, who only received the Baptism of John, had to have Paul lay his hands on them, to receive the gift of the spirit. It is noted that they had only received the symbolic baptism of John. Peter says, having spoken of those, in Noah’s time, who were saved by obedience, by doing the illogical, and building an ark”, that the water there, symbolises our Baptism.

 

 Saying: “and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also – not” as he notes, I repeat, not: “the removal of dirt from the body” Peter knows that the water alone cannot save, but that God exchanges obedience for grace, via “the pledge of good conscience toward God.” Baptism is an act, showing obedience to God, the act of good conscience toward God. It must be done as God describes, or cannot, surely be in obedience? In the Gospel we read “baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.

If baptism is done in disobedience, in a way- God does not describe. If despite that he goes to the effort to describe how it must be done- how then, can disobedience gain grace?

 

 Was not the sin of the Jews of the time, ignoring God’s way and constructing their own? Was this not their stumbling block? The text says in succession – being baptized into a single (“one”) church (“body”) and then, it says – and being given one (“the same”) spirit to drink. (God is a God of order, can truth contradict truth? Can all these contradicting interpretations of millions be of God? Is it the same spirit that says that baptism is needed, and the same spirit that guides another to say that it is only symbolic? Can God be the one behind such contradiction?) Surely, was this spirit not given in baptism? For if “…baptism… now saves” (1 peter 3 v 21) us, and Jesus received the Spirit in baptism, and John called the baptism to come, one of “Fire”, one of the Holy Spirit? Then, surely, we receive the Holy Spirit in Baptism? Surely, if, “authorities and powers” are “in submission to him” and those who love are those who live “in union with God”, and those who “obey God’s commands live in union with God, and God lives in union with them” (1 John 2 verse 3)…

This, being because, as the bible says: “…And because of the Spirit that God has given us we know that God lives in union with us.” (1 John 3 v 24) And so, those who obey God, and know God, live in union with him, and it is impossible for a man, of his own accord- to declare “Jesus is Lord” without being prompted by the Holy Spirit. Likewise, baptism is the first act of obedience. It is “illogical” (though not contradictory). It is obedience. Obedience is exchanged for grace. Abraham was credited as Righteous, both for his faith, but more for his obedience, in “sacrificing his son” (figuratively) to God, for he must have died to the promised child, long before taking him up the hill, to kill him. He trusted that God could raise the dead. He trusted what God has promised him, and so “you can show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds” (James chapter 2 v 18), for we know that faith acts in deeds. Also, if I have “faith to move mountains” (see 1 Corinthians 13), yet do not love, then my faith is “worthless”, and so, faith without deeds is dead faith (James chapter 2 verse 17). Faith is given by God, for “none can come to” Christ “unless” his “father has enabled them to”.

 

Finally, he says that it is the “same spirit” that baptises them all. So, we know that baptism is supernatural. The word Supernatural means “above natural things, or reality, or above natural ability”. We know that the Godly spirit itself performs a true baptism, next to the physical sign of the water. We also know, as 1 Corinthians 12 stresses –

That we are but one body, and that all the parts care equally for one another. We know from elsewhere, that Christ is the head of the Body, and that a divided empire will fall. There is no such thing as truth contradicting Truth. The faith we follow must be one faith, the one (Jude Chapter 1 verse 3) that was once and for all handed down to the apostles, and cannot alter in message or truth. Surely, if there are a million interpretations, that contradict, we cannot say that they are all true. We must stick to the faith of that original church.

 

It has been said that faith alone saves, therefore – that sacraments are not needed. I say, rather, that it is not true; rather one cannot have true faith, without the acting of God. None can come, unless the father calls them. I say, however, that faith is an act of man. Grace is the bases of faith, but grace must be replied to in order to gain salvation. This reply must be done in obedience. Grace produces Faith, hope and love, and we know (1 Corinthians 13) that faith without love is worth nothing. He who loves God knows God. Those who know God Obey his commands (1John 2 v 3). Only those who do what is right belong to God (1 John 3 v 10), for love is only love, if it is active (1 John 3 v 18), and the difference between children of God and the devil is in their deeds (1 John 3 v 10), for this is the “clear difference” (previous two quoted from text). Love, of course, is shown in faith, in obedience and love (1 John 3 verse 23), and in belief in who Christ is, and in his message, and nature. For, as the text can be said to say – we are to believe in his Son Jesus Christ- and because of such belief – love one another as Christ commanded us to. This because love acts on truth, in obedience, but we must also note that it says that Jesus is both “Christ” (the Anointed one of God) and that he is his (God’s) “Son”. This we know, by believing the message of Christ.

 

In fact, we know that “when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away” (1 Corinthians 13 v10), and that in the end- “faith hope and love” (1 Corinthians 13 v13) remain, but that the greatest of these is love. Love is active, so deeds are of love (1 John 3 v 18).

 

 “The greatest of these is love”

 

Faith believes in the unseen based on the authority of God. Hope is the act welcoming the things of faith from a distance. When we see the unseen, we need not hope for it. When we taste the truth, there is no longer need to believe on authority, for the reality is here. We can then believe on our own senses. Of these three, we know that love remains. The others are not needed when the time arrives. “Love is eternal”, and love maintains belief and hope (1 Corinthians 13 verse 7). Love acts in deeds (1 John 3 v 18). Love, also causes our endurance, for it “endures all things”, and it is our love that prevents us from failing. God also is love, and as love, we know he created us in his image. If he had no physical form, then, perhaps we were created as love, but distorted it by disobedience, which is foreign to love. Thereby, to conform us to his image – could in truth be to conform us to love, to act in love, and even perhaps be, by our very nature - love. We know also that love is active, and not just words (1 John 3 verse 18), as Love is Active, God is active. As love endures all- God endures all.

 

Peter, speaking for God, said that the followers must not only repent, but be baptised, to receive the Holy Spirit and be “saved”. To be saved from this corrupt generation. A generation is characterised by the actions of her people. Baptism must be done, as the scriptures testify (Trinitarian baptism – Matthew 28 verse 19). God appeared on Earth, not to do away with the Law, but to complete the work God started in Israel via the Law. The Law helped fight the Devil, as with the Nation that Yahweh (God) created and named: Israel, but the Son Of God (The Son of Man) came to free us, not from obedience to the command of God, but from our slavery to sin. To be a slave to sin is to be a slave to the Devil (1 John 3 v 9). Thereby, he freed us from the clutches of the devil, for baptism is an act of obedience, and those who have God’s spirit are those who obey. Those who disobey, and baptism is not the only command, and live in sin, belong the Devil (1 John 3 verse 9), but those who do what is right belong to God. As we receive the Spirit in Baptism, and as we live in union with God and obey him, thereby, we do what is right, and as we do what is right, we belong to God. So, by baptism, we come out of the control of Satan and into the domain of God. That is why Baptism is called a minor Exorcism. In Exorcism, an object is removed from Satan and given to God.

 

God instituted the law; it was not and is not the Devil who did. If He (God) came in the flesh (fully man, fully God) “to destroy what the Devil had done” (1 John 3), then it cannot have been to do away with the Law. God made the Law. The Son of God did not come to do away with obedience. He came to do away with the work of the Devil. Jesus gave a Gospel of Repentance, of freedom from sin. To gain this freedom, one must obey. The commands are there. The command for baptism is one of the first. In fulfilling the Law, the circumstantial command passed away, as with the sacrifice of animals and goods. The Sacrifice was no longer needed, for the sacrament replaced it.

 

Verses of note:

 

1 John 3

“v7 – Let no one deceive you, my children:

Whoever does what is right is righteous.

V8- Whoever continues to sin belongs to the devil

because the Devil has sinned from the very beginning.

The Son of God appeared for this reason, to destroy what the Devil had done.”

Good News Bible

 

1 Corinthians 13 v 2

“And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.” New American Bible

 

Mark 16 v 16

“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. “ New American Bible

 

Acts 2 Verse 38

“Peter (said) to them, "Repent and be baptized, 7 every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit.” New American Bible

-         Note – Name and Nature are related in the bible.

 

 Copyright 2007. Marc Aupiais. All Rights Reserved.