Sunday, January 13, 2019

Making Baptism Complete

This Sunday's reading from Acts 8:14-17 points out that merely being baptized might not be enough,
"Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit."
A friend once told me of the time he was stopped on the streets of Greenville, SC by a Bob Jones University student who posed the common Southern introductory question, "Have you been saved?" to which my friend responded, "Yes, and have you been baptized by a priest in Apostolic succession?"

The laying on of hands is therefore an ancient tradition which, in the hands of the Apostles, carried the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Not every baptism "takes", but those that are sealed by the Holy Spirit most certainly will.

The story of the man who had been partially baptized has been handed down to me by my father,
A small church in the mountains got a new pastor who decided to study the church rolls in order to better understand his new flock. The records showed that all but one person had been baptized with the exception being a man beside whose name the previous pastor had written, "Partially baptized".  The new pastor learned that this man lived way up on the mountain and had not been to church in years, so the pastor decided to pay him a visit and see if he could find out more about "partial baptism". 
After a long hike, the pastor arrived at the man's small cabin where the man greeted him with a suspicious eye. The pastor introduced himself, and after some small talk, the discussion got around to the man's partial baptism. The man stiffened and said, "Now don't you get any ideas about doing that again. The last fella who tried that took me down to the creek and said, 'In the name of the Father' and pushed me down into that ice cold water. Then he pulled me up and said, In the name of the Son" and pushed me down into that freezing cold water again. He plucked me out and said. 'In the name of the Holy Spirit", but before he could dunk me I stopped him and said, 'The Father and the Son nearly killed me, I don't want to know what that Holy Spirit might do.'"

1 comment:

  1. Katherine8:53 AM

    Funny story!

    That line about whether we've been "saved" is indeed a Southern common phrase. I commonly respond that my hope is in Jesus Christ, whose death and resurrection save all who believe and trust in him.

    Some baptisms don't "take" even if sealed by the Holy Spirit by laying on of hands. Some stubborn sinners refuse the gift which is offered them. And emergency baptisms can be performed by any Christian; a priest is the regular form, but not essential.