Bible Study, Catholic, Catholicism, Christianity

Bible 1 Yr – Day 268 – Baptism Now Saves You

Today Peter makes a statement that must seem strange to some. He writes:

… because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ …

1Pe 3:20-21

So “baptism now saves you”.

He compares this directly to Noah, the ark and the flood. In the flood, Noah and his family were saved physically from the water by the Ark. They were also saved spiritually by the water washing away all the evil in the world. Thus, so it is with baptism.

Peter says that baptism is not a symbol. It is not the washing off of dirt from the body but “an appeal to God for a good conscience”. It can also be translated as “a pledge of a good conscience”. Peter is saying that like the water actually saved Noah from evil so does baptism actually save your soul (your conscience) from the sin that was there. This is, of course, done through the power of Jesus Christ who told his apostles “go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

This passage help establish the concept of “sacraments”. When physical things have actual spiritual effects. We see it here when Peter says, “Baptism now saves you”. He does not say that baptism is a symbol of your salvation. He doesn’t say that baptism is an outward reflection of a past event. He says it does what it is intended to do. When you think about it that makes perfect sense. Jesus came and fulfilled the old law. In the old law there were many things that were done but were ineffective. Remember the book of Hebrews says that it was impossible for the sacrifices of bulls and goats to actually take away sins. Jesus ends that old ineffectual system but He does tell us to do new things. It does not make sense that Jesus would replace one system of ineffectual signs with a new system of ineffectual signs. Thus, the signs instituted by Christ must be effectual signs or sacraments.

We see this elsewhere in the New Testament. In Acts 8, we see the Apostles travel from Jerusalem to Samaria to lay hands on the some new converts. We are told those converts have been baptized by the deacon Phillip yet Peter himself (with James) goes to Samaria and lays hands on the converts and calls down the Holy Spirit upon them “because they had not yet received it”. Why would he do this? This was very shortly after the resurrection of Jesus (as Peter was still in Jerusalem). It is fair to infer that the Apostles were told to do this by Jesus. We see in today’s reading the Peter considered Baptism to be effective yet he still goes again to lay hands on the converts. From this we get the Catholic sacrament of Confirmation, when the Bishop (the successor of the Apostles) confirms the work done by his assistants. It completes the converts unification with the Church by connecting them directly to the Bishop and filling them with the Holy Spirit in a new and different way.

We also see the sacrament of the “anointing of the sick” very clearly in the book of James:

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

Jam 5:14-15

Notice what it says here. The sick person is anointed with oil and the others pray over them. The sick person does NOTHING yet, “the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up”. That’s a sacrament; the physical workings of others have an actual effect on salvation.

In total there are seven (7) sacraments. Here we have seen scriptural evidence for Baptism, Confirmation and the Anointing of the Sick. The other four are: Confession, Eucharist, Matrimony and Holy Orders. It is a great tragedy, of infinite proportions, that the sacraments are lost to most Christians. In fact, some Christians even have hostility toward the idea of sacraments. Enamored with the doctrine of faith alone they jettison the touchstones that Jesus gave us. We are material beings and Jesus provided for our material well being. For some, sadly the very things the Christ established to connect our material bodies with the spiritual world become not the doors of access to the spiritual they were intended to be but burdens seen as to cumbersome to carry. Let us together reconsider the promise of the sacraments, not as meaningless signs but as spiritual tools to aid us on the road to salvation.

9 thoughts on “Bible 1 Yr – Day 268 – Baptism Now Saves You”

  1. “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

    The elders are the priests, according to the link you provided, yesterday. James says “call the elderS and let THEM pray over him” This seems to indicate multiple priests/elders are required for this, but each Church only has one priest, so did they call in priests from other churches to do this?

  2. Why do you presume that each Church had only one Priest?

    Why do you presume that only priests are elders?

    Why do you presume that this is an absolute inflexible rule and that if circumstances were such that only one elder was available that a practical exception wouldn’t apply?

  3. “Why do you presume that only priests are elders?”
    http://www.catholic.com/tracts/bishop-priest-and-deacon
    Bishop, Priest, and Deacons
    The sacrament of holy orders is conferred in three ranks of clergy: bishops, priests, and deacons.

    Bishops (episcopoi) have the care of multiple congregations and appoint, ordain, and discipline priests and deacons. They sometimes appear to be called “evangelists” in the New Testament. Examples of first-century bishops include Timothy and Titus (1 Tim. 5:19–22; 2 Tim. 4:5; Titus 1:5).

    Priests (presbuteroi) are also known as “presbyters” or “elders.” In fact, the English term “priest” is simply a contraction of the Greek word presbuteros. They have the responsibility of teaching, governing, and providing the sacraments in a given congregation (1 Tim. 5:17; Jas. 5:14–15).

    Deacons (diakonoi) are the assistants of the bishops and are responsible for teaching and administering certain Church tasks, such as the distribution of food (Acts 6:1–6).

    “Why do you presume that each Church had only one Priest?”
    When I was growing up, my catholic church had 1 priest. But, I guess larger congregations might have multiple priests.

    “Why do you presume that this is an absolute inflexible rule and that if circumstances were such that only one elder was available that a practical exception wouldn’t apply?”
    I’m not presuming anything, I’m asking questions like I always do when I have a question about something.

    Why do you answer questions with questions? When you are cross-examining somebody on the stand, do you let them answer questions with questions?

  4. 1 Timothy 3King James Version (KJV)

    3 This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
    2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
    3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
    4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
    5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
    6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
    7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
    8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
    9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
    10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
    11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
    12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
    13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
    14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:
    15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
    16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

    If you look at the language used here, Bishops use a singular pronoun (he), then Deacons use a plural pronoun (they). So 1 bishop per church and multiple deacons, I don’t know.

  5. 1 Timothy 5:20King James Version (KJV)
    20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

    Totally off the subject, but this just caught my eye. This seems to fly in the face of going to confession. This seems very open and public, as opposed to confessing your sins to the priest, in private, where only the he can hear.

  6. I simply asked questions this time to make you aware of the presumptions you were embedding into the questions and to get you to think about where those presumptions were coming from.

    Bishops are responsible for areas. Like James was the bishop of Jerusalem and Timothy was bishop of Ephesus. My bishop, Loverde is Bishop of Arlington and responsible for an area that stretches from DC to about 1/2 hour north of Richmond and west to the edge of VA. He is the pastor of 10’s of thousands of Catholics and probably 100 churches. Priests are his assistants as are deacons. Deacons are essentially men who feel the calling to Holy Orders but don’t want to take full vows.

    The Church has disciplinary authority over the sacraments. In other words, they can say how they are to be administered. Confession used to be public and penance was a long public affair. Eventually the Church saw prudence in making confession private and penance has become more symbolic (“Say 5 Hail Marys!). This is b/c inherent in the authority Jesus gave the Church is the authority to administer the Church.

    The bible is the Word of God and the Church is the servant of the Word but the Church is also the Bride of the Word and one Body with the Word. The Church can administer the sacraments within the broad meaning of the written word. For example, you quote the verse of “rebuke before all” but that doesn’t say (admittedly I haven’t gone to the verse to look it up) that you must do that in every case for every sin no matter how venial. And there is public condemnation of sin today. Particularly of Priests and other religious who do schismatic acts and break with the Church on social issues. Some of us would like more condemnation – for example of politicians who hold themselves out as Catholic yet are pro-choice but in many cases the Church has judged that the backlash might be worse than the offense. In time, the Holy Spirit might call the Church to act differently. What we can know is that withing the confines of the Church that God provides the surest path to salvation irrespective of the foibles of men.

  7. “For example, you quote the verse of “rebuke before all” but that doesn’t say (admittedly I haven’t gone to the verse to look it up) that you must do that in every case for every sin no matter how venial.”

    1 Timothy 5:20King James Version (KJV)
    20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

    1 John 5:17King James Version (KJV)
    17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

    James 5:16 [Full Chapter]
    Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

    Why are you trying to make exceptions for it? Sin is sin, is it not? Plus, it’s not just for the person who sins, its a reminder to the entire congregation to keep your nose clean. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, that type of thing. Seeing my brother being publicly exposed for something he did might keep me from doing the same thing.

    “Some of us would like more condemnation – for example of politicians who hold themselves out as Catholic yet are pro-choice but in many cases the Church has judged that the backlash might be worse than the offense.”
    Why would the church be concerned with backlash for telling the truth? If someone says they are catholic, then they be held to catholic standards.

  8. Yes, seeing your brother being publicly exposed might keep you from doing the same thing. On the other hand, your brother, knowing he will be publicly exposed might never confess his sin. Which is more important, having a repentent sinner confess his sin and be absolved or making and example for the community? The bible say there is more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner….

    Plus, some Protestant groups took these verses to the literal ends. You remember colonial times when when we had people in public stocks and wearing scarlet letter “A’s”? How did that work out? I’m sure there were some benefits and some drawbacks but it certainly didn’t end all sin.

    Why should be concerned about telling the truth? It’s not. It tells the truth about abortion every day. But should it publicly excommunicate Nancy Pelosi? Not so fast. I forget the name of the CA politician (could have been Pelosi but not sure), she was way behind in the polls. Then some bishop or priest publicly censured her and told her she could not present herself for communion. Her fund raising and support exploded and we ended up with a pro-choice vote in a seat that probably would have went to a pro-life candidate.

    The Church has an extraordinary public authority and responsibility. Even when the Church is marginalized in society people inherently recognize its authority. When it puts its weight behind something you can be sure the forces of darkness take the field ready to do battle. The Church must be prudent in when and how it uses its authority.

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