The Psalmist invites the children of God to sing a new song unto God because of the marvelous things he has done. “Jehovah hath made known His salvation. He hath remembered His loving kindness and His faithfulness toward the house of Israel.” When we are privileged to witness the administration of the holy sacrament of baptism we are reminded of our uncleanness, and of the fact that we are in ourselves damnable. But we also are assured of God’s love and tender mercy. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit speak to us of their saving activity, whereby we are freed from the curse of the law and adopted as children and heirs of God.
There is however one thing which should never be forgotten in the contemplation of the great works of God for our salvation. A religion which rests in the things which God does for us will lead to a bitter disappointment. Here is one of the sins which so easily beset us. We love to think of all the blessings which God bestows upon us and to rejoice in these good gifts without realizing that these blessings are given us in order that we may use them to the glory of God and the coming of his kingdom. It is so often forgotten that the good gifts of God if not used in the way in which God wants us to use them will turn against us. In baptism the triune God reminds us of the great work of salvation done by him that we might be redeemed from sin and all its evil consequences; but we are also reminded that being saved we are now called to a life of obedience to his commandments, a life of devotion and consecration to him and his cause here upon this earth.
Let no one think for a single moment that God first gives us blessings and now takes them back by his demand that they shall be spent and used for him. Exactly the opposite is true. God knows—and we should not forget it—that the fulness of the blessings which he gives can only be experienced in the right use made of them.
In all covenants there are contained two parts, also in the covenant of grace which God has established with us and our children. We may rest assured that God will do what he promised. He will prove the faithful one. We should not forget what God expects of us in this covenant relationship which he has established. Baptism speaks of cleansing, a cleansing which can only be accomplished by God; now God expects that we in our lives shall keep ourselves unspotted from the world and undefiled. We are by baptism admonished and obliged to a life of obedience. It would be wrong indeed to think of this demand as an unbearable burden. It is only in the life of obedience to all the commandments of God that there can be a true enjoyment of the life which God has given. In connection with this demand we should learn to understand ever better the words of Jesus when he declares, my yoke is easy and my burden is light. The law of God is never arbitrary but intends to bring to man happiness and peace of mind.
That we must be reminded of this lies in the fact that we still have to struggle with the old nature. Every time when the sacrament of baptism is administered in the midst of the congregation God says to us: Remember that you are obliged to a life of obedience. God asks of us that we shall love him with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind. In the way of this obedience he wants us to trust in him. The way of God’s commandments does not always seem to be the most desirable one. Obedience to God’s commandments seems to lead to earthly failure and ruin. But God says to us: Trust in me, my way is the best way. To that end we must forsake the world. What could be better for us than to forsake the world of unrighteousness? That world is in opposition to God and to his Anointed and therefore on the way of utter destruction. It is the world where Satan rules, who is a murderer from the beginning and delights in the destruction of his subjects. We must forsake the world of sin. We must not be unequally yoked together with the unbeliever. Baptism calls for a life of separation. There are many today who do not understand this call which comes to them through baptism. We are well aware that there is a forsaking of the world which is sinful. We know that Christ demands of his disciples that they shall be in the world and witness for him. But we are also deeply conscious of the fact that in this connection the Christ also says that those who are his are not of the world. There are many problems connected with am calling in the midst of this world, while living the life of separation. It requires the wisdom of God to find a solution. But the solution can never be found unless we realize that there is no connection between light and darkness. Today it is so necessary to place great emphasis upon the fact that baptism demands the life of separation. To accomplish this we must crucify our old nature. Our old nature continually hungers for the fleshpots of Egypt. There is no cure for this old nature; it must be crucified, it must die. We must live the godly life, the life that gives manifestation of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the life that is constantly searching for the Kingdom of God and its righteousness.
Of course our children, who receive this sacrament because God has established his covenant with us and our children, do not understand these things. It is God who demands that fathers and mothers shall instruct their children in these things. Parents are called by God to train their children in the way of the covenant. They must be told what God has done for them and what he now expects. The parents both by word and example will have to teach their children what it means to stand in covenant relationship to the God who made the heavens and the earth.
Thus we as fathers and mothers are reminded of the great privilege God has bestowed upon us that we may be co-laborers with him in the building of his kingdom. ]t is indeed a great blessing that God has declared that he will be the God of our children. Therefore it ought to be our delight to tell our children about this privilege and what it means.
We are in need of being reminded of this. We are often far more interested in the things that have no abiding value than in those who are of eternal worth. We often spend far more time and effort in gaining the earthly things for ourselves find for our children. And yet there is nothing that has greater value and can contribute as much to real happiness and fruitful living than to use our talents and possessions in the service of him who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. We as parents are reminded that we can not delegate this work to others. We cannot delegate this work to the church and to the school and to the state or to anyone else. God will require our children from our hands. Parents may use the church and tIle school to help them in this, but the responsibility for the training of our children rests upon us.
In witnessing the administration of the sacrament of baptism and understanding its message we are warned. Knowing that our life is filled with error and hidden faults, we are thankful for this warning. We realize that although God is faithful to his promises, we often fail and stumble. How good it is to remember that the faithfulness of God is our security and that we need not despair of God’s mercy. Thus baptism is not only a religious rite, but becomes a leaven which saturates our whole life. My baptism tells me that I may walk hand in hand with God.