Baptism, The Right To Life, And Original Sin

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Rom 5:12-21 GW  Sin came into the world through one person, and death came through sin. So death spread to everyone, because everyone sinned.

We move into a beautiful portion of the book of Romans that compares what we sometimes call the “first and second Adams” But before we get into the nuts and bolts of this comparison, I don’t want to pass up the opportunity for a teachable moment on some other very important issues related to the text.

These issues are of a major concern in the church and our nation today, and I believe they need to be addressed at every opportunity. The first issue is the right to life, and the second is the necessity of infant baptism.

We read here that sin came into the world through one person. Do you believe that? Do you believe that sin is hereditary? You ought to believe it, because that’s what God is saying here. Sin isn’t a contagious disease that is caught from family members or classmates like some sort of a flu virus.  

It isn’t something that is spread by germs, “ ”Johnny, you wash your hands or your going to spread sin.” “Don’t go putting your hands in your mouth like that, you’ll catch sin.” Cover your mouth when you cough, do you want us all to catch sin? Oh that it were that simple! Sin is in our genes. David said it best when he said “in sin my mother conceived me. (Ps. 51:5)

 So sin came into this world through one person and death came through sin. Adam and Eve would’ve lived forever without sin, but they sinned and so eventually they died. Now let me ask you something.  Can something or someone die if it first is not alive? Of course not! In order to die, you must first be alive!

If then we are sinners from conception, then we are capable of death because sin brings death, What does that tell you about the status of the unborn child from conception on?  Unless you choose to remain in denial on this issue and spit at the biblical evidence, you must conclude that the unborn child is alive from conception on. The unborn child is a sinner who will one day die.

The question is not about whether that child is alive or not, the question is, how will that child die.....naturally and according to God’s timing, or will man take charge and end that life before it’s intended time. When man ends that life purposely and prematurely , he violates God’s command, “Thou shalt not kill.”

The realization that one has killed a child by the act of abortion is devastating. It seems almost unforgivable, but that’s where the second Adam, Jesus Christ comes in. There is no sin, no breakage of the ten commandments that He did not pay for and that God will not forgive, even the sin of abortion.

If we confess our sin, that is agree with God that it is sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Believe what God’s Word says about the beginning of the life of a child, and if you have ended such a life by the act of abortion believe even more what God’s Word says about your forgiveness!

If you read our sign out front, or look at any of our literature you will note the words that tell what Living Word Lutheran is all about. “Proclaiming Christ.....professing Christ......Pro family. Why do we make such a big deal about being pro-life?  

Because we need to let the world know that we stand with God’s Word and therefore we are against the murder of unborn children. This is an issue that the church must take a stand on, we cannot be silent. There is a very telling portion of Scripture found in the book of Leviticus that bears this out.

Lev 20:1-5 GW  The LORD spoke to Moses,  (2)  "Tell the Israelites: If Israelites or foreigners living among you give one of their children as a sacrifice to the god Molech, they must be put to death. The common people must stone them to death.  (3)  I will condemn them and exclude them from the people. They gave one of their children to Molech, made my holy tent unclean, and dishonored my holy name.  (4)  If the common people ignore those who give their children to Molech and do not put them to death,  (5)  I will condemn them and their families. I will exclude them from the people. I will exclude from the people everyone who chases after Molech as if he were a prostitute.
God didn’t fool around with those who would sacrifice their children did He? Well,  we are not advocating the death penalty for those who abort their children. The NT equivalent of stoning to death is church discipline that leads to excommunication unless there is godly sorrow and repentance over the sin.

There is a big flap in the Catholic church today concerning some bishops who will withhold communion from politicians who support legislation that favors abortion.  The bishops are standing on solid biblical ground and precedent when they take such action

But remember, the purpose of the action is to cause the politician, the abortionist, and others who participate in the act to come to repentance and receive the Lord’s forgiveness.  Without repentance, such people are to be “excluded from the people.”

Child sacrifice, (and that’s what abortion really comes down to,) is not to be practiced and not to be tolerated by God’s people. Please note that God not only condemns the ones doing the sacrifice, but He also condemns those in the congregation who ignore the sin, and fail to enforce church discipline in the matter.

“If the common people (the church) ignore those who give their children to Molech and do not put them to death (put them to church discipline)  I will condemn them and their families. I will exclude them from the people.”

God will judge the church that ignores this responsibility. That’s one reason why Living Word is pro-life!  Woe to the church that isn’t.

And while we are pro-life, we will never weary of proclaiming that Christ died for all sins, including the sin of abortion and we will seek to profess Christ as we live in a manner that regards and supports all life as sacred!

So lesson #1 from this verse. The unborn child has a death sentence hanging over it’s head from conception on. Since you cannot die without first being alive,  the unborn child must be alive from conception on.

Let’s talk next then about the matter of infant baptism.  Sin came into the world through heredity, and death (physical and spiritual) came through sin. Death spread to everyone because everyone sinned.

What does that tell you about those cute little babies that are born? It tells me they are tainted by sin. It tells me that unless something happens to them spiritually, they are condemned to die spiritually. We make a big mistake when we look at a cute baby and decide that God would never send such a thing to hell.

The fact is, that cute little baby is like that ugly fly paper we talked about last week. That cute little baby is loaded with original sin and unless something is done about it, that cute little baby is going to go to hell.

The Bible doesn’t say that death spread to everyone except cute little babies. God said everyone and He meant everyone.

1Sa 16:7b GW   God does not see as humans see. Humans look at outward appearances, but the LORD looks into the heart."

Our cute little babies have a filthy heart infested with original sin. They have a sin problem and it must be dealt with. But how? Can a little baby climb out of it’s bassinet and crawl down the aisle responding to an altar call? Can the little baby say the sinners prayer with mommy and daddy? Eventually, I suppose, but what do you do in the meantime?

Let us examine the Word of God and see what it teaches on this point. David says, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Ps. 51:5) .
Paul tells us that we are all by nature the children of wrath. (Eph 2:3)
and that both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin; as it is written, “There is none righteous, no not one.” (Rom 3:9,10)
The Scriptures ask, “How can he be clean, that is born of a woman? (Job 25:4)
And the Savior declares, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.”
And guess what? Paul also said that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”

Something supernatural has to happen to that little child to give it a new spiritual life. To enable it to inherit the kingdom of God. The child must be born again.  

Therefore we cannot say as some claim, that infants by nature are children of God. The truth is, they are sinners and the children of wrath!  Oh what a terrible thing to say Pastor Matz. Yes it is! The fall of Adam is something terrible. There is nothing so sad and awful on earth as the fact that we are born in sin and therefore born as children of wrath.

But we cannot do away with this sad and awful fact by denying it. The safest course of action is to believe what the Word of God says, even if it at times it has to tell us terrible things.

So how do we move our children from being children of wrath to children of grace? The Word of God says that “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (Jn 3:3) Our children must be born again! And they (along with all God’s children) are born again through a means of grace called baptism.

It may seem unreasonable to you that a handful of water on the head of a man should bring him into the kingdom of God, should make him a child of God, and an heir of eternal life, but don’t tell that to Naaman.

Naaman is an Old Testament character who came to Elisha to be healed of leprosy. He thought it was foolish to believe that he could be cleansed from leprosy by washing in the river Jordan, but after having tried it, he found that he was healed.

Don’t tell that to the blind man for whom Jesus made a mudpack and put it on the mans eyes in order to restore His sight. He used means to accomplish the healing!   Jesus used an earthly element and His spoken word to open the eyes of a blind man.

 And if it pleases the Lord to save and cleanse us by such simple means and elements we shall have to permit Him to do it. Paul reminded us in his letter to the Corinthians that the Lord chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. Sometimes I fear that in our quest to appear wise, we miss the simple blessings of the Lord.

Jesus says, “Verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (Jn 3:5) You can make all sorts of stories out of the word “water” here, but you do harm to the Greek when you make it out to represent the breaking of water at birth.

When you do that you make Jesus say things He didn’t intend to say. You want Him to say that unless a man has a physical birth and then a spiritual birth he cannot enter into heaven. Congratulations! You just sent all unborn babies to hell because they did not experience natural birth!
The context of Jesus’ talk with Nicodemus is baptism and the theme of baptism carries all the way through to John 4:1,2.  Also please note that the text says, “Born again of water and of the Spirit” This speaks of one act. If Jesus was referring to two separate acts here He would’ve said, “Born of water and born of Spirit.”  But He says born of water and Spirit.

In this one sentence He makes the water and the Spirit one unified specific act, and that act can be nothing but baptism.

Paul also refers to the act of Baptism in Titus 3:5 when he says, that “God according to His mercy saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Paul calls baptism a washing of regeneration, that is, a washing which regenerates. To regenerate is to give new life or birth such as spoken of by Jesus when He talked with Nicodemus.

These two passages show us how all of God’s original-sin laden children are to be born again! Peter also spoke of baptism when he said that baptism doth now save us even as Noah and his family were saved in the Ark.  He said, “In this ship, a few people, eight in all, were saved by water. Baptism, which is like that water, now saves you.”

Many people will tell you that baptism cannot save anybody, but whom are we to believe, those who can’t see this how this is possible, or the witness of the Holy Spirit speaking through Jesus, Paul, and Peter?

It would seem strange that our God of grace and love would not make provision for children to be cleansed of their original sin and brought into a saving relationship with Him. It would seem strange that God would make no provision for the severely handicapped to enter heaven. It would also seem strange that our God who hates sin, would wink at it’s presence...even in a tiny child.

In the OT covenant, male children were brought into a saving, covenanted relationship with God by the act of circumcision. This was to be done on the 8th day after their birth. What blessed assurance for their parents should anything happen to their children from that day forward, the parents knew that as long as their child had God-given faith, their circumcision marked them as God’s child.  

And what a comfort to realize that God set apart the 8th day for this event. The parents couldn’t circumcise a child in the womb and by making it the 8th day, God was saying, don’t worry about your child before the 8th day. He is in my hands.

I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, since baptism is likened in the NT to circumcision, I believe children should be baptized on the 8th day as well. If He could handle the children of the OT this way, He certainly can do it in the New.

Perhaps the biggest stumbling block concerning infant baptism is that people don’t believe that infants can have faith. This would be a great argument and if true it would make infant baptism utterly useless. Mark 16:16 says, “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

Here’s where most Lutherans blow it. Somehow we forget the importance of belief in relation to our baptism. We think, “oh, I’m baptized...therefore I’m saved! No! You must couple that seal of God with faith. Read the second part of this verse! Whoever does not believe, (baptized or not) will be condemned.

So though given faith at baptism, we need to guard it cherish it, work it out, lest we lose it!

Oh if those who oppose infant baptism would read and believe the first part of this verse and oh if those who support infant baptism would read and believe the second part of this verse!

But let’s get back to the business of infants not being able to have faith. Show me in the Bible where it states that and I will never baptize another infant. It would be useless! Let me ask you, where did your faith come from? Did you decide to have it, or was it a gift from God?

Eph 2:8,9 says we are saved by grace through faith and this not of ourselves it is the gift of God not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Faith is a gift from God and He gives it to whom He wills. And He wills to give it to us by means of grace, that is through the proclaimed Word or through the Sacraments, or simply by His divine prerogative.

Infants cannot have faith? Then why did John the Baptist leap in his mother’s womb at the recognition of the unborn Jesus in Mary’s womb?

Why did Jesus say that we must become as little children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven? The Greek word here clearly indicating a toddler.

Why did Jesus say “whoso shall offend one of these little ones (toddlers) WHICH BELIEVE IN Me” It would be better that he have a millstone around his neck and thrown into the depths of the sea!

And why did David state in Ps 22:10 “From my mothers womb You have been my God!”

Do not say that an infant cannot have faith! Faith that comes from God. And one of the ways He uses to deliver faith is baptism.  “God according to His mercy (it was nothing we did) saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.  Paul wasn’t ashamed to admit the power of baptism in his life, neither should we!

I fear for unbaptized children, I fear for them because as this passage in Romans clearly points out, they have original sin clinging to their souls. I fear for their parents, for in withholding this clear method of saving grace from their children, they are causing them to stumble and are slipping a millstone about their neck.

It is not my place to judge what God will do with such children, or their parents. But it is my place to tell you what God’s Word clearly says about the matter of original sin and infant baptism You don’t have to be left up in the air over this matter. Scripture presents a clear solution for the dilemma of original sin.

And if you are not baptized or any of your children are not baptized, may I point you to the water in the fount behind me and echo the words of the Ethiopian Eunich, who clearly understood the importance of being baptized.  

You have heard God’s Word. Now, here is water, what is hindering you from being baptized?