Is Baptism Really an Outward Sign of Inward Grace?

Is Baptism Really an Outward Sign of Inward Grace?

Serena, writing for A Wordy Woman, provides an in-depth analysis of baptism as it’s portrayed in the New Testament. It’s practically impossible to pull any one quote out of this post because the author’s logic flows so smoothly from point to point.

From the initial believers at Pentecost, to several other examples throughout the book of Acts, to Jesus’ own actions and teachings, Serena plots out the role she sees baptism playing in the New Testament and where it fits in with salvation as a whole.

Christianity, the World’s Most Falsifiable Religion

Christianity, the World’s Most Falsifiable Religion

Interesting thoughts:

This belief has been a source of contention with many people, even Christians, in the past. But the more I research, the more I find it to be the case that Christianity is the only viable worldview that is historically defensible. The central claims of the Bible demand historic inquiry, as they are based on public events that can be historically verified. In contrast, the central claims of all other religions cannot be historically tested and, therefore, are beyond falsifiability or inquiry. They just have to be believed with blind faith.

Think about it: The believer in the Islamic faith has to trust in a private encounter Muhammad had, and this encounter is unable to be tested historically. We have no way to truly investigate the claims of Joseph Smith (and when we do, they are found wanting). Buddhism and Hinduism are not historic faiths, meaning they don’t have central claims of events in time and space which believers are called upon to investigate. You either adopt their philosophy or you don’t. There is no objective way to test them. Run through every religion that you know of and you will find this to be the case: Either it does not give historic details to the central event, the event does not carry any worldview-changing significance, or there are no historic events which form the foundation of the faith.

Christians Don’t Need Rights

Christians Don’t Need Rights

But it seems like many of us Christians have this idea that our individual rights are the most important thing. That if these rights are trampled on or disappear, that the end is coming. That America or other Western countries are great because they’re deferential to Christians. But Christ didn’t call us to positions of influence and respect. He didn’t call us to fight for our rights as Christians. He called us to take up our cross and follow him.

And:

Who cares? Since when does your relationship with God depend on your rights as a human being? In the book of Daniel, when Darius made a law prohibiting prayer to any deities for a month, Daniel went back to his house and prayed anyway.

And then he went to a lion’s den.

And when Darius came back to get him the next morning, the first thing that Daniel said to him wasn’t, “Give me back my rights, jerk!” It was, “Oh king, may you live forever.”

To the guy who threw him into a lion’s den for praying.

Because Daniel trusted that God was going to take care of him, even if he didn’t have any rights.

I’ve often said that Satan’s biggest victory over the church in our culture has been in spreading the idea that our rights are essential to our spiritual mission and that Christian victories happen on the floors of Congress rather than in the hearts of individuals.

12 St. Francis Quotes that Will Challenge the Way You Live Your Faith

12 St. Francis Quotes that Will Challenge the Way You Live Your Faith

Though he wrote relatively little in his life, St. Francis’ radical approach to serving those in need and his commitment to nature has continued to have an impact on Christians hundreds of years after his death. The Franciscans remain an influential group within the Church, and the pope himself was so moved by his ministry that he took the name Francis.

Here’s a look at 12 quotes (largely attributed to the friar) that will inspire the way you live your faith.

Good stuff.

Why I Quit Inviting People To Church

Why I Quit Inviting People To Church

When Jesus made disciples he met them where they were. He healed them. He fed them. He brought them back to life right where he found them.

I’m afraid personal responsibility to go make disciples has been replaced with something I’ve heard called “congregational evangelism” which is really just inviting people to church. Jesus didn’t say invite. He said, “GO!”

I honestly don’t know how I feel about this post, but I can’t get around the fact that Serena makes some very valid points. It’s true that we should never confuse evangelism with invitations.

Should We Rant with Those Who Rant?

dislike

Betteridge’s law of headlines clearly states: “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” So spoilers.

I often think about the time I spend on services like Facebook and Twitter. Recently, I saw one of those exchanges where one person posts something inflammatory that then escalates in the comments. All to often, you see something like, “If you don’t like what I have to say, delete me,” tossed in among other attacks as well as more commenters lining up to take sides. This time, the exchange was between Christians, and the object of debate was far from a spiritual matter. (Actually, those two things happen more often than I would like.)

Romans 12:15 says we should weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. That’s the primary reason I stay on social media right there. If I’m connected with you on Facebook, I sincerely want to know what’s going on in your life. I want to know what prayers you need, what celebrations you have, what struggles you are facing. That’s part of what being a brother or sister in Christ is about. That’s what being a friend is all about.

However, between adorable pictures of pets/kids and status updates about life, Facebook in particular has become a platform for soapboxes. It’s hard to scroll very far without seeing some post or another about why this group is heartless or why that group is stupid. Toxicity runs rampant. It damages relationships, and it motivates more than a few to take breaks from Facebook or abandon the service altogether.

Then come the times we feel the need to engage — to put someone “in their place.” Or, we jump in and participate in the rant, behaving like bullies toward those who think differently on some secular issue — gun rights, immigration, healthcare, taxes, etc. I’m guilty of this as anyone. Just a couple weeks ago, I caught myself being very mean-spirited on Twitter. Sure, I deleted the tweets after the fact, but the damage had already been done.

Here’s Romans 12:15 in its larger context:

In love of the brothers be tenderly affectionate one to another; in honor preferring one another; not lagging in diligence; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; enduring in oppression; continuing steadfastly in prayer; contributing to the needs of the saints; given to hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless, and don’t curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Don’t set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Don’t be wise in your own conceits.

Repay no one evil for evil. Respect what is honorable in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all men. Don’t seek revenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to God’s wrath. For it is written, “Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord.”

Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink. For in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

What I don’t see is an exhortation to rant with those who rant, to fight those who incite. Paul doesn’t give us permission to be Internet trolls. (Although, in a manner of speaking, he does give us permission to feed the trolls.) In fact, if I hold some of my past conduct on social networks to the standard put forth in Romans 12, I fall woefully short. Still, I recognize that struggle, and I’m always hoping to do better.

I invite you to look at your own conduct on Facebook and other social services. Are you ranting with those who rant? Stop. Are you inciting arguments and anger? Stop. Stop being overcome by evil, and instead be a source of goodness. And, above all, continue posting about your joys so that I can rejoice with you. Write about your sorrows, so that I can pray for you. I’m not going to unfriend you, mute you, or block you because I disagree with you on some things, but I’d much rather know how I can be a better friend to you than how to vote like you.