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St Mary Coptic Orthodox Church In Delaware - Baptism - by Father Mina Mina

Baptism - by Father Mina Mina

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The Lord Jesus Christ commanded the disciples saying: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" (Matt.28: 19). We believe that baptism is the way to receive salvation, purification, justification, renewal of life and membership in the Body of Christ. Baptism is one of the Church sacraments and is done by immersion and ad-ministered only by the clergy. Infants are baptized on the belief of their parents so that they are not deprived from entering and seeing the kingdom of heaven. This way, they grow up free from the bondage of Satan, filled by the Holy Spirit, enjoying being a child of God in the bosom of the church, partaking from the sacrament, and learning the bible.

 

(1) Salvation is completed through baptism: "He who believes and is baptized will be saved" (Mark.16: 16).

 

(2) Through baptism we receive the Second Birth which is of water and the Spirit "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John.3:3). Also, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John.3: 5).

When we are baptized, we are born from above and are able to live according to the spirit rather than according to the body as Jesus said: "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. " (John.3: 6.) Through baptism we are born from the womb of the church which is the font of baptism and hence the church be-comes our spiritual mother.

 

(3) Through baptism we are washed from the original sin and all the sins which we had done before baptism as St. Paul explained: "... that He might sanctify and cleanse us with the washing of water by the word" (Eph.5: 26). Ananias' words to Saul (St. Paul) : "And now why are you waiting. Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins" (Acts 22: 16). Even though he was called by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself to be an Apostle to the Gentiles and a chosen vessel to bear His name and to suffer for the sake of His name (Acts 9: 15,16), nevertheless, his sins were not forgiven by his encounter with the Lord or by his faith or by becoming an Apostle. He was still in need of baptism to wash away his sins. That is why St. Paul said to the Corinthians: "But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (1Cor.6: 11). On the Day of Pentecost, thousands of the Jews believed and were cut to the heart, they said to St. Peter and the other Apostles: "Men and brethren, what shall we do." Then St. Peter and the Apostles replied: "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2: 37, 38). This shows that it is not enough to believe but they had to be baptized.

 

 (4) Baptism is dying with the Lord Jesus Christ and rising with Him: The Holy Bible says: "For the wages of sin is death" (Rom.6: 23). The way of salvation began by death: the Lord Jesus Christ died for us. It is necessary to die with the Lord Jesus Christ or at least to resemble Him in His death as the Apostle says: "...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being con-formed to His death" (Phil.3: 10). St. Paul said: "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death. Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death"

(Rom.6: 3, 4). And he continues to confirm this expression by saying: "...we died with Him... we were buried with Him... we have been united together in the like-ness of His death... our old man was crucified with Him." (Rom.6: 3, 4). The Apostle says: "Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him" (Rom.6: 8).Therefore, baptism is essential for salvation because it is sharing in Christ's death. The phrase "buried with Him through baptism" means immersion as when the body is lowered into the grave. Also, one of the results of baptism is the crucifixion of our old self.

 

 (5) Another Result of baptism is newness of life: "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death that just as Christ was raised from  the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Rom.6: 4). Therefore our old nature is renewed in baptism.

 

(6) In baptism we put on Christ The bible says: "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Gal.3: 27). We are restored to the original image which is God's image (Gen.1: 26) which we lost through the original sin. Therefore, when the Father sees us, He sees His Son Jesus and says “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” (Mat. 3:17) (7) In baptism we become members of the Church: As the circumcised was considered a member of God's people (Gen.17: 7) likewise, the baptized becomes a member of God's Body which is the Church. The baptism was symbolized by circumcision in the Old Testament. The Apostle St. Paul says about the Lord Jesus: "In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by put-ting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with

Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead" (Col.2: 11,12).

 

In circumcision, a part of the body is cut off and it dies. This refers to the complete death of the old nature in baptism. Circumcision is a mark that can’t be erased. Likewise, baptism can’t be erased. As man is circumcised only once, and dies only once and then rises, therefore baptism is performed only once: it is not to be repeated because the baptized does not die with Christ more

than once. As blood is shed in circumcision, likewise, the merit of the bloodshed of Jesus on our behalf is received in baptism. As the uncircumcised was cut off from the people of God (Gen.17: 14), likewise, he who is not baptized by water and the Spirit (John.3:3, 5) will not enter the kingdom of God.

 

The symbols of baptism in the Old Testament give the same meaning; Noah's Ark was a symbol of baptism. St. Peter the Apostle says: "...while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us, namely baptism" (1Pet.3:20, 21). All those who were in the ark were saved from the death of the flood. Circumcision is another symbol of baptism as we showed above. The crossing of the Red Sea is another symbol of

baptism. St. Paul the Apostle says: "all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Mosses in the cloud and in the sea" (1Cor.10: 1,2). By crossing the Red Sea, the Israelites were saved from the slavery of Pharaoh. By baptism we are saved from the slavery of Satan, power of sin and eternal death. The elements of passing the shadow of death, blood, and water are common in these examples.

 

Here Mosses resembles priesthood in the same way that Noah resembles priesthood in the symbol of the Ark in the Era of the Patriarch Fathers. Another symbol of baptism in the Old Testament is found in (Ezek.16: 8,9) where the Lord says to the sinful Jerusalem which here resembles the human soul in its fall: "When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love. I entered into a covenant with you, and you became mine, 'says the Lord God.' Then I washed you in water; yes, I thoroughly washed off your blood, and I anointed you with oil."

 

This water and this washing are symbols of baptism and the ointment is a symbol of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The phrase "you became Mine" means that Jerusalem (the human soul) became a member of Christ's Body (the Church). In the Creed we read "We believe in one baptism for the remission of sins". As in Christ baptism, when we were baptized, the heaven was opened, the Holy Spirit filled us, and the Father said: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” (Mat. 3:17) Glory be to our God forever Amen.

 

 

 

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