Skip to comments.What Does It Mean to Be Baptized With the Holy Spirit?
Posted on 12/05/2011 2:05:03 PM PST by NYer
In the final lines of yesterday’s Gospel, John the Baptist says,
I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (Mk 1:8).
Matthew and Luke add: and with fire.
We ought to consider, What does it mean to be baptized with the Holy Spirit (and with fire)? In the first place we must be careful to indicate, right from the beginning, that Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not distinct, different, or later than our reception of the Sacrament of Baptism. Rather it is the unfolding and deepening experience of what the Sacrament of Baptism (and Confirmation) have effected in us.
In a strictly theological sense, John the Baptist is distinguishing his Baptism, which was merely a washing that signified repentance, from the Baptism of Christ, which actually brings forgiveness and bestows the very life of God, and all the graces of this new life to the believer. We are not merely washed of our sins in the Sacrament of Baptism, we are made new, and the seed of God’s very own life, love and grace are sown in us, to grow. We are actually sanctified and made new.
Some of the Fathers of the Church have this to say:
Theophylus – The baptism of John had not remissions of sins, but only brought men to penitence. He preached therefore the baptism of repentance, that is, he preached that to which the baptism of penitence led, namely, remission of sins, that they who in penitence received Christ, might receive Him to the remission of their sins.
Jerome – For what is the difference between water and the Holy Ghost, who was borne over the face of the waters? Water is the ministry of man; but the Spirit is ministered by God.
Bede – Now we are baptized by the Lord in the Holy Ghost, not only when in the day of our baptism, we are washed in the fount of life, to the remission of our sins, but also daily by the grace of the same Spirit we are inflamed, to do those things which please God
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says,
According to the Apostle Paul, the believer enters through Baptism into communion with Christ’s death, is buried with him, and rises with him: Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Rom 6:3-4) The baptized have “put on Christ.” (Gal 3:27) Through the Holy Spirit, Baptism is a bath that purifies, justifies, and sanctifies (1 Cor 6:11). Hence Baptism is a bath of water in which the “imperishable seed” of the Word of God produces its life-giving effect. (CCC 1227-1228)
This quote from the Catechism then moves us beyond the merely Theological answer to the question, “What does it mean to be baptized with the Holy Spirit?” and opens also, the “experiential” question: What is it “like” to be baptized with the Holy Spirit?
Experientially, It means knowing what we have received in Baptism and Confirmation. But here, “knowing” does not mean mere intellectual knowing (οἴδα – odia in the Greek New Testament). Rather it means experiential knowing (γινώσκo – ginosko in the Greek New Testament). It is one thing to “know about” God and to be able to pass a religion test. But to be Baptized with the Holy Spirit is to “know” the Lord, personally, deeply, intimately. It is to be in a life changing, transformative relationship with the Lord. It is experiential faith.
Too many people are satisfied with with living their faith by inference, rather than by experience. In other words, they are content to go along saying what they heard some one else say. “Jesus is Lord and risen from the dead” because my mother says so, or my preacher says so, (or even), the Bible says so. All of this is fine, for faith first comes by hearing. But there comes a point when YOU have to say so, because you personally know it to be true.
And this is what it means to be Baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire. It is to be able to say, “In the laboratory of my own life I have tested the Word of God and found it to be true. I have personally met and know the Lord, I know Him for myself.”
In other words, it is having faith come alive! Faith that is real, tested and certain. It is knowledge that is personal. It is to be a first hand witness to the power of Jesus Christ to change my life, for I am experiencing it in the laboratory of my very own life. He is changing and transforming me. I am seeing sins put to death and wonderful graces come alive. I am more serene, confident, loving, generous and chaste. I am more forgiving, patient, trusting and patient. I love the poor more, and I am less attached to this world. My prayer is becoming deeper as I sense his presence and power in my life. Yes, God is working in my life and He is real. This is my testimony. What is yours?
But this is what it means, experientially, to be baptized with the Holy Spirit (and with fire).
And this is also at the heart of evangelization. How are you going to convert anybody if youre not convinced yourself? Parents, you want your kids to go to Church? Great, and proper. But why do you go? Because its Church law? Alright, fine, but shouldn’t there be a deeper reason? To be Baptized with the Holy Spirit is to go to Mass and make the Christian walk because you know and love Jesus Christ yourself, and you want to bring your children into that living, powerful and life transforming experience of the Lord in prayer, the Mass, the Liturgy, and the Sacraments. Thats what youre after. And thats what it means to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Pay attention to these word of St. John the Baptist. He, through the Holy Spirit, is teaching us about the “normal Christian life,” which is to be alive, joyful, confident, serene and thrilled at what God is doing in my life, at to know (not just know about) the Lord. “I baptize you with water, BUT HE, will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” And he will light a fire in your life, a fire that never dies away, but that grows in intensity as it transforms your very self.
Let he who has ears to hear, heed what the Spirit is saying. Baptism is not a tedious ritual, it is a transformative reality.
“Baptism is not a tedious ritual, it is a transformative reality.”
This can be said about all 7 sacraments. We need to ask for the eyes of faith to SEE how this really, REALLY works.
Means different things to different people and only my interpretation is correct. ;-)
Catechism of the Catholic Church
1215 This sacrament is also called "the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit," for it signifies and actually brings about the birth of water and the Spirit without which no one "can enter the kingdom of God." (see note 7)Read More
1232 The second Vatican Council restored for the Latin Church "the catechumenate for adults, comprising several distinct steps." (see note 34) The rites for these stages are to be found in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). (see note 35) The Council also gives permission that: "In mission countries, in addition to what is furnished by the Christian tradition, those elements of initiation rites may be admitted which are already in use among some peoples insofar as they can be adapted to the Christian ritual." (see note 36)Read More The mystagogy of the celebrationRead More Note#82 UR 22 Sect. 2.Read More
Supporting Bible Passages
Genesis Chapter 17
12: He that is eight days old among you shall be circumcised; every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house, or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring,Read More
Exodus Chapter 13
13: Every firstling of an ass you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. Every first-born of man among your sons you shall redeem. 14: And when in time to come your son asks you, `What does this mean?' you shall say to him, `By strength of hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, from the house of bondage.Read More
Matthew Chapter 21
15: But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant; 16: and they said to him, "Do you hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes; have you never read, `Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast brought perfect praise'?"Read More
Luke Chapter 1
15: for he will be great before the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb.Read More
Luke Chapter 18
15: Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16: But Jesus called them to him, saying, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17: Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."Read More
Acts Chapter 2
38: And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39: For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him."Read More
Acts Chapter 16
15: And when she was baptized, with her household, she besought us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us.Read More
33: And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their wounds, and he was baptized at once, with all his family.Read More
Colossians Chapter 2
11: In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ; 12: and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.Read More
2 Thessalonians Chapter 3
10: For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat.Read More
Early Church Fathers
Irenaeus of Lyons [120-180 AD] Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus
"And [Naaman] dipped himself . . . seven times in the Jordan [2 Kgs. 5:14]. It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [this served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions, being spiritually regenerated as newborn babes, even as the Lord has declared: Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven [John 3:5]" (Fragment 34 [A.D. 190]).Read More
Irenaeus of Lyons [120-180 AD] Adversus Haereses (Book II, Chapter 22)
"He [Jesus] came to save all through himself; all, I say, who through him are reborn in God: infants, and children, and youths, and old men. Therefore he passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, sanctifying infants; a child for children, sanctifying those who are of that age . . . [so that] he might be the perfect teacher in all things, perfect not only in respect to the setting forth of truth, perfect also in respect to relative age" (Against Heresies 2:22:4 [A.D. 189]).Read More
Hippolytus [170-236 AD] The Antichrist
"Baptize first the children, and if they can speak for themselves let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them" (The Apostolic Tradition 21:16 [A.D. 215]).Read More
Origen [185-254 AD] De Principiis (Book IV) "The Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants. The apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of the divine sacraments, knew there are in everyone innate strains of [original] sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit" (Commentaries on Romans 5:9 [A.D. 248]).Read More
"Every soul that is born into flesh is soiled by the filth of wickedness and sin. . . . In the Church, baptism is given for the remission of sins, and, according to the usage of the Church, baptism is given even to infants. If there were nothing in infants which required the remission of sins and nothing in them pertinent to forgiveness, the grace of baptism would seem superfluous" (Homilies on Leviticus 8:3 [A.D. 248]).Read More
Cyprian of Carthage [200-270 AD] Epistle 58
"As to what pertains to the case of infants: You [Fidus] said that they ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, that the old law of circumcision must be taken into consideration, and that you did not think that one should be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day after his birth. In our council it seemed to us far otherwise. No one agreed to the course which you thought should be taken. Rather, we all judge that the mercy and grace of God ought to be denied to no man born" (Letters 64:2 [A.D. 253]).Read More
"If, in the case of the worst sinners and those who formerly sinned much against God, when afterwards they believe, the remission of their sins is granted and no one is held back from baptism and grace, how much more, then, should an infant not be held back, who, having but recently been born, has done no sin, except that, born of the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of that old death from his first being born. For this very reason does he [an infant] approach more easily to receive the remission of sins: because the sins forgiven him are not his own but those of another" (ibid., 64:5).Read More
Gregory Nazianzen, St [325-389 AD] Oration 40
"Do you have an infant child? Allow sin no opportunity; rather, let the infant be sanctified from childhood. From his most tender age let him be consecrated by the Spirit. Do you fear the seal [of baptism] because of the weakness of nature? Oh, what a pusillanimous mother and of how little faith!" (Oration on Holy Baptism 40:7 [A.D. 388]).Read More
"Well enough, some will say, for those who ask for baptism, but what do you have to say about those who are still children, and aware neither of loss nor of grace? Shall we baptize them too? Certainly [I respond], if there is any pressing danger. Better that they be sanctified unaware, than that they depart unsealed and uninitiated" (ibid., 40:28).Read More
John Chrysostom, St [347-407 AD] Homily 47 on the Acts of the Apostles
"You see how many are the benefits of baptism, and some think its heavenly grace consists only in the remission of sins, but we have enumerated ten honors [it bestows]! For this reason we baptize even infants, though they are not defiled by [personal] sins, so that there may be given to them holiness, righteousness, adoption, inheritance, brotherhood with Christ, and that they may be his [Christs] members" (Baptismal Catecheses in Augustine, Against Julian 1:6:21 [A.D. 388]).Read More
Augustine of Hippo, St [354-430 AD] The City of God (Book XXII)
"Cyprian was not issuing a new decree but was keeping to the most solid belief of the Church in order to correct some who thought that infants ought not be baptized before the eighth day after their birth. . . . He agreed with certain of his fellow bishops that a child is able to be duly baptized as soon as he is born" (Letters 166:8:23 [A.D. 412]).Read More
Augustine of Hippo, St [354-430 AD] Tractate 6 (John 1:32-33)
"By this grace baptized infants too are ingrafted into his [Christs] body, infants who certainly are not yet able to imitate anyone. Christ, in whom all are made alive . . . gives also the most hidden grace of his Spirit to believers, grace which he secretly infuses even into infants. . . . It is an excellent thing that the Punic [North African] Christians call baptism salvation and the sacrament of Christs Body nothing else than life. Whence does this derive, except from an ancient and, as I suppose, apostolic tradition, by which the churches of Christ hold inherently that without baptism and participation at the table of the Lord it is impossible for any man to attain either to the kingdom of God or to salvation and life eternal? This is the witness of Scripture, too. . . . If anyone wonders why children born of the baptized should themselves be baptized, let him attend briefly to this. . . . The sacrament of baptism is most assuredly the sacrament of regeneration" (Forgiveness and the Just Deserts of Sin, and the Baptism of Infants 1:9:10; 1:24:34; 2:27:43 [A.D. 412]).Read More
Augustine of Hippo, St [354-430 AD] Tractate 15 (John 4:1-42)
"The custom of Mother Church in baptizing infants is certainly not to be scorned, nor is it to be regarded in any way as superfluous, nor is it to be believed that its tradition is anything except apostolic" (The Literal Interpretation of Genesis 10:23:39 [A.D. 408]).Read More Chalcedon (451) [ECUMENICAL]
"[W]hoever says that infants fresh from their mothers wombs ought not to be baptized, or say that they are indeed baptized unto the remission of sins, but that they draw nothing of the original sin of Adam, which is expiated in the bath of regeneration . . . let him be anathema [excommunicated]. Since what the apostle [Paul] says, Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so passed to all men, in whom all have sinned [Rom. 5:12], must not be understood otherwise than the Catholic Church spread everywhere has always understood it. For on account of this rule of faith even infants, who in themselves thus far have not been able to commit any sin, are therefore truly baptized unto the remission of sins, so that that which they have contracted from generation may be cleansed in them by regeneration" (Canon 3 [A.D. 416]).Read More
But there comes a point when YOU have to say so, because you personally know it to be true.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
539 The evangelists indicate the salvific meaning of this mysterious event: Jesus is the new Adam who remained faithful just where the first Adam had given in to temptation. Jesus fulfills Israel's vocation perfectly: in contrast to those who had once provoked God during forty years in the desert, Christ reveals himself as God's Servant, totally obedient to the divine will. In this, Jesus is the devil's conqueror: he "binds the strong man" to take back his plunder. (see note 243) Jesus' victory over the tempter in the desert anticipates victory at the Passion, the supreme act of obedience of his filial love for the Father.Read More
Note#193 John Paul II, MD 27.Read More
THE CELEBRATION OF THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERYRead More SECTION TWORead More
1211 Following this analogy, the first chapter will expound the three sacraments of Christian initiation; the second, the sacraments of healing; and the third, the sacraments at the service of communion and the mission of the faithful. This order, while not the only one possible, does allow one to see that the sacraments form an organic whole in which each particular sacrament has its own vital place. In this organic whole, the Eucharist occupies a unique place as the "Sacrament of sacraments": "all the other sacraments are ordered to it as to their end." (see note 2)Read More 1246 "Every person not yet baptized and only such a person is able to be baptized." (see note 46)Read More
Supporting Bible Passages
Ezekiel Chapter 36
25: I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.Read More
Zechariah Chapter 13
1: "On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.Read More
Matthew Chapter 3
16: And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; 17: and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."Read More
Matthew Chapter 28
19: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,Read More
John Chapter 1
33: I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, `He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.'Read More
John Chapter 3
5: Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.Read More
Acts Chapter 2
38: And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39: For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him." 40: And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." 41: So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.Read More
Acts Chapter 22
16: And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.'Read More Galatians Chapter 3
27: For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.Read More
Titus Chapter 3
4: but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5: he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, 6: which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7: so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.Read More
1 Peter Chapter 3
18: For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; 19: in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20: who formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. 21: 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 clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,Read More
Early Church Fathers
The Letter of Barnabas [70-90 AD] Epistle of Barnabas "Regarding [baptism], we have the evidence of Scripture that Israel would refuse to accept the washing which confers the remission of sins and would set up a substitution of their own instead [Ps. 1:36]. Observe there how he describes both the water and the cross in the same figure. His meaning is, Blessed are those who go down into the water with their hopes set on the cross. Here he is saying that after we have stepped down into the water, burdened with sin and defilement, we come up out of it bearing fruit, with reverence in our hearts and the hope of Jesus in our souls" (Letter of Barnabas 11:110 [A.D. 74]).Read More
"For, if we do the will of Christ, we shall find rest; but if otherwise, then nothing shall deliver us from eternal punishment, if we should disobey his commandments. . . . [W]ith what confidence shall we, if we keep not our baptism pure and undefiled, enter into the kingdom of God? Or who shall be our advocate, unless we be found having holy and righteous works? (Second Clement 6:79 [A.D. 150]).Read More
Recognitions (Book VI)
"But you will perhaps say, What does the baptism of water contribute toward the worship of God? In the first place, because that which has pleased God is fulfilled. In the second place, because when you are regenerated and born again of water and of God, the frailty of your former birth, which you have through men, is cut off, and so . . . you shall be able to attain salvation; but otherwise it is impossible. For thus has the true prophet [Jesus] testified to us with an oath: Verily, I say to you, that unless a man is born again of water . . . he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (The Recognitions of Clement 6:9 [A.D. 221]).Read More
Ignatius of Antioch [50-117 AD] Epistle to Polycarp "Let none of you turn deserter. Let your baptism be your armor; your faith, your helmet; your love, your spear; your patient endurance, your panoply" (Letter to Polycarp 6 [A.D. 110]).Read More
Hermas [60-120 AD] The Shepherd of Hermas (Book II, Commandment 4)
"I have heard, sir, said I, from some teacher, that there is no other repentance except that which took place when we went down into the water and obtained the remission of our former sins. He said to me, You have heard rightly, for so it is" (The Shepherd 4:3:12 [A.D. 80]).Read More
Justin Martyr [100-165 AD] First Apology
"As many as are persuaded and believe that what we [Christians] teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, and instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we pray and fast with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father . . . and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit [Matt. 28:19], they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, Unless you are born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven [John 3:3]" (First Apology 61 [A.D. 151]).Read More
Irenaeus of Lyons [120-180 AD] Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus
"And [Naaman] dipped himself . . . seven times in the Jordan [2 Kgs. 5:14]. It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [this served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions, being spiritually regenerated as newborn babes, even as the Lord has declared: Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Fragment 34 [A.D. 190]).Read More
Theophilus of Antioch [150-200 AD] To Autolycus (Book II)
"Moreover, those things which were created from the waters were blessed by God, so that this might also be a sign that men would at a future time receive repentance and remission of sins through water and the bath of regeneration-all who proceed to the truth and are born again and receive a blessing from God" (To Autolycus 12:16 [A.D. 181]).Read More
Clement of Alexandria [150-215 AD] The Paedagogus (Book I) "When we are baptized, we are enlightened. Being enlightened, we are adopted as sons. Adopted as sons, we are made perfect. Made perfect, we become immortal . . . and sons of the Most High [Ps. 82:6]. This work is variously called grace, illumination, perfection, and washing. It is a washing by which we are cleansed of sins, a gift of grace by which the punishments due our sins are remitted, an illumination by which we behold that holy light of salvation" (The Instructor of Children 1:6:26:1 [A.D. 191]).Read More
Hippolytus [170-236 AD] Discourse on the Holy Theophany "The Father of immortality sent the immortal Son and Word into the world, who came to man in order to wash him with water and the Spirit; and he, begetting us again to incorruption of soul and body, breathed into us the Spirit of life, and endued us with an incorruptible panoply. If, therefore, man has become immortal, he will also be God. And if he is made God by water and the Holy Spirit after the regeneration of the laver he is found to be also joint-heir with Christ after the resurrection from the dead. Wherefore I preach to this effect: Come, all ye kindreds of the nations, to the immortality of the baptism" (Discourse on the Holy Theophany 8 [A.D. 217]).Read More
Hippolytus [170-236 AD] Refutation of All Heresies (Book VIII)
"And the bishop shall lay his hand upon them [the newly baptized], invoking and saying: O Lord God, who did count these worthy of deserving the forgiveness of sins by the laver of regeneration, make them worthy to be filled with your Holy Spirit and send upon them thy grace [in confirmation], that they may serve you according to your will" (The Apostolic Tradition 22:1 [A.D. 215]).Read More
Tertullian [160-240 AD] On Baptism
"Happy is our sacrament of water, in that, by washing away the sins of our early blindness, we are set free and admitted into eternal life. . . . [But] a viper of the [Gnostic] Cainite heresy, lately conversant in this quarter, has carried away a great number with her most venomous doctrine, making it her first aim to destroy baptism-which is quite in accordance with nature, for vipers and asps . . . themselves generally do live in arid and waterless places. But we, little fishes after the example of our [Great] Fish, Jesus Christ, are born in water, nor have we safety in any other way than by permanently abiding in water. So that most monstrous creature, who had no right to teach even sound doctrine, knew full well how to kill the little fishes-by taking them away from the water!" (Baptism 1 [A.D. 203]).Read More Tertullian [160-240 AD] Against Marcion, Book IV "[N]o one can attain salvation without baptism, especially in view of the declaration of the Lord, who says, Unless a man shall be born of water, he shall not have life" (Baptism 12:1 [A.D. 203]).Read More
Cyprian of Carthage [200-270 AD] Epistle 71 "[When] they receive also the baptism of the Church . . . then finally can they be fully sanctified and be the sons of God . . . since it is written, Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (Letters 71:1 [A.D. 253]).Read More
Cyprian of Carthage [200-270 AD] Treatise 11
"While I was lying in darkness . . . I thought it indeed difficult and hard to believe . . . that divine mercy was promised for my salvation, so that anyone might be born again and quickened unto a new life by the laver of the saving water, he might put off what he had been before, and, although the structure of the body remained, he might change himself in soul and mind. . . . But afterwards, when the stain of my past life had been washed away by means of the water of rebirth, a light from above poured itself upon my chastened and now pure heart; afterwards, through the Spirit which is breathed from heaven, a second birth made of me a new man" (To Donatus 34 [A.D. 246]).Read More
Aphrahat/Aphraates [280-367 AD] Demonstration VI (Of Monks) "From baptism we receive the Spirit of Christ. At that same moment in which the priests invoke the Spirit, heaven opens, and he descends and rests upon the waters, and those who are baptized are clothed in him. The Spirit is absent from all those who are born of the flesh, until they come to the water of rebirth, and then they receive the Holy Spirit. . . . [I]n the second birth, that through baptism, they receive the Holy Spirit" (Treatises 6:14:4 [A.D. 340]).Read More
Athanasius, St [296-373 AD] Discourse III Against the Arians
"[A]s we are all from earth and die in Adam, so being regenerated from above of water and Spirit, in the Christ we are all quickened" (Four Discourses Against the Arians 3:26 [A.D. 360]).Read More
Basil the Great, St [329-379 AD] De Spiritu Sancto
"This then is what it means to be born again of water and Spirit: Just as our dying is effected in the water [Rom. 6:3; Col. 2:1213], our living is wrought through the Spirit. In three immersions and an equal number of invocations the great mystery of baptism is completed in such a way that the type of death may be shown figuratively, and that by the handing on of divine knowledge the souls of the baptized may be illuminated. If, therefore, there is any grace in the water, it is not from the nature of water, but from the Spirits presence there" (The Holy Spirit 15:35 [A.D. 375]).Read More
Cyril of Jerusalem, St [315-386 AD] Catechetical Lecture 3 "Since man is of a twofold nature, composed of body and soul, the purification also is twofold: the corporeal for the corporeal and the incorporeal for the incorporeal. The water cleanses the body, and the Spirit seals the soul. . . . When you go down into the water, then, regard not simply the water, but look for salvation through the power of the Spirit. For without both you cannot attain to perfection. It is not I who says this, but the Lord Jesus Christ, who has the power in this matter. And he says, Unless a man be born again, and he adds the words of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. He that is baptized with water, but is not found worthy of the Spirit, does not receive the grace in perfection. Nor, if a man be virtuous in his deeds, but does not receive the seal by means of the water, shall he enter the kingdom of heaven. A bold saying, but not mine; for it is Jesus who has declared it" (Catechetical Lectures 3:4 [A.D. 350]).Read More
Cyril of Jerusalem, St [315-386 AD] Catechetical Lecture 17
"If any man does not receive baptism, he does not have salvation. The only exception is the martyrs, who, even without water, will receive baptism, for the Savior calls martyrdom a baptism [Mark 10:38]. . . . Bearing your sins, you go down into the water; but the calling down of grace seals your soul and does not permit that you afterwards be swallowed up by the fearsome dragon. You go down dead in your sins, and you come up made alive in righteousness" (Catechetical Lectures 3:10, 12 [A.D. 350]).Read More
Gregory of Nyssa [325-386 AD] Against Eunomius (Book II)
"[In] the birth by water and the Spirit, [Jesus] himself led the way in this birth, drawing down upon the water, by his own baptism, the Holy Spirit; so that in all things he became the firstborn of those who are spiritually born again, and gave the name of brethren to those who partook in a birth like to his own by water and the Spirit" (Against Eunomius 2:8 [A.D. 382]).Read More
Gregory Nazianzen, St [325-389 AD] Oration 40
"Such is the grace and power of baptism; not an overwhelming of the world as of old, but a purification of the sins of each individual, and a complete cleansing from all the bruises and stains of sin. And since we are double-made, I mean of body and soul, and the one part is visible, the other invisible, so the cleansing also is twofold, by water and the Spirit; the one received visibly in the body, the other concurring with it invisibly and apart from the body; the one typical, the other real and cleansing the depths" (Oration on Holy Baptism 78 [A.D. 388]).Read More
Ambrose of Milan, St [340-397 AD] On the Holy Spirit (Book I)
"Although we are baptized with water and the Spirit, the latter is much superior to the former, and is not therefore to be separated from the Father and the Son. There are, however, many who, because we are baptized with water and the Spirit, think that there is no difference in the offices of water and the Spirit, and therefore think that they do not differ in nature. Nor do they observe that we are buried in the element of water that we may rise again renewed by the Spirit. For in the water is the
representation of death, in the Spirit is the pledge of life, that the body of sin may die through the water, which encloses the body as it were in a kind of tomb, that we, by the power of the Spirit, may be renewed from the death of sin, being born again in God" (The Holy Spirit 1:6 [A.D. 381]).Read More
Ambrose of Milan, St [340-397 AD] Concerning Repentance (Book II) "The Church was redeemed at the price of Christs blood. Jew or Greek, it makes no difference; but if he has believed, he must circumcise himself from his sins [in baptism (Col. 2:1112)] so that he can be saved . . . for no one ascends into the kingdom of heaven except through the sacrament of baptism.Read More
"The Lord was baptized, not to be cleansed himself but to cleanse the waters, so that those waters, cleansed by the flesh of Christ which knew no sin, might have the power of baptism. Whoever comes, therefore, to the washing of Christ lays aside his sins" (Commentary on Luke 2:83 [A.D. 389]).Read More
John Chrysostom, St [347-407 AD] On the Priesthood (Book III)
"[N]o one can enter into the kingdom of heaven except he be regenerated through water and the Spirit, and he who does not eat the flesh of the Lord and drink his blood is excluded from eternal life, and if all these things are accomplished only by means of those holy hands, I mean the hands of the priest, how will any one, without these, be able to escape the fire of hell, or to win those crowns which are reserved for the victorious? These [priests] truly are they who are entrusted with the pangs of spiritual travail and the birth which comes through baptism: by their means we put on Christ, and are buried with the Son of God, and become members of that blessed head [the Mystical Body of Christ]" (The Priesthood 3:56 [A.D. 387]).Read More
Carthage (419) [LOCAL] [419 AD] Carthage (419) [LOCAL] "And in the gospel our Lord Jesus Christ spoke with his divine voice, saying, Except a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. . . . Unless therefore they receive saving baptism in the Catholic Church, which is one, they cannot be saved, but will be condemned with the carnal in the judgment of the Lord Christ" (Seventh Carthage [A.D. 256]).Read More
Augustine of Hippo, St [354-430 AD] The Confessions (Book IX)
"The sacrament of baptism is most assuredly the sacrament of regeneration" (ibid., 2:27:43).Read More
Augustine of Hippo, St [354-430 AD] Letter 98 (A.D. 408)
"It is this one Spirit who makes it possible for an infant to be regenerated . . . when that infant is brought to baptism; and it is through this one Spirit that the infant so presented is reborn. For it is not written, Unless a man be born again by the will of his parents or by the faith of those presenting him or ministering to him, but, Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit. The water, therefore, manifesting exteriorly the sacrament of grace, and the Spirit effecting interiorly the benefit of grace, both regenerate in one Christ that man who was generated in Adam" (Letters 98:2 [A.D. 412]).Read More
Augustine of Hippo, St [354-430 AD] Against Two Letters of the Pelagians (Book III)
"Baptism washes away all, absolutely all, our sins, whether of deed, word, or thought, whether sins original or added, whether knowingly or unknowingly contracted" (Against Two Letters of the Pelagians 3:3:5 [A.D. 420]).Read More Augustine of Hippo, St [354-430 AD] Tractate 4 (John 1:19-33)
"Those who, though they have not received the washing of regeneration, die for the confession of Christ-it avails them just as much for the forgiveness of their sins as if they had been washed in the sacred font of baptism. For he that said, If anyone is not reborn of water and the Spirit, he will not enter the kingdom of heaven, made an exception for them in that other statement in which he says no less generally, Whoever confesses me before men, I too will confess him before my Father, who is in heaven" [Matt. 10:32] (The City of God 13:7 [A.D. 419]).Read More
Augustine of Hippo, St [354-430 AD] Tractate 6 (John 1:32-33)
"It is an excellent thing that the Punic [North African] Christians call baptism salvation and the sacrament of Christs body nothing else than life. Whence does this derive, except from an ancient and, as I suppose, apostolic tradition, by which the churches of Christ hold inherently that without baptism and participation at the table of the Lord it is impossible for any man to attain either to the kingdom of God or to salvation and life eternal? This is the witness of Scripture too" (Forgiveness and the Just Deserts of Sin, and the Baptism of Infants 1:24:34 [A.D. 412]).Read More
Augustine of Hippo, St [354-430 AD] Tractate 41 (John 8:31-36)
"This is the meaning of the great sacrament of baptism, which is celebrated among us: all who attain to this grace die thereby to sin-as he himself [Jesus] is said to have died to sin because he died in the flesh (that is, in the likeness of sin)-and they are thereby alive by being reborn in the baptismal font, just as he rose again from the sepulcher. This is the case no matter what the age of the body. For whether it be a newborn infant or a decrepit old man-since no one should be barred from baptism-just so, there is no one who does not die to sin in baptism. Infants die to original sin only; adults, to all those sins which they have added, through their evil living, to the burden they brought with them at birth" (Handbook on Faith, Hope, and Love 13 [A.D. 421]).Read More
Martin Luther writes:
Of Infant Baptism.
Here a question occurs by which the devil through his sects, confuses the world, namely, Of Infant Baptism, whether children also believe, and are justly baptized. Concerning this we say briefly: Let the simple dismiss this question from their minds, and refer it to the learned. But if you wish to answer then answer thus: —
That the Baptism of infants is pleasing to Christ is sufficiently proved from His own work, namely, that God sanctifies many of them who have been thus baptized, and has given them the Holy Ghost; and that there are yet many even to-day in whom we perceive that they have the Holy Ghost both because of their doctrine and life; as it is also given to us by the grace of God that we can explain the Scriptures and come to the knowledge of Christ, which is impossible without the Holy Ghost. But if God did not accept the baptism of infants, He would not give the Holy Ghost nor any of His gifts to any of them; in short, during this long time unto this day no man upon earth could have been a Christian. Now, since God confirms Baptism by the gifts of His Holy Ghost as is plainly perceptible in some of the church fathers, as St. Bernard, Gerson, John Hus, and others, who were baptized in infancy, and since the holy Christian Church cannot perish until the end of the world, they must acknowledge that such infant baptism is pleasing to God. For He can never be opposed to Himself, or support falsehood and wickedness, or for its promotion impart His grace and Spirit. This is indeed the best and strongest proof for the simple-minded and unlearned. For they shall not take from us or overthrow this article: I believe a holy Christian Church, the communion of saints.
Further, we say that we are not so much concerned to know whether the person baptized believes or not; for on that account Baptism does not become invalid; but everything depends upon the Word and command of God. This now is perhaps somewhat acute but it rests entirely upon what I have said, that Baptism is nothing else than water and the Word of God in and with each other, that is when the Word is added to the water, Baptism is valid, even though faith be wanting. For my faith does not make Baptism, but receives it. Now, Baptism does not become invalid even though it be wrongly received or employed; since it is not bound (as stated) to our faith, but to the Word.
For even though a Jew should to-day come dishonestly and with evil purpose, and we should baptize him in all good faith, we must say that his baptism is nevertheless genuine. For here is the water together with the Word of God. even though he does not receive it as he should, just as those who unworthily go to the Sacrament receive the true Sacrament even though they do not believe.
Thus you see that the objection of the sectarians is vain. For (as we have said) even though infants did not believe, which however, is not the case, yet their baptism as now shown would be valid, and no one should rebaptize them; just as nothing is detracted from the Sacrament though some one approach it with evil purpose, and he could not be allowed on account of his abuse to take it a second time the selfsame hour, as though he had not received the true Sacrament at first; for that would mean to blaspheme and profane the Sacrament in the worst manner. How dare we think that God’s Word and ordinance should be wrong and invalid because we make a wrong use of it?
Therefore I say, if you did not believe then believe now and say thus: The baptism indeed was right, but I, alas! did not receive it aright. For I myself also, and all who are baptized, must speak thus before God: I come hither in my faith and in that of others, yet I cannot rest in this, that I believe, and that many people pray for me; but in this I rest, that it is Thy Word and command. Just as I go to the Sacrament trusting not in my faith, but in the Word of Christ; whether I am strong or weak, that I commit to God. But this I know, that He bids me go, eat and drink, etc., and gives me His body and blood; that will not deceive me or prove false to me.
Thus we do also in infant baptism. We bring the child in the conviction and hope that it believes, and we pray that God may grant it faith; but we do not baptize it upon that, but solely upon the command of God. Why so? Because we know that God does not lie. I and my neighbor and, in short, all men, may err and deceive, but the Word of God cannot err.
Therefore they are presumptuous, clumsy minds that draw such inferences and conclusions as these: Where there is not the true faith, there also can be no true Baptism. Just as if I would infer: If I do not believe, then Christ is nothing; or thus: If I am not obedient, then father, mother, and government are nothing. Is that a correct conclusion, that whenever any one does not do what he ought, the thing in itself shall be nothing and of no value? My dear, just invert the argument and rather draw this inference: For this very reason Baptism is something and is right, because it has been wrongly received. For if it were not right and true in itself, it could not be misused nor sinned against. The saying is: Abusus non tollit, sed confirmat substantiam, Abuse does not destroy the essence but confirms it. For gold is not the less gold though a harlot wear it in sin and shame.
Therefore let it be decided that Baptism always remains true, retains its full essence, even though a single person should be baptized, and he, in addition, should not believe truly. For God’s ordinance and Word cannot be made variable or be altered by men. But these people, the fanatics, are so blinded that they do not see the Word and command of God, and regard Baptism and the magistrates only as they regard water in the brook or in pots, or as any other man; and because they do not see faith nor obedience, they conclude that they are to be regarded as invalid. Here lurks a concealed seditious devil, who would like to tear the crown from the head of authority and then trample it under foot, and, in addition, pervert and bring to naught all the works and ordinances of God. Therefore we must be watchful and well armed, and not allow ourselves to be directed nor turned away from the Word, in order that we may not regard Baptism as a mere empty sign, as the fanatics dream.
Lastly, we must also know what Baptism signifies, and why God has ordained just such external sign and ceremony for the Sacrament by which we are first received into the Christian Church. But the act or ceremony is this, that we are sunk under the water, which passes over us, and afterwards are drawn out again. These two parts, to be sunk under the water and drawn out again, signify the power and operation of Baptism, which is nothing else than putting to death the old Adam, and after that the resurrection of the new man, both of which must take place in us all our lives, so that a truly Christian life is nothing else than a daily baptism, once begun and ever to be continued. For this must be practised without ceasing, that we ever keep purging away whatever is of the old Adam, and that that which belongs to the new man come forth. But what is the old man? It is that which is born in us from Adam, angry, hateful, envious, unchaste, stingy, lazy, haughty, yea, unbelieving, infected with all vices, and having by nature nothing good in it. Now, when we are come into the kingdom of Christ, these things must daily decrease, that the longer we live we become more gentle, more patient more meek, and ever withdraw more and more from unbelief, avarice, hatred, envy, haughtiness.
This is the true use of Baptism among Christians, as signified by baptizing with water. Where this, therefore, is not practised but the old man is left unbridled, so as to continually become stronger, that is not using Baptism, but striving against Baptism. For those who are without Christ cannot but daily become worse, according to the proverb which expresses the truth, “Worse and worse — the longer, the worse.” If a year ago one was proud and avaricious, then he is much prouder and more avaricious this year, so that the vice grows and increases with him from his youth up. A young child has no special vice; but when it grows up, it becomes unchaste and impure, and when it reaches maturity real vices begin to prevail the longer, the more.
Therefore the old man goes unrestrained in his nature if he is not checked and suppressed by the power of Baptism. On the other hand where men have become Christians, he daily decreases until he finally perishes. That is truly to be buried in Baptism, and daily to come forth again. Therefore the external sign is appointed not only for a powerful effect, but also for a signification. Where, therefore, faith flourishes with its fruits, there it has no empty signification, but the work [of mortifying the flesh] accompanies it; but where faith is wanting, it remains a mere unfruitful sign.
And here you see that Baptism, both in its power and signification, comprehends also the third Sacrament, which has been called repentance, as it is really nothing else than Baptism. For what else is repentance but an earnest attack upon the old man [that his lusts be restrained] and entering upon a new life? Therefore, if you live in repentance, you walk in Baptism, which not only signifies such a new life, but also produces, begins, and exercises it. For therein are given grace, the Spirit, and power to suppress the old man, so that the new man may come forth and become strong.
Therefore our Baptism abides forever; and even though some one should fall from it and sin, nevertheless we always have access thereto, that we may again subdue the old man. But we need not again be sprinkled with water; for though we were put under the water a hundred times, it would nevertheless be only one Baptism, although the operation and signification continue and remain. Repentance, therefore, is nothing else than a return and approach to Baptism, that we repeat and practise what we began before, but abandoned.
This I say lest we fall into the opinion in which we were for a long time, imagining that our Baptism is something past, which we can no longer use after we have fallen again into sin. The reason is, that it is regarded only according to the external act once performed [and completed]. And this arose from the fact that St. Jerome wrote that repentance is the second plank by which we must swim forth and cross over after the ship is broken, on which we step and are carried across when we come into the Christian Church. Thereby the use of Baptism has been abolished so that it can profit us no longer. Therefore the statement is not correct, or at any rate not rightly understood. For the ship never breaks because (as we have said) it is the ordinance of God, and not a work of ours; but it happens, indeed, that we slip and fall out of the ship. Yet if any one fall out, let him see to it that he swim up and cling to it till he again come into it and live in it, as he had formerly begun.
Thus it appears what a great, excellent thing Baptism is, which delivers us from the jaws of the devil and makes us God’s own, suppresses and takes away sin, and then daily strengthens the new man, and is and remains ever efficacious until we pass from this estate of misery to eternal glory.
For this reason let every one esteem his Baptism as a daily dress in which he is to walk constantly, that he may ever be found in the faith and its fruits, that he suppress the old man and grow up in the new. For if we would be Christians, we must practise the work whereby we are Christians. But if any one fall away from it, let him again come into it. For just as Christ, the Mercy-seat does not recede from us or forbid us to come to Him again, even though we sin, so all His treasure and gifts also remain. If, therefore we have once in Baptism obtained forgiveness of sin, it will remain every day, as long as we live, that is, as long as we carry the old man about our neck.
The consequence of the Radical Reformation has been the eradication of objective truth.
The Radical Reformation gave birth to Unitarianism, Universalism, as well as the Baptists. The essence of the Radical Reformation is radical individualism that elevates individual feelings over objective truth.
I don’t think we’re going to agree on much here.
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