Skip to comments.On Infant Baptism and the Complete Gratuity of Salvation
Posted on 06/29/2012 4:31:04 PM PDT by NYer
It is a simple historical fact that the Church has always baptized infants. Even our earliest documents speak of the practice. For example the Apostolic Tradition written about 215 A.D. has this to say:
The children shall be baptized first. All of the children who can answer for themselves, let them answer. If there are any children who cannot answer for themselves, let their parents answer for them, or someone else from their family. (Apostolic Tradition # 21)
Scripture too confirms that infants should be baptized if you do the math. For example
People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (Luke 18:15-17 NIV)
So the Kingdom of God belongs to the little Children (in Greek brephe indicating little Children still held in the arms, babes). And yet elsewhere Jesus also reminds that it is necessary to be baptized in order to enter the Kingdom of God:
Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. (John 3:5 NIV)
If the Kingdom of God belongs to little children and we are taught that we cannot inherit it without baptism then it follows that Baptizing infants is necessary and that to fail to do so is a hindering of the little children which Jesus forbade his apostles to do.
So both Tradition and Scripture affirm the practice of baptizing infants. Strange then that some among the Protestants (not all) should criticize us for this practice. Even stranger that the Baptists are usually be the ones to do so. You’d think with a name like “Baptist” they’d be more into baptism. (Truth be told, most of the other Protestant denominations do baptize infants). It is primarily Baptists and some Evangelicals who refuse the practice.
Part of the reason for this is that they seem to water down (pardon the pun) the fuller meaning of baptism, no longer seeing it as washing away sins and conferring righteousness per se. Rather they seem to see it more as a symbol of faith already received when they said the sinners prayer and accepted Christ as their savior. No time here to argue the full logic of their position and why it falls short of a biblical and Traditional understanding of Baptism.
But, for those of us who do continue the ancient and biblical practice of baptizing infants, the practice says some very wonderful things about the gratuity of salvation and the goodness of God. Consider these points:
1. The baptism of infants is a powerful testimony to the absolute gratuity (gift) of salvation. Infants have achieved nothing, have not worked, have not done anything to “merit” salvation. The Catechism puts it this way: The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant baptism. (CCC # 1250) The Church is clear, salvation cannot be earned or merited, and infant baptism teaches that most clearly. Salvation is pure gift.
How strange and ironic that some of the very denominations which claim that Catholics teach salvation by works (we do not) also refuse to baptize infants. They claim that a certain age of maturity is required so that the person understands what they are doing. But this sounds like achievement. That the child must meet some requirement seems like a work, or the attainment of some meritorious status wherein one is now old enough to “qualify” for baptism and salvation. “Qualifications….Achievement (of age)….Requirements….it all sounds like what they accuse us of: namely works and merit.
To be clear then, the Catholic understanding of the gratuity of salvation is far more radical than many non-Catholics understand. We baptize infants who are not capable of meriting, attaining or earning.
2. The Baptism of infants also powerfully attests to the fact that the beauty of holiness and righteousness is available to everyone regardless of age. To be baptized means to be washed. Washed of what? Original Sin. At first this seems like a downer, “Are you saying my baby has sin?” Yep. All of us inherit Original Sin from Adam and Eve. We are born into a state of alienation from God that is caused by sin. The Scriptures are clear: [S]in entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned (Rom 5:12). So even infants are in need of the saving touch of God.
Now why would we wish to delay this salvation and resulting holiness for 7 to 12 years? The Catechism says this, Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by Original Sin, children also have need of new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and be brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God….The Church and parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer baptism shortly after birth. (CCC # 1250).
St. Cyprian Bishop of Carthage in the 3rd Century was asked if it was OK to wait to the 8th day to baptize since baptism had replaced circumcision. He responded with a strong no: But in respect of the case of the infants, which you say ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, and that the law of ancient circumcision should be regarded, so that you think that one who is just born should not be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day We [the bishops] all thought very differently in our council. For in this course which you thought was to be taken, no one agreed; but we all rather judge that the mercy and grace of God is not to be refused to any one born of man. (Epist# 58).
So then, here is the beauty, that infants are summoned to receive the precious gift of holiness and righteousness and that they are summoned to a right relationship with God by having their sin purged and holiness infused. Infants are called to this dignity and should not be denied it. With this done, some of the holiest and most innocent days of our lives may well be our first years. Then as the will begins to manifest and reason begins to dawn the grace of holiness gives us extra strength to fight against the sinful world that looms.
3. The Baptism of Infants also attests to the fact that faith is gift for every stage of development- To be baptized is to receive the gift of faith. It is baptism that gives the true faith. Even with adults, true faith does not come until baptism. Prior to that there is a kind of prevenient faith, but it is not the Theological Virtue of Faith.
Now faith is not only an intellectual assent to revealed doctrine. It is that but it is more. To have faith is also be be in a righteous and trusting relationship with God. An infant relates to his parents long before he speaks or his rational mind is fully formed. He trusts his parents and depends on them. It is the same with God. The infant trusts and depends of God and is in a right relationship with God. With his parents, this relationship of trust leads the infant to begin to speak and understand as he grows. Here too it is the same with God. As his mind awakens the infant’s faith grows. It will continue to grow until the day he dies (hopefully) as an old man.
That faith accompanies us through every stage of our life and develops as we do is essential to its nature. An infant needs faith no less than an old man. An infant benefits from faith no less than a teenager or an adult.
To argue as some Protestants do that you have to be a certain age before faith can exist, hardly seems to respect the progressive nature of faith which is able to bless EVERY stage of our human journey.
I have some very vivid memories of my experience of God prior to seven years of age and I will say that God was very powerfully present to me in my early years, in many ways even more so than now, when my mind sometimes “gets in the way.”
Another post too long. Forgive me dear reader. But please spread the word. Too many Catholics are waiting months, even years to have their children baptized. Precious time is lost by this laxity.
Infant Baptism speaks powerfully of the love that God has for everyone he has created and of his desire to have everyone in a right and saving relationship with Him. Surely baptism alone isn’t enough. The child must be raised in the faith. It is the nature of faith that it grows by hearing and seeing. Children must have faith given at baptism but that faith must be explained and unwrapped like a precious gift for them. Don’t delay. Get started early and teach your child the faith they have received every day.
Jesus Christ gave His authority to the Church in Matthew 28 to teach and baptize. He sent the Holy Spirit to the Church to lead it to all truth. so starting with Peter at Pentecost, we see baptism for the remission of sins and receiving the Holy Spirit being preached. this is the ONE BAPTISM that puts us into Christ, therefore making us Christians. you seem very sincere, but what you believe about two baptisms ( water and spirit ) was not believed by anyone until the 16th century. does it seem reasonable to you that no one understood what baptism was until then? why did Jesus command the Church to baptize if the Holy Spirit was going to baptize seperate from the Church?
it’s past midnight, i will check in saturday if you care to answer.
“There is no biblical instance of child baptism.”
~ ~ ~
Paul says Baptism replaces circumcision. Col 2:11-12.
Circumcision took place on the eight day after a baby’s
In whom also you are circumcised with circumcision not made by hand, in despoiling of the body of the flesh, but in the circumcision of Christ:  Buried with him in baptism, in whom also you are risen again by the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him up from the dead.
Babies are included, as children...
 But Peter said to them: Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  For the promise is to you, and to your CHILDREN, and to all that are far off, whomsoever the Lord our God shall call.
No ... just for a short time. This child just turned one but he sat placidly on the altar. Obviously, this practice is not used with older children or adults.
I neglected to mention that the service concludes with a procession, 3X around the church. The mother led the procession carrying an icon of the Blessed Mother, the father held his son, the priest, godparents and participants followed carrying lighted candles while a beautiful hymn is sung.
Being a “Protestant” is not necessarily a bad thing. Jesus, after all, was a Protestant, protesting against the religious leaders of the Church of His day. Let’s exalt Him together, shall we?
By the way, I don’t trace my religious heritage back to the 1600s. I trace it back to when God established His people on earth, with His covenant with Abraham.
Col 2:11-12 is not saying that baptism is a replacement for circumcision.
Why are women baptized, if baptism is a replacement for circumcision?
That passage includes the phrase “buried with him in baptism.” Why do you merely “sprinkle” a baby, then, when Scripture is clear that baptism looks like a “burial”?
Jesus said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father ...” — notice that “baptizing” follows “teaching.” A baby doesn’t understand such “teaching” at such a young age.
Of course, you’re free to believe Col 2:11-12 says something it doesn’t. I’m not going to change your mind.
Thanks for the clarification, and it sounds absolutely lovely.
No because I have no scripture examples of infant baptism, even more my Lord Jesus was baptized as an adult to show me an example of how I should live. If I consider Nancy Pelosi and many other catholics that have been baptized as infants and how they promote evils, without any repentance, are they saved?? Your fruit tells what you believe more than baptism or your words.
It’s legalism at it’s finest
It’s legalism at it’s finest
How does that explain then, the many Catholics who lead less than exemplary lives?
Do you include Kennedy, Kerry, Pelosi, etc. in that group?
The Holy Spirit is given when one believes, not when they dunked or splahed.
How do you know there were infants?
Who told you there were?
Or did you read it somewhere?
Or is it just your opinion and an assumption?
Read the very verse you posted.
The baptism is IN THE SPIRIT.
Check your history.
The RCC ex-communicated Luther. He didn’t leave, the “Church” kicked him out.
And as far as devisiveness, can you say “Inquisition”?
The term *Do penance* is NOT an accurate translation of the Greek.
The Greek word is *repent*, which is NOT the same as penance.
When anyone rejects from their faith and embraces sin it does not matter what that faith was. To continue to attempt to characterize all Catholics with the example of Kennedy, Kerry and Peolsi is as intellectually dishonest as attempting to characterize all Protestants based upon the actions of Barak Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Maxine Waters, Pete Stark, Lynn Woolsey, and Jessie Jackson.
Now, as you recently advised Cronos, get over yourself.
Not exactly. The Greek word is "Μετανοήσατε" which most accurately means to transform your thoughts. This was translated into Latin by St. Jerome, a fluent speaker of Koine Greek, as "paenitentiam" meaning to perform the acts of inward and outward penance, in other words penance...
Peace be to you.
You are trying to engage a Catholic who has been shown most of these things, but who, as extensively correspondence shows, typically ignores or blithely dismisses what refutes him and does not fit into his myopic narrow view of Scripture (sometimes even in contradiction Catholic scholarship*) and instead largely reiterates the same polemics. He (also considers Baptist "friends" as lost) thus excludes himself as one who can actually engage in meaningful debate and systemic theology. But for the record in response to,
baptism is symbolic
baptism is a first act of obedience
baptism is a picture
baptism is an outward sign of something that has happened already
there are two baptisms, water baptism and Spirit baptism
i have one response: show me one verse in the Bible that says any of the above!!
baptism is symbolic:
As mostly said
1Pt. 3:21, the like figure, [antitupon=Neuter of a compound of G473 and G5179; corresponding (antitype), that is, a representative, counterpart: - (like) figure] as the flood and deliverance of Noah was, (1Pt. 3:21; cf. Heb. 9:24) both of which can be seen as figures representing salvation through Christ. Baptism there is called the demand of a good conscience toward God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, as a good conscience calls for obedience toward Christ, and thus souls being called to confess Christ for salvation, as well as those who have already received Him, would answer the call to be baptized, such faith as is behind the confession being justificatory.
1Pt. 3:21, which refers to baptism as a like figure, like (using the same word) the holy places on earth were figures, (Heb. 9:24) except in this case baptism is not the antitype fulfillment of the flood of Noah, but a like figure, representing salvation through Christ, who is the Ark saving souls from the judgment of water which destroyed the wicked. And Scripture affirms that it is the faith which baptism requires and expresses that appropriates this cleansing, despite your desperate attempt to deny that,
1Pt. 3:21 still refers to it as a like figure of salvation, salvific as it requires and expresses faith, rather than [as in Rome] depending on whether the one doing the baptizing intends to do what Rome does, of which no one may be sure, and its efficacy is not dependent on whether the person being saved personally has faith (though they must not set up an obstacle). Because if the faith required, Westminster Standards can state, sacraments are effectual means of salvation. See more: http://www.joelgarver.com/writ/sacr/exopere.htm
baptism is a first act of obedience:
Believing, that of repentant faith, is the first response of obedience, and Scripture promises,
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. " (Romans 10:9-10)
And yet God, which knoweth the hearts, does not exclude the mute from salvation. And since you allow for baptism of desire, then you cannot deny that baptism can follow forgiveness and regeneration, even though you have no example of it under the New Covenant, as you disallow Acts 10, for which see below.
But the first commanded outward action is normally to be baptism:
"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16:16)
"But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. " (Acts 8:12)
Those who marginalize this are wrong, as are those who suppose the act itself effects changes operating ex opere operatos (which actually can lead to uncertainty), rather than the faith behind confessing Christ in baptism (and other acts) being what is counted for righteousness, with God giving grace to those who obey Him in faith. And as baptism both requires as well as expresses faith, baptism can be the occasion when one is converted.
baptism is a picture:
This also reveals your superficial theology, as baptism is clearly shown to correspond to death:
"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: " (Romans 6:4-5)
The baptized are not literally planted in the ground, especially the unScriptural method of sprinkling, but baptism represents the burial of the old man, though it is all to alive as Rm. 7 expresses, but consistent with what the faith that is expressed in baptism appropriates, that the demise of the past and of a new creation, (2Cor. 5:17) and the burial and resurrection that baptism represents, thus the believer is told to "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. " (Romans 6:11)
baptism is an outward sign of something that has happened already
baptism is an outward sign of something that has happened already
In Acts 10 souls who had been born again, who already had received the Holy Spirit were baptized: "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? " (Acts 10:47) You are contrary to what Scripture teaches, and what every Roman Catholic source i have read concurs with, that Peter preached words to souls whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved, and as he did so, the Holy Ghost fell on Cornelius and company as it had upon the apostles, as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ." (Acts 11:17) And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. " (Acts 15:8-9)
Instead, you flatly deny this, and in your private interpretation you come up with the unScriptural idea that this receiving of the Holy Spirit does not mean they believed and were born again, but that the Holy Spirit only came upon them, but which is not what the text states. As has been shown (#10)
Go find another Catholic here who agrees with you on this text before you make yourself look more extreme.
there are two baptisms, water baptism and Spirit baptism
That this can be the case is clear from above, in which before baptism, God gave souls who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ the same gift of the Holy Spirit as the apostles received, and which was promised in Acts 2:38, as God knoweth the hearts, at which point they would have become part of the body of Christ, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." (1 Corinthians 12:13)
In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit of God came upon believers, and only believers (Num. 24:2; 1Sam. 10:10; 11:6; 1Chrn. 12:18; 2Chrn. 15:1; 24:20; Ezek. 11:5), and while it is taught by some that this means that Old Testament believers did not actually have the Holy Spirit in them, this is an error. (1Pt. 1:10,11) The difference between the Old and the New is that all believers are given the Holy Spirit, as He is poured out upon all flesh.
As seen below, in the New Testament the gift of the Holy Spirit was promised, and that the Holy Spirit fell or came upon on souls, but it describes this as being baptized with and filled with the Holy Spirit, and even as receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. And which is twice even described as occurring subsequent to believing and being baptized, (Acts 8:12-17; 19:4-6) yet in no place is this merely an exterior enduement, rather than such souls possessing the gift of the Holy Spirit. And Ephesians 1:13 doctrinally teaches, "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise." (KJV) In whom you also, after you had heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation), in whom also believing, you were signed with the holy Spirit of promise. (DRB)
Realization by apostles
Realization by others
By faith (as seen by God, which knoweth the hearts), not because the faith-response makes one deserving
"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)" (John 7:37-39)
"And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. " (Luke 24:49)
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. " (John 14:26)
"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. " (Acts 2:38)
"And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. " (Luke 24:47)
"Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. " (Acts 5:31-32)
"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 2:1-4)
"Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear." (Acts 2:33)
"To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days." (Acts 10:43-48)
"And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." (Acts 11:13-18)
"And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith." (Acts 15:7-9)
"Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. " (Acts 19:4-6)
"But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. " (Acts 8:12, 14-17)
"In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, " (Ephesians 1:13)
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. " (Romans 6:23)
"And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness. " (Genesis 15:5-6)
"For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, " (Romans 4:2-6)
"He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness." (Romans 4:20-22)
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; " (Titus 3:5)
"This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? " (Galatians 3:2)
"Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. " (Matthew 10:32)
"But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:8-10)
"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. " (Mark 16:15-16)
"That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (Romans 8:4)
"For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified." (Romans 2:13)
"And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; " (Hebrews 5:9)
"But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak." (Hebrews 6:9)
"Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. " (James 2:18)
"Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. " (James 2:22-23)
"Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: " (Matthew 25:34-35)
"Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. " (Revelation 3:4)
"Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. " (Revelation 22:14)
The radical Catholic who denies that Acts 10 examples regeneration before baptism is forced to assert what the New Testament Scriptures of the Holy Spirit will not allow, while even if regeneration before baptism is only allowed as an exception, it destroys baptism being an absolute necessity for the remission of sins, and regeneration, which some interpret Jn. 3:5 as teaching.
Faith has always taught and believed that baptism is for:
1. the remission of sins
2. receiving the Holy Spirit
3. placing us into Christ.
As seen above, what Scripture collectively teaches is that is the faith which confesses the crucified and risen Lord Jesus, the Son of God, that appropriates remission of sins, and regeneration, and placing on into Christ, and thus this can occur at baptism (but not due to baptism working as per ex opere operatos via proxy faith), yet as it is faith that appropriates justification, so souls can be forgiven and regenerated (and thus added to the body of Christ) prior to baptism, although baptism is normatively part of the conversion event.
was Joseph Smith right that the whole Church went apostate after all the Apostles died?
No, as the LDS effectively operates according to the Roman model, that being sola ecclesia, in which an infallibly type magisterium defines tradition, Scripture and history as supporting them, which both Rome and the LDS and other cults do in their self-proclamation of themselves as the one true Church®.
However, as Rome holds to many core essentials, and as prior to Trent she was not as settled in her errors, Catholics within her could (and yet can) be saved within if they come to Christ as souls damned for their works - not saved because of them - and destitute of any means or merit whereby they may escape their just and eternal punishment in Hell Fire and gain eternal life with God. And who thus cast all their whole hearted faith upon the mercy of God in Christ, trusting the risen Lord Jesus to save them by His sinless shed blood, (Rm. 3:9 - 5:1) and so follow Him by the Spirit.
However, such will not restrict the one body of Eph. 4:5 to their particular church, but like Peter did as regards Cornelius and company, they will recognize all believe the gospel and manifest effectual faith as brethren.
* I have never seen any other Roman Catholic deny the regeneration of Cornelius before baptism.
Catholic answers states,
Christians have also always realized that the necessity of water baptism is a normative rather than an absolute necessity. There are exceptions to water baptism: It is possible to be saved through "baptism of blood," martyrdom for Christ, or through "baptism of desire", that is, an explicit or even implicit desire for baptism.
For which it quotes
Augustine: For Cornelius, even before his baptism, was filled up with the Holy Spirit [Acts 10:4448], while Simon [Magus], even after his baptism, was puffed up with an unclean spirit [Acts 8:1319]" (On Baptism, Against the Donatists 4:21:28 [A.D. 400]). . http://www.catholic.com/tracts/the-necessity-of-baptism
Augustine: As therefore in Abraham the justification of faith came first, and circumcision was added afterwards as the seal of faith; so in Cornelius the spiritual sanctification came first in the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the sacrament of regeneration was added afterwards in the layer of baptism. And as in Isaac, who was circumcised on the eighth day after his birth, the seal of this righteousness of faith was given first, and afterwards, as he imitated the faith of his father, the righteousness itself followed as he grew up, of which the seal had been given before when he was an infant; so in infants, who are baptized, the sacrament of regeneration is given first, and if they maintain a Christian piety, conversion also in the heart will follow, of which the mysterious sign had gone before in the outward body. (St Augustine Bishop of Hippo On Baptism Against the Donatists chap 24, 32)
As also the Roman Catholic Haydock commentary states,
Such may be the grace of God occasionally towards men, and such their great charity and contrition, that they may have remission, justification, and sanctification, before the external sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and penance be received; as we see in this example: where, at Peters preaching, they all received the Holy Ghost before any sacrament. - http://haydock1859.tripod.com/id125.html
Likewise Roman Catholic apologist John Martignoni, certainly no liberal, while upholding a sacramental need for baptism, states, Regarding Cornelius and the Holy Spirit. Cornelius did indeed receive the Holy Spirit before he was baptized. God can do whatever He wants. http://www.menofstjoseph.com/blog/?p=19
The Church only publicly acknowledged the consequences of Luther's personal choices and then only after offering him many chances to repent. Much like you, Luther knowingly placed himself outside of communion with the Church. He was not a victim, but was a causality of his own hubris.
Peace be with you.
Apparently Catholics are not "the only ones who post huge long graphic posts that can be classified as spam".
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