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Our Focus Is Christ
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
some of the distractions masquerade as being important. Before we know it, we can be caught up in a web of negative images and thoughts that rob us of our happiness and steal our peace.
Yet Paul says we who are of the faith of Jesus Christ are different, and our minds are focused on Christ and the things that solidly enrich our lives and the lives of others. He says then that we should imitate in the Spirit what he has done in the Spirit both by example and observation. If we do that, then the God of peace is with us.
We need to work together to keep our minds focused rightly on what brings us to peace; our minds must be set on the good. It is wonderful to be part of a fellowship where we speak kindly to one another and encourage the good. Be encouraged, for your kindnesses are known.
Paul made it clear what our minds should be focused on. We are to focus on the good, those things which reflect the incarnate God in the sphere of the incarnate. The true (real), the honest, the just, the pure, the bringing forth love, the inoffensive, the virtuous, the praiseworthy; these are to occupy our minds. These are not the things that fallen human beings dwell on; in fact, in our fallenness it takes only a single negative, disturbing or mindlessly entertaining thing to distract us and soon we lose our entire train of thought.
Yes, there is the problem. The world and its distrac- tions have stolen our peace. As long as we remain fixed upon our circumstance rather than our God, we shan’t have our peace back. If we regain our focus on our God our peace is restored. This is an important part of our mission as a church in this world, to bring peace, not as the world but the peace of God.
Pastor Jay Weidner Laurium, Michigan
Pastor Jay Weidner Laurium, Michigan
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Did the Apostles Practice Infant Baptism?
One day a young man asked me the question, “Did the apostles and early church fathers practice infant baptism?”
When I asked him for his reason for making this inquiry, he replied that he had read in a book on this subject that before the year 350 A.D., only adults were baptized. However, the writer had not documented his claims by quoting or even referring to any church father who lived during or before this date. Upon further investigation I have noticed that whenever anyone tries to prove that only adults should be baptized, they have documented their statements with quotations made during the sixteenth century or later. I have often wondered why they have not quoted, some of the church leaders of the first three or four centuries, Can it be that they have not been able to find any statements to prove their claims?
On the other hand, we who believe in and practice infant baptism can find an abundance of evidence from the writings of the early church fathers to prove that they did practice infant baptism. We can trace infant baptism back to the days of the apostles. Since this is true we must conclude that it was performed with their sanction, if not with their own hands.
From the scriptures we learn that the apostles were very thorough in conveying their directions, injunctions, and traditions to succeeding generations. Peter tells us in II Peter 1:15, “Yea, I will give diligence that at every time ye may be able after my decease to call things to remembrance.” And Paul says in II Timothy 2:2, “And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others, also.” With these facts before us, all of us must admit that the testimony of the men who lived near the apostolic age must be of very great weight in helping to decide what was apostolic practice.
Infant Baptism Practiced by Early Church Leaders
One of the foremost of the early churchmen is Augustine, who lived during the latter part of the fourth century. His testimony is direct and to the point that infant baptism was the common practice in his day and that it was apostolic tradition. His words are, “If anyone do ask for divine authority in this matter, that which the whole church practices, and which has not been instituted by councils, but was ever in use, is very reasonably believed to be no other than a thing delivered by or from the apostles.” (De Bapt. Cont. Donat.)
Chrysostom, who lived at the same time as Augustine, complained that “too many permit their servants, women and children to remain unbaptized.”
Gregory Nazianzen, who lived a half-century earlier, shamed a mother who hesitated to bring her child to be baptized because of its tender age by saying, “Hannah consecrated Samuel to God before his birth and devoted him to the priesthood as soon as he was born,” and, that “so children should be baptized in their tenderest age, though having yet no idea of perdition and grace.”
A certain minister named Fidus, who lived about the year 250, was somewhat squeamish about baptizing new-born babes, because he was expected to kiss them after baptizing them. Because of his scruples he brought it before a council of sixty-six bishops to decide whether baptism, for the sake of decency, ought not to be denied to infants until after they were eight days old. The Council with Cyprian, who died a martyr’s death in 258, declared that “the mercy and grace of God are to be denied to none from the moment he is born.” This proves that infant baptism was then the common practice.
Origen was born in 185 and died in 254. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather were Christians. He traveled extensively, visited many of the apostolic churches, and resided in many of them. Consequently he was well informed as to the traditions of the apostles and the practice of the church concerning baptism. Therefore his statement concerning this topic must bear considerable weight.
Here it is. “The church received from the apostles the injunction (traditio) to give baptism even to infants, according to the saying of our Lord concerning infants.” (Orig. in Rom. lib. 5, cap. 6, p. 543.) Again, in his homily on Leviticus, he states, “Whereas the baptism of the church is given for the forgiveness of sins, infants also are, by the usage of the church, baptized.” In his commentary on the Book of Romans, he says, “From the Apostles (i.e., the days of the apostles) the church has received the tradition that baptism shall be administered also to small children.”
Tertullian lived from about 150 to 225 A.D. As far as we have been able to discover his is the only voice that was raised against the validity of infant baptism. Since he was born about 50 years after the death of John, the apostle, and lived while Polycarp, a disciple of John still lived, his words are very signifigant. By his opposition to infant baptism, Tertullian proves that it was a common thing in his day.
Ireneus, who was a pupil of Polycarp, who was a pupil of John the apostle, declares, “Christ came to save all—all who by Him are re-born of God, infants, little ones, children, youth, and persons of mature age: therefore he passed through these several ages.”
Justin Martyr, who was martyred in 165 A.D., has in one of his Apologies, written about the year 148, declared that there were among Christians in his time many persons of both sexes, some sixty and some seventy years old, who had been made disciples to Christ from their infancy and continued undefiled all their lives. Now if you deduct sixty or seventy years from the time Justin wrote his Apology, you would be carried back into the very age of the apostles. Now we know of no other way to make disciples of infants, except through the sacrament of baptism. Consequently, if infant baptism was practiced during the days of the apostles, who can say that it was without apostolic sanction?
The Apostolic Constitution of 225 A.D. says: “Baptize also you little children and nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord. For he says, Let the little children come unto me and forbid them not.”
In the Didache, or the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, which dates back to the first century, we read as follows, “But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize, Having first recited all these things, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in living (running) water. But if thou hast not living water, then baptize in other water, and if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head thrice in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Dr. Wall, an eminent church historian and scholar, after a thorough study on this subject, makes this conclusion: “As these evidences are the first four hundred years, in which there appears one man Tertullisn, that advises the delay of infant baptism in some cases, and one Gregory, that did, perhaps, practice such delay in the case of his own children, but no society of men so thinking or so practicing, nor no man saying, it was unlawful to baptize infants, so in the next seven hundred years there is not so much as one man to be found that either spoke for or practiced any such delay but all the contrary. And when, about the year 1130 one sect among the Albigense’s declared against the baptizing of infants, as being incapable of salvation, the main body of that people rejected that opinion; and they of them that held that opinion quickly dwindled away and disappeared, there being no more heard of holding that tenet till the rising of the German anti-infant Baptists in the year 1552.” (Wall on Infant Baptism, Vol. 2, ch. 10, p. 501.)
From history we thus learn that infant baptism was practiced from the very beginning of the Christian Church, and also that anti-infant baptism did not become a problem in the Christian Church until the middle of the sixteenth century.
Scriptures Teach Infant Baptism
As we search the Scriptures we find evidence that the apostles did practice infant baptism, When the apostles and disciples proceeded to win converts to the Christian religion they went out among the unbelieving Jews and heathen. All those who accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior they baptized. Numbering among those who were baptized we find entire families. In Acts 16:14-15 we read that “Lydia was baptized and her household.” Now the Greek word translated “household” means not only her immediate family but also her servants and their families. In the same chapter concerning the Philippian jailer we read in verse 33, “And he took them in the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes and was baptized, he and all his, immediately.” In Corinthians 1:16, Paul states, “And I baptized also the household of Stephanas.” Now these are only three instances of “households” which the apostles and disciples baptized. Certainly they baptized hundreds, if not thousands of other households which were not mentioned in the Scriptures.
Likewise, the Apostle Peter declared on the day of Pentecost even before the first person was baptized into Jesus’ baptism, that children are to be baptized. In Acts 2:38-39 we read, “Repent ye and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit for to you is the promise and to your children.” Thus he declared that children are to be baptized in order that they may receive these gifts.
Therefore the Christian Church still baptizes infants because the Word of God teaches it and the Christian Church, including the apostles and early church fathers, has always practiced it.
© 1983 A.M. Stone
Faith & Fellowship Press