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1) People are made in God’s image. Genesis 1:27 – “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
So, people are made in God’s image. We reflect His character the way a mirror reflect our face. We are God's mirrors. Granted, because of sin, our ability to reflect God's perfect character is broken; however, just as a shattered mirror still reflects an image (albeit distorted and imperfect), we still reflect the image of God (although imperfectly). People have personalities because God has a personality. People have a sense of humor because God has a sense of humor.
Furthermore, Jesus was fully God and fully human. This is a mystery. However, it is an essential element of understanding Jesus's character. Jesus was simultaneously God in every way and also human in every way. Jesus was the perfect example of what humanity was design to be. Therefore it must be true that Jesus has a personality and a sense of humor. The stories from Jesus' life also bear this out. The first miracle Jesus performed was at a wedding party--a place of joy and celebration--and he made wine, which is a substance people use to enhance joy at a party. It seems reasonable that Jesus was at the wedding to party and celebrate with everyone else.
What is the difference in immersion and sprinkling as it relates to baptism?
Ephesians 4:5 says, “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism…” Jesus commanded his followers to baptize people in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Baptism is how we initiate people into the Christian faith, the family of God, the Church. There is only one baptism, but it can be celebrated in different forms.
Another method of baptism that is more common in my Methodist church is sprinkling. Through sprinkling, the pastor dips their fingers in a bowl of water and sprinkles a few drops of water on the person's head. Sprinkling as has deep symbolic meaning. In the Old Testament when God chose the Israelites to be His people, He had His priest sprinkle them with blood and water in a purification rite. God claimed the Israelites as His very own people, a royal priesthood set apart as holy. As we sprinkle a person with water through holy baptism, we recognize that God has chosen and purified them to be part of His holy people, the Body of Christ.
In all these methods, we recognize baptism as the sacred ceremony Jesus command us to practice that God uses to pour His grace into our lives. God does not save us through baptism, but He marks us as His own people and gives us help to grow in the faith. We want as many as are willing to receive this special help God offers through baptism. God can and does offer His full assistance regardless of the amount of water we use. (It has been said that the minimum amount of water necessary for a valid baptism is only three drops--one each for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). The amount of water used is not important; faith is what matters.
But why do Methodists (and many other Christian denominations) baptize infants? Infants are not old enough to understand what God is doing or have faith. However, their parents (or Christian sponsors) are and they bring their child seeking the assistance of God and the support of the Christian community to raise their child until the child is old enough to understand and have faith for themself.
To answer the question (and underlying concerns), I should start by saying the Bible is (in a sense) both God's Word and humans' words about God. Hear me out. The Bible is a collection of the stories about people's experiences with God. It was written by many different people over thousands of years. However, the Bible is inspired by God. What we have in the Bible is exactly what God wants us to have and He uses the Bible to speak to us.
Different parts of the Bible were written in different ways. Exodus 32:18 says God inscribed terms of His covenant with Israel (summarized in the Ten Commandments) with His very own finger. In most places, though, the Bible was not written directly by God. It was written by people. Sometimes God dictated a prophecy directly to a prophet and said "Go say this!" or "Write this down and don't you change it!" But the majority of Scripture was written by regular people whom God inspired. People are flawed, and sometimes their flaws sneak into Scripture. (Example, sometimes people in the New Testament mix up quotes from the Old Testament). Furthermore, peoples cultural ideas are not necessarily good or perfect (or even Godly) just because they are in the Bible. However, God uses flawed humans (and their ideas) to communicate His Word to people. As one old expression goes, "God can draw straight lines with a crooked stick."
The Bible is the Word of God. It is the most important way God communicates with people today. God inspired people who wrote the Bible and He also inspired the people who collected and compiled it. Everything we need to to lead us to faith and salvation is within the Bible's sacred pages. It is the primary source of all Christian faith and practice. It is different from all other books in that God speaks directly to us through it when we read it—even to you personally. You can certainly find help from many other books, but none of them can speak to you the way God can speak to you through the Bible if you read it through eyes of faith and an obedient heart.
I always appreciate receiving questions. you can email me more at ReverendChrisMullis@hotmail.com and I will try to answer them. Let me conclude with a few questions for you to ponder and answer for yourself.
- Do you have a real, personal relationship with Jesus? He is a person with a personality. You can talk to him and relate to him as such. You must. How could you delve deeper into a real relationship with the person, Jesus? Will you?
- Have you been baptized? Baptism is the initiation ceremony of the Church, the Body of Christ. Jesus commanded us to be baptized and through baptism, we receive the grace of God through the Holy Spirit to continue to grow in our faith. I would love to baptize you if you are willing. If you live far away, I encourage you to seek a Christian community of faith to baptize you.
- Do you read the Bible in order to let God speak to you? Do you study it with others? The Bible is the Word of God. It is the primary way God speaks to His people. Are you listening? Are you reading?