The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.
Faithful to the Lord
The Sixth Sunday of Easter (Confirmation Day), 05 May 2013
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Today’s first reading from Acts tells of Paul’s Second Missionary Journey. From the Council in Jerusalem he has traveled north to Damascus and Antioch, and then west through what today we would call Turkey. Crossing the Aegean Sea, Paul is now north of Greece, in one of the few lands that has the same name then and now: Macedonia. Why did he go there? A vision from the Lord.
9And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." 10And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
The Lord called Paul into His service to preach the Gospel. And so he does, faithful to the Lord.
11So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. 13And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us.
Paul was faithful to the Lord in his preaching. The preached Gospel gave birth to faith by the work of the Holy Spirit. Lydia believed. “She was baptized, and her household as well.” Salvation coming to an entire household, as with Lydia here, is not an isolated occurrence. A Philippian jailer and his entire household will be baptized later in this same chapter, Acts 16. Look up the word “household” in your Bible’s concordance. You will be surprised by what you find.
Just who makes up a household? Commonly we see more people than just the nuclear family of father, mother, 2 ½ kids, and a cat and dog. There are people from all ages from infants to the elderly, especially extended family, and even orphans and widows among those family members. Therefore, Acts 16 is a powerful text to support the ancient Biblical practice of baptizing infants. Jesus welcomes the little children to Himself. Infants are also part of “all nations” that the church is to teach and baptize. They are also a part of “the entire household.”
[Tract of Ann’s from her HS Imperial Pastor] Why Baptize Infants? The answer to that question must begin with a look at how a holy God has always dealt with sinful and lost human beings (Rom. 3:23-25) [all have sinned]. The initiative for man’s salvation is always taken by a caring God. [The Lord does the work, just as He opened Lydia’s heart.]
For example, God chose Abraham when he was an idol worshiper (Josh. 24:2, 15) and gave him the covenant promise, which included our Savior, (Gen. 12:1-3). God acted to deliver His people from Egyptian slavery when they were helpless to do anything about it themselves (Ex. 2:23-25; 3:7-8). Jesus chose the disciples, some of them from outwardly sinful lives (Luke 5:27-28; Acts 9:1-6). And God continues to show that kind of undeserved love for sinners, like you and me, in His Son, Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:8).
Does man have a part in God’s saving work? The basic question one must answer in relation to infant baptism is this: “Is Baptism God’s action toward man (Gospel) or man’s response to God (Law)?” One’s answer to that question will determine one’s understanding and practice of infant baptism. Let’s look at the Biblical picture!
Baptism is God’s action in the life of individuals of all ages—including infants (Acts 16:15, 33; 1 Cor. 1:16). The promises and blessings God gives in Baptism are given for both adults and children (Acts 2:38-39). And God’s command to His followers to “make disciples” of “all nations” is without bounds of race, [gender], or age and certainly includes infants (Matt. 28:18-20).
Infants are in need of the saving action of God in Baptism (1 Peter 3:21) because they are born in sin and thereby are lost and separated from God (Ps. 51:5, John 3:5-6). Death, physically and eternally, is the plight of all thus born as descendants of Adam (Rom. 5:12). God’s action is required! And Baptism is the only Biblical alternative for infants.
Baptism, however, is the beginning of God’s action in a man’s life—not the end! What follows Baptism is just as important as the Baptism itself. God’s saving action is always to be followed by growth in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). As the clipping from a house plant is placed in a rooter to get roots, so Baptism gives an infant roots in the family of God. However, the plant clipping, once rooted, must be put in soil for growth and nurture to bring forth its fruit. So also the Baptism rooting of an infant must be followed by Christian growth and nurture in the soil of God’s love in Christ (Col. 2:6-7). Which is more important—the rooting or the growing? Obviously, both are important!
God has provided for such nurture of infants primarily through parents, and especially under the leadership of fathers (Eph. 6:4). And beyond the family God has given nurture responsibility to the Christian congregation in which the infant is baptized (1 Cor. 12:13). The God-given concern of the body of Christ for its individual members also applies to these baptized infants (1 Cor. 12:26).
However, this responsibility for nurture and growth is not always faithfully carried out. Infant baptism has often been practiced as an end in itself. “I just want to get by baby baptized!” And churches who practice infant baptism [often may] have perpetuated this false understanding by baptizing infants without a personal and faithful follow-up ministry of Christian growth with them and their families. [Disciples are made by baptizing AND teaching. See Mt. 28.] Renewal of our confidence in God’s power in infant baptism and correction of our follow-up nurture ministries is needed, not the denial of Baptism’s saving power.
Look for yourself! With the tremendous blessing God’s Word attaches to Baptism—forgiveness of sin (Acts 22:16); the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39); faith (Col. 2:12); union with Christ in His death and resurrection (Rom. 6:1-4); Christlike living now (Gal. 3:27); and salvation (Titus 3:5)—is Baptism God’s action toward man (Gospel) or man’s response to God (Law)? Holy Baptism Is God’s Action Toward Man! [Holy Baptism is the Lord’s action toward you!] God is faithful toward us in Holy Baptism. We are faithful to the Lord when we baptize all nations, infant or adult.
We rejoice in all of our recent baptisms and pray for more as we all grow in faith and in knowledge of Christ and His Word!
13And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us.
LifeLight: “Lydia may have known many rich people in upper social classes, because she sold a luxury item: purple cloth, the color of royalty. The ancient kingdom of Lydia, her homeland, was renowned for skills in the manufacture of purple dye extracted from the root of the madder plant or from murex shellfish…”
“Many…think that Lydia had achieved some prosperity, since her trade required significant capital. If this were so, we certainly would not be surprised also to learn that she readily and openly shared what she had with others.
“Acts seems to indicate that God wants us to remember Lydia not because of her trade, but because of her faith. She was baptized into Christ together with all of her family. She immediately ‘invited us to her home,’ reports Luke. ‘If you consider me a believer in the Lord,’ she persuasively argued, ‘come and stay at my house.’ When Paul wrote to the Romans, he exhorted them to ‘practice hospitality’ like Lydia.
Lydia was faithful to the Lord as a steward of the gifts He gave her. “Countless Christian women today have opened their hearts to others in need. Think, for example of the many faithful women who give generously to preserve earthly treasures for the sake of the Gospel and its proclamation. Christians who selfishly lock up their hearts can learn much from these fellow believers. God has lavished the riches of His grace upon us, forgiving our sins through the blood of Christ Jesus. Through His Spirit, He has also promised to open our hearts by giving us the gift of generosity” (Acts Part 2, p. 12).
About the Cover: Sabbath was never just a day for idleness, but a day for spending time in prayer and the Word. So the Sabbath finds some faithful women from Philippi meeting alongside a river. They listen to Paul and Silas as they preach, and the Lord opens Lydia’s heart to heed the message of Paul. The Lord alone opens hearts to believe the Good News—that’s what the Day of the Word is for!
That is also what Confirmation Day is for. And hearing the Good News—that is what next Sunday is for, too!
In this morning’s Hymn of the Day, Jesus sang to you, “What I on earth have done and taught Guide all your life and teaching; So shall the kingdom’s work be wrought And honored in your preaching. But watch lest foes with base alloy The heav’nly treasure should destroy; This final word I leave you” (LSB 556:10). Amen.
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.