Monday, August 13, 2007

Baptismal Regeneration 15 -- An Illustration

Okay -- I'm back.

Another way to discuss baptismal regeneration is to speak of baptismal efficacy. In other words, to talk about baptismal regeneration is to talk about how baptism is effacacious toward our salvation.

In this unsystematic series of mine, I have tried to make the case that baptism is efficacious toward salvation while trying hard to steer clear of the idea that baptism is magic. The magical idea of baptism is that the water of baptism is somehow zapped with saving power and then when it touches someone, it automatically and mechanically saves them.

I don't believe that.

Here is a picture (given to me by a pastor/theologian). In baptism God places a signed check in our hand. The amount of the check is salvation. When are baptized, salvation really is ours in the same way a check for $1000 really is ours. Now, is the signed check efficacious? Well, in a sense, yes. It carries in it the value of $1000. But in another sense it is not effacacious. It is not effacacious because it needs to be cashed. For the $1000 check written to me to be cashed, I must endorse it and take it to the bank.

Here is how this is like baptism. In the event of baptism God presents to us and puts in our hands the "signed check" of salvation. If one submits to baptism and simply shoves the "check" in one's pocket, baptism is not effacacious for that person. The baptism is valid and God has worked in it. But the person baptized needs to "cash the check" exercise faith and live in discipleship to activate what God has done in baptism.

Please note that I am not yet discussing infant/paedo baptism. One can be an credo-baptist and hold to baptismal effacacy. An adult being baptized needs to cash the check.

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