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09. 03 2013

Knowledge puffs up, while love builds up

By Gabriel Baicu

 Although the existence of a single Church of God is a fact well demonstrated in the Bible, we can not accept the principle of the uniqueness of the Church of God if we don’t accept the validity of the water baptism of the young children. Why? This is because, otherwise, we have to ask all Christians to be baptized at maturity, and where, most likely, that this does not happen, many Orthodox Christians and not only would remain on the outside. If our own salvation through faith is a gift from God, what right have anyone  to judge whether a person is saved or not, regardless of the age when the water baptism took place, as long as that person has personal faith in God? Salvation comes not from the correctness or accuracy of a doctrine or another but because we have genuine love for God and people. (Mathew 22; 36-40) All knowledge is partial. (1 Corinthians 13; 9) We can safely err on the timing of baptism in water, childhood or adulthood and that depends mainly on how we were taught to believe. Quite a few people have formed their own conviction, based on their thorough study of the Bible, theology and Christian history. Most Christians have adopted the doctrines of the institutional Churches and their traditions, in which they were born. However, we are not allowed to make mistakes in terms of the fact of being born of God, in order to see or to enter the Kingdom of God. (John 3, 3.5) We can err in our theoretical, dogmatic or doctrinal views about God and all does it, but we can not be saved without loving God and our neighbour.   

  If we do not have love we are nothing, but if we love God and neighbour, mercy overcomes judgment. (James 2: 13) The judgment is without mercy to one who had no mercy but who loves and has mercy win the final judgment. Our salvation is through faith and love and not through religious dogmas. Who really fully knows, dogmatically or ontologically, God? Who claims to understand the infinite? We can know God only when we know, through personal similar experience, what He lived on the cross, when we think the same thoughts as Jesus thought and only when we live similar experiences as Jesus has lived. What we share with God is the experience of the cross, to His cross and our daily cross. Jesus took our cross and we must take His cross. This magnificent love for us lifts us up to the level that we can understand the essence of God and this is a defining feature of Jesus’ teachings. God is love. (1 John 4, 8) Man also must be love, refined spiritual and intellectual love. Doctrines are a trap, when we pride ourselves to know what we only partially know. (1 Corinthians 13; 9) Knowledge puffs up, while love builds up. Who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. (1 Corinthians 8, 1-2) We have always to tend to intellectual knowledge, but we ought to have love. We should have full knowledge of Jesus’ spiritual love.

Pride to be right in terms of doctrines, is the most common form of sin and least acknowledged among Christians. Set on the second plan the doctrines and do what is most important, namely justice, mercy and faithfulness that we have to do, as a priority, all others are secondary. (Matthew 23, 23) In other words, some people firmly believe that water baptism of children is wrong and that what they have in addition to other Christians is that they are baptized into adulthood. This is their opinion and this article will not argue. On the other hand, Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Protestants and Reformed believe, with the same conviction, that there is nothing wrong with the water baptism of young children and that this does not prevent them from being saved. What to do? Who is actually right? Personally I say that it is very difficult to determine because it is a theological discussion, extremely complex. The Bible is not absolutely clear, should be interpreted. Some Christians, taking Christ’s experience as a model in this case, consider an argument for the adulthood water baptism that Jesus wasn’t baptized as a child. Do not forget that there wasn’t any water baptism when Jesus was a child. Jesus was circumcised when he was a child and this is a somewhat similar ritual of Christian baptism in water. To enter among the Hebrew people, the circumcision was obligatory. For Christians the water baptism is the entry among God's people, but not yet the entrance in the true Church of God. We enter into the unique Church of God, following the process of the new birth, coming from God and because we are to be born again, not only from water, but also from the Spirit of God. To be born from Spirit means to be born again. (John 3; 3-6)

 The main mission of Jesus was salvation of man and not water baptism. He did not come to earth primarily to teach us to be baptized in water, but to give us faith in God and teach us to love one another as He loved us. (John 13, 34-35) We can not see whether or not we are truly Christians, through the respect for the doctrine which we joined and we profess, but we are truly Christians if we love one another as Jesus loved us. Surely is easier to believe that we are saved by the fact that we were baptized into adulthood, but notice, if we believe that was our merit to do that, it means that we are not saved by Jesus’ merits but by our merits. Here I see a great contradiction in doctrines. We are told that water baptism is related to judgment and of course it is our personal decision, so if we chose to be baptized in adulthood, thus we took the right saving decision, so "we do" the right thing. Does this mean that we have any merit because we chose to be baptized in water at maturity? The focus, in terms of salvation, should not fall on our decision but God's choice of us. (John 6, 44; Romans 8; 29)

 Who can really resist when he or she hears the call of eternity? No one called personally by Jesus, could resist his calling. We have the example of His disciples, and we are His disciples. Why we pride ourselves with something so I got? (1 Corinthians 4, 7) And if others have received the faith of Christ, as they were already baptized in water, as children, why are they worse than us? We are therefore not saved by our merits, or by choosing a doctrine, which we consider correct. This can help us and point us in our life of faith, but we have no right to judge others about what can help them in their life of faith. Therefore, we are entitled to assume that a certain doctrine is best for us, but others have the right to believe the same thing about another doctrine. Nevertheless, the best doctrine is to have the same thoughts and the same heart as Christ. All theoretical knowledge about God is relative and progressive and will be fulfilled only when we will see Him. (1 Corinthians 13; 12) The knowledge of the sacrificial love of God can be best known, through experience, now, on this earth, where many need our love.                                                      

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