Sunday, January 08, 2012

Jesus' baptism is good news

I was just thinking of this today and this truth got hammered again to me, that the Baptism of Jesus is Good News to us.

Mark 1 has this:

9And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.

10And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:

11And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.


I highlight the verse that got nailed to my heart once again, in the baptism of Jesus, God said this about his Son. Now this is Good News.

Now based on our batting average, there is none who could ever please God. This should be clear as light and obvious to us by now. So in the vast sea of humanity, no one could ever please God. Yet, there was one who came and in him God is well pleased, Christ, God's Son. It is Good News to me because I know I fall short in pleasing God and so I can not come to God using my own credentials. However, I can come to God through Christ's merits not mine. He pleased God for me, as a gift.

Theologians have argued that John was right, Jesus need no baptism yet fulfilling all righteousness, Jesus subjected himself to John's baptism. This, theologians have argued, was Christ's way of uniting himself to humanity.

He was baptised for me, and in my baptism I was united to him, to the one in whom God is well pleased. My baptism clothed me with Christ, the one who pleased God for me (you), as Romans 6 suggests. That is Good News and something to praise Christ for.

12 comments:

Steve Martin said...

"My baptism clothed me with Christ, the one who pleased God for me (you), as Romans 6 suggests."

Nice one, Lito!

Romans 6 doesn't suggest it, it flat out states the truth of it!

LPC said...

Steve,

Indeed, Romans 6 does not only suggest but tells us that due our union with Christ, we though sinners got united to Christ when we ourselves got baptised. We have been united to the one who perfectly pleases God.

Thanks for dropping by.

LPC

Gregory L. Jackson said...

Holy Baptism is justification by faith, and infant baptism is the purest of the sacraments. A baby has nothing to offer, but God graciously plants faith in His heart through the efficacious Word. The Holy Spirit dwells in that child - anything he does glorifies God, whether nursing or soiling his didies - because it is done in faith. I kelmed that from Luther.

LPC said...

Dr. Greg,

I am thankful that you often kelm Luther. For example that quote on marriage you just recently posted revealed to me once again that Luther was a very wise man, filled with spiritual insights. I am often astounded why modern Lutheran pastors seem to be allergic to him.

LPC

Steve Martin said...

"A baby has nothing to offer, but God graciously plants faith in His heart through the efficacious Word."

Nice one Dr. Jackson!

And whatever we have to offer is akin to that infant's soiled didies.



.

joel in ga said...

Lito,

have you read Aulen's Christus Victor, by any chance? This post brought it to mind. The strongest point that I took away from Aulen's book was the always astounding fact that God saves us by grace apart from law. But here's the thing: Aulen applies this principle, not only to our works, but also to the work of Christ, concluding that Christ's lawkeeping in our stead is not properly saves us, for that would mean that our salvation is still ultimately attributable to law rather than to sheer grace bestowed apart from law. Hopefully I haven't distorted Aulen's insight. (I would imagine Aulen affirmed that Christ's lawkeeping was still necessary to our salvation though perhaps in a different sense than Lutherans have classically understood it.) Any thoughts?

LPC said...

Joel,

No, I have not read Aulen.

If Jesus did not die but just simply fulfilled the Law and went to heaven, then Aulen is right, his fulfilment then does not benefit us. But the fact of his dying or giving up that perfect life as payment, then that is a gift by God and by Jesus himself to us. I think that is where I would position myself.

But also several places in Scripture says that the reason Jesus came was so he could die.

So I am not saved by the Law because I could never fulfil it but I am saved by someone who did fulfil it on my stead.

One thing I see different between Calvinism and Lutheranism is that grace in the former, can be generic. For example, if you were born in a better home or country, that is God's grace. In the latter, grace is not generic and is never epitomised by any good fortune.

To the latter, the gift which is grace is Jesus, His Son, no less than his very best. So I do not understand Aulen's point, he seems to be detaching grace from the law. Though grace and the law must be distinguished, of course, but we can not detach them from each other. To me grace does not make sense if there is no law. Further then, I do not think we can detach Jesus' living a perfectly obedient life from his dying.

This voice from heaven which which spoke to Jesus works for me this way...when my heart condemns me for being displeasing to God in thought word and deed, I take comfort, look to heaven and say to my soul, there is one who pleased God for you, be thankful and worship Christ for this.

LPC

joel in ga said...

Thanks for sharing. No one would have thought you had only my inadequate distillation of Aulen to go by!

You may have hit the nail on the head in saying Aulen seems to detach grace from law. That is probably accurate, at least in a sense: We are forgiven through Christ but not because Christ had to earn our forgiveness by lawkeeping. At least that is how I understood (or misunderstood) Aulen.

If you happen to read Aulen's work firsthand, your further impressions would be of great interest.

LPC said...

Joel,

One of the main sadness I have is that I do not have adequate Lutheran resources. Aulen is studied a lot by Dr. Jack Kilcrease, I think he criticizes him.

Needless to say, Dr. Greg and I have many things to spar with Jack since Jack describes himself as a UOJ par excellance.

I will try for even a second hand book of Aulen. You see he is famous here with the Anglican theologians.

Wikipaedia says Aulen wants us to go back to the classic view which is Jesus triumphing over the forces of evil. There is indeed Scripture that speaks of the Atonement this way. Both the substitution view, exemplar view and classic view have some Scripture support but the whole point is what is the focal point of the Atonement or the main trust? I think for us Lutherans, the Anselmian view predominates which Aulen seems to say we should put aside and make way for the classic view.

That single gift of Atonement has several benefits that is accomplished for us.

I am honored and humbled with your request for further impressions. I value your request and will endeavor to locate the book in some of our bookshops here. I am confident I can find a second hand copy of the books as I know the Anglicans( as well as Lutherans of course) know him.


LPC

LPC said...

OOps,

My mistake, Jack specializes on Gerhard Forde not Aulen.

LPC

joel in ga said...

Lito,

very interesting that Aulen has some notoriety among the Anglicans. I was not aware but I guess I am not surprised. If you are able to track down a copy of the book, you may be a little surprised at how weakly Aulen actually presents his case. It cries out for more precise articulation, and yet it has strength in its weakness somehow.

My impression from reading your blog over the years has led me to conclude that you sincerely and boldly aim to listen to whatever the Bible says. You don't idolize any particular man-made tradition. That's what makes your opinion so valuable. And Luther-like.

LPC said...

Joel,

Thank you so much bro.

The some orthodox Anglicans here can be less Reformational and they can be very traditional so Aulen's take is respected by them.

I think Aulen was reacting to the neglect of that aspect the Atonement, release from the dominion of the devil. The Epistle of Colossians teaches the classic view of release or the ransom.

That certainly is a cause for pause and reflection for that again is a wonderful gift that our Saviour has provided for us.

LPC