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Wait a minute! Before you pass over this article because it looks a little too doctrinal and dry, think about that ques­tion. Are you really baptized? Dumb question, right? Of course I am. My parents took me to church when I was very young and my minister baptized me—what’s the point?

Baptism. It seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? I mean, either you are or you aren’t. Why put such a simple topic in a young people’s magazine? This isn’t nearly as appropriate to a young person’s life as smoking or alcohol or T.V. watching. What dif­ference does baptism make to me? I don’t care if you’re a young person or not, if these are some of your thoughts, pay attention. Baptism makes a difference!

Let’s think about that for a minute. Does bap­tism really make a difference? If you know any Ro­man Catholics, you know that baptism makes a big difference. Ask a Roman Catholic how old he was when he was baptized. Chances are he wasn’t more than twenty-four hours old. You see, to a Ro­man Catholic, baptism makes an eternal difference. Baptism makes the difference between one child going to heaven and another going to a place called “limbus infantum.” In our language, that’s a place which is neither heaven nor hell, but where infants (infantum) are held in a kind of “limbo” (limbus). They don’t go to heaven or hell, but must stay in this middle place for eternity with no hope of es­cape. Pretty scary.

For us, baptism isn’t that powerful. It doesn’t matter to a Reformed believer if his child dies the day before baptism or the day after. We trust that the child will still go to heaven. This brings up the real question then. What difference does it make whether or not we have baptism? Well, let’s take a look now at what we believe about baptism. I’m going to make this very brief, so pay attention. Even though you’ve heard this a million times, baptism is simply a sign. That’s it. It has no practical value for making you a better person or even for making you a child of God. You don’t enter God’s kingdom when you are baptized. That’s already taken care of. It’s a sign.

Now before you get the idea that I’m trying to say baptism isn’t important, listen to what this sign means. When your parents baptized you, they were really saying, in effect: “We recognize that we have been given a child from God. We realize that we have a responsibility to this child, to train him to be an active citizen in the Kingdom of God.” Think about that for a minute. Baptism doesn’t give a baby salvation, but it acknowledges that salvation has already been given. Of course, not every baby born to Reformed Christians is a child of God, but most of them are God’s children.

Why are you a child of God? If you are like most of us, you are a child of God because you were born to members of God’s kingdom. Now you had better be catching on, young people. I’m sure you remem­ber nothing of your own baptism. So you had bet­ter be paying attention when you see other babies being baptized. Every time you see a baptism, re­member that your parents were up there holding you about sixteen or seventeen years ago. If you still think that this isn’t as important as dating or school or whatever else, think about this. First, try to imagine all the people in the world right now. Then think about all the people that have ever lived on this world since its creation. That’s a lot of people. Now, out of all those people, think about those that have been misled by the Devil to believe in a god other than the one true God. Finally, think that out of all these billions and billions of people, God decided to choose you to be His child. Why weren’t you born to Hindu parents, or Muslim par­ents and left in that Paganism? Just because God wanted to love you. Think of all the public high schools in Grand Rapids. Most of those high school students are just like you except they have this world to enjoy for eighty years or so and then it’s an eternity of misery and suffering which is be­yond our ability to imagine. On the other hand, because God gave you Christian parents, you have eighty years or so to enjoy with a loving family and then you still have an eternity of unimaginable joy to look forward to.

Are you beginning to get it? Do you see now why this is so much more appropriate for you than dating or school or alcohol? Think about this in­credible fact: God, for some unknown reason, chose you to be His child to live with Him forever and therefore gave you Christian parents who prom­ised at baptism to make you a thankful child of God so that Satan would not get his hands on you. Wow! Okay, now think of that history test you just failed, or the girlfriend who just dumped you, or the “friend” who just called you a geek at school. It just seems to help, doesn’t it, knowing this world isn’t even your real home, as the hymn says, “I’m just passing through (this world).” Your treasures are in heaven.

Recently in our church, we had the privilege of seeing an adult baptism and profession of faith. If you’ve never seen an adult baptism, I hope you have the opportunity soon. It’s quite an experience. This young lady had been going to our church for about one year and when the moment of her bap­tism arrived, she went up to the pulpit and knelt down and bowed her head. Then the minister bap­tized her! I talked to this young woman after the service and I told her that this baptism was the first one to bring tears to my eyes. She had just told everyone that she belonged to God. I could almost imagine God coming to this lady, giving the Devil a crushing blow on the head and pushing him far away from her, taking her by the hand and saying, “You are Mine!” God does that every single time a baby, who is one of His, is baptized. He did that at your baptism and at mine. Since you don’t remember your own baptism, think about it every time you see a baby being baptized in your church. Think about it and thank your ministers and teachers for helping your parents in this eter­nal effort. Think about and thank God for adopt­ing you for His own, and then thank Him again and again and again.

 

Dan Van Dyke is a member of Byron Center Protestant Reformed Church and is a teacher at Heritage Christian School.

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Of all the commandments God gave us. I believe the 10th is the one we most easily rationalize our way around. If you’re admiring a certain sleek looking automobile or beautiful house for example, and some­one says, “You mustn’t covet.” What’s the first thing we say; “I don’t want his car, I just want one like it.” If your idea of covetousness is restricted to wanting to get, by whatever means necessary, something that someone else owns, then there are probably very few of us who have ever coveted, much less every day. However, if we look at the Biblical definition of cov­etousness, we will soon see that we easily commit this sin and often. I looked in a secular dictionary and their definition of covet was “to want greedily some­thing belonging to another.” This is a very comfortable definition for most of us. However, my Bible dictionary defined covetousness simply as a “Desire to have something.” That hits a little closer to home. “Men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous”. (II Timo­thy 3:2) This obviously states that coveting is the same as wanting any material thing for yourself. Hebrews 13:5 also makes this clear by saying, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have.” So, covetousness is the opposite of contentedness, and if your conversa­tion is covetous then your heart must also be for Matthew 15:18 says “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart, and they defile the man.”

Did you note that? “They defile the man.” The sin of covetousness is all consuming. I am assuming that this will be read by mostly confirmed Christians, peo­ple that go to church regularly. Listen to what Jesus says in the parable of the sower and his seeds about the covetous churchgoer; “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he become unfruitful.” (Mark 4:19) If you need to be told what God does to those that are unfruitful, read Luke 13:6-7 and John 15:1-8.

Further, to those who say, “Yes, but it’s so nice to be rich”, you needn’t be concerned about this any longer. The Bible says again and again that riches don’t give happiness, not even in this life. Can you believe that? The whole world, including God’s church, is working and slaving every single day to “get ahead”, to make just a little more so we can get one more little thing, and the Bible, the book that we hold so dear, has been telling us for thousands of years that we’re not going to find the happiness that we’re looking for. Ecclesiastes 5:10 says “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase;” Haggai 1:6 states very plainly “Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages, earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.” In other words, “Give it up!!” If you want to be truly happy, quit the overtime and the second job and the hours spent worrying about how the next big bill will get paid and spend that time in getting to know your God! “Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you.” (John 6:27)

This brings me to the final point which the Bible makes so emphatically. Not only are riches worthless in this life, they are even more worthless in the life to come, which will last an eternity instead of 80 years or so. “What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” You have all heard the saying, “You can’t take it with you, you know.” Did you know that that is exactly what the Bible says in I Timothy 6:6-8? “But godliness is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” Isn’t that beautiful, and a little scary too? That’s God’s definition of our needs, food and raiment.

This isn’t just good advice either. This is the holy commandment of God with the penalty of eternal death, let’s not forget that. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other: or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (What does this mean for our everyday lives?) Therefore, I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body more than raiment. . . your Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. (Now listen; here’s the key) But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righ­teousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:24, 25, 32, 33) That is a promise. Riches are never a promise. They are always illusive, never enduring. “Labour not to be rich; Wilt thou set thine eye upon that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” (Proverbs 23:4, 5) Let me assure you, God will never fly away as an eagle toward heaven.

So, let us make Proverbs 30:8 our prayer; “Give me neither poverty or riches; feed me with food convenient for me; Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say Who is the Lord?” But let us then live by that prayer. Don’t cling to your riches if God has thus blessed you. “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.” Really hasn’t God blessed us all with more than we need. How many of us don’t have “common” luxuries such as a radio, or even running water because we couldn’t afford it? “. . .be content with such things as ye have.”

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