“Della Heckmann, you are connected to God’s promises, and God’s promises will come true for you.” Pastor Jeff Doria named names that Sunday. He mentioned Della, Josh, Jim, and Sarah. These were dealing with issues of health, loneliness, cancer, and death. Each really needed God’s promises and the encouragement and comfort those promises can bring. God touched us all deeply through his message.
Sometimes, however, we don’t realize just how close those promises are and how we may reconnect with them. Such was our experience with Stephen. When he was born and three days later needed to be taken to a Children’s hospital 40 miles away, I had one thing in mind. Connect him to specific promises of God through baptism.
I was raised in a family that did not value infant baptism. But when I began studying the Bible I discovered promises which I had never previously encountered.
- And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” – Acts 2:38-39
- Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, – 1 Peter 3:21
- But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. – Titus 3:4-7
- For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. – Galatians 3:27
These Bible promises emphasize God’s action in baptism – not man’s. We are baptized. We’re passive. God acts. We receive. We receive God’s promises by faith to be sure. But God gives his Holy Spirit through baptism, and the Holy Spirit’s fundamental work is bringing us to faith.
When I baptized Stephen I was not engaging in a theological argument. It was not a matter of it being a nice thing to do. Stephen was about to be put into a truck and hauled up the highway 40 miles. The promises of God are precious to both Diane and me. We sincerely wished them to be attached to our son.
And as soon as I baptized Stephen, I knew there were promises of God attached to him. I had done what I needed to do at that time. There would come a time when we would teach him more fully about God. There would be a time to bring him a deeper understanding of the truths and promises of God. This was the time to plant the seed of faith. This was the time to attach the promises.
When we are connected to the promises of God we are connected to something that is not only good. Those promises are also absolutely reliable, wholly valuable, and utterly desirable. As such they bring deep peace to those who embrace them.
This is the source of true peace of heart and restfulness of spirit. If we can recall those promises, remember who made them, we will find a path forward through any challenge of body or soul.