24068Re: Question on Baptism of John the Baptist
- Oct 10, 2012<<<<< Shall we claim ourselves as born again status as Jesus Christ advised to Nicodomus. If we are born again as a new person our character would have been changed. But we can see very few are having the character of born again with Holy Spirit. (Some people prefer to think that this is PENTACOST teachings i/o of listening to Jesus Christ's verses). >>>>
Dear Brother in Jesus Christ,
We do not disagree with all the Pentecostal teachings but disagree to several of their misinterpretation of Bible, such as their call for re-baptism through their pastors for rebirth. We do not agree with this because we are already baptized through water and spirit with valid authority and do not have to get baptized through someone else who has no authority to do so. Also, if someone shows bad characters while in the Syriac Orthodox Church after baptism, there is no guarantee that he will not show the same character even after the so called re-baptism in the Pentecostal church. I have personally seen some of our folks getting re-baptized to receive what they believe as the H. Spirit which they think didn't receive when in SOC. But even after their so called rebirth, they still live in the same old life style as they were once in the Syriac Orthodox Church! What difference they make when going through another baptism, other than bringing shame to Jesus Christ? If they wanted to change their bad characters, which everyone has to, they could have done when they were in the Syriac Orthodox Church itself. Receiving H. Spirit is a spiritual phenomena and not a Physical Phenomena to visualize. In rarely some cases we see the H. Spirit in physical phenomena such as the dove appeared on Jesus, or the miraculous bright lights appearing at different places where theologians interpret as `uncreated light'. A Sacrament, such as baptism, is defined as the `invisible' blessings or presence of God through a `visible' act.
We all are looking forward for the resurrection of our soul with a new glorified body-in another life to come-in the Kingdom of God. Both good and bad people will resurrect but God will separate those good ones from bad ones and let the good ones enter the Kingdom of God (Mathew 25:31-42). In our baptism we are baptized both by water and H. Spirit and thus are born again already. However, we all have to resurrect with another `glorified body' to enter the kingdom of God. By baptism, we regained the once lost glory of Adam and Eve. But it does not guarantee the Kingdom of God. Now what is needed for salvation is the spiritual growth. Baptism alone is not sufficient for salvation as some protestant churches teaches.
Salvation is a continuous process in our life. It is like the life of a fetus in the womb where the fetus has to continuously get nourished from the womb to grow into a full born baby to be born to the outside world. Here the fetus is all of us, the womb is the church, and outside world is the kingdom of God. Church nourishes us spiritually so that we will grow spiritually into eternal salvation. The good news is that Jesus has given all the nutrients and the necessary organ (womb) for us to grow and mature perfectly-the church. As a fetus could develop into a defective person or even get aborted, a person who lives here could develop either spiritually defective or perfect. Church has everything needed for one to grow spiritually perfect, but it is the duty of each one to seek that properly (Jeremiah 29:13; Matthew 7:7). This is exemplified by the life of our saints. They did not become `saints' by their baptism alone, but through proper spiritual growth on earth. Only those who perfectly grow spiritually will enter into the kingdom of God at resurrection. The continuous spiritual growth (after baptism) involves,several actions from our part, such as true repentance of our sins (Rom 2:4; Acts 17:30), fasting (Acts 14:23; Matthew 6:16), prayer (Philippians 4:6; Colossians 4: 2; Matthew 26: 41), love to others (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:35; John 13:35), doing good things to others (Hebrews 13:16) forgiving others (Matthew 6:14-15), obeying all the laws of God (Romans 2:13; John 14:21), partaking the H. Qurbono (1 Corinthians 11:23-27; Luke 22:19) etc. This is what Syriac Orthodox Church teaches and stands for. We can't achieve salvation by just faith alone (or baptism alone) but need action, which is obeying all the commandments (James 2:14) and living accordingly.
As you know, our only enemy is the Satan (and his army of devils) and unfortunately he is very powerful and continuously tries to defect us during our spiritual growth. If we don't see the good characters of H. Spirit on those baptized, it is not because H. Spirit do not live on them, but rather they let Satan influence on them. Jesus is God but we see Satan trying to tempt even Jesus Christ (Luke 4:2). However, Jesus showed us that by fasting and prayers we can win against any such evil influence. It is our responsibility, during the entire life here on earth, not to fall under the temptation from Satan. To show good characters, a person has to change himself. God never leaves us, but we try to separate from him through our action. So our prayers to God should always be to give us strength to win the evil temptations and to have mercy on us in, both in this world and in the other world to come. Like our prayer (After priest starts with Shubaho...) "Balaheenarum papikalum aya njangaludemel thante karunayun and manogunavum randu lokangalilum (two worlds) ennumennekkum choriyapedumarakaname"
Mor Ephrem in his homilies on Admonition and Repentance:
"If thou wouldst heed the word of life, cut thyself off from evil things; the hearing of the word profits nothing to the man that is busied with sins. If thou willest to be good, love not dissolute customs. First of all, trust in God, and then hearken thou to his law. Thou canst not hear his words, while thou dost not know thyself, and if thou keepest His judgments while thy understanding is aloof from Him, who will give thee thy reward? Who will keep for thee thy recompense? Thou was baptized in His Name; confess His Name! In the persons and in the naming, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, three names and persons, these three shall be a wall to thee, against divisions and wrangling. Doubt not thou of the truth, lest thou perish through the truth. Thou was baptized from the water; thou hast put on Christ in his naming; the seat of the Lord is on thy person and His stamp on thy forehead. See that thou become not another's, for other Lord hast thou none. One is He who formed us in his mercy; one is He who has power our feebleness; He it is Who brings to pass our resurrection. He rewards us according to our works. Blessed is he that confesses Him, and hears and keeps his commandments! Thou, O man, art a son of God Who is high over all. See that thou vex not by thy works the Father Who is good and gracious".
Again: "If thou lovest derision, thou art altogether as Satan; and if thou mockest at thy fellow, thou art the mouth of the devil; if against defects and flaws, in (injurious) names thou delightest, Satan is not in creation but his place thou hast seized by force. Get thee far, O man, from this; for it is altogether hurtful; and if thou desirest to live well, sit not with the scorner, lest thou become the partner of his sin and of his punishment. Hate mockery which is altogether (the cause of weeping), and mirth which is (the cause of) cleansing. And if thou shouldst hear a mocker by chance, when thou art not desiring it, sign thyself with the cross of light, and hasten from thence like an antelope. A spacious dwelling for Satan is the man that mocks at his neighbor; a palace of the enemy is the heart of the mocker".
<<<< Let us see our celebrations, Liquor is one of the main thing. Now days, in all occasions of wedding day or funeral day ... are completed with serving liquor. We try to keep the TREE OF LIFE in the boundary and keeping our money, share, power, etc as the center of life. >>>>>>
I agree that a lot of our functions and celebrations have now oriented towards showing off of money and/or power and also getting drunk with alcohol. It is a very unfortunate trend and we should try our best to rectify it. However it is difficult to rectify everyone around us, but will be easier to rectify our self first. Seeing all bad things among our members of the church should not be a reason for us to leave the Orthodox Church (I have heard this excuses from some of those who recently joined Pentecostal church!). Remember our church does not belong just to them (of bad characters) but also to those who lived in sanctity preserving the true faith for thousands of years. All will be judged irrespective of their position in the church today, whether it is laity or clergy. But we need the Orthodox Church and its valid sacraments for growing and continuously nurturing spiritually in the true faith and laws commanded by Jesus. We should pray for having more saints in the church, so that we can point to their life as living role models. Meanwhile let us also remember that we had a lot of saints in the church whose life we can point as role models.
Sinu P. John, PhD
Member ID: 0076
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