“One is either circumcised or not, baptized or not. Because God invades the world and redeems it from the inside, we can participate only insofar as we take sides according to the lines that God draws. To want salvation without distinctions amounts to telling God to keep his distance.” (Reno,Genesis, p. 231)
“The name is not Perfect Justice or Everlasting Goodness or Sober Reason. The name is YHWH, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the one who will choose whom he will choose. Far from pointing toward a fickle or indifferent deity, the name directs us toward the deepest mystery, the mystery pronounced in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit: ‘God is love.'” (Reno,Genesis, p. 222)
In Genesis 18, Sarah overhears God telling Abraham that this time next year, she would have a son. She laughs. There is then a reaffirmation by God when, after Sarah denies her act, He says “No, but you did laugh.” (Gen 18:15)
Typically, this is read with a tone of rebuke. Sarah is lacking in faith when she shouldn’t doubt that God can turn the death of her womb into life. But is this a reprimand?
After all, Abraham himself laughs when previously told the same thing , and then points to Ishmael.
Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! (Gen. 17:17,18)
Its as if Abraham thinks God is mistaken. “You misspoke, God. Ishmael is Hagar’s son, not Sarah’s. And he is right here.”
Yet there is no rebuke or other response directed at Abraham’s laughter, and as in other places, we should take notice when God himself later focuses attention.
The emphasis on Sarah’s laughing in the exchange points to something else, and we see the fulfillment after the birth of Isaac. First, Isaac’s name means “he laughs.” And then in Genesis 21:6,
And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.
Sarah’s initial laughter is prophesy. It is right for her to laugh. She didn’t know it at the time, but her incredulous laughter was really the laughter of celebration. And even now, the same incredulity underlies the laughter, for Sarah asks in the next verse “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children?”
Part of the lesson we can learn from this is that since God is faithful to his promises, that what seems impossible becomes reality, even before our senses perceive it. When God give Abraham his new name, He speaks in the not only in future tense, talking about what he is going to do, but also in the present tense.
Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. (Gen. 17:5)
God declares it. And it is so. Simple as that. We should treat the promises God makes to us as good as fulfilled, and we should be even better prepared than Abraham to do so. One, the Resurrection of Christ, the climax of the fulfillment of all things, has happened. Can we think of anything that is beyond His power? And two, God has been merciful enough to give us the Spirit as a deposit or down payment, which is for us a guarantee for the future(Eph 1:13,14). He has much invested in us already, and he will complete his work (Phil 1:6).
It’s strange that most modern Western evangelicalism has language describing baptism that is completely opposite of what the Bible actually says. The video below expounds the true story of how Paul must have accidentally made these gross errors.
Most Lutherans practice in infant baptism (due to the comparisons in the New Testament with the covenant sign of circumcision) , but even if you don’t agree with that part, you get the general gist.
I recently discovered the Lutheran Satire videos, and couldn’t stop watching them once I started. I think you’ll get the same addiction.
“When we walk across a bridge, we may enjoy every confidence that the engineers have done a good job and the span will not collapse. And yet, who does not feel hints of terror when looking over the edge into the depths of the chasm below. This is all the truer of our salvation in Christ. He is our trustworthy mediator, our bridge to eternal life in God, and our confidence in his saving death is entirely consistent with a fearful sense of the depths into which he went on our behalf, depths from which we turn away in shuddering, instinctive horror.” (Reno, Genesis, p. 204)