1999-07-21 - Baptism
"Hi, My name is T, & I have a lot of questions. See I was raised a catholic & I was taught to pray to the virgin Mary to intervene on my behalf. When I was a teenager I stopped going to church because somehow I felt that it was wrong to pray to her or to saints. I used to argue with my mom all the time because I didn't feel right, about confessing to a priest so he could abolish my sins. I felt that I had to pray to God for that. She always says I'm wrong & if I don't pray to Mary (because she's the mother of God) that my soul is lost. The thing is I'm born again (only a couple of months) but I'm a new born. I haven't found a church but I read the word almost every day. I've read all of the New Testament & no where in there does it say for me to pray to anyone other than Jesus because He saved me. Now I know why I felt the way I did all those years ago. I have a two year old daughter, & my mom tells me I have to baptize her. And if I don't baptize her & something happens to her that her soul will not be allowed in the kingdom of Heaven. It really bothers me, because I automatically want to obey my mother, but not at the risk of my daughter or my soul. If God wants me to baptize her now then I'll willingly do it but if not then how can I do something He doesn't want me to do. To hear her tell me my daughter will not go to heaven because I don't baptize her in a catholic church really hurts & bothers me. I truly don't believe that the Lord would not allow her into heaven … I just want to follow the Lord."
I think that in some ways you have answered your questions yourself. The New Testament, as you say, does not encourage us to pray to the saints, but rather to God. The nature of prayer is represented as, asking (John 15:16), seeking and knocking (Matt. 7:7), lifting up of the soul, and pouring out of the heart (Ps. 25:1,62:8), looking up to and talking with God (Job 15:4, Ps. 5;3), wrestling with God (Rom. 15:30), taking hold of God (Is. 64:7) and many others. But clearly prayer is made to God, Matthew 6:9-13.
Regarding baptism, I remind you that the thief on the cross was not baptized and yet Christ says to him, "today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43). I am sure the pressure you feel from your mother is tremendous and influences you in several ways. The New Testament teaching on baptism is that it expresses a spiritual reality in saying that those who have received it have become a part of Christ in His death and raised with Him in his resurrection. (1 Cor. 12:13, Ephes. 4:5,6:26) It is a sign of these things and not something that causes these things. In baptism we believe this union with Christ to either already be promised by God's Covenant (infant baptism) or evident through the testimony of the individual (believer baptism). The only saving ordinance is that we trust in Christ and rest in Christ for remission from our sins through His death and resurrection.
I love the way you ended your note, "I just want to follow the Lord." I would encourage you to continue to seek the Lord through His Word and through fellowship with other saints, and by all means, find a church, so you can hear the preaching of the Word of God.
Soli Deo Gloria,