I believe that, unless Jesus comes back first (Lord, come quickly!), the next generation will be full of glorious stories of redemption. It will be full of stories of those united to Jesus Christ and washed in His blood. I believe that the church will suffer in ways that echo the longings of Abraham and Jeremiah. But that’s no reason to give in. It’s a reason to believe that there that Jesus may announce His purpose for the future most clearly.
In infant baptism, God makes a loud and wet announcement about the future of the church. The church has a future. God has a plan. He is building. The future is coming.
My son Seth was baptized this past Sunday. It was a great day for our family. Here at our new church in Columbus (IN), retired minister Bob McCracken performed the baptism in front of our new congregation, as well as much of our family.
As I’ve reflected on Seth’s baptism, my thoughts have gone to God’s simple announcement of hope for our future. Of course, baptism speaks to the past – the finished work of Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection. And baptism speaks to the present, a discovery of what God has done right now in drawing an individual into the covenant community.
But baptism points and lifts us as well to future hope. Let me give two Scriptural examples to draw this out.
In Genesis 17, Abraham is given the promise of circumcision, that sign anticipating baptism (see Colossians 2:11-12). After years of promise that his promised heir would come, he was left childless. Where is the promise?
There and then, God offers the covenant of circumcision. The sign told the story of Abraham’s future: “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations … I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you.” (Gen. 17:4,6).
The sign tells Abraham: you have a future.
And Abraham believes. Abraham trusts. Abraham claims in confidence that God’s plan for the future will come about. Abraham moves forward in hope.
If anyone had reason to wonder about the future, it was Jeremiah. He saw the people of God enter exile. His own life suffered immense torment. But, somehow, no prophet spoke more of future and hope than Jeremiah!
Who doesn’t know the famous words of Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and hope.”