Do You Have to be Born Again to Make it to Heaven
This is lesson number 24 - The Sacrament of Baptism
This is Scott and Christopher and we want to welcome you back to another episode of All About My Catholic Faith. I hope you had a great week this last week and I hope you went to Mass last weekend and perhaps you even invited someone to go to Mass with you.
Lent starts next week, you know and I’m looking forward to growing a little closer to Jesus this Lenten season. I’m also excited that we’ll be announcing the winner of the book giveaway next week during our podcast. The actual deadline to enter for a chance to win a free copy of Trent Horn’s book, Why We’re Catholic, is next Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, which is March 6.
Before we get started with this week’s lesson, let’s have our first Bible reading. Today, our first reading will be from the Old Testament, Ezekiel Chapter 36, verses 22-38. We will hear about receiving a new spirit and a new heart from being sprinkled with clean, purifying water.
Remember the Sacraments are outward signs instituted by Jesus in order to give us grace. Baptism is the Sacrament where Christ acts on our soul and actually gives it Divine Life. We become children of God at our Baptism, and it’s the first time that we receive the Holy Spirit into our souls and when we receive Sanctifying Grace.
Jesus told Nicodemus, a Jewish Pharisee, that no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and spirit. Here is that from the Gospel of St. John, Chapter 3, verses 1 through 5:
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born* from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot re-enter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?” Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.”
So, How is Baptism done in the Catholic Church?
At our baptism, we have water sprinkled or poured on us or perhaps we’ll be immersed into a pool of water. This is normally done by a priest or deacon, and as we are Baptized he will say, “I Baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” At that point, that person who is being baptized is now a child of God and will be eligible to enter the Kingdom of God here on earth and may be able to enter the Heavenly Kingdom of God when they pass from their time here on earth. What a wonderful thing. You know baptism not only makes us a child of God it actually frees us from the Devil. Remember we are born with original sin because our first parents Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. Because they sinned against God we were given original sin when we were born. At our Baptism the Sacrament will give us grace and the strength to fight any evil that may try to enter our soul. Once we are baptized the devil can never ever enter our soul again to hurt us unless we invite him or we let him in. During baptism if we are old enough when we are baptized to say the words or later when we say or baptism vows, we are promising to live our lives for God and that we will imitate Jesus Christ in everything that we do, and that we will not love ourself too much and that I won’t love or follow or do things that the devil would have us do. We also promise that we will love Jesus and each other and that we will do everything to please God in everything that we do with all of our hearts.
Baptism is called the gateway into Christ’s Church and his mystical body. It’s also called that because we can not receive any of the other Sacraments until we receive that Sacrament of Baptism. So until we are baptized and receive sanctifying grace we are not allowed to receive Holy Communion or confirmation to be married in the Catholic Church, to become a priest or deacon, or receive the anointing of the sick.
When should we get baptized?
You know from the very very beginning the Church has baptized young people even the youngest infants. There are a lot of non-Catholic Christians out there who believe that in order to be baptized you have to be older and be willing and able to say, “I want Jesus to be my personal Lord and savior and I believe in everything he teaches and I want to be Christian so please I would like to be baptized.” And that's true if someone is older, an older teenager or young adult or even an older adult and they're able to come to that realization and they've never been baptized before, and they want to be baptized, then they can definitely do that. This happens all the time and it's a great thing when people are baptized when they haven't been yet. Perhaps again, through no fault of their own, they were never baptized or never taught about the need to be baptized. Remember though, Baptism is a Sacrament that gives you sanctifying Grace and when you are baptized you not only become a child of God you are born again in Jesus.
What if a person wasn’t baptized when they were a baby?
Baptism takes away Original Sin it also takes away any venial and any mortal sin that is on our soul at that point. So if you are not baptized as an infant and you’ve committed sins, which we all do, and then you come to the Lord and desire to be baptized and accept him as your Lord and Savior, and when you decide to be baptized, after learning all about the Catholic Church and all of her teachings, then you will be washed clean from Original Sin and any other Actual Sins that have been committed up to that point in your life. Awesome! When you get to the day that you finally get baptized and the priest says “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and pours that water on your head, wow, at that moment it's like a sheet has been cleaned completely, it’s pure white, you are now pure and no longer have any sins at all. If you were to die at that moment without having another chance to do anything wrong or to commit any other sins, you know what, what? you would go straight to heaven because that would be the cleanest and purest your soul could ever be. Remember though if you later sin even after you're baptized and you become a Child of God, you can go to confession to have your soul cleaned and purified again, as clean and pure as at the time you were baptized. We’ll talk more about the Sacrament of Penance or Confirmation in an upcoming lesson, so keep listening each week.
Do you have to be baptized in the Catholic Church?
Normally baptism is given by a priest or deacon of the Catholic Church, but it can also be given by a pastor of non-Catholic Christian churches. As long as that church is intending to conduct the baptism the way the Catholic Church does, and baptizes with water, and uses the words: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”, then that person is truly and validly baptized. These people are regarded as true Christian brothers and sisters, but they are in an imperfect relationship with Jesus’ Church. Their specific beliefs in their particular Christian tradition will determine just how close they are to the true Church, the Catholic Church. Hmm!
In rare circumstances, let's say there's an emergency and someone is in an accident and in danger of dying and they can't get to a church or have a priest go to them and they desire to be baptized and haven't been baptized yet, then anyone, anyone at all, it doesn't matter if that person is a Catholic or Christian or even if they're an atheist, it doesn't matter their background ,they can baptize the person who is desiring to be baptized in this emergency situation as long as they use water and they sprinkle it on the person at least some and they say “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” That person is in conditionally baptized which is a valid baptism as long as the person doing the baptism is doing so in the same manner as the Church desires. If that person were to die because of their serious injuries before they have a chance to go to the priest, then they would go to heaven.
What if a person dies but is never baptized? Will that person still be able to go to Heaven?
Jesus did say that “Unless a man be born again of water and the spirit, he can not enter into the Kingdom of God.” If however, a person, through no fault of their own, has not had the opportunity to be baptized, the Church teaches that this person may still be saved by what is called Baptism of Desire or Baptism of Blood. Baptism by water that we’ve been talking about here in this lesson is the only way that a person can truly make it into the body of Christ and be a member of his Church. Baptism of Blood and Baptism of Desire are there as lifelines that can possibly save someone who has not been baptized. Picture it like this. A boat sailing on rough waters has a ladder and two ropes hanging from its side. There is a person climbing the rope and is almost in the boat. There are two more people hanging onto the ropes with hopes that they too will make it into the boat. The boat, in this case, is the Church. The person on the ladder is part of the Church because the ladder is part of the boat, but the ropes are just hanging from the Church as possible ways to make it onto the ladder and into the boat, or into the Church. A person must be part of Jesus’ Church in order to be saved and make it to Heaven, Jesus told us that. Remember the Catholic Church is the one and only Church that Jesus started and that is still on earth today. But if by no fault of their own, a person has never entered the Church by being baptized, then these lifelines of baptism of blood and baptism of desire are there as possibilities for those to make it into the body of Christ, his Church, and into heaven.
How does a person receive baptism of blood?
A person will receive the baptism of blood when he suffers martyrdom for the faith of Christ. That means that he suffered and was killed to defend the Catholic Christian Faith.
Ok, how does a person receive the baptism of desire?
Well, a person may receive the baptism of desire when he loves God above all other things and does everything that he knows, everything that is possible to love and serve God and to live in the manner that God desires. If this person lives this way and desires to do everything he can for his salvation, then he may receive the baptism of desire. If a person knows about the Catholic Church and has been told that baptism into the Catholic Church is the only way to enter the body of Christ and be saved and make it to heaven, and that person chooses not to be part of the Catholic Church, then they really risk their eternal salvation. They’ve basically let loose of the rope or even jumped off the boat.
Were people baptized before the time of Jesus?
In the Old Testament times the Jewish people had their young children, usually at the time they were eight days old, circumcised. During circumcision, the child was brought into the world of God at that young age. Of course that child wasn’t able to talk and they couldn’t decide to be a child of God and become part of the Jewish tradition, they weren’t able to tell anyone that they wanted to be a believer a follower of God but their parents could speak for him and say that they wanted this for their child. A parent must do many things for a child as they are growing up just like your parents had to do many things for you and help you along until you're able to do things on your own. When Jesus came and told everyone about the need for baptism and said that you must be baptized in order to enter the kingdom of heaven then Baptism replaced circumcision. We no longer have to circumcise a baby in order for them to enter the Kingdom of God but we do need to baptize our children in order for them to become children of God. We must baptize our children as soon as possible after they are born.
If you were a baby way back at the beginning of Christian days you were likely to be baptized at the young age of a week or two old. During the early Church, they talked a lot about Baptism and they asked why do we want to wait till the child is even two weeks old so they started to baptize babies as soon as possible even a day or two after they were born. This is such a wonderful thing because that child is now born again and is now a Child of God.
What if Catholic parents don’t get their child baptized when they are a baby?
Great question. If Catholic parents delay needlessly and especially if they neglect to get their newborn baby baptized, then they will have committed a mortal sin. Not only do they put up a wall between them and Christ, but they also have now put their precious new baby in danger, and the baby will continue to live with original sin on their soul. It’s really the worst form of child abuse because they are basically saying they don’t care if their child goes to heaven or not.
So, I know I wasn’t baptized until I was seven years old, so does that mean that you committed a mortal sin?
Sadly yes. Although I really desired to have you baptized, I needlessly delayed having you baptized. For that, I am very, very sorry and I apologize to you.
That’s Ok, thankfully everything worked out. Not to get too personal, but can I ask if you ever went to confession about that?
Yes I did confess that during confession, and yes it is a personal question, but, as a believer of Jesus and someone who loves others, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask those kinds of personal questions of others. To really love someone is to truly desire for them to make it to heaven one day. So not to blame someone, but to sincerely ask them about their possible sinful life can be a very good thing and can even bring that person to realize that the type of life they’re living needs to be changed.
Let's continue on with a couple more readings from the Holy Bible. You know reading the Bible and listening to the Bible is so excellent for you and your soul. If you don't currently read the Bible make sure you pick up your Bible and start reading it. Make sure you write down the chapter and verses that I tell you during these lessons and then go back later also and read it for yourself.
Our next reading today is from the New Testament, Romans Chapter 6. It’s about freedom from sin and life with God:
Our next reading will be from I Corinthians Chapter 12, verse 13:
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.
And now a reading from Ephesians, Chapter 4, verses 1 through 5:
I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism.
As we near the end of this lesson please know that the earlier Christians were told to baptize their entire family and we see in history and in other places in the Bible that the people baptized their entire families. So, if you think of someone's household, it will contain the adults, maybe grandparents who may be living there, young teenagers, young children, and even the very youngest babies and newborns. So when the entire household was to be baptized that means that the entire household should be baptized, that is everybody in that household. The father of the family back then would normally be the person who said I want my entire family to be baptized so a priest a bishop at that time would come in and baptize the entire household. That entire family, one by one, would be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, from the oldest in the household all the way down to the newborn baby.
I hope you were able to learn a lot about baptism today. Yes, this helped me a lot. I hope it helped others too! Great, me too. Remember that baptism is the first Sacrament and it opens the door and allows us to go into the door of God's kingdom, into the life of God, and into all the promises that Jesus has given us. Remember that Christ’s first birth was when he was born in the stable to Mary and Joseph. He then suffered and died for our sins and was buried. Jesus Christ’s second birth, when he was born again was on Easter Sunday when he rose from the tomb. Baptism by immersion gives us new life and we are born again, and this is also a symbol of Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection. Our first birth is when we were born into this world but with original sin on our soul. When we were baptized and we were immersed under the water this symbolized us dying to our sin and buried with Christ. When the priest brings us out of the water, we are born again, and this symbolizes rising with Christ to the new life of grace. Baptism by immersion is not the common way that babies are baptized, but it can still be done that way. If a baby or anyone for that matter is baptized with water being poured or sprinkled onto them then this is also a symbol of dying to sin and rising to be born again into the new life of Christ, but not as directly as being immersed under water. As long as water is used and the person who is doing the baptizing says, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”, then the baptism is real and valid.
Remember Jesus died on the cross so that you could go to heaven and baptism is your doorway to heaven through the Catholic Church. It is your doorway into the world and the word of God, it’s very awesome. So if you haven’t been baptized yet and you want to be baptized, remember there are ways that you become baptized in the Catholic Church. Feel free to send me an email message on our website, All About My Catholic Faith.Com or better than that just go to your local Catholic Church and ask for the priest, and say that you really want to learn about becoming baptized in the Catholic Church. If you have already been baptized in another Christian faith, you won’t need to get baptized again, because remember baptism is one of the Sacraments that can only be received once, but you can still and you should still come home to the Catholic Church. Don’t be afraid. You know, that’s one of the most common phrases in the Bible, Don’t be Afraid, so Don’t be afraid, seek the answers and be baptized and unite yourself fully with the true Church of Jesus Christ.
If someone you know and love has not been baptized then please pray for them every day that they will see that Jesus is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life, and that they will seek to learn about the Church that Jesus started and will enter the Church through Baptism.
The day when this podcast is coming out is Friday, March 1st. This again is your last opportunity to put your name and email in for the book giveaway for Trent Horn’s book, Why We’re Catholic. It's easy to do if you go to our website All About My Catholic faith.com and you look on the right-hand column towards the top, you will see an area to put your email address and your name and also a comment or question if you like. In order to be entered for the drawing for Trent Horn’s book, please put your name and email address in there and in the message box just simply put Why We’re Catholic. Next week on Ash Wednesday, We will pick a winner for the book giveaway and we’ll announce that on the podcast next week on March 8th.
As I said earlier, Lent starts next week and in six more weeks, many, many people from around the world will enter the Catholic Church. If you know someone that is about to become Catholic and are looking for a gift, you can get a 15% discount off any All About My Catholic Faith products between now and March 5. Just go to shop.spreadshirt.com/twocjs and make sure to enter the discount code: GETU15. I’ll put a link in the show notes and our website, AllAboutMyCatholicFaith.com.
Please remember to go to Mass this week and every week and if you're not Catholic remember you are always invited to come to Mass at any time. The door is always open to everybody. Remember at Mass, the angels and Saints are all their present with all of the other believers.
If you know someone who wants to know more about the Catholic Church please tell me about this podcast series so they can also learn more about the Catholic Church.
I hope before next week that you will remember to say a prayer for me and I will keep you in my prayers every day during my rosary.
Next week we will talk about the Sacrament of Confirmation. Confirmation is the Sacrament in which the Holy Spirit will come into you in a very special way and will enable you to profess your faith as strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ.
So until next week God bless you and goodbye for now.