Baptized into the Lord’s Army

Painting by Francesco Trevisani

As a follow-up to a recent sermon on Acts 10,
here are a few additional thoughts on baptism and your family.

As a Roman centurion, Cornelius would have taken the military oath (sacramentum militare) which Rome required of all its new recruits. They took this sacrament in order to swear allegiance to Caesar and Imperial Rome. Roman soldiers did this by reciting vows and receiving a permanent mark, tattoo, or brand on their bodies.

When Peter commanded Cornelius and his household to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, he was using a military term. This is the same word Cornelius used when he said to Peter, “We are all here in the presence of God, to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.” So Peter commanded them to be baptized with water according to the command of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, when Cornelius received the sacrament of Christian baptism to become a Christian, something different took place than when he became a soldier. He and his household were initiated into Christ and the church by means of water baptism. They received on their bodies the sign and seal of God’s covenant promises for them — they received the mark of his commitment to them in Christ. By submitting to the sacrament of baptism, their confession of loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ was enacted and embodied. Rather than strive for Caesar’s gospel of peace, they  started serving under the true and better gospel of peace of Christ, who is the Lord of all.  

The same holds true for you and your children. Like Cornelius and his household, you all were baptized into Christ and initiated into the Lord’s army, the church militant (ecclesia militans) on earth. Your mission is to share the good news of grace and peace with others by your life, your deeds, and your words.

You are baptized Christians. 

So, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Endure hard things together as good soldiers of Christ Jesus. Take your share of rough treatment. 

Stay focused and don’t get distracted: No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, rather his aim is to please the One who enlisted him. 

Above all else, remember Jesus Christ raised from the dead. This will keep you oriented and centered on the things that matter most in the world.

Go! Fight the good fight of the faith, for the glory of God and the good of the world.

For more on Household Baptism according to the Scriptures click here.

Quellinus_Saint_Peter_baptizing_the_centurion_Cornelius