St. Mary's Anglican Catholic Church

Diocese of the Midwest

Question. Dost thou not think that thou art bound to believe, and to do, as they have promised for thee?

Answer. Yes, verily; and by God's help so I will. And I heartily thank our heavenly Father, that he hath called me to this state of salvation, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. And I pray unto God to give me his grace, that I may continue in the same unto my life's end.

The question all we who have received the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, whether as infants or as adults, must ask every day of our lives is, are we obliged to the vows that either we made, or that our parents and godparents made on our behalf, at our Baptism? Will we every day renounce the world, the flesh, and the devil; and will we hold fast the articles of the Faith and 
obey the His commandments? The response should be, as it is in the Church’s Catechism, a resounding yes, verily. After all, the vow was made before the face, that is, the presence, of Almighty God. We are from time to time required to take oaths or make promises in various secular contexts; and there are penalties of various sorts if the oaths we take or the promises we make to worldly entities prove false. Should we not take our obligations before God even more seriously? When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee. (Deuteronomy 23:21; see also St Matthew 5:33) To fail to honor these vows would be in effect to renounce our Baptism and all of the rights & privileges of the children of God altogether. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. (Habakkuk 2:3-4; Hebrews 10:38).

We may be tempted to ask, are we obliged to fulfill vows someone else has made for us before we had reached the “age of consent?” But every man or woman at some point in their life must respond to the call of God, whether they accept or reject the commitments made and the God-given privileges sealed in Holy Baptism. (St Mark 16:16) In the Baptismal Covenant God in fact only requires of us that we be true to ourselves; for all men, male and female, are created in the image of God; to enjoy fellowship with Him; and to reflect His character to the rest of Creation. (See especially Genesis 2:26-27; Wisdom 2:23; Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 14:49; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 6:15; Revelation 21:3; Ephesians 5:8; Colossians 3:10)

When we look honestly at ourselves, and at our this-worldly and at root self-centered priorities, we are right to ask, “Am I able live up to these obligations placed upon me by my Baptism?” Our Lord Jesus Christ made the extraordinary assertion: My yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (St Matthew 11:31) I expect most of us find these words ironic at times in the light of what we know to be our own weaknesses. But as St Paul wrote, we are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God. (2 Corinthians 3:5) Through the regeneration or new birth we receive in Baptism in the Name of the Lord, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, we can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth [us]. (Philippians 4:13; see also 2 Corinthians 12:9; Ephesians 3:16). For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. (1 St John 5:4)

In our day, our age of the cult of human autonomy, the concept of obligation to God or anyone or anything else is viewed as beneath our supposed dignity. Nevertheless, whether they acknowledge it or not, all mankind is obliged by its very nature to fear God and to keep His commandments. But our response to God and to what He salvation He has made available to us in Jesus Christ should be characterized less by a sense of obligation and more with heartfelt thanksgiving. Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. (Colossians 12-13; see also Romans 1:16; 1 St Peter 5:10)
In order to remain steadfast in our faith and new life in Christ, we must continually ask God’s help through the power of the Holy Spirit. As Christ said at the Last Supper concerning the gift of the Holy Ghost by whom He dwells with us and within us: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. (St John 16:23: see also St Matthew 7:7; Hebrews 4:16) We must also beware that we do not become entangled again in our former lives of darkness. (2 Peter 2: 20-21; St Matthew 12:45) As our Lord exhorts and encourages us from His heavenly glory: Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer… be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. (Revelation 2:10, 26; see also St Matthew 24:13; Hebrews 3:6; 10:39; St James 1:12)