More Thoughts on Baptism
While preaching the Gospel, we will sometimes ask people, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ?” Some may answer this way, “I have been baptized.” Strictly speaking, there is no direct relationship between “receiving salvation” through faith in the Lord and being baptized. We have been saved because we believe in Jesus Christ (the Saviour established by God), and not because of baptism. God prepared the bountiful grace of salvation for mankind, so that we may have eternal life through faith (John 3:16), be justified through faith (Romans 5:1), gain access into grace by faith (Romans 5:2), receive the Holy Spirit by faith (Galatians 3:14), and live by faith (Galatians 2:20). So true Christians are people who are of faith. (Galatians 3:9). The perception of most that being baptized means being saved probably comes from the baptism of infants by the Catholic church. Yet Christ clearly told us, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16) We exercise our faith so that we are granted the myriad blessings of God. Baptism is just a testimony of our faith in the Lord and entering into Him that is demonstrated through a ceremony.
Thank God! Today we have eight members being baptized. They are willing to proclaim that they have converted to the Lord and joined the Church of God through the testimony of baptism. Through the significance to us of the ceremony of baptism, this writer hopes once again to exhort everyone.
1. The ceremony of baptism is a testimony of discipleship in Christ, and was also instituted for the Church by the Lord. Regarding the great commission for the Heavenly Kingdom, Christ instructed the church to go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation (Mark 16:15-16), making disciples of all nations, and “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. (Matthew 28:19) This ceremony of baptism demonstrates man’s acceptance of and submission to the Gospel, signifying their determination to become disciples of Christ, being baptized into the name of Jesus Christ through the blessed name of the Holy Trinity, and so belonging to God and becoming a member of the Lord’s house.
2. Through baptism (total immersion into water and rising up from water), disciples clearly indicate their “entering into” the death and the life of Christ (dying and being resurrected with Christ through faith). Because of faith, we acknowledge this relationship, expressing our “unity” with Christ through baptism. On the one hand, as a consequence of our unity with Christ, we are dead to sin and are free from its bondage, because the deceased have been released from sin. On the other, because of our unity with the resurrected Christ who has overcome death, we are alive to God in Christ. We can see this important truth regarding baptism in Romans 6:1-11.
3. Baptism is but a fleeting incidence of testifying to entering into Christ. But being clothed with Christ and putting on the new self is a life lesson for disciples. “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:26-27) The will of God is to manifest His glory through the disciples of Christ. Our testimony for Christ during baptism is restricted to the presence of not more than a hundred or so people. Our testimony after our conversion though is that all whom we come into contact with will see our new life in Christ. So, the testimony of a Christian after his conversion and baptism is more important.
Therefore, since we have been saved by grace and were baptized into Christ and unite with Him, we must be mindful to bear witness faithfully for our Lord Jesus Christ all our lives. “For to live is Christ.” (Philippians 1:21)
By: Daniel To
Peace Evangelical Church of Richmond Vancouver
July 2, 2006