Life after Baptism

 

Last month, we had eight brothers and sisters indicate that they are uniting with the Lord, becoming one with Him and testifying for Jesus Christ through the ceremony of Baptism. We should praise and thank God for them and pray that God will sustain their growth in the Lord.

 

Baptism is a milestone in the spiritual journey of a reborn and saved Christian, just as the River Jordan was the watershed between life in the wilderness and life in Canaan for the Israelites. After crossing over the River Jordan, their life of wandering in the wilderness was officially at an end, and their life of abundance in Canaan immediately commenced. From the life of the Israelites after they traversed the River Jordan on dry land behind the Ark of the Covenant, we can observe several lessons for Christians after they believed and have been baptized.

 

1.    Setting up stones after crossing the river (Joshua 4:1-9) – God ordered the people to gather 12 stones from the middle of the River Jordan and set them up in Gilgal, as a memorial of the Lord leading them across the river and a witness to later generations. To Christians, baptism is an important milestone in our spiritual journey, and we should brand this moment of testimony into our memories. Christians only need to be baptized once. The ceremony represents our resolve to be united with Christ, become a living rock that is filled with the Holy Spirit, and be built up in the Lord together with other believers into the temple of the Spirit.

 

2.    Performing circumcision (Joshua 5:2-9) – After crossing the river, the Israelites performed the ceremony of circumcision at Gilgal. This was to affirm their obedience to the laws of God, steadfastly uphold the covenant their ancestors made with the Lord, and also indicate their resolve to cut off the shame of Egypt and their irreverent lifestyles. After being baptized, Christians should resolve as well to abandon all worldly values and behaviors that favour the flesh, determine to give up the evil deeds and bad habits that displease God, and abhor sin because of fear of the Lord.

 

3.    Celebrating the Passover (Joshua 5:10-11) – After crossing the river, the Israelites celebrated Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at Gilgal. This was their first keeping of the feast after leaving Egypt, and was in remembrance of the grace of God that saved them from Egypt. Baptized members attend the Breaking of Bread service to remember the great grace of salvation of Jesus Christ. This service was established by the Lord Himself. Unleavened bread represents His unblemished body that was broken apart for us so as to supply life. The grape juice in the cup represents the new covenant that He made with us in blood. Of the many gatherings in the church, the Breaking of Bread service is the most important, for we should constantly remember the Lord together with our brothers and sisters.

 

4.    The stopping of manna (Joshua 5:12) – After the Israelites crossed the river, God stopped supplying them with manna for food. They began to eat the produce of the land of Canaan. The life of a Christian needs to grow by reading the Bible every day in order to receive the word of God. To a new believer, manna is like the teachings of pastors and spiritual books that are easy to be absorbed. God wishes that our spiritual lives will grow and we will no longer be babies that are solely reliant on milk fed by others. God hopes that we will consume solid food and directly receive His word ourselves. After baptism, Christians should learn to receive God’s word through the assistance of the Holy Spirit and seek understanding. Then, we will come to know the wonder and bounty of the word of God.

 

5.    God as the commander (Joshua 5:13-15) – The Israelites had to prepare for battle after crossing the Jordan. At that time, Joshua saw the commander of God’s army. He had come to lead the people into battle and help them capture all of the land of Canaan. After baptism, Christians should continue to exalt the life of the commander of the grace of salvation, follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and live a triumphant life. God is our strength and support. The enemy may be as powerful as the seven tribes of Canaan, but if we remain bold in the Lord, don the full armour bestowed by God, and work according to the Holy Spirit, then we will triumph against Satan.

 

For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord.” (Romans 14:7-8)

 

By: Daniel To