In light of our 5 baptisms Sunday I thought I would share 7 ways watching a baptism can fuel your faith. These observations are from the great theologian, J.I. Packer’s book, Growing in Christ.
First, it was a gospel service, in which “the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith” (Rom. 1:16) was set forth in symbol, and God gave me a personal guarantee that through faith I might experience that power. As surely as I passed under the water then, so surely is the new life in Christ there for my asking now. So my baptism assures me that each day I may know more of supernatural deliverance from evil – guilt, doubt, fear, bitterness, hostility, misery, crippling habits, moral weakness, despairing loneliness (which is not the same as isolation, but is a reaction to it), and so on.
Second, my baptism was a marriage service, in which I was given away to Jesus my Lord to be his person, his covenant-partner, “for better, for worse” – but ultimately for the best (his best!), and forever. So my baptism reminds me whose I am and whom I must serve; who it is that stands pledged to love and cherish me, and share with me eternally all that he has; and what love and loyalty I owe in return.
Third, my baptism was a burial service, a funeral rite committing the man I was by nature, in Adam, to total destruction. “We were buried therefore with him [Christ] by baptism [that is, by the work of God revealed in baptism] … united with him in a death like his,” for “our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body [not just the physical organism, but also the disordered urges that stir it] might be destroyed [rendered powerless]” (Rom. 6:4-6). So my baptism calls upon me not to live “according to the flesh” [that is, self-deifying inclination], but always “by the Spirit [to] put to death the deeds of the body” (Rom. 8:12ff.).
Fourth, my baptism was an Easter festival, proclaiming both Jesus’ resurrection and mine in and with his. “In baptism … you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead” (Col. 2:12).
Through the indwelling Spirit I am truly risen already, though I must await Christ’s return for my raising to be physically complete. Meantime, my baptism requires me to show forth day by day the Christ-life which now courses through me, while at the same time confirming to me that a new and better body will be mine.
Fifth, my baptism was a birthday celebration: I might say, my official “new-birth-day,” for new birth is what co-resurrection with Christ effects. All birthdays are times for delight at life’s goodness, so my baptism should teach me constant joy at being spiritually alive in Christ.
Sixth, my baptism was an admission ceremony, bringing me into the family of God’s adopted children so that I might share the family life of worship, witness, and work for our Father’s glory. So my baptism should give me a sense of oneness, and a call to practical identification, with the people who are the real salt of the earth – those who belong to God’s church, and specially that segment of it with which I worship each Sunday.
Seventh, my baptism was a commissioning service, entering me upon a life wholly given to serve Christ and his cause. In his epitaph, written by himself, John Berridge, the eighteenth-century evangelical leader, called himself Christ’s errand-boy. That is what my baptism committed me to be.