Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Place of Baptism

Why get wet? What is the point of baptism? Is it just some formality that we are forced to go through because God said so? Sometimes we can be more spiritual than God. We can feel that only the spiritual things are important and that the physical is irrelevant. This is not God’s perspective. God created the physical world (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-3; Hebrews 11:3), and God plans to redeem and restore a physical creation (2 Corinthians 5:1-5; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28; Romans 8:18-23). So God cares about the physical world and physical actions. Therefore, what is the point of baptism?

Baptism in Scripture is the immediate response to saving faith (Acts 16:30-33; 10:43-48; 2:38-41). It is connected with the ultimate spiritual reality of being baptized into Christ and into His church (Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 12:13). Scripture says that circumcision was the sign and seal of faith (Romans 4:11). I am convinced the same thing applies to baptism. A seal involves stating we belong to God. A sign involves a declaration to those around of where we stand. By being baptized we are recognizing that we belong to Christ and are part of His body. This is important for us to recognize and understand.
There are various types of symbolism involved. It is connected to cleansing (Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Titus 3:5,6). It also pictures being identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-11; Colossians 3:1-3; Galatians 2:20). But this does not seem to be the main point. Rather, it is an outward confession of our faith. Now it is faith that saves (Romans 4:4,5; Ephesians 2:8,9; Luke 23:39-43). But baptism is closely connected as the outward expression of that faith. Today we have tended to separate the point of faith from baptism. Interestingly enough, we have invented other physical acts: walking an aisle, raising a hand, saying a prayer, to replace it. We want someway to outwardly express our decision to put our faith in Christ.

We need to remember that we are physical creatures. It is what God originally made us to be. And that being so,  I do not believe the physical and spiritual can be totally pried apart. That is why God, right from the beginning, gave His people physical things as reminders of His truth (Exodus 12:14; Joshua 4:6,7; Genesis 9:12- 17). Therefore, we should recognize how God has created us. And we should accept God’s physical gestures to declare to us and to those around us who we are and Who we belong to. 

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