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Dearly Beloved,

Shot glasses, soft croutons & hot tubs. 

Without an understanding of the symbolism and meaning of certain Christian Ceremonies, observing communion and baptism taking place might seem like shot glasses, soft croutons & hot tubs in church. 

While all the Christian Ceremonies we celebrate in our church find their inspiration in the Bible, several of them find their origin in covenant.

Covenant is the deepest possible form of commitment and relationship. The Bible is the only historic faith literature in the world that depicts a deity offering a covenant relationship with people. God's gesture of covenant toward humanity is demonstrated most vividly in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. 

In Jesus, God says to humanity: I give myself to you completely, exclusively, and permanently, and He backs it up with His life. Those who follow Jesus enter into this covenant with God. And when we celebrate communion, as Pastor Clay wrote about last week, it is our covenant renewal ceremony. But how do we mark our decision to accept God's covenant offer to us to begin with? How do we indicate and demonstrate that we have entered into covenant with God?

This is where Water Baptism finds its place. 

In a similar way to the cross being God's covenant sign to us and others, Water Baptism demonstrates to God and others that we have given ourselves to Jesus completely, exclusively, and permanently, in covenant. 

It still may seem a little strange, when you think about it, to have a 'hot tub' built into our church stage and dunk people underwater as an act of Christian Ceremony. Perhaps I can share a few simple thoughts to help grow our understanding of the significance of Water Baptism: 

  • Baptism is an outward illustration of an inward reality. In other words, it is a visible expression of an invisible reality (covenant relationship). Similarly, a wedding ring is a visible illustration and sign of an invisible reality (covenant relationship)! 
  • The act of fully submerging someone under water depicts our decision to identify with the death and resurrection of Jesus (see the scripture today's blog concludes with!). 
  • In Greek, which is the language the New Testament was originally written in, the word baptizo is used for baptism and means to immerse or sink. 
  • Every baptism that occurred in the Bible (including Jesus') was by full immersion in water. The tradition of sprinkling babies with water as an act of baptism was not introduced by some church groups until 300 years after the Bible was written. 
  • Jesus provides an example for us by being baptised in water Himself. When He sends His followers to extend His mission (Matthew 28), He commissions us to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." The apostle Peter also affirms the importance of baptism when he said, "repent and be baptized, in the name of Jesus, for the forgiveness of your sins" (Acts 2.38). 
  • Although linked powerfully and importantly to salvation, baptism is not an ultimate pre-requisite for salvation. Consider how the thief on the cross was welcomed toward eternity with Christ by Jesus upon the cross without being baptised. That being said, why not be baptised? Imagine telling your fiancé you don't want to wear a wedding ring. 
  • Water Baptism is an act of 'going public' with your faith. When your church family witnesses your baptism it is an opportunity for them to celebrate the work of Jesus in your life. When friends who don't know Jesus yet witness your baptism, it is a compelling opportunity for the message of Jesus to be illustrated through your life to them! 

"We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection!"
Romans 6.4-5

Have you been baptised in water yet? 
Would you like to? 

Click here to let us know. We'll be happy to answer questions and begin working on plans to throw a party that will celebrate the work of Jesus in your life and your covenant relationship with Him! 

Pastor Mike