30th March 2013

We Are A New Creation

“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift … for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
Ephesians 4:7, 12-13 (NKJV UK)

In looking at the foundational doctrines, many find one of  the items that Paul mentions in his list of fundamentals difficult. He says: “not laying again the foundation of…the doctrine of baptisms…” (Hebrews 6:1-2).

Most churches have as foundational in the acceptance of a new Christian, the concept of baptism. However it’s done, by sprinkling or immersion, it’s a once-and-for all ceremony. Yet here it is spoken of in the plural, “baptisms”. Does that mean that we should be baptised more than once?

Peter expands our understanding back at the beginnings of the church, following his first sermon. The people were convicted: “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘what shall we do?’” (Acts 2:37).  Verse 38 answers, “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

So, following what we saw previously, repentance and belief in the name of Jesus Christ is now inextricably bound up with the sacrament of baptism. Baptism becomes the symbol of our commitment and acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice for our personal sins. It too has to be foundational, because our acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice, and our belief in the power of his sacrifice, must become personal, and it marks the beginning of our Christian life. We are baptised with water, and then we are baptised by God with his Holy Spirit: one baptism in two parts. Water baptism is our first response to what God has done. It’s more than that, it is our participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ: “Do you not know that as many of us as were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4). So we “die” in baptism, and we are “resurrected” in the Spirit, to go on to live the Christian life on a daily basis towards the perfection God desires from us.

Heavenly Father, our commitment to you and our faith in Jesus are shown in our willingness to be baptised in water. You, in return, baptise us with the Holy Spirit to enable us to begin to live the Christian life. Once again, you have done everything for us, and we can only worship in humble wonder at your munificence. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by John Stettaford

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