Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 12, 2013

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized 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. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,” Romans 6:1-8

Water is essential to life! Where there is water there is life and where there isn't water there is death. Where there is no water there is dirt and disease. Where there is no water there is desert.

Because of its obvious importance to life on earth, it employs a prominent place in the Bible.

At the beginning of the Creation the earth was nothing but water.

Jesus was baptized in the water of the Jordan River.

Jesus called His first disciples next to the water.

Jesus’ first miracle involved water – turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana.

For several of His preaching opportunities He spoke from a boat out on the water.

When Jesus was seeking to evangelize the woman at the well He referred to Himself as the life-giving water who would flow in her spirit so she would never thirst again!

Once when His disciples were in danger in a storm on the sea, Jesus WALKED to them ON the water!

The evidence of Jesus’ death on the cross was water separating from blood.

What water is to your body, Jesus is to your spirit!

Upon thinking about it God has always used water as a means of salvation and deliverance so it adds significance to the already important ritual of baptism – one of two Sacraments observed by Wesleyans.

The word Baptism is derived from the Greek word baptismos.  The verb in Greek is baptizo. It's meaning commonly is given as "to dip or to immerse".  I have seen people arguing over the proper mode of baptism based on this meaning. The word came into existence from the smithy of Greece. The primary meaning of the word implies a sudden change, which I believe, is the correct implication of the word.  It is explained as what happens when a hot iron is dipped in cold water.  The state of the material is changed drastically and permanently cast.  Those who are familiar with the old style smithy will understand this well. When a piece of iron is to be remolded into a tool such as axe, knife etc, it is first heated to near melting point and then put on the anvil and is shaped while the iron is red hot. In that condition it is dipped in cold water where it crystallizes and is permanently cast. It will then keep the shape and temper for a long time.

Baptism is the outward symbol of a significant change that has transpired in the heart of one who has become a believer in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Baptism itself does not make the change of heart but it testifies publicly to a private and personal inner transformation. Baptism could be compared to a wedding ring. Placing a wedding ring on your finger does not cause you to be married, but it symbolizes the marriage vows you have made. Baptism denotes the permanent nature of the spiritual commitment that was made at salvation.

Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. gives an interesting insight into the Greek verbs “bapto” and “baptizo” in a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be `dipped’ (bapto) into boiling water and then `baptized’ (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptizing the vegetable, produces a permanent change. When used in the New Testament, this word more often refers to our union and identification with Christ than to our water baptism.  For example: Mark 16:16. “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.” Christ is saying that mere intellectual assent is not enough. There must be a union with him, a real change, like the vegetable to the pickle!

Throughout history God has used water to bring significant and definitive changes. All of those were leading up to the symbolic act of Christian baptism. 

Baptism matters! Not just because of the water but because of the supernatural and eternal transformation it symbolizes!

Have you been baptized?