I don’t know about you, but the last couple of lessons from 1st John have been running through my mind. As a Christian, to grasp the ”love the Father has bestowed (NIV, lavished) on us, that we should be called children of God” (1st John 3:1) can be truly life changing. The fact that this love, given to us through Christ’s sufficient work on the cross, can enable us “to have boldness in the day of judgment” (1st John 4:17), casting “out fear” regarding His return, is equally comforting. Those who are in Christ should walk with confidence and hope because of Christ’s amazing redemptive work.
We know that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16), opening the opportunity for sinful mankind to benefit from that perfect love. The question is, “When does sinful man begin to reap the benefits of God’s love so he can walk in that confidence and hope?” It would seem reasonable that God would establish a point where man could reflect and remind him or her self when they became a child of God. Consider the following verse which most will be familiar with.
There is also an antitype which now saves us – baptism (not the
removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good
conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ…
1st Peter 3:21
The role of baptism in God’s redemptive plan has been a point of contention in the religious world. Some religious groups make it more symbolic and thus, empty it of any real significance. Sadly, others elevate it so much that it blurs the work of the cross, something I have been guilty of in times past. But extremes cannot negate the true nature of this act of genuine belief. Peter makes it clear, baptism is fundamentally important to salvation! It is, as the bible clearly teaches, the moment in time when we are “buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12). In this seemingly simple act of faith, we connect with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and reckon ourselves “to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:11). With a heart sensitive to one’s sinful past, the believer seeks change (repentance) and is “baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). There is a point of reference clearly revealed in God’s word that shows us when sinful man can know confidently that he or she is His child, purchased by the blood of His Son and our Savior.
One may ask the question, “Does baptism save sinners?” The verse in 1st Peter mentioned above is a verse where one would go to, to answer that question with an emphatic yes. In times past, I would seek to empathize the act of baptism, but not anymore. You see, although baptism is essential to salvation, it is not more essential than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There can be no confidence and hope without Jesus!