The believer’s baptism into the Lord Jesus is the completing moment of his/her commitment to Him and their announcing a definitive goodbye to and their triumph over “the world”. 1 The believer takes his/her peculiar place within a narrative—a narrative that includes his personal salvation but also includes God’s way of working with a human family he wishes to bless.
You understand it is more than a commitment to live in moral uprightness—it isn’t less that that, but it’s more. It is a rite of passage into another life, another world, a world that is created and shaped by the Holy Father. The faith-filled one being baptized is not claiming that she is morally superior to all those who are outside of Christ or that in committing to Jesus as Lord that she automatically is made morally superior. Nor has she entered a moral competition with “outsiders”. That’s not it at all.
The believer who is baptized into Christ becomes part of an unfolding divine drama and takes his stand within that unfolding and commits to living out his place within that Story, keeping in mind the Author’s purpose and plot.
There’s no going back! It’s a commitment to life in the Lord Jesus; it’s a commitment to the person and work and method of God’s redeeming work in the world as he brings his eternal and creative purpose to its fulfillment in a coming day; a fulfillment that’s exhibited at present solely in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ whose life and purpose is rehearsed in the life of the Church which by his indwelling Spirit he has made to be his Body.
A talented but tormented soul [surely he must have been] wrote a poem about Paul, that driven apostle of God who when asked why he was spending his life in ceaseless service for Jesus Christ said, “The love of Christ leaves me no choice.” The poet speaks about Paul and puts marvelous words in his mouth: 2
He who hath felt the Spirit of the Highest Cannot confound or doubt Him or deny Yes, with one voice, world, thou deniest Stand on that side—for on this am I ………………………………..
Yea, though they should strike him from his glory Blind and tormented, madden’d and alone Even on the cross he would maintain his story Yes, and in hell would whisper, I have known.
The poet has Paul saying: Come what may—there’s no going back! If the big round teeming world had one voice and its billions denied what I proclaim about God in Christ I’d say to that world, ‘Stand on that side—for on this (side) am I.’ And if it were to turn out that I suffered in shame, blind tortured, crucified I’d still tell my Story—yes! And even if I found myself in hell I’d whisper, ‘I have known!’
And where Paul would have gained such a life and made such a commitment? In Acts 22 he meets the once slain and now risen Lord Jesus who tells Paul what he is called to and when Ananias tells him, “Have yourself baptized and wash away your sins,” 3 Paul did just that. And in doing that in trust and commitment he chose union with the death of Christ that he might share in the resurrection of Christ and be the servant of Christ for the human family.
Tomorrow, millions of us will gather together and Supper with the living Lord and proclaim his future Return.
The Lord is risen!
- See this developed especially in Romans 6:1-12 when Paul responded to a perversion of the truth of the gospel that would have people choosing to live in sin and thinking they were pleasing God. Paul forbids such perverse thinking by focusing on the meaning and significance of the believer’s baptism that brings them into union with Christ and all he means. If baptized into Christ he wants to say, they have been baptized into the “sin-destroyer”. In being raised in union with the risen Christ they have severed ties with sin and are raised to live in newness of life [Romans 6:9-12]. The “world” the believer says “goodbye” to is not the planet or the human family. The “world” in a number of texts speaks of organized evil; it speaks of the re-visioning and restructuring of reality without God. It’s that world that the believer conquers through faith in Christ. 1 John 2:15-17; 5:4-5.
- F.W.H. Myers. An obviously troubled soul. I’m persuaded that the poem had autobiography in it though it was of a tragic nature rather than glorious.
- Acts 22:16, has the middle voice which says that the subject in some way contributes to the event.
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.