||All of us stand in awe at the miracle of life. Consider the miracle of a viable, sentient human being, the result of the union of two cells–unknowing, without consciousness–resulting first in a happy, laughing baby, then in an innocent child beholding the world in wondering astonishment. The child matures, he is educated, becomes independent, develops a character, good or bad, as we judge these things. He experiences the triumphs and the joys and the sorrows that are the common experiences of us all.|
Yes, life is wonderful; it is awesome, it is a miracle. But in the ultimate sense, life is a tragedy. This is not to say that life from the cradle to the grave is totally depressing and sorrowful. Indeed, life often is good. It is tragic, however, in the sense that it is imperfect, and it carries within it the seeds of destruction, so that the wisdom and perspective that often crowns old age is marred by disease, pain, suffering, and ultimately death, and we come to know that the paths of glory lead but to the grave. And is that all there is? Having witnessed what life has to offer, and seeing that death stares him in the face, one might inquire plaintively, ‘Is that all there is?" Yes, indeed, that is all there is to life. Whatever has been good and decent, bad and evil, perishes. Man dies and is soon forgotten; this thought brings us up short: to know we are alive in the land of the dying, and realizing we are born to die. These are grim and depressing thoughts until we recognize that God who created life–the imperfect life we now have–is capable of creating a truly miraculous life–a perfect life, an unending life.
We’re introduced to the rite of baptism in the book of Matthew, when John the Baptist arrived on the scene to prepare the way of the Lord with his baptism of repentance, convincing the people of sin, the underlying purpose of the Mosaic law. Displaced by the apostolic baptism, Paul explains in Galatians 3. 26 - 29: Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise. Baptism is further tied directly to the doctrine of the resurrection. It is the way of our becoming joined to the body of Christ. Do you know that you were baptized into his death? By this act we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. . .if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin (Rom 6. 3 - 7). Scripture establishes the reason for and meaning of baptism and its essential character. So when we read in the Acts of the Apostles how Phillip preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. The Ethiopian eunuch, after Philip preached Christ from the scriptures (Isaiah 53), said simply, ‘here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized?’ Jesus Christ was born, lived, died and raised to a new and perfect life; a thing not done in a corner but seen by eyewitnesses. God has promised that He will do this for us. But He exacts some simple conditions, among which are faith–a faith that He will do that thing which He has promised, and a very simple thing–the performance of this act of baptism, though it may seem simple and trite. Perhaps if He had required some great deed, more people would obey Him. The simple things often confound us. Baptism is a humbling act; by it we acknowledge we are powerless to help ourselves. The imperfect being cannot make himself perfect. God must help us. But there is a deeper symbolism involved. We become related to Christ. We become the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For by being baptized into Christ, we have put on Christ. And if we are Christ’s, then are we Abraham’s seed and heir according to the promises made to him. Thus by baptism we, in symbol, die with Christ. And coming out of these waters we are, in symbol, raised with him, and become, in symbol, a new creature as he, in fact, did. Baptism is a foretelling in symbol of what will happen, in fact, to baptized believers. We will live, and die, and be raised again, with the hope of hearing those wonderful words of the Lord,
Well done, thou good and faithful servant,
Thou hast been faithful over a few things,
I will make thee ruler over many things.
Enter thou into the joys of thy Lord.