Saturday, December 10, 2011

Baptism: Are You Ready To Die With Christ and Help Birth Him in Others This Christmas Season?

"Go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age," Matt. 28:19-20.
     Christ was born that man no more may die a famous hymn has told us.  In fact, Christ was born to die!  He was light that made its place in the darkness of this world that men could be made to see.  Jesus was not born to make us healthy and free from disease.  He was not born to make us happy in our circumstances.  He was not born to make our marriages better, our finances richer or our kids more obedient.  Simeon puts it beautifully in Luke 2, "Lord, now You are letting Your servant(Simeon) depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel."  Simeon could die now, having seen the salvation of His people in the face of the new born King, Jesus.
     Simeon died decades before Jesus' death on the cross and His glorious resurrection.  He prophesied Jesus' glorious work of salvation but could not partake in Jesus' glorious command of baptism.  That is something we have the wonderful opportunity to observe and partake in and one that we should pursue with all of our heart!  Baptism is a picture of our identification with Jesus and His death, burial and resurrection.  Paul gives us this illustration in Romans 6, "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ 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," 6:3-4.  This, to be sure, is explaining our spiritual baptism into Christ.  Yet we know that baptism, which means "immersion", is a beautiful picture of our identification of Christ's death, His burial as we descend under the waters and His resurrection as we are raised out of the water and into newness of life.  Baptism tells the world that we are no longer under its evil influence but that we have died to it and are alive in Jesus Christ and we are willing to be obedient to Him and His word, regardless of circumstance.  We know that what Jesus taught is true.  Death brings forth life.  A seed must die to birth its offspring and we must die to birth the new life of Christ.  Water baptism does not birth life but is a symbol that we have died to our life and been reborn into His.
     This is the teaching that Jesus commanded us to give to all the nations.  In the beginning of Matthew, the nations came to Jesus from the east bearing gifts and true worship.  Matthew ends his gospel with Jesus telling His disciples, and us, that we are to bring His gifts and true worship to the world.  Baptism is the seal of this understanding for each and every believer.  God bless you and learn, live and love the glorious gospel of our incarnate King!

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