The Meaning of Baptism

I’ve been thinking a lot about baptism lately.  In part, because of the baptisms that will occur this Sunday (July 12), but also because I’m reading a book on the sacraments by Leonard Vander Zee called, Christ, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (IVP Academic, 2004). The longer I follow Jesus, the more important the sacraments become.  It wasn’t always that way for me.  I grew up in a tradition that viewed the Lord’s Supper as simply a memorial feast and baptism as a profession of faith.  Both views are right in regards to the Communion and baptism, but that’s not the whole story. “As the New Testament unfolds the meaning of baptism, it teaches us that baptism is a single celebration that conveys several layers of meaning.  It is at once a sign of the washing away of sin (Acts 2:28; 22:16), a sign of our union with Jesus’ death and resurrection (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12), a sign of the promise of the new birth in Christ (1 Pet. 3:21-22), a sign of the incorporation into the one, universal church (Eph. 4:5; 1 Cor. 1:13; 12:13), and a sign of the covenant and kingdom of God (Eph. 1:13; Col. 2:11) (“Affirming Baptism and Forming Faith” in the CRC Agenda for Synod, 2011).  All of these images come out when a person is baptized, making this ritual a powerful and moving event.  Whether it is an infant or an adult, God says to the baptized person, just like he said to Jesus on his own baptism: “You are my son/daughter, with you I am well pleased.”  I pray that whenever you witness a baptism, you will remember your own baptism, and feel God’s love.

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