This is an elderly post I thought to put back up in lieu of a new one I’m currently working on. Enjoy.
I really wanted to put up a discussion on the pyramid scheme of Christian life, but it is a lesser discovery and needs more work anyway. Instead, it’s pressing on my mind that I should work out some discussion of baptism. The last year of studies, especially the last two months, have led me deeper in my understanding of the faith. Studying baptism alone has really worked me over. Romans 11:33
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Of first importance, I have to make a summary statement that I most hope will drive the point home.
Understand as much as you can of baptism and you understand the Gospel, its implications and God’s promises. And vice versa.
What baptism is not: Baptism isn’t just a public statement of a private arrangement with God. It’s not analogous to “coming out of the closet.” It is also not salvific, meaning it does not add to salvation nor, if not performed, does its lack take away from salvation. It is not analogous to applying a waterproof seal over a finished surface.
What baptism is: Baptism is God’s public claiming, through the administration of the church, of His people. In essence, He is saying “These are Mine, with all the rights, responsibilities, privileges and benefits of being members in My kingdom, being My children, being the brothers and sisters of My Son, soldiers in My army, priests in My church, My disciples, My emissaries and ambassadors, the bride of Christ.”
Baptism is identification with, declaration of, alignment with, ceremonial purification of, pledging of/to and accepting of.
I’m gonna lay off the details for this post. There’s SO MUCH I want to say but by way of introduction, here’s how to look at the whole thing in a nicely packaged imagery.
I have to thank Bill Shishko, who doesn’t even know me, for spending over 23 hours of lecturing to encapsulate masses of information most of which I never even considered, confirming much of what I suspected and tearing down presupposition after presupposition I was clinging to. I have a number of other thank-you mentions, but gotta start with the source for today’s illustration. In wanting to get this out today, I’m putting the Scripture off till the next post. I have backing for all of it, and want to treat that with care and accuracy. So without further…
Baptism is like a ring. One that signifies a continuing past, present and future for us. The ring image contains the already-not-yet idea of the kingdom, marriage supper of the Lamb and our perseverance. So I look at this from the perspective of what has happened in my life, what is progressing now and then what the final pieces are when all is finished.
A wedding ring that signifies union, unity, faithfulness, purity, separation, promise.
When we wear our baptism, we are reminded of our relationship with Christ. We are in Him. We have pledged to be faithful to Him in all our doings, for He is with us in all that we do. We are to maintain our purity, our intimacy belonging to Him. We wear our promise to belong to Him. We are ready to love our Lord and protect His name and die for it when the time comes.
An engagement ring that signifies dedication, chastity, honesty, purpose.
When we wear our baptism, we are reminded of our betrothal to Christ. We will be joined with Him. We have pledged to consummate our work and fidelity with a loving, committed union with Him. We have sworn to be intimate with none other than Christ and with expectation that our intimacy will be full, complete, thorough. We have taken on the duty of honesty so that every betrayal of our fidelity is to be brought to Him for our restoration. We are filled with a purpose of finishing the betrothal with finality.
A royal ring that is a seal that signifies status, responsibility, authority, sonship.
When we wear our baptism, we have aligned ourselves with a state that is above all others. We are representatives of that kingdom. We are under its laws and customs. Moreover, we are heirs of that kingdom, possessing it and sons of the greatest king in history. We have authority to proclaim the law and good will of the king and to seal, with His signet, the rulings of His kingdom. We are willing to die rather than betray the honor and worthiness of God’s kingdom and His name.
A class ring that is a memento of where we were, the infancy of our introduction to understanding, knowing and fearing God.
When we wear our baptism, we have a constant reminder of our studies, that we’ve graduated to a level above our pagan origin which knows not God’s law or Gospel and are partakers in the benefits of both of them. We know the Gospel, believe it and orient our lives to coincide with its implications. We’re reminded of our commencement, our apprehension of the truth, our conversion and entry into being disciples of our Master.
A trophy ring that is commemorative of our striving and warring, training and ultimate victory.
When we wear our baptism, we have the promise that the conflict of this age is going to come to an end. We know that it ultimately has already been won. We are shown the promises God has made regarding our election, preservation and the victory which progress through our lives. We’re minded of our team and the hard work together both in training and in combat which is aimed solely at glorifying the King, our Commander in Chief.