Thursday, June 18, 2009

6/19- United in Baptism

Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

6/19- United with Christ in Baptism

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29)

Calvin; Baptism also brings another benefit, for it shows us our mortification in Christ, and new life in him. Indeed (as the apostle says), “we have been baptized into his death,” “buried with him into death…that we may walk in newness of life” [Romans 6:3-4 p.]. By these words he not only exhorts us to follow Christ as if he had said that we are admonished through baptism to die to our desires by an example of Christ’s death, and
to be aroused to righteousness by the example of his resurrection. But he also takes hold of something far higher, namely, that through baptism Christ makes us sharers in his death, that we may be engrafted in it
[Romans 6:5, cf. Vg.]. And, just as the twig draws substance and nourishment from the root to which it is grafted, so those who receive baptism with right faith truly feel the effective working of Christ’s death
in the mortification of their flesh, together with the working of his resurrection in the vivification of the Spirit [Romans 6:8]. From this, Paul takes occasion for exhortation: if we are Christians, we ought to be dead to sin and alive to righteousness [Romans 6:11].

We are united with Christ. This was Calvin’s constant emphasis. We are engrafted into Him as a branch is into a vine. He is the engine and we are cars in the train- attached to and following Him. Baptism is a sign that we are one with Him. We have all been under the same water, with the symbol of dying to sin, and living to God. As water washes the leaves of a plant off and then waters the roots, so baptism washes our dirt away (so sin is gone- dead), and causes us to live. As we are one with Christ, then we are one with each other. It is because of this oneness- symbolized most visibly in baptism that there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. Baptism is a seal- an invisible brand on our foreheads- branding us for Christ. As children of God, we are heirs of God.
In our broken and divided world, we need to be united both with God and each other. Too often Christians have debated about baptism to the point of division- how old the candidate should be, who should be baptizing, how much water is used. But we miss the point. When baptism is debated in mean-spiritedness and divisiveness then we have missed the point of our oneness with Christ and each other.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for baptism that reminds us of our unity with you.

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