Surfacing to the Spirit by Deon Crafford
Galatians 3:23-29 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
Baptism has always had its fair share of strife and controversy. Just recently a pastor was asked to resign his office, because he had the audacity to allow himself to undergo adult immersion baptism, as though this is not how all people were baptised in the New Testament. Why even in the Old Testament priests subjected themselves to rituals of ceremonial cleansing by immersing themselves in water. But somewhere along the expansion of the Christian faith across the world, the sacrament of baptism were changed in nature to what is called a covenant baptism – where the parents of a child have him/her sprinkled with water and where they promise to bring the child up in the ways of the Lord. The child has no choice, has never heard of Jesus Christ and is basically forced into this “covenant” with God. In our post-modernism times some people would want to see the parents prosecuted for violating the rights of the child to choice. Still others keep going on about that fact that baptism stands central to our salvation and some Scriptures even seem to support that e.g. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned (Mark 16:16). These believe that my salvation is not complete until I have been baptised through immersion. If that be the case then Jesus had it wrong when he proclaimed “teteletsai” meaning “it is finished”. Furthermore His resurrection would have seen His part in my salvation having been delivered, the rest now dependent on me. It simply is not true. Jesus Christ did it all.
Why then baptism? I believe it is a gift from God. It again underlines the fact that God entrusts us with a response towards Him. Even in all of our significantly sinful lives, He still grants us the opportunity of choice and response. Yes, it is true, Jesus finished all of my salvation, but God avails me choice and action to respond to Him. Baptism then becomes a final publicly witnessed act during which I confirm my relationship with God by symbolically identifying with the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is more than identifying actually, it is where I betroth myself to God to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death opens the door to my glorification in Christ. As Paul states in Galatians above, I have “put on Christ”. So it holds that if my salvation was dependent on baptism – which we have concluded is a response/action on my side – chances are 100% we would have messed that up too. Thank God then it isn’t.
Baptism is critical in my growth as a Christian and I am of the opinion – and some may disagree with me vehemently – that it is most meaningful when it follows a period of having accepted and served the Lord Jesus Christ. I do not believe that there is an appointed time to be baptised other than when one’s heart urges one to conclude this obedient and public act of betrothing one to Jesus Christ. It serves to reignite the passion for Jesus Christ, breaks open the heart for renewal, revival, regeneration and refreshing, and positions me for an intimate engagement with the Holy Spirit. Baptism then is burying the past that I dragged into this relationship secured by Jesus Christ, through immersion in water, and surfacing to an intimacy with the Holy Spirit, as a new life. This gift from God, to publicly choose and affirm Him, is incredibly valuable and shall be exercised with the greatest care and maturity, for it may just be the most important thing I will ever do in my life.
Love to all