This Bears Repeating

Oswald Chambers just had a way of nailing it. So today’s post pays honor to his insight. From My Utmost for His Highest, June 23:

He is . . . a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief —Isaiah 53:3

We are not “acquainted with grief” in the same way our Lord was acquainted with it. We endure it and live through it, but we do not become intimate with it. At the beginning of our lives we do not bring ourselves to the point of dealing with the reality of sin. We look at life through the eyes of reason and say that if a person will control his instincts, and educate himself, he can produce a life that will slowly evolve into the life of God. But as we continue on through life, we find the presence of something which we have not yet taken into account, namely, sin— and it upsets all of our thinking and our plans. Sin has made the foundation of our thinking unpredictable, uncontrollable, and irrational.
We have to recognize that sin is a fact of life, not just a shortcoming. Sin is blatant mutiny against God, and either sin or God must die in my life. The New Testament brings us right down to this one issue— if sin rules in me, God’s life in me will be killed; if God rules in me, sin in me will be killed. There is nothing more fundamental than that. The culmination of sin was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and what was true in the history of God on earth will also be true in your history and in mine— that is, sin will kill the life of God in us. We must mentally bring ourselves to terms with this fact of sin. It is the only explanation why Jesus Christ came to earth, and it is the explanation of the grief and sorrow of life.

Into Christ Jesus

Why do we make such a big deal about the water?

Some dear new friends of ours were baptized in the Tennessee River today, a young couple both newly enthralled by God’s grace. It was a beautiful day. More like early fall than early June. They invited friends with kids and asked our pastor to do the ceremony. We gathered near a place where they could step just off the shore into hip deep water. I had glimpses of the Jordan River as I remember it from our study time there. I could picture them standing there. I enjoy baptisms and this one was extra special.

When Paul tells us so clearly that the action God completed in the wake of our faith is to place us into Christ Jesus (Romans 6.3), why do we quibble over whether sprinkling, effusion or immersion is more appropriate as a symbolic way of affirming our new relationship with Him? How wet we get has nothing to do with the nature of our new lives does it?

Surely it is about what it means to be in Christ rather than how much water was required to perform the ritual of baptism. The baptism that counts is the one accomplished by God when He puts us into Christ Jesus the living water. All the benefits of reconciliation and justification and being alive come from our position in Him. And in Him it’s not merely our heads or even our bodies that receive the washing of baptism. In the Living Water our entire beings are shocked awake permanently never to be the same again.

Oh I have my preference about the mode of water baptism. Yet even immersion fails to fully capture the radical nature of what it means to be thrust into the Living God. All the modes are good as far as the purpose they serve. But the point is what they represent, the real thing. The real thing is the new creation (Galatians 6.15).

That’s why I love baptisms.