Full Bulletin Insert Series (to date)–>HERE
Earlier in our series we have seen that worship is a dialogue, a conversation between God and us. He initiates this conversation in the call to worship, and we respond in prayer and in praise. But when it comes to the sacrament of baptism, who is speaking in this part of the conversation? Are we speaking to God, or is God speaking to us? Another way to put the question is – what is baptism? Is it essentially a moment of our own “pledge of allegiance” to God? While we are called to respond to the grace of God with faith and gratitude, it is best for us to view the sacrament of baptism as a moment in worship where God is speaking to us. Specifically, God is making a promise. He is making the promise that just as water washes away dirt from the body, so Christ’s blood and Spirit wash our souls from all of the impurity of our sin. God has given us a visible sign of a spiritual, invisible reality. God knows that we are embodied creatures, and so He doesn’t just speak the promise of the gospel to us, He displays it in the sacrament of baptism.
Biblically, baptism is the moment of initiation into the Christian Church. While full communicant membership is held out to those who make a profession of faith (unless they are baptized as adults in which the baptism and profession often go together) baptism is the moment where an individual is set apart from all other people and strange religions, that they may belong wholly to God whose mark and sign they bear. To understand this fully, it is helpful for us to describe baptism as a sign and as a seal.
Baptism is a sign. And just like all signs, it points to something. If you were driving down the road hungry, and you saw a sign that advertised a hamburger, you wouldn’t pull over and eat the sign, you’d want the thing it was pointing to, the actual burger! Similarly, baptism itself does not save us. It points to that which does save us, the shed blood of Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit.
Baptism is a seal. A seal is something which is placed upon a document which authenticates its validity. A king would place his seal upon a letter, and this would be the visible proof that these were none other than the words of the king himself. So baptism is God’s seal placed upon us that, through faith, we need never doubt His promise that He will forgive our sins and give us eternal life by grace alone through Christ’s one sacrifice finished on the cross. Praise God for the grace of Christ signified and sealed to us in our baptism! We can whole heartedly trust that God has set His seal upon us and that we are His children!