Baptism Letter: June 3rd
Dear Baptized Ones,
During the month of June, we will have the privilege of witnessing several baptisms. Each baptism will remind us that the forgiveness we have all received from God is not a trick of the mind but a vivid reality; we really need to be cleansed of our sin, we really need to be raised to new life, and God really has done these things and we really are united to Jesus by faith alone through grace alone.
This is to say that the main thing about baptism is that it is a sign and seal of God’s work of redemption for us; it helps us to appreciate the reality of it, grow in our understanding of it, and persevere in obedience to Jesus the more we come to see His love for us. We need this witness of God’s favor to us because we are forgetful and often tempted to doubt the truth of the Gospel. Like the Israelites of Malachi’s day, we sometimes question God’s love, justice, and provision. Like them, we sometimes treat the things of God lightly. And like them, we need to know that God loves us despite our failures. In baptism, we have a clear and visible sign that the indicative spoken over God’s people, “I have loved you,” is not an empty phrase but an active, meaningful and unalterable truth.
John Calvin captures this idea well in the Institutes of the Christian Religion:
“We must realize that whenever we are baptized, we are washed and purified for the whole of life. Each time we sin we must remember that we were baptized for the forgiveness of sins. The purity of Christ is always effective and cannot be wiped out by our failure. Of course we must not assume that this is a license for future sin; [instead] it is a tremendous consolation for those who are under deep conviction of sin, to keep them from despair….True believers when troubled by sin can always remember their baptism, and so be assured of eternal washing in the blood of Christ.”
Let us pray and rejoice to see those who are baptized come to participate in this gloriously comforting reality. Let us use the occasion to improve upon our own baptisms by thinking over the same meaning it has for us and resolving because of it to run toward the Savior in all the moments of joy, disappointment, doubt, comfort and sorrow that we experience. God is so good to remind and confirm for us His love and our salvation in the seemingly ordinary element of baptism. May He help all of us to see the extraordinary, supernatural reality behind it.