Once we have been baptised we are to never quite dry off. We are meant to leave wet footprints behind us wherever we go.

‘In the legal world it’s possible to be found guilty of a crime by just being associated with someone while a crime is being committed. Such a person is found “guilty by association”. In being baptised Jesus was associating himself with mankind and with our sin. Later, when he died on the cross and paid for our sin, God then declared believers – followers of Christ – NOT guilty by association with Christ.’

John baptised in the River Jordan. In a sense those waters were teeming with the sins of mankind. John had baptised multitudes of converts there; their sins figuratively passing from them into the sea of God’s forgetfulness, just like the waters of the River Jordan end up in the Dead Sea.

Bob Gass

Source: The UCB Word For Today, 7/1/2016

A caterpillar goes through the process called ‘metamorphous’ before it becomes a butterfly. The word ‘metamorphous’ means a change of form; from one thing to another. Something similar happens when people become Christians; when they accept Jesus, commit their life to following him and receive the Holy Spirit. They go through a process like metamorphous, they become a new person; they are born again or born anew spiritually and they begin to live a transformed life.

Baptism is a sacrament instituted by Christ himself. According to the Anglican Book of Common Prayer baptism is: ‘An outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.’ In other words, baptism is a sign or symbol that represents our acceptance of God’s grace to us in Christ and God’s acceptance of us through Christ. The 16th century reformer, John Calvin, explained it like this: ‘Circumcision was for the Jews their first entry into the church, because it was a token to them by which they were assured of adoption as the people and household of God. (…) In a like manner, we also are consecrated to God through baptism, to be reckoned as his people.’

Baptism does not save us… Any teaching that says the gospel of salvation is Jesus plus (you need to do something else to get right with God) is Jesus minus because it takes away from Jesus; it suggests that trusting in Jesus is not sufficient and that we need to also do something else (and the something else might even be a good thing). Jesus plus is Jesus minus. Jesus plus you need to speak in tongues is Jesus minus. Jesus plus full immersion baptism is Jesus minus. Believers should get baptised because Jesus told us to do so, but baptism doesn’t save us. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ’s righteousness alone. To get right with God it’s not Jesus plus anything, it’s just Jesus.

R. Ian Seymour

I was adopted as a child, and although I was too young at the time to know what was happening, I took on a new name and a new identity and, legally, I was adopted and became a fully-fledged member of a new family. In a sense that is what happens at baptism: in the ceremonial act of baptism with the blessings and prayers and promises, the candidate takes on a new identity; they become a member of the universal church and they formally join the Christian family.

R. Ian Seymour

There is a school of thought that suggests circumcision was replaced by baptism in the New Testament but baptism is not a replacement so much as an advancement; an advancement in the grace of God so that Jews could be initiated into the Christian faith. You see, without the New Covenant sign of baptism there would have been no turning point for Old Covenant people and… ‘One might hesitatingly suggest that the fact that women could receive baptism as well and as easily as men has something to do with it – now there is a gospel liberty for women which the Old Covenant did not bestow.’

A while ago, when I was on holiday in the summer, my youngest daughter mistakenly thought that the sea was alive. We were sat on some rocks with our feet dangling in the water, watching the sun glistening on the sea, chatting and enjoying one of those precious moments in life. When I asked her why she thought that the sea was alive she came up with some rather plausible explanations:

  • Well, Daddy, the water is always moving, she said.
  • It’s teaming with life – plants; fish; mammals; crustaceans.
  • And, of course, water sustains life; everything needs water to live. Life produces life!
  • She went on… And if you leave a bucket of water outside in the sunlight life forms in it, so it must be alive!
  • And the best one she came up with (preaching to the preacher): But Daddy the Bible says there are ‘streams of living water.’ Actually that bit is true: Jesus said: If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ (By this Jesus meant the Holy Spirit who cleanses refreshes, satisfies and sustains us.)

Of course, water isn’t alive but in baptism water does symbolise life and yet is also symbolises death: Water is either poured on the head as a sign of being washed, cleansed free from sin, and beginning a new life with God – or candidates are baptised by full immersion: they go down under the water to show that their old life is buried or drowned in the water and they are raised to new life with Christ.

R. Ian Seymour