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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Point of Demarcation

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

Holy Baptism is active being “into identification with” and is a point of demarcation for the new disciple. The effect upon an baptized person is a grounding for future spiritual development (Matt 28:19, 20).

Paul uses baptism in reasoning with the Romans concerning abuse of grace by continuing a sinful lifestyle (Rom 5:20– 6: 5). The Apostle reminds them of the nature of their faith as expressed in their baptism.  Their baptism was a confession of faith that marks a dead to the old man and the life of the new man. Through Christ’s work they are to regard themselves as dead to the lifestyle and principle of sin and alive to God and God's service (Rom 6:6–16). Their lives are changed by thus being oriented and identified.

Baptism embodies the attitude of the committed disciple’s life (Matt 10:38, 39; Rom 6:3–5). As discipleship has definiteness about it, so has the act of baptism. Baptism, as a simple and definite act, is a fitting point of departure to begin life as a disciple. For the attitude of loss of the old identity and the dedication towards a new one is acted out visibly (Luke 9:23–25). The new life is committed to service, stewardship, making disciples, thankfulness, kindness, generosity, and worship.

Further, in the baptismal formula of the Great Commission (Matt 28:19), the candidate is “identified” with all that the Triune God stands for, that is, His Name  (Gen 11: 4; Isa 9: 6, 7; Matt 1:21). Baptism then is identification with the name of the Trinity. Our trinitarian faith is not negotiable. It becomes a part of our new being as a disciple.

Christ commands us to be baptized into identification or union with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the Trinity was made manifest at Jesus' baptism in the River Jordan.

Related reading: On Holy Baptism and Discipleship; Thanksgiving Prayers