Wineskins Archive

November 26, 2013

The Baptism of Transformation (Mar-Apr 2002)

Filed under: — @ 2:12 am and

By K Rex Butts

It was a strange town in a strange place with many unfamiliar faces of people who spoke a language I did not understand. Every night as I gazed out of my fifth floor hotel window into the streets of Belo Horizonte, Brazil I could not help but wonder how many of those strangers knew my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Did they know that God loves them? Did they know about the good news? Did they know that they are important to God? Did they realize that God cares about them? Would I ever see their many faces again? Is this the only opportunity that these people might ever have to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ? There are many people that I have passed by in my short life; I wonder how many of those people are living in Christ?

Just before his return to heaven, Jesus gave a commission to his followers to go and make more disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey. Jesus entrusted this task to his followers, telling them that he would be with them always. In scripture we have ample evidence that the earliest followers carried out this commission. The result was that the church grew and continued growing, crossing social, racial, religious and ethnic boundaries so that all who would believe in the Christ could be a part of this eternal kingdom. Two thousand years later, Christians are still carrying out this commission but some of us have struggled in fulfilling our mission. For one reason or another we have lost track of what it means to live in Christ and to live as Christ lived upon this world.

Perhaps we do not understand exactly what transpired in our lives when we were baptized into Christ. Many of us understand that it is upon being baptized into Christ that we have all of our sins forgiven and that the Lord himself adds us to his church. We also understand that in baptism we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. With thanks to God for using some wonderful teachers, we are starting to rediscover what it means to possess the indwelling Holy Spirit. I am not afraid of affirming those three blessings that occur in the Christ-uniting baptism. They are biblical and are needed as much today and tomorrow as they have been in the past. However, we must ask, is salvation, church membership and receiving the Holy Spirit all that occurs by being baptized into Christ?

Baptism is and should mean more to the Christian then just a passage into heaven. As sinners, when we were baptized we became united with Jesus Christ (Rom 6:3; Gal 3:27). Upon being united with Christ in baptism, we then received all blessings from God. God chose to redeem the world through his one and only Son. This is the grace of God. By faith, our trust in God, we obey word and encounter his gift of grace grace. It is the grace of God that is made known in Jesus Christ and it is this grace that teaches us how we should live in this world (Tit 2:11-12). Since we are united with Christ by the grace of God, what then does it mean to live as Christ?

By being united with Christ we then are living in Christ as he lives in us. Therefore our lives should change morally and ethically. If we will allow God to fully transform us from pagan sinners into faithful followers of his Son, we will experience the change that comes by being united with Christ. Yet we must be willing to live our daily lives as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God (Rom 12:1). As we are now one with Christ, we must make the choices and engage in the activities that please God. Since we have possession of the Spirit we should live according to the Spirit (Gal 5:25). So how do we learn what choices to make and activities to engage in? Let us make Jesus Christ as our model for all time. I acknowledge that such a decision is easier said than done. However, we must be living such a life as Christ lived displaying our devotion to Christ. By observing such a radical lifestyle, the world would know that we are people filled with love. Yet there is more to living in Christ then just being a people of good moral and ethical lifestyles.

To live in Christ and as Christ lived means that we must also be people who will faithfully engage in the mission of our Lord. Jesus himself stated right from scripture his mission by saying: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19). It is this very mission that Jesus asked his followers to carry on as he gave the authority for going into the whole world to preach the good news. In a contemporary Christian setting we must never forget the lost, which is exactly what we were at one time.

Since we are living as Christ we must regard no one from a worldly viewpoint. Therefore, we should no longer see people as Black, White, Hispanic, Indian, Asian, etc… Neither should any one of us see people as drug and alcohol addicts, prostitutes, criminals, or homeless people to be looked down upon. Instead let us see people as they are: loved by God. Every one of us should be humbled by the fact that this ministry is something that God has given to us (2 Cor 5:18).

Furthermore, we need to realize that in this world we all are ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor 5:20). Therefore, how each of us reacts to the world, whether we proclaim the good news or just ignore the world makes a statement as to how God views the world. The next time you run into someone who has been beaten down by life, regardless of who they are, what will you do? The next time you meet someone who just needs the loving touch of God, what will you do? Will you show them that God loves them or will you show them that God cares nothing about them?

Though it is a constant struggle to live as Christ, we shall press on as faithful witnesses in this ministry of reconciliation. Concerning such wonderful grace, Jesus reminds us, “Freely as you have received, freely give.”

No Comments »

RSS feed for comments on this post.TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

© 2022 Wineskins Archive