THE CHILDREN FOR CHRIST.
Baptized into Christ
'We who died to sin, shall we live any longer therein? Or are ye ignorant that all we, who were baptized into Christ Jesus, were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him, through a baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.'—Kom. vi. 3, 4.
'In Him ye are complete, having been buried with Him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with Him, through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.'—Col. ii. 10-12.
IN writing both to the Romans and the Colossians, Paul, in pleading with believers to live a life of separation from sin and the world—a life of holiness and liberty—uses their baptism into Christ as his great argument. He unfolds the spiritual meaning of baptism, as a union with Christ both in His death and His life, and shows how this is both the obligation and the possibility of a walk like Christ's in newness of life. Baptism is the symbol of the deep spiritual mystery z
of our perfect oneness with Christ; as it is understood and believed, it is the pledge of an abiding union and the ever-growing likeness to Him.
It is a matter of deep importance to remember that baptism brings and seals to an infant nothing less than to an adult. All the believing parent receives in the covenant and its seal, is by God meant and secured for the child too. For a double reason thus the parent needs continually to remember what God meant baptism to be. Without this he cannot educate the child into the possession of what God intended for it in its baptism. Without this he cannot live himself, in the power of his baptism, that life which alone can lead the baptized child to the blessing God has in store for him. Let us try and understand what, in the full light of the Holy Spirit's teaching, baptism really is.
The great lesson we are taught is, that in baptism the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are set forth. We know that baptism originally was by immersion. Scripture teaches us how the old world, in the time of Noah, had been destroyed and renewed again by a fearful baptism of water. The old nature, mankind in its sinfulness, had perished under the water. From the water a new and cleansed world had emerged; Noah the believer had been brought forth, as begotten again from the dead. Scripture teaches us how, at the birth of Israel, God's first-born son among the nations, that terrible baptism had not been wanting. Under Pharaoh's rule the Egyptians and the Israelites had been mixed up, very much one. In the Eed Sea, Pharaoh, the old man, had perished; out of the waters that were death to Egypt, Israel came forth as God's first-born, to sing the song of redemption. The Holy Ghost teaches us (1 Pet. iii. 20, and 1 Cor. x. 2) to regard the waters both of the flood and the Eed Sea as types of baptism and its spiritual meaning. As the Jew, at John's command, went in under the water, he not only thought of the water in its cleansing power. His life was so tainted by sin, that nothing but the giving up, the death of the old life, the reception of a new life, could really cleanse him. Going in under the water meant the drowning, the death of the old nature, the putting off of sin in confession and repentance; the coming up out of it, the profession and the hope of a new life.
John's baptism of water was but a preparation; Jesus Christ alone could give the true baptism,— the true deliverance from the old nature. But even He could not do this until He had Himself undergone His own baptism into death. In Him the two elements, the old and the new, which in the flood and the Eed Sea were represented by two separate parties—in Him they were united. The power of sin He bore in His own flesh—' Our old man was crucified with Him;' He descended into the great deep, where He had to cry, 'All Thy waves and Thy billows are gone over me; let not the waterflood overflow me' (Ps. xl. 69). It was this prospect that made Him say, 'I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it is accomplished.' And again, 'Can ye indeed drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?' This was Christ's baptism, a terrible reality—a baptism into death.
But this was only the one half. There was also 'the coming up out of the water,' the entrance on a new life, redeemed from destruction. That new life, typified in Noah and Israel, symbolized in John's baptism, now became a reality. Jesus was raised from the dead, in the power of a new victorious life that can die no more. 'We were buried with Him, through a baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised, we also might walk in newness of life.' 'Ye were buried with Him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised, through faith in the working of God who raised Him.' Baptism is, in the power of the Holy Spirit, our participation with Jesus Christ in the deepest and most mysterious experiences of His life; as our faith ever looks to, and rests on, and claims, and yields itself to the working of God who raised Him, we experience the power of His death and His life working in us; our life becomes conformable to His, that life of His which died and lives for evermore. Reckoning and knowing ourselves to be indeed dead unto sin and alive unto God in Christ, we have the power to walk in newness of life, we are made free from sin and live as the servants of God and of rigbteousness. And as often as the flesh suggests that we must sin, or tells us, with the Colossians, to seek our strength in carnal help and ordinances, God's Word reminds us of our strength: 'We have been baptized into Christ, into His death and into His life.'
What strong consolation this teaching of God's Word offers believing parents in bringing their children to baptism. The deeper our insight into the spiritual blessings which the sacrament seals, the more we shall value the grace which secures them to our infants. Our gratitude will be deeper; our sense of responsibility more solemn; our faith more stirred to effort; our whole life will be holier, as the appointed channel through which all this blessing is to be conveyed to the child. Yes, bebeving parent! thy life is the means of grace, the medium appointed and consecrated by God, through which the life of the Eisen One is to become the life of thy child. It is through thy life,—not thy teachings, or thy prayers, or thy beliefs, for these are but parts of thyself,—but through thy life, representing the sum of all thou art, and of the influences thou dost exercise upon thy child, that God would have him inherit the blessings his baptism into Christ have made his.
What an urgent call for the parent to live truly the life of a baptized one,—as one who has been made one plant with Christ in the likeness of His death and resurrection. Let no believing parent say or think that this truth, that this life, is too high for him. If he be a true believer, this Christ, who died but lives again, is his life, his blessedness. He cannot taste the true blessedness of the life of faith, he cannot praise or honour God aright, he cannot abide fully in Christ, but as he accepts Him fully in all He is and gives. Parents! I beseech you, make it your firm resolve to educate your children for nothing less than all their baptism offers them. Live to this end yourselves under its full power, as people who have been baptized into the death of Christ, with the flesh crucified, yourselves crucified to the world, made free from sin, bearing daily the cross and the dying of the Lord Jesus. Live as those who in baptism have been raised again by the faith in the working of God who raised Jesus. Let your faith claim all the power of His resurrection life; all that God wrought in Him, He will work in you (Eph. i. 20, ii. 6; 1 Pet. i. 21). Let the whole of your education be in this faith in the working of God to make true to your child all He promised in raising Jesus from the dead. Live as one baptized into the death and life of Christ, taking charge of a child who is partaker of the same baptism.
And make that baptism the starting-point of all his education. Lead him to Jesus, to whom he alone belongs. Lead him to the cross, to take it up and bear it in the love of Jesus. Help him, as sin and self come up, as the flesh and the world tempt, to practise the blessed self-denial which Jesus links with the cross. Guide him in that path of bright and loving obedience, where truest happiness is found. Speak to him of Jesus, the Risen One, as a living Friend, as the power of his new life. Long ere he can understand the theology of it, let the impressibility of his young heart have been won for Jesus and a life like His, devoted to His service. Pray for grace, that above everything you may be to your dear child the interpreter who teaches him to apprehend the wonderful baptism with which he has been baptized into Christ, the guide who leads and helps him to the full possession of all it gives.
O my God! with my whole heart I thank Thee for all the blessing and power that is secured to me by my having been baptized into Christ and into His death. And that my child is partaker of this baptism too. And that Thou hast set me apart as parent so to live as one baptized into Christ's death, that first my life, and later on my teaching too, may lead my child to know the blessed life in Christ which has been sealed to him.
O my Father! I humbly ask Thee to deliver me from all ignorance and unbelief concerning this wonderful baptism into Christ's death, and my fellowship in it. Enlighten my understanding, strengthen my will, and help my faith in Thy mighty working, that my own life may be in the full power and fellowship of the death and the resurrection of Jesus. As crucified to the world, as dead to sin in my Lord Jesus, I yield myself to walk in newness of life with Him.
1 ask Thy grace, O my God, that a baptism into the death of Christ, as it has been pledged in the water, may now come true to my child through the Holy Spirit in full power. May this be my one aim in education, to have the power of the cross, as it crucifies to the world, and lifts up unto God, revealed in those Thou hast given me. And may so the life of Christ be manifest in me and my home, to the glory of Thy holy name. Amen.