If you were to train someone for the Olympics or for a career where would you begin? Perhaps you might suggest an exercise or educational program. Training in practical skills and growth in knowledge are important and that’s often where people begin in our individualistic society. However, God seems to begin somewhere else.
In the Old Testament God always began with calling people to Himself. God birthed people in the beginning and called them into His likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). God called Abram (Genesis 12)and entered into a covenant of circumcision (Genesis 17) to mark the formal beginning of their relationship. This also marked the beginning for every person born into the nation of Israel. Circumcision reminded people of who they were and who they belonged to.
In the New Testament Jesus own entry into the people of Israel was also marked by circumcision as a young child, but the beginning of his ministry was defined by baptism (Matthew 3:13-17). This was far more than the water baptism of John (Matthew 3). Jesus’ baptism was a physical action (washing in water) by which God came as Spirit and then as the Father’s voice to declare Jesus as God’s Son:
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Although there is no specific age or time defined by the Bible when baptism ought to occur, baptism is understood as the first act of God equipping someone for ministry. It’s hard to do anything if you don’t know who you are and who you belong to.
Paul made this very clear in Romans 6:
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
It’s also interesting that Great Commission given by Christ to His disciples begins with baptism (Matthew 28):
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
In the case of young children, baptism will precede instruction in the faith whereas for adults, basic instruction in the faith ought to precede baptism. Even so, the movement even in adult baptism is always towards baptism: that rite of initiation by which God publicly declares who we are and who we belong to and why: buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father.
So the most basic equipping you and I can do every day is to remember our baptism. In the morning you can do this by going to the bathroom sink, running the water and washing your face saying, “In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.” And as you prepare to head to bed do this again.
You are God’s forgiven and redeemed child and knowing who you are and who you belong to is like putting on the most basic armor of God: assured that you are forgiven, have life and salvation.
Go in peace…
– Pastor Tim