Water baptism is participation “in Christ.”According to the apostle Paul, baptism is a paradigm for the believer’s participation in the redemptive work of Christ. To be saved is to be “in Christ,” and the church is the “body of Christ” (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 4:12). In the teaching of Paul, baptism is an important motif for understanding Christ’s redemptive work. Paul’s audience was familiar with the rite of baptism since most of his hearers had been baptized. Therefore, the analogy between water baptism and being “in Christ” was significant in the early Christian community. In the baptism of John the Baptist, Christ took upon Himself the sins of humanity. Likewise, in water baptism the redeemed participate in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.
Last night I read a news item about an “academic exercise” at Florida State University where students were encouraged to write the name “Jesus” in large letters on a piece of paper and then throw it to the floor and stomp on it. One student refused and the incident has provoked outraged. Frankly, I read the news article and thought the so-called academic exercise to be just another stupid act of religious bigotry and went to bed.
A RESPONSIVE READING
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
I’ve been watching the coverage of the Papal Conclave. I find it amazing that the whole world is watching in anticipation. When the Church of God convenes in General Assembly, it’s not worthy of national coverage on CNN or FOX. The same can be said of other Pentecostal or Protestant churches. It seems that no one cares when Protestants elect a leader.
Five hundred years after the Reformation, the selection of a new Pope still matters to the world. And, whether we like it or not, it matters to Protestants and Pentecostals.
When I was a child, my brothers and I sometimes quarreled and fought. Dad would come in the room and sternly warn us, “Boys, you better stop fighting right now or I’ll have you on your knees hugging and kissing each other.” Many of our childhood brawls ended with us on our knees embracing each other. There are many examples of sibling rivalries throughout the Bible, beginning with the story of Cain and Abel. Sometimes sibling rivalry has developed into civil war.
As one of my theology professors used to say, “Words mean something.” What he was trying to teach is that we should be careful with the use of words, especially when we are trying to teach or proclaim the truth of the Gospel of Christ. Cases in point are a couple of popular sayings illustrated below:
It seems that the word religion has developed a negative connotation. One would think that to be religious means to be self-righteous, formal, and ritualistic, among others. In fact, religious means: manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality; devoted to religious beliefs or observances; or, to be scrupulously and conscientiously faithful.