Today is Easter Sunday. This is a time when countless people, many of whom do not typically do so, go to church and think about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I hope that you are using this opportunity to “put in a good word for Jesus” as well as for our South Fork church family by inviting others to join you for our worship assemblies and other ministry activities.
In the sermon today we focus on the resurrection—the resurrection of Christ, the resurrection at the second coming of our Lord, and the resurrection we experience when we are born again of water and spirit (John 3:1-8). In this article, as well as in our sermon time today, I want to emphasize this last side of resurrection.
The apostle Paul affirms that in our baptism we experience a death to sin, a burial with Christ, and a resurrection to “a new life.” I have used a sermon title before, “Is there life after baptism?” I think for many of us the sole emphasis in baptism is on the salvation through Christ that this response of faith brings. However, as I will say in today’s message, if all we see in baptism is the moment of being saved, we have missed the incredible significance of what this death and resurrection means for our lives. This is emphasized in a wonderful book on baptism, Down in the River to Pray, by John Mark Hicks and Greg Taylor. This excerpt is an example.
“For Paul, baptism is a holy moment where transformation occurs in the life of the believer and leads to a transformed life. It is an event that unites us with the Christ-event. He points back to baptism in his letters when it seems his readers have forgotten their calling, have become divided, have slipped into antinomianism, or have elevated Jewish rituals over the grace of God. Baptism is a sign of a new ethical lifestyle grounded in the grace of God and lived out in the body of Christ, the community of faith.” (p. 85)
Paul says in Galatians 3:26-27, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” To the Corinthians he writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17) In each of these instances he goes on to say that this changes how we live.
And not only are we “baptized into Christ,” we are baptized into a community of fellow believers. That community is the church. “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (1 Cor. 12:12-13)
Clearly there is life after baptism. We are raised to live a new life; a faithful life; a serving life; a transformed and transforming life.