Galatians 3: As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
I arrived in Moscow just after finishing a PhD dissertation on baptism. Shortly after we moved here, I was called as an expert witness in a Presbytery trial that centered on baptism. When I got home from that trial, Patch Blakey met me at the airport to tell me that a pipe had frozen and my basement was flooded with water.
My motto during my doctoral work was a line from Tertullian, Numquam sine aqua Christus, Christ is never without water. That’s been my life in Moscow: Nunquam sine aqua vita mea – apart from the all too frequent times when the well ran dry.
I’ve performed a lot of baptisms (I have 68 baptismal meditations on my blog), and have often taught about it. I’ve said many things, but it all boils down to a simple message: God means what He says, and we should believe it.
And what does He say?
Don’t you know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ has been baptized into His death? As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Such were some of you, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Israel was baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. Baptism now saves you. He saved us according to His mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit. By one Spirit, we have been all baptized into one body. Repent and be baptized for the remission of your sins. Draw near, with your heart sprinkled clean from dead works and your bodies washed with pure water.
He says all that, and He means it. We should believe that we died to sin in baptism, that our sins are washed, that we are cleansed and qualified as priests to draw near, that the Father by the Spirit has given us new life in the body of His Son. I know you trust these promises for Magdalen as she receives the Triune name and is incorporated into Christ’s body.
Given our circumstances, though, I want to emphasize that this is also a moment for your whole family to be renewed in your baptisms. You’ve both been vital to Trinity’s success already, but as you take on an even more prominent role, everyone will watch to see how you and your family live out of your baptism. Living out your baptism will be one of your most important ministries.
I know you believe this, because it is evident that you order your lives, and your family, around these promises. Continue with your children to live confident, thankful, joyous, self-sacrificing lives, knowing that Jesus the Crucified has set His name on you and your children, and claimed all of you as His own.