By Rev Dr Edward Goh
In Ephesians 1:18-20, Paul prays for the eyes of our hearts to be enlightened to see the greatness of God’s power at work within us, the same power that raised Christ from the dead. Paul explains in Ephesians 2:5-6 that this is the same power that raised us from our spiritual death and seated us with Christ in the heavenly places. How did all this happen?
Paul explains that this is by God’s doing (1 Cor. 1:30). God is the one who joined us to Christ. The agent who accomplished this mysterious and mighty work is the Holy Spirit. By His Spirit, we are baptised into Christ’s body (1 Cor. 12:13). This union is portrayed in Romans 6:4-5, where Paul says that just as we are buried and united with Christ through baptism into His death, we shall be raised with Him, united with Him in a resurrection like His. This baptism means not only did God wash away our sins, but He also gave us Christ’s life—the new life as His new creation inaugurated by His resurrection.
Hence, we are no longer bound to our past. God has created for us a future resting solely on His promises and power. Water baptism is therefore a sign and an announcement of the good news of our new position in Christ. This baptism brands us with the Name of our Triune God (Matt. 28:19). We become a part of Christ’s body (Eph. 1:23), members adopted into the Father’s family (Eph. 2:19), and built up into the temple of the Spirit (Eph. 2:21-22).
What does this mean for how we should live? As the Spirit’s baptism joins us to the universal body of Christ, water baptism serves as a gateway into the local membership of the church. It reminds us that God redeems us not just as individuals, but as a community.
Water baptism gives us a place in Christ’s body where pastors and teachers can nurture and equip us, and where brothers and sisters can correct and walk with us. We participate in the rituals of worship, word, and the sacraments, confessing our sins, and gathering around the Lord’s table to savour a foretaste of the glory to come. We look forward to the unimaginable gift of joy, peace and harmony in the new heaven and new earth.
This baptism, therefore, also announces that the time is at hand; the kingdom of God is here! It reminds us of who God’s word says we are. It calls us to live in the light of who we shall become and sends us out as ambassadors of this message of repentance and hope. What a means of grace Christ has instituted for us in our baptism!