“…this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you.” ~1 Peter 3:21
In recalling to his readers how Noah and his family were “saved through water,” the apostle Peter points us to Christian baptism that, in the same way, saves us. Peter’s clear, succint statement is astounding. For a lot of people, it’s scandalous. Peter tells us that baptism has a salvation function.
Paul draws the same conclusion as he looks back on the one foundational and identifying event for Israel: the exodus and the crossing of the Red Sea (1 Corinthians 10:1-4). He sees what happened in Exodus 14 as a baptism “into Moses” and compares it to our baptisms “into Christ” (Romans 6:3, Galatians 3:27). Paul wants us to understand our baptisms as a comparable moment of deliverance and redemption.
Baptism, just like the flood and the Red Sea crossing, is a saving event. Just as God saved Noah through cleansing the old world with water, so God saves us from our old lives through baptism. Just as God delivered Israel by using water to destroy their enemies, Pharaoh and his army, he delivers us by using water to eradicate our enemies of sin and death. Noah and Israel both pass through the waters into a new world, a new creation. Christians pass through the waters of baptism into a new world, eternal life with the Father through the death and resurrection of the Son.
It’s a divine gift. It’s a sacrament of God’s grace. It’s a salvation experience. In baptism our God redeems us, gives us a new identity, and frees us from slavery to sin and death. And it shapes who we are and how think and act as a people of God.
“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” ~Romans 6:4
What a marvelous joy to welcome into our home overnight Friday our great friends David and Olivia Nelson and their sons, Caleb and Seth. The Nelsons timed their furlough in the States from their missionary lives in Ukraine to coincide with the birth of Seth last month in Lubbock. David and Olivia figured one boy born in Kharkov in Hospital 17 was enough. So we were very blessed that they took a long, winding route from Lubbock to Fort Worth, through Amarillo, to spend almost 24 hours with us last weekend.
After answering several questions Friday night from servers and other customers at Blue Sky about David’s accent, we stayed up way too late passing Seth around, drinking egg nog and Dr Pepper (no kafir, David) and playing our favorite, Phase 10. Caleb entertained us the next morning by splashing through his pancake breakfast. And then we spent a good long while with our Father in prayer, thanking him for the awesome privilege of serving him in his Kingdom together on opposite ends of his world.
The Nelsons are in Fort Worth now for another month, reconnecting with the church family at Legacy, stocking up on picante sauce and Jello-O and other stuff they can’t get in Ukraine, and being reminded of how much they are truly love and appreciated and admired by everyone who knows them.
I praise our God for the ways he works through and with David and Olivia. I thank him for our rich friendship and partnership in the Gospel. And I acknowledge gratefully that I’m a much better Christian, a more faithful follower of our King, because I know them.