"All the great blessings of God are finished and complete, but they are not mine until I enter into relationship with Him on the basis of His covenant." ~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, p. 341
On Sunday as worship was beginning I was asked if I would read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 before Communion. I agreed to do read, but I also decided to take the opportunity to talk about Communion as Covenant Renewal. Afterwards, including last night at small group, I was not only thanked for my words, but was also told, "I had never heard that about communion."
I think we have tended to overlook Covenant when it comes to our relationship with God. This means that we have talked about "getting saved" or "having a personal relationship with God," but have missed out on why we can be secure in those things. Our security comes from the commitment that is founded on God's New Covenant that was ushered in through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
So if the security of our salvation as well as the promises and blessings that God has for us is found in a Covenantal relationship, then it is very important for us to ask: "How do I enter into a covenant relationship with God?" The fact that many people haven't heard that communion is a time of covenant relationship renewal means that many people have never heard how to enter into a covenant relationship with God.
Some time in the next week I want to write a post devoted to Covenant, but right now I want to throw out that it is through baptism that we enter into a Covenant Relationship. I will make the case for this later on, but for now I want to point out two very important passages.
The first is Matthew 28:18-20:
And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (ESV).
Regardless of your feelings on baptism we discover that according to Jesus baptism is part of the disciple making process. Jesus establishes baptism as the moment when people are set apart from the world in order that they may follow Jesus.
The second is Romans 6:1-4:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (ESV).
According to the apostle Paul it is through baptism that we are united with Jesus. It is the moment that we declare ourselves dead to sin and to the patterns of this world and discover that we now possess the life of Christ in our lives.
What I would invite you to do is to take some time and look at all the references to baptism in the New Testament, read the context of the passages, and identify the things of which baptism is a part. Things like being set apart as a disciple and being united with Christ. Perhaps that will lay the foundation of why I say that baptism is the way in which we enter into this great Covenant God has established with humankind.
To go along with my initial thoughts on baptism here is an essay by Greg Boyd that further explains my views on baptism: The Case for Believer's Baptism.