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Baptism: a sign of unity?

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In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul mentions baptism as one of the unifying factors of the church.  He writes,

4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 

-Ephesians 4:4-7

When addressing the deeply divided church of Corinth, Paul calls on their baptism to unite them:

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

– 1 Cor. 12:13 (cf. also 1 Cor. 1:13-17)

In today’s church, we often see baptism as one of clearest signs of division in the church: infant baptism vs. believer’s baptism, with no room in the middle.  Yet we see that one of the functions baptism served in the early church was to unite the people of God.  All have been baptized in Christ, and as members of his body, we are to look to him.

Regardless of one’s view on infant or believer’s baptism, the baptism is into the name of Christ, something that all believers share in common.

Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice

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Happy Reformation Day!

In honor of Martin Luther nailing the “95 Theses” to the Wittenberg Castle 495 years ago, here is a hymn that we went through yesterday as a devotional in one of my classes.  This is a beautiful poem telling the story of redemption history.  He wrote this in 1524.

Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice

Dear Christians, one and all, rejoice,
With exultation springing,
And, with united heart and voice
And holy rapture singing,
Proclaim the wonders God hath done,
How His right arm the victory won;
Right dearly it hath cost Him.

Fast bound in Satan’s chains I lay,
Death brooded darkly o’er me,
Sin was my torment night and day,
In sin my mother bore me;
Yea, deep and deeper still I fell,
Life had become a living hell,
So firmly sin possessed me.

My own good works availed me naught,
No merit they attaining;
Free will against God’s judgment fought,
Dead to all good remaining.
My fears increased till sheer despair
Left naught but death to be my share;
The pangs of hell I suffered.

But God beheld my wretched state
Before the world’s foundation,
And, mindful of His mercies great,
He planned my soul’s salvation.
A father’s heart He turned to me,
Sought my redemption fervently:
He gave His dearest Treasure.

He spoke to His beloved Son:
‘Tis time to have compassion.
Then go, bright Jewel of My crown,
And bring to man salvation;
From sin and sorrow set him free,
Slay bitter death for him that he
May live with Thee forever.

This Son obeyed His Father’s will,
Was born of virgin mother,
And God’s good pleasure to fulfill,
He came to be my Brother.
No garb of pomp or power He wore,
A servant’s form, like mine, He bore,
To lead the devil captive.

To me He spake: Hold fast to Me,
I am thy Rock and Castle;
Thy Ransom I Myself will be,
For thee I strive and wrestle;
For I am with thee, I am thine,
And evermore thou shalt be Mine;
The Foe shall not divide us.

The Foe shall shed My precious blood,
Me of My life bereaving.
All this I suffer for thy good;
Be steadfast and believing.
Life shall from death the victory win,
My innocence shall bear thy sin;
So art thou blest forever.

Now to My Father I depart,
The Holy Spirit sending
And, heavenly wisdom to impart,
My help to thee extending.
He shall in trouble comfort thee,
Teach thee to know and follow Me,
And in all truth shall guide thee.

What I have done and taught, teach thou,
My ways forsake thou never;
So shall My kingdom flourish now
And God be praised forever.
Take heed lest men with base alloy
The heavenly treasure should destroy;
This counsel I bequeath thee.