What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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 6:1-4
Sunday past, the Christian church celebrated the first Sunday after the Epiphany. What is Epiphany? Epiphany simply means “manifestation”, which is the state of being revealed or displayed.
The Feast of Epiphany commemorates the visit of the Magi, or wise men, to the Christ child. They were the first Gentiles, or non-Jewish people, to see the Christ child.
The Feast of Epiphany begins on January 6 each year. Thursday, January 6 was the epiphany of our Lord.
During this Sunday, the first Sunday after the Epiphany, we commemorate the baptism of our Lord. Jesus went to the Jordan River and was baptized in the river by John the Baptist.
What is baptism?
First, baptism is the applying of water by immersing, washing, pouring, and the likes. Baptism is not just plain water but it is the water included in God’s command and combined with God’s word.
Which is that word of God?
Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Matthew: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
What benefits does baptism give?
According to Luther’s Small Catechism, “It gives the forgiveness of sins, redeems from death and the Devil, gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, just as God’s words and promises declare.”
Which are these words and promises of God?
Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Mark: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
Baptism gives Christians a new life. It identifies us as belonging to the Lord. When we belong to the Lord, we are called to act as children of the Lord.
We should not live like children without hope. Unfortunately, there are many who believe that baptism frees them to live as they please. Instead of living out their baptismal faith, they live the same life which the people outside of the church live.
Consequently, there is no difference between their lives and that of the secular world. In the text, the apostle asks the question, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” In other words, shall we continue to test God to see how much He loves us?
In the waters of baptism, we are recreated, we are mortified, we die. St. Paul tells us in the text: “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.”
In Christ, we die to the former life and rise a new creature. This new life that baptism gives to us in Christ changes our future in this world and the world to come. Through the glory of God, the Father, we can live a new life.
The apostle tells us that our old self is changed. We take on a new image, a new way of doing things. Even though we are tempted daily, we have a way out because we are no longer slaves to sin. We now have options out of sin. Jesus, through the spirit, guides and sustains us in faith. Amen.
• Reverend Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at the Lutheran Church of Nassau, 119 John F. Kennedy Dr can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; or telephone 426-9084; E-mail: email@example.com; website: www.nassaulutheranchurch.org.