Baptism, The Wedding Ring of the Saved
Text: Ephesians 5: 30-32; Genesis 17; Romans 2:28,29; Colossians 2: 11,12
Proposition: As the covenant that God makes with man is of great importance so also is the sign of that covenant.
Introduction: I remember the many times I have been privileged to perform a wedding service. After the exchange of the wedding vows to each other, there comes a part in the ceremony where the Bride and Groom give each other a wedding ring. The preamble to that part of the wedding service sounds like this, “Wedding rings are an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual truths. As they are worn, they symbolize to others your union of marriage. The rings in no way become the force that unites, for that is a matter between your two hearts.” What I mean by that is though the wedding ring is not what binds them together it is at the same time a very important sign that something has taken place in both their lives. It points to an inward and spiritual truth that they are now one with this other person. So the ring in and of itself is just a simple ring, but what it symbolizes to the whole of creation is that you belong to another. This promise or covenant we make with each other is a picture or type of the greater promise God makes with us. In fact every wedding in its symbolic intent has this design in it, that though its immediate context is a man and a woman in a marriage ceremony it is proclaiming to the heavens something much, much greater. In Ephesians 5: 30-32 Paul writes, “For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” The great covenant that God makes with us is to bind us together with Christ by grace through faith that we would be one with Him in righteousness and everlasting life. That covenant God seals with His Holy Spirit and then puts a sign upon our faith in Christ, the sign of baptism. It is a sign that says to all of creation that we belong to another. By grace through faith in Him we belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. We are made part of the church, the bride of Christ. That sign of Baptism… it’s the wedding ring that proclaims Salvation in Christ.
I. The Covenants’ Sign, From One Symbol to Another.
Where did this all come from? It began when God instituted a previous covenant sign. In Genesis 17 God commanded Abraham to take all the male children and adults and even the males who had been bought as slaves and have them circumcised. It was such an urgent command that before the day was out Abraham himself and his son whom he begot through Hagar, Ishmael, now 13 years old, and all the males under his care, all were circumcised that same day. It was not an option, if the sign of circumcision was not there then neither was the covenant of God in effect with that person. It was not the surgical procedure of circumcision that God was seeking from these people, it was the heart of faith that believed God would save them as a nation and that this marked them as belonging to that nation and to Him. Over a thousand years later Paul writes in Romans 2:28,29, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter, whose praise is not from men but from God.”
I’m not sure why God chose this sign of circumcision, a sign only able to be applied to the males. Was it signifying their headship and that those under that headship were also included in the covenant? Was God cueing us to the importance of a man being the head of the home, a grave and demanding responsibility? Was God perhaps pointing to the way that sin is imparted from conception on and that marking His people in this way confronted the transmission of sin with the transmission of God’s sovereign grace and covenant? In Col 2:11,12 Paul writes, “ and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” In other words Paul says that the sign of God’s covenant for those who have by faith believed in Jesus Christ is now the sign of Baptism. Every baptism seeks to do exactly that, to proclaim that by faith I now belong to Jesus. It is just as serious a sign, just as strong an order or command, just as significant a symbol as a wedding ring.
II. The Signs’ Significance.
The image of baptism in the Scripture has always been that of a person being immersed in water. The very word, ‘baptize’ means to dip or immerse. The significance for a Christian is that it proclaims what Christ has done.
Baptism proclaims three things:
- It proclaims the truth that Jesus died to pay for our sin.
- It proclaims the way that Christ was then buried.
- It proclaims the way Jesus was then raised from the dead in a newness of life.
The raising up out of the waters of baptism symbolizes the way that God has placed new life in me because of my faith in Jesus Christ. That moment I believed in Christ as my Savior, my God, my Lord, He placed the living presence of the Holy Spirit as a seal in me. The old me is now reckoned dead to the power of my sin nature, we now are no longer slaves to sin but have the power to recognize it and overcome it.
Baptism is a public proclamation even as a wedding is. It is a great declaration of faith . Publicly it proclaims my faith in Jesus and my belonging to this great covenant of God where “the two shall become one”, it pictures the great, great wonder of Christ and His bride, the church.
“Baptism is the wedding ring of our salvation in Christ, an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual truth. It is an obedience that proclaims to others our union with Christ. Baptism is both a covenantal sign and a picture of the force that unites us to Christ. It is His life, for ours, His cross for us and His great, great love for you which nothing, absolutely nothing can ever separate you from.