Baptising two Christian believers yesterday has put me in mind of a story. A sailing vessel was at the point of shipwreck and the captain, in desperation, leaped into a boat with six or seven strong men and a timid girl. One by one the strong men lost their hold as the boat was turned over and over by the raging seas. Not a single one survived except the timid girl, the reason being that the captain had taken precaution to bind her with ropes to the prow of the boat. She drifted to shore and was finally rescued.
If I were to ask you what you think a Christian is, you may well answer along the lines of: someone who is a good moral person, one who loves his neighbour. Rearranging the letters in the word Christian we might arrive at a rather better and more helpful definition: “a (person) in Christ”. The waters of baptism, along with the more obvious pictures of dying and rising, and washing, symbolise this idea of being thoroughly “bound to” or “in” Christ. Going under the water it is as though you are of one piece with the water.
The story of the bible, except for the very opening pages, shows all mankind caught in a bind. The following verses illustrate that bind of human sinfulness:
“… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3 verse 23
“… the wages of sin is death” Romans 6 verse 23
The gospel is wonderful news for a bind of another kind, being roped to Christ in faith, keeps us forever secure from the raging seas of God’s righteous judgment against the sinfulness of humanity.