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4 & 5 November 2023 (Pastoral Page) BAPTISM & TRANSFER OF MEMBERSHIP

Updated: Nov 4, 2023

By Dn Elaine Ng

This weekend, we will witness the baptism of 11 brothers and sisters (3 ES, 8 CM). Let us rejoice with them as they publicly testify that they are followers of Jesus Christ. Under our Church Constitution, the 11 of them will automatically become members of our church. Let us also welcome them and 4 others (2 ES, 2CM) who have successfully applied for transfer of membership into our Church. May we be encouraged by their testimonies and also their desire to obey Christ's command for believers to be baptised.

During this weekend's baptismal services, you will hear these words of Jesus, comprising a command and a promise offered to us all:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20).

It is in obedience to this command that our church baptises believers of Jesus Christ. We hold baptism services twice a year and occasionally, our pastoral staff have responded to requests to conduct baptism at the home of those infirmed.

Besides being a command, baptism is also a sacrament, a means of grace, through which God gives us the strength and empowering us to live for him.

Our church recognises baptism as symbolic, not salvific. Salvation does not come through baptism; it comes through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) in Jesus Christ. Baptism is an outward sign of an inward work of grace. Through faith, a person is brought into a union with Christ, and water baptism symbolises the washing of sins away through Jesus' blood shed on the Cross and becoming a new creation in Christ. Going through the waters of baptism, the believer publicly proclaims his or her faith in Jesus and identification with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus (Romans 6:3-4, Colossians 2:11-13, 1 Peter 3:20-21). When baptised, believers publicly declare their life is no longer their own but belongs to Christ, and they desire to live for his glory.

We know that there will be challenges that both new and old believers, baptised or not, will face in this world. For example, the current age has seen plenty of emphasis on individualism and personal rights which may confuse or cause one to forget his or her identity in Christ and think that the individual self is all important and all sufficient. However, the real question for us isn't "Who are you?" but "Whose you are?".

This weekend, the Worship team will introduce a new song, I am not my own. The Gen Z writer of the song realises the identity crisis she and her generation is daily confronted with as the world screams messages such as "Be you" and "You belong to yourself and therefore define yourself" (read the song story here). This song is a response to that inspired from reflecting on the Heidelberg Catechism, which summarises the major teachings of Holy Scripture in one hundred and twenty-nine questions and answers to aid teaching and confessional unity.

Question 1

Question: What is your only comfort in life and in death?

Answer: That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Indeed, we are not our own. We were bought at a price. Our bodies are described in 1 Cor 6:19-20 as being God's holy temple. That's not all, we are His new creation through Christ and we have the right to be called His sons and daughters (Gal 4:4-7). As we witness the baptisms and sing this new song, may we be reminded of the personal commitments we have made to follow Jesus Christ. May we recall that our identity is in Him. Let us not forget that we belong to Him and that we should live for His glory despite what the world tells us.

Finally, if you are a believer but have not yet been baptised, may I urge you to seriously consider getting baptised in the next round.

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