As we look at a newly baptised brother or sister in Christ, our hearts and minds swell in praise and thankfulness to our heavenly Father as we begin to appreciate the incredible work that our Father is undertaking with these individuals. Their baptism, and ours, didn’t just happen. It wasn’t through an everyday chance affair that all this occurred. A new creature has been born (2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15), created in Christ Jesus unto good works (Eph 2:10).

It wasn’t by the power, might, intelligence or science of this age; nor the culture or atmosphere of our city or country that produced this new creature. We need to realise, right from the start, that it is a work of the great Creator Himself, which He has achieved with a delicate and sensitive hand; a hand that continues to work in the lives of each one of us.

Not only is there sensitivity, there is also power. Romans 1 speaks of this. Here we listen to Paul, thrilled to preach this message to the Roman ecclesia. He writes: “So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome for I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom 1:15-16 ESV ).

Rome with all its so-called universal learning and its power and might could do nothing to save anyone, Jew or Gentile. The power, the dynamism to save, is in the gospel of God, proclaimed through Jesus Christ our Lord.

That power was also unveiled in Jesus Christ. He was “declared to be the Son of God in power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection of the dead” (Rom 1:4). His life was full of this power. It was also filled with holiness. Everything about him was right, true and holy. And for this reason, the grave could not hold him and therefore when the Father raised him from the dead, his Sonship was declared to the whole world.

That’s the power that can cancel the very grip of the grave, and that power can work in us through the effect of the Word of God in our lives. “The preaching of the cross,” writes the apostle, “is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18). We all can tap into this power by reading and reflecting upon it daily and this can then work mightily in each one of us.

Every one of us has a different story to tell on how we came into the Truth and were baptised. But for all of these stories there are some converging similarities. Firstly, it is God who initiated everything and invited us and called us. Paul reminds the believers of this in Romans 1:6-7—“Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ”.

We have all been called to be saints. We have been invited to set ourselves apart. We haven’t been forced, or threatened, or dragged involuntarily, have we? That’s the beauty of God’s calling; it’s voluntary. And when we choose to separate ourselves from what we were before, we saw that moving towards God and His beloved son was like emerging from an incredibly cold, black cellar into the brightness and warmth of a summer’s day.

This is the metaphor Paul used in Ephesians 5:8—“For ye were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord: walk as children of light” (RV). Walking as God’s children means imitating Him and following His example (Eph 5:1). It also means walking in love (Eph 5:2). God is full of light and we need to be “light in the Lord”. It means that we must be sons of light and sons of the day (1 Thess 5:5). Moreover, to be in the light is to love our brothers and sisters (1 John 2:9-11).

Our acceptance of the call was, in fact, the most singularly vital act in our lives. We accepted the call not in blind faith, not in ignorance, but in sincerity and in truth. We recognised at our baptism that God had showed to us incredible mercy. We stood amazed at the vast riches of His goodness and were deeply humbled by the way He gently cared for us in bringing us to a recognition of His truth.

But have we forgotten that calling? In the words of Romans 2:4, do we despise “the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering”? His goodness led us to repentance, but have we presumed on His kindness and shown contempt for His patience?

At our baptism we came to know God, imperfect though that knowledge might have been. We learnt that He is the most loving, kind and merciful God. We understood that He is forbearing, that is, He defers judgment on us. We appreciated that He is longsuffering, slow to avenge our wrongs, full of goodness and truth.

Has that knowledge deepened? Do we trust in His provisions as our shepherd and king; our Father, the great Creator, the Master Potter? Are we always aware that He is all-wise and all-powerful and all-present? Have we grown to really know Him in appreciating the gift of His only begotten son that we may have life?

At the time of our baptism we knew and believed in the Living God and our hearts were softened by this reality. We were drawn by His goodness to repent. We were invited to step into His love, His light and His way, and we accepted the invitation. We knew then that it was a step borne of joy. There was no doubt,only conviction; no fear, only calm assurance.

We gladly forsook our past way of life, with no intention of glancing back at past indulgences. We were convinced and our faith blossomed into trust. We believed and we acted. In trust we let go of the past and surrendered to our Creator. We handed our allegiance to Him totally, and more importantly, freely.

We did all this, but dear brothers and sisters, isn’t it true that as days and years go by, this act of surrender has fluctuated. Perhaps our zeal has waned. Maybe our dedication has worn thin.

At the time of our baptism our hearts were like a citadel—full of rooms and chambers, replete with open doors and large windows. Everything was opened to our master. He was invited to move in us and dwell in any and every room. There were no secrets. He dwelt in our hearts by faith (Eph 3:17). But many years later, have the rooms been shuttered, preventing the light to enter? Have the doors been closed to the knocking of our Lord (Rev 3:20)?

At baptism we were pardoned. What a wonderful thing to happen. We thrill when someone pardons us in connection with the smallest of things. But at baptism we experienced the most profound pardon of our lives. The whole history of our past sins was removed!

Does that deep sense of gratefulness continue with us today? Do we still appreciate the enormity of what was accomplished on our behalf? If so, we have an obligation to walk worthy of this new status as new creatures. In Colossians 3:3 we read that we have died and our life is hidden with Christ in God. Our past life has gone and now there is absolute safety and concealment with Christ as there is with God. This is what Paul expressed in 2 Corinthians 5:17-18—“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (ESV ).

So great is the change that we each become a new creature, part of a new creation. And who is the architect of this? God is—and we are in Christ. All things have become new. We see, feel, smell, touch and taste life differently. We have new attitudes to living. Fellow man is seen in a new light. Judgments are by a new standard. We act with a new motive; it’s for love’s sake, not self ’s sake.

In this new creation, we see God everywhere and we feel close to Him. Fear of God ceases to be dread, but reverence instead. The grave now is a quiet sleeping chamber. Our homes are places of safety and delight, and our ecclesia, no matter how small, is our family, a place of wisdom, godliness and joy. Our mind is renewed through increased knowledge of God and His purpose and we “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24 ESV).

To be made new involves a total transformation. God is not doing a repair job on us. It’s not a face lift, a quick paint over the old building. It’s a totally new thing, a new life based on a new covenant. This renewing force is a new pattern; it’s Christ, created in true righteousness and holiness. We are called to be holy, to actually be separate from evil in every way, to have rightness of character and rightness of conduct.

We are asked to be fruitful in spiritual things and fruit demands growth, hence development is vital. We can’t stay still in Christ. For each of us there must be growth. So let’s be honest: where are we in our growth?

So dear brothers and sisters as we come to remember our Lord Jesus and take the bread and wine, let’s examine ourselves. We are God’s workmanship, new creatures, freshly created by God in our Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s ensure that we work with God so that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ”(Phil 1:6 ESV).