Baptism into Christ represents our death to Adam and our resurrection in Christ. In Adam all are dead, but in Christ all are made alive. This is not just a saying, not just a figure of the letter but a statement of reality – a state of being in which Christ is your life and Adam is not. At least not when we have freed ourselves from any perversion of the gospel that is a Christian version of the knowledge of good and evil from which Christ has set us free. The Isaiah 61 Message is always relevant. Jesus repeated it in Luke 4.18 and its liberty is expressed as you, when Christ is your life.
DELIVERANCE FROM ILLUSION
‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.’ Our baptism is a sign that represents our agreement with Christ that His Freedom is our freedom and that the life of Jesus as a life-giving spirit is our spirit of life as new creation beings.
The Lord’s Table is a striking sign that in Jesus we have become one substance with Him and one with our Father in heaven. Jesus said, ‘Those who eat me will live because of me’ for a reason. We are graced by His forgiveness and incarnated with His life. The command of God is to believe His Son and the testimony of Jesus is that He is our life.
Thomas Torrance writes, “In the new covenant.. the divinely instituted forms of human response vicariously provided in Jesus Christ are represented by Baptism and Eucharist which replace the rites of circumcision and passover in accordance with the fundamental change in the covenant relation between God and his people brought about through the Incarnation and Atonement.
“As such they are sacraments of the vicarious human response to God effected by Jesus Christ in his representative and substitutionary capacity in our place and on our behalf.
“They are sacraments of the finished work of Christ to which we can add nothing, sacraments which have as their substance and content none other than Jesus Christ clothed with his Gospel of atoning mediation and reconciliation, and thus sacraments which in their unique way represent the indivisible oneness of Christ's Word and Act and Person as Mediator between God and man. They are sacraments which by their nature direct us away from ourselves to Jesus Christ in whom all God's blessings for us are embodied, out of whose fulness we receive grace for grace.” (1)
Because Jesus Christ is one substance with God and is God, we in Christ are joined to God in oneness that is as real as the oneness that exists between each member of the trinity. The Nicene Creed, tells us that Christ is “very God of very God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father.” The Greek word for “one substance” is homoousios. As one substance, Christ is God become man, the fullness of God who was pleased to dwell in Jesus Christ (Col. 1:19).
BREAD OF LIFE
The Lord’s Table illustrates and reminds us as we eat the bread and drink the wine that we have been made one with Christ. This is what the incarnation means and is as real as the fact that the wine we are drinking and the bread we are eating becomes our person in spirit and in truth. As such we are not deities. But we are sons of God in a very real way because in Jesus the fullness of God has come in our flesh. This is the spirit of sonship in everyday life.
Such grace is no abstraction. This grace is the person of Jesus for you, in you and as you. We don’t just get a label ‘graced.’ We have been made one with the One who is Grace – the One who is the Representative of the Grace that is the triune God whose being has reached out in Jesus to reconcile us to the Communion that is God.
These are sacramental signs of a spiritual reality come in our flesh – which means that the main sacrament is you and your life as an expression of Christ.
(1) Thomas Torrance, The Mediation of Christ page 90.