Baptism, The Door to Community

Ausbund, 108

Baptism in Jesus Christ is the covenant of a good conscience, a pledge to live forever in the will of God.

Baptism is union with Christ like marriage is union between a man and his wife. Through baptism the Word becomes flesh in us. It makes us members of the body of Christ, and partakers, at once, of his suffering.  

Baptism is a planting into the death of Christ, the crucifixion of desire and new birth through water and Spirit. Duly baptised we have a threefold witness, the water, the Spirit, and the blood, to testify on our behalf. The third witness, that of blood, is the witness of suffering.

What baptism will not accomplish, is the washing away of lust and sin. It is nothing but a sign of inner righteousness—that is, the righteousness of Christ that we put on when “Adam” dies within us. He dies in our living baptism of Spirit and fire. Only then, as we become holy and pure do we enter community with God.

Community, we come to understand by looking at the natural body. Like all members work and belong together, so do the members of the body of Christ. This community is the Christian Church. Its foundation is Christ and it moves ahead with the Holy Spirit’s power.

God’s community is pure. It maintains itself in peace and unity and judges according to the Word. Its fellowship is only and always in Christ. Like a bread made of many grains, crushed together, so all its members forsake their own affairs and become one.

Christ’s community cannot live with selfishness, for where self rules Christ will not be found. Private property is of the devil. The devil first claimed it when he lifted himself against God, the Creator of all things living. And for that claim the Lord condemned him to the pit of hell.

The devil wanted to be like God—a property owner. But God would not allow such unspeakable pride. Creation is his, and his alone. All things created shall give him alone the praise.

The great wickedness of selfish greed became evident already in the desert where the manna fell. Those that took more than they needed saw it turn full of worms. Later, for greed, Ananias fell and Judas came to a terrible end.

Such things happen to all that make of God’s free creation their private property. Whoever does so violates the counsel of the Most High and will receive what he has coming, with the rich man in hell.

God’s community, on the other hand, is holy and clean through the blood of Christ. Everyone that belongs to it uses what he has for the glory of God and for the good of his fellow-men. How pleasant and good it is in Christ where brothers dwell together in unity and hold all their things in common!

Members together of the body of Christ they share their earthly and spiritual goods. As in God’s heavenly kingdom they hold no respect of person. They keep themselves pure for Christ their Bridegroom and pay no attention, like Eve, to the tempter’s lies.

Would you like to belong to this church community of God? Follow Christ! He is the way! Walk with him and the gift will be yours.

Hans Betz,       -1537, Eger, Franken, imprisoned and died in Passau, Germany

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