Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
“He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:5-7)
According to Everett Ferguson’s observations (The Church of Christ: A Biblical Ecclesiology for Today, 203), God’s gifts of salvation that are given at baptism can be summarized by 3 great promises:
- Forgiveness of Sins
- Gift of the Holy Spirit
- Eternal Life
And each of these correspond to the 3 tenses of time: past, present, and future.
Salvation is applied to the past in the promise of forgiveness of sins. No matter how tainted my past, I have a clean slate when washed in the blood of atonement and clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
The Gift of the Holy Spirit at baptism is the application of God’s saving power to my present experience. Now God dwells in me, sanctifying this once tainted body of mine. Beginning with the baptismal waters of regeneration, I am being transformed by the renewing work of the Holy Spirit. God is working within to make me a new creature by producing the fruit of His Spirit as the force that overcomes the potential works of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-26). And so as I walk in the light by the direction of the Spirit, God’s salvation is an ongoing experience.
And the Spirit also serves as a down payment (Ephesians 1:13-14; 2 Corinthians 1:20-22) of the eternal life God promises - eternity being a summary of all of my tomorrows. The Bible describes this promise of eternal life in terms of an inheritance that only sons and daughters receive. And that is why we have been adopted as children in God’s family (Galatians 4:1-7).
So if you have been clothed with Christ in baptism accompanied by faith in the working of God, take joy in your salvation and what it means for your past, your present, and your future.
To His Glory,