Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
In the introduction to the baptism service, I state the following:
Today you join the great cloud of witnesses (Heb. 12:1) in confessing “Jesus Christ is Lord (1 Cor. 12:3),” those witnesses from the Bible, the early church all the way to the present day. You are following the commands of Jesus’ Great Commission: making disciples by baptizing and teaching (Matt. 28:19-20).
You are also publicly proclaiming your union with Christ by faith and through this the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life leading to transformation into the image of Christ. Paul writes, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).
Through your profession of faith in Christ you are proclaiming to others that Christ is the only way of salvation (Jn. 14:6), and that now is the time of salvation: “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).
Furthermore, through your baptism you are declaring to the principalities and powers, those minions of Satan that God through Christ triumphs. As they look on what is happening in the church today, viz. people professing faith in Christ in baptism, they know they are defeated and Jesus Christ overcomes. Jesus, through His death and resurrection, has “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Col. 2:15). It is “through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph. 3:10).
Therefore, today, 1) we testify of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone, 2) we edify others with the truth of Jesus Christ and His gospel, 3) we proclaim the gospel to those who may not know and have not received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and 4) we declare to all the victory of Jesus Christ.
You confess “Jesus Christ is Lord” and you give evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence and work in your life. As you live by the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit and under the Lordship of Jesus Christ your desire is to say “no” to sin” and “yes” to Christ. The most significant “yes” was to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, the time at which you experienced new spiritual life. A follow up significant “yes,” some of the first words uttered/cried when you received new birth, is in obedience to Lord Jesus in the waters of baptism.