As we look forward to baptisms this month, it seems good for our souls to remember our own baptisms. Who was present at yours? Were you nervous? What time of day did yours take place and was it inside or outside? Did you understand what you were doing?
Let’s go over the basics again. Baptism means immerse, dip, plunge, to be overcome with transformative results. It is not used often outside of Christian communities, but the one instance that comes to mind is the description of a sunken boat as baptized. The boat was fully submerged and transformed by the process. Jesus describes his death as a baptism to undergo – it would overcome him and transform him, particularly the resurrection part would transform him. Frequently in The New Testament, receiving the Holy Spirit is called a baptism. When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives it should be transformative – changing us in very important ways – and in a spiritually real way we become immersed in Him. Christian baptism by water is a symbol of the internal and spiritual reality of faith in Christ Jesus. It shows externally the things that have and are already happening within the believer.
Baptism is an essential part of what believers do. The Great Commission…
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
makes clear that baptism is an essential part of the purpose and work of God’s people. It is equal in importance to mis- sions and teaching. Without baptism, the church is not ful- filling the most important mandate of God. Additionally, the First Church recorded their process of evangelism and growth and as it was overseen by all the apostles it has been the model throughout history…
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. – Acts 2:41
The Early Church baptized those who accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ. First came preaching/teaching, then acceptance, and then baptism. And we also see that the church numbered its members. They had a count of believers who had turned to Jesus as Savior and Lord. Having a church membership list is very biblical.
Baptism’s symbolism is also discussed in scripture. Baptism shows externally through descending into water and reemerging above the surface that the believer is united with Christ. United in his death – his descent into the grave – and resurrection – his return to life, up from the grave, nevermore to die. Romans 6:4 picks up on this connection…
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Lastly, by administering baptism to a new believer we recognize the beginning of the Holy Spirit’s work. Faith in Jesus and proclaiming Him as Lord is evidence that the Holy Spirit is already at work in a person’s life. The Holy Spirit is a seal of ownership and promise which points to God’s ultimate purpose for our lives, eternity.
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. – Ephesians 1:13-14
Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. – 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
In baptism, the church recognizes and bear’s witness (to the best of our ability) the beginning of the Holy Spirit’s work in a new believer’s life. The reality of the Spirit’s presence works itself out over time. As the new believer grows over years and decades becoming more like Christ, the Holy Spirit will be more and more evident. So by baptism, we say to the person, “We see the Spirit of God has begun to work in you.”
What has baptism meant for you over the years? Your own baptism. The baptism of a child or a spouse. The baptism of friends. Let’s be in prayer for those getting baptized this month.
God Bless, Pastor Dave