AN EXPRESSION OF NEW LIFE
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.”
For several years after becoming a Christian I was perplexed about baptism
because I had heard some very negative teaching on the topic. A small group of people that I later learned was a cult pressured me, claiming that they were the only “true Christians” in the world. Needless to say, their views of baptism were not Biblically based and produced a significant amount of confusion. It took time and searching the Scripture before my mindset was transformed, the damage healed, and I was thinking clearly again. A maligned and very difficult topic for me became a strong desire to move forward in my faith. When I did get baptized, it was a real celebration! I invited many of my friends and shared my journey before the baptism. Since then, I have had the privilege of baptizing many people, and every one of them has had such a pure joy (even when the water temperature was much colder than anticipated!).
There are a few rituals that Jesus emphasizes in the Bible, one of them is water baptism. It’s both a command to His followers and a time of great celebration. Interestingly, grace can be given through a command. How often do we forget that the commands of God bring joy? Jesus makes it clear that He wants all of His followers to be baptized in water. We can’t earn our way to heaven through water baptism. We are welcomed into heaven because Jesus died for our sins and is risen, not because of anything we do. Water baptism honors Jesus and is a time of identification and closeness with our Savior. Baptism and communion incorporate our physical participation in His grace.
Here are some practical tips in getting past some common excuses:
1) Some people think water baptism is just a suggestion, but in fact it’s a command by Jesus. It’s how we publicly identify with Him.
2) Some people think that they don’t need to be baptized right away, but in the Scripture, there is an urgency to do it right away (Acts chapter 16). Don’t let unnecessary delays get in the way between you and God.
3) Some people are timid when it comes to baptism. Jesus said to acknowledge Him before people and he will acknowledge you before the Father (Matthew 10:32). That’s enough motivation to overcome any fear. Don’t be ashamed of Jesus. Also, thinking that you must be perfect in order to be baptized is a misconception (or none of us would be baptized this side of heaven). Let His grace guide you as you consider baptism.
4) Some people will be persecuted if baptized. This is unfortunate, but baptism and obedience are worth any cost.
5) Some people dread getting immersed in water. It might be out of our comfort zone, but I have never seen anyone be baptized without tremendous joy afterwards.
1) Have you put your trust in Jesus to be your Savior?
2) Have you been water baptized?
3) What are some of the reasons in the Bible to be baptized?
4) Is there anyone you can encourage to be baptized?
5) How much joy has there been in the baptisms you have seen?
Matthew 3:13-17. Jesus was baptized and set the example for us.
Romans 6:1-14. Baptism reflects unity with Jesus and receiving a fresh start.
Acts 16:13-15. We affirm our faith in Jesus through water baptism.
Acts 16:31-34. Water baptism happens right after conversion with great joy.
Father God, thank You for the ritual of water baptism. Thank You that Jesus was baptized to set the example. I know you want me to be baptized, and I want to respond by saying “yes.” I also would like to encourage other Christians to be baptized too. Thank You that there is so much joy in being baptized. I love You Jesus and this is all for You. I pray this in Your name, Lord. Amen.
For more from Pastor Jesse Bradley and Activate Media Ministries, visit www.activatelife.org