Pastor’s Corner: “Beautiful Baptism”

Acts 2:41 (KJV) – 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 

Many people have asked this question:  “is water baptism really necessary for a believer”?  Or in other words:  if I have given my life to Christ do I need to get baptized to be saved? This is looking at it from an entirely wrong perspective. Baptism is not “I have to” but “I get to!” A better question to ask is why wouldn’t you be baptized? Like the opening scripture, we gladly and joyfully receive the good news of the gospel. We are overjoyed and overwhelmed by the grace of God (God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves);  that our sins are no longer held against us and that we have a place in eternity bought and paid for by Jesus Christ who died for us! In the opening scripture, gladly receiving His word and baptism are in the same sentence. Three thousand people immediately become baptized. What is our hesitation?

Clearly scripture teaches that we are saved by grace through faith alone. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. But baptism is something that we can do in response to God’s great love for us. Why would we hesitate in doing this? I believe this hesitation and doubt comes from the pit of hell and is rooted to the question of doubt planted by the serpent in the garden: Genesis 3:1 (NIV) – Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say……..The enemy wants us to doubt God’s intentions for us chipping away at obedience, trust and love in our relationship with Abba Father.

You’ve probably heard the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Although we cannot diminish the power of the gospel spoken in words, there is great benefit in seeing salvation vividly acted out in the baptism of a new believer. The gospel message is portrayed in a tangible and powerful way for the one being baptized and all the observers. We not only hear, but see how Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and raised to life on the third day being enacted out.  Plunging beneath the surface pictures the death and burial of our old self with Christ. Being raised up out of the water expresses our new life in Christ and our union with Him. We are no longer the person we once were, because Christ has broken the power of sin and death in our lives.  Baptism personalizes Christ’s death and resurrection.  Romans 6:4 (NLT)For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Galatians 3:27 (NLT)27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 

Baptism is about declaring your love and gratefulness to Jesus in more than words but also in action. Baptism won’t change whether or not you are saved, but it is your opportunity to announce your love for Jesus in a public way. This helps us develop a public Faith where we are not ashamed of Jesus. Jesus desires us to be witnesses for Him (Acts 1:8) and not keep our faith in a closet. Yes, it’s a personal decision, but Christ’s mission is to lead every person to this same personal decision as well. Jesus also said in Matthew 10:32-33 (NLT) – 32 “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven. 

Baptism also introduces us to a life of obedience to Christ. Jesus commanded us to be water baptized (Matthew 28:19Mark 16:16). Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” The Christian lifestyle is one of daily obedience to Christ and His Word. If we want to disciple a new believer to begin making this adjustment in their life, the first thing we can do is point out one of the first commands Jesus gives those who believe in Him: Be water baptized. Obedience is how we show Jesus our love and through this obedience we can experience Jesus in a personal and relational way.

I invite you to join us in celebrating the love of God for our dear brother Stephen Griffith through Baptism tomorrow on Palm Sunday following the service! 

In His Grace,

Pastor Hamilton