Monday, September 15, 2014

Baptism-What is it?

This past Sunday we participated in something that Jesus loves, His church loves, and myself being a pastor love-baptism!! The sign of a life transformed by Jesus. It glorifies God, it brings completeness to the person and brings joy to the church!...But what is baptism? Sadly, even church going Christians don't really understand why we do what we do. We are taught what to believe but not why we believe it.
What is baptism?
Romans 6:3-6 explains it well, 'Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.' 
So the first thing about baptism is that it's all about Jesus. It is understanding that Jesus lived, Jesus died, Jesus was buried, Jesus rose from the dead. It is saying Jesus is my God, died on the cross for me, and my faith is in him and my salvation comes from him alone! Jesus gave us the example of being baptized himself. We want to be more like Jesus and so we want to do the things Jesus taught us to do.
How do we baptize?
In Greek the word baptize meant to plunge, dip, or immerse, and so there will be some Christians traditions that will say you've got to go under all the way. In Mark, Jesus 'came out of the Jordan', so he was all the way in!! So get in the water!! Personally, I come at this from a little different angle. If someone wants to be baptized, I respect sprinkling, pouring or fully immersing. It's about the relation to God, not the relation to the pastor who gets you wet. This seems simple, but theologians like to make life difficult and tell you there are 'rules'. Eh.
Why do we baptize?
It's out of obedience. You are going public and saying, 'I'm on Jesus' side.' It was commanded in Matthew 28:19, 'Therefore go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.' So there's some actions there right? He didn't say, 'Go have church.' He gave us some pretty direct and simple instructions. So why do we baptize? Because we are instructed to do so. It's the outward sign of what God has done inside already. Which answers the question-will baptism save? No. It's what we do because we have been saved. Only Jesus saves. Your pastor can't save you, the local church you attend can't save you, being baptized can't save you-only Jesus!
Who do we baptize?
This is a question that can get a little hairy in the church. There are two schools of thought-paedobaptism and credobaptism. Paedobaptism is infant baptism, whereas credo baptism is the believer's baptism. Catholics, Lutherans, some Presbyterians will tell you that your child or infant needs to be baptized ASAP!! The problem I find here is that it's not Biblical. You can try and use tradition and logic all you want, but if it's not in the Bible...I'm sure we don't need it. We profess credo baptism because it challenges the Christian to articulate their faith. Baptism needs to be a sign of faith in your life. Therefore if you were baptized as an infant or in a church that doesn't believe Jesus is who he says he is, what does your baptism actually point back to? If you're in this position, I would love to talk to you. Your baptism has to point back to Jesus or you're just getting wet.
So what do we do with babies? Well, we dedicate them. The Bible never commands us to dedicate children, but it does give us an example in Luke 2, where Jesus, he’s a baby, his mom and dad take him to the temple and it says they, quote, “Dedicate him to the Lord.” They’re offering prayers, they’re doing it in the presence of God’s people, they’re covenanting to raise him to know the Scriptures and to serve the purposes of God.

So what signs do you have in your life? Are you a Christian, but have never been baptized? Your leader, teacher and savior is calling you. Are you a non-Christian? Jesus is the answer for your life. He died to save and rescue you. Will you accept him as your savior? I pray that you would, and be baptized.
Got questions? Email me!


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