With a Baptism to take place this upcoming Sunday, I thought we could spend a little time on it today. It is one of two ordinances in the church age today that Jesus calls us to carry out. One is the Lord's supper, communion, as often as you do this you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. This is done over and over, monthly at GCC. The other is Baptism, which is done only once in a believer's life. According to 1 Peter 3:21 it is, "An appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." It is a drama that displays the glory of the Gospel, simply a ceremony by which a person is immersed into water. Buried in the likeness of His death, raised in the likeness of His resurrection. The water simply being the symbol of all this.
It is commanded by our Lord in Mathew 28:19,"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." It is for believers only as we see in Acts 2:41, they believed and then were baptized. Also, in Acts 8:12,36,37 and Acts 10:43,44,47. These are all examples of the early church which we desire to follow as accurately as we know how to. And we follow this command as soon after trusting the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. And following the early church example and looking at the Greek word baptizo, we see that immersion into water appears to be accurate to that Greek word's meaning and the examples of scripture. John baptized where there was much water, Math.3:13-16, John 3:23, and that Jesus came up out of the water, Mathew 3:16, Acts 8:39.
John Calvin says, "Those who have submitted to the gospel, and professed to be His disciples, shall be baptized, partly that their baptism be a pledge of eternal life before God, and partly that it be an outward sign of faith before men." Christ identified with the human race by becoming man, Phil.2:5-8, through Baptism we show that we might be identified with Him, that He is Lord, Master, Savior of our lives, Rom.6:1-10. As in a wedding, the ring does not make any one married, but is a symbol of vows they have taken with each other, so in Baptism, the immersing in water does not make one a believer, but is only a symbol of Who one follows with a public declaration of it too. Faith is the instrument; Baptism is the symbol of our salvation. The ring being a symbol of love, the baptism being a symbol of faith.
So, Baptism is important; it was uncompromisingly commanded by the Lord Jesus, it was universally administered to Christians entering the early church, and it was uniquely connected to conversion as an unrepeatable expression of saving faith. It truly is an immediate, inseparable, indicator of salvation. Obedience is a fruit of repentance, and obedience produces nothing but blessing. Jonathan Leeman says, "Baptism is publicly committing him or herself to Christ and His people, thereby unifying a believer to the church and marking off him or her from the world." Hope to see you at the Baptism Aug.23, at GCC, it is always a great blessing to all!
Elder Randy Slak