Baptism

Baptism

BAPTISM: IDENTIFYING WITH GOD’S FAMILY

HEALTHY FAMILIES HAVE FAMILY PRIDE; MEMBERS ARE NOT ASHAMED TO BE RECOGNIZED AS A PART OF THE FAMILY. SADLY, I HAVE MET MANY BELIEVERS WHO HAVE NEVER PUBLICLY IDENTIFIED THEMSELVES WITH THEIR SPIRITUAL FAMILY AS JESUS COMMANDED – BY BEING BAPTIZED.

BAPTISM IS NOT AN OPTIONAL RITUAL, TO BE DELAYED OR POSTPONED. IT SIGNIFIES YOUR INCLUSION IN GOD’S FAMILY. IT PUBLICLY ANNOUNCES TO THE WORLD, “I AM NOT ASHAMED TO BE A PART OF GOD’S FAMILY.” HAVE YOU BEEN BAPTIZED? JESUS COMMANDED THIS BEAUTIFUL ACT FOR ALL IN HIS FAMILY. HE TOLD US TO “GO THEREFORE AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL THE NATIONS, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.” (MATTHEW 28:19)

FOR YEARS I WONDERED WHY JESUS’ GREAT COMMISSION GIVES THE SAME PROMINENCE TO BAPTISM AS IT DOES TO THE GREAT TASKS OF EVANGELISM AND EDIFICATION. WHY IS BAPTISM SO IMPORTANT? THEN I REALIZED IT IS BECAUSE IT SYMBOLIZES GOD’S SECOND PURPOSE FOR YOUR LIFE: PARTICIPATING IN THE FELLOWSHIP OF GOD’S ETERNAL FAMILY.

BAPTISM IS PREGNANT WITH MEANING. YOUR BAPTISM DECLARES YOUR FAITH, SHARES CHRIST’S BURIAL AND RESURRECTION, SYMBOLIZES YOUR DEATH TO YOUR OLD LIFE, AND ANNOUNCES YOUR NEW LIFE IN CHRIST. IT IS ALSO A CELEBRATION OF YOUR INCLUSION IN GOD’S FAMILY.

YOUR BAPTISM IS A PHYSICAL PICTURE OF A SPIRITUAL TRUTH. IT REPRESENTS WHAT HAPPENED THE MOMENT GOD BROUGHT YOU INTO HIS FAMILY: “FOR BY ONE SPIRIT WE WERE ALL BAPTIZED INTO ONE BODY–WHETHER JEWS OR GREEKS, WHETHER SLAVES OR FREE–AND HAVE ALL BEEN MADE TO DRINK INTO ONE SPIRIT.” (1 CORINTHIANS 12:13)

BAPTISM DOESN’T MAKE YOU A MEMBER OF GOD’S FAMILY; ONLY FAITH IN CHRIST DOES THAT. BAPTISM SHOWS THAT YOU ARE PART OF GOD’S FAMILY. LIKE A WEDDING RING, IT IS A VISIBLE REMINDER OF AN INWARD COMMITMENT MADE IN YOUR HEART. IT IS AN ACT OF INITIATION, NOT SOMETHING YOU PUT OFF UNTIL YOU ARE SPIRITUALLY MATURE. THE ONLY BIBLICAL CONDITION IS THAT YOU BELIEVE (ACTS 2:41; 8:12-13, 35-38).

IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, PEOPLE WERE BAPTIZED AS SOON AS THEY BELIEVED. AT PENTECOST, 3,000 WERE BAPTIZED THE SAME DAY THEY ACCEPTED CHRIST. ELSEWHERE, AN ETHIOPIAN LEADER WAS BAPTIZED ON THE SPOT WHEN HE WAS CONVERTED, AND PAUL AND SILAS BAPTIZED A PHILIPPIANS JAILER AND HIS FAMILY AT MIDNIGHT. THERE ARE NO DELAYED BAPTISMS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT. IF YOU HAVEN’T BEEN BAPTIZED AS AN EXPRESSION OF YOUR FAITH IN CHRIST, YOU SHOULD DO SO AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, AS JESUS COMMANDED.

Rick Warren; Purpose Driven Life, Expanded Edition

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