You see, I’m a Texan. More accurately a Texian, as I was born and raised in the “Lone Star” state. Though geographically apart of the Southwest portion of the United States of America, Texas was at one time also considered apart of the Southern states. The area south of the Mason-Dixon line known as “Dixie.”
Life in the southern United States, when I was a child (circa 1967-1979), was very simple still, and for the most part Church focused. Blue Laws restricted most commerce from taking place on Sundays, and the majority of folks respected this holy day whether they went to church or not.
It was at the local church where a sense of community was maintained, for many towns and cities prospered beyond recognition from the mid 1950s through the mid 1970s. Some of these towns and cities grew so large that people no longer were able to know their neighbors. So, the local church became a bastion of community for folks to feel “at home” in.
One of the biggest events for any church, and even for some towns, were the revival services. Especially the tent revival services. Every summer, this event would bring guest evangelists in, from some other church or ministry, and have them lead the community in a week long, Gospel focused, worship service. At the end of the week they’d gather up all the people who had made professions of faith, and baptize them. Some performed these services out-of-doors in a pond, lake, or river.
The song Baptism isn’t one of my favorite songs merely because it reminds me of a simpler time, but because it also centers on an act of worship that is a necessary part of our journey to become a true worshiper of God. And similar to how life in the Southern United States has became more complex and hectic, so too has this very important part of the Christian faith become complex and hectic. This simply should not be.
Now I could spend several articles discussing how so many of the Christian doctrines and traditions have complicated this basic and yet powerful rite of worship, but I won’t. I will, however, ask that you focus in on two points from Scripture regarding baptism:
– Christ, God’s perfect Son, was baptized
– Christ’s command for all believers to teach and baptize
Looking into point number one — the Gospels tell of Christ’s baptism in very similar ways. Let’s read the account from Luke, chapter three:
“When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as He was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.’ Now Jesus Himself was about thirty years old when He began His ministry.” (Luke 3:21-23a)
If God the Father expected God the Son to obey Him by being baptized, before sending Him out to fulfill His ministry, then how much more are you and I required by God to be obedient in this manner before He sends us out to fulfill ours?
Too often I hear people who claim to be believers saying, “Baptism isn’t my thing. I believe in Jesus, and that is all God wants from me.” No, it isn’t. Believing in Jesus brings about your salvation, but a faith without works is dead (James 2:17 & 26). As I stated in our last post, new believers must act on their newly found faith by being baptized in water. This act of worship is generally the new believer’s first public act which allows them to profess Christ’s message of hope.
Now, looking into point number two — Christ, Himself, commanded us to teach others about His message of hope, and baptize them. Look with me at Matthew, chapter twenty-eight:
“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.’” (Matthew 28:18-20a)
Not only are we to be baptized, but we are to share our faith. Teaching everyone we can about what Christ has done in our lives, and baptize them as they become believers too.
Your baptism is important. It is a physical picture of your salvation. A salvation that came to you freely, but cost God’s Son His very own life. If you truly believe — if you do desire to become a true worshiper of the one-and-only living God — then you will not only be obedient to God’s call of baptism, but you will also be obedient to His call to share His message of hope with this lost and dying world — and baptize them too.
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