29 Apr Why Get Baptized?
As you walk down the steps and into the surprisingly warm water, your eyes have to adjust to the brightness of the spotlights. As your pupils constrict, you grip the ledge tightly, trying your best not to focus on the people in the crowd. If you do, it’s over. The laminated paper in your hand – just stick to that! Wait, are these even words on this page? Surely, these are hieroglyphs.
You take one deep breath, steady yourself, say a quick prayer, and the words on the page unscramble. The Lord is with you, and you are testifying to His grace and mercy and miracles in your life, so with that in mind, you start. The words flow quickly, and before you know it, someone is asking you a question. “Do I trust Jesus for the forgiveness of my sins? Of course, I do! Why else would I be crazy enough to get up here?” At the answer to that question, your knees give out, the wind rushes by your ears before you feel the watery tomb envelop you. A second passes by, but then you feel a strong hand on your back pulling you out of the depths to…is that thunder? No, wait, it’s the thunder of the applause and cheering of all of the saints in the vicinity, praising God for His faithfulness in your life. You give a quick hug to your baptizer, gather your things, and head up the stairs on the other side. It all feels a bit surreal…
Ever been there? I have. I get those same nervous feelings every single time I step into that baptism tank to do baptisms. I got those feelings when I was baptized. Why? Because it’s normal to be nervous. However, as I want to encourage you with this reflection, while it is normal to be nervous, it’s not ok to be disobedient.
Before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He gave us the Great Commission. You know it well, because our church says it often. Matthew 28:18–20 says “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
There are a lot of things in there we don’t have time to unpack right now, but one of the parts of that command is to baptize disciples in the name of the Trinity. Who is a disciple? Anybody who has asked Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. This means that if you have been raised from the dead by Christ, you are commanded to be baptized. We see it all throughout the New Testament. John baptizes Christ. Philip baptizes a new disciple in the Jordan. In Acts, many people are baptized. Paul, in many of his epistles, says things like “having been buried with Him in baptism”. (Baptism is a picture of the burial and resurrection of Christ – you go under the water and are raised again.)
It is assumed that all believers will be baptized because it is assumed that all believers will obey the commands in Scripture.
So, then why are so many believers not baptized? The main reason, I believe, is fear of public speaking. Let me encourage you – this is not like any other speech or presentation. This is giving glory, in front of people, to the God who saved you! This is exalting the Lord for bringing you out of darkness and into His marvellous light! This is testifying that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation! The way God gets the glory here is if you share your story with others. To put it the opposite way, however, is that if you don’t publicly share the story of God working in your life, you are withholding giving glory to God. I don’t think that’s a place any of us want to be in!
I know things look a bit different right now, but can I exhort you, if you haven’t been baptized, start writing down your testimony right now, so that when we can meet together, we can get you in that tank, hear of God at work in your life, and dunk you, to the glory of God! (Yes, you will have to take the baptism course, but how AWESOME if our class was packed so full that we had to have multiple weekends?)
Why get baptized? Well, first, because Jesus said so. Second, so that you can glorify God. Third, so that we can celebrate with you, and glorify God with you!
See you in the tank!