19 Jun Baptism
We are having a baptism on June 28th and I have been getting several questions about what it is all about.
I get crazy excited about baptism because it is a thrilling next step in the adventure of the Christ walk. We are making it a celebration with a lot of great food and just fun together.
The Church has argued a lot over the proper way to do baptism, so I want to cut to the chase. Paul says there is only, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph 4:5). So no church denomination has a corner on the market. I know my place and it is to point people to Jesus. I do not baptize someone in the name of Neighbors Home Church, no, it is in the name of Jesus Christ.
Baptism is a public declaration of alignment to God, an outward message of a previous confession of sin and faith in Jesus. It is a covenant relationship. It centers on someone taking a stand that Jesus is Lord and accepting the benefits and hardships of following Him. Paul is pretty clear about this when he says, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Rom 10:9-10).
The act of going under the water symbolizes the person’s identification with Jesus in death and resurrection. As described in Romans 6:4, “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. And in Galatians 3:27, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
Baptism is a command that all believers need to obey, a key part of the Great Commission. “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. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20).
I see many parallels between marriage and baptism. Both are a public declaration of loyalty, forsaking all others. In baptism we are declaring God to be our superior relationship and in submission to Him, we will have no other gods before Him.
Both are a covenant relationship, a sacred promise.
Both have a lot of rich symbolism and meaningful ritual. But it all feeds the main purpose of the ceremony; namely a sacred alignment with one other. The white wedding dress is nice, but not essential. Immersion is the best method of baptism, but also not essential. In the first century document, of the practices of the disciples, called the Didache, it is written, “If you do not have running water, baptize in other water. If you are not able to use cold water, use warm. And if you have neither, pour water on the head three times, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” It is not the method, but the meaning that is important.
Baptism is a rite of passage, a time of serious ceremony and a time of celebration, a memory to be cherished and a new beginning.