Youth4Him Home

Baptism
Brett Anderson ©2005

I was very much excited and encouraged about a week ago when one of my best friends emailed me from Tanzania where he is ridding the world of poachers (or something) and asked me if I would baptise him when he was in town for his mom's wedding this last week.

So when I was thinking about that I thort back to some baptism classes I attended when I was working at the Baptist church a few years ago... and then I thort of maybe asking my current pastor for his take on Baptism... but then I thort back to the stuff that happens in the book of Acts and the fact that there is not much teaching on baptism in the Bible at all and realised that there is no 'way' of doing it. What is important is the why - what is the baptism thing all about? So I decided to not worry so much about the method and just put some thorts together on what the whole thing is about.

COMMAND

'Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. 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, baptising 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."'

[Matthew 28:16-20]

One thing we have kinda got a bit messed up in the church these days is the place of baptism. We have baptism classes 'to prepare people for what lies ahead' and all of that, and a lot of people get baptised years after they make a commitment to Jesus and in many cases we wait until people 'are ready.' And yet the Biblical picture is that baptism was an immediate thing. As you get saved you get baptised, because baptism was a public declaration of the decision you have made to follow Jesus. There is no magicalness or mysticality in the 'baptism' in terms of the process or where the water is or how it is added or anything like that - the significance is in the person's decision to follow Jesus and the being baptised as a symbol of that declaration.

WHAT MAKES YOU BETTER THAN JESUS?

"Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John. But John tried to deter Him, saying, "I need to be baptised by You, and do You come to me?"

Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.

As soon as Jesus was baptised, He went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased."

[Matthew 3:13-17]

I mean, if you need a bottom line, that has to be it. Jesus, who is the Son of God, and lived a sinless life, needed to be baptised. What makes you any better than that?

Secondly, going back to the other Matthew passage, it is a command. Go and make disciples AND baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

With a little kid, often the parent will give them a command and the kid will whine out a big, "Why must I do that?" And sometimes the parent will simply reply, "Because I said so!" And for most of us that isn't good enough because we want answers and explanations and all of that... but surely if there was one person who that answer would be good enough for, it is God. If God issues a 'Because I said so!' then that is good enough for me. And it should be good enough for you. I'm not saying there is not reason given for why we should get baptised because I believe there is, and it does have significance and all of that...but if the only reason was 'Because I said so' on the lips of God, that would be enough for me. And it should be good enough for you!

And you know what? I think this should extend beyond baptism. IF you get to a place where you believe that God is a God of absolute Love and Justice, then actually any time He says, 'Because I said so!' it should be enough. And if we as Christians could get into the habit or responding in obedience to anything that God says without wasting time on questioning or needing to know the benefits for us and so on, then we would start to be a whole lot more productive and closer to God. Stop looking for loopholes and trying to justify things just because you want them to be different and be obedient to His call.

BUT MY PARENTS DID IT ALREADY

I think it is great when parents dedicate their children to God and I know this goes by many different names, and one of those names is 'child baptism' in some churches, but in essence I think that is always about the parents asking God to watch over and bless their children, and as I said, dedicating themselves and their children to God. So there i nothing wrong with that and I think it's actually really good. But it not the baptism spoken about by Jesus in Matthew.

In a similiar way it makes no difference to your salvation whether your parents are Christian or not. You do not automatically gain entrance to heaven and the kingdom of God because your parents made a decision to follow Him. It might positively affrect your life if your parents are Christian because they will expose you to the gospel and hopefully be living out Christian values and principles and so it should benefit you. But it does not save you.

In the same way, nobody else can proclaim your decision to follow Jesus which is what baptism is about. You, as a believer, need to make a public stand of acknowledging Jesus' saving work in your life and your desire to follow Him with all your heart, soul, strength and mind. and you could be 5 or 95 for that, so it's not about being a certain age or being 'ready' or whatever - it is about making a decision to follow Jesus and then publically making a statement of that declaration by symbolically joining Jesus in His death and resurrection by being baptised.

DIE ANOTHER DAY

'Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone would come after Me, He must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?"'

[Matthew 16:24-26]

I have heard a lot of people who used to call themselves Christian, say that they pulled out because Christianity didn't work for them. When I was driving over to baptise my buddy Mark, I got this revelation about that whole thing from God and it just made so much sense to me.

If you are making a statement like 'Christianity doesn't work for me' then you have missed the point and meaning of that Matthew passage. Once you become a Christian, you deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Him. What does that mean? There is no me any more... there is only Jesus... and you know what? Christianity works for Jesus...every time! It worked for Him back then when He came and modelled a life of service and unconditional love to the world, and it works for Him now when people submit to Him and allow Him to live in them through His Holy Spirit.

So if it is not working for you, maybe there is still some you that needs to die!

IN THE SHELL OF A NUT

When you go under the water, you are symbolically joining Jesus in His death and acknowledging death to self - death to my desires and dreams and ways of doing things [all because of the understanding and acknowledgement that what Jesus has for me is so much better and ultimately more fulfilling] and embracing His stuff for my life.

New identity: "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" [2 Corinthians 5:17]

When you come out of the water, you are symbolically joining Jesus in His resurrection and acknowledging the end of death's power over you and the hold of sin over your life. You are declaring to the world that you are a new creation with a new Lord and Master, a new set of values and principle and a new love to live out.

FINAL CONCLUDING WORDS

I said to the people at Mark's baptism that there are two things I really want in life and one of those was to be able to baptise a good friend of mine. So it really was a great time for me and on this weekend camp I also got to baptise another of my friends and one of my youth leaders, Megan so that was really great as well (and part of my upcoming book on 'How to baptise people in knee-deep water' which is a whole other thort!) - when I was in Malawi in 2000 I was able to assist in a baptism in a river which had a sense of being 'the real thing' altho obviously it isn't actually any better or more significant than if it happens in a baptistry font or swimming pool.

I think the only thing left is to have the privilege of baptising someone that I have led to Jesus and so that will be something on my heart now and the only way that is ever going to happen is if I start leading people to God.

So how about you? You been baptised? If not, what you going to do about it? For Mark and Megan, because it happened so long after 'the event' in a sense it was more a case of publically affirming what they have been living out for a long time already (as opposed to a new commitment they had just made) but yet it was still valid because it was obedience to the command and created an opportunity to share their commitment and what it means to them to those they love and spend time with.

I trust this has been helpful to many of you who may have had questions or been struggling with the issue. 'Because I said so' coming from the mouth of God really should be enough!