Jesus Command #2: Be Baptized
One of the most difficult things for new believers is to immediately begin obeying the simple Commands of Jesus. As I wrote in my last post, we begin our relationship with Jesus by repenting of all of the wrong things we have done, did, and do. We believe that Jesus forgives us and that he will help us turn from those past actions as we grow more like him. This forms the basis for every believer’s faith journey.
But this first command repent and believe are both mental and heart actions. They do not require any physical action. This does not mean that they are not of infinite value; it just means that in the moments after your decision you can walk back into your normal life wondering what is going to change. The difficulties in your life are still there. The challenges of life are still there. The old habits, triggers, addictions, may still be waiting for you.
In the Old Testament we find a simple tradition. When people make life changing decisions or when they have life altering interactions with God, they would often build a small monument to commemorate the occasion. They called this, an alter sometimes, and later an ebenezer. Jacob built an alter after having the vision of the angels going up and down the latter into heaven. The Israelites constructed monuments after crossing the Jordan River as they entered the Holy Land.
I remember as a young Christian, while growing up in Arkansas, there were times when I would feel God speak to my heart. I mostly remember feeling comforted after I confessed some struggle I was going through. I remember one time being so frustrated that I continued to struggle. So I wrote the date in my journal next to the words, THIS DAY I AM FORGIVEN! I wanted to remember that I didn’t need to go back and repeat the cycle of sin, guilt, repentance, and confession. He had already forgiven me. One time I took a small piece of scrap lumber and carved the word forgiven into the board and pounded it into the ground. I wanted a physical reminder to speak to me about what I had learned at that moment.
In today’s world we tend to move from one big event in our life to the very next event without really taking the time or making the effort to stop and take note of what has happened. Recognizing what has been accomplished. The graduating senior is instantly looking for College acceptance letters. The winning athlete accepts his/her award and begins preparing for the next event. We even do this in our churches. We hardly take the time to reflect, much less celebrate, before we move on to the next event.
Jesus knew this was part of our nature. So he gives his followers a simple command. He says after we repent and believe we should be baptized. We find his own baptism stories in Matt 3:13-17, Luke 3:21-22, and Mark 1:9-11. Just a few notes here: Jesus didn’t have to repent he had never sinned. John the Baptist even notes this and says, “it is I that should be baptized by you.” But Jesus responds by saying he is doing this to fulfill scripture. He commands multiple times for his followers to be baptized, and most famously commands his followers in Matt 28:19 to baptize new followers from all Nations.
So what is this baptism thing and why is it such a big deal? You may say, “I take a bath regularly (daily for most of us)”. What does this awkward water tradition have to do with my salvation? Is it really that important? Let me again take a moment to say that there are many differing thoughts about this within Christian teaching. My purpose here is not to refute and challenge other teachings.
But to answer my own question above: Is it really that important? I would answer yes it is. The simple answer is that Jesus demonstrated it for his followers and then commanded them to be baptized. Just in that simple command it warrants obedience, but beyond that there are some very compelling reasons. Here are several reasons that I believe compel every believer to be baptized as soon as possible.
Jesus modeled it for us, commanded his disciples to be baptized, and commanded them to baptize others.
Every example of baptism by Jesus followers is as a result of people’s responding to Jesus command to “repent and believe.” This is a step in physical obedience to following Jesus. Repent and Believe are heart and mind obedience, but Baptism is physical.
It is a testimony to those present that this new follower has committed his life to being Jesus disciple. It is an ebenezer so to speak. It is a physical marker of a transformed life.
It is a clear illustration of our partnership with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection. This illustration is especially powerful to the other people in our lives. Baptisms are great evangelism events, if you invite your lost friends and family to attend.
A few practical points about baptism.
It should take place as soon as possible after a person repents and professes to believe. This is not a tool to measure maturity. It is a tool to celebrate and proclaim a changed life. Scripture is full of stories where the newly saved are baptized immediately.
Every example of baptism in the New Testament is through the full immersion of the person in water. To would be baptizers (followers of Jesus), commit the person to faith by burying them in the water, and raising them to new life in Christ. Do this in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Remember the water does not save us. Remember Ephesians 2:8-10, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Baptism does not save us, grace through faith, saves us.
In conclusion, be baptized!!!! Also prepare to baptize others. All followers of Jesus are commanded in Matt 28 to “Go, make disciples… and baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
In conclusion, be baptized!!!! cadcallcommanded in Matt 28 to “Go, make disciples… and baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”