Baptism is a conversation that comes up quite frequently as a Pastor. There are those that were baptized as a child. There are those that do not believe in baptism. And there are those that are just plain afraid to be baptized. I want to share some thoughts on why you should be baptized “IF” you are a follower of Jesus.
I have spent a decent amount of time instructing followers of Christ about baptism. Now, you are not surprised when a Baptist pastor makes that statement. What you need to know is that it has nothing to do with my faith tradition. It has everything to do what the Bible teaches and more specifically what Jesus taught.
When I meet with those interested in baptism I have a two side sheet that I go over with them. The sheet titled “Coming to Terms with Baptism” is a product that has been reworked by two pastor/mentors of mine and by myself as well. The paper briefly answers five questions: Why be Baptized? Who is Baptized? What is the meaning of Baptism? What is the mode of Baptism? And How is one Baptized? It is a summary, with New Testament references that answers most questions about Baptism.
Answering the first question, “Why be Baptized?” the paper gives several reasons, but in truth the first response is the most important. The reason stated is, “Baptism is a command of the Lord.” Jesus left his followers with two clear practices, baptism and the Lord’s Supper (communion). These two practices are symbolic of our relationship with Jesus Christ. When we participate in these practices we are reminded about life changing truths about our relationship with Jesus Christ. Baptism reminds us that we are new people. It also serves as a public notice that we are follower of Jesus Christ. Several years ago I happened to pick up a nice jacket that has the logo and name of a football team that I like. Last Sunday I did a brief presentation representing home missions at Discovery Baptist Church’s church Stewardship Banquet. The sound guy immediately connected with me because of my identification with a team that he also likes. I also realized that when I wear that jacket it clearly communicates where I stand when I meet people that like other teams! Baptism makes a public statement that I am a follower of Jesus Christ.
When we study some of Jesus’ last words to His followers we realize that these words were not just for those present but for every generation of Christian. And it is in the passage in Mathew 28 we find these words in a passage known as the Great Commission. “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.” (Matthew 28:19) The first command in this verse is to “make disciples.” This is a reference to sharing the Good News message about Christ with others. The second command is to baptize those that accepted the message of Jesus. What we need to be reminded of is these commands are, just that, commands. They are not optional. The challenges of these verse call Jesus’ followers to obey his teaching.
Most of the followers of Christ I come into contact with have been Scripturally baptized. Yet, I still encounter some from time to time that have not. It was a great joy to have several baptized at our church this past Sunday. My focus on baptism was a reminder to me to encourage those that have not yet been baptized to do so.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson