What Is Baptism All About?
10/8/2019 2:28:54 AM
Oct 6, 2019
Rev. David Williams
When do you take a shower? In the Middle Ages, in England, Anglo Saxons bathed once or twice a year, whether they needed to or not! By contrast, Vikings were veritable neat freaks because they bathed once a week! Why do people take baths? We bathe because we are dirty. Perhaps sometimes we’re more dirty than at other times, but we bathe because we recognize our need to be clean.
But what if you come to recognize that you’re dirty on the inside? What if you come to see that you are morally and spiritually dirty? How do we bathe our spirit? How do we bathe our hearts?
Baptism is an act of bathing. Baptism is a recognition that we are dirty on the inside. It is a recognition that we need to be cleansed spiritually. Christian baptism is a sign that we have recognized our sinfulness, our rebellion against God, our failure to live up to his standards of holiness, obedience and love. But baptism is more than just a recognition of our need to be cleaned. In the OT, Jews followed many laws about ritual washing for precisely this reason- a reminder that we are sinful and need cleansing and that the people of God are to be cleaner than those who don’t know God.
Christian baptism begins with the recognition that we need cleaning on the inside, but thank God it goes to much further! Baptism also acknowledges that we can look to someone outside ourselves to solve this problem of sin. Baptism is a sign that you have pledged your allegiance to Jesus. Why? Because you have put your faith in him to fix your relationship with God. You have asked Jesus to forgive you sin, to cleanse you of all that gets in the way of your relationship with God and you are not submitting to his authority in every area of your life as a result of his reconciling you to God. That is what baptism is about- demonstrating on the outside the change that has taken place on the inside in which you have surrendered to Jesus, not only to have your sins forgiven, but to have your relationship with God restored. And in our right relationship with God, we live in obedience to him.
Baptism is an outward sign of an inward change. It symbolizes our need for cleaning and forgiveness. It symbolizes that we have found that need met in Jesus. It symbolizes our joining with other people who have also found that forgiveness through Jesus. It is an act of initiation or joining with the body of Christ- the church. Jesus commanded his followers to baptise people in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything he has commanded. Why in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit? Well, many reasons, but one set of reasons is that our salvation means we are reconciled to God the Father. He adopts us to be his privileged children! Our salvation comes through Jesus. It is by his death on the cross that our sins can be forgiven. And when we find salvation in Jesus, the Spirit comes to live in us bringing us new life. Through the Spirit we are “born again”! The Spirit lives in our heart in order to begin the massive renovation project our character needs in order for us to obey everything Jesus commanded! So when we are baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit we are acknowledging all of these facets of our salvation.
In a few minutes, we are going to hear from Naomi and Sam Hill. We are going to hear their testimonies of how they came to the point of repentance- knowing they needed to be cleaned on the inside, and how they found Jesus, the one who can do that cleansing! Afterwards, we are going to go change and meet you all again from the baptistery where Sam and Naomi will participate in this sign of cleaning- baptism!
In the meantime, I want all of us to reflect on what baptism means. Have you been baptized yourself? This is a good time to remind yourself of the commitment you’ve made to Jesus, to follow him and let him be the boss. Are you still walking with him? If not, this is time to repent, to turn back to him and recommit yourself to him. If you’ve accepted Jesus and asked him to live inside you, but have not been baptized, why not? What’s standing in the way of your public declaration of your inward decision? If you have yet to make that decision for Jesus, what is standing in your way? He died to give you life. He was resurrected as proof that he died for you and conquered death. Give your life to him! If you have more questions about Jesus, please come find me and ask me about it.
But now, let’s hear from these two young people about how they’ve found Jesus.
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