I’ve seen several baptisms the last few weeks at Spring Meadows and camps and other places I’ve preached. Last week a friend showed me a video of a person being baptized in the ocean. The person baptizing them did not take them far enough out and then “took the back” just as the tide was going back out and laid the person on dry land ! Well, all of that and a study I had with a young couple last week got me to thinking:
I have to come clean on something. This will shock some of you, but stay with me and hear me out. I feel like I’ve spend the last 10 years trying to convince people NOT to be baptized. Whoa – wait – what?
Before I go further let me make a couple of very clear statements. I believe one MUST be baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). I believe it is a requirement and a command and that that is the part of the process God uses to save men and women lost in sin (1 Peter 3;21. I believe that baptism is the act through which God adds people to His church (Romans 6:3-4). I have delivered the Lord’s invitation thousands of times and submitting to His Will in baptism is always a part of the invitation I close with.
So, why the statement above? Because I do not want to denominationalize the church. Let me explain. As people have come our way and asked to be a part of the church here we always talk to them about their soul and their relationship with God. Most often, if they do not have a background in the churches of Christ they just ask: “We want to be a part of your church. What do we need to do?”
Now’s where it gets tricky. If I just said: “To be a member of our church you have to be baptized into it.” Other than the “our church” part technically that would be correct. But, in their mind they would only be becoming a part of a denomination. They would not be doing it for a true Bible reason but only to fulfill some request made by a church. So instead we find ourselves talking about the Bible – the who, the why, the when of Bible baptism.
I believe too strongly in the way God’s Word teaches about the “why” of immersion to compromise just to get a person to do what I think they should do if it is for the wrong reason. As I read the Bible I never find that the “where” of the baptism or the “who” is doing the baptism are emphasized but the focus is on the submission of the person and their understanding of God’s Will. Let’s be careful that in our excitement over a person wanting to be baptized we do not mis-teach for numbers or any other sake. Or that we don’t baptize a person just to get them to do what we want them to do or to satisfy human understanding. But most of all, let’s get busy fulfilling the Great Commission! Go, teach, baptize, teach!