Yet how many of us would condone the blasphemy being practiced by a contemporary underground church of young people who have substituted Coca-Cola and hamburger for the elements Jesus offered His disciples on that Thursday night? No matter that it all merely represented something; we believe it is vitally important to utilize the very same symbols that our Lord used when He introduced the service. Then why should we not feel the urgency to maintain the same symbolic form that Jesus used when He introduced baptism at the Jordan River long, long ago?
There is yet another text of the Bible which lends powerful support to the chain of evidence already presented. In order to represent the various aspects of what Jesus did for us, baptism must include a symbol of death, burial, and resurrection. Those are the major events connected with the atonement, and not one mode of baptism except immersion even approaches the required symbolic elements.
Why should anyone reject the only form of baptism that incorporates every feature of the plan of salvation, when Jesus Himself gave a practical demonstration of it as our perfect example? It must be emphasized again that there is no magical or miraculous change in the life of a person at the moment of baptism. The death of that old man of sin must precede the funeral service and burial. Even the proper form of administering the ordinance does not guarantee the slightest change in the life of the candidate.
That change must take place before the testimony of it can be truthfully expressed. The very worst sinner could be coerced into the baptistry and immersed 50 times with absolutely no effect. He would go down a dry sinner and come up a wet sinner. Unfortunately, religious leaders and pastors long have buried large numbers of people alive before they had met the requirements of being dead to sin.
Sometimes people ask if being immersed in baptism will bring them relief from satanic attack and make their daily life more pleasant and comfortable. I wish it were possible to give assurance that it would remove obstacles and resolve all problems, but that is not what the Bible portrays.
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Immediately after His baptism Jesus was driven into the wilderness where He experienced the awful encounter with Satan. It may well be that every newly baptized Christian will have to suffer similar struggles with the powers of darkness. The devil is enraged by the total commitment of those who choose to be baptized. Is it intimidating to know that these harassing attacks may increase upon those who follow Jesus fully? Indeed, it should not be a frightening prospect to a single person, because special spiritual resources are bestowed upon each one who accepts the covenant of baptism.
Every candidate walks out of the water in the strength of a new relationship that guarantees protection against all attacks of the enemy. The power that existed only in promises begins to flow into the daily life experience of these fresh young Christians. What an amazing assurance we have in that promise! No child of God will be left to fight the battle alone.
All the confederacies of Satan may be arrayed against us, but they cannot contrive a strategy that will separate us from the angelic legions that are assigned to defend us. God assumes the responsibility for creating an escape route by which we can elude the cleverest snare that Satan can design. There is another aspect of this subject that should be explored, and it has to do with rebaptism. Is it a denial of the original commitment if a person chooses to enter the water of baptism a second time, or perhaps even more?
For what reason, if any, would it be important or even necessary to be baptized again? Does the Bible provide an answer to these questions? It does indeed. The very same inquiries apparently were raised in the early apostolic church, and Acts explains how Paul dealt with it in Ephesus. And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized?
Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. The message that Paul shared with them on this subject was of such a nature that they felt it necessary to be baptized again. Sprinkling, for example, although performed under the name of baptism, could never meet the required symbolism of death and burial. This means that babies, regardless of the sincerity of their parents or godparents, must be considered unbaptized until they take the step after their own spiritual awakening at a responsible age.
Sometimes it is difficult for sprinkled adults to grasp the idea that they have never really been baptized at all and should arrange for a true immersion baptism as soon as possible.
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I once asked a man if he had ever been baptized. Sometimes people tell me that they were baptized in their early years before they had really entered into the new birth experience. Thus, it had been merely a formal ritual done to please some friend or family member. Such persons, after entering a true conversion, should follow the meaningful burial-baptism to commemorate the death of sin in their lives. What about the Christian who slips away from the faith and reverts to his former life of sin?
The personal witness of a turning around in the lifestyle is one of the important aspects of being baptized. Another reason that some might feel the need for rebaptism is related to the experience of the Ephesian believers. Apparently they believed that the greater light of truth shared with them by Paul was of such a life-changing nature that they felt it necessary to be baptized again. Many may feel the same today as they learn new biblical teachings that revolutionize their way of believing and worshiping God.
Some indeed discover that their previous Christian walk, though sincere, was actually violating some very important principles of Scripture. None should feel that they are denying their earlier experience by choosing to wash the past clean through a renewing of the baptismal experience.
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With such an irrefutable array of reasons for making the decision for baptism and church membership, why do so many people hold back and procrastinate in taking the step? For many years, I have listened to excuses offered for not going all the way with Jesus, and particularly for not yielding the life in baptism. Everything depends upon prayer and a constant, intimate relationship with Jesus.
Is it possible for that prayer and faith life to weaken, plunging us into defeat? Of course, we can choose to neglect those spiritual exercises at any or every moment of our lives.
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Should that possibility discourage us from dedicating our lives in baptism? Not at all. Only if we are making plans to live for self would we be fearful of making those solemn baptismal vows of eternal faithfulness. They recognize the possibility of stumbling as they grow stronger day by day, but they know the loving Jesus will be there to pick them up, forgive, and surround them with encouragement if they make a mistake. Those who are too fearful and faithless to begin the Christian journey are simply confirming their spiritual unpreparedness for the baptism experience.
Let them wait until their faith is more firmly fixed upon Jesus than upon self. How then can people really be sure that they are ready for baptism? Should they wait until they feel absolutely certain they will never make a mistake? Definitely not. In fact, feeling has nothing to do with their readiness. But they must be perfectly settled in their innermost soul that Christ has performed the new birth miracle in their lives.
They must be able to comfortably put their own name into the beautiful messianic promise of Isaiah Each proper candidate for baptism should be able to read verse 5 like this: But he was wounded for my transgressions, he was bruised for my iniquities: the chastisement of my peace was upon him, and with his stripes, I am healed.
Some may be reading these words right now who have been lingering long over the decision to follow Jesus into the watery grave of baptism. Have you been afraid of disappointing your Saviour by some possible misstep or failure? Turn this very moment from such groundless, self-centered fears.
Your walk with Jesus does not depend on your ability to overcome temptation and human weakness. If you think in terms of what you are able to do, you may remain in the twilight zone of indecision forever. You must focus every thought upon the strength and power of the One who invites you to be His friend forever. It is the unfailing nature of His promises that can give you perfect trust in living the Christian life. Even the Philippian jailer was so moved by conviction and faith in God that he insisted on being baptized in the middle of the night with all his family.
Paul, though a prisoner himself, performed the baptism for the eager new converts. Ananias expressed the same urgency in his appeal to the newly converted Saul. Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. Is that the appeal that the Holy Spirit is pressing upon your heart this very moment? You love the Lord, and recognize that He has died for your sins.
By faith, you have accepted His atoning death in your behalf. The transforming grace of Jesus has brought peace and assurance into your life for the first time. If all this is true, you need to make the most important decision of your life. Arise, and be baptized. Due to staff size, we are unable to answer Bible questions posted in the comments.
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