Summary: Is water baptism really necessary? If so, why?
To be in the military, there must first be a mutual agreement. They recognize your potential and then you count the cost of serving them. This is followed by an oath of commitment and submission to the military in accordance with their established regulations. Following this process, if you choose to step outside the authority placed over you, you are punished (or court marshaled). The military takes your oath seriously; therefore, you better take it seriously as well.
What does this mean to you and me today? There are some similarities in becoming a follower of Jesus Christ.
First there is a mutual agreement. God recognizes your potential through the payment and power of Jesus Christ. You agree you need Him as your Savior and you count the cost of serving Him.
There is an oath of commitment and submission that follows as you profess Jesus as Lord of your life and you commit to follow Him and His ways as outlined in His Word.
God is not offering you a short term enlistment; He is offering you eternal life. God counts your oath far more seriously than does the military. In that light, I find it amazing that Christians still behave as if we have left our options open. (Circumstantial Christians) We say we believe it, we trust it, we cling to the promises of it and we teach it – yet we do not always take God’s Word seriously.
Whatever your argument or rationalization is for not living and following God’s Word, the bottom line is - you don’t want to do it. You want to maintain control over your life, even though you gave God authority over your life.
As we have learned in the previous weeks of basic training, God’s authority is not negotiable. If He is your Lord; He is Lord over your relationships, education, occupation, money, possessions, entertainment, ministries, attitudes, behavior, decisions and free time.
Last week, we answered the question, “Why should I be a member?” We understand from Scripture, it identifies you as a genuine believer. It provides a spiritual family for support and encouragement. It gives you an avenue of service in the Body of Christ. It provides spiritual protection. It gives you relationships for accountability.
This week's question is - Why should I be baptized? Let's begin by discovering what baptism means.
1. The meaning of baptism.
There are two baptisms that take place in the life of a genuine believer. There is a spiritual baptism and a water baptism. The spiritual baptism must occur to be saved from eternal misery and damnation. The water baptism is not required for salvation, but is a result of salvation.
(That is not the same as believing there was a Jesus, feeling sorry you got caught in sin or saying the phrase "Jesus is Lord.")
This spiritual baptism is described in Acts 10:47-48 when a group of non-Jews believed and were saved. They received the Holy Spirit, and then Peter commanded them to be baptized in the water. The baptism of the Spirit is the change producing act of God described in 2 Cor 5:17. The water baptism is a physical act that portrays what has already happened spiritually.
2. The Picture of Baptism Rom 6:3-4; Col 2:12
The water baptism identifies us publicly with the death of Jesus, as we die to ourselves; the burial of Jesus as we put our old nature away; the resurrection of Jesus as He raises us to the newness of life and affirms our commitment to follow Him.
The water baptism does not bring about supernatural power to accomplish this, nor is it the active means in removing/forgiving sin. The picture of baptism reiterates what Christ accomplished on our behalf.
It is through His death/burial/resurrection that He personally pays the debt for our sin and provides salvation for those who place their trust and faith in His work to accomplish what we never could.
So, baptism identifies us with our Savior.
3. The Reality of Baptism.
No matter how many word studies you do, or how many commentaries or blogs you read, no one can deny the fact that baptism was modeled and commanded by Jesus. Let's look at Matthew 3:13-17.
Jesus said it was to fulfill all righteousness. It served as a witness to who He was as God proclaimed “This is my Son with whom I am well pleased.” It was also the inauguration of His ministry.
Baptism is still important as it is a public display of our obedience to our Lord. We follow Jesus in the same way He modeled baptism before men. Throughout Matthew, we follow the ministry, the death, the burial and the resurrection of Jesus. Before He ascends to Heaven, Jesus provided these words – we know them as the Great Commandment.