Is Baptism Essential (152)
Yet, in the N. T. every conversion culminated in the act of immersing men and women in water. One may legitimately ask, "Why was baptism practiced in the original church? What is the meaning of baptism?
We could just say that Christ commanded it. That would suffice.
But I would like to say more. Baptism is not a meaningless ritual. I must not hesitate to say that baptism without Christ is nothing. Without Christ baptism would not be worth the effort of filling the baptistery.
It seems good to me to help a person understand the why behind the command. We can't always understand the why, but it helps when we do. Whether we understand the why or not, we must still believe and obey.
It is equally true of all of God's promises and commands. It is great when we can understand the reasoning behind a command. But Jesus says that it is even greater for those who cannot see or understand, but they obey anyway.
There has been a weakening on the teaching of baptism among churches. It might help us to come to grips with the importance of baptism if we could understand the purpose and meaning of baptism.
Life has its reference points. The Great Winter Storm of 1993. Graduation Day. Wedding Day. Birthday. Death.
Baptism is a reference point. Since the day many of you were baptized your life has been changed.
I. Decisive turning point in life.
The importance of baptism is understood as one understands that it is a decisive turning point in life.
A. Point where the past is healed.
When you accept Christ sacrifice for your sins, baptism is the point where you find a healing for the past.
1. It is important for us to deal with our past --- reconciling the past is a major accomplishment in life. We all have things in our past of which we are ashamed. It is important to deal with those things in a positive way.
Remorse for past failures or sins deprives many Christians of the joy that should be theirs. A man in his middle years has withdrawn from the people in his church because he feels so bad about his past infidelity--a sin that broke up his home. An elderly woman needs counseling from time to time because she can't forget an affair in which she was involved more than 50 years ago. A young lady is under the care of a psychiatrist because she can't forgive herself for having had an abortion. Each of these people is now a Christian, but each is paralyzed at times by remorse over the past.
There is only one problem about the past. You cannot change the past!
If we were required to change our past in order to be saved --- we would find ourselves in a hopeless situation.
Yet God allows us to deal with the past with straightforwardness.
2. If you fail to bury the past it will come back to haunt you. Baptism allows us to bury our past in the blood of Christ.
1 John 1:7
That is why Paul could forget the past.
B. Place where we find spiritual cleansing.
1. David desired cleansing.
Ps 19:12 Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.
Psa 51:2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
Psa 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
A man for years had cheated himself out of the joy of forgiveness. He had felt guilty about the part he played in a college prank, which took the life of a classmate. Though he had confessed his wrong to God, he continued to be so torn up on the inside that he couldn't keep a job or maintain a good relationship with his wife. But one day the mother of the boy who had died stopped in to see him. She was astounded that he had been carrying this load of guilt. She assured him that she has forgiven him long ago and that none of her relatives held any ill feeling toward him. Furthermore, she reminded him that God had erased this unfortunate escapade from the record. Then she gently rebuked him, telling him it was wrong for him to be burdened with remorse. When he finally came to accept the pardon being extended to him, he felt a new sense of freedom, was reunited with his wife, and settled down in a good job.
2. Baptism cleanses.
1 Cor 6:9-11
C. Spiritually and emotionally healed.
1 Pet 3:20-21
D. New life is found.
Eze 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Tit 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
2Co 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
A small country church was having a "baptizing" in a river on a cold January day. A revival meeting had just concluded. The preacher asked one baptismal candidate, "Is the water cold?"
"Naw!" he replied.
One of the deacons shouted: "Dip him ag'in preacher, he's still lyin'!"
E. Where Freedom is found.
1. Freedom from sin.
2. Freedom from condemnation.
F. Point where we find wholeness.
Col 2:10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
G. Point Justification is Realized.
1. When one accepts Christ, baptism is the point where justification is found through Christ.
Justification is when God accepts me just as if I had not sinned.
Ro 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
2. Many are confused about when they are justified before God.
H. Point where we become members of Christ kingdom.
I. Point where we die with Christ.
Someone asked George Mueller the secret of his marvelous fruitfulness as a Christian. He replied, "There came a day when George Mueller died, utterly died! No longer did his own desire, preferences, and tastes come first. He knew that from then on Christ must be all in all!"
Baptism is the point in your acceptance of Christ that you actually become a Christian as you are washed from your sins by the blood of Christ.