Get More Than Your Feet Wet
On day 3 I asked you to consider what might be the next step for you in your faith journey and I asked you to write it down and put it somewhere safe. I have no idea what you thought of, or what you wrote down – but I do know that for some of you the most obvious next step is baptism. Of course just because it’s the right step, or the obvious step, doesn’t make it an easy one, and there can be loads of reasons to dismiss it.
I know baptism can be a tricky subject as it can seem like an optional step or simply a hoop to jump through. But the Bible clearly teaches that baptism is the first step of obedience after making a commitment to Christ. Baptism allows a believer to communicate to the world their heart-felt commitment to Christ.
The great commission (Jesus’ final words to His disciples before ascended into heaven) says we are to:
‘…go and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:19-20 NLT [emphasis added]
If you consider yourself a Christian (and most of you do) then you are a disciple, a follower of Jesus, a student of His teaching. Someone has achieved the first part of the great commission ‘to make disciples’. The next step is to baptise those new disciples, then to teach them and encourage them to obey Jesus’ commands. [the first of which is to be baptised…]
Baptism is an act of obedience, worship and celebration in the life of a Christian. But we can easily convince ourselves we’re not ready yet – and before we know it two or three years have passed and we’ve not given it another thought. Baptism is not a declaration that you’re a super-spiritual person, that you’re perfect, or that you’ve got everything in life sorted out. It is a public declaration of your faith in Jesus Christ – an outward sign of the personal commitment you’ve made – making known on the outside what God is doing on the inside. Through the act of baptism our faith is visible from the inside-out… [find out why now might be an especially good time to be baptised :o) ]
On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached his first sermon, telling people about what Jesus had done for them & why; here’s what happened next:
When the people heard this, they felt very, very sorry. They asked Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”
Peter said to them, “Change your hearts and lives and be baptised, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ. Then God will forgive your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for you. It is also for your children and for the people who are far away. It is for everyone the Lord our God calls to himself.”
Then those who accepted what Peter said were baptised. – Acts 2.37-41 – NLT
Take a minute to read another story of baptism – just one person this time: Philip & the Ethiopian – Acts 8:26-39 NLT
After Philip told him the good news about Jesus, when passing some water the Ethiopian said ‘There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptised?’ [v36]. Philip didn’t have to encourage him, in fact he didn’t even have the chance to ask him to consider it – instead, having heard the Good News of Jesus for himself, the Ethiopian wanted to take that first step of obedience.
– take the attitude of the Ethiopian for a minute or two and ask yourself his question:
– ‘Why can’t I be baptised?‘
– what is stopping you from taking that step of obedience?
After Easter we may be running another ‘New Directions’ course which helps explore Baptism. Joining the course doesn’t commit you to baptism, it just offers the opportunity to think & talk about it. If you’re interested in joining me for the next one, or want to ask some questions, let me know…