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Why Be Baptized?
Five Reasons for Baptism
We like to identify ourselves with something bigger than ourselves. It gives us confirmation of who we are or at least what we want others to think we are.We wear sports jerseys, ball caps or a color to identify ourselves with a team or school. People may also identify us by the style of tattoos, the music we listen to, places we go or the people we hang out with. Based on what we identify with or who we identify with, along with our behavior, those around us make certain assumptions or conclusions about what we like, don’t like and even what we believe.
If a person goes to church every Sunday we might come to the conclusion that person believes in God, which may not be true. Conversely, the person who never goes to church we may conclude does not believe in God. Again this conclusion may not be accurate. Church attendance is not necessarily a good indicator of belief. I think we could all identify some one in our lives who attends church “under duress” by some external pressure. I also have known individuals who long to attend church services but current circumstances prohibited church attendance.
Are there any accurate indicators of belief in God? Yes, the Bible does say there are certain behaviors that will grow out of a love for God.
1 John 4:20 we are asked the question - How can you say you love God whom you cannot see when you don’t love your brothers whom you can see?
A great indicator of one’s love for God is our relationship with others
1John 2:3-11 (NLT)
And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, "I know God," but doesn't obey God's commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God's word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment--to love one another--is the same message you heard before. Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining. If anyone claims, "I am living in the light," but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness. Anyone who loves another brother or sister is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. But anyone who hates another brother or sister is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.
We see the same theme in 1 John 3
1John 3:10-11 (NLT)
So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God. This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another.
1John 3:14-15 (NLT)
If we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don't have eternal life within them.
1John 3:18-19 (NLT)
Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.
So obedience to Jesus, loving others, is certainly an indication of an understanding of and a relationship with God. This is hard to fake. Loving others cannot be done on our own strength for any period of time, Loving others is an obedience that comes through an understanding of how much God loves us. THIS IS NOT OBEDIENCE TO BE ACCEPTED BY GOD; IT IS AN OBEDIENCE BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED BY HIM THROUGH THE COMPLETE WORK OF JESUS ON THE CROSS
This is what baptism is all about. A clear act of obedience to demonstrate our belief in what he has done for us. It is an act of obedience to identify ourselves with Jesus, with who He said he was, what He did and what He calls us to do. It is putting on the jersey, wearing the colors, it is declaring, “I have changed status, my purpose in life has been rerouted, old things have passed away and all things are new”. Baptism is full of symbolism. The symbolism of dying with Christ, buried with Him and raised to new life. There is the symbolism of being washed, coming up out of the water cleansed. These symbols give us a great picture of what happens spiritually in our walk with God. But baptism is more than that. Baptism is an action that defines, it sets a line of demarcation between old and new, from dark to light and slaves to free. Much like the Jews leaving Egypt. God brought Israel out of bondage, out of slavery through the waters of the Red Sea to the promised land. How did Israel pass through the waters of the Red Sea? God. He did it, He separated the waters. How do we pass from death to life? Jesus. Just as Israel was trapped with death fast approaching we too are trapped in our sin with death fast approaching. God separated the waters for Israel to leave bondage. God tore the curtain that kept us out of His presence, He separated the water for us by the blood of Jesus. We pass through the waters symbolically in baptism. To be clear baptism is in response to salvation not a part of salvation.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
We see in these two passages a couple of things:
Salvation comes by faith and not works
Salvation results in a response which is not “boasting” but confession of our lips of God’s greatness - His worthiness
Understand that baptism is not for salvation but as a result. Here are five reasons for baptism.
1. Baptism is a confession of God’s grace and our need:
The Bible teaches clearly that we are saved by faith. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved" (Acts 16:31; see also John 3:16). "By grace you were saved through faith and that not of yourselves" (Eph. 2:8). "For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith" (Gal. 3:26).
We are saved by faith and faith is an act of the heart; it comes from the depths of our emotions and will. Romans 10:10 reads, (NLT) “For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.” We are called by God, given faith to believe by God but at the same time must respond, must receive.
2. Baptism is an act of obedience. Baptism comes from a desire to identify with Christ placed in us by the Holy Spirit. Baptism is to confess what is in the heart to those around. It is symbolic but more than just a symbol. Baptism is an act of the will in response to an understanding of God’s grace, His love and His command.
3. Baptism is the acknowledgement of God’s rescue and redemption of our life before others. To follow Him is not just a theological confession. It calls for a response of heart, emotions, will and our physical being. If we love Him we will obey Him. If we love Him we will love others. If we love Him we will become like Him. If we love Him we will confess Him. "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved" (NLT-Romans 10:9).
4, Baptism is a Public Expression of Faith:
God has given us baptism to solidify, embolden and preserve our faith.
Some of Jesus' final words to his disciples were: "Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you."
Peter concludes his first sermon, after Pentecost, with the words: "Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins."
5, Baptism is a symbol:
Baptism is a symbol of faith. It is an expression with the whole body of the heart's acceptance of Christ's lordship because we give our entire selves to Jesus
Romans 6:13: "Do not yield the members of your body to sin as instruments of wickedness but yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life and your members to God as instruments of righteousness."
Baptism gives expression to our faith that we are God's, every inch of us, every fiber of our being, every beat of heart belongs to Him. We were dead...we are now alive to serve a risen King!