What an amazing week of services at My City Church! This week in addition to the four services we do each week, we also had the opportunity to celebrate with over 70 people in baptism! In line with this baptism celebration, Pastor Jesse spoke about the importance of baptism titled “I Have Decided”.
Have you ever tried to share a story with someone and at some point you had to say, “never mind, I guess you just had to be there”? Baptism is often one of those things.
Trying to explain it can make it seem very religious or weird, but for those who have been baptized the experience is often the turning point of a new way of living.
So what exactly is baptism?
In a simple sentence, baptism is an outward sign of the inward work of God. Specifically, someone who is baptized goes into some water and another person who is a follower of Jesus prays and helps them as they take a symbolic bath of going under the water and then coming back up. This is symbolic of the “washing away of sin” and also is a statement to everyone that we are choosing to live a life following Jesus.
Okay, so it is some type of spiritual bath, why would someone do this?
This one comes down to simple obedience. Jesus was himself baptized and he specifically told us to baptize new followers when they choose to follow him. The more you read the Bible the more you will see God’s blessings almost always follow our obedience to Him. Rightly understood, the more we obey Him the better off we are. Baptism is really one of those things where when we obey, we find ourselves better off. One of the reasons baptism such a great thing for many people; it often involves more than just self. It is one person deciding to follow Jesus and so becoming part of a community!
Now, there is what baptism is and why it could be done, but what is required of someone who wants to be baptized? Basically, are there rules you have to follow before being baptized?
As is often true, the Bible can help out a lot here. The book of Acts is essentially a story about how the good news of Jesus kept impacting people even after Jesus left and sent the Holy Spirit. Encouraged by the Holy Spirit, the followers of Jesus told as many people as they could about how good God was and is. As these followers or disciples did this some truly remarkable things happened. One of these remarkable events happened with a disciple named Phillip and an Ethiopian man who was traveling in a chariot.
Through an angel, God told Phillip to go out to a desert road. Once Phillip got there, God told him to go stay near the chariot. When Phillip got closer to the chariot he heard the man reading and Phillip recognized what was being read as a famous prophecy that was about Jesus. Phillip engaged the man in conversation about the passage and the man replied:
Acts 8:34-40 (NKJV)
So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.
There it is. The answer to what is required to be baptized.
First recognize that something in what Phillip told the man caused the man to know that baptism was his next step in following God. This is where his question “What hinders me from being baptized?” came from. He heard the message and knew he needed to be baptized so he basically asked, “Can I be baptized or is there something required for it? What do I need to do?” Phillip’s answer is simple and amazing! “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” So they saw some water, got out of the chariot and Phillip baptized him.
That’s all there is.
So, how about you today? Have you been baptized in water?
Is there anything hindering you from being baptized?
No guilt here at all, just an encouragement as you follow Jesus to take your faith public.
It truly is that simple.
Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?
Then it is time to find some water!