I love that we have folks from all different kinds of faith backgrounds connect with Hope Chapel. My Mom always said variety is the spice of life, and the variety of perspectives at Hope creates a healthy honesty regarding what is crystal clear truth from the scripture and what might be only our “preference” of understanding or practice. But on occasion the diversity can create confusion which for some leads to spiritual paralysis: not sure what to do so I won’t do anything.
I think Baptism is one of those areas. Some churches baptize infants as a Sacrament. Others baptize infants as a Covenantal act. So why do we baptize by immersion, a total submersion into the water, only those who have already made a personal commitment to follow Christ in faith? Here is my streamlined explanation.
First, we baptize people as a matter of obedience. Jesus specifically commanded the church to baptize those who are Disciples of Christ. Those who were responding in faith to the message preached on the day of Pentecost were instructed to be baptized in the name of Jesus because they had been forgiven of their sins. So being baptized is a matter of obedience. In fact, it is one of the very few “one and done” acts of obedience for Christians. Most acts have to be repeated…”take on your cross daily” type things.
Second, we baptize believers by immersion for a couple of reasons. One is that it is the only way you see it being done in the New Testament. And if it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for us. Additionally, the act of baptism is a confessional act so the way we conduct baptism effects the confession being made. By doing full immersion we are able to symbolize that a person has died to an old way of life in sin and has been raised up into new life in Christ by faith.
Most of you who have been around for a while have a sense of this already. But what isn’t as clear to most is that it does matter what you believe about baptism. Different churches have different understandings about baptism, but ultimately each of us is responsible before God to make up our own minds about what the bible teaches on this subject. Often I get the sense from some that because there are differences of understanding it doesn’t matter what you believe. But when you are dealing with an issue of obedience, what you believe always matters. And thank God He has given us the Holy Spirit so we can figure it all out.
See you at the Work Day.