The View From Here

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Why get baptized?

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Getting baptized is something to celebrate.  Most Christians would agree with this statement, but do Christians understand why.  What is baptism for, anyway?  Who should be baptized and how should it be done?  Are there do-overs if it “didn’t take” the first time?  And what does it all mean, anyway?

We celebrate baptism because it is the outward expression of an inward reality—salvation through faith in Christ.  So, it is actually a person’s salvation that we celebrate.  You don’t get baptized to get saved, you get baptized after you have been saved. 

Let’s look at what Baptism looked like in the Bible.  In the New Testament Greek, the word baptizo means “to immerse, dip, plunge.”  This is what Jesus did.  He went “into” the Jordan River, was “immersed,” or “plunged” into the water by John the Baptist (Mark 1:9-10). The Greek is very specific, that Jesus went “into” (eis) the water and came up “out of” (ek) the water.  We baptize in the same manner Jesus was baptized.

Now, let’s take a look at what baptism means.  In Romans 6, the apostle Paul uses baptism as a symbol of your union with Jesus. “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. (Rom 6:3-4; see also Col. 2:12).  So, baptism is a picture, and this is why baptism by immersion is what Paul had in mind.  Going down into the water is a picture of dying and being buried.  The old, sinful man is dead.  Coming up out of the water is a picture of rising from the dead and the new life you have is a result of trusting in Jesus Christ.  We celebrate this new life.

 So, baptism is a picture of salvation. It is not salvation itself, just as a picture of you is not the real you.  Baptism doesn’t save, nor does it bring you closer to God.  Baptism is the snapshot taken after you are saved.  Some people feel that the first snapshot didn’t turn out.  Can you get baptized again?  Some realize they weren’t really saved that first time, so they do get baptized again after turning to Jesus.  Others were baptized at such a young age that they didn’t understand what it all meant and now they want to “own it.”  If you were baptized once, but are unsure about it, have a conversation with your pastor, or a trusted brother or sister in Christ.

Finally, baptism is not optional.  While it does not save you, you are commanded to be baptized.  Jesus commands it (Matt. 28:19) and so do the apostles (Acts 2:38).  But do not panic, you will still get to heaven without it.  Salvation is not about getting wet.  It is about admitting your sin, turning away from living for yourself and believing that Jesus died on the cross as payment for your sins, and that he rose from the grave on the third day, just as the Bible teaches.  In fact, a criminal in the Bible trusted in Jesus and died without getting baptized. Jesus said to him, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). 

If you are still holding out, my challenge is this: being willing to get baptized by immersion reveals something about your heart.  We do it because Jesus did it.  We do it because Jesus said to do it.  We do it because we love Jesus.  It is a celebration of what Jesus has done in you. 

 

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Pick Up My What and Go Where? (Part 2)

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Jesus was the first to deny himself and pick up a cross. In Luke 9:23, Jesus tells us to deny yourself, pick up your cross daily, and follow Him. Self-denial is more than saying no to temptation.  It is to disown one's agenda, desires and plans.  In submitting himself to the Father's plan, Jesus owned our guilt, shame and penalty.  Jesus took up your cross and walked your road, taking your death.  Now, he calls you to follow him down his road.  Let's discover what Jesus means when he says to pick up "your" cross daily.

Jesus is not making three different statements when calls us to self-denial, cross-carrying and Christ-following.  Self-denial looks like carrying a cross each day.  It is not a one-time event, but a way of life. In the same way, following Jesus is a day-by-day journey for life. We tend to focus on mountaintop moments, but Jesus spends most of his time plodding the trail.  When Jesus calls us to follow him, he gives us a picture of what it looks like: himself.  Those who walk on his trail also become pictures that inspire and encourage others to follow Jesus.

Yesterday, at Men's Breakfast, TJ Eiswald spoke of how he and Stella, his bride, are following God's call. They are heading to Papua New Guinea, where TJ will fly helicopters in support of missionaries, Bible translators in remote, jungle and island communities. God put this desire in him as a boy, but God has led him down this path a few steps at a time, over many years. This is how the Lord works. God has been teaching TJ and Stella to trust.  

TJ and Stella trusted God enough to quit a great job, sell their house and belongings, and pack up.  Would they make it financially?  TJ and Stella could not answer that question in total.  They chose to surrender themselves to God.  They are trusting God without seeing the end of the road.  This family presents a picture of carrying your cross daily in the path of Jesus.

TJ and Stella are seeing God provide and are still in the process of raising their financial support. Would you consider being part of their work?  (If want to support the Eiswalds, click here.)

You and I have a choice: focus on what this world offers or on Jesus. Jesus says you cannot pursue the comforts of this world AND him (Luke 9:24-25Luke 16:13). Does that mean sell your extra car, or sell your home, or quit your job and go live in a place where people are hungry for Jesus?  I don't know. And you will only know if you start pursuing Jesus.  Jesus speaks to those who learn from him.  A disciple is "a learner." If you want to be a disciple of Jesus, you must tell yourself "no," consider yourself dead to this world, and Jesus will show you your next step.

 

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