Taking the Cure
Updated: Dec 18, 2018
When I think about the idea that someone who is interested in becoming a Christian is being misled as to what that might look like, I am reminded of conversations I have had with a great influencer of mine. We spoke about one particular topic more than others. The topic we wrestled with was the idea that someone who believes in Jesus as the son of God, the messiah, is waiting to submit themselves to baptism. They know they need to be baptized and are ready, but they want to wait. It is as if this momentous decision and act of submission and obedience was merely a spectacle for family members or friends or was just another ordinary action within their day--something that can wait. Is that what baptism is supposed to be? Is it supposed to be something that is only a show? A moment in time where we get to stand before the members of the body and receive attention, applause, and recognizable acceptance?
Before you shut me out completely because you feel that I am "downing" the celebration that tends to follow a baptism or the happiness expressed after that choice is made, please read this all the way through. If you disagree with baptism, I ask that you proceed with an open mind and a humble heart.
If we are going to preach that baptism goes hand in hand with salvation, I believe we have to stop treating it like it is a spectacle and start treating it as if it were someone's former self being crucified before our eyes. I recognize that baptism is a huge decision in someone's life and that many understand exactly what they are doing when they are being immersed. I will also say this though: I have heard several people tell me that they are ready to be baptized but the church needs to find an open date on when they "schedule" baptisms. I have also heard people tell me that they are ready as an individual to receive baptism, but they want to wait for their significant other to do it with them or they want family to be in attendance before they proceed. While we explore this a bit more, let's find out exactly what baptism is according to the Bible:
Is it necessary to become a disciple of Jesus?
Jesus said the following: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19, NRSV)
He also said, "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:15-16, NRSV)
Was it something the first Christians did?
The first account of a conversion is found in Acts 2:37-38, which states, "Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, "Brothers, what should we do?" Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Acts 2:41 says, "So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added." Verse 47 then tells us, "And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved." (NRSV)
Saul was a major persecutor of the apostles when he was blinded by his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. You can find the entire account in Acts 9, but the point here is found in verses 17&18. Here it says, "So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, 'Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.' And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized." (NRSV)
Was this metaphorical speak for a baptism of the Spirit? Or was it water?
The story of the Ethiopian eunuch demonstrates that baptism is an immersion into water.
Acts 8:36, "As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?" (NRSV)
Acts 8:38-39, "...Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. when they came up out of the water, the Spirit..." (added emphasis)
Can we be reconciled to God without forgiveness of sin? Does baptism take away sin?
Acts 22:16, "And now why do you delay? Get up, be baptized, and have your sins washed away, calling on his name" (NRSV)
Romans 6 states that one must be buried with Christ in order to also be raised with Him in the resurrection. In Romans 6, you will find overwhelming evidence that baptism is essential for the sinner to be reconciled to God, through his faith in Jesus. Romans 6:5, "For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his."
1 Peter 3:21, "And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you--not as a removal of dirt, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
What actually happens during baptism? An outward expression of inner faith?
Luckily, God knew that the path to finding his righteousness was absolutely going to be disagreed upon by mortal men, but he gave us the answers. In Romans 6:6, Paul states, "We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin." (NRSV)
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!"
The last piece of this is, "how do I know I am in Christ?" I send you right back to Romans 6 for the answer: "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:3-4).
Now surely there are some who will question these verses that were used. They will surely mention Romans 10 and the thief on the cross. But what the Bible says is clear, and we cannot simply pull pieces out and disregard the other scriptures. Some argue this point because they have been convinced that baptism is irrelevant or that it is just an expression.
These are just a few pieces of scripture that, when used together, create the perfect answer to this question of salvation. Man is sinful by nature and therefore, naturally opposes and is separated from God. There is only one way that this sin can be taken away so that we are made clean--born a new creature. It is through baptism, by your faith in Jesus, that He washes your sins away. It is by the grace of God that we have this avenue of forgiveness. So ultimately, yes, we are saved by the grace of God, but we must obey that God.
So let's proceed differently if we have been guilty of treating the burial of another person as a spectacle. The unification of another person's soul with Jesus Christ through a death like His is not a light-hearted matter. It is a matter of salvation. Let's realize that being alive in sin is a terminal illness in which there is only one cure. If this were any other terminal disease and you were presented with the cure, would you wait for all of your friends, family, or significant other to witness the taking of the cure? Would you allow your children to wait? Or would you want that cure right now? Would you be able to sit still, even, before you had that cure in your body and running through your veins? I sincerely doubt it. The goal of this is not to "roast" anyone in particular or to cause doubts. It is to make clear what the scripture says. The scripture is what we have to trust, not the opinions of others. Focusing on the Word is the mission of this web site, and that is what I am doing in this post. Stop waiting for the cure. Stop holding people back who are ready to receive the cure. When one knows they are in sin, they need to take the cure at that moment, and that is something that absolutely should be encouraged.
If you would like more scripture references for baptism, please send a request in the box below, as there are several others.
As always, if there is anything I can do to help you in your walk, please, please do not hesitate to ask.
Until next time.