On October 25th The Gathering will be having a baptism service. In preparation for that, I thought it was time for me to do a teaching on what baptism is and isn’t.
Before we can understand what baptism is, we need to identify the three errors that surround it.
- Error number one says that baptism is essential to salvation. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are not related to God on the basis of our works, religious or otherwise.
- Error number two: baptism is a means by which grace is dispensed or withheld. In other words, the grace of God is applied to our lives through the physical act of baptism and then sustained through the physical act of communion. Baptism is not the means by which the grace of God is applied, or reapplied, or withheld from our lives.
- Error number three: baptism is institutional property. There are large religious institutions that teach that when Jesus died and was resurrected, He gave the power of the resurrection to redeem as the spiritual and physical property of His church; and your relationship with God is measured by your relationship to the institution. No relationship with the institutional church; no relationship to God. This is a lie that should be rejected.
On the other hand, there are three reasons why we should be baptized.
- It’s a matter of believe-ability. Once we believe, baptism is an expression of that belief in outward form.
- It’s a matter of identity. It’s putting on the jersey, taking the stand, not being the fair weather fan or friend; but saying, “My whole life, my future, my faith, the way life is defined for me both now and in the future is always pushed through the matrix of Christ.”
- It’s a matter of obedience. Christ was baptized and told us to go be baptized as an act of submission to His lordship in our lives.
We also talked about when we should be baptized.
- First comes belief, which is an inward reality. Conversion happens to the heart; not just to the head, or as an outward sign of compliance.
- Second comes repentance, which is an outward act. It means I change my mind, I turn course, things that I love I no longer pursue and the things I didn’t care for I now love. Things of God now fill my heart, my hand, and my future.
- Third comes baptism, which is a public statement. I’m saying to my friends and the people around me that I am taking a stand for Christ. I am a follower of Jesus. This is who I am and what I am becoming.
If you know someone who is struggling with the meaning of baptism because they’ve been raised in an environment that made baptism essential to salvation, this would be a great talk to get and listen to. If you’ve not been baptized, join us on the 25th @ The Gathering. It will be a joyful time. You can go to TheGatheringNashville.com and sign up.