3 events, separated by 25 years, tell the story of my spiritual journey when I came to be a Christ follower.
The first event was when I was baptized as an infant. I was born to two amazing parents who wanted to raise me in a Christian home. They brought me to church each Sunday growing up. I do not remember a time when church was not a part of my life. This is such a huge blessing. When I was just a few months old, my parents had me baptized at the church we attended.
The second event was when I placed my faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of my sins. This was a major turning point in my life. I had attended many church events, memorized many verses, knew the words to many hymns, and even had been confirmed as a church member . . . but I did not know what it all meant. Jesus was a historical figure . . . Christianity was a subject. It was not until Easter Sunday 1990 that the Spirit of God convicted me of my sin and I turned to Jesus as my rescuer from sin and judgment. I have been following Him ever since.
The third event came when I was baptized upon profession of faith in 1998. At the time I was an Associate Pastor at a church in Coppell, Texas. I decided to be baptized at that time because as I studied Scripture, I saw a pattern emerge: people believed in Jesus, then they were immersed in water baptism. This was the pattern of the early church, and it was consistent with the teaching of Jesus. The Scriptures were clear (in my mind) about the pattern of baptism, but in order to be baptized I had to clear a few hurdles:
- I needed to talk to my parents. I was so thankful for the legacy of following Jesus that they had passed on to me. I did not desire to reject that heritage by being “re”baptized. However, my desire to follow the clear teaching of Jesus trumped my risk of offending my family, so I decided to be baptized. I called my parents to tell them about my decision. I also wanted to tell them THANK YOU for the spiritual investment they made in my life. They were so gracious and celebrated this decision with me.
- I needed to talk to my Pastor. As I mentioned, I was already serving as an Associate Pastor at a church. I was afraid that my Pastor might react negatively to the notion that one of his staff wanted to be baptized! I met with him and told him what God had been teaching me. He graciously celebrated this decision with me and together we planned to baptize me at a friend’s swimming pool during a youth group meeting that next Wednesday night — a youth group meeting I was LEADING! I also had the privilege of baptizing my wife (who had come to a similar conviction) right after I was baptized by Pastor Wayne. What a night!
- I needed to talk to Jesus. No one’s salvation depends on the act of being immersed in water. Salvation is by grace through faith, and not as a result of works (including water baptism!) However, the New Testament is really unfamiliar with the idea that an adult could be a Christ follower and yet intentionally choose to NOT be baptized with water. If I were to reject His command of baptism, I would be saying “no” to the One who bled and died for my sins. In prayer, I expressed my decision to be baptized as an outward expression of my inward faith. I declared to Jesus that I was not baptized in order to BE SAVED, but as an expression of the salvation that was already given.
Friends, I write this note today to encourage everyone who reads this to consider water baptism. In our culture, sometimes we think baptisms are for children or students (since many of those baptized are younger in age.) However, the New Testament does not put an age parameter around baptism. People of ANY age are baptized . . . after they have professed faith in Christ.
Like me, you may be a college student or adult who has not been baptized since trusting Christ. Like me, you may have avoided baptism because of the 3 conversations I mentioned above. You may fear talking to your parents about a christening that happened in your early years. You may fear talking to me, because you don’t want to appear as someone who does not “have it all together.” You may have never considered that NOT being baptized was actually saying “no” to Jesus’ command. Whatever your story, I want to encourage you today with a few thoughts:
- Take this opportunity to thank your parents or grandparents for the investment they made in your life. Being baptized since trusting in Christ is not an affront to your family, it is a public declaration of who you are following today.
- Talk to me (or one of our other Pastors/staff) about this. We will absolutely THROW A PARTY! We love celebrating any step of faith God is leading you towards — including water baptism!
- Take this opportunity to talk to Jesus about it. Baptism does not save you, but it is a step of faith in following Him!
To help facilitate all of these things, we have a web form found at wildwoodchurch.org/baptism . Fill that out and we will get back in touch with you ASAP. We even have some classes about the biblical teaching of baptism that we offer on Sunday January 26 (for children, students, and adults) for all who are interested. We look forward to hearing from you in preparation for our next baptism service at Wildwood Community Church on March 8. Hope to hear from you before then!