Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Beauty of Baptism

We've baptized 22 people over the last two weeks at Southlands. Of course, Easter Sunday is a classic Baptism moment, but the curious thing is that it spilled over (pun intended) into the next weekend, when we baptized another 5 people. There is something contagious about the power of a bold, decisive, declaration of faith.

Firstly, a brief theology of Baptism.  I explained it to my youngest son, Levi, who was baptized at Easter, like this. In the Book of Exodus, God saved His people in two ways. Firstly, he saved them from the angel of death by the blood of a lamb on their doorposts. This foreshadows the Cross, where the blood of Jesus saves us from the penalty of our sin, which is death. Secondly, He saved them from slavery to Egypt by opening up the Red Sea, and drowning the Egyptian army while Israel escaped on dry land. This mirrors the Resurrection of Christ, which defeats our enemies, sin, satan and death. Ultimately, the Cross deals with the penalty of sin, while the Resurrection deals with the power of sin.

Jesus gave His Church two primary Sacraments to celebrate: Communion, which remembers the Cross, and Baptism by full immersion in water,  which remembers the Resurrection. Practicing these Sacraments is what makes a Church a Church. While Jesus instructed his disciples to celebrate Communion as often as you gather, Baptism was to be a decisive, definitive, one-off death to sin, in order to rise again in the newness of Christ's resurrection life. It also signifies inclusion in Christ's Body the Church, but that's for another blog. Jesus commanded us to make disciples by baptizing them and teaching them to obey Him. Baptism doesn't save us, but it empowers us to turn our back on sin and follow Jesus. It's why we call our baptismal font the coffin. I heard someone say, "I felt like I was dying as I went under the water, but I felt brand new as I came up."That's pretty much it.

We baptized a lady from Iran who has been studying here the last few months. She grew up Moslem, but on her arrival in the US, a lady in our church befriended her, began to speak to her about Jesus, and brought her to church. After a few weeks she put her faith in Jesus, and on Sunday she made a bold, public proclamation of that faith, that will no doubt come at great personal cost.  But she is unashamed of her Savior, and even insisted that we give her a certificate to prove that she is now a Christian.

We also baptized 3 people who have come through our Alpha course,  an introduction to the Christian faith. One man had never set foot in an actual church before Easter Sunday, besides a few funerals. But he became convinced of the Gospel during Alpha, and decided to make a public declaration of faith in Jesus on the spur of the moment on Sunday.Others have been more deliberate in their decisions. One lady crossed the line of faith a year ago in our church, but wanted to be sure she was counting the cost of a no turning back decision. Another man has walked with Christ for more than 10 years! Some children got baptized too, and each parent spent time making sure that they understood the Gospel, had repented and trusted Jesus for salvation, and were willing to follow Him the rest of their days. This is no less powerful!

The recent spate of Baptism show no signs of abating either. Just this week I have had conversations with people who have asked to be baptized. We will do this on the 3rd May.  I believe there are others whom God is stirring to be decisive and make a public declaration of faith in Jesus.  If that is you please reach out to me or Salvation belongs to the Lord.

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