THE MAIN POINT
Baptism is the public declaration of one’s personal faith in Jesus. If you have made the decision to follow Jesus, you should get baptized.
1 Peter 3:20-21 (CSB), Acts 2:38, 8:26-39 (CSB), Colossians 2:12 (CSB), Matthew 3:13-17 (CSB)
The sacraments are actions we as Christians partake in as representations of Christ and what He has done for us. There are three sacraments upon which we will focus over the coming weeks: baptism, offerings, and communion. We perform these sacraments out of obedience, worshipping the Lord for who He is and what He has done.
Baptism, the sacrament we will be focusing on this week, is an outward representation of the work of Christ that has taken place inside one’s heart. It is a public declaration of the faith one has found and is an opportunity to share beliefs.
The first scriptural mention of any sort of baptism within the Bible is not found in the Gospels, but in Genesis! We read from 1 Peter 3:20-21: “who in the past were disobedient when God patiently waited in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared. In it, a few—that is, eight people—were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you (not as the removal of dirt from the body, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” The flood was the cleansing of the earth from its sin. We too represent a sort of “cleansing” when we get dunked.
Baptism today represents our old selves dying, or being buried with Christ as we go under the water. When we emerge out of the water, we symbolize the new life we have found in Jesus. “when you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Col. 2:12) The great sacrifice Jesus made, His death for our sins, is remembered as we too symbolically die in the water. Then, as we emerge out of the water, we symbolize Christ’s triumph over death, as a new creation before all witnesses present.
Baptism is a significant moment in one’s faith journey and is not to be done carelessly and without thought. However, it is also not to be put off or saved for later if one has made the decision to follow Jesus.
In the book of Acts, we read about Philip being told by an angel to go down from Jerusalem to Gaza. There on the road, he meets a man that is referred to as the eunuch who has also just come from Jerusalem. Philip sees that he is reading the book of Isaiah the Prophet which we read from the Old Testament today. The book of Isaiah, which was written hundreds of years before Jesus ever walked the earth, contains many writings prophecying about Jesus and the many things he would do in his lifetime. This man is unable to understand these prophecies without the knowledge of Jesus’ fulfillment of them. Philip shares the good news about Jesus with this eunuch. “As they were traveling down the road, they came to some water. The eunuch said, “Look, there’s water. What would keep me from being baptized? So he ordered the chariot to stop, and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.” In response to the change that occurred in his heart through hearing the Gospel, the eunuch immediately gets baptized. He does not wait until he is a better Christian. He does not need to get right with God any more than confessing His sins, repenting, and then being baptized.
As you prepare the core of the message using personal stories and questions keep in mind these points:
- The sacraments are representations of Christ and what He has done for us. We partake in them, worshipping the Lord and remembering what He has done in and through us.
- We partake in baptism out of reverence for the transformed life we have in Him. The great sacrifice Jesus made, His death for our sins, is remembered as we too symbolically die in the water. Then, as we emerge out of the water, we symbolize Christ’s triumph over death, as a new creation before all witnesses present.
- Baptism is a significant moment in one’s faith journey and is not to be done carelessly and without thought. It is when one steps out independently and declares their faith in Jesus.
- Baptism is not to be put off or saved for later if one has made the decision to follow Jesus, they should be baptized.
As you prepare the application, challenge and/or encouragement, keep in mind these points:
- Baptism is a solo endeavour. When we are baptized, we alone make this decision. Our small group leaders, siblings, friends, or parents are not being submerged with us. We alone are declaring our faith in Christ.
- We do not need to wait to be a better Christian or get right with God any more than repenting of our sins. We need only to obey God’s word:
- “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)” (Though, it is not baptism that saves us but the saving work of Christ through our repentance).
- As a baptism Is a public declaration of one’s faith, it is a great opportunity to share the gospel with those who do not know Jesus and to encourage those who do.