Water Baptism and Why It Matters

Readers Are Leaders — Apostasy

Raymond Jones

Raymond Jones (my dad), Germany 1945

Readers lead. Those who cannot read, or refuse to read, follow. Often they are led astray down the wide path that leads to destruction and never-ending torment for the soul.

In military circles baptism by fire refers to a soldier’s first time in battle. In one sense it is the first time a soldier dies, for even if they survive the war, they are changed forever. In the TV series Band of Brothers private Albert Blithe seems reluctant to engage the enemy, to advance, to do anything other than hunker down. Captain Ronald Speirs comes along and gives Blithe this advice.

The only hope you have is to accept the fact that you’re already dead. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you’ll be able to function as a soldier is supposed to function: without mercy, without compassion, without remorse. All war depends upon it. ― Stephen E. Ambrose, Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne.

This is the function of baptism: we accept that though alive, we are already dead.

Those who read, those who learn, those who study the archived documents of wars and conflict, who observe the animal kingdom, understand that death comes fast: certainly much sooner than we expect. Be it baptism by fire or baptism by water, death comes to all.

A recent article in um-insight.net examined water baptism within the United Methodist denomination. UMC is but one of many that treats baptism as a minor event in the life of a believer. It’s mentioned in our denominations’s “Field Manual,” but not emphasized. Cynthia B. Astle, the author of the article, cites the following texts from the current UMC Book of Discipline.

Our Doctrinal Standards and General Rules, Article VI The Sacraments. We believe Baptism signifies entrance into the household of faith, and is a symbol of repentance and inner cleansing from sin, a representation of the new birth in Christ Jesus and a mark of Christian discipleship.

“We believe children are under the atonement of Christ and as heirs of the Kingdom of God are acceptable subjects for Christian Baptism. Children of believing parents through Baptism become the special responsibility of the Church. They should be nurtured and led to personal acceptance of Christ, and by profession of faith confirm their Baptism.”

“Our Doctrinal Standards and General Rules, Article XVII—Of Baptism. Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference whereby Christians are distinguished from others that are not baptized; but it is also a sign of regeneration or the new birth. The Baptism of young children is to be retained in the Church.”

“The Ministry of All Christians, Paragraph 122: The Process for Carrying Out Our Mission—We make disciples as we: … lead persons to commit their lives to God through baptism by water and the spirit and profession of faith in Jesus Christ;”

“The Ministry of All Christians, Paragraph 126: All Christians are called through their baptism to this ministry of servanthood in the world to the glory of God and for human fulfillment.”

“The Ministry of All Christians, Paragraph 129: “… In baptism, water is administered in the name of the triune God (specified in the ritual as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) by an authorized person, and the Holy Spirit is invoked with the laying on of hands, ordinarily in the presence of the congregation.”

“Church Membership, Paragraph 216 (2) a: There are many occasions as people mature in the faith when the Holy Spirit’s confirming action may be celebrated, such as in the reaffirmation of the baptismal covenant or other services related to life passages. Unlike baptism, which is a once-made covenant and can only be reaffirmed and not repeated, confirmation is a dynamic action of the Holy Spirit that can be repeated.”

The Ministry of the Ordained, Unauthorized Conduct, Paragraph 341 (7). No pastor shall re-baptize. The practice of re-baptism does not conform with God’s action in baptism and is not consistent with Wesleyan tradition and the historic teaching of the church. Therefore, the pastor should counsel any person seeking re-baptism to participate in a rite of reaffirmation of baptismal vows.”

Look again at the requirements for and purpose of baptism.

  • entrance into the household of faith
  • acceptable subjects for Christian living
  • confirmation of a willingness to be baptized
  • a sign of profession of faith
  • a sign of regeneration
  • a sign of new birth in Christ Jesus
  • filled with the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands

The UMC and other denominations baptize infants. In my experience they seldom encourage youth, young adult, or even old adult baptism. An infant or toddler who is still learning to crawl, walk, talk, cannot be expected to make a decision regarding their new:

  • household — and baptism into the Body of Christ is joining a new spiritual family
  • living status — and like any change in living arrangements, there are family expectations
  • confirmation — should we really expect an infant or toddler to understand such a commitment?
  • what profession of faith, regeneration, new birth in Christ Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit really means?

The Apostle Paul gives a clear summary of the importance of water and spirit baptism.

Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.

If churches are wetting infants on the head and calling it baptism, it’s no wonder so many young and new adults today reject the idea of Jesus, God, sin, and their need to repent. If an individual truly has been baptized and received the Holy Spirit of Christ, we might expect some evidence of spiritual fruit.

Instead, what we find much too often is a culture of spiritual rot.

A recent Barna survey reveals that most American christians do not believe that Satan or the Holy Spirit are real. Thinking good thoughts about others, does not make them good. Believing Satan is not real or that the Holy Spirit is only a mystic symbol of religious piety does not change the impact both have on humanity. Because British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain believed Britain and Nazi Germany were “the two pillars of European peace and buttresses against communism” he bowed to all of Adolph Hitler’s demands. Chamberlain thought Hitler meant no harm.

He thought wrong.

I was raised in the Methodist church. As I recall, I became the 1000th member of St. Marks United Methodist Church in Raleigh. (It’s possible I mis-remembered this part, but nonetheless I like to claim this distinction.) I was in our church’s youth fellowship, went to Sunday School, participated in Christian groups at N.C. State and yet, I had never died and been born again. I’m sure God’s protection and provision surrounded me and I have no doubt he called me, if you had asked me in high school if I’d been baptized in water and with God’s Spirit I would have said no.  Then one day, while in college at State, I went to New Life Camp at the corner of Durant Rd and Falls of the Neuse Rd, was baptized. Later in the old auditorium in D. H. Hill library I prayed to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit. Only then did I truly receive a new birth.

Those who are in the Kingdom of God know we are war, but not with our neighbor. Our neighbor, like Chamberlain, may be misguided, confused, naive, but he or she is not our enemy. This war is fought in the spiritual realm where angels and demons, light and darkness, battle for the souls of the lost. This is not some video game that can be turned off, reset, replayed.

This is deadly business.

So watch videos if you wish. Play games if you want. Read books; please read books! Just know that while you are lost in a fantasy world of entertainment, the enemy is rolling across the countryside killing and taking hostage those too naive to believe the rumble of gunfire means that Satan is advancing.

In the end private Albert Blithe realized he was a dead man walking, picked up his weapon, and became a soldier. He fought without mercy, without compassion, without remorse. His small efforts helped defeat evil. Your enemy, the one you may think doesn’t exists, shows no mercy, no compassion, no remorse.

And whether you believe he exists or not, he’s gunning for you. If you want to fight back, email me and I’ll help you get fitted out for battle.


With the Holy Spirit They Spoke the Word of God Boldly

Grow to Become Mature — Act 4:31

With the Holy Spirit They Spoke the Word of God Boldly

With the Holy Spirit they spoke the word of God boldly. – Act 4:31

Do we speak God’s word with boldness or do we avoid speaking the Truth of God for fear we might offend, wound, or become tagged as someone who spouts “hate speech?” Paul calls us to speak truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Speak in love; speak his Truth.  When we do we “grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

Bold are those filled with his Holy Spirit of Truth.

Books I support—authors I trust.

In The Nam The Everyday: 366 Real Stories for Real People On Deadly Grounds The Consort Conspiracy: Some secrets refuse to stay buried... Letting the CAT out of the BAG RIDING THE RAILS TO HOME A Mother's Song: A Story of the Orphan Train Dust Between the Stitches PIECING FABRICS - MENDING LIVES: THE HISTORY, PHILOSOPHY AND INGENUITY OF QUILTERS Creating Comfort-ers: The History, Philosophy and Ingenuity of Quilters Cultivating Wildflowers: An Urban Teacher Romance Miss Bee and the Do Bees: An Urban Teacher Romance The Food That Held the World Together RUSH Chasing the Butterfly Down to Davy Jones Enjoy Today Own Tomorrow

Make My Heart Hurt for You — Impact My Heart

He Ghosted Me—Acts 2

Make My Heart Hurt for You — Impact My Heart

The Spirit came to rest on them. – Acts 2:3
Lord, may your Ghost rest on me.

The Spirit filled them. Acts 2:4
Lord fill me with your Holy Ghost.

The Spirit enabled them. – Acts 2:4
Lord, enable me to pray with power.

They had everything in common. – Acts 2:44
Lord, may your people have everything in common. 

The Lord added to their numbers. – Acts 2:47
Lord, add to your numbers. 

They were cut to the heart. – Acts 2:37
Lord, dent my heart. Make my heart hurt for you. Impact my heart.

Books I support—authors I trust.

A Mother's Song: A Story of the Orphan Train Enjoy Today Own Tomorrow Journal Sober Cycle: Pedaling Through Recovery One Day at a Time Deep End of the Lake RUSH BROKEN VESSELS: God's GLORY through FLAWED Humanity Rhinestones on My Flip-Flops  Land of My Dreams Labor to Leadership The Flight to Excellence Faith House: A Journey of Faith In Addiction Recovery Little White Squirrel's Secret

If Your Right Hand Causes You to Stumble—or Your Right to Yourself Causes You to Stumble—Cut It Off

Asserting Your "Rights" In Jesus

Asserting Your "Rights" In Jesus

“If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” – Jesus (Matthew 5:30)

Our need to prove that we are right is almost always a sign that the spirit of our flesh is trying to assert its rights. From our Father’s perspective, we surrendered all our rights when we died to ourself, which is what the act of water baptism symbolizes, and rose with Christ. It matters not if we are slandered, maligned, cheated, persecuted, unjustly convicted. What matters is that we do not lie, cheat, slander, falsely accuse or malign others.

If your right hand causes you to stumble—or your right to yourself causes you to stumble—cut it off. Cut it out.

Books I support—authors I trust.

RIDING THE RAILS TO HOME Enjoy Today Own Tomorrow Sober Cycle: Pedaling Through Recovery One Day at a Time Deep End of the Lake  Seasoned: A Love Story BROKEN VESSELS: God's GLORY through FLAWED Humanity Rhinestones on My Flip-Flops Rodeo Mouse and the Greatest Escape Plan in Mouse History Within Golden Bands Labor to Leadership The Flight to Excellence Faith House: A Journey of Faith In Addiction Recovery

Honor the Lord With Your Bounty

The Prosperity Gospel & Prosperity Theology from God's Perspective -Proverbs 3:9-10

Honor the Lord With Your Bounty

Honor the Lord with your wealth. Honor the Lord with the first fruits of all your crops. Do this and your barns will be filled to overflowing. Your vats will brim over with new wine. Proverbs 3:9-10

Seems simple enough: Invest a tithe (10%) of the first income / produce you receive and you’ll never go hungry or run out of wine. Who wouldn’t jump on a plan that guaranteed such a blessed harvest?

Only my reading of the life and words of Jesus, plus my own experience, leads me to wonder if this verse, so often sited by prosperity preachers, has a deeper, more spiritual meaning. To give away 10% of your wealth may not seem like much, but in 2017, eight years after the Great Recession ended, 49 percent of all Americans still lived paycheck-to-paycheck. To give to God 10% before buying groceries or paying bills might seem like scooping buckets of water onto a sinking boat.

But could it not be that the principle of giving the “first fruits of all your crops” is key to walking with our Father.

“Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering.” – Genesis 4:4

If you are Abel, give first, give large, give your best.

Give God your very life and trust that he will know best how to fill vats and barns. Remember: filled barns and vats suggests that someone must work hard to care and sort the produce. What might seem like a blessing for some is a burden for others.

We may never know how many times God directed disaster away from hour home, spared us from sickness, kept us from making a bad purchase, or turning towards a catastrophic career move. On the other side of the grave we may see how his hand guided us, but on this side, we must simply trust and obey.

Lord, I do not ask for riches. I only ask that you richly bless me with your presence, your protection, your provision, your hope, your joy, your love, your arms wrapped around me tight, pulling me close. It is enough that you keep me in your lap and close to your heart. Enough and more than I deserve. Thanks and THANKS!

Books I support—authors I trust.

A Mother's Song: A Story of the Orphan Train Enjoy Today Own Tomorrow Journal Sober Cycle: Pedaling Through Recovery One Day at a Time Deep End of the Lake RUSH BROKEN VESSELS: God's GLORY through FLAWED Humanity Rhinestones on My Flip-Flops  Land of My Dreams Labor to Leadership The Flight to Excellence Faith House: A Journey of Faith In Addiction Recovery Little White Squirrel's Secret

A Poem from a Prisoner of Christ

A Poem from a Prisoner of Christ

I did not realize Jesus was all I needed,
Until Jesus was all I had!

Jesus wept the day,
when I went Astray.

I confused my Need,
with Satan’s cunning Greed.

When Jesus was a stranger,
I could not control my Anger.

Now my cure for defeating Pride,
is with the Holy Spirit by my side.

To defeat my Envy, Hate and Lust,
Reading God’s word daily is a must.

The Bible’s encouragement and motivation,
gives me courage over Temptation.

My Bible is frayed from daily use,
I have won the battle of Abuse.

Jesus, Baptized with the symbol of a dove,
came to teach me about God’s Love.

Do not simply believe my words,
Ask Jesus to make his voice Heard.

Books I support—authors I trust.

Sober Cycle: Pedaling Through Recovery One Day at a Time Rhinestones on My Flip-Flops The Flight to Excellence Faith House: A Journey of Faith In Addiction Recovery Land of My Dreams Within Golden Bands Labor to Leadership BROKEN VESSELS: God's GLORY through FLAWED Humanity Enjoy Today Own Tomorrow Journal Enjoy Today Own Tomorrow