Was your water baptism a dip and tip event or a holy encounter with God?
Today was “Remember your baptism” Sunday at North Raleigh United Methodist Church. We were encouraged to go up, dip a finger in a bowl of water, touch our forehead and remember our baptism. It’s always important to remember your baptism. It’s even better to write it someplace where your family can find it upon your death. For some, this notation may be the only evidence that they ever committed their life to Christ and received him as their savior. Article XVII of Methodist Articles of Religion on baptism state:
“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.”
I have witnessed many infants “baptized” during Sunday services. There is value it the ceremony. The family and church members voice their commitment to raise the child as a fellow family member of Christ’s body. But the infant has no say in the matter and will not for years to come. Only later, when an individual reaches the “age of reason” — seven, ten, twelve … twenty — can they appreciate the words of God and become convicted of their sin. Before this moment we are:
- Dead in our sins and transgressions.
- Follow the ways of this world.
- Follow the ruler of the kingdom of the air.
- Follow the spirit who is now at work in those of us who are disobedient.
- Gratify the cravings of our sinful nature – which is our fleshly desires.
- Fail to realize that we are, by nature, children of wrath.
It is by grace you have been saved. This is a gift of God.
The pastor at NRUMC hit on a number of possible reasons why Christ allowed his cousin John to baptize Christ in the River Jordon, but Jesus himself said it was for this reason: “To fulfill all righteousness.”
There may be other benefits for adult baptism, but for Christ it indicated that he was consecrated to God. An infant cannot consecrate themselves to God. Parents may consecrate a child to God, but we must consider that our “free will” plays a role in our actions and future. If sprinkling water on an infant would save their offspring from hell and a life of sinful behavior, a great many parents of all beliefs, even unbelief, would ask that their child be dipped and flipped for God.
In his baptism Christ was officially approved by God. “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ Matt 3:16.
After the baptism of Jesus the, Holy Spirit was seen descending on Jesus. After our baptism of water we should experience the Holy Spirit descending upon and indwelling within us. In fact, this marks the beginning of our “new birth.” From that moment forward, the spiritual DNA of Christ is transferred into our spirit. This starts our sanctification — a fancy word that means “set apart,” “being made or becoming “being made or becoming holy.” The old body remains, but a new spirit begins to grow within us. Jesus baptism is an example for us to follow.
As I watched the congregation parade by the bowls of water, dip and tip, I wondered if there were any who had not been baptized: if there were some who never professed with their mouth and believed in their heart that Christ was the Son of God — was God himself. Perhaps as an infant their parents had consecrated them to God and it was for that reason they were in church today, and most other Sundays, rather than someplace else. But were they now children of God or children of wrath? Did they know beyond a doubt?
If you cannot recall water baptism as an adult or receiving God’s Holy Spirit, I suggest you find a time to do this. In your shower, in your bathtub, in a pool, in the ocean, lake, pond, river or creek … pick a moment when you consecrate yourself to God through water immersion. This can be between you and God or with others as witnesses. Then go to a quiet place and ask God to give you his promised Holy Spirit. Wait for it. Meditate on his word. Pray in silence and audibly. Weep, plead, confess … this is a holy transaction. Some may will feel warmth, conviction, loved, speak in tongues … others nothing. Do not focus on the feeling: focus on your sacrifice to God. You are surrendering your life in order to gain his.
When finished write down the time and date and keep that information someplace safe where your family can find it upon your death. Then watch as the Spirit of God slowly battles your old flesh into submission. This is baptism. This is why it’s important. Christ came and died for you: make that moment a monumental experience.