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Core 52 Chapter 39 - Baptism

Just a few weeks ago, I was able to witness a young girl commit her life to Christ and be baptized. It was an amazing sight that I will never grow weary of seeing, leading, participating in or simply watching from the audience. For a child or student, that moment is usually the culmination of many years of prayers, conversations, discussions, teachings and more between parents and their children. What a moment of celebration to be cherished.

Baptism, in the world of Christendom, can sometimes be a “hot topic,” that leads to many arguments and often much division.  The views on baptism vary from not necessary at all, to an outward sign, to accepting of various and alternate forms, to absolutely necessary when it comes to salvation and eternal security. Ironically, all of these views feel just as resolved as the others through their use of Scripture and understanding of the Bible.

Me? I’m a firm believer that the New Testament teaches that baptism is a pivotal part of the salvation/conversion experience and just as necessary as every other aspect of God’s plan for us to be restored to Him.  I’m also a firm believer in the method of baptism. I could fill pages with further explanation of my understanding of the teachings of Jesus, Paul, Peter and the rest of the NT authors and accompany them with NT examples from those same people and the faith communities they were a part of and influential over, but that’s a discussion for another day.

What I want you to do is to consider this question – just like Mr. Moore points out in his discussion in chapter 39 of CORE 52 – Why should I be baptized? He then goes on to explain from a Scriptural point of view about the method (by definition, immersion), the instruction (commanded by Jesus and others) and the results (clothed in Christ, sealed with the Spirit and connected to the Father) all of which I agree with wholeheartedly.

Let me attempt to simplify this with an analogy that may help you with your understanding of baptism and your ability to convey these thoughts to your friends or family. Now, of course, with every analogy there are holes and questions and uncertainties, but that’s what analogies are. They are similar in certain respects, but not completely the same (sort of like siblings, but not identical twins – a lot of the same DNA, but there are some differences), so don’t get hung up on the analogy, just see it as a doorway to conversation.

Imagine you are back in high school (that’s much harder for some of us!!).  Imagine it is the last week of your senior year and you are battling it out with another classmate for the honor of valedictorian. Right now, you have the higher GPA, but it is so close that it will likely come down to the very last grade of the year.  Now, let me remind you of the scholarship opportunities available to the one who wins the valedictorian award. This is not simply an emblem on your diploma. We’re talking about school potentially throwing money at you to have you attend their school.  It won’t be a matter of if you get accepted, but more likely, which one out of 100 will you choose to attend.  In other words, big reward!

Continue to imagine yourself sitting in math class and the last few minutes are ticking by. The teacher begins to give the final assignment of the year – one last effort to maintain your position. She says, “Students, your final assignment will be page 324-.” Then she is suddenly cut off by the sound of the bell.  As every student knows, when the bell rings, you leave!! So everyone shuffles out the door and finishes their day.

When you get home that night to do your homework, you open up your math book and check your assignment sheet.  You clearly remember her saying “page 324,” so you turn to that page. And that’s when your heart drops. You see that page 324 has a total of 100 word problems – or division of fractions, or graphing equations, or solving matrices – you fill in the blank with the math skill you hate the most).  So, now the question comes to mind.  What do you do now?
You have a few choices based on some previous practices of your math teacher. Sometimes she asks for just the odd numbered problems, but sometimes she asks for the evens.  Sometimes she only asks for the first 10 or 20, but sometimes it’s the last 10 or 20. Sometimes she only wants it half way completed, but other times she asks for all of it. So, again, I ask you, what do you do know?

Let me frame this in the right way for you so you can understand the weight of this – all your college hopes and dreams of your life and weighing on the ability to receive the awards and blessings of the valedictorian award.  Your entire future is dependent upon it and your life will change dramatically one way or the other.  So, again, what do you do? Odds? Evens? First half?

I’ve used this analogy all throughout my years in ministry and every time the response has been the same – if you want to be absolutely sure of accomplishing your goal of becoming the valedictorian, then there is really only one choice – you do them all. That’s the only way to know for sure.

So, back to baptism, by immersion, commanded by Jesus, part of God’s plan for restoring the broken relationship between man and God. If you want to be absolutely sure about your eternity by fully and completely obeying God to the highest level possible, leaving no room for doubts, then what would your response to baptism be?  My hope and prayer is for it to be obvious to you and to the ones you share your faith with – be baptized.

Remember, this is your eternity – by far better than any valedictorian award, no matter how big the scholarship amount! Do you really want to “roll the dice” and take a chance on it or do you want to be 100% certain of where your eternal home will be? I know what I want. How about you?

- Pete Ramsey