Thursday, October 11, 2007

Luke #37 - Beginnings

Luke #37 – Beginnings

“Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, ‘Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased’” (Luke 3:21-22 – King James Version).

I don’t show my emotions a lot of the time. It’s not that I don’t feel like crying, the tears just don’t come out. Baptisms get the tears flowing every time. I cry for three reasons, two of which are very different. Whenever I see someone being baptized or have administered baptisms I always think back to the joyous day of my own baptism. That was a monumental day for me; one I’ll NEVER forget. I know what a great new PUBLIC beginning that was for me and when I watch others being baptized I wonder about their new public beginning. I watch in silent awe as I try to imagine how God has become real to that person and how different their present and future has become having met Jesus. I always wonder if that person is just getting wet. Baptism without salvation is just getting dunked. Nothing more; period. If that is the case I get very, very sad when I think about that. I think What if this person is getting baptized and does not know Jesus? Will they think THIS is salvation? One second I am filled with joy at the possibility of someone letting the world know about their NEW LIFE in Christ and the next second I am mourning at the possibility that a person just got dunked for nothing.

Some may wonder why Jesus got baptized; He wasn’t a sinner was He? No, indeed not! There are several good reasons why Jesus was baptized. He was identifying with our humanity and our sin (concerning sin, the keyword being IDENTIFYING). Jesus’ baptism gave us an example to follow. Also, Jesus’ baptism served as the beginning of His public ministry. Whatever the reason (and there are probably more), God was “pleased” with what Jesus was doing.

I think it is key to note that Jesus was there on the Jordan with the sinners when He began His public ministry. Those were the people He chose to associate Himself with. It would have made more sense to the human mind if Jesus had gone to the temple and had a big ceremony. That is still who Jesus wants to identify with, the sinner who knows change is needed. That’s who Jesus wants to be baptized…those who have turned to Him from sin and wants the world to know.

Baptism is a post salvation experience, or at least it’s supposed to be. When we get baptized it is to tell the world four things: (1) we’re turning from sin, (2) we’re starting a new life in Christ that we want known publicly, (3) we are identifying in obedience with Christ, and (4) our baptism serves as a public proclamation and profession of our salvation. It is also the asking of three things from the witnesses: (1) we are asking for Christian love from the body of Christ, (2) we are asking for prayer, and (3) we are asking for accountability in our walk with the Lord. Whether you were able to articulate your baptism in those terms, did it mean that for you?

There is a bunch of folks in churches across America that have been dunked but have no new beginning to go with the water. Granted, Jesus did not sin, but His baptism was nonetheless a new beginning. There are also a lot of people in churches today that were baptized as children, but did not really meet Christ until later on. If that is you friend, let me encourage you to receive a believer’s baptism soon. Sure, there may be some in attendance that remember your first baptism, but what a powerful testimony to tell them that the first one was just water but the new one is a result of having met Christ!

God is the God of new beginnings. Would you have a new beginning today? If you do not know Christ, today can be the day! Then follow Him into baptism and let the world know that you have decided to follow Jesus. Christian…look back at your baptism experience. What was it about? Let’s be sure that it was something in which God would say He was “well pleased.” Did you think that your baptism and joining the church saved you? (By the way…baptism is NOT salvation). Did you realize it was a proclamation and profession of new life in Jesus? That’s what it should be; a sign of a new beginning!

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