I don’t know if you have noticed or not, but there are tons of new people attending Pantano. We have almost 500 more people connecting over the same time last year. I just love hearing the stories of how people have come to a place of searching for how God can be a part of their lives and how someone invited them to consider our church. So I’m going to do a series of blogs on WHY we do certain things at Pantano as a reminder for all of us, but especially for those of you who are new – welcome! Let’s start with baptism.
Jesus was baptized. He commanded that we be baptized. The church began when 3000 people were baptized some 2000 years ago in response to Peter’s challenge found in Acts 2:38 – “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” People who came to faith in the book of Acts were baptized. The evidence for baptism is clear. But the greater question is why? Why should we be baptized and what does it mean?
There are some churches that teach that baptism is for church membership. That is not taught in the Bible. Some suggest that baptism is optional. You won’t find that message in the Bible either. Others say baptism saves you. It is Jesus who saves us from our sin. However, baptism is a necessary and extremely important spiritual decision and action that is our response to the offer of being saved from our sins. Here’s the why of baptism…
In baptism we are making a vow or promise to God (see 1 Peter 3:21). We promise to die to our old way of life (repentance) and to follow Jesus with all our heart for all the rest of the days of our lives. We promise to make Jesus our everything and nothing less. We promise that Jesus will be the Lord and Master of our lives. Now, when you make a vow to God, you should be very careful and serious about that kind of vow. You don’t want to break a vow you make to God.
I’ve made only two vows to God. My first was in my baptism – to make Jesus Lord. The second was when I married my wife – to be faithful to her until death separates us. I’m not making any more vows. If I can keep these two then I’ll be grateful for a life well lived.
And both vows (in baptism and marriage) are very similar. Both vows bring us into a formal (not casual), permanent and secure relationship that is meant to last a lifetime. Jesus called his church his bride. We become his “bride” when we make our vow to him in baptism. I often call baptism the believer’s wedding ceremony with Jesus.
Finally, God knew we needed a beginning or starting point. I loved my wife long before I made my vows at our marriage ceremony. But it was the moment I made my vow to her that everything changed. Before the vow I was single and could do as I wanted. After the vow was made, my life changed. It was no longer me, but WE! The same is true in baptism. Before baptism we did as we want. After baptism, we are following Jesus and he now calls the shots. Baptism is a spiritual crossing of the line into the Lordship of Jesus.
Check out a piece I’ve written in Who We Are on our website that has even more details about baptism. According to the practice of the Bible, you can be baptised anytime, anywhere and by any believer. We do offer an invitation and opportunity to be baptized in our services about once a month, however you are not limited to those special days only. THIS SUNDAY (9/10) we’ll have an opportunity for baptism at all our services. Come prepared and invite your family and friends to celebrate with you. Call Marci at the church office (520.298.5395) if you have any questions or want to schedule a time to be baptized.