Ha! Now I’ve got your attention. People who know me well know that there is no chance that I’m getting a tattoo. I have my reasons, but among those is the simple fact that I do not like (Okay, it is more like a phobia)of needles. There is no way that I am ever going to volunteer to have anything to do with that which involves needles.
The other day my wife and I were having a conversation about the fact that we are increasingly in the minority of those who do not have a tattoo. So, we had this fun and silly conversation (okay it was sarcastic) about what our tattoo would say IF we were to get a tattoo. We both agreed that IF (in another universe) we were to get a tattoo, the tattoo would have to mean something incredibly significant.
Not long ago I was with a group of men of which one had a large and noticeable tattoo. As though it was as common a question as could be asked, another man in our group asked about the tattoo, “What does your tattoo mean?” The tattooed man gave a very lengthy answer. I was impressed. I was intrigued. Not enough to think about getting my own, mind you, but still impressed with the thoughtful answer.
For the believer, baptism is something of a tattoo. Baptism marks us! Baptism identifies us with our belief. Baptism is a distinguishing mark of outward appearance symbolic of a deeply held inward belief.
The first question of baptism is “Who should be baptized?” Baptism should be reserved for those who have identified with Christ.
Consider these key scriptures:
Acts 2:37-41 helps us to understand who should be baptized. Some people, in error, read verse 38 to mean that an individual is not saved until he/she is baptized. However, the record of the whole counsel of God negates this understanding. Just a few verses later, Luke tells us this in Acts 3:19.
Acts 3:19 helps us to clarify that repentance and faith result in salvation. This verse gives no mention of baptism in the process of salvation. The early church so closely associated repentance and baptism that to speak of one was to speak of the other. However, the emphasis in salvation is repentance and faith.
In giving directions, we leave out details depending on our audience. Depending on the situation, sometimes details are left out, but the assumption is that the listener would know how to understand. That appears to be the difference in Acts 2 and Acts 3.
Who should be baptized? Any person who has come to that place of understanding that eternal life is found in faith in Jesus Christ. In baptism, we identify with the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If we have believed that, we need to declare that.
This Sunday, September 8, is Baptism Sunday in Southern Baptist churches. Our elected president of the SBC, J.D. Greear, has called on every Southern Baptist Church to baptize this Sunday. I can’t wait for this Sunday to see what happens in our churches. I’m going to be preaching on the subject of baptism at the church where I have been invited to preach—First Baptist, Haughton, LA.
I’m looking forward to hearing reports from our churches in Louisiana.