Our lives are sprinkled with defining moments—moments that shape the rest of our lives, moments that are so important that the rest of our lives hang in the balance of these moments.
Today, I want to explore with you the defining moment of baptism.
Some years ago, I was on a follow-up FAITH (our church’s organized evangelism effort) visit with one of our men. We were visiting a gentleman who had prayed to receive Christ with another team. The man had not yet been baptized, and we were going to visit with him that particular evening about baptism.
We began by reviewing the Gospel and his decision. He very clearly gave evidence of his commitment to Christ, but indicated to us that he had no intention of being baptized. One reason was his age. Another reason had to do with his hesitancy to stand before such a large crowd. We listened compassionately to his story that I had heard many times before from others and was waiting to interject all of the reasons that he should be baptized. Waiting for an appropriate place to break into the conversation, my partner said, “Well that’s ok, you don’t have to be baptized if you don’t want to be baptized.” I just about lost it. I didn’t say anything, but I was thinking about all the things I was going to say to my friend when we got back to the car.
Then, my friend proceeded with his own personal testimony. He said, “When I first was introduced to Jesus, I had the same reaction as you. I believed in Him for salvation and the forgiveness of my sin, but I said I will never be baptized. And then something happened. The Lord convicted me that I should be baptized. And then I got baptized, not because I had to be baptized, but because I wanted to be baptized. And when I came to that place where I wanted to be baptized, nobody was going to keep me from being baptized.”
My friend was instantly a genius in my eyes. The question always comes up “Do I have to be baptized to go to Heaven?” We are saved by grace. We cannot add anything to that work of grace—not even a good thing like baptism. But, there is another question to ponder. Why would a person be a follower of Jesus and not want to be baptized?
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.
A little girl asked her pastor, “Can I get advertised?” She meant baptized, but she had it right, because our baptism is our advertisement, our public declaration that we identify with Jesus.