Answering The Whys: Why Do I Need To Get Baptized? (Part 2)

As we continue our look at baptism we now dive into the evidence we see to get baptized and why we should do it.

The first and most convincing evidence is not only does Jesus desire for us to do it (Matthew 28:19), but He was baptized.  In the opening verses of the Gospel of Mark we read that “At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.” (Mark 1:9)  A Christian is defined as a being a “Christ-follower”.  This means that we should follow Him in all things including the waters of baptism if for nothing else that He did it!  However, there is more to baptism than just following Jesus’ bandwagon.

Secondly, we see that when someone accepts Christ as their Savior, whenever possible, they are baptized.  As we continue in the story in Acts 16 we see what the response is by the jailer.  “Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized.” – Acts 16:32-33 (emphasis mine).  We see that upon hearing the Gospel and accepting Jesus there was action placed to their faith.  This passage indicates that inspiration is followed by declaration which is demonstrated in public dedication.  That public dedication is baptism.

Now although this seems to be the desired order of acceptance of Christ as a Believer we don’t see baptism being prohibitive in coming to faith.  As I said before, baptism is not a matter of salvation.  There are times where baptism isn’t possible as in the case of the confessions of the dying in hospitals, people in prison, and so forth.  We see several examples of this in Scripture, but none more convincing than the thief on the cross.

As this vile man hangs bloody, naked, and suffocating on a cross next to our Lord we see his broken spirit confess to Jesus.  “Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise. – Luke 23:42-43 (emphasis mine).   Jesus says that in that moment he was saved.  Not after they pushed pause on the crucifixion, ripped him down, found a river, dunked him, nailed him back up, and then finished his execution.  Nope.  Jesus says TODAY you will be with me when this life ends.

So you may still be asking “then why do it?  If it’s not a “requirement” for my salvation what’s the point?”

I’m glad you asked.

I believe baptism is where we begin to put our spiritual money where our mouth is to use modern terms.  Baptism is the public display of our inward faith where we corporately declare ourself property of Someone else and choose to follow Him the rest of our days.

Through baptism we symbolize the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus by being buried with Christ (submersion in water), dying to our sin and being washed clean (the water covering our body), and then raising to walk in the new life with Jesus (raising up out of the water).  Baptism allows us to publically declare and accept Christ’s gift of Grace and walk forward on His path in obedience to Him.

Baptism should never be a point of division amongst believers, but rather something we celebrate together when a person steps forward in faith to declare their love and allegiance to Christ.

Listen, I believe that if you are a Believer of Christ you should be baptized.  If Jesus can die alone, naked, bloody, on a cross for our sins I think the least we can do is publicly declare our faith in Him through baptism. Additionally, I think baptism is a critical step in yours and mine discipleship, dedication, and pursuit of Christ in our lives.

In submission to our Savior we submerge ourself in baptism.

So if you are reading this and have not yet been baptized you should pick up the phone, call your pastor, and schedule a time to get “bathtized”.  Don’t wait another minute to publicly declare your faith to Christ and let that moment propel you into a even deeper love and pursuit of Him.

THE SPIRITUAL SHORT:

Why Do I Need To Get Baptized?: Baptism is a public declaration of your inward submission to Christ as Lord and Savior by which you promise to follow and love Him the rest of your life.

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Answering The Whys: Why Do I Need To Get Baptized? (Part 1)

My daughter Aniston loves to ask my wife and I questions.

One of her favorite ones is:  “Tell me ‘bout your work day!

She loves to know what Cherie and I do each day and we love to tell her.  Oddly enough she really IS interested and especially when my wife talks about all the surgeries she was a part of.  Talk about hard to top work days for me!

Well one day I told Aniston about my day and how I was telling people about Jesus and that I got to baptize some people too!  She stopped and asked “Daddy, why do you need to give people a bath?  Were they dirty?”  Yep, you guessed it she thought I said “bathtize” not baptize.

I LOVE my little girl.

I believe many Christians struggle with the idea of why they need to be baptized or “bathtized”?  I mean, does God REALLY need me to get in a tank of water, tell people I love Him, and then get reversed body slammed into the water and brought back up?

Really?

The simple answer is yes.  God’s desire is for all believers in Christ to get baptized.

However, I do think there a few things to point out in this answer for a more complete understanding of this sacrament.

To be clear from the beginning, baptism has nothing to do with your salvation.  Scripture clearly states that our salvation is found in confessed faith in Jesus Christ alone (Romans 10:9, John 3:36, 1 John 5:5, 1 John 5:11-12).  However, the passage I feel that will help us the most is found in Acts 16.

Here in Acts we read that upon being arrested, beaten, and shackled in jail, Paul and Silas are left to rot in a Roman prison.  Yet not even torture could break their spirit of praise and as they sat in jail they worshiped God.

That night, God sent an earthquake that rattled the jail opening all the cells giving the prisoners the chance to escape.  However, Paul and Silas did not flee knowing if they did the jailer would likely kill himself.  Their faithfulness paid off and as a result we read about this amazing conversion of a Roman jailer to Christ and the basis for our salvation.

“The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” – Acts 16:29-31(emphasis mine).

There we have it.  Simply put, salvation is found in belief in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

So if the question of salvation is independent of baptism why do it?  What is the point of taking this step?

We will continue to tackle the rest of the mystery of “bathtizm” next time. :)

 

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Answering The Why’s? – Why Does God Want Us To Pray? Guest Contributor: Dr. Casey Tygrett

Years ago, my mother in law had to have a liver transplant. It took a while for us to know that, because at first she simply struggled with health issues. Your liver keeps the fluids in your body clean and healthy, scrubbing out toxins so that we function well. Mom started losing periods of time and not knowing where she was, because the toxins in her bloodstream were affecting her brain.

So we prayed. We prayed that she would be healed.

She wasn’t.

In fact, by the time we found out she needed a transplant, we realized we had been praying for the wrong thing. In order to move up the liver donor list, she had to get sicker.

So we prayed. We prayed that she’d get sicker.

She did.

In November of 2007, she received a new liver and a new lease on life. God answered our prayers, but not all of them. In fact, since we had this experience I’ve run into others whose loved ones need new organs and they don’t get them and their family members pass away. Remove “donation” and insert “cancer” or “divorce” or any other malady or struggle and there’s the same split going on – everyone prays, and sometimes people live and sometimes they die.

So why pray anyway?

Jesus told His disciples to pray simply, not like pagans who are screaming to get their gods’ attention, because “…your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:8). He then goes on to teach them how to pray in what is called “The Lord’s Prayer.”

So why pray if God already knows what we need? It’s not easy, and I don’t even know that this answer always gets to the heart of it, but here’s what I suggest:

Prayer is a conversation with God.

This conversation is about a partnership.

It’s a partnership based on trust, no matter what.

Prayer gets derailed when our belief in God, the narrative about God we believe to be true, falls away from the “God-in-our-corner-&-our-side” story and begins to be about the “God-who-smashes-judges-and-ignores-me” story.

In prayer, when we ask for things from God for ourselves or for others or even when we are simply presenting our struggles and pains, we are inviting a partnership with God in the world in which we live.

We are trusting that God can be active in the everyday world we live in, but we are also using our longing for health, solutions, and wisdom to begin breaking through the soil of our everyday life.

But we don’t always feel like God is listening. We don’t feel like our prayers are “working.” We wonder why the specific request we’ve made isn’t being specifically answered. We ask for humble things – healing, peace, the resolution to a situation – things that we assume God would be in favor of and yet we don’t see them happening.

In contrast, we see Jesus teaching on two occasions about God being better than people in wanting to give good gifts to us (see Luke 11:5-13; 18: 1-8) so we wonder where the breakdown is coming.

Maybe I’m not doing it right?

Maybe I offended God?

Maybe He really doesn’t love me after all?

The last thought is a flat out lie, but we can wrestle with the others and come away feeling just as empty and frustrated. So why would God want us to pray when this can be the case?

I don’t know, always, but I believe wholeheartedly that when we believe in the creative power of prayer to construct a trusting relationship with God and to bring God’s Kingdom here like it is where He is (see Matthew 6:9-10) we will be rewarded with hope in the long term.

I’m thankful that God didn’t answer our first prayers for Mom. I’m still troubled by the second prayers we had to pray, even today. Yet, in the long view God was always at work here and now I trust Him a bit more. I hope I would trust Him as much even if she weren’t here today.

 

THE SPIRITUAL SHORT:

Why should I pray? We pray because we know that we’re powerless to change our lives and ourselves, and we need to learn to trust the One who has that power knowing in the end He brings all things to goodness.

 

Thank you to Dr. Casey and to read more from him you can follow him on Twitter @cktygrett or at his blog www.caseytygrett.com

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Series Preview: Answering the Why’s?

Have you ever wondered why we do what we do as Christians?

I mean have you ever asked yourself questions like these:

* Why does God want us to pray?

* Why do I need to get baptized?

* Why do we take communion?

* Why did Jesus have to die?

Sometimes I think as Christians we swallow these questions deep inside our spirit, fearing we shouldn’t be asking them.  We think if we wonder about these things somehow we have less faith or that we are the dumb kid in the class that will get snickered at because we were the only ones in the dark.

I recently read a book by Pastor J.D. Greear and in it he said something I found encouraging.  Pastor Greear says:

“Faith is not the absence of doubt;

it’s continuing to follow Jesus in the midst of doubt.”

That is so helpful to even me as a pastor because I have questions too!  There are things I struggle with and need to wrestle with and it’s reassuring to know that Jesus is big enough to handle my questions.  He doesn’t have insecurity issues like I do that would make him bristle at the thought of someone questioning Him.  After all I’m not denying His divinity I’m simply asking questions in sincerity.

There is a key posture that needs to be taken however when asking these questions.  It’s a posture that leans in to find answers, but doesn’t stop moving as you do.  In other words don’t stop following Jesus and what you know you should be doing while looking for the answers.

As any good medical professional will tell you the key to recovery is actually movement.  Movement that gets you up out of bed, walking around, moving the blood throughout your body to promote circulation.  Without it you become stagnate, stiff, and actually more sick.  Your recovery and growth takes longer.

In the spiritual sense without movement forward you also can become stiff and stagnate.  If we linger in the questions of Why  too long by placing our heads down in consumption of answers we are sure to become constipated.  We will have a soul full of facts and no action to accompany them which leads to Spiritually Obesity.

Make sure that as you look for the Why you also pursue the What.  In other words, what am I doing with what I know and what am I doing with what I’m learning.  I think that if we place action alongside acquisition we will deepen our relationship with Jesus while satisfying our need for answers.

So, I want to take a few blogs to tackle and answer some of these questions that many of us have or will have.  I’m looking forward to inviting some guest writers to speak into the conversation so you will get to hear other voices.  I pray that this will be a profitable time for us all and one that brings Glory to God.

My deepest desire is that as we answer the Why it only brings us closer to the Who, Jesus Christ, every time.

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How Do I Know I’m Saved?

My friend asked me that very question on Sunday with a sincere heart and seriousness that made me know they were searching for answers.

They had accepted Jesus a few years back, was baptized, then even re-baptized, but yet had trouble answering the question when a friend asked them the “How do you know?” question.  They were searching for answers not just to be confident in conversation, but to find confidence for their soul.

So when does it happen?

Is it when you are sprinkled as a baby?  Is it when you complete your CCD class?  Is it when you are immersed into baptism?  Is it when your mom drops you off at the front door and says “Go find God”?  Is it when you get enough of your “stuff” together that you’re worthy to talk to God?

How do I know when I’m saved?

I don’t believe the person asking this question of my friend was one of these, but there are some Christians out there who love to ask these types of questions.  Especially the ones that think being a Christian is about rules, regulations, and checking your spiritual aptitude card before you can come to church or even Jesus.  Sadly so many of these “super Christians” forget that they were once the wretch that needed Grace at one time too and weren’t looking for a spreadsheet of rules to follow but a Savior to love them.

The answer to the question is best summed up from the words of the best “sinner-to-saved” story of all time if you ask me.  The Apostle Paul, the former Christian Killer and extremist, lays out clearly when we know we are saved in the book of Romans.

Here he says:

For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” “- Romans 10:12-13

Do you notice something that was missing?  There were no strings attached.  Paul didn’t ask for a secret handshake, a check to be written, or for the person to go clean up a little bit before they come to God.  Paul didn’t even say they needed to be baptized (although I believe this to be a critical step in our faith journey), but he says to simply cry out to the Lord as a sinner in need of a Savior and accept His gift of Grace.

So the answer to our question is found not in the “what” we do to be saved, but in the “when” we realize we need a Savior.

It’s in that “when” moment that we realize the effect our sin has had on our eternal life, the death penalty that we deserve because of it, grasp the grace that only Jesus can offer through his death, burial, and resurrection, and accept Him as our Lord and Savior that we are saved.

We are saved when we no longer can ignore our soul’s brokeness, realize our attempts to “fix us” have failed, and laying on our back on the floor of rock bottom we reach up to our Savior for Him to pull us out.

Jesus was always about removing obstacles to come to Him not creating more.  That’s why when he died on the cross the veil in the Temple that separated God from man was torn from top to bottom.  We now have direct access to God through Jesus and His grace is enough.  Yet, for his entire ministry on earth Jesus fought the religious more than the unreligous over this Truth.  They too were not comfortable with His answer tot he question of “How do I know I’m saved? and it led them to kill Jesus over it.

Fortunately for my friend she has good men and women around her to navigate through the question posed to her.  I also don’t think the one asking the question was trying to be hurtful towards them either.

However, there are people out there do want to be hurtful and desire to be the “gatekeepers” of grace in a way.  I just want to make sure that you don’t let the noise of list demanding, rule keeping, sphincter clenching religious people keep you from a relationship with Jesus.  Just come to Him with your ripped up, messed up, jacked up life and let Him Save you.

Yes, your life should look and be radically different, but you have to take the first step onto the path for your destination to be different.

So I will tell you the same thing I told my friend.

Come to Jesus and know without a shadow of a doubt in that moment you are saved.

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