Resurrection Power and Water Baptism

water_baptism

The Resurrection Power of New Life

This weekend, I met with one of several fellowships in our county that’s primarily comprised of men who surrendered to Jesus while in jail.

They are now out, and meeting weekly in different gatherings as they encourage, support and move forward together in the Lord.

Because they came to the Lord in jail, many of these men did not have an opportunity to be water baptized quickly after conversion. Some ended up serving the Lord – and the State of Virginia! – in jail for several years after becoming believers, and were only recently released.

As a result, they now want – and need – to be water baptized.

Laying a Foundation

Normally, I advocate quickly becoming water baptized upon accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior – and I think that’s the Biblical ideal. But sometimes circumstances don’t allow this.

So some of these men – at their initiative – asked if they can use our pool to organize a mass baptism next month for those who have been recently released from jail. Of course, Marianne and I said yes.

In the meantime, I’m taking the time to meet with these different fellowships to study scripture together and discuss why water baptism is so important. I want to make sure this foundation is firmly laid in their lives, and their fellowships.

I also want to emphasize to them that water baptizing someone is not reserved to “clergy” – but that anyone can, and should, quickly offer to baptize those they lead to the Lord.

After all, the Great Commission – and the command to make disciples, baptize and teach obedience to all that Christ taught-  is not just given to some special class of “professional” Christians!

Resurrection Power

I think generally there is a benign neglect these days on the importance of water baptism. It’s been turned into lots of things that no longer comport with scripture – like viewing it as initiation into “church membership”, or a purely symbolic and thus optional act, and the like.

In the New Testament, however, we see an urgency over new believers quickly becoming water baptized. For them, this was how we literally – and not just symbolically – leave behind our old nature that died on the cross upon initial repentance and faith in Jesus.

Scripture teaches that water baptism is how we bury that old corrupted nature and rise up into new life – so the same resurrection power that raised Christ from the grave, victorious over the grip of sin and death, then becomes real in our life.

Through water baptism, then, we too bury the old self and rise up in newness of life – through that same resurrection power.

As Paul states:

For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. (Colossians 2:12)

Deny that dynamic, and we deny the power of the resurrection life that’s ours through water baptism.

In fact, as we have affirmed the significance of water baptism as an essential foundation for new believers, we have seen it become a significant turning point – as it should be – in the lives of many.

Salvation and Maturity

At the cross, when we repent and believe in Jesus, we are forgiven and our old nature dies. But in water baptism, we leave that stinking, rotting corpse behind and, like Christ, emerge into the power of new life.

Why, I often ask believers who have gone years without being water baptized, do you want to keep dragging that old corpse – your old corrupted nature – around and let it continue to stink up your lives?

Water baptism is not necessary for salvation, but I have found that it’s essential for growth and maturity as we become the men and women God created us to be.

Celebration

Now that the weather is warm and the pool is available, this is a focus for some of the fellowships I relate to. Together, we are taking the time to make sure this foundation is laid in the lives of those we helped come to the Lord – either directly or through others who we’ve impacted.

In a few weeks, several fellowships will be joining together for a time of celebration, with a cook out and mass water baptism.

My hope, however, is that God adds to our fellowships someone with a deep hot tub, spa or other place where anyone can immediately baptize someone they’ve led to the Lord – or an existing believer quickly upon their release from jail – year round.

This is my passion – seeing lives redeemed as the Kingdom of God advances.

~ Jim

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12 responses

  1. I grew up in a church which practices infant baptism – and belong now to a church which also practices this. Of course, it doesn’t have to be an infant – but this is the common case. And it isn’t immersion in water, but rather the sprinkling of water on the head… the shape of the cross being made with water on the forehead of the child of God.

    But either way, I have come to learn and believe that a reminder of this baptism in incredibly important. I have a few blog posts myself about the importance of water (http://psychosermons.blogspot.com/2012/12/water.html and http://psychosermons.blogspot.com/2013/01/water-pt-2-and-affirmation.html). I realize people only get baptized once, but that reminder of the death and resurrection of Christ, that reminder that our sins are forgiven, that feeling of the Holy Spirit moving within us… nothing can beat that feeling, and it’s something we can’t truly experience or appreciate as infants.

    Anyway, (sorry, I’m babbling a little… I do so love the topic of baptism and water)… have you ever considered (or, perhaps you already do so) going to the jails and baptizing those who wish to be? Even if it can’t be full immersion baptism, I can’t think of anything that could give more peace to these inmates than the sign of a cross made with water on their foreheads…

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    • We teach believer baptism, since it is burying the old nature that dies only upon belief and faith in Jesus, so that we then rise up in the resurrection power of our new life – post conversion – in Him.

      Regarding the jails, most generally won’t allow what you are suggesting. So we are left with post-release baptisms.

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      • I know many who teach/practice believer baptism. And, I think this practice actually makes a lot of sense. Baptized as a baby, and affirming that faith through confirmation as a child/teenager, is understandable… but I don’t think most of us truly come into our faith and make it our own until we are adults. To actually make the conscious decision to be baptized is something I think makes more sense.

        As for the jails – that’s too bad that they don’t allow it. I am glad you’re there to facilitate post-release baptism. Baptism in general, in my opinion, is such an important thing. Even if not necessary… it helps tremendously spiritually when someone makes that decision for him/herself.

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  2. Hi Jim,

    I am not certain that I believe what you are saying about water baptism and would like to ask you a couple of questions to help clarify what you are saying if you don’t mind…

    You say…

    “Scripture teaches that water baptism is how we bury that old corrupted nature and rise up into new life – so the same resurrection power that raised Christ from the grave, victorious over the grip of sin and death, then becomes real in our life.”

    If one does not get water baptized is their old corrupted nature still buried with Christ on the cross through faith?

    If one does not get water baptized are they still given a new nature and born again at the point of having faith in Jesus Christ for salvation?

    Can someone who has had faith in what Jesus did on the cross and in the person of Christ and who has surrendered themselves to Him as Lord live a new life without being baptized?

    Does someone receive the Holy Spirit fully and completely and as much as they are ever going to receive Him at the point of faith in Christ or must they be baptized in water to so receive Him?

    Any input you can give me on any or all of the above questions would be most appreciated Jim.

    Thanks.

    Carlos

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    • Carlos, good questions. Sorry for the delayed response. I’ve been dealing with a bad cold.

      “If one does not get water baptized is their old corrupted nature still buried with Christ on the cross through faith?”

      Our old nature is crucified with Christ at the cross, but we decide to bury it, leave it behind and appropriate the power of His resurrection through water baptism. There are many passages in the New Testament which state that water baptism is our joining with Christ in burying that old dead nature and rising up in newness of life.

      “If one does not get water baptized are they still given a new nature and born again at the point of having faith in Jesus Christ for salvation?”

      Yes.

      “Can someone who has had faith in what Jesus did on the cross and in the person of Christ and who has surrendered themselves to Him as Lord live a new life without being baptized?”

      Yes, but they are missing out on burying the corpse of their old nature, and they are missing out on appropriating the resurrection power that’s ours through water baptism. Why refuse what God has ordained for us as foundational for that new life?

      “Does someone receive the Holy Spirit fully and completely and as much as they are ever going to receive Him at the point of faith in Christ or must they be baptized in water to so receive Him?”

      Of course we receive the Holy Spirit and Christ too when we come to faith in Him. Water baptism does not give us more of God, but some of the things of God which He’s ordained for our benefit.

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  3. I agree that baptism is not essential, but it is very important. Baptism is the act of officially identifying with Jesus. I also agree that any believer can baptize another believer. Thanks for your emphasis on baptism.

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  4. I was Baptized as an infant but my family rarely went to church. I did not come to Christ to be born-again until I was 39. I was reborn in September 2012, I am planning to be Baptized in the creek at my church this September. My husband is also planning on being Baptized then also.

    When I came to faith it was almost instant that I felt the Holy Spirit enter me and I started changing drastically. My husbands transformation has been slow, he feels that being Baptized will be a major help for him to fully evolve into the new creature in Christ Jesus.

    With that said, I feel I am doing the Baptism because I want to be washed clean. My husband is doing it because he feels he “needs” it. He actually jokes that he will need to be held under the water for awhile.

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      • Hi Carlos, Maybe I did not word it correctly. I know I have been forgiven of all my past sins. I guess baptism would be an outward expression for me to show the world that I have been forgiven, saved and washed clean. My goal is to witness to others on how the Lord has changed me from the inside out.

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