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Where Is Baptism in the Order of a Christian Life?

April 8, 2019

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) 

Proclaim Christ. Baptize converts. Teach Christians. At the end of the day, that’s what every church and, by implication, every Christian, ought to be about. And the order of those three commands is important.  

Proclaim, baptize, and teach is the order of the plan for disciple-making laid out by Jesus. Yet, I’ve noticed that some genuine disciples of Jesus are living their Christian lives out of order by delaying their baptism.  

Don’t Delay 

Some may delay because they simply do not understand the clarity of the command. Others may delay because they are living with the false assumption that they need to grow more as a believer before they are ready.  

Notice that Jesus did not say, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you until they demonstrate sufficient growth and maturity, and then baptize them.” No—he said, “Go therefore and makes disciples of all nations, baptizing them…” 

Whatever the reason may be, to delay baptism is to live the Christian life out of order. 

This is not merely a matter of getting orders right. Having your baptism in your past is a wonderful encouragement and blessing. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, let me give you three reasons why it’s good to have baptism behind you. 

1. When your baptism is behind you, you have a commitment to keep.  

At a wedding, a couple stands before God, their family, and their friends to make a public commitment to remain faithful to one another. 

For the rest of their lives, they will have a date fixed in their minds when they made unbreakable vows. As a result, when they inevitably face hardships, arguments, and tension in their marriage, they have that commitment to fall back on.

Their love is not based on feelings alone, or compatibility alone, or romance alone. Their love is grounded on a specific commitment, and if they will lean back into their promises to one another, they will find strength to press on.  

The same is true in the Christian life. At baptism, a believer stands before God and their church to make a public commitment to remain faithful to Jesus Christ. For the rest of his life, he will have a date fixed in his mind when he made this unbreakable vow.

As a result, when he inevitable faces suffering, sin, and temptation in his faith, he will have that commitment to fall back on.  

Believer, your relationship with Christ is more than how you feel and how things are going in the moment. You have repented of sin and turned to follow him. And if your baptism is in your past you have a specific date in your life to look back on and remember the commitment you made.  

Remember your baptism and press on (Tim Challies had an excellent article on this point few weeks ago, check it out!),

2. When your baptism is behind you, you have a promise to trust.  

I’ve talked with some Christians who think they cannot get baptized because of some area of sin in their life. They feel like they are losing the fight. They feel like spiritual failures. So, they think they are unworthy of being baptized. 

The truth is, they are unworthy. We all are. However, unworthiness should drive you to baptism and not away from it.  

Becoming a Christian and being baptized are for people who know they are hopeless without Jesus. Baptism is a public declaration: I am a miserable sinner who has found a gracious Savior.  

And when you have been baptized, remembering the truth displayed at your baptism in the past can help you fight sin in your present. 

Consider what Paul says:  

How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:2-4) 

When you are struggling with sin, looking back at your baptism is one more place you can find strength.

When you were baptized your immersion under the water pictured the reality that your sinful nature died with Christ at the cross. The water itself pictured the reality that Christ has cleanses you of all your sin.

Then, when you rose out of the water the reality of your new life in Christ was on display. You have a new life in Jesus! You are free from slavery to sin!

If your baptism is behind you, you can always look back and remember who you are.  

3. When your baptism is behind you, you have a community to help. 

When you stand before your church family, professing faith in Jesus, and being baptized, you are asking for accountability. Baptism ensures that you are not an anonymous Christian.  

As the church hears your testimony and sees your baptism, they now know you as a believer in Jesus. And believers in Jesus are called to spur one another on to love and good works, encouraging one another until the day we stand before our Lord.  

When you are baptized, you open yourself up to this kind of ministry in community, and you will be better for it.

Embrace the order 

So, friend, if you’ve been baptized, never forget the commitment you made, the reality displayed, and the community around you on that day.

Remember your baptism and remain faithful to your Savior.  

And if you are a believer in Jesus but you’ve not yet taken this step of obedience, I hope you see the blessing you’re missing. You’ve trusted the gospel, now receive your baptism, and then continue learning to observe all that Christ commands you. 

Photo Credit: Unsplash

The Author
Brad Wetherell

Brad Wetherell serves as the pastor of The Orchard’s Itasca Campus. He is married to Kristen and they have one daughter. You can follow him on Twitter.

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