Bap­tism is im­por­tant

The Progress-Index Weekend - - RELIGION - REV. TOM LOVORN, TH.D.

Q. Why do you think bap­tism is so im­por­tant that Je­sus com­manded it in Matthew 28:19? John Fore­hand, Richmond, VA

A. Bap­tism is im­por­tant be­cause it demon­strates God’s whole plan to re­store our fel­low­ship with him. We can trace the be­gin­ning of bap­tism to the Laver in the Taber­na­cle court­yard where priests washed their hands and feet be­fore en­ter­ing the Tent of Meet­ing. Later, priests were im­mersed for cer­e­mo­nial cleans­ing in the Brass Sea at Solomon’s Tem­ple.

Scrip­tural bap­tism is by im­mer­sion (Matthew 3:6, 16; John 3:23; Ro­mans 6:4). Im­mer­sion is the only mode which demon­strates the gospel. John the Bap­tizer was com­manded to im­merse those re­pent­ing of their sins in prepa­ra­tion for the com­ing Mes­siah. Je­sus al­lowed John to bap­tize him as an ex­am­ple for us. Even though Je­sus taught his dis­ci­ples how to bap­tize in John 4:1-2, he never told them to bap­tize when he sent out the Twelve and the Seventy on preach­ing mis­sions (Matthew 12:5-8; Luke 10:1, 9). That’s be­cause the gospel wasn’t com­plete un­til af­ter the death, burial, and res­ur­rec­tion of Je­sus. Je­sus had to re­turn in post-res­ur­rec­tion ap­pear­ances to com­mand bap­tism be­cause it couldn’t sym­bol­ize the full gospel story un­til then.

Bap­tism doesn’t save us but it’s an out­ward sign of what’s hap­pened on the in­side, and it’s im­por­tant for its three-fold tes­ti­mony: As the new con­vert is laid back un­der the wa­ter and raised (1) he is por­tray­ing the gospel show­ing how Je­sus died, was buried, and was raised for our sal­va­tion (Ro­mans 4:25). The be­liever is also demon­strat­ing that (2) he has died to his former life with­out God, and that life is buried as he is res­ur­rected to serve Je­sus as his Lord (Ro­mans 6:4). Again, Bap­tism also tes­ti­fies to the con­vert’s be­lief that, (3) if he should die and be buried be­fore Je­sus comes, his body will be res­ur­rected to live with Je­sus (John 6:40). God wants ev­ery­one to be con­vinced of these truths, so he com­manded that we show them vis­ually by bap­tism. — The Rev. Dr. Tom Lovorn is pas­tor of God’s Store­house Bap­tist Church in Richmond and he writes a weekly ques­tion and an­swer col­umn for The Progress-In­dex.

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