Yesterday was a pretty big deal at Lake Tapps Community Church, or as my friend Garry says, at L-T-double-C. First ever in-house baptisms. Four young people confessing Christ as Savior. The testimonies were enough to bring many to tears. The energy in the room was certainly the Spirit . . . the activity in our portable baptistry all because of grace. And something I read in the last chapter of Romans captured it all. It was a display of “the obedience of faith.”
As part of yesterday’s service we preached and taught on baptism. What baptism is . . . why baptism is important. The importance of baptism as a means of publicly and physically confessing an inward and spiritual reality. Confessing that Jesus is Savior and Lord. That because of faith we were baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ and now identify with all believers comprising the Church. That by the power of the gospel we have been crucified with Christ — the wages of sin paid in full; that we have been buried with Christ — the old man of the flesh put to death; and, that we have been raised with Christ — new creations in Christ, all things new!
We talked about the importance of baptism as being formative in a Christian’s life. For many it being among the first public declarations of faith. For many, it being among the first fearful, “out of my comfort zone,” acts of boldness evidencing the lordship of Christ in a believer’s life. For many, among their first acts of obedience.
And that, we said, was perhaps the most important reason to be baptized — because our Savior commanded it. Commanded in the gospels . . . practiced in the Acts . . . assumed to part of a believers normal experience throughout the epistles. Baptism being a matter of obedience.
But not something to be obeyed in order to bring life . . . but an obedience that springs from life. The obedience Moses commanded in Deuteronomy (28:1-6, 30:16-20) was obedience that would RESULT in blessing and life. But the obedience we witnessed yesterday was the obedience of faith. Obedience born out of grace. Obedience BECAUSE of abundant blessing, and new life. Baptism being not a requirement for salvation but a response.
And as I reflect on yesterday, and hover over these final verses of Paul’s letter to the Romans, I am filled with awe. In awe at the depths of the love of God to seek those who had turned their backs on Him. In awe that He would send His Son to pay the price for their sin. In awe that He would engage the Holy Spirit to woo lost sheep to the Shepherd. In awe that He would impart to those who believe, the life and righteousness of the risen King of Glory.
In wonder, that He would then institute a simple ordinance to declare it all through the word of testimony and an act of immersion. Amazing! . . . the obedience of faith.
Now to Him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith — to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. (Romans 16:25-27 ESV)