I was the girl who had trusted Christ, but was baptized before my salvation experience. As a young adult, I heard a message on baptism and for the first time truly understood the answer to the questions of “Why should we be baptized?” and “When should we be baptized?”
My heart was stirred and I felt an urgency in seeing it accomplished, so I was baptized shortly thereafter. The Holy Spirit did His work, as the pastor was simply obedient to present the message clearly.
When I counsel a child, often the statement I hear is “I want to be baptized,” not “I want to trust Christ as my Savior.”
Careful to explain what baptism is and the reason for this simple act of obedience, I am given the opportunity to share the gospel with them. Sometimes I am privileged to lead them in a prayer of salvation, while other times I trust the Holy Spirit to plant a seed of faith in their young hearts.
Whether it’s a child who is understanding baptism for the first time, a teen who made a commitment at a youth event but never obeyed the Lord in baptism, or an adult who has their baptism out of order, often the catalyst that God uses is a faithful pastor or teacher who reminds them that when the Holy Spirit stirs their heart toward obedience, now is the time to obey, not later. Postponed obedience is not obedience at all and can be a stumbling block to spiritual growth.
When Jesus showed up at the pool of Bethesda in John 5, He saw more than just a crowd of needy people. He saw a particular man who had no hope of healing. Watching as others were healed by stepping into the water that had been stirred up by an angel, this man knew that his only hope was for someone to come along and help him.
Then Jesus walked into the middle of this multitude, verse 3 says, and had compassion on a man who had been sick for 38 years. Jesus looked to this man that He could heal without a word, but instead called him to an act of obedience – “Get up.” Choosing to obey, his life was changed forever.
Pastor, maybe you are the one who needs to stir up the water. Some are blind to the truth about baptism. Others may just be paralyzed by fear or pride. It’s not your job to convict or convince someone of their need for baptism – the Holy Spirit does that; it is your opportunity to shed light on a subject that just might bring hope to a believer who is struggling to take this next step in their Christian walk.
The miracle here, of course, is not just that the man was healed physically. Not even knowing who it was that healed him, the man went to the temple, possibly searching for answers. Maybe he went there to worship God and give thanks for his healing. Maybe he hadn’t been to the temple in years – or ever. Jesus found the man there and revealed Himself to him. The point is: The same man who needed to be healed was found once more because Jesus knew this man needed more than physical healing – he needed to take the next step in obedience.
Baptism is that next step that many in your pews need to take, so don’t forget that Sunday, Sept. 8 is Baptism Sunday.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Baptist Press is releasing a series of articles and columns leading up to Sept. 8, which is Baptism Sunday in the Southern Baptist Convention. For resources, go to namb.net/baptism-Sunday-resources. Vickie Munton, wateringcanblog.com, serves alongside her husband Doug, pastor of First Baptist Church in O’Fallon, Ill.)