ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) – “Buried with Christ in baptism and raised to walk in the newness of life.” These words, and others like them, have been declared by pastors thousands of times across North America in the last few years as people who have placed their faith in Christ for salvation have been baptized. This act of obedience and public proclamation of faith in Christ is a blessing to behold.
However, I’m sure you are concerned, as I am, about the prevailing lostness in North America and the decline in baptisms in our Southern Baptist churches. While baptisms have dipped to historic lows, lostness has risen rapidly along with North America’s growing population. These two heartbreaking facts are the primary reasons I encourage Southern Baptist churches to participate in Baptism Sunday on April 16, 2023.
Baptism Sunday is a good reminder for all of us to keep the main thing the main thing. There are so many distractions in our world and so many demands that require our attention that it is easy for us to become busy with good things while neglecting the very thing we are called to live out every day. We all know well the words of the Great Commission found at the end of the Gospel of Matthew, but it would be good for us to read them again.
Matthew 28:18-20 (CSB)
18 Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 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, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
As Christians, we are to be faithful to proclaim the salvation found only in Jesus Christ. We need to pray for believers to be faithful to share the Gospel everywhere with everyone and for the lost to be saved. And we need to be faithful to the command of the Lord and baptize those who are saved “in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
When I was 11 years old, I was led to Christ by a teenage boy while attending a Royal Ambassadors camp in Florida. When I returned home and shared with my church about the salvation in Christ I now enjoyed, my pastor, Kenneth Holland, began to disciple me along with a few other new believers. After explaining to our small group of young believers that our new life should be marked by obedience, he let us know that in being baptized, we would be following the command of Christ and publicly proclaiming our new life in Jesus. Soon after coming to know Christ as my Savior, I was baptized in obedience and as a testimony of my new life in Christ. Praise be to God for His great salvation!
The good news is Jesus still saves! No matter the date on the calendar or the challenges of our culture, one thing we know and are confident of is this— “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 CSB).
That is why I am inviting you to join all Southern Baptists in celebrating Baptism Sunday on April 16, 2023. This is a great opportunity to encourage new believers in this step of obedience as well as to remind your church family to be on mission everyday sharing the Good News of forgiveness and salvation only found in Jesus.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Baptism Sunday 2023 resources can be found here. Tim Dowdy serves as vice president of evangelism for the North American Mission Board.)