What Are Our Core Commitments?
Unfortunately, going over church bylaws sounds about as exciting as chewing on sawdust. But bylaws are meant to be both a legal document and a biblical document that explains how we relate to one another in our church. It helps to define the relational matrix that Trip Lee talked about above.
You can read our Core Commitments here.
You can hear the discussion of our bylaws (Life in the Body - Part 8) by going here.
Baptism is a wonderful visible testimony to the gospel and to a particular believer's faith in Christ. Baptism is the beginning of the believer's commitment to Christ and His church as discussed in our Core Commitments. Indeed, baptism is a testimony to some core commitments found in the gospel.
What does baptism say?
Baptism is a beautiful picture of what Christ has done for us and what He has done in us.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, - 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
‘In one of his lighter moments, Benjamin Franklin penned his own epitaph. He didn't profess to be a born-again Christian, but it seems he must have been influenced by Paul's teaching of the resurrection of the body. Here's what he wrote: The Body of B. Franklin, Printer Like the Cover of an old Book Its contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Guilding, Lies here, Food for Worms, But the Work shall not be wholly lost: For it will, as he believ'd, Appear once more In a new & more perfect Edition, Corrected and amended by the Author. - Source Unknown.
Baptism is an act of obedience.
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
‘Roger Staubach who led the Dallas Cowboys to the World Championship in '71 admitted that his position as a quarterback who didn't call his own signals was a source of trial for him. Coach Landry sent in every play. He told Roger when to pass, when to run and only in emergency situations could he change the play (and he had better be right!). Even though Roger considered coach Landry to have a "genius mind" when it came to football strategy, pride said that he should be able to run his own team.
Roger later said, "I faced up to the issue of obedience. Once I learned to obey there was harmony, fulfillment, and victory." - Source Unknown.
Baptism is a proclamation of repentance.
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. – Acts 2:37-38
In baptism, we are agreeing with God about our sin and what it deserves. That we have sinned against God and deserve His just wrath. That we cannot erase our guilt or do anything to make up for our sin or earn our salvation.
‘Prussian king Frederick the Great was once touring a Berlin prison. The prisoners fell on their knees before him to proclaim their innocence -- except for one man, who remained silent. Frederick called to him, "Why are you here?" "Armed robbery, Your Majesty," was the reply. "And are you guilty?" "Yes indeed, Your Majesty, I deserve my punishment." Frederick then summoned the jailer and ordered him, "Release this guilty wretch at once. I will not have him kept in this prison where he will corrupt all the fine innocent people who occupy it." - Today in the Word, December 4, 1992.
Baptism is a proclamation of faith.
He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. – Mark 16:16
In baptism, we are saying that we believe that Jesus is an able and willing Savior for us.
That Jesus is fully God and fully Man.
That Jesus lived the life we could never live (perfect love to God and man).
That Jesus died the death that we deserve to die (on the cross).
That Jesus rose from the dead as the only Lord and Savior.
That Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to enable people to believe and to live for Him.
That Jesus rules over all things for the glory of God and the good of His people.
That Jesus will return one day to judge all men and to bring in the kingdom of God in all its glory.
That God offers the forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the gift of eternal life through faith
alone in Jesus.
That God calls us to turn from sin and to trust in Jesus as our Savior and Lord.
‘T.H. Huxley, a well-known agnostic, was with a group of men at a weekend house party. On Sunday morning, while most of them were preparing to go to church, he approached a man known for his Christian character and said, "Suppose you stay at home and tell my why you are a Christian." The man, knowing he couldn't match wits with Huxley, hesitated. But the agnostic said gently, "I don't want to argue with you. I just want you to tell me simply what this Christ means to you." The man did, and when he finished, there were tears in Huxley's eyes as he said, "I would give my right hand if only I could believe that!" - Our Daily Bread, January 24, 1993.
Baptism is a plea for mercy.
Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, - 1 Peter 3:21
In baptism, we are asking God for mercy because of Jesus and His cross alone. We are calling on God in the name of Jesus for mercy, for the forgiveness of our sins and reconciliation to God.
A mother once approached Napoleon seeking a pardon for her son. The emperor replied that the young man had committed a certain offense twice and justice demanded death. "But I don't ask for justice," the mother explained. "I plead for mercy." "But your son does not deserve mercy," Napoleon replied. "Sir," the woman cried, "it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for." "Well, then," the emperor said, "I will have mercy." And he spared the woman's son. - Luis Palau, Experiencing God's Forgiveness, Multnomah Press, 1984.
Baptism is a presentation of our lives to God.
Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. – Romans 6:3-4
In baptism, we are presenting our lives to God to do His will according to His Word with His people. We are dying to our old life and seeking to live a new life of trust and obedience to God.
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – Romans 10:8-13
In the early church, at their baptism, believers expressed their faith in Jesus and their commitment to trust and obey by the simple but profound confession, ‘Jesus is Lord!’
The story is told about the baptism of King Aengus by St. Patrick in the middle of the fifth century. Sometime during the rite, St. Patrick leaned on his sharp-pointed staff and inadvertently stabbed the king's foot. After the baptism was over, St. Patrick looked down at all the blood, realized what he had done, and begged the king's forgiveness. Why did you suffer this pain in silence, the Saint wanted to know. The king replied, "I thought it was part of the ritual." - Source Unknown.
Thus baptism also points to laying down our lives and suffering for Christ’s sake.
You can read more about baptism here.
You can listen to this message, What is Baptism Saying to the World?, here.