Tag Archives: John the Baptist

Why Are We Baptists?

Why do we baptize? First, Jesus was baptized and we want to be like Jesus. In addition, Jesus commands his followers to baptize, and we want to obey Jesus. But what is the meaning of baptism?

After his resurrection, Jesus instructed his followers to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. He commanded not merely any type of baptism, but a certain kind of baptism, a baptism that recognizes the Bible’s revelation of God as three in one. In other words, Christian baptism.

Baptism in the New Testament starts with John the Baptist. John’s listeners were familiar with the Old Testament laws about using water in certain rituals for spiritual cleansing, but John’s baptism went further.

John’s was a baptism of repentance. He called on people to turn away from disobedience against God. He baptized those who responded by immersing them in the Jordan River, signifying a comprehensive spiritual cleansing, a radical life change.

John insisted that his baptism was merely preparation for a greater baptism, one which would come through a greater messenger. “I baptize you with water for repentance,” John said, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

When Jesus appeared, John recognized him as the one sent by God, the one John was preparing the people to receive. Like John, Jesus also preached repentance, calling on people to turn away from a lifestyle of disobeying God.

But Jesus went beyond John. Jesus provided forgiveness for disobedience by sacrificing himself on the cross as a sin offering. And Jesus was resurrected and ascended to heaven, sending God’s Holy Spirit to empower his followers with a new life that is pleasing to God and fruitful for his kingdom.

John’s words were fulfilled in the Early Church. Baptism in Jesus’ name is a sign of receiving God’s Holy Spirit, the invisible, personal, powerful presence of God. God’s Spirit is a fire that purifies the life of the believer, a lifelong process of being changed into the image of Christ.

The symbolic meaning of Christian baptism is elegantly and powerfully communicated in Romans 6: Believers are buried with Christ in baptism and raised to walk in newness of life. This demonstrates that Christian baptism is by immersion. It is a picture of death and resurrection, the old life of sin is buried and dead, the believer is raised to walk in a new life.

Finally, John, Jesus, and the Early Church all baptized only those who responded by faith to their message. Baptism is for believers. Baptizing those whom we hope will believe in the future creates a group mixed with believers and unbelievers. The Church consists of believers.

So Christian baptism is a symbolic act done by immersion to everyone who has exercised saving faith in God’s Son Jesus, which begins with repentance. It is a public act affirming that the person is a new creation, forgiven and reconciled to God the Father, sealed and empowered by the indwelling presence of God’s Holy Spirit.

“Baptist” is a name that was given generations ago to those who dared to practice Christian baptism even though it was out of step with the institutional churches of the day. Baptists have endured and thrived because our faith and practice is built firmly on the immovable rock of God’s eternal truth.

May the fire of God’s Holy Spirit purify us for God’s service and God’s glory,

Brother Richard


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Standing Strong in a World of Weinsteins

John the Baptist was not one to keep his mouth shut in order to ‘keep the peace.’ When a powerful local leader named Herod seduced his own sister-in-law, John called it what it was: sin.

The woman Herod seduced was named Herodias. She nursed a grudge against John the Baptist, and waited for an opportunity to destroy him.

On Herod’s birthday, Herodias watched as her teenage daughter danced to please him. When he foolishly swore to give the girl anything she asked, Herodias saw her chance.

Herod threw John the Baptist in prison because this fiery preacher kept publicly charging Herod with breaking God’s law by taking his brother’s wife. Now Herodias urged her daughter to ask for John the Baptist’s head on a platter, literally.

Herod knew that the people regarded John as a true prophet. Killing the Baptist could be politically risky, but he was backed into a corner. He killed the prophet.

John the Baptist discovered the hard way that leaders are sometimes willing to abuse their power in order to advance their own personal agendas. But the Baptist was not a man to compromise, or to remain silent, despite the risk.

This sordid affair sounds more like something out of ‘Days of our Lives’ or ‘Peyton Place’ than a story from the Bible. But God’s word honestly records the real condition of this broken world.

Evidence of broken lives is scattered helter-skelter throughout our land. Recently the decadent practices of one Harvey Weinstein have caused a sensation in the news.

For years Harvey used his power in Hollywood to take advantage of young women who wanted a chance at the silver screen. Finally his wickedness caught up with him.

Harvey’s wicked behavior raises a lot of questions. The list of women who were attacked and abused by him seems to grow longer every day. Many of them stayed silent for years. Some spoke up but were ignored.

How many women refused to give in to Harvey’s ‘casting-couch’ approach, walking away from fame and fortune because the cost was too high? How many women valued their own self-respect and purity more than the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, and told Harvey to ‘get lost’?

Why can’t we teach young women to be wise, to be careful who they keep company with, to be modest in how they dress, to avoid situations that make them vulnerable, to value their purity more than the world’s approval, to say “No” and mean it?

It is politically incorrect to speak like this because it implies that women share responsibility in this world’s often shameful struggle between the sexes. Some say that these comments are accusations against the victim, multiplying the original abuse by claiming that she deserved such vile treatment.

Nobody deserves to be attacked and abused. But young women deserve to be taught the truth, to be offered wise counsel before they find themselves facing the enemy.

Women are now being congratulated for taking a stand against Harvey, after the fact. What if more of them had been taught to take a stand against him before he preyed on them like a ravenous wolf?

Surely some women tried to resist Harvey’s ugly advances but were physically bullied. My heart is broken for them. They may have remained silent for complex reasons that only women with such deep wounds can fully understand. They deserve to see Harvey punished for his crimes, even though this world’s justice cannot make up for what he has taken from them.

No matter how you slice it, doing the right thing in this world can be costly. John the Baptist walked into a sordid affair and paid dearly for refusing to be silent. The Harveys and Herodiases of the world will always be looking for their next victim. Let’s train our children to be wise and to be ready to take a stand for what is right, despite the cost.

May the Lord give us confidence in facing evil,

Brother Richard

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