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Water Baptism: Getting Over the Hurdles

Water baptism brings to people's minds many different images, and presents for some people high hurdles that are difficult to get over. I can still remember that special but scary day when I was baptized. I was 12 years old and very shy; so frightened by the event, the prospects of saying my name and giving a short testimony, I thought I was going to die. I remember standing in front of my mirror and practicing over and over: "I love the Lord and I want to go all the way with Him," definitely a testimony that lacks any depth and today could certainly be misinterpreted. But on the day of my baptism that testimony seemed perfectly appropriate because it was short. Thankfully, I made it through and can still remember the great joy I felt on the other side of the baptism. It was a frightening moment, but it will always be a hallmark memory for me.

When I think of my experience compared to what others have endured, I had it pretty easy. One famous baptism story that pastors love to tell—which has probably now been exaggerated a tad—tells of a situation in which the pastor did a fine job of getting the person under the water, but because of some special circumstances, was unable to get him back up quickly. The one being baptized apparently got nervous and reached up to help himself out by pulling on a curtain that surrounded the baptismal tank. Unknown to our nearly drowned victim was that this curtain was also attached to the baptismal changing rooms. Need I say more? It was definitely an unforgettable experience for those who had just been baptized and were now behind that same curtain changing their clothes.

 

I'm glad to say I have always gotten those I have baptized out of the water, although on a couple of occasions, I have had to put a person under the water twice, because I failed to completely immerse him. A few mouthfuls of water later, we laughed and rejoiced at our double dip experience.

 

Baptism is a delicate doctrine

Apart from the stories and funny experiences, baptism has a very serious side. In fact, we might say water baptism is a delicate doctrine to talk about not because God has made it so, but because man has turned it into such. When we discuss this topic, there are basically two extremes that must be corrected before we get into the subject:

One extreme says water baptism is no longer significant. This view is easily put down because Scripture gives us commands concerning it—Matt.. 28:19; Acts 2:38. Now if certain people do not accept the Scripture as foundational to doctrine and practice, then they still have some problems that need to be worked out.

Another extreme says we are saved by the right of baptism, or baptismal regeneration. In other words, at the moment of baptism, we become Christian believers. It is called baptismal regeneration. This view implies that unless we are baptized, we can't get into heaven; or that we are saved by the necessary combination of repentance and baptism. That is definitely not the view we are advocating, nor do we believe it can be supported by Scripture.

While in agreement with the need for water baptism, we believe baptism is an ordinance in the same category as the Lord's Supper. It is commanded (Matt. 28:19), but not necessary for salvation. Eph. 2:8-9—For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God 9) not by works, so that no one can boast. Therefore, baptism is an act of obedience and is in the same category as any other command. If we disobey this command we sin, but we must never forget, only Christ's work on the cross can save us.

A further rebuttal of the doctrine that baptism saves us, is that Christ Himself was baptized. Mark 1:9—"At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan." Why was Jesus baptized? In order to save Him? No, He didn't need to be saved; He was perfect. Baptism didn't save Jesus, nor does it save us. As we shall see, baptism is a symbol and sign that something very special has happened to us!

 

An outward sign of an inward reality

We believe water baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality. In other words, it is a picture, a symbol, an evidence of what has already taken place in our spiritual lives. For example, if you are married, then most likely you have a wedding ring on your finger. But is it the ring that makes you married? A lot of people would love that; they could save a lot of expense when getting a divorce, just by taking off the ring. But the ring isn't what joins two people together. The ring is a symbol of a commitment that makes them married. One day I stood in front of a pastor and a whole lot of people in Canada and made a commitment before God to be married to my wife for the rest of my life. That commitment, and the signing of those documents that day, is what makes me married, not the ring I wear. So when I lost the first ring my wife gave me in the Hawaiian surf, I was still married to her. My ring is an outward sign of my inward commitment and love for her. Likewise, it is our commitment to Christ that saves us. We'll explain that symbol in more detail later on.

With the extremes addressed, we can now look at the act of water baptism. We believe baptism is significant for at least three reasons.

 

First, baptism is a public statement by a new believer of the discipleship and the lordship of Christ.

Discipleship

The act of baptism is a declaration of discipleship. We are disciples of Jesus Christ. In the context of the New Testament, the people were baptized to show their allegiance and submission to a particular deity or religious system, e.g., Diana. Those who were baptized by John the Baptist were called John's disciples. They were identified with John. John's baptism was preparation for the coming of Christ, but the people were called John's disciples.

The word discipleship is misunderstood by many today. That's a problem: If we don't understand discipleship, we can't understand baptism.

A disciple was one who so closely aligned with his master that he acted and talked just like his master and was completely submitted to him. For instance, Plato had disciples who interacted with him all day long. He would teach and answer their questions in a conversational manner. They would learn everything possible, so that if anyone asked them a question, they could answer the same way as Plato would.

A disciple then understands the thinking, attitude and responses of his master so well, that he can act as a mirror of his master. Many miss this concept of discipleship because they haven't been taught what discipleship means—to so identify with Christ as to think and act and speak as He did. That's why it is helpful to refer to the Great Commission in Matthew 28, for it contains a clear description of discipleship. The command of Jesus in Matt. 28:18-20 reflects in a summary fashion what it means to be a disciple:

18] Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19] Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20] and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.

There is only one command in this passage, and that is to make disciples. The rest of the passage explains what it means to make disciples, or to be a disciple. In other words, "go," "baptizing," and "teaching" are all participles that elaborate on or describe what it means to make disciples.

Lets look at each of these words and their implications.

Go—Evangelism. This implies we are to take the initiative to share the good news of Christ. This is not a command; it's assumed we will all go and do this. It could read: "As you are going, make disciples... Wherever you find yourself, make disciples..."

Baptism—Establishment. This is the key word for this study, implying initiation into, or establishing people in, the faith. It is a necessary beginning step in discipleship. It is integrally linked to discipleship.

A lot of people think they will/should get baptized when they have grown spiritually and know a lot more about the Christian faith. But this passage, and the evidence we have in the book of Acts, shows that as soon as people became believers they were immediately baptized—Acts 2:41; 8:12,13,36-38; 9:18; 10:48; 16:15,33; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16.

Teaching—Equipping. The last element of the Lord's Commission to us in Matthew 28 is that we are to be involved in teaching, or equipping. This is instruction in the faith. It's obvious that discipleship involves considerable teaching, but note: "Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you..." v. 20. Teaching is critical to discipleship, but our obedience to that Scripture is proof we have heard the teaching. So if we are disciples of our Lord, we can see that we must obey the very command in Matthew 28 to make disciples, as well as all that the Lord has commanded us in Scripture. Two other passages that affirm the need to obey the teaching of Christ are 1 John 2:3-6 and 5:3.

3] We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4] The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5] But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6] Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."

1 John 5:3—"This is love for God: to obey his commands."

How do we prove we are Christians? We obey His commands, and the command to make disciples means we are to be baptized.

 

Lordship

The act of baptism is also a declaration of His lordship, a pledge of submission. It's saying you intend to obey and mimic Christ in every area of your life. You are saying,

In living for Christ, I have entered into His kingdom and I pledge my submission to His lordship. The world can be against me; Satan can fight me. People, friends and family may ridicule, but as for me, I've set my heart to follow after Christ; and from this day forward, I want every area of my life to be brought under His control. I declare publicly this day I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I am committed to be like Him and to do all He asks of me.

In summary, water baptism is significant because it is a public statement by a new believer of the discipleship and lordship of Christ.

 

Second, baptism is a memorable event in a new believer's life that marks a definite break from the past and separates him/her from the old life.

This break is clearly seen as we compare the Old Testament picture of baptism, Exodus 12-15, with 1 Cor. 10:1-6.

Here are some highlights from Exodus 12-15. Israel was a slave of Egypt and Pharaoh. God raised up Moses as the people's deliverer. They were saved from death by the blood of the Passover lamb; they were released from slavery and departed from Egypt; the Red Sea was the first barrier that confronted them. What would they do? The Lord made a corridor through that sea. As the children of Israel walked through, it must have been a little scary for them, like baptism is for many today. They came through the Red Sea and stood on the other side; they turned around and saw the Egyptian army coming after them. The Egyptians were basically saying, "If the children of Israel can make it, so can we."

But the Egyptian army got to the middle of the Red Sea and God threw the switch. The army drowned, and history says it took a long time before Egypt regained its status as a world power. Israel was never again in bondage to Egypt, but became slaves to their own cravings for Egypt. Those who came out of Egypt never made it to the Promised Land.

What does that saga communicate to us? It's a picture of baptism. Paul, in 1 Cor. 10, makes the point that this is a picture of baptism. Verse 2—"They were all baptized into Moses, in the cloud and in the sea." Paul is pointing us to this picture to remind us of where we've been and where we are going. This helps us to see spiritual truths in real life situations.

Here's our story (Egypt is a picture of our sin): We were in bondage, slaves to sin and Satan—Eph. 2:1-3. Jesus came and redeemed (purchased) us from that old life by His own blood. We were bought out of slavery. We were released from sin because Jesus paid the right price. He became the Passover Lamb. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed—1 Cor. 5:7. Therefore, we are saved by faith—Eph. 2:4-9. When we leave the old life and move through the waters of baptism, we are making a commitment:

I'm going to follow Jesus whatever it costs me. I'm separating myself from the old life.
When we make that commitment, the enemy is shut out and his power to enslave is destroyed.

I have seen many Christians who were struggling and fighting real battles, find victory once they were baptized.

Baptism points us, therefore, to the freedom that is ours in Christ. The waters of baptism can help us to visualize what has happened to us. As we reach out in faith and declare no to the past, we are set free. The waters of baptism are a public declaration to Satan that we are done with him and his ways. Satan may try to get through to us and keep us in bondage, but if we let God throw the switch and we turn our back on sin, we are no longer slaves to the old life (its slavery and oppression). We are free!

That may sound like a lot of spiritualizing, but it's also what Romans 6 says. Rom. 6:1-10:

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2] By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3] Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4] We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5] If we have been united with him in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6] For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—7] because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. 8] Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9] For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10] The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

The world says, Be free and continue to sin. The truth is, however, no one outside of Christ is free but is in slavery to sin. He can't do anything else. The sinner proclaims, "I'm turning over a new leaf. I'm going to get better." The reality is, if he is not living for Christ, then his life right now is as good as it's going to get. He is at the top of the hill, and from this point on it's a downhill ride. He will try to control his thoughts, but won't be able. He will try to change his actions, but won't be able. He will get home after a party or a day's work and say, "Why did I do that? That's not me." Our actions, however, are a reflection of who we think we are. We must know and believe as Romans declares, that those in Christ have died to sin and have been raised to new life. "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires"—Rom. 6:12.

How did all this happen?

Paul says we are dead to sin and alive in Christ. "Don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ..." That's what water baptism signifies; it's a picture of spiritual reality, signifying our union with Christ. A Christian has entered into a vital personal union with Jesus Christ—Gal. 2:17. Baptism, therefore, indicates not only that Christ has washed away our sins; it also says that by His grace we are placed into Jesus Christ. The essence of the Christian life (being in Christ) is signified in baptism.

John Stott writes:

The essence of the Christian life is visibly signified in baptism. Not, of course, that the outward rite of baptism by itself secures our union with Christ. By no means. It is inconceivable that the apostle, having spent three chapters arguing that justification (right standing) is by faith alone, should shift his ground, contradict himself and make baptism the means of salvation. We must give the apostle Paul credit for a little consistency of thought. No, when he writes that we are baptized into Christ Jesus, he means that this union with Christ, invisibly affected by faith, is visibly signified... by baptism. Nevertheless, the first point he assumes is that being a Christian involves a personal, vital identification with Jesus Christ, and that this union with Him is dramatically set forth in our baptism—John Stott, Men Made New, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1978, pp. 35-36.

Baptism also signifies our baptism into Christ's death and resurrection.

Verses 3-5—Or don't you know that all of us who baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4] We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5] If we have been united with him in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.

Baptism shows us what has already happened in our salvation—He died, we died; He arose, we arose. As far as God is concerned, the repentant sinner is so united with Christ, that the Christian died when Christ died and arose when Christ arose. Baptism, therefore, symbolizes our salvation.

In other words, our baptism is both a funeral and a resurrection from the grave at the same time. That's why we at Hillcrest believe that baptism is best symbolized through total immersion in water. Many people ask us, "Why should I have to be baptized by immersion under the water?" They say: "There are many ways baptism occurs in churches; why only this way? Some sprinkle water on your head, others pour water on your head. Why do you believe and practice baptism by immersion?"

Reasons for baptism by immersion
  1. First, it was the common means of baptism in the New Testament—Matt.. 3:6; Acts 8:38-39—"And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39] When they came up out of the water..." We believe in baptism by immersion because every baptism in the Bible was done this way.
  2. Second, it was the way Christ was baptized—Matt. 3:13-17. We want to do it the same way as Jesus. Matt. 3:16—"As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water." John the Baptist baptized Him in water, and thus Jesus set the example. So just as Christ died, was buried in the ground for three days and rose again, we take you and put you under the water and leave you there three days and then raise you again. (Just kidding!)
  3. Third, the reason we baptize by immersion is because the Greek word used for baptism, Baptiso, means to dip, or immerse.
  4. Fourth, it seems to us that immersion is the best picture of what happens at our salvation. Immersion is the best way to express the reality of our burial and resurrection with Christ—Rom. 6:4-7.

The founders of denominations agree with the practice of baptism by immersion:

Martin Luther..."I would have those who are to be baptized to be entirely immersed, as the word imports and the mystery signifies." What denomination did he start? (Lutheran)
John Calvin..."The word 'baptize' signifies to immerse. It is certain that immersion was the practice of the ancient church." What denomination did he start? (Presbyterian)
John Wesley..."'Buried with Him,' alludes to baptizing by immersion according to the custom of the first church." What denomination did he start? (Methodist)
They all agree, whether their denominations practice it or not!

Today, even some Catholic churches are going back to baptism by immersion. An article in the Los Angeles Times says,"Many Catholics are returning to the full immersion baptism of church history and it's greater symbolism." It continues, "Since 1988, every Catholic church in Orange County has been built with a baptism pool so they can immerse." On the day the article was written, the Archbishop was baptizing 839 people by immersion. Why? Catholic churches have realized, "This brings out far more clearly the true meaning of baptism, of being buried with Christ and entering into a new life." So even the Catholics, who for centuries have sprinkled, are now saying, "We are returning to baptism by immersion."

Many people in our church were raised Catholic, some are staff members, who have been baptized as adult believers even though they were baptized as infants. We acknowledge that infant baptism can be very significant for parents, but the child obviously doesn't remember it. Therefore, once they are older, many are saying, "I want to make my own decision to have this experience and be baptized the way Jesus commanded. I want a baptism where I may make this confession, 'I am a follower of Christ.' We can't make that statement until we have personally made the commitment to be a follower of Christ."

Who should be baptized?

Every person who has believed in Christ.

Acts 2:41—Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Acts 8:12—But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13]—Simon himself believed and was baptized...

At Hillcrest, we wait to baptize our children until they are old enough to believe and understand the true meaning of baptism. We have a special packet written just for them to explain the meaning. We don't believe they have to be an adult to be baptized. There is only one qualification in the Bible to be baptized; a person has to believe in Christ. Obviously that means a child has to be old enough to understand what baptism is all about.

The reason we don't practice infant baptism is because it can't possibly mean what baptism symbolizes. Nowhere in the New Testament is infant baptism explicitly commanded or urged. Not one example is found in all the baptisms recorded in the book of Acts. The record of baptism in Acts indicates that it was administered only to those who had an intelligent profession of faith in the Lord Jesus. The pattern is stated in Acts 2:38-39—

Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39] The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off for all whom the Lord our God will call."

It is at that point that baptism by immersion is a beautiful outward sign of an inner reality. it's only those who have repented who should be baptized. A baby should be dedicated to the Lord as an act of faith on the part of the parents. We are not going to hassle those who were baptized as infants; nor are we going to put down the sincerity and love of their parents. But I would have you consider this: Ritual is only as valuable as its content. We can go through the motions of ritual or form, but if it has no vital content, then it isn't a valid expression. Vitality comes when there is content (life) in form or expression. Baptism, therefore, is valid only if there is content, decision, repentance, death, resurrection and life.

The question we need to ask is: What is being said through the act of baptism? Again, the answer to the question of why we don't practice infant baptism is, because it is impossible for the baptism to have any content/meaning to an infant. He/she doesn't have any idea of what is going on. It is impossible for an infant to fulfill the Scripture that precedes the command of baptism, "Repent and be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Many churches practice a "baptism of confirmation" for children. This ceremony is intended to be a covenant between the parents and God on behalf of the child. The parents promise to raise their child in the faith until the child is old enough to make his own personal confession of Christ. This custom began about 300 years after the Bible was completed. It represents a wonderful sentiment, but again, it is different from the baptism talked about in the Bible, which was only for those old enough to believe.

The purpose of baptism is to publicly confess your personal commitment to Christ. This is why at Hillcrest Chapel, it is a membership requirement that every member be baptized the way Jesus was, even though many may have been baptized as infants, or confirmed as children.

 

In summary, therefore, baptism is a memorable event that marks a definite break from the past in a new believers life, and separates him/her from the old life.

 

Third, baptism is a biblical way to identify with the Body of Christ.

Acts 2:41—"Those who accepted his message were baptized and about three thousand were added to their number." Baptism administered in a local church is helpful in two ways: First, it serves to unite the new believer with other believers in the community. The event impresses the Body about its responsibility to love and care for the new believer. Baptism in the local church is also a public statement to family and friends; in fact, we encourage everyone who is baptized to invite family and friends to witness their profession of faith and baptism. Many have been brought to Christ through witnessing this event, and it helps them to see what their relative/friend is into.

 


Application

If you have been baptized, I hope this presentation has helped you to appreciate what has taken place in your life. The key questions for you are:

 

  • Are you now living a "baptized in water" lifestyle?
  • Are you walking in the reality of your conversion and baptism?
  • Is sin abounding in your life?
If you are not walking in the light of your salvation, then let the words of 1 Cor. 10:1-13 be a warning to you:
  • Have you fallen?—v. 12
  • Are you overtaken by temptation?—v. 13
  • Is God pleased with you?—v. 5
Living in the light of our water baptism is what God desires from us who have been baptized.

If you are a believer who has not gotten around to publicly declaring your faith through baptism, can I encourage you to heed the command of the Lord and publicly declare that you are His disciple and He is your Lord? The pattern is that of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:36-39) and the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:29-34).

The following should be your public declaration at the time of water baptism:

 

I'm living for Christ. I've entered His kingdom. I've pledged my submission to His lordship. The world can be against me. Satan can fight me. People, friends and family may ridicule, but as for me, I've set my heart to follow Christ. From this day forward, I want every area of my life to be brought under His control. I declare publicly that this day I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I am committed to be like Him and to do all He asks of me.

A Final Encouragement

A number of years ago I was speaking on water baptism, and went into a Christian Search Engine on the Internet and typed in the word "baptism." I was so surprised to have the first article come up written by one of the young men who had been in my youth group about 30 years ago. He is currently a pastor and writer for many Christian periodicals.

Greg Asimakoupoulos is a fantastic young man and an excellent writer; I am very proud of him and his ministry. I have included his article in this teaching as an encouragement to those of you who are believers, but have found too many excuses for not following through on the command to be baptized.

Because of the example and encouragement of this article, I was able to baptize almost 20 people the day I read it. I hope the article, along with the previous encouragements from Scripture, will be enough to move you to the next step of obedience.

 


Baptism on the Ninth Hole

How a water hazard became holy ground

by Greg Asimakoupoulos

After pastoring a church in California for 11 years, my wife and I sensed God's call to a congregation near Chicago.

As our family prepared to move, we were showered with wonderful gifts: a painting by Thomas Kinkade, a crystal vase, and a French Psalter from the 1600s to add to my prized collection of hymnbooks.

But the most meaningful gift arrived just a few days before I moved—an invitation to play golf with my friend Marty. Seven years earlier, after much family coercion, Marty reluctantly agreed to accompany his wife and two daughters to church. Marty had been turned off by institutional religion long before—Sunday mornings were best spent on the golf course.

I met the Koll family in the parking lot after worship had begun. They arrived late, and there I was: hiding among the cars in my Middle Eastern robe. I didn't want to spoil the effect of my first-person sermon by being seen by the congregation prematurely. Marty's face said it all: Is that the pastor without shoes and in a bathrobe? What kind of church is this? I'd rather be golfing.

The morning's worship folder promoted the annual men's golf tournament the following Saturday. Golf was a language Marty spoke. He signed up for the outing and arrived with a sparkle in his eye. I had no idea he was a ringer.

After Marty won, the organizer of the tournament asked him if he could be in church the next day to receive the trophy. Marty complied. Whether it was the fact that I wore a coat and tie and shoes that Sunday, or that Marty and his wife were warmly received by the young adult class, I'll never know. What matters is they decided to stay.

Within a few months, Marty's two elementary school-aged daughters prayed with their Sunday school teachers to make Jesus their Lord. They began to ask their parents questions about their new faith. Mom and Dad realized they needed to make the same commitment as their daughters. At the end of a sermon, I asked those willing to entrust their lives to the Lord to lift their heads and look me in the eye. Marty and Cindy returned my gaze.

 

Golf Baptism
Marty responded with childlike enthusiasm to the father-like love of God (his father had died before he was born). Within months his tender faith was tested: he watched his mother wither from cancer and die. About that time, I was coming to grips with my father's nearly fatal heart attack. We found consolation together, followed little white balls around the golf course, and prayed for each other. Our friendship grew. Marty threw himself into church life; he became our church custodian; he and Cindy led the Sunday school class that welcomed them. But for some reason, known only to Marty, he was never baptized. The years sped by.

Then came the invitation to play golf one last time. The day seemed perfect: the weather was warm, and my game was on. Two friends from church joined us. There was laughter and honest conversation. I swallowed hard, realizing I'd soon be 2,000 miles removed from these men I'd grown to love as brothers. As we approached the ninth tee, with a meandering brook and a cascading waterfall, Marty surprised me with a question: "Pastor Greg, would you baptize me?"

I thought he was joking and reached for my driver. Marty reached in his golf bag and retrieved the Bible I'd given him the day he became a Christian. "I'm serious," he said. He handed me the Bible. "You know I've never been baptized. And, well, here's water. What's standing in the way?"

My open mouth widened into a smile; my eyes teared up. I remembered the Ethiopian's request of Philip in Acts 8 and decided there was a precedent for unorthodox baptisms. We removed our shoes and socks, rolled up our slacks, and stepped into the flowing brook. While our friends looked on, I read aloud the Twenty-third Psalm (somehow "green pastures" and "still waters" seemed appropriate). I quizzed Marty about his faith in Christ. I applauded his boldness. I asked God to transform the gurgling stream into a means of grace. Then I baptized him in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I welcomed my brother with a bear hug as he stepped out of the water.

A circle of four men holding hands and praying God's blessing on Marty could be seen by the twosome on the green behind us. They smiled their approval, although I'm not sure what they thought was going on.

A water hazard on the ninth hole had become holy ground.

 


Greg Asimakoupoulos is pastor of Naperville Covenant Church in Naperville, Illinois. Copyright (c) 1995 Christianity Today, Inc./LEADERSHIP Journal

 

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