I’ve encountered a few people who seem to get baptized because that’s what their families expect, because it seems like a good thing to do, because they’re about that age now. Church is something they do on Sundays and tack on to the rest of their hobbies and interests because that’s what nice, moral people do. Some of these people I have seen readily affirm the love, grace, and mercy of God, yet many other things come out of their mouths (or onto their Facebook wall) that are simply not characteristic of Christians. They get baptized, attend leisurely, continue on as the same old person, confident in God’s will for them simply to be happy and enjoy life. Ultimately, they are baptized and not “converted.”
Consider this quote:
“If you were to ask the average Christian sitting in a worship service on Sunday morning to summarize the message of Christianity, you would most likely hear something along the lines of “The message of Christianity is that God loves me.” Or someone might say, “The message of Christianity is that God loves me enough to send His Son, Jesus to die for me.” As wonderful as this sentiment sounds, is it biblical? Isn’t it incomplete, based on what we have seen in the Bible? “God loves me” is not the essence of biblical Christianity. Because if “God loves me” is the message of Christianity, then who is the object of Christianity?
God loves me.
Christianity’s object isme.
Therefore when I look for a church, I look for the music that best fits me and the programs that best cater to me and my family. When I make plans for my life and career, it is about what works best for me and my family. When I consider the house I will live in, the car I will drive, the clothes I will wear, the way I will live, I will choose according to what is best for me. This is the version of Christianity that largely prevails in our culture.
But it is not biblical Christianity. The message of biblical Christianity is not “God loves me, period,” as if we were the object of our own faith. The message of biblical Christianity is “God loves me so that I might make him- his ways, his salvation, his glory and his greatness- known among all nations.” Now God is the object of our faith and Christianity centers around him. We are not the end of the gospel; God is.”
A long quote.
But one that needs to be heard.
Reason with me for a moment: we can all agree that the water doesn’t save, right? No one is claiming that anyone who has taken a bath is going to heaven. Baptism is what God has commanded, but God does the work; God adds souls to His church.
“and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.” – Colossians 2:11-13
So, water doesn’t save, but God does.
And another point everyone is quick to agree on is that God sees our hearts, and judges not by appearance, right?
“…For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” – Hebrews 4:12-23
“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,” – Romans 6:17
God imparts salvation to souls.
God knows our hearts and doesn’t judge by appearances.
Obedience (in this case, baptism), only matters if it’s from the heart, as Romans 6:17 suggests.
So, why are so many submitting to baptism in order to be saved, when their heart is not actually centered on God? When their hearts haven’t been pierced? When they have no intention of repenting fully? Why are people being baptized when God knows they aren’t being converted?
Maybe it’s just for appearances, and maybe they really don’t care. I accept that some people will fall into that deception and for that, I have another quote:
“There’s such a silliness to fake when something so big is on the line, something so grand is on the line. I sometimes tell people, “Why would you fake? Take it to the end: you’ve fooled everyone. That’s great! And so you die and you go to hell and you go, “But everyone thinks I’m in heaven!”
That’s your goal?
How long is that joy going to last?”
But I’d like to hope that maybe some are just mislead. Maybe some are sadly pushed into seemingly obeying the gospel even though they aren’t ready. Maybe their parents don’t want to be looked down upon or questioned. Maybe they haven’t had any proper examples of true disciples. Maybe they haven’t been taught to count the cost. Maybe they don’t know what it means to be a follower of Christ.
Maybe they didn’t read,comprehend, consider, meditate upon,take to heart and understand how verses like these should change their lives and attitudes and interests and perspectives:
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:1, 2
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 1 Corinthians 5:17
“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” – Romans 6:6
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” – Colossians 3:1-3
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—” – Philippians 3:7-9
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19,20
My heart aches when those who, by all outward appearances have become members of the body of Christ, continue on lackadaisically- still pursuing everything they had planned before they came to the truth, still confident in themselves and their own morals and uprightness, still taking pleasure in the sins of this world, still not wanting to be associated with the church and with other Christians, still considering the council of their worldly friends or parents more valuable than the Word of God.
So many times I’ve heard this illustration and I think it applies here as well: if you were alone on an island, just you and a Bible, would you come to that conclusion on your own? Would you come to the conclusion that God just wants your minimal devotion to Him? Would you come to the conclusion that your life is all about you and what you want and what you take pleasure in and how inherently morally good you are and how you don’t really need to put yourself, the person you’ve been your whole life, to death and put on the perfect Christ and live solely to glorify Almighty God?
If you haven’t been cut to the heart by the gospel, by the message of the Bible, by God; if you aren’t in awe of Him and the salvation He is graciously offering you; if you aren’t overwhelmed with a devotion to Him that causes you to devalue, a million times devalue, everything else you thought you once cared about in this life; if you aren’t immediately humbled and if your mind isn’t set on solely seeking Him, following Him, glorifying Him in all that you do and crucifying your desires for Him, then tell me, why are you getting wet?