Sunday was incredible. I have experienced a great deal of life change in the last 10 days — I bought a house, moved, and started a new job — but my favorite part of it all was Sunday! I attended the celebration service at the Sunnyvale campus, where over 20 people were baptized. Then, on Monday morning, I saw on social media that, across all four c|Life campuses, we saw 114 people make their faith public. Wow, God is so good!
Over the years, I have had many conversations with people who have asked the question: “Do I have to be baptized to be saved?” My response is always, “No (see Luke 23:39–43), but why wouldn’t you want to be baptized?” Baptism is our way of making public what has taken place in our hearts, telling others that Jesus has come into our lives, wiped the slate clean and made us new. What about that is there to be ashamed of? Let’s look at it this way:
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
— Ephesians 2:8–9
We know that baptism doesn’t save us because several passages of Scripture tell us that it doesn’t. I referenced Luke 23 above, where Jesus tells the thief on the cross that he will go to heaven because of his faith. And Ephesians also tells us that it is by faith in Christ alone that we are saved, not by works (including baptism).
Baptism is our first opportunity to share our testimony.
And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his son.
— 1 John 5:11
Over the last few years, I have had the opportunity to go to five different churches in the DFW area and share my story. There is some pretty messy stuff in that story. I’ve made quite a few mistakes along the way. A few times, I’ve had close friends ask me why I am so willing to share such personal details in front of total strangers, and here is my answer: because God made me new! Jesus gave me a new life, and if sharing the messy details of my story, of the freedom that Christ has given me, encourages one other person or points one other person toward Jesus, it is worth it! Jesus swooped down and picked me up when I was at my worst. This is grace. Why on earth would I want to hide from others the amazing gift that he has given me, and which he freely offers to them?
Baptism isn’t about standing up and sharing the gory details of your story, but it is a first step in sharing your testimony, in making it known that God, who is rich in love, has given you a new life. This isn’t an obligation, this is a privilege! And, when you take that step of obedience, God is faithful. He will use your obedience for his glory. It could be that someone sees that you have been made new and comes to a saving faith in Christ themselves!
God’s willingness to use us blows my mind, but use us he does. He wants to use us to point others to himself. Whether your next step of obedience is baptism or something else, let him use you. I promise you won’t regret it!