Each year, The Village Church is privileged to consistently celebrate hundreds of new creations in the baptismal waters. With every baptism, we witness a drama that visually and viscerally presents the reality of God’s power to rescue those whom He calls His own. Those being baptized share their stories of redemption from the platform. Again and again, we hear that these stories are being used by the Lord to bring many to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Why? Because they testify to the truth of what God has been doing since the beginning.
When God chose to save Noah and his family from the Flood, He shut the door of the ark and brought them safely through the waters of judgment to new life.
When God freed the Israelites from Egypt, He led them through the miraculously parted waters of the Red Sea to a new life freed from Egyptian bondage. He would work a similar reminding miracle just decades later parting the Jordan so Israel could cross over to a new land.
When Jonah chose to disobey God, the Lord lovingly pursued him. God brought him safely through the waters of death inside the belly of a fish that would spit him onto the dry land of life and obedience.
Obedience and Proclamation
These are the Old Testament seeds of baptism. These stories form the backdrop for the actions of John the Baptist in Matthew 3 as John begins baptizing Jews (and Jesus himself) in the waters of the Jordan. Jesus’ baptism was an act of obedience to the Father, but it was also a powerful testimony to the meaning of these older stories, full of nothing less than ocean-splitting deliverance from death to life.
Baptism is first an act of obedience to Christ’s command and then a powerful proclamation of the gospel. It is a gift of God to His people. Believers are often forgetful and need constant reminders of our shared story. When we see someone following Christ in obedience to baptism, being symbolically “buried” in water only to be raised by a power that is not their own, our hearts are stirred by our shared story of salvation in Christ.
Baptism also lays claim. It is a statement of ownership to any who witness it who do not honor Christ. In baptism, a simple ceremony signifies the eternal reality that this individual belongs to Christ and Christ alone. It is the sign of the King’s irrevocable seal upon the son or daughter raised out of those judgment waters.
The Power of Testimony
The Village is a big church. Being baptized at one of our Celebration Services means practicing your obedience in front of a large number of people. This intimidating fact may cause you to want to be baptized in your Home Group or with only family members present. There is nothing morally or biblically wrong with that; in fact, sometimes circumstances dictate that baptism must be conducted in a smaller or private venue.
But most of us have a choice about where we proclaim the gospel through our baptism. When I hear your story of salvation, it causes me to worship. And I am encouraged and edified. I’m reminded that your story is my story. There may not be unbelievers present to witness your baptism in your group or small gathering, but the visitor I brought with me to the Celebration Service may hear in your testimony that Christians are real people in the world, and that Christ has overcome the broken world we live in. That offers real hope.
We, as a body of believers, are better for having seen your obedience and having heard your testimony. Your baptism tells the greatest story, a story worthy of the biggest microphone possible. So as you decide where your baptism should take place, we urge you to prayerfully consider the weekend Celebration Services. The testimonies that come from those waters have been used by God to bring many to faith. Baptism is perhaps the most powerful preaching this church sees and hears. We want you to share this gospel sermon with us and with those who have yet to be saved. May the power of God to save as depicted in baptism be on display for many to see.