Although it is not totally foolproof, the signs of love will be an engagement ring followed by a wedding ring. The process normally will go through friendship into courtship, followed by engagement and then marriage. The engagement ring is a promise of marriage. The wedding ring makes the relationship permanent. When it comes to conversion to Jesus Christ, like we said yesterday, there is hearing the Gospel Message of God’s love; thinking it through; surrendering to Jesus as Lord and Saviour, receiving the Holy Spirit God’s engagement ring promising Eternal Salvation …
2 Cor 5:5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
… and heaven at death. Once Jesus returns and the judgment takes place, believers will be ushered into heaven where there will be the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and Bride. The Lamb is the Lord Jesus Christ and the Bride is the Invisible Church of Born Again believers. God uses human language and concepts for us to grasp the permanency of heaven with Him forever! Now once a person responds in faith to the Gospel and they are saved, there are relational signs confirming the union between the believer and the Lord Jesus. There are many signs, but I want you to see in the life of Lydia and the members of her house that there are three specific signs that ought to follow conversion to Jesus Christ.
(6) The first is that converts are baptized.
Ac 16:15 When she and the members of her household were baptized. Some people believer that baptism completes their salvation.
Those who instruct them with the Gospel, tell them salvation is incomplete without baptism. This is a false picture. If for whatever reason a person becomes a Christian and cannot be baptized and then dies … that soul will enter heaven!
(a) Type of Baptism. There is an age old argument that only adult believers may be baptized. Yet with belief in Covenant Theology emanating from the Old Covenant into the New Covenant, one needs to ask deep questions about Peter’s teaching:
Ac 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. 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.”
And Peter’s team:
Ac 16:31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
It will be foolish to say that “children” and “household” exclude infants and children of a younger age. It is correct to say mostly they cannot believe, but paedobaptism is reserved for infants and children of parents who are intentional Christians. One of our grandsons was converted at the age of three and a half. In a few days he will be twenty and is walking with the Lord through faith and intentionality! He was baptized as an infant and his parents raised him in the ways of the Lord and today he serves our God faithfully. The important thing is that Christian parents have a duty to raise their children to love, obey and follow Jesus. The problem is that this does not always happen.
(b) Method of Baptism. It is true to say that most references in the Bible tend to imply that baptism was performed where there was lots of water, yet the Greek word implies “emerge, dip, pour or sprinkle”. The point is that it is not the volume of water used that is important. We don’t need to be divided over the volume of water.
(c) The most important aspect of Baptism is the Mode. When Jesus spoke of his Cross and suffering He used the term “baptism”. So, one needs to be careful when you say you are following Jesus’ example in baptism. Although on two occasions we read in Acts that baptism was into the Name of Jesus or the Lord Jesus (8:16 & 19:5), baptism ought to be in the Name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit because it is into the Kingdom of the Triune God that we have been incorporated.
(d) The natural question that arises is “what is the reason for baptism as a Christian?” Some say this is an act of obedience because Jesus said:
Jn 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command”
… but I can’t link that statement to baptism. Be careful when people use one text to empower another text to say something. I would say that the reason for baptism is identification. It cuts both ways … believer or believing parents of an infant are identifying with Jesus, the Godman, born of a virgin, taught the Scriptures like none other, demonstrated from the Old Covenant that He was the anticipated Messiah, paid the sin price as the sinless Lamb of God, rose victoriously from the dead and now reigns as King and Lord of His Church. The believing candidate (or the believing parents), going through the sacrament of baptism are identifying themselves (themselves) with the God of Creation, who sustains Creation, the God of Scripture (the Bible), the God of the Cross, the God of salvation and the God of Heaven. You have to see the purpose of identification. You are denouncing all other so called gods, religions and offerings that address present and future spirituality. You are rejecting all conspiracy theories that people have crafted to create divisive teaching. Because baptism, as far as possible, like with Lydia and her household member, was in public, baptism declares to the world that you have crossed that invisible line that divides True Religion from False Religion. In this ritual you are saying to the world out there which could be family, friends, colleagues, neighbors and the church that you have repented from all your old ways … the old life of sin and debauchery, the life of self-trust and works and are now living exclusively under the Lordship and Reign of King Jesus. You are actually inviting people to watch you, your life style, your moral and ethics, your speech and behaviour. This does not mean you will not sin and disappoint God, yourself and others but it does mean you have changed allegiance to Jesus and proudly so.
Thank You, Lord Jesus, for the wonderful change You have made since You have come into my life. Help me to pursue faithfulness. Amen.