In Joshua 4 the Israelites crossed the Jordan River by faith. God caused the water to pile up at a place upstream and the people of God walked across on dry ground. In the middle of the river bed, a man from each tribe was to pick up a stone and carry it to where they camped on the other side and to leave them there as a memorial of remembrance.
Those stones were to be a reminder of just what the Lord had done for them, from where He had brought them, and what He had brought them through.
Baptism by water is a memorial like that. It’s a symbol of our spiritual baptism that took place at the moment we trusted in Christ our Savior who died, was buried, and was raised from the dead to provide for our salvation (Romans 6:3-5).
Water baptism as a symbol of our spiritual baptism was the theme of today’s house church message. For some this topic was already well understood because they’ve already been baptized, but for a few, it was fairly new because for them the concern has mostly been about whether or not they’d ever been baptized spiritually…where they were saved or not.
Given the many doubts and uncertainties in their hearts, we have waited on explaining baptism in order to give them time to be sure they understand the Gospel and what it means to be saved and to follow Christ. We did not want to introduce them to the teaching of baptism at a point when they could possibly think that somehow baptism and salvation were the same thing.
Now that these in doubt have begun to show spiritual roots of faith that are grabbing hold, it seems like the right time to teach baptism to the whole group.
Providentially, God has been working steadily in the hearts of one particular family in recent months. One of this family’s sons is a university student, and his spiritual life has been changing noticeably in recent months. After considering his growth and level of understanding, I decided that if he showed interest in helping me teach some basic topics on Sundays, I would ask him to help in this way. He has an obvious ability to teach, a good mind for thinking, a growing heart in wisdom, and a walk with Jesus that is showing maturity.
So, I asked him a couple weeks ago if he would be interested in teaching this message on baptism. He readily agreed. He created his message and put it all in a PowerPoint. After going over it with him last Sunday afternoon, and then later making more edits for clarity, the lesson was ready, and today, he taught it.
At the end of the lesson today, he asked if everyone was a believer or not. For all who said yes (at least 13 of us), he asked who had not been baptized and wants to obey Christ by being baptized. As soon as he asked this question, he raised his own hand and said, “I’ve never been baptized and I want to be!” At least 2 others indicated a desire to be baptized, including his mother and at least one of his brothers, and 2 more also indicated they thought they were ready to commit to this step too.
Isn’t that great? How often do you get to be a part of a Sunday message on baptism that concludes with the teacher wanting to be the first to be baptized? God is so good to bring us through the Jordan by faith and to give us this beautiful memorial of remembrance of what our Lord has done for us. Pray that we’ll find a place and a Sunday for having a baptismal service. It will be a great day in the life of this little house church.
See you at the river!