Posts Tagged With: baptism

My Hitchhiking Adventure With God – More on Baptism

BaptismI chose to write a blog on baptism because I wanted to force myself to learn more and research this further. When I first started my research, I began to realize just how ignorant I was and, though I felt I was onto something with the few insights that I did have on the subject, I had to admit I did have some mistaken ideas. I also began to realize that this subject is a “can of worms” for many people. Churches and denominations have their lines drawn in the sand regarding baptism. Sometimes their beliefs land in agreement with Jesus and the apostles, but other times… not so much. I think also that there are some unfounded fears and superstitions regarding baptism. (see comments)

I found that the internet and Wikipedia are definitely not the place to go to research baptism if you want sound teaching (this probably goes for any important spiritual subject). The top two sites that came up in a search for baptism teaching, though well researched and presented, I believe, came to wrong conclusions.

The most important thing regarding spiritual matters, is to find out what Jesus and the apostles have to say on the subject and somehow manage to not misinterpret them. This is a huge task that I am not going to pull off (nor attempt to) in a single blog. Instead, I will share my experiences and a few thoughts and leave it at that. I am not the end all be all of spiritual truth – we have the word of God and the Holy Spirit for that.

My Experience With Baptism

I was maybe seven years old I was first “baptized” at Riverview family Bible camp. My mom asked me if I wanted to be baptized and I said yes. The pastor tried to explain baptism to me but I don’t think I understood a word of it. I probably had quite a puzzled look on my face as he explained baptism, but he baptized me anyway. I remember standing down by the river wearing the white robe with the other people about to get baptized and wishing I could go play on the water slide.

image007Many years later, when I was 18, my best friend Jacob was getting baptized through our church Calvary Chapel. He asked me if I would join him and I told him I’d be happy to. I had just come back to the Lord that year and I was excited about God. I was so excited about God that, as often as I could, I would go to every church service and college group that I could possibly find around Spokane Washington where I lived. I loved hearing God’s word and being around God’s people. I regularly went to Calvary Chapel and a church called Life Center, both excellent and wonderful fellowships where I sensed God was doing amazing things.

My friend Jacob and I went through a class about baptism at Calvary Chapel and then the day came for us to be baptized. The experience itself was unremarkable. A dove did not descend. I can’t say the experience changed anything for me.

I also remember something that happened at a church called Life Center about that same time. They had a big baptism service there every so often and they would encourage those who brought a person to faith in Christ to be the one to baptize them. They had pastoral staff there to guide the whole process. I had a friend named Claire who wanted me to baptize her. She wanted her sins to be washed away. So there I was, having just come back to God and to my faith, wearing a ying and yang t-shirt baptizing my friend.

A Few Thoughts on Baptism

Baptism is one of the few words in the Bible that has never been translated from the Greek into English. Baptism is from the Greek noun Βάπτισμα – baptisma. It means “to immerse”. So, I thought, why was this word transliterated instead of being translated? Why not use the word “immersed” instead of simply Englishifying this Greek word?

Up until last week I thought it was a conspiracy. I believed that the translators of Scripture didn’t translate the word just to accommodate already well established church practices. If the Greek word means “to immerse”, can you guess why the translators would hesitate to render its true meaning? Church practice for centuries was to sprinkle the foreheads, or pour water over the head, but not to fully immerse them. I am under the impression that there is a great deal of superstition around baptism as well. I believe some churches practice infant baptism thinking it best to do this as early as possible so as to save them from an eternity in hell… so they think.

Peter writes that baptism is not a matter of the removal of filth from the body (the physical act of washing) but about the spiritual reality that baptism represents. Just like the Jewish practice of circumcision represented a spiritual cleansing of the filth of the flesh – the removal of sin, so now baptism represents the death and burial of our old life and the resurrection to a new life by the Spirit of God. It truly is the spiritual reality that means something, and the physical act is pointless without this. So what significance does the physical act play?

Think about how differently certain commands of Jesus would read if this word had been translated:

“Go therefore into all the world and make followers of Christ, immersing them in the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit. Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Immersing them in the name. Not immersing them in water per say, but in a name. What would this signify?

However, I could not ignore the fact that most of the instances that baptism is talked about or commanded, it is referring to the Christian rite of baptism. It seemed then to make sense then why the translators would not translate the word. If the word does in fact most often refer to the “rite” of baptism, then it may just add confusion to the subject to say immerse… unless that’s what God and the apostles actually meant to say. What do you think?

I came to see that I was not at liberty to spiritualize “baptism” into solely a mystical experience of being immersed in God. But, that the physical act also matters to God and is commanded by God. I have a lot more to learn but I’d love to hear back from you. Is there something you think I should know or am overlooking in this brief look at baptism? Leave me a comment!

Categories: Baptism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

My Hitchhiking Adventure With God – Part 2

As with any story, it is best to start at the beginning:

Here is Part 1 of My Hitchhiking Adventure With God (not to be missed!)

PART 2:

too funny

too funny

The first ride, oddly enough, took me from the Colony, where we lived, and placed me just a few blocks away from the church where my mom was at her Bible study. I thought for a moment how easy it would be to give up and just catch a ride home with my mom, but I pressed on, walking down the side of Interstate 75.

(My mom told me later that some friends of hers from that Bible study drove past me as I was walking and thought I looked like an angel.)

The next person to pick me up swerved across a few lanes of traffic in his old beat up Volkswagen. He was nice enough to take me to the East side of Dallas to Hwy 80. Once there I didn’t have to wait long before a van stopped.

I had recently read No Compromise, which is the biography of Keith Green (Which I would recommend you read – it looks like you can pick it up for a penny at Amazon). Keith and his wife had started a ministry called Last Days Ministries near Tyler, Texas (about 80 miles East of Dallas). I felt that the Lord was telling me that this was my next stop.

Well, after asking directions I ended up at the place where Last Days Ministry used to be and where Teen Mania now is. This was the ministry I had mentioned where my friend Neal had found the Lord and freedom from drugs. I was turned away immediately at the front gate and was directed down the street to the YWAM (Youth With A Mission) Mercy Ships Ministry.

The YWAM Mercy Ships training facility was fairly empty at the time because all the students had just left for a mission. Two women named Marilyn greeted me. I thought this was funny because my mom’s name is Marilyn as well.

After explaining my story, one Marilyn thought I was off my rocker and needed to go home. The other Marilyn actually believed I was following God’s call, even as crazy as it seemed.

Finally they drove me over to the other YWAM Twin Oaks Ranch in Garden Valley and got me set up in a bunk house and introduced me to some of the guys in the Discipleship Training program.

We had some really great fellowship for the rest of the day. When I shared what I was doing they were excited for me and told me about the YWAM base in New Orleans. They called them up, told them I was coming, and gave me their address. Then they invited me to join them on a witnessing mission they were planning for that evening.  They were planning a trip to downtown Dallas to witness on the streets in Deep Elum.

I then called my mom. When she heard I was coming back to Dallas, she said, “Great, I will come and pick you up.” I told her that I wanted to see this thing through to the end and that I couldn’t back out now.

So there I was, back in Dallas, witnessing on the streets with my new-found friends. We had such amazing fellowship that night! Let me tell you that the friendships we can have with other believers are like no other friendships you will ever have. With Jesus as the bond between you, friendships can happen quickly just like when you made friends as children. It’s such an amazing thing when the Holy Spirit brings us together in perfect harmony!

The next morning I set out on the road once again. The first ride took me as far as Shreveport. But this was only after I walked a long time. As I walked, I talked with the Lord, and sang Christian songs. It was then, as I walked along that road that the Lord told me to buy a bus ticket and move to Wisconsin when I get back home.

Once I made it to Shreveport, getting a ride South out of Shreveport proved difficult. I walked for most of the day and I was exhausted. As the sun was setting, a man finally stopped to pick me up. He was on his way to an evening worship service at a Pentecostal church in Alexandria. I agreed to go with him and he said that he would do what he could to fix me up with a place to stay that night at the homeless shelter called the Grace House.

The church was bizarre to say the least. There was a woman playing the keyboard with several other people dancing around on stage. As she played, there was another woman saying something about Ruth’s sister-in-law becoming the great-grandmother of Goliath while Ruth went on to be the great-grandmother of David (which is pretty ridiculous).

There were a large number of people at the front of the church all jumping up and down and yelling, supposedly speaking in “tongues”. Though “la, la, la, la” doesn’t really seem to say much of anything – not even for a toddler. Forgive me for saying so, but it just seemed like madness to me. While all this was happening on stage, there were many people in the back just looking on seeming disconnected. I went back to visit with them.

After the service another man drove me to Grace House. Along the way he asked me the details of how had I been baptized. He wanted to know what was spoken over me when I was baptized and I told him, “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” He then went on to explain to me that this wasn’t good enough and that what needed to be said was, “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

He then offered to take me to get baptized right then and there so that I could get my salvation put in order. As I started to decline his gracious offer of salvation, he became quite hostile with me just as we were walking into the Grace House. I started to try to explain where I was coming from but he cut me off and started yelling at me. “If you don’t let me baptize you proper, then yer faith is worth less than a nickel!” he told me.

Exhausted from the day’s walk as I was, this confrontation put me over the edge emotionally. I pulled out my Bible and was starting to share with him what Peter had to say on the subject. “But Peter says, baptism is not the removal of filth from the body – about taking a dunk in some water – but of an answer of a clean conscience toward God.”

“…and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…”  (1 Peter 3:21 NIV)

(Even as I write this I am struck with a new insight into the significance of what Peter has to say and what this means. I remember the apostle Paul talked on several occasions that he strove to maintain a clean conscience before God. It seems to me that this is the essence of healthy spirituality – maintaining a clean conscience.)

On the verge of tears, I finally found and read the Scripture verse in 1 Peter. I looked up, however, to see that the man had already left and that about twenty guys were staring at me wondering what in the heck I was ranting about. It was in that moment that the subject of baptism became very important to me.

To be continued…

Stay tuned for a blog on Baptism and then the continuation of the story. If you have enjoyed this story, feel free to share it and subscribe to this blog! Leave me a comment below!

Categories: faith adventure | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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