I have been doing a lot of research lately on the subject of Baptism. I know there are several different and varying opinions on the subject. When I read yesterday that an author I really like believe it was important, I decided I needed to put my thoughts together and express them.
Now, I would never say that baptism isn't important. I think it is important, but I don't think it is necessary. At least not when you are talking about a water baptism.
You can go through and try to pull out verses here and there that really do a good job of trying to justify whatever view you might have, but based on the overall picture of the Bible and my own personal experience I have developed my current view on the subject.
Now, I could go into scripture and quote and quote and quote different verses, but I am not going to do that. I want to talk more about the history of Baptism and how that relates to us.
Baptism in the Jewish tradition was something that took place monthly. It was important. It was so important that often times a new "baptistry" was one of the first things built when a new synagogue was built. (It wasn't actually called a "baptistry") There were a lot of rules and requirements for the "baptistry" and one would submerse themselves rather than someone else submersing them.
When the "Christians" of that day began to baptize people they were breaking a lot of those rules. Instead of baptizing people in the Jewish tradition, they were now baptizing people into the family of God. The whole phrase, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," actually meant that as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit witness, you are now in "The Family."
That baptism cost the person being baptized a lot if they were part of the Jewish tradition. Most of the time it would cost them pretty much everything. So truly their baptism was an expression of complete faith in God and was a statement saying they trusted Him with their life.
It was not that way for me. My water baptism didn't cost me anything. While it was an expression of my commitment and my faith to my fellow believers in the scheme of things, it didn't even begin to reflect the baptism that was spoken of in the Bible.
If I wanted to pin point my "real" baptism, I would say it happened my first semester of college. I was going to school to study computer science. There was money in computers. I would get a decent job and never have to worry about providing for my family and I would be doing something I thought I would enjoy. It would be the easy route for me.
During a revival that semester, God called me to something different. He asked me to give up what I wanted and follow Him into music ministry. He asked me to give up the stability and money that the computer field could provide and pursue a degree in a field that pays very little. Not only that, but I wasn't much of a musician. I didn't even really know what all that degree change would entail.
That change cost me a lot. It cost me "my future," my comfort, the direction for my life. I had to say, "ok God, I trust you. You are going to have to help me through this, I don't know what I am doing."
So when I look back at my life and a point when I had to identify myself with Christ, this is the time for me. I know it doesn't compare to what He actually did for us, but as Christ taught, it is what is in the heart that matters. We can't earn His gift, we can only accept it. Accepting it by believing Jesus.