By: Stan Rodda
Over the years, much has been written on the topic of baptism. Churches have split over the topic. Commentaries have been written. The purpose of this post is not to clear up 2000 years of controversy surrounding baptism. It is to simply say that if we want to see a disciple making movement, then we must train and equip disciples of Jesus to baptize people when the opportunity arises.
Let’s face it, many pastors and church leaders are a bottleneck for their church’s growth. Everyone has to come to them for next steps, advice, counsel, church info and even baptism. Many people want to be baptized by the pastor, but the reality is that this slows down the movement of the church. It slows it down because now we can only get to as many people as the pastor can counsel and baptize. That doesn’t seem to be how it is in the book of Acts.
When 3000+ were baptized, it seems the 12 multiplied their efforts. They would baptize one and that person would help baptize the next. The number of baptizers went from 12 to 24 to 48 to 96 and so on. It’s why one of my metrics is not simply numbers of people baptized, but is to actually track unique baptizers. How many new disciples are baptizing someone else? I believe that’s how we will get to a disciple making movement.
So let’s make baptism simple. Let’s make it reproducible to the everyday disciple of Jesus. For the most part, we will use Romans 6 as our backdrop.
Baptism is Surrender to King Jesus
The book of Acts records that when 3000+ gave their lives to Jesus at Pentecost, that their primary wrestling match was with the identity of Jesus. Acts 2:36 records that Peter says, “…this Jesus whom you crucified is both Lord and Messiah.” Jesus is actually the King of all things and you crucified Him.
The people were convicted and asked what they should do. The answer was first to repent. Repentance is a change of mind. And what was it they were having to change their minds about? The identity of Jesus. They crucified a guy they thought was crazy, a drunk, a rebel. Yet He wasn’t. He was Lord and Messiah. He was and is the King.
Baptism is first and foremost a surrender to King Jesus.
Baptism is a Death
When I surrender to King Jesus, I must die to my old self. I let go of my old way of living. If Jesus is King, then I must live a different kind of way. My way of living isn’t good enough. So in baptism I identify with King Jesus in His death. Jesus died on a cross and I am laying down my old way of living.
As your disciples are leading others, this must be understood. Baptism is not a feel-good moment where I just keep doing what I want. It is the moment I am dying to my own way of living and thinking. My mind and actions are completely changing to what King Jesus would have for me.
Baptism is a Burial
Everyone who dies is buried. No one dies and is laid on top of the ground with a little dirt sprinkled on their forehead. They are put under the ground. When I die to my old way of living in surrender to Jesus, I am symbolically buried in the water. I go under the water as if my old life was being put in the ground. I leave the old me buried in the waters of baptism.
Baptism is a Resurrection to New Life
When I come up out of the water, I am a new person. I have identified with Jesus in His death, burial and now resurrection. There is now a new life that I am called to as I pursue King Jesus. I am not who I was. I am who God says I am now.
Disciples of Jesus need to be trained and empowered to walk one of their disciples through baptism. To be able to help them see what decision they are making and to baptize them. Baptism at it’s simplest is surrender to King Jesus, a death, a burial and a new life. Here are a couple of practical questions you can ask yourself in regards to baptism and disciple making?
Who can you train this week to baptize others?
Who are you discipling now who needs to be trained to baptize those they are discipling?
How can you empower and equip your disciples to baptize others this week?
If we are going to take spiritual ground, we must unleash an army of disciple makers who are confident and competent to baptize others. To lead them to follow Jesus and walk them through the process of surrendering their lives to Christ. This is how we will get to movement in our time.
Let’s take Kingdom territory!
Source: Baptism and the Disciple Maker