Is baptism essential to the Christian life? Should people be baptized again if they change churches or denominations? Is it essential to be baptized in a specific way, such as sprinkling, pouring or immersion?
References to: Joseph Tkach
Rituals were a prominent part of Old Testament worship—there were annual rituals, monthly rituals and daily rituals. There were rituals for birth and rituals for death, rituals of sacrifice, rituals of cleansing, rituals of ordination. Faith was needed, but rituals were prominent.
The New Testament, in contrast, has two basic rituals: baptism and the Lord’s Supper —and there are no detailed regulations for either observance. Why these two? In a religion in which faith is primary, why have any rituals at all?
Have you ever noticed that we tend to appreciate things more after they are gone? People take better care of their heart, for example, after it stops working for a minute. The job that causes complaints one week may be valued more after the job comes to an end.
An old car looks good to someone who has none, but less desirable to someone who has a new one. It’s the same car, yet one person appreciates it more than the other one does, because the person who has less tends to value it more.
How do we respond to God’s grace? One way that we respond is by extending grace to others, in our families, neighborhoods, and workplaces. If we are all going to live with God forever, we will also be living with each other forever. We were designed not for eternal isolation, but for living together and interacting with one another. Life’s greatest joys come in our relationships with other people.
People sometimes object to the Christian belief that salvation is given only through Jesus Christ. In our pluralistic society, tolerance is expected, even demanded, and the concept of freedom of religion (which permits all religions) is sometimes misinterpreted to mean that all religions are somehow equally true.
Have you ever had a really bad day? Maybe you’ve been fired, totaled your car, and, just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, you were served divorce papers in the emergency room! Whatever your worst day was, no doubt someone had it even worse.
But wouldn’t it be good if today was the worst day of your life—if, from now on, things will only get better?
When we look at the heavens, when we consider the moon and stars, when we consider the enormity of the universe and the stupendous powers involved in each star, we might well wonder why God bothers with us at all. We are so small, so limited—like ants scurrying to and fro inside a terrarium. Why should we think that he even looks at this anthill called Earth, and why would he even care about each individual ant?
I was talking with a friend who had been a Christian for many years. The topic of his baptism came up.
“Why did you want to be baptized?” I asked him.
“Because I wanted to receive the power of the Holy Spirit so that I could overcome all my sins.”
“Did it work?”
He laughed. “No.”
His intentions were good, but his understanding was flawed. (No one understands perfectly, and we are saved by God’s mercy despite our misunderstandings.)
When the church in Antioch gathered for worship, the Holy Spirit spoke to them: “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Does the Holy Spirit speak to us today? Can we hear what he says to us?
People who are led by the Holy Spirit are children of God (Romans 8:14). We should expect the Holy Spirit to lead us, and we want to know how he does it.
Doctrine is only one portion of authentic Christianity. It is important — it is essential that the church teach right doctrines — but it is only part of what we must include in our worship of our Creator, Savior and Sanctifier. No matter how much we know, Paul says, it doesn’t do us any good if we don’t have love (1 Corinthians 13:2).