37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
The bible study I’m involved with has just begun to go through the book of Acts. Now I love Acts- the stories, testimonies and possibilities that are opened up to me through the simple faith of the 120 believers; but I don’t read though it very often. It seems my western mind would rather trudge through the important doctrinal foundations of every believer and struggle with the more obscure passages in scripture than to just be encouraged by the stories of the brothers and sisters who came before us.
Today, rather than discussing how Christians shouldn’t be hungry for God (John 6:35) or expounding on the freedom we have in Christ (Gal 2:4-5, 1 Cor 10:23) I would like to tell you a story.
When I was a child, my family lived in the middle east. My parents, while raised in the Catholic and Episcopalian denominations raised me to be a kin, considerate and moral humanist. God had other plans, however, and interrupted my life with a supernatural introduction to the divine – Read the full testimony here.
Once saved I got plugged in with one of the few Christian ministries allowed to operate in the country- and come to think of it I’m not sure we had permission to meet at all. We met in a someone’s home and would eat food, watch movies, do arts and crafts, memorize scripture, worship and hear a teaching. It was amazing.
God got a hold of me in a powerful way – For the first time I really felt loved and accepted (more on that here). I knew that he had given himself fully to me and I wanted to do the same for Him. So, when I was offered the opportunity to be baptized I jumped at it. Now I was only 12, maybe 13 years old and didn’t fully understand at the time what I was doing. I got the general symbolism of it all but the full revelation of what was happening was still a few days off.
When the appointed day came I was nervous as I didn’t really know what to expect – Never mind the fact that a significant group of us were gathering on a public beach to participate in overtly christian activity… not exactly the wisest thing to do in an Arab nation. I wandered into the Persian Gulf along with an older couple that was mentoring me and they prayed over me before plunging me into the sea.
I remember the feeling when I came up from the water – in fact I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. Somehow, I was different, and everything was completely changed. It was as though my spirit man had come to a full understanding of what Jesus had done for me on the cross. I remember my eyes burned with salt but I couldn’t tell if it was from the Gulf of the tears that were readily streaming from my eyes. The couple prophesied over me while leaders and christian friends cheered from the beach. Qatari bystanders took notice but we paid no attention to them… something amazing had happened, and we were all rapt in the moment.
In the passage above Peter tells the unbelieving crowd to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus. I don’t believe that Peter is indicating that baptism is a requirement for salvation its important to note that to the early believers baptism and repentance were inseparable. When you repented, ie got saved, you got baptized. Unfortunately this practice has gone away and most churches have relegated baptism to one or two special Sundays a year. Participation in the baptism usually requires a class to fill your head with knowledge about the symbolism and significance of the ritual rather than trusting that Holy Spirit is able to supernaturally give the participants a revelation for themselves. While accepted by most christian institutions I feel that this practice dampens the initial revelation of the cross for the new believer.
Regardless, if you’ve never been baptized I encourage you strongly to do it. Ask the Lord for an opportunity or create one yourself – I can’t tell you how many spontaneous bathtub-baptisms I’ve been witness to. Whether you do it though a church, your neighbor’s above ground pool, or the bathtub I encourage you to do it. It’s an amazing blessing and a profound revelation of the finished work of the cross of Christ. You are a new creation… why not feel like it.