Have you ever noticed that Jesus always seemed to have an issue with the Scribes and Pharisees? These were the religious folk who talked the talk and did a lot of stuff outwardly so they could be seen and get noticed. They loved their position of authority and revelled in making the rules to keep the people in check.
They held all the knowledge in their heads without allowing the truth to penetrate their hearts. Jesus explained the problem, “these people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules” (Matthew 15:8–9; Mark 7:6).
The real issue was they had no deep interior life with God and Jesus knew it. They acted as if they did have but Jesus could see right through them. There was no spiritual life or Godly journey going on deep within their lives. Rather than having a deep interior life with God, they had an empty, vacuous interior life. They should have known, God is never interested in show. He doesn’t look on the outward appearance, He looks on the heart!
Now having said this, it is also true to say that where there is a deep interior life with God, when Jesus is truly resident in a person’s heart then it always manifests itself outwardly. There is always an external ongoing demonstration of what is happening on the inside of a person. There is always a genuine outpouring of Christ’s goodness and nature that can be seen in a person’s life. This is what Jesus meant when he said, ‘you shall know them by their fruit.’
The New Testament instructs us that one of the very first outward signs that a person should display when Christ has truly entered into their hearts is going through the waters of baptism.
Baptism is an outward sign, an open expression, an external demonstration of what is going on inside a person’s heart and life. It’s the outward expression of an internal reality. It is an external expression of the life of Christ that is happening deep within the heart of a person. You know Christ has become resident and central to your life and by being baptised in water you are unquestionably declaring the transformation Christ has made in your life. You are undoubtedly nailing your colours to the mast!
In the Jewish culture, baptism was a common act. It was the way to show yourself as dedicated to the Rabbi you were following. You were saying, in essence, I am immersing myself in the teachings or belief systems of that Rabbi. As Christians, or Christ-followers, our rabbi/teacher/master is Jesus Christ. He is our Lord!
Today when we are baptised, we are making a similar statement. It is a way to tell everyone that you are fully dedicating yourself to Jesus. It is marking a moment that says Jesus is now your master and Lord. Baptism is a public demonstration of committing your whole life to following Jesus Christ.
Baptism is symbolic of your internal faith in Christ. Going down into the water symbolises Christ’s death on the cross and the death of your old, sinful self. Coming out of the water symbolises new life in Christ and Jesus’ resurrection.
So what about you? What about your deep internal life in Christ – is it healthy? And what about your public baptism – has it happened yet? If not – now is the time to make your stand. Now is the time to make your mark and take this next important step. The baptism service at New Springs is happening very shortly; in fact on Sunday Morning May 11th. If you feel challenged to take this important step of obedience and get baptised – see Pastor Phil or Pastor Dave and we will be thrilled to speak to you and begin to put the wheels in motion.