Monday, May 12, 2014

Baptism-Are You Hesitant?

In revival gatherings and even some established religions, baptism is a spontaneous response to an emotional event. In the past, I have even heard of some being baptized multiple times--each time a revival show comes to town. I don’t know that those revival shows are still popular, but I’ve seen TV evangelists using the same tactics.

In contrast to this, to Jehovah’s Witnesses, baptism is an intelligent and contemplated decision, reached over a period of time and after an extensive study of scripture. After coming to realize what a weighty decision this is, some begin to doubt their own worthiness and wonder if they can live up to the Bible’s requirements. It is truly a humbling realization that God and Christ actually want us to be their friend. They want us to know, love, and serve them. Due to this, some reason in their hearts, “How could I ever live up to the expectations that scriptural principles extol? What if I sin so badly that I damage my relationship with God and Jesus?”

Those are truly sobering concerns. But the comfort from God’s Word, the Bible, actually addresses this concern. At 2 Chronicles 6, verses 36-39, there is assurance that as long as we humbly ask for forgiveness, confess our sin to God, and turn around from our wrong course, God will not throw us away. In fact, greater than the sin that got us in trouble, is the sin of arrogantly refusing to admit our wrong and turn away from it. So the point isn't IF we sin, but rather how we react afterwards. Embarrassment over being exposed for the wrongdoing, depression over punishment, resentment over harsh treatment are all normal imperfect responses to punishment. The challenge is to rise above those negative feelings and be comforted knowing that God didn't throw us out like trash. Instead he has thrown us in the dirty clothes hamper to be cleansed. Only if we resist the cleaning do we, like an unwearable garment, get discarded.

Consider the apostle Peter. Surely he must have felt worthless after denying he even knew Jesus, not once, not twice, but three times. Perhaps he kept in mind the thought at Ecclesiastes 7:20, which states: “For there is no righteous man on earth who always does good and never sins.” After Jesus’ resurrection, he reassured Peter of his love for him by commissioning him to a job. How encouraging that must have been to Peter!

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