The challenge of walking with the God who knows me
Names changed throughout except in some cases where the person involved has been or is in ministry.
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17
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Colossians 2:12 (NIV)
“... having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised you from the dead.”
I was brought up in an Anglican tradition. In that tradition a child is ‘christened’ as a baby and later is confirmed after establishing some level of faith. This is indeed what happened with me. My encounter with God was just before my confirmation and so I sensed that this was well and good.
While in Edinburgh, I attended a Baptist church and this gave me certain problems of conscience as the issue of baptism constantly came up. Then on my first visit to America while staying in El Paso over a weekend I decided to go to church on Sunday morning. I picked one on the main road that I had seen which had rather an amusing notice board outside. When I went in it seemed a bit odd. Later I got talking to some of the young people. They invited me to go out to a restaurant with them and seemed very friendly. After the meal however they started asking me about my beliefs and it soon became apparent that they were not satisfied by my not having been baptised as a believer. I was later to discover that this group was a sect that insists not just on believer's baptism, but baptism by themselves as a necessary step for salvation. I was not convinced by their arguments and turned down their suggestions of a special Bible study to look at the issue. In my heart however I concluded that maybe I should look again at the issue.
I used a concordance to show me where the word ‘baptism’ is used and did a study. I looked at the various verses that mention the word or subject, organised them under various headings so that I could look at the key issues from various aspects. It became clear to me that this was not as simple a thing as an issue such as do not steal, where there is little room for ambiguity. I wanted to understand the why and there was little given in the way of explanation. In some passages it seems to say it saves you, but then it was clear that Cornelius converted first and then was baptised. The Philippian jailer was told to believe in the Lord Jesus and he would be saved. Then afterwards he was baptised. There seemed to be a higher reality that I was not getting. In this confusion I left the issue for some time.
After living in El Paso for some time, I heard a message that finally convinced me that I should be baptised. It was set forth as a demonstration to the world that I had died to myself and been raised again. It seemed to me that the humiliation of baptism was in itself be a death of ‘self’, and the act of baptism, an act of faith in itself. I had set aside the issue because it would have been an offence to my family. This certainly coloured the issue for me but I went to ask the pastor to include me for the next baptismal. As I was driving down the road to ask him, I began to lose my sense of peace. The closer I got to his house the more that lack of peace grew. I could not explain it, but finally when I reached the bottom of his street I could not go on. I had to conclude that Jesus had some better time for this baptism and that it was not to be done quietly in some corner of Texas with my family missing, being all in England. So, I turned round and went back home. It would be some time before the Lord was to raise the issue again, but he was faithful to do so.