February 1, 2014

Acts 22:16 “‘And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.'”

Ananias was certainly not of the “Six weeks of training before baptism” school! Every time I read Acts, particularly, I am reinforced in my conviction that whereas a degree of understanding is called for, making baptism contingent on any sort of formal training program is not Biblical. The teaching, the training, is to come after baptism. It is certainly essential, even though it is the most overlooked part of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20: “teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.” Even in the Great Commission it comes after the command to baptize. I hardly think that most of the people mentioned as being baptized in Acts had a very complete understanding of Christian doctrine, but that’s not the point. After all, you can’t require a baby to speak before you allow it to be born! This is in no way an endorsement of “dunk ’em and drop ’em;” nurturing is essential for any infant, no less spiritual than physical. Spiritually speaking we do have the huge advantage of the Holy Spirit, who is of course the perfect Teacher, (1 John 2:27, John 14:26) but all too often we fail to be sure that new believers have opened up to the Holy Spirit. Anyone who has done so is going to be eager to learn more of Christ and how to follow Him. Schedules being what they are, it can be very difficult for some people to make it to regular classes, but everyone needs mentoring to some degree. After all, none of us know everything, or are made perfect while we are on this earth. (Philippians 3:12)

This issue has been a major factor in my life and ministry. This church became an independent entity over the question of whether someone had to jump through organizational hoops before they could be baptized, but I, myself, was not properly guided and mentored after I became a Christian. I know the problems from both sides! I have indeed baptized some people who had not genuinely repented, and all it really got them was wet. I’m not happy about that. I also have failed to mentor quite a few people, and that is a bigger regret. I’m looking forward to a conference on discipleship that’s coming up in a few days, because I need to do that better, certainly. It all comes down to pressing in for more of God on a continuous basis, seeking to listen obediently to Him however He chooses to speak to me, so that I may be an increasingly effective tool in His hands, for His glory.

Father, thank You for all the things You allow me to experience, both to train me and to help me realize I need to keep growing. Help me recognize and appropriate all the things You teach me, so that I may not get in Your way but rather be an effective conduit of Your truth and love, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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