They say there is no such thing as an ugly bride”"they're all beautiful. I don't know. I've seen a couple who came close to breaking that rule. I know what they are talking about though. An inner radiance shines out from her that tells you just how happy and beautiful she is in her heart at that moment. That's why I like marriage ceremonies even though, as a pastor, there are some things I don't like about them.
I often think, 'David, they've spent a fortune on this, so don't say something stupid or do something that will spoil the memory of it for the rest of their lives!” But I do like to see two people promising before God and the people of God to love each other, to be faithful to each other, to support each other, and to work together all the days of their lives. For me, just beginning to live together, without faithful vows before God and man leaves out this powerful step--a step which makes a difference. That's why we have a marriage ceremony”"we reinforce our commitment by making it in front of witnesses.
And that's the reason we follow the Lord in water baptism, too. Many people think, 'I believe in Jesus and I've asked for forgiveness and given Him my life. I want to serve and obey Him in my heart. That's enough.” That's like saying, 'We love each other and God knows that, so skip the ceremony.” No, the ceremony is super important”"whether it's in front of hundreds or only one or two observers. The ceremony crystallizes something in us. When we're baptized in water, we say before the world, 'I have repented of my sins and I'm counting on Jesus Christ to save me eternally. My faith is in Him.” When we 'take the plunge” we're saying, 'I've died to my selfish life of sin,” and when we come up we're saying, 'Just like Jesus died and rose again defeating the power of Satan, by my faith and my identification with Jesus I've been changed and risen from the death of sin to a new life in Christ.” (Rom. 6)
'That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace”"a new life in a new land! That's what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we're going in our new grace-sovereign country.” (Rom. 6:1-5, The Message version)
Baptism announces publicly our faith in Christ. 'It's scary in front of everyone,” you say? Yeah, but no scarier than going to the Cross, like he did for you and me. Obeying Him in this matter is the least I can do for Him after what He did for me”"even if my knees wobble a bit as I do it. Baptism affirms the power of God in our life. It's an image of what happens when we put our trust in the Lord. We die to sin as Jesus died for sin. We live again spiritually by His power, just as He came back to life by the power of His Father. Baptism doesn't save us but if we are saved, if our lives have been changed, we want to obey Him in everything. Baptism isn't listed as a Biblical option”"it's a command.
'Peter said, ' Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away”"whomever, in fact, our Master God invites.'" (Acts 2:38, 39 The Message)