This verse is part of what we call 'The Great Commission'. The book of Matthew starts with the genealogy and birth of Jesus and concludes with the action the disciples of Christ were expected to take after His death and resurrection. Matthew doesn't paint the whole picture, but gives us what we need to know in order to understand who Jesus is, why He came to earth and what He's done for those who believe in Him. The above verse is the word of Jesus as He spoke to His eleven disciples and was preceded by this statement...
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me."
We need to look nowhere else for God. He came to us in the person of Jesus Christ. His last promise in Matthew...
"Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Jesus didn't come for a short time and leave us with a huge task to perform on our own. He is always with us to help accomplish the work He has ordained for us.
What could be better than going to the Oceanside Beach filled with people on a beautiful August Sunday afternoon? Steve was one of about forty people to be baptized that day. I loved that it was so public - everyone could see what was happening. Before the wave washed over him and the words, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit were spoken", He needed to understand what this meant.
Why get baptized? Short answer, Jesus told us to! The Bible doesn't tell us the origin of this 'rite' or 'ritual'. Acts 2: 38, 41 suggests baptism was common in the early church. We who do this want others to know that we have changed spiritually; we have new life and have been born again. We may only get a glimpse of this 'new life' now and then, but God sees us as a new creation. He doesn't see sin in us because Jesus has paid our debt and washed us clean.
Getting washed clean is a process that we experience - one that has everything to do with the Holy Spirit that now lives in us. Little by little we see that the Spirit is conforming us to the likeness of Jesus - Romans 8:29. Our heavenly Father views us as a finished work. <br>
"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" II Corinthians 5:17.
Why do we need to go under water, be immersed? This is to show that our sin died and was buried with Jesus and like Him, we will be raised to new life. Baptism reveals our desire to be included in the 'Church' which is the body of believers, and to have unity with others who've experienced a spiritual renewal. We go from being buried in sin to being totally accepted by God.
An important fact - baptism doesn't make you a believer, it shows that you already believe. We can never earn, work for or deserve God's forgiveness; it's by grace we are saved by faith which is a gift of God so none of us can boast...Ephesians 2:8-9.
Notice in Acts 18:8. . .
". . .and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized."
Many believed, not all. Why don't all believe? Jesus said many times, "Those who have ears, let them hear." Everyone had a pair of physical ears; he was referring to spiritual ears. God alone is in charge of who has spiritual ears. We therefore can be free to love everyone, share our faith as the Lord leads, then leave the result to God. God changes hearts. We are not to believe that if we could find the perfect verse, or make the perfect statement, we'd see our friend, family member, neighbor - whoever, become a Christian. It doesn't work that way. In fact, those of us who have been given the faith to believe were chosen before the "creation of the world" - Ephesians 1:4. Check it out!
Thank you Lord that you have a perfect plan and we simply watch it unfold. What a joy to see our son, and all the others, make a public profession of their faith and new life in You.