I went online to look at ticket prices for Hamilton. When a live performance is done well, especially when it has historical value, I really love them. I soon realized that I didn't love them enough to spend over $300 per ticket. But there is a greater live drama that is totally free.
This week our church has a live drama that exceeds everything the world has to offer. We are having a baptism Sunday. I was considering the solemn importance of this ordinance that was given to us by our Lord. Let’s think for a moment about what is on display, namely, the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the declaration of the gospel through faith. This is not any declaration, but it is the acting out of the most central and important point of human history. While people are paying over $300 to see an extraordinary life portrayed in musical theater, this week our church will watch a re-enactment of the pinnacle event in all time and space where death and sin were conquered and the head of the greatest enemy of humanity was crushed.
For our baptism service this week I simply want to answer two big questions and give one big invitation.
1. Are you the sort of Christian who says, “It’s just a baptism service?”
If you are the sort of person who says this, then by default you are also the sort of person who says, “It’s just the gospel.” This is not saying that I believe you are at all saved by baptism. The text of Scripture is clear that we are in God’s family through faith, and baptism is a visible declaration of this (Galatians 3:26-27, Colossians 2:11-12). However, baptism is a visible enactment of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We will watch and hear a person testify of their faith in Christ. We will understand their hope in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. We will watch them taken under the water that signifies the waters of judgment over them much like the flood of judgment in Noah’s day. We will think upon the horrific event when Christ was drowned in the eternal furious wrath of God on our behalf. We will think of him buried in a tomb as the body will be submerged under the water. We will think of Christ’s glorious hell conquering resurrection as the one being baptized emerges. We will leap in our hearts because this is a visible testimony of another one who has been grasped out of the pit of hell to declare that they are one of us.
2. Are you the sort of Christian who has excuses for not being baptized?
If this is you, I would encourage you to think through the answers to these questions. How excited are you about being saved? What value do you put in the cross? How much do you appreciate that the church was bought with the blood of Christ? Is the gospel beautiful enough for you to act it out in visible recognition that you too have claimed Christ? Are you linked to Christ in the way that you wish to be identified with his bride in local visibility where we gather? Bottom line, if you love Christ, you have no option but to identify with all the others who love Christ. That identification in Scripture first happens with baptism. While baptism is not necessary for salvation, it is still important and commanded in our declaration of salvation.
So, this is the invitation for every single baptism service our church will ever have. Come and watch the most magnificent re-enactment of the most vitally important historic event in the history of the universe. Come and see that this event is not just a piece of history to be dramatized before you, but it is the declaration of the transforming effect it has already had on the one who will be baptized. And…..it’s free.