10 October 2019
I’m pleased to let you know that on Sunday 24th November 2019 in our 7pm congregation, Bishop Reg Piper will lead a Confirmation Service. This is an opportunity for those baptised as infants to affirm the Christian faith in which they were brought up. Likewise, those who were baptised as teenagers or adults may wish to take the chance to again profess their faith publicly. A bishop leads us in praying over them God’s indwelling Spirit will strengthen and guide them in following Jesus as Lord. The fact that the bishop has a regional ministry is also a reminder that we are connected to a great crowd of Christians gathering in churches across the region. And reciting the great statement of the Apostles Creed connects us to Christians down the ages.
Of course, Confirmation is a useful human tradition. It is the prior baptism in water that Jesus commanded. And so if you have decided to trust and follow Jesus, the more important thing is to be baptised, rather than confirmed.
So what is baptism and why might it matter? After all, Paul says he wasn’t sent to baptise, but to preach the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:17). Yet Jesus did command us – in his ‘Great Commission’ no less (Matthew 28:19) – to
“make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.
The early church situation recorded in Acts tells us what happened in first generation of Christians. Adults got baptised in water when they converted to Christ. (The New Testament several times mentions that when the head of a home believed, the whole household was baptised. The implications for infants are for another day.)
But what does the baptism symbolise? In the Bible, baptism is mainly a sign not of what we do in professing our faith, but of what God does, through uniting us with Christ, especially in his death and resurrection. Romans 6:3-4 states:
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Think about those sentences as you imagine someone going under the water – dying – and then, thankfully re-emerging – rising again! In addition, the water in baptism can be connected to cleansing from sin. 1 Peter 3:21 makes the comment that:
“…this water symbolises baptism that now saves you also – not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience towards God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…”
What a great chance baptism gives us to picture God’s gifts in the gospel! If you have decided to follow Christ, but haven’t been baptised, please speak to a minister today.