In all ventures, the moment of commitment must come. A person must become a member of the club (you can be a visitor for only so long); a person must decide to make the investment (you can seek advice for only so long); a person has to vow, "I do," to another person (dating was not designed to last a lifetime). The moment of commitment is bigger than membership; bigger than the investment of time or money; bigger than legal sex; bigger than living with someone. Commitment says, "This is a rightful, intentional part of the definition of who I am and what my life is about." The commitment to Christian existence is just that--a commitment to an existence. That commitment is the core definition of who I am, what my life is about, what my values are, and what principles rule my relationships.
Consider the following concept.
FAITH + REPENTANCE + BAPTISM IS THE CORE OF CHRISTIAN COMMITMENT.
Someone might ask, "Which of these is the most important?" My answer would be none of them. Faith in God which produced Jesus the Christ is spiritually meaningless unless it produces repentance and baptism. Repentance of a life focus and actions which rebelled against God and His values is spiritually meaningless if that repentance is not a product of faith in God which produces baptism into Christ. Baptism is a meaningless burial in water if it is not a product of faith in God's works in Jesus Christ and a decision to repent.
It is not a formula. It is not a "sequence" of "correct" actions and affirmations. It is a commitment. It is a commitment to something eternal, bigger than a godless existence.
Can someone else make this commitment for me? No. It is a personal commitment. Someone else may point me in the correct direction and encourage me. However, when the moment of commitment comes, the person must make it for himself/herself.
Will the moment of commitment be the same for all people? No. For some, faith-repentance- baptism occurs quickly. For others, it is a time-sensitive process. Faith may be a developing process, or repentance may be a developing process, or the need for immersion may be a developing process. For such people, rushing them is not helpful. Teaching them is helpful. They need time to commit, and Christians need to give them time. These people must not act on the basis of others' anxiety for them, but on the basis of their faith in God.
Must there be a comprehension of the commitment? Certainly. The person must know what he/she is doing. Someone else does not "commit" for a person. The person surrenders himself/herself in yielding to God's purpose in Christ through his/her life. (It is my conviction that a significant reason for many being converted to a religious institution while having little or no dedication to the Jesus Christ the Savior is directly related to this fact: they never committed to the resurrected Jesus. Such people often feel little or no loyalty to Jesus because they made no commitment to Jesus. They feel loyalty to the church [as in their congregation]. They are more likely to ask, "What is the congregation's position?" than, "What is Jesus' teaching?" )
CONSIDER THESE STATEMENTS ON IMMERSION: (The word, "baptize," was a common word in the Greek language. It was used for a submersion in water, like the sinking of a ship. No biblically recorded objection to immersion or questioning of the religious meaning of the act is recorded. Though some inadequately understood the significance of baptism, it was not a biblically contested theological idea or religious practice.)
To a Jewish audience: Acts 2:38 [see Acts 2:9-12]. (1) Believers who accepted as fact they were responsible for crucifying God's Lord and Christ asked Peter what they should do. (2) Peter said there was a solution produced by divine forgiveness. (3) To activate the solution, those who accepted accountability for participating in Jesus' crucifixion were told to do two things. (a) The first was to repent. (b) The second was to be baptized. (4) A willingness to allow faith to express itself in repentance and baptism produced two results: (a) forgiveness of sins and (b) receiving as a gift the Holy Spirit.
To [likely] a proselyte: Acts 8:36-39. (1) The preaching of Jesus began with Isaiah 53:8 and included the need to be baptized. (a) The eunuch saw the water in the uninhabited area and (b) asked to be baptized. (2) The eunuch ordered the chariot to stop. They both entered the water prior to baptism. Following baptism, (a) they both left the water, (b) Philip was Spirit directed elsewhere immediately, and (c) the eunuch continued his trip rejoicing.
To [likely] gentile Christians who were previously baptized: Galatians 3:26-29. (1) The emphasis is on faith in Jesus Christ and baptism. (2) Faith in God's promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:3) led them to baptism. (3) The combination of faith in God's promise to Abraham [the sending of one who would be everyone's Messiah] with the understanding that Jesus was that Messiah [the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham] permitted a person (a) to enter Jesus Christ and (b) be clothed with Christ [just as Jesus assumed human sin in his death (1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; 1 Corinthians 15:3), they assumed his righteous in their faith-baptism commitment to Jesus]. (3) Being in Christ was what mattered to God. (4) Belonging to Christ was the basis of being Abraham's descendant and being inheritors of God's promise to Abraham. Being in Christ made them [gentile converts] a part of God's chosen people.
The combination of faith in Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham, repentance of sin, and baptism into Christ makes one unquestionably a part of God's chosen people.
For Thought and Discussion
Link to Teacher's Guide Lesson 3
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