September 2, 1997 was a big day for me and my friend Dukes Knutsen. We were both Christians and Dukes was our local Fellowship of Christian Athletes leader in Duluth, Minnesota when I was playing Independent League baseball for the Duluth Superior Dukes of the Northern League. While we had both been Christians for years at that time, neither one of us had been baptized.
We decided to do a study of the WHY behind baptism. We realized it is not something that is salvific, in other words, it was not a prerequisite to being saved and going to Heaven. However, there was something more, it is certainly emphasized in Scripture and especially in the Great Commission. As we studied, it became apparent that baptism in Scripture was the beginning of something more. It was both a demarcater of something that had taken place, namely salvation, but it was also the beginning of something else.
Baptism is an outward sign of something that has taken place on the inside of an individual. It is a moment where we put our priority on our obedience to Jesus Christ and obeying His command to be baptized and follow Him no matter what. Whether we do this in front of the whole church or only in front the person baptizing us (Acts 8:26-40), it has the same meaning in Scripture. It is an identification of whose team we are on. It is as if we are putting on the jersey of Jesus Christ’s team. We are no longer a free-agent, we have signed with our team and made it public.
Island Lake in Duluth was our place of baptism. Although the weather outside was at a comfortable temperature, the lake felt as though it was mid-December. I believe it was in that moment of commitment in that freezing cold lake, that my future in ministry was cauterized. It was a time where I made a decision, that no matter what was to come, I would follow Christ. No matter what difficult paths may lie ahead, I would follow Christ. No matter what my future may hold, I was, at that point confident of who held my future.
The Lord has been so good to both Dukes and I. Dukes remained in Duluth for years until heading to Florida full time and ministering to people from inmates in county prisons to Major and Minor League baseball players on the Rays and Twins among other teams. I’ve been so thankful to be able to preach the Word and minister to people through being a local church pastor. We’ve both seen lives changed and God do special works in people’s lives. And I truly believe, God’s greatest works are still ahead in our lives, but I am not sure we would have seen all God has done, had we not committed through our decision to be baptized.
Every year on our baptism date, we send each other a note. A note to relive that moment, and to remember that decision, that commitment to follow Christ, no matter what.
What about you? Have you been baptized? I want to encourage you, think it through, process it, study it, the decision certainly is not about your future in Heaven, as that is already sealed with your decision to accept Christ as your Savior. While it does not have to do with your place in Heaven, I believe it has a lot to do with your place on Earth.