Nyangwira lived in Central Africa. She longed to become a Christian, but when she shared with her husband the things she’d learned, he was outraged.”I don’t want this kind of religion in my home,” he shouted, “and if you keep on studying, I’ll kill you.”
Althought crushed, Myangwira soon decided to be baptised. Before leaving for the baptisimal service, Nyangwira knelt respectfully before her husband and told him. He picked up a bush knife. “I’ve told you I do not want youto be baptised. The day you’re baptised I’ll kill you.”
But Nyangwira determined to follow Jesus. Before entering the water, she dedicated her life to Jesus, not knowing whether she would be laying down her life for her Lord that day, too. Peace filled her heart as she was baptised. When she returned home, she brought the knife to her husband.
“Have you been baptised?” he asked angrily.
“Yes,” replied Nyangwira simply. “Here is the knife.”
“Are you ready to be killed?”
“Yes, I am.”
Amazed at her courage, the husband no longer desired to kill her. A happy ending, but is baptism really something worth dying for? What does the Bible say about baptism?
The Great Commission
1. What great commission did Christ give His church?
Matthew 28:19, 20 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
2. What did Jesus say it means to be His disciple?
Luke 9:23, 24 “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”
3. How was Jesus baptised by John?
Mark 1:9, 10 “At that time Jesus …was baptised by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.”
“In apostolic times the body of the baptised person was immersed, for St Paul looks on this immersion as typifying burial with Christ, and speaks of baptism as a bath …for even Thomas in the 13th century, speaks of baptism by immersion as the common practice of his time” (Catholic Dictionary, William E Addis, 1934).
4. How did Peter tell the people on the Day of Pentecost that they should demonstrate their repentance?
Acts 2:38, 41 “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ” (v 38).
5. In the story of the Ethiopian, how did Philip baptise him?
Acts 8:26-39 “Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptised him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away” (vv 38, 39).
In classical Greek usage, the word baptiz is related to the word bapt, meaning “to dip under.” It was used of the smith tempering the red-hot steel and also “to dip in dye, to colour.” Baptiz was used of the act of sinking ships. It meant also “to bathe” or “to soak”—to “completely submerge” (Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament, 1997).
Meaning Of Baptism
6. Upon what three great acts of Jesus does salvation centre?
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 “I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you…. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
The resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone of the Christian faith and without it there would be no Christianity or hope of eternal life. Faith in Jesus would be “futile” (see 1 Corinthians 15:17).
7. In what way does baptism by immersion commemorate these three events?
Romans 6:3-6 “…all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism … just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
Body Of Christ — The Church
8. Paul likens the church to Jesus’ body. How do we become part of that body?
1 Corinthians 12:12, 13 “The body is a unit …and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptised by one Spirit into one body.”
Baptism symbolises our identification with what Jesus did for us in His death, burial and resurrection. That’s why it’s by immersion. What happened to Jesus is counted as having happened to us. Second, it symbolises the change that takes place in the lives of those who accept Jesus and commemorates the beginning of a new life in Christ (John 3:1-8). Third, it represents the entrance into membership of the body of Christ— the church.
Nyangwira thought baptism worth dying for because Jesus had died for her.
But how about you?