Through many of Paul’s writings, he encourages us to be filled with the Spirit and grace. In Titus 3:3-8 speaks to the state we were once in before God interceded for us in kindness. He calls us to good deeds that reflect the qualities of our Savior after being washed in the renewal of the Spirit. This mercy is not extended to us based on our good works. Rather, we engage in good works because of the mercy extended to us.
Baptism plays a key role in these elements of washing, of grace, and of the Spirit. Our spiritual renewal is not about us. It’s about God and about what we can do for and share with others. We return to these topics time and again to remind ourselves of who we should be and encourage each other in Christ.
Baptism’s Works in Us
When we are baptized, many of us express a belief in Christ and in His forgiving power. Moreover, it is a time when we are making a true commitment to God. We may not understand all that this commitment means. We may still have had sins we struggled with. Our scriptural knowledge was probably more incomplete than it is today. However, it is a time when we pledge ourselves to that fight of faith. Regardless of how we get there, baptism commits us to God. It is a loving response to His sacrifice for us.
In Titus, the idea of baptism as a renewal and a regeneration. It is not baptism alone. It is not the Spirit alone. The two work together in this process. I Corinthians 12:13 and John 3:3-6 are other passages that tie baptism and the Spirit together. We are born again in baptism, and the Spirit then begins to work in our lives, renewing us and bringing us closer to God. It is a call to a new birth, to a new life.
Ezekiel 36:25-29 uses illustrations that should sound familiar to New Testament Christians. He speaks of salvation and cleansing in water, of cleansing their hearts, of putting His Spirit into them. Acts 22:12-16 records Paul recounting his own baptism experience, in which Ananias calls on Paul to wash his sins away in baptism. Acts 2:37-38 records Peter calling the crowds to baptism for forgiveness and for the Spirit.
Galatians 3:27 describes being baptized into Christ clothes oneself in Christ and spiritually removes all demographics that separate us in the secular world. In the Old Testament, the custom of circumcision discriminated between factors such as race and gender. In contrast, baptism washes away status. Where the former divided, the new unites. It brings us together under one relationship and one purpose.
Creating Barriers to Baptism
There are many things that might prevent any of us from taking the step of baptism. Baptism is such a simple concept, but overanalyzing the topic has created hang-ups for many today. As we look over the New Testament, baptism is not portrayed as a complicated topic.
Furthermore, adding requirements to baptism can impede others. Looking at Acts 2:38, Peter invites the people to baptism based on their simple knowledge that they needed Christ. This follows through with the Ethiopian Eunuch, the Philippian jailer, and many other examples. There is no evidence of spiritual surveys, questioning of motives, or any other thing that impedes the convert or invalidates their actions.
Baptism is a regeneration and a renewal that closes the gap between God and us. It is our loving response to God’s mercy, and it unites us as one family in God. However, baptism is not our destination as Christians. It is not the end of the road. It is the beginning. It opens the way to Heaven, and it sets us on the road to Christ. It is our first step in obeying His gospel and living a life reflecting Christ. God has provided us a great gift in His grace, and baptism is merely our acceptance of that gift and a commitment to a life for Him.
lesson by Ben Lanius