Sunday, July 01, 2007

Baptism: granting entrance to the church of Jesus Christ?

Scripture: Acts 10:47-48
Then Peter said, "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

I continue to read through Acts for the purpose of looking for more insight into the practices and make-up of the early church. I “contemplated the importance of baptism” earlier this week and find yet another example in this text (Acts 10:47-48) of how baptism was portrayed by the first apostles.

These passages are Peter’s response to gentile believers being filled with the Holy Spirit. It appears as though Peter is saying that because they have received the Holy Spirit (evidence of conversion) that they should also receive the invitation to participate in the Kingdom of God. In these passages the act of baptism looks like some sort of initiation or formal act of membership into the greater church of Jesus Christ.

The act of baptism was extremely important to the early church. They didn’t wait. They immediately baptized. It was more than just symbolism. We see that baptism represented a formal invitation or membership to the church and thus one’s identity as a Christian. This act was not taken lightly in the days of the early church because once you became a Christian; there was a good chance of persecution. Therefore, the act of baptism could also be considered the new believer’s first act of faith – personally identifying with Christ whom the world hated and killed.

Related Post: Contemplating the Importance of Baptism

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