The last three lessons mentioned the initial call, the immediate conflict, and the patterned cost of a disciple. Today, we will reference an experience that involves all three, which is water baptism. In the Gospel of Mathew (28:19) Jesus sends out his apostles to, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Other translations of this text clearly record the initiation of a disciple by baptism “Go and make disciples of all nations” (NIV; NLT; NKJV; NAS). Baptism is a fundamental characteristic of identifying as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
The apostles went out in tandem casting out devils, healing the sick, and baptizing many who confessed Jesus as their Lord and Savior (John 4:2). Baptism is the initial public expression of devotion and submission to the doctrine of Jesus Christ as well as the internal redeeming mode by which sins are remitted (Acts 2:28). In fact, water baptism was so essential that everyone that confessed Jesus Christ in the New Testament was baptized in his name. The Apostle Paul states, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom. 10:9). Sincere confession will always lead to conversion in the waters of baptism that marks an individual as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
In a previous lesson it was mentioned that Jesus is who a follower must pattern their words and deeds after; thus, the phrase “Follow Me”. To fulfill all righteousness, Jesus traveled to the banks of the Jordan river and approached his cousin John who was baptizing people unto repentance. Subsequently, Jesus was baptized in the Jordan river, paving the way and setting the pattern of discipleship. Thus, any prerequisite to baptism is the fundamental understanding expressed in obedience, “If Jesus did it so should I” that allows for the development of further understanding to align from the Chief Corner Stone.
A hearer of the Gospel answers the call of Christ by belief and baptism that enlists a believer in the universal conflict between flesh and spirit. The Apostle Paul wrote, “the carnal mind is enmity against God” meaning that there is a consistent conflict between desires of the flesh and the will of God for one’s life. Baptism is not only a public confession of devotion to the teaching of Christ Jesus, but the commitment to discipline oneself and mortify the deeds of the flesh to defeat fleshly desires and live for Jesus.