Maybe it happened when you were a baby. Maybe it happened when you were an adult. Maybe you were in college, or freshly into your first year of retirement. Or you were a gangly, awkward middle schooler who only vaguely understood the magnitude of what you were doing.
No matter how it happened, or when it happened, if you are a Christian living in obedience to the Word of God, you have been baptized. There has been a moment in your life when you, either through sprinkling or immersion, received the ordinance of Christian baptism.
And if you’re anything like me, the memory of that occasion rarely crosses your mind. If you were baptized as a baby, you probably don’t even have memories of your baptism. Even if you were baptized as an adult, the event happened, stuck with you for a week or two, and then faded to the recesses of your memory like most events do. Sure, you think about it a time or two – especially when your church has a baptism service – but it doesn’t cross your mind during your typical week.
But today, I want to challenge that regular pattern for believers. I want to encourage you to remember your baptism and to remember it often.
I know that probably sounds strange – I don’t think you hear many pastors preaching from the pulpit for their congregations to remember their baptisms. But, consciously remembering your baptism to encourage yourself in the Christian life was something the Westminster Divines called “improving your baptism.” And it’s something that the church is all but silent on today.
But contrary to that attitude, writer Bryan Holstrom says, “God did not provide His people with a covenant sign that was intended to be of significance for them for only one brief moment of their lives and then forgotten about.” But that’s how most of us view it, isn’t it? My baptism was significant to me for about a week after it happened – then it was only a memory and an old video on my iPhone.
But that isn’t how God meant it to be! Remembering your baptism is a vital part of the Christian life and there are two big areas that I think it can help in.
Here they are: (1) remembering your baptism can aid in your fight against sin and (2) remembering your baptism can help heal the heart of a doubting, anxious Christian.
First, remembering your baptism aids in your fight against sin. In Holstrom’s book on baptism, he talks about how when Martin Luther faced temptation, he would often tell himself, “I am a baptized man!”* For Luther, when he remembered his baptism and his identification with Christ through it, it made him think twice before engaging in sin.
Think about that for a second. When you are consciously pondering your union with Christ through baptism, it makes it a little harder to click on that website or yell at your spouse.
So, remembering your baptism can help you resist temptation.
Not only that, remembering your baptism can reassure you of your standing with Christ. I am attempting Tim Challies’ 2018 reading challenge this year and the first category on the list is a biography. So I am reading Tables in the Wilderness by Preston Yancey – a kind of autobiographical memoir. In it, he tells of a professor he had in college that would often encourage them to remember their baptisms – especially if they had fallen into patterns of sin.
He says, “If you are in the shadow of God, if God is silent, if God seems to be absent, remember your baptism, in which it was confirmed that you were indeed of God’s own and held safely.”
Wow. What an encouragement! If you are doubting your salvation, or in a pattern of sin, remember your baptism! Yancey again says (paraphrasing his professor) that, “remembering our baptism is remembering that there was a moment in which we affirmed, without question, that the good work of the Holy Spirit had begun in our lives.”
Consciously thinking back to that moment in time - that concrete, real, feelable moment - in which you identified with Christ and received His ordinance of baptism can help in times of darkness when God feels far away. It reassures us that His seal is upon us and we are united to Him in His death and resurrection.
So, remembering our baptism aids in temptation and gives us a source of assurance rooted in the person of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit. I hope that today you take a few moments to ponder your baptism and meditate on the many practical applications it has in your everyday life!
Have you ever heard a pastor tell you to “remember your baptism”? Do you ever consciously think about your baptism to aid in resisting temptation or to encourage yourself? Do you think about it for any other reasons? Let me know in the comments below! Or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter! And don’t forget to subscribe below, you’ll get more content like this delivered right to your inbox!
Sources: Infant Baptism and the Silence of the New Testament by Bryan Holstrom, Tables in the Wilderness by Preston Yancey
*Holstrom is citing the author Strange in this section