This past Sunday we had a special service in that we had 4 people baptized. In the few months I have been at University Baptist Church, there have already been more baptisms than I experienced in 4.5 years at my previous pastorate. It has been a blessing to be a part of. I wish I could say these were due to my excellent preaching and ministry skills, but not a one of them was. Each of the people baptized had made a decision for Christ in the past and had delayed baptism for various reasons. Each of them could tell you that God had been working on their heart and that now was the time to do it. They each have unique spiritual journeys that led to the same action--following Christ in baptism.
I taught on Baptism, answering the basic questions--Who, What, When, Where, Why & How in relation to baptism and broke it up into 3 sections with baptism, and singing surrounding them all. It was a great day that I am priviledged to be a part of. I thanked each of them and God for allowing me to be a part of their Christian walk.
In my study and preparation for the service, I considered putting up some pictures of ancient baptistries. I noticed a couple features in some that I looked at that most churches don't do today.
You'll notice that many of the old baptistries dug into the ground have stairs on both sides. Today, when I see that, typicaly the minister comes in one side, the candidate in the other, or girls get ready on one side, boys on the other. However, that's not how they used to be. The candidate would go in one side, be baptized, and then walk up the steps on the other side--another visual image that they have crossed a threshhold of some kind. The Old Life was what they had when they went in, "dying", being buried in the water, and then raised to the New Life was what was waiting for them when they exited. It's another picture of the change that a decision for Christ makes--and the symbolic nature of baptism.
Why did we get away from this?