Discipleship Requires Baptism

Posted by Jeff Iorg on with 1 Comments

It’s hard to believe a denomination with Baptist in its name would ever debate the importance of baptism as foundational to making disciples. When Jesus gave his most succinct instruction about making disciples – the Great Commission – he told Christians to baptize new converts as an initial step of obedience to him.

Baptism is the clearest biblical method for a public profession of faith. It’s how a person openly declares their allegiance to Jesus. It’s the most clearly delineated means of identifying with his death, burial, and resurrection. Baptism is also the way believers indicate their covenantal association with other believers. In other words, baptism is the common experience all believers share that binds them together as public Jesus followers. That’s why baptism is often associated with, and usually required for, membership in Baptist churches.

Counting baptisms is sometimes considered prideful, a misguided method of keeping score in evangelistic effectiveness. While “keeping score” is definitely not the purpose of numbering baptisms, counting them is still one healthy means of measuring evangelistic focus. While not every person who verbally profess faith in Jesus will be baptized, almost every person who is baptized does so as evidence of a previously made personal commitment to Jesus. Counting baptisms, therefore, is a good way to measure the number of people who receive Jesus and are prepared to follow him publicly.

Making disciples requires baptism. It is not an optional church practice to be scheduled once or twice a year for ritualistic purposes. Baptism should be a frequent occurrence, a public celebration of personal conversion and corporate responsibility – both for evangelizing lost people and creating community with new Christians. Baptism matters as a core component to the disciple-making process.

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kenneth grisham Jul 16, 2018 2:06pm

Dr. Lorg,
Thank you for your words on the importance of Baptism. There seems to be many people that have waited to do this, and months sometime turn into years, before the event is accomplished.
Along those lines, I am sort of annoyed with some pastors who have dropped the importance of an invitation at the end of a sermon. I am sure that this is an indicator we are too lax in our leadership. In our effort to reach people, we apparently have lost our minds with some of the informal strategies that are popping up about. (I am still puzzled if that in some way is a Calvinist practice, in which case it becomes a theological argument-very serious) Whatever the motive-it seems dumb, for we are commanded to "publicly" be baptized, so would it not be a simple deduction that going forward publicly to be accepted by Christ' would also be an act of obedience? We need this for our own protection. I could easily debate someone on how we should present our self from the pulpit, (and I would graciously be a tough cookie to defeat, although I am a long long, long way from being a Scholar.) That be as it is, it is of a sad day that we are allowing our Baptist Churches to be bamboozled into ridiculous theology that sounds good, but will ultimately weaken our cause for Christ, "a little leaven", if you please.
Thank you for your time.
Kenneth Grisham (Still plugging along toward an MDIV.)