Born of Water and Spirit

John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.

“Mum, have I been baptized?” My 6yr old self wanted to make absolute certain my place in heaven when I died. There was some confusion between being Christened and being baptized.
Not happy with the response, “Well, that doesn’t count. I was a baby. If I don’t remember it, how can I know for sure?” It was perplexing why my parents didn’t seem concerned about my eternal placement. I didn’t understand the concept behind the ceremony. It just seemed like something you did to get into Heaven. Somehow I knew it couldn’t be enough. It felt like a piece of the puzzle was missing.

Around 12yrs old, as I flipped through local tv channels, I saw people dressed in old fashioned (70’s) outfits. Grown adults dipped other grown adults into water. ‘How embarrassing’, I thought. My relationship with God seemed a personal matter. ‘I would never be caught doing something so silly for God.’

As an adult, after years of brushing off the command of baptism, I became comfortable in my faith. Already born of the Spirit, the Lord convicted me I was overdue to publicly profess my commitment to Him. I was excited now. I GET TO follow Jesus in this symbolic display of faith. Not a tinge of awkwardness remained in showing this outward sign, of the inward change God did in my heart.

For me it was an act of love, in response to my Loving Savior who goes before me. Faith always produces works if it’s genuine faith. Just another way to obey, “follow me”… (Matthew 9:9)

My husband and I were baptized in a river, like Jesus, but in south Texas. What a joyous moment. No more fear or shame. I showed the world my life is for Jesus.

There is much debate over the issue of the necessity of water baptism to be saved.

We have Jesus’s assurance to the thief on the other cross next to Jesus. “Today you will be with me in paradise”. (Luke 23:43) This biblical cross-reference would suggest today’s verse refers to the contrast between physical birth (water of amniotic fluid) and spiritual birth (Spirit). This would signify the importance on being BORN AGAIN, which is what the whole passage of John 3 pertains to.

However, Jesus Himself participated in water baptism. Who are we not to follow our Master and do the same, as we have opportunity?! Baptism is the symbol of our unity in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. (Romans 6:3-4, Colossians 2:12, 2 Timothy 2:11) Are you unified in this way?

We also have the example of the Eunuch after Philip shared the gospel. He was so eager to follow his newfound King.
Acts 8:36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”
One can only assume, in this ‘desert place’ (Acts 8:26), the water was some dirty ditch puddle. — What a shining example of commitment to Jesus!

Baptism’s not what saves, but a proof of faith shown through obedience. (Ephesians 1:13, 2:8-9) Just as I thought it was an embarrassing thing to do, God’s ways usually don’t make sense because it’s a test of faith.

Other examples of faith that produces obedience:

  • Genesis 15:6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
  • Foreign King Naaman followed the man of God’s direction to wash 7 times in a river that he considered dirtier than the one in His kingdom. (2 Kings 5:14)
  • A blind man listened to Jesus’ command to “wash in the Pool of Siloam” and was healed of blindness. (John 9:7)
  • Peter stepped out to walk on water. (Matthew 14:27-29)
  • Hebrews chapter 11 lists faith in action for Abel, Enoch, Noah and many more.
  • Other stories stir faith for us, hearing the strange ways Jesus chose to heal some. Jesus spitting in peoples eyes to make them see (Mark 8:22-26) and sticking fingers in ears to make them hear (Mark 7:32-35) all seem pretty silly.

God knows it’s not physical water that saves. He is the Living water that saves. (John 7:37-39) We’re saved when we believed. (Ephesians 1:13-14) Yet, if we are embarrassed to be baptized, where is our faith? (Mark 16:16, Matthew 10:33)

I tried to justify my refusal to dip in the river for Jesus for years. When I did it however, I felt Him smiling on me. I showed I too am in God’s beloved son “in whom He is well pleased”. (Matthew 3:17, 1 Corinthians 6:17)

Dear Savior, Thank-You for making a way for us to enter Your kingdom. You gave us rebirth in Your Holy Spirit when we believed You died for our sins and rose again. Enable us to follow You in every way, having our actions directly proceed from our faith in You. ~Amen.

Other verses:
Romans 10:9-10
Romans 10:17
Mark 16:16

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