Baptism is one of my favorite things in ministry. Having the privilege of baptizing believers as a testimony of their faith in Jesus is a true joy. From baptizing my son to baptizing in a frigid baptistery in South Africa, I’ve had some truly memorable baptism experiences. But what I love most about baptism is what it illustrates. In Romans 6, Paul describes our salvation experience using baptism. We were “baptized” with Christ in his death. Jesus took our sins on the cross. When he died, our sins died with him. When he was buried, we were buried with him. When he rose, we rose with him. The observance of baptism, being buried under the water and raised out of the water is an outward illustration of an inward reality. Baptism pictures outwardly the victory received inwardly through our faith in Christ’s death and resurrection. Our salvation then is an identity change. We are no longer mastered by sin’s power. Rather, we’ve received the new life, the life of the resurrected Christ. Paul’s point in this text is that we have victory over sin precisely because Christ won the victory over sin. Because we identify with him, we experience victory with him. Paul challenged his readers to consider themselves dead to sin and to present themselves to Christ for righteousness. We consider ourselves dead to sin and walk in righteousness not to earn our salvation, but rather because we have been saved. Our identity is now found in Jesus. Our sin died with Jesus on the cross. Our old life was buried with Christ in the tomb. Our new life is now the resurrected life of Jesus. Our daily challenge is to live in the victory of our present position in Christ rather than live in the defeat of the sins of our past. This post was originally published as a Sunday School lesson for the Biblical Recorder here.


This Sunday (Father’s Day) at Wilkesboro Baptist Church, I’ll be preaching this sermon “What We Believe about Baptism and Why it Matters.” This sermon is a part of a larger series addressing important doctrines for our church. Baptism is a vital part of the Christian life.

  • As Baptists, we don’t believe baptism saves you. We believe Jesus saves you and baptism is an outward picture of an inward change (Romans 6).
  • As Baptists, we hold to believer’s baptism. We understand Scriptures to teach that baptism follows conversion as an act of obedience to Jesus, a public profession of faith in Jesus, and identification with a local church.

Since I’m preaching on the subject of baptism, we will celebrate baptism. One of my absolute favorite things to do in ministry is participate in baptism. This Sunday will be exceedingly special as I get the privilege of baptizing my oldest son, Will. After months of discussions and questions, Will trusted Jesus to be his Lord and Savior several weeks ago! Now, he’s ready to announce his faith publicly with baptism. I can’t tell you how thrilled and excited I am as a father and pastor that I get to baptize my son. I’m also very excited for the others that I’ll get to baptize on Sunday.

But even with the excitement that will permeate our church and the families of those being baptized on Sunday, I’m burdened by recent statistics concerning my own denomination—the Southern Baptist Convention. A recent Baptist Press article revealed a decline in baptisms and membership across our denomination. I’m positive the factors in declining membership and baptisms are complex. In some places, theological errors diminish the church’s outreach. In some places, evangelistic apathy hinders the church’s witness. In some places, cultural capitulation mitigates the church’s influence.

The solutions to every challenge faced by our churches and congregations are certainly not simple or easy.But one thing is biblically clear and amazingly simple—“the gospel is the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16).

If we want to see people come to faith in Jesus, we must preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

If we want our churches to baptize new members, we must preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

If we want our denomination to grow and expand, we must preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

If you are reading this, and you are in ministry, let me ask you to make a commitment. Preach and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ regularly and clearly.

If you are reading this, and you are a church member, let me ask you to make a commitment. Learn to share the gospel and tell others about Jesus. Invite them to a Bible-believing, gospel-preaching church.

If you are reading this, let me ask you to make a commitment. Pray for lost people. Show them love by praying for them, inviting them to church, and sharing the gospel with them. They are all around us, and if they are going to become followers of Jesus, they need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. It IS God’s power unto salvation. That’s God’s simple solution to the problem of lostness and sin in our world. It has worked for two thousand years. I’m confident God’s solution will not fail. Let us not fail by neglecting to join God in his gospel mission.