|Volume 24 Number 1 January 2022
Baptism and Tradition
I read an Internet article last week where the author was commenting on how baptisms have become extremely non-traditional. I don’t know the author or the author’s religious background, but it is clear that there is a great deal of misinformation about baptism in the religious world. I cannot possibly cover all of the problems and misunderstandings in a single, short article, but here are some of the bigger takeaways that we need to share with our friends and family. Baptism is a burial in water by the authority of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins (Romans 6:4; 1 Peter 3:21; Acts 2:38). Candidates for baptism are teens and adults who recognize the need. Where someone is baptized and who does the baptizing are things that do not matter. A person wearing casual clothes baptized in a pool by a friend is no less saved than a person wearing a baptismal robe who is baptized in a church baptistry by a minister or an elder. Our concern should not be how traditional a baptism is but how biblical it is.
[Editor’s Note: Traveling around the world to distant and often remote interior destinations with the Gospel message presents a variety of variables that differ from American traditional trappings. Over a hundred years ago in the USA, too – predating contemporary American church amenities and traditions – baptismal robes and baptistries in modern buildings did not trump the immersion in water of penitent believers for the remission of sins. The conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch on the Jerusalem-Gaza Road is a biblical example in which the absence of a baptismal robe and a baptistry was no impediment to scriptural, New Testament baptism (Acts 8:26-40). What kind of clothing the Ethiopian was wearing and that he was immersed in a roadside pool of water were not the focus of the conversion. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
“And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men’” (Mark 1:16 NKJV). Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, and He spied a man and his brother. Their names were Simon and Andrew.
Previously, they had followed John the Baptist when he was preaching in Judea, and one of them, Andrew, was present the day following Jesus’ baptism when John declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” When Andrew heard John say this, he went to find his brother Simon and brought him to Jesus. They listened to Jesus teach, and they obeyed His teaching. When Jesus called them, Simon and Andrew were working with their father. Their current task was mending the nets of the fishing boat. Fishing was their livelihood. This was their occupation, their trade. Some men, it might be said, live to fish. Simon and Andrew fished to live.
Jesus came to them and said, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” They immediately left their father’s nets behind and followed Him. Following below are two important lessons from these events.
When Jesus Calls, You Have to Choose.
Jesus did not present a third alternative. Simon and Andrew had to choose to either stay or to follow Him. They made the right choice. They chose their Teacher. Their determination that souls were of greater value than fish was accurate. Their willingness to leave the relative safety of their father’s trade for daily discipleship and teaching is an example to us that we should be willing to choose Christ [over everything else and over everybody ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor].
Servants to Money Cannot Freely Serve Christ.
Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and mammon [money]” (Matthew 6:24). Simon and Andrew did not live their lives burdened by debt, or as the Scriptures indicate, slaves to the “lender.” When a man is in debt, he must pay those debts. He lives for someone else. He works for someone else. His life and his freedom do not belong to him. He owes a debt, and it takes priority.
If Simon and Andrew were saddled with debt as are many young men in our day, they would have felt a necessity to stay with their nets. We need to encourage our young men to stay out of debt and stay free to serve God.
[Editor’s Note: It is nearly impossible to remain debt free in a modern, industrialized world (e.g., car, house, education). However, there is a difference between being consumed with debt unnecessarily and pursuing primarily the needs of our families, while at the same time, satisfying our financial obligations (Romans 13:8). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]