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Here is Water…

Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 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?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.
The Acts of the Apostles 8:35-38

Yesterday we baptized more than 250 adults at my church. To say it was a great day would be more than an understatement. For three weeks we taught on baptism. With nothing spectacular or unique in what we said or how we presented it, the series simply highlighted what baptism means and who it’s for. However, from the beginning we told our congregation, “At the end of this series we’re going to set up a baptistry and baptize anyone who is ready.” And boy, were they ready! When all was said and done, 0ne out of every ten adults who attend our Egret Bay campus on a given weekend went under the waters of baptism yesterday. It was incredibly emotional: joy, laughter, shouts, tears, hugs, hi-fives, and smiles abounded at every turn in a service filled with songs, Scripture and a simple sermon that essentially echoed the words of an Ethiopian ready to demonstrate his union with Christ and entrance into the church, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” Nothing! Let’s do this!

Reflecting on this experience, a few things surface in my mind and heart as a pastor for pastors:

  1. Teach the Basics. We are a post-Christian, post-Bible culture. Many don’t know why they believe what they believe and that includes an obscene amount of Christians. Pastors can take too much for granted when teaching their people, believing their congregation is further down the road spiritually/theologically/biblically than is reality.  But if Peter called followers of Jesus to be reminded of the truth (2 Pt. 1:12), it just shows us forgetting the basics is common to all – and I believe especially so in the 21st Century West. Plan your teaching calendar with “101” messages designed to remind or, more likely, introduce your congregants to the foundational beliefs of Christianity. So when you teach on things like, say, baptism, the people may respond by getting, say, baptized!
  2. Have Faith in People. Are there those who come to church for less than honorable reasons, and so, when it comes to actually living for Jesus after they leave on Sunday morning they really don’t? Sure. But should that surprise us? Not at all. Jesus told us in Mt. 13 (e.g., wheat and tares) this would happen! But that doesn’t mean there aren’t scores upon scores of souls who walk through the doors of your sanctuary every Sunday who sincerely want to follow Jesus. And what they need most is not your cynicism or cajoling but a clear understanding of what Jesus asks of them (and what he doesn’t ask of them). I was amazed at the numbers of people baptized yesterday who said, “I’m here because you guys made it clear for me this was what Jesus wants, and I just want to follow Him.” It was a kind encouragement to me which said the Holy Spirit is working in all kinds of people, and a kind rebuke to me when I think I know exactly which kinds.
  3. Take Risks on the Spirit. Every church picks its spots to challenge the people. Obviously we chose to put a baptistry (three in all) on our staging area and believed God to bring people through the water. This wasn’t without thought. We did teach on baptism for three weeks. Yet, we had no clue before starting the series how many, if any, would come. We baptize people each and every month. What was one more day going to do differently? For all we knew we could have baptized three people (or less) in our three Sunday services. But we believed God wanted to do a work in our congregation. We believed the Holy Spirit would draw many to the waters. We just needed, to borrow a phrase, to put our baptistries where our faith was. It helped me see we should regularly ask ourselves, “How can we truly demonstrate faith in the Holy Spirit’s work by giving him ‘space’ to do just that?” The spontaneity we provided in the service allowed us the Holy Spirit to bless us in a way like never before. I know for me, it was a day I won’t forget.
Picture of Yancey Arrington
Dr. Yancey C. Arrington is an eighth generation Texan, Acts 29 Network and Houston Church Planting Network fan, and Teaching Pastor at Clear Creek Community Church in the Bay Area of Houston. He is also author of Preaching That Moves People and TAP: Defeating the Sins That Defeat You, and periodically writes for Acts 29 and The Gospel Coalition.

3 thoughts on “Here is Water…”

  1. An amazing day for certain. And I really agree with point #2 above. When people point to the ‘fakes’ and ‘hypocrits’ in church and claim that it shows the gospel is a lie, I disagree and tell them that instead it affirms it. Scripture does paint a clear picture of the human condition, and it’s spot on. But does that mean we should lose faith in people’s ability to find and follow the path? No. Jesus didn’t lose patience with us, so we are called to do likewise.

  2. I was baptized at the 9 a.m. service and I know I will NEVER forget that day either. I had been one who was baptized (or sprinkled as you put it) in the Episcopal church as an infant. I have been thinking about this a long time. The fear of the video kept me away ..or so I told myself. Then I got into small group and Randy *parsons..talked to us about it and I was like hmmm so I got the info at group up and been praying. The video fear was satan keeping me back.. so like OUR AWESOME GOD DOES .. that fear was taken out of the equation and I knew God was leading me ..through yal.. to proclaim what I have believed deeply the last 4 yrs. I had a horrible divorce where the kids were taken (out of state where I couldn’t afford to fight him) and fell into the bottom of the whiskey bottle. I got sober (just like the guy tonight) in Mar 07 and renewed my relationship with Christ. I had fallen away from the church marrying a man who I thought I could pull up with me and he pulled me down instead as far as church went…and my life spiraled out of control from that. Anyway .. thank you sooooo much…all of you.. not just the pastors but the volunteers mopping up the water or refilling the water or guiding us back to change without falling… all of those support people were the ones that had me bawling just as much as seeing my dear friend as you Yancey baptized her right before I went in Bruces (Randy) …it all just moved me .. you raising your hands to THE ONE WHO HAS MADE US ALIVE.. I admit I started crying singing You are stronger ..and pretty much didn’t stop til we as a small group made it to Mammacitas haha… but just wanted to say thank you.. and tonight.. you and jennifer baptizing a second son ( I was there for the first one too 🙂 ) just moving beyond belief.. THANK YOU for your thoughts on this too here in the blog. I have shared the video that was given to me on fb and have been able to talk to many friends who aren’t saved via them seeing it and asking questions.. 🙂 GOD IS GOOD

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