June 9, 2014
READ: Acts 2:37-41
Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (v.38).
In 2012, Pretoria, the capital city of South Africa, changed many of its street names, initially causing confusion for commuters and a headache for traffic reporters who were expected to give both street names in every update. After the names were changed, the format for traffic bulletins at most radio stations included the new street name followed by the word “formerly” and the old name.
In 2013 Hillsong United renamed their band. Radio broadcasters around the world initially referred to the worship group as “United—formerly Hillsong United.”
These name changes caused me to think about water baptism—a powerful, visual symbol of the change that occurs when we give our lives to Jesus. In Him, I’m full of faith, formerly fearful; I am free, formerly bound; I am at peace, formerly anxious. After Peter proved that Jesus was the true Messiah, the Jews were convicted and asked him what they should do next (Acts 2:14-37). Peter said they must repent, turn to God, and be baptised. Then they would be forgiven and would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (2:38).
When believers are immersed and come back up out of the water, it is a visible reminder that their old nature is dead in the grave, never to be put on again, and they now have a new nature in Christ (Romans 6:3-6; Colossians 2:12). Water baptism is a public declaration that we were dead and lost in our sin, but we have been made alive again in Christ by faith (Ephesians 2:1-6; Colossians 2:13-15).
The new street names in Pretoria aren’t going back to what they once were, and United won’t be changing back to Hillsong. And when we’re baptised, we declare that we’ll never return to our old, dead nature. We are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). —Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
Matthew 1:1-25 ‹365-day plan
Read more about baptism in Acts 16:31-33 and Galatians 3:27.
What does it mean to die daily to our sinful nature? Why is it important that we get baptised?