Matthew 28:18-20: Baptism and the Great Commission
One of the distinctives of a Baptist Church is that only those baptized by immersion as believers, in other words baptized according to Christ’s command, can become members of a local Baptist Church. We believe that we do not have the right to make baptism into whatever we want it to be, nor decide on any old practice being defined as a legitimate baptism. I am sure you will agree with us that baptism is defined by Christ not us, and we are obliged to practice what He commands and not what we think. Today we are having a baptismal service, and upon their baptisms John, Ian and Margaret will become formal members of Covenant Grace Baptist Church. Why are we doing this? What gives us the right to get people to do things in public which for some are embarrassing; for others culturally strange, perhaps even noxious? We believe that Christ in the Great Commission has given us the mandate to baptize believers as His disciples and incorporate them into the church for the ongoing discipleship they need to serve Him properly. Matt. 28:18-20:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This is a huge text from which we could preach a series of sermons on, but we are going to limit our sermon to a few thoughts that relate to baptism, and even then we will not be able to say all we want to say in relation to baptism. So we will look at this text for three points this morning: firstly, we want to consider the authority of Christ and baptism; then the definition of disciple and baptism; and thirdly, the importance of local churches and baptism.