by Jim Joe Morgan on Facebook on Monday, 09 June 2008 at 14:39

Baptismo

Immersed

I was on the train into the city last week and I passed a place where I used to live with a few of the brothers. I have happy memories of that time of my life as a disciple. It seems this way, more and more these days. I must be getting old when I can think of a memory for almost every stop on the central line of the London Tube! So I was passing this spot, and I suddenly realised that I was no more than 100 meters from the place where I was baptised. I was just reliving the experience of the event (as I often do) and the train was trundling down the block past a park, when I suddenly saw the road where I had studied ‘Sin’ and ‘The Cross’ just days before my baptism.
I have to say I was wowed. I had just been reminded of the two most important moments of my life in (what was for me) a very profound way. You see, normally I have taken the train past that spot and been looking out of the window on the opposite side at an apartment block where I used to live. I usually remember the party night we had there with the brothers where we told all the neighbours we would be done by 11.30 pm and then we CRANKED about 70 people into the place and we danced all night (till 11.30!). Or I reminisce about the time one of the guys I ‘met’ and baptised told me he liked one of the sisters. I remember all the brothers coming back to study with visitors after church almost every Sunday and all the cooking. All those curries. All that rice. And the dates. But I had never before looked the other way and realised the profound closeness of that spot to the place of my repentance and baptism.
It’s a little convicting. I really feel now, like I was looking the wrong way.
This recent experience brought into sharp contrast some things I have been thinking about this year. About 6 months ago I asked about forty of my friends on ‘facebook’ two questions. I want to share these questions with you in turn. The first was

‘What was the thing that impacted you the most when you studied the bible to become a disciple?’

Here are some of the answers I had to that question… I left some of the spelling and grammar intact so you can get a real feel of the character of each of my friends.

1. The most amazing thing that had happen to me was the people who studied the Bible with me one-on-one and on how the word of God works into their lives…they are willing to die for a cause
2. I was just 15 yrs old … and had that feeling of “Being a Good Boy” but after the Light & Darkness Study, I’ve realized that I am not that “good” after all and my bible reading was very lousy before that.
But after the Cross study, I’ve realized how God loves me and how He suffered on the Cross because of my pride.
3. Well, I was thinking that these guys are really serious about making the bible the standard for their lives and they had quite a bit of it memorized, and all the scriptures we looked at were inline with what seems like God’s will.
4. I just remember the brother studying with me saying over and over “but are you a DISCIPLE?” I was wondering what was the big deal with the word disciple. Sounds funny now. But I was so impressed with these people my own age, 22 or so, getting together with me to go over these studies with me I just thought it had to be from God. I think that I was challenged on my sin was the big thing; no body had ever done that to such a degree with me. Right there in the restaurant. Also, sharing of our faith. I knew I was not doing that like these guys were on a regular basis, I mean it was their life. And the fact that I was baptized as an infant … but the scripture 1 Pet 3:20-22, tying in Noah and the 7 who were saved through water that symbolizes baptism that now must save me, not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. That image of the flood and Noah, any way. These were the things I remember most.
5. The most amazing and intense thing I felt when I was studying the Bible was knowing that I was on the right track as we were going through the scriptures. … I began to see that there was a lot of the Bible that I did not know about before or no one taught me as I was growing up. It felt good to know that I was finally doing what God wanted me to do.
6. I grew up in a religious environment. I had to relearn everything from the start and really study a lot of things for myself. At some point I felt angry in my studies because I thought I was saved, however, later I became grateful because I realised that was God’s way of getting into my life.
7. When I was reached out to, while I attended Bible Talk on campus, even during my two Sunday services as a visitor and during the longest part of my studies, I remained agnostic and eager to hold on to my sin. I was eager to enter a sexually immoral relationship with any female person whom I found attractive.
On a Wednesday afternoon, during a break between classes, I meditated on John 8:31 for about 3 minutes and decided to test it. I thought: “If I hold to Jesus’ teaching, I will know the truth.” It was then that I decided to give up my sinful desires and trust God.
From that moment, everything I had learned in the studies became clear, The Word of God became absolute truth, Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection was an absolute fact, and I had to ensure my place in heaven.
8. The most intense thing I felt was after the cross and during the sin study.
9. I was very excited 2 know the truth…
10. Well the most intense thing I felt while studying the bible was the RELIEF feeling. I felt I was walking straight to heaven in the middle of hell hehe
11. I guess it would have to be accepting the fact that Jesus died for me even though I didn’t get to meet him physically before hand. Knowing someone who loved me that much, I mean I seriously don’t know whether my own physical parents would actually die for me too. So that thought kinda stirred my heart and softened it so much more!
12. The most amazing thing for me was to know was God has a plan for my life and I have someone who cares and loves me more then anyone in this world.
13. The most intense thing I felt when I was studying the bible…was of course within the Cross study when I realised I was a murderer, which I never in my life considered before. This is one of the main things that persuaded me to get baptized and change my life for Him (Our Lord and Savoir)
14. The most intense thing I experienced when studying the bible was that I got a new hope for the future, that there was a way out of my hopelessness and emptiness. Especially the first bible study and the very first bible verse – Jeremiah 29:11-14 – refreshed my soul. I felt this sensational chill in my inner being as I read God’s thoughts for my life! Also studying light & darkness (baptism) was special. Hearing the bold truth and experiencing the brothers sharing their own sins to me was really a strong moment that was encouraging. What openness!
15. I was shocked to find out I was in the dark, specially after all my years of thinking I was a christian…I felt in the dark…I couldn’t believe God has his back turned on me…I was amazed that there was a better life after and I couldn’t wait to be in the light, to have a relationship with God…
16. I would probably have to say the thing that really struck/convicted me was how right the word is.
17. When I did the cross study and I know a lot of people feel this way about this study, but I really was for the first time in my life completely broken. I had never really felt like that before.
18. The first study: cross, convicted me.
19. I also realised I WAS TO BLAME for Christ’s death on the cross. Probably the most amazing thing or the most convicting was the cross study in which I truly realized that I put Jesus on the cross. I was broken after that study and I was baptized about a week later.
20. I remember that it was difficult for me to give up everything to follow Jesus. However I was challenged to be 100% for God for at least one week. When I did that, it felt so great and I realized that I could give up everything for God because it was the best feeling ever.
21. The most intense feeling I felt was finally realizing how my sin really affects God.
22. I was in awe n amaze by the facts the bible says about the life of Jesus and the changed life I can have I really want to follow the disciples in the bible.

It was a privileged to have these tender moments shared with me and I am sure faithful readers will be moved as I have been. I cherish these accounts deeply. As I re-read them today I realised the importance in all these disciples hearts and minds of the first principals studies. Many appreciate (as I do) the depth and sincerity of the studies dealing with Sin, Repentance and particularly the Cross. This is how I remember the many stories I have heard told by disciples of these same experiences over the years. Others were more impacted by the amazing plan of the ‘Seeking God’ study and the powerful truth of the ‘Word’ study. One common impact that doing the studies had on these men and women, was that it left a lasting, life long impression burned in the memories of their minds and also left strong feelings in their hearts. Our trained ministers did such a great job ‘handling the word of truth’ (2 Tim 2:15). The sad reality is that there are not so many of us anymore who have a working knowledge of these studies. I remember the days when the pass mark for ‘First Principals’ (aka ‘Guard the Gospel) was 90% and almost every disciple passed. In days gone by many disciples were routinely involved in these studies and they knew the scriptures and the actual studies by heart. We need to ask the question. If we felt so convicted, so fired up, so amazed and we have these inspiring memories then why is it many of us are not trying to pass on this message in the exact same way to the many, many lost people all around us?
As we read these accounts of the sweetest times of our lives we need to revisit our commitment. That is what brought us through the studies to baptism where so many others have failed. We persevered. And we were taught to obey: so we learned the studies. We were committed to teach others. But that’s obviously not the case for a lot of us today. These answers listed above are just the good parts of the answers to the question. For some there was a genuine sense of grief and guilt at having lost the commitment to help others ‘into the water’.
Friends, it may be hard to hear but I still meet men and women talking about major sin going unchallenged in the churches. One brother recently told me he had been regularly going to clubs with another member of his church looking for women and was himself dating a woman who was not a disciple. This was in one of the most progressive congregations in London. I have witnessed the sign of denominational separation coming into the churches too at one birthday celebration I was graciously invited to this year. To their shame none of the white members of the mans congregation came to his party. I was ashamed for my race and for the non-christian family members who witnessed this. I am deeply saddened to the point of tears at this memory. I shared my feelings with a member of their congregation. She acknowledged the wrong in the situation but shrugged her shoulders. We desperately need to get back the conviction we had at first on sin and repentance (Rev 2:5). We urgently need to return to preaching this to the church and to the world. This is a salvation issue. (1 Tim 4:16, Rom 1:32, Esther 4:14).
The conviction of some of the staff members of the ICOC churches I was baptized into here in the UK drastically changed with regards to the gospel in recent years. Not only have ministers not believed or taught a saving baptism (1 Pet 3:21) but other ministers who know this have stood by and allowed the members of those affected congregations to be influenced and affected greatly in their own faith to the point that they have been involved in marrying members of denominations whose baptismal practice is contrary to God’s command.
I was anxious to hear that the faith of my friends was unshaken. I take comfort in these answers listed here. They are from a wide cross-section of members in ‘both movements’. It is a hard task to connect these memories to the kind of action many of us have been a part of in past years. The kind of work that leads to studies and baptisms. We know how it works. I have seen a lot of baptisms in the last two years and this has deepened my conviction to seek out the disciples who remember and appreciate what God did for them at their baptism. I sincerely hope that these memories shared might inspire some of the ministers to call people to repentance and follow thought with action.
The second question I asked my friends was,

‘What was going through your mind when you were being baptised?’

Buried


Here are some of the answers…

1. When I was in the water, the words that I uttered was “Jesus, I’ll follow you no matter what it takes.” When I was up, the disciples surrounded me and they sang, “I have decided to follow Jesus, No turning back, no turning…” and, I just cried intensely, tears of joy – so much joy!
2. When I was getting baptized I felt relief that finally I’m taking the step which I knew is right for me in spite of my true nature………
3. I think the most intense thing was all my sins are gone. They are forgiven and forgotten by Jesus. I made a lot of mistakes and he forgave me. He died for me. To have someone to love me that much .how could I ever think of leaving him?
Absolute freedom. The chains that bound me were now gone. I was able to share my heart. With women who loved god. To build a relationship with my father in heaven to actually get to know him.
Its like I want all my friends to meet my dad.
4. I remember coming out and everyone telling me I was sinless and just faithfully knowing God was proud…. ‘well done good and faithful son…’
5. That moment I went under I opened my eyes and it seemed like I was under forever but I didn’t care. I don’t know how to describe how I felt when I was “raised to a new life” neither words or picture can explain it
6. When I got baptized, I have to admit was a little nervous because I knew that I was doing the right thing, but I thought about what life was going to be like after I got out of the water. I didn’t want to disappoint God. However, getting baptized was the best decision I have ever made in my life.
7. The most intense thing was actually Baptism, which I continued to study a lot even after my baptism… Since then I have worked on helping my understanding of Baptism translate into a way in which I could help others who struggle with understanding how it has the power to do exactly what it does.
8. I was feeling relief and gratitude when I was baptized.
9. I got baptised when I was a teen…16 yrs. Being baptised made me feel loved unconditionally. I knew that Jesus’ blood was making me clean before god.
10. On the day I was baptized it was raining & I was scared. After baptism I was very excited cos I was a new person.
11. When I was baptised I was thinking: Great I am going to receive a special force the holy spirit ‘yaiks’ I am going to have a spirit within me.
12. My baptism day was the most intense day of my life – my mum travelled 200km with my older sister to try and persuade me against it and generally have a go at people for studying with me and trying to take me away from their church. She grilled me for a couple of hours pleading with me not to do it. Then she left on a train. 3 hours later I was being baptized in very cold water in a pool in a garage with 10 people singing songs – looking back it was like the jailer in Acts.. at that point I was just relieved..big..big..relief..
13. I was baptized on June 5, 1994 and even though it was the most important instance in my life, the decision was easy. I had no doubt that God is God and he wanted me no matter how much of a bone-headed dufus I was/am.
14. Well I was excited! At the back of my head I was like, “WOW! It actually took me 20 years of being lost in the world before I was picked back up by God!”
15. Its just amazing feeling its like I won the world cup
16. At baptism I was thinking about my sins being washed away and God’s power. It was in December so the water was freezing. But after I came up I was so excited and fired up that I didn’t need a towel when they offered me one. I was just so excited that I really didn’t feel cold at all. It was awesome!
17. I was crying in the bathroom when the sister that was studying with me came in. I told her I wanted to get baptized that day but couldn’t cause I hadn’t finished my studies. Long story short we studied for 9 hours that day and I was baptized at 2am the next day!!!! Whoo Hooo!
That was Feb 11, 2002. When I went down in that water (which was a nice warm Jacuzzi) all I remembered was them telling me that when I came out of the water I would be 100% cleanse from my past. I couldn’t believe that God could love me so much that He would give ME a brand new life after ALL I had done!
18. When I was getting baptized, well I was 16 years and I thought to myself, “I am gonna be brand new after I emerge from this water”…after I was dipped I felt untouchable, and indefeatable.
19. I felt like the world was off my shoulders, a real relief to be forgiven, and a kind of excitement about starting my new life.
20. When I was baptised I felt this peace within me, relief.
21. Well during the baptism I was thinking something was gonna go wrong and somehow the devil would try and stop me…which he did…right before I went under the pool people said, no one was allowed in the pool…but thankfully god was fighting for me and it happened right there and then…after I came out I felt clean and couldn’t wait to embark on a journey with God.
22. It was wonderful to feel forgiven.
23. When I was 1st baptised I was a mess! Fired up but totally clueless!
24. Well I got baptized when I was 16 so in 2001, my mom and older sister baptized me and I felt so loved! Loved by God my family and friends who were all there!
25. My baptism was a sense of relief…. that’s all I could think of.
26. Pure hearted like a baby and soooo grateful
27. (10-10-2000). As for my baptism “What did I just do” that’s what I remember saying. I realized I had given everything up, kind of like the rich young ruler, except for I did give up my riches, not riches as in $ but my filth. I was rich…actually wealthy in sin (Galatians 5:19). I led a life of sin for so long I didn’t know if I could do it. To make the story short, God is an Awesome God and He has given us the wisdom, knowledge, strength, perseverance, and great relationships to keep me faithful all this years. I love being a man of God and will continue to stand firm as Paul says against the enemy.
28. At my baptism, I felt great joy.
29. The water looked cold. My sins seemed to become a distant memory as I stepped closer to the sea. In the water I was freezing and I knew it had come to an end. I was immersed into the sea and came out seconds later knowing it has finally been done.
30. During my baptism, I was really in awe of the opportunity that He had gave me and be chosen as “one of the few” from this world.
Even just by reminiscing that past makes me realize that miracle do really come true!

It was a great inspiration for me to find friends all over the world still rejoicing in the memory of their baptism and their salvation. I recently returned from Tallinn International Christian Church to rejoin the London International Christian Church. About a month ago I attended a party where I spoke to one brother from the ICOC. We cordially discussed the tension between our movements and I shared about how I had seen a number of people baptised in the small churches in Estonia and London and that the experience of being a part of all the baptisms over the last year had given me a strong desire to see more and more. I have grown very, very attached and attracted to seeing people have their sins forgiven. I told him I was open to being shown from the scriptures that I was in error and I am. I conceded that motivation can be corrupted with regards to this issue yet, that said, it is possible to have a healthy love of seeing more and more souls saved from a sinful life and an eternity of Hell.
Baptisms are not statistics.
Each baptism is an eternity of punishment literally washed away. What an incredible moment. Oh my goodness. How could a disciple condemn another disciple for enjoying baptisms? We like to have friends on facebook. Well…. each baptism is another friend in heaven and we have eternity to post on each other funwalls.
But brothers and sisters I hung out with a younger disciple some days ago. He said something unusual. He said ‘James, you were around in the 1990s when there were regular baptisms all over the world, and I missed all that… I came into the church when it had all stopped round 2003 but I am seeing it start again… God is awesome’.
That is profound brothers and sisters. That our brother has the faith to believe what he is seeing is good. He is seeing people from all nationalities being met in the streets by ‘all’ the members in ‘all’ the ministries, being studied with by young disciples and by older disciples, and being baptised for the forgiveness of sin. That’s the only way we can be revived. He knows that he is fully a part of what we were a part of just a decade ago, a church giving up everything and making disciples of all nations. He knows this because he himself was baptised. He experienced the waters of forgiveness and the blood. The relief. The sweet fellowship. The change. And he has been seeking to bring others to that place and has himself baptised a man late last year. I wish that for all my friends. To know the joy of baptism first hand once more as we repent and gather together to take the good news to all nations. In many churches there are so few baptisms any more. God, I want to see baptisms. I want to see lots of baptisms.

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