There’s no surer way to get a catchy little 1966 Monkees song stuck in your head than visiting Clarksville, Tennessee. We didn’t “Take The Last Train to Clarksville”, but we did find it a quaint little town as we poked around the vintage shops, enjoyed a couple of tasty dinners out with gracious hosts Chris and Jeanette Kramer, and even took a little hike beside the lovely Cumberland River and over old bridges at dusk one evening on the Uplands Trail.
Several years ago, Mark had met Chris remotely when Chris joined the panel of preachers on the live, twice-weekly Facebook and Youtube program Answering Religious Error. Together they’ve been fielding Bible questions that come to them from all over the world, putting their heads together to offer accurate Bible answers. It was great to meet in person this kindred spirit and have some good face-to-face conversations.
The Northside Church of Christ where Chris preaches, is a local congregation of the church that Christ built (Matthew 16:18) and has for 50 years successfully carried out the Lord's work free from the encumbrance of any man-made institution or social gospel tactics that so often take away some of the beautiful simplicity of New Testament Christianity. Their deepest desire is to please God, uplift and encourage one another and help lost souls come to Christ from all over their community including jails and nursing homes and far beyond their own community, having supported around 30 preachers over the years throughout the United States, India, the Philippines, Jamaica, Ecuador, Columbia, South Africa, and various countries in Europe. You’ll even find on their website this unique option: a public invitation to request a sermon on any Bible topic anyone would like to hear addressed. Not only will that sermon be written and delivered, but Northside will also notify the requester of the date and time their requested sermon will be preached.
If you’d like to check out any of their online studies, they are viewable and archived on Facebook and YouTube, and are entitled "Bible Talks Radio" which airs live on Saturdays at 9:05am on WRUS at 610AM, and on Sundays, their "Truth & Reason" program airs at 5:00pm. Among the 340+ videos posted on the Northside Church of Christ’s Youtube channel is a Five-Minute Message, entitled, “Baptism: Can Anyone Forbid Water?” Since various denominations so often insist that baptism is not necessary to be saved, I thought it most beneficial here to share Chris’s defense of what God Himself says in the scriptures around the significance of baptism. He starts by first considering what Peter said by inspiration in Acts 10:47, “Can anyone forbid water that these should not be baptized?” Christ notes, “When Peter was called to the home of Cornelius to speak to them words of salvation, he commanded them to be baptized. If God was giving opportunity for all men to be saved, then His requirements are the same for all. Baptism cannot be excluded from salvation, yet it is excluded by the majority of religious groups and individuals every day and preached as such in many religious circles. Baptism is an act of obedience to God's will. It is not ceremonial symbolic initiation into a church or even salvation by water itself. And although is not the sole act of obedience by faith, it is that act that puts us into Christ.
So let's examine what baptism is: It is … a burial of our sinful past. In Romans 6:3-7 God says “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we were buried with him through baptism into death that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so, we also should walk in newness of life.” When you look at verse 7 it says for he who has died has been freed from sin. We see that it begs the question, “If someone is saved before baptism…why would you bury a live person?
Baptism is a washing away of sins. In Acts 22:16 Ananias said, “Saul why are you waiting? Arise! Be baptized wash away your sins calling on the name of the Lord.” This too demands another question: “If someone is saved before baptism, then why is he still in sin? Baptism washes away sin and for that, we thank God. “...and such were some of you, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11).”
Baptism is the way into Christ… Galatians 3:27 “...for as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation.”
It is commanded by the Lord in Matthew 28:19 in the last words of Jesus before He left the earth, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of
the Father and of the Son of the Holy Spirit.” Again in Acts 10: 48 that's what
Peter said. “He commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” Peter defended that to the Jews in Jerusalem ㅡ the Christians that were there when he said “Who was I that I could withstand God?” when he saw that God offered the opportunity for the Gentiles
as well as for the Jews on the day of Pentecost.
Baptism is for salvation. It is what Jesus commanded us to do. Before He left this earth, He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and has been baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). 1 Peter 3:21 says, “...there is also an antitype which now saves us: baptism.”
In Acts 2:41 those who gladly received His word were baptized, and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. Added to who? “Added it to the church”, as is shown in verse 47 … “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved”. How are they being saved? Because there were being baptized into Christ, and as the Lord says, “to be saved from this perverse generation.” We’ve looked at this example of the beginnings of the church and how people became Christians, so can anyone forbid salvation? Can anyone forbid the Lord's command? Can anyone forbid water? And in like manner, can anyone forbid you from coming to the Lord? Will you let someone forbid your salvation? Please consider the necessity of baptism.”
I appreciated this little five-minute video, and given that those who come to us wanting to be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins often have such varying degrees of understanding about what is about to happen, years ago, in order to help them understand what God says actually happens on this, the single most significant moment of one’s life, I wrote this note and print it out to gift to anyone about to be baptized, along with my handwritten words of love and encouragement. [If you are reading this from a printed book, did you know you can photograph with a smartphone, then copy the text using Google Lens to paste into your own documents? Feel free to save and print out this important information to gift to someone you love before or at their baptism into Christ. No attribution is necessary.]
Today, by choosing to be baptized, you show that you have received into your good heart, the seed of God’s word. Acts 2:41 “...those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.”
Today you will be saved. 1 Peter 3:21 “...baptism now saves you -- not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience -- through the resurrection of Jesus Christ..” Mark 16:16 "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”
Today your sins will be washed away. Acts 22:16 "Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.”
Today at your baptism God promises your sins will be forgiven. Acts 2:38-39 “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. ‘For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.’"
Today when you arise from the waters of baptism, you will have a brand new, spotless life. Romans 6:3-8 “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”
Today when God removes your sins, He says those sins will be removed from you as far as the East is from the West. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us”. Psalm 103:12
Today you will clothe yourself with Christ. This means you will spend the rest of your life adding all the qualities and characteristics to your own life that make Christ so beautiful Galatians 3:27 “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
Today you become as a bride to Christ. Christ will love you sacrificially as a good husband does his family. As you submit to His leadership, He in turn promises to save you, His bride. Ephesians 5:23 “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.”
Today you become a member of the body of Christ. This means you will be an important part of the work we do for God. And your good choices will bring honor to us as a family. 1 Corinthians 12:13 “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”
Today you have accepted God’s purpose for creating you. Gone now is the age-old question "What is the meaning of life?" Luke 7:30 “...the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God's purpose for themselves, not having been baptized…” Also, see Ecclesiastes 12:13.
Today you become a priest of God, worthy of offering up spiritual sacrifices. New Testament baptism was symbolized in the Old Testament times when the priests then washed in the laver before beginning their service in the temple (Exodus 30:18-21) 1 Peter 2:5 says “...you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Today you will become a citizen of the kingdom of God. This means you promise to obey its King and the laws the King has ordained to give you a holy, productive life here, and in the future, an eternity of joy. Jesus said in John 3:5 ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’” And why is being in the kingdom so priceless? Because 1 Corinthians 15:24 says “...then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father…”
Like an Israelite fleeing through the parted Red Sea, today you flee from the wrath of God and enter the new promise land of freedom from slavery to sin and from Satan as a taskmaster. Matthew 3:7 “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them... who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” 1 Corinthians 10:1-2 “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.”
Today as you are baptized you will have pleased God in this righteous act, as Jesus pleased God at His own baptism. Matthew 3:15-17 “But Jesus answering said to him, ‘Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.’"
When we live a life of faithfulness, all this remains ours (Revelation 2:10). May we both grow day by day in our love for God and live our lives from this day on, in light of eternity.
Northside Church of Christ
689 North Main Street
Russellville, KY 42276