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Institute in Basic Life Principles

Command 47 : Baptize My Disciples | Day 328

Identify With Christ in Baptism!

It was a disgrace to the watching world. Those who claimed to be Christians were getting drunk during the communion meals. Others were going without food because they could not afford it. Arguing, contentions, and lawsuits among those who were supposed to love each other were rampant. These believers were even committing immorality that was more shameful than anything the pagans did!

Paul was grieved when he learned what was taking place at the church in Corinth. In a letter of stern rebuke and exhortation, he confronted them about their sin and challenged them to place their loyalty in Christ alone, Who died for them and Who was the foundation of their faith.

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 3:11).

Knowing that the effectiveness of the church required a spirit of unity among all the members, Paul was greatly troubled when he heard that there were divisions and factions among the Corinthian believers. Therefore, he wrote: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. ... Every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name" (I Corinthians 1:10, 12-15).

Paul identified carnality as the root of their problems: “I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal ... . For whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (I Corinthians 3:1, 3).

Baptism is to be an identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, not a denominational division.

One of the most convicting complaints by nonbelievers against Christians is the complaint that hypocrisy and disunity exist among believers. Nonbelievers immediately recognize the contentions and factions caused by believers who fail to identify first with Christ. For example, when a Christian is asked about his faith, often he will say: "I am a Methodist (of John Wesley)," or "I am a Presbyterian (of John Knox)," or "I am a Lutheran (of Martin Luther)," etc. To avoid unnecessary divisions, when asked about your faith it would be wise to talk about your personal relationship with Christ rather than focusing on a particular denomination.

Paul was grateful that he himself had not baptized many believers, because he recognized the danger of attracting loyalty to himself rather than to the Lord. To him, unity in the Body of Christ was of utmost importance.

Jesus taught, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). Let's purpose to let our identification with Christ be known to the world through our unselfish love for all members of the Body of Christ.

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).

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Contributing writer: Bill Gothard