April is a very special month for me. Many of my great life changes seem to have happened in April. This particular celebration is very special to me: on 7 April 2012 I was baptised in the sea at Brighton beach in the UK!
I was 30 years old at the time. Baptism was something I had been thinking about doing for years, but I never really understood what living a life in Christ really meant and how baptism fit into it all, so I kept putting it off. In 2012 everything changed and I finally understood what Jesus' sacrifice meant for me.
The Truth Will Set You Free!
I had given my life to the Lord many times throughout my life, I always thought of myself as Christian, but I never felt secure in my salvation, so I would pray and pray, hoping God would forgive me one day. I never understood Grace and the finished work of Christ. I always thought I had to try and work to prove myself worthy - and I just kept messing it up!
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves;
it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
This time it was different, my eyes had been opened to the Truth of the Gospel and it set me free from doubt and fear. It was time to declare to the world the choice I had made to follow Jesus, and what a beautiful way to do it than with a symbolic death (to the old ways) and resurrection (to a new life in Christ). So I consider this day to be my Rebirth-day!
7 April 2012 - A Day To Remember
That chilly morning I took a train from London to Brighton with my then church family. It was a big group and they made this trip a few times a year to baptise people in the sea.
It was always a lovely event including a worship session and teaching on the pebbled beach, food, prayer, and then the baptisms followed by more prayer and a walk up to a nearby gelato shop for some very unique ice-cream!
It was freezing that day, "feels like 2°C" was the forecast on my weather app!
It was a cloudy day, but I was so happy and so excited. I was going to declare publicly what the Lord had already done in me:
He had given me new joy, new hope, new desires, new life - in Christ. A death of the old self and a rebirth of the new.
I no longer had to prove anything, I no longer had to work hard to be acceptable to God, I knew I was loved, forgiven and accepted as I was.
Jesus paid the ransom for me and His sacrifice is sufficient for all. Praise God!
The death he died, he died to sin once for all;
but the life he lives, he lives to God. Romans 6:10
The sea was calm as a lake and as we worshipped on the beach the sun would come out and warm our faces, making the water glitter for a moment before the next cloud drifted past.
The water was icy, the pebbles were cold and smooth, I wore flip flops in the water in case there was anything sharp down there, but actually ended up losing one on the way out, luckily I caught it before it floated off.
It was a beautiful experience and not only did I declare my choice before my church family and God, but also all the people that gathered on the pier to watch the crazy people in the icy water!
Salvation & Baptism
I am so grateful for all the teachers of Grace out there who make the Gospel Truth plain and clear. Who don't mix it with fear-mongering and law, but rightly separate the Good News from the law of bondage.
I believe I was saved when I was a teen. I remember a time I was so Christ focused and I know I gave my life to the Lord during that time.
I have evidence of His presence in my life over the years and I also know what it felt like when I drifted away from Him. As lonely and dark as those times were, I was not unsaved or even alone, just un-focused, un-anchored, drifting aimlessly until somebody shone a light on the Truth like a lighthouse through the storm.
Salvation comes through faith, through believing in the sacrifice of Christ being enough. It is a free gift from God, not something you have to strive and work for, but a humble confession of your inadequacy to live up to God's standards and an acceptance of His love and forgiveness.
Your precious gift has already been paid for, with the blood of Christ, all that is required of you is a decision to reach out your hands and take it. Journeying through life with Jesus is so much sweeter than any life without Him!
Baptism is the physical expression or confession of that choice to accept Christ's gift of salvation and starting a new life in Him. It is symbolic of the death and resurrection of Christ and in Him also our own death and resurrection to new life.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation:
old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ,
and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
That is, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself,
not imputing their trespasses unto them;
and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ,
as though God did beseech you by us:
we pray you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.
For he has made him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us;
that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Salvation isn't just about going to heaven one day, it's about receiving the Spirit of God now, His presence and providence, His acceptance and love, His peace and comfort despite any of life's troubles. His ways are so far above and beyond what we can fathom and He always makes a way to work everything out for good.
Once you make your decision to walk with Jesus, you can expect changes in your life, your dreams, your character and your interests. You might lose fear and guilt, you might discover peace and joy, you might lose anger, doubt and selfishness, and you'll find you are loved and truly accepted.
Salvation is about being reconciled with and going through this life and eternity with the One who loves you most.