There have been some comments here lately on the roles of women. You know the coulds and shoulds and should-nots, etc. about what we think other people should do? I think it’s clear to my regular readers that women’s issues are important to me. And I have to admit that I was really into the pro-woman blog post I wrote earlier this evening. But that will have to wait for another day, because before I posted my rant, I went to church and experienced something so amazing, incredible, emotional, and spirit-filled that I could not wait to get home and tell you about it.
We’re not promised tomorrow. We don’t know when our time here is up, so with that in mind, please open your heart and consider my *imperfect* attempt to relay this message to you.
Tonight’s church service began with an alter call and then an open invitation to be baptized right then and there. The baptismal – which resembles a hot tub or a small rehabilitation pool – was out and filled with warm water. One of the pastors came out dressed in swimming trunks and a polo shirt and got into the waist-high water. The head pastor joined him. And four people came forward to be baptized. The first two were women. Each, in turn, got into the tank and gave a short testimony. The pastor asked them the following questions:
Pastor: “Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior”
Pastor: “Are you going to walk with him all the days of your life?
Pastor: “Based upon your profession of faith, we now baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Each person was guided backward until his/her body was fully submerged and then brought back to a standing position. The two pastors then stood in front of and behind the person with their hands upon the person’s shoulders, back, and head and prayed for them.
After the two women were baptized, a twenty-nine year old man came forward and stepped into the tank.
Pastor: “Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior?”
Wow. This was unexpected. Baptism takes place after a person has professed faith in Jesus and accepted the free gift of salvation. But rather than turn this man away, Pastor gave him the opportunity of salvation right there in the baptismal tank.
The man repeated the sinner’s prayer:
“Dear Jesus. I give you my life. All that I am. All that I’ll ever be. I give it to You. Please forgive my sins. I confess that I have tried to do life without you and it has not worked out. I believe you are Lord. I believe you rose from the dead. I want to live for you. Amen.”
And in that moment, the man was saved.
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
I’m sure there were some dry eyes among the hundreds gathered in the Saturday evening service – but not many. To experience and witness the miracle of salvation is a gift and something you cannot experience without being seriously moved. There I sat stewing about sexist comments, when suddenly issues of gender were clearly not so important – the big issue that needs to be addressed is the one of salvation!
He was saved permanently. He WILL be in heaven.
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
After he prayed the salvation prayer – the pastors asked us all to reach forward in agreement as they laid hands on him and prayed before they went through the baptism ritual as they had with the others.
Dear readers – you can do this at home. You can ask for and receive the free gift of salvation right now alone at home! You don’t need anyone to approve you and you don’t need a preacher. You can do it alone. It’s between you and God. Pray the sinner’s prayer (the one above in red) and know that you are saved. You don’t have to tell anyone – really just try it and see what God does in your life. I guarantee that you will be truly amazed if you do this.
Our church believes in baptism and practices it. But we believe that the decision and prayer is the actual time that salvation occurs. That if a person sincerely prays for salvation but dies without being baptized, they are still saved.
Now what? Pray. Talk to God about anything – He already knows everything you do and think, so you may as well be honest with Him. And, read the Bible. One chapter a day. It doesn’t take long – maybe five or ten minutes. We talk to God through prayer; God talks to us through scripture.
If you are reading this and you want to go to church – please do. Lots of churches (like mine) have Saturday evening services and many also have Wednesday evening services. If anyone reading this would like to go to church, but is intimated, please send me an email – I would love to bring you to my church.