For Christ did not send me to Baptize but to preach the Gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1: 17, 18 (ESV)
Unless we share the essential gospel message clearly with the love that Christ would have us deliver it, allowing no room for personal embellishment, we are in danger of quenching the redemptive and healing power alive in the message. For God’s powerful message of redemption and eternal love is expectantly waiting to be shared.
Endorsed in blood by Jesus and poured out for our salvation, the power-laden Gospel message penetrates and softens even hearts of stone with the hope only he can deliver. His gentle loving touch of sincere forgiveness, so lucidly grasped from the shear heart-rending impact of his personal sacrifice, will ultimately draw even those who may fiercely guard their bitterness and pain within the fortified confines of a hardened heart. For no lofty yet hollow words of mortal man could ever breach and crumble those walls of stone. But to the expectant hungry heart, the message could not be clearer in its power-packed simplicity.
We see then that the softening and ultimate penetrating power of God’s love lays fully within the salvation message itself, for it gently yet irresistibly enters and tugs at our hearts from the inside, always seeking that last tender spot. For it can soften even the hardest of hearts as we, in due course, come to recognize the damaging impact of our sin-strewn lives on ourselves and on others.
So, while water-baptism symbolically cleanses us outwardly, our hearts will have already been thoroughly cleansed and consecrated by Jesus Christ on the cross. It is clear then that our inevitable confrontation with the Cross of Jesus should always precede our experience in the waters of baptism.
Dear Lord Jesus, let us always lead people first to the Cross before we lead them to the River Jordan. Amen.
A F Fischer