Last night the water was warm, almost too warm. Her voice cracked betraying both the soft tears welling up in her eyes and the deep conviction of her heart. “Yes, I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for me and was raised again to life.”
Moments earlier as pages had flipped, we had been reminded of a wonderful message which has been proclaimed for about two millennia. From Paul’s letter to the Galatians an apostolic voice taught us that people become children of God by relying upon Jesus in being baptized.
Paul’s voice continued to resonate as we read an excerpt from his letter to Titus. There was a particularly important message Paul had wanted Titus to stress. Salvation comes to us not because of our efforts to be good, but because God in his love and grace saves us through Christ when we are baptized and renewed by the Holy Spirit.
This thirty-something African American woman desired to become a follower of Jesus and to rely upon him for her salvation. I had asked her to reflect upon what it would mean if she had to face God in judgment alone and accountable for all she had done.
And so there we were standing in a tank of water as she acknowledged she believed the Son of God had died for our sins and been raised again. Like millions before her since Jesus arose from the dead, she was immersed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Perhaps Paul’s words provide the best commentary. “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s saving power to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and then to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16).