Twenty years have gone by, but I remember it like it happened last night!
"Hey Tim, why don't you come to the Bible Study with me tonight?" my brother Terry confidently asked, with a big smile. Terry always had a sly brotherly way of talking me into things.
But this time it was something good.
I really didn't have much else to do, and I was interested--and Terry knew it--so I agreed.
"Okay, sure, why not?"
Over the course of several weeks, we met and we studied, learning the ways of God from His Word. I relearned many things from my childhood, and learned many new things I wasn't taught. The Holy Ghost led us into all truth during our study, including the need to be baptized.
I'll never forget the night when we studied Acts, Chapter 2. We got down to the heart of the chapter --the keys of the kingdom of God that Peter received and
preached-- and Terry read it for all of us to hear:
"....Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." (Acts 2:38-39 KJV)
I jumped up and excitedly exclaimed, "That's in the Bible?!? I can't believe it. Wow!"
Our friend who was teaching the Bible Study smiled and gently said, "Terry, go ahead and read it again."
He did, and our friend explained baptism, and I immediately wanted to be baptized!
But we waited until that Sunday night--the last Sunday in June 1987. I was
nervous, excited and serious--it was "the most important day of my life" my Pastor said--I felt like I was getting married.
(Later that year, I learned that I joined the bride of Christ, by taking on His Name--Jesus!)
The church people gathered around the baptismal tank: some were singing and
playing a song, while others were praising and thanking God, while others were praying. It was a joyful sound!
I stepped down into the water and turned around. My Pastor prayed with me before he baptized me, "...in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins!" He laid me back into the water, and 'buried me', and suddenly:
All was quiet.
The sounds of the singing and praising and praying were immediately muffled.
"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:3-4 KJV)
It was a moment when the eternity of heaven intersected with the present, as the blood of Jesus washed my sins away. When I came up out of that water all I could think and feel was "WOW! I have never felt so clean--on the inside!"
I heard the singing and praising again and I praised God right with them!
I raised my hands as tears of joy mixed with water streamed down my face, as
I spoke in other tongues as the Spirit of God gave the utterance!
Jesus found me! He delivered me and saved me from my sins: I don't have to submit myself to alcohol, or drugs, or lying or stealing--Praise God! This scripture became true in my life: "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:5 KJV)
Several days later, I was sitting in the back of the sanctuary at the Family Church Campgrounds. It was my birthday, and the sun was shining on my back. A small group was practicing songs for the evening service, and one of the songs was so appropriate, just for me, right then:
"Something beautiful, something good
All of my confusion, Jesus understood
All I had to offer Him was brokeness and strife
But He made something beautiful out of my life"
I bent forward, weeping. Several wonderful brothers and sisters gathered around me, and prayed for me! Such love, such compassion, such caring--
I still cry.
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