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Encourage: Powerful summary of baptism

Come, Holy Spirit, Dove Divine

Come, Holy Spirit, Dove divine,
on these baptismal waters shine,
and teach our hearts, in highest strain,
to praise the Lamb for sinners slain.

We love Your name, we love Your laws,
and joyfully embrace Your cause;
We love Your cross, the shame, the pain,
O Lamb of God, for sinners slain.

We sink beneath the water’s face,
and thank You for Your saving grace;
We die to sin and seek a grave
with You, beneath the yielding wave.

And as we rise with You to live,
O let the Holy Spirit give
the sealing blessing from above,
the joy of life, the fire of love.

I love that hymn text, written in 1829. Its power comes from both content and context. The words of this great baptismal hymn present a powerful summary of much of what the Bible teaches us about believer’s baptism.

In baptism, we publicly identify in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. As Paul writes in Romans, “We have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

What this hymn says is strong, and who said it adds to the punch. Adonirum Judson, the son of a well-known Congregationalist pastor, wrote this hymn in Burma. He was baptized as an infant and committed to go to India as a missionary supported by Congregationalist churches.

While on board a ship to the field, Judson began a careful study of the New Testament teaching concerning baptism. Through Scripture, he became convinced that the Bible calls for believer’s baptism through immersion.

This conviction created a crisis. Would he risk disappointing his family and losing his financial support by following through with believer’s baptism?

On Sept. 6, 1812, Judson and his wife settled the matter. Their public statement was clear and simple. “We wish to profess our faith in Christ by being baptized in obedience to His sacred commands.”

I hope you will join us at the Advance Conference next week. I am grateful for the pastors and Oklahoma Baptist leaders who have prepared this focus on evangelism and baptism. For more information on the conference, visit oklahomabaptists.org/advance.

Bring some people with you. We will encourage one another to advance the Gospel by sharing the Good News of Jesus; making disciples who follow Christ in baptism and a lifetime of obedience.

Hance Dilbeck

Author: Hance Dilbeck

Hance Dilbeck is executive director-treasurer with Oklahoma Baptists

View more articles by Hance Dilbeck.

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