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Last week, we looked at the Sermon on the Mount and read what Jesus said it meant to follow Him and put our faith in Him. Today, we are going to look at the FIRSTthing He tells all His followers to do. This word sums up the whole series. The real change that we all need only comes when we put Jesus FIRST in every area of our lives.The FIRSTprinciple is taught all throughout scripture. Matthew 22:37-38 says, “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall lovethe Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the firstand great commandment.” God must be first. He cannot be second.You see it in the firstfruits and the firstborn (Prov. 3:9, Ex. 13:1-2, Gen. 4:2-5). It is not that God won’t, it is that He can’t. God can’t lie, God can’t change, and God cannot be second. We should give God the first hour of every day (devotion/prayer time), first day of every week (church attendance/worship), and first dime of every dollar (tithe). Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Mt. 6:33).

Now, what is the FIRST thing Jesus tells his followers to do? It’s baptism! Look at Matthew 28:18-20. Who should be baptized?Only believers, disciples/followers. Which comes first,teaching or baptizing? Followers are to be baptized first. The pattern in scripture is they believed and then they were baptized

Baptism is by Immersion

Mark 1:9-11 tells about Jesus’ baptism. “Baptize” meansto dip, to immerse, to submerge. Jesus went all the way down in the water and came up. Jesus was baptized and He commanded all His followers to be baptized. This pleasedthe Father. Baptism pleases God and lets others know you are His child. In John 3:23 we read that John baptized where there was “much water.” There was enough water for them to get under. Baptism is a picture of death, burial, and resurrection, and you can’t get that picture out of sprinkling water. Maybe you were sprinkled or were baptized as a baby. While it was very meaningful for your parents, you don’t remember it. Faith comes before baptism, and scriptural baptism is by immersion.

Baptism is for Identification

Paul says, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raisedfrom the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4).Jesus was baptized to set an example for us. It was baptism of repentance though Jesus did not need forgiveness. He was sinless. Jesus repented for us, not himself. Jesus was baptized to identify with us. We should be baptized to identify with Jesus. When a person gets in the water, even though they don’t have to say a word, just by being there, they are declaring, “I am not ashamed to be a follower of Jesus.”  If I had only one word to describe baptism it would be “identification.” Baptism is a picture or symbol of three things:  1-Faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Savior. 2-Your death to sin, burial of the old life, and resurrection of the new life.3-Your hope in the final resurrection of the dead. Baptism is an outward expression of an inward change. Baptism is the wedding ring of the Christian life. Baptism does not make you a Christian. The ring does not make me married nor does it make me love my wife. It just lets everyone know that I love her and married her. Baptism shows the world who you belong to.

Baptism is Always Immediate

In Acts 2:38 and 41 we read that Peter preached and “that day” the people “who gladly received his word were baptized.” They didn’t take a class, talk to their family, or give it some time. No, they did it that day! Throughout the New Testament, baptism was on the spot. Baptism does not save a person, but every saved person should be baptized.This should be the FIRST step of obedience we take. Have you put your faith in Jesus? If so, have you been scripturally baptized?

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