Large Scale Baptisms In An Unlikely Place

I recently attended the Gateway Conference in Southlake. Gateway is a non-denominational mega church with multiple sites in the Metroplex, and one that most would consider “charismatic”.

Jimmy Evans gave a powerful and surprising message as a keynote speaker that I want to share. He taught on Revelation chapters 1 & 2, where Jesus warned and encouraged the churches in Asia, and this message focused primarily on the message to Ephesus. To paraphrase, Jesus says that He sees their good works, their perseverance, and that basically they’re “doing church” really well. However, He warns them that they have left their first love. So without genuine and deep love for God and for others, they are just going through the religious motions of church. Jesus then warns them that if they don’t repent and return, He will remove their lampstand from its place. In reference to the end of Chapter 1, we see that a removal of their lampstand implies a removal of the presence of Jesus.

Jimmy Evans then made the point that it seems many churches today are “doing church” well, but it’s all by man power, not God power, because the Holy Spirit left some time ago.

Such convicting and concerning imagery and conclusions.

He then went on to share two foundational truths we need to get right in order to ensure we are in step with the Spirit in our churches. His first teaching point was on baptism. I was amazed as he used the scriptures like Colossians 2:11-12, Acts 2:38, Romans 6, and the Great Commission in Matt 28 and Mark 16 to explain the importance of water baptism. He also used circumcision and marriage as Biblical examples of the covenant of baptism. It sounded like so many sermons I’ve heard all my life, including lessons I’ve taught on baptism myself.

His second teaching point was about the Holy Spirit, and he tied baptism and the Holy Spirit together powerfully. In closing he went on to say that water baptism is necessary to be a disciple of Christ. He said that God called us to make disciples to add to the Kingdom, not just Christians to add to our church. He even mentioned that if you were baptized as a baby it really doesn’t count, because it must be a decision and commitment you make. He encouraged this crowd of over 2,000 church leaders and worship leaders to emphasize the importance of baptism, stating that churches today have discredited its importance and that there is spiritual power at work in baptism. Additionally, if we want to get back to the explosive impact and growth of the early church, we have to do a better job of teaching and practicing this 1st step of faith and obedience. I was blown away!

The following day there was a baptism service for any of these leaders who felt they needed to be baptized again as an adult, for the right reason, or for the 1st time. A strange thought to me, seeing how these people are already in leadership in a variety of churches all over the world.

I was amazed to find out that 206 people were baptized that next day!

I wanted to share this encouraging report for two reasons. First, it’s just a great reminder about the spiritual power and importance of baptism into Christ, and second it’s another extremely encouraging example of the church being more and more unified as the doctrinal differences that have divided us are continually coming down in various ways!

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