I'm not talking about numbers. I'm talking about edification.
On Sunday I had the great privilege of baptizing two adults at Chevis Oaks Baptist Church. This is the church near Savannah, GA where I have been preaching on-and-off since mid-February.
I was overjoyed to assist one man and one woman in being obedient to our Lord's command to be baptized. Both of these have been saved for some time, but were now inspired to be baptized. I'm not sure why this happened now, but I'm certainly happy I was able to be a part of it.
Prior to Sunday, I had primarily thought of baptism as being for the individual being baptized. My focus, regardless of whether or not I had anything to do with the act of baptism, was almost always on the experience of the person being immersed. I thought about their joy, their obedience, and their commitment to Christ.
On Sunday I saw something else. I saw what the ordinance of baptism can do for a church. Prior to the baptism, several people at the church told me that there had not been a baptism there for a while. They were excited to have two people be baptized. It was not some sort of thrill-seeking they were after; instead, they were joyful for what God was doing there.
During and after the baptisms, I could see that the church was being edified. The people were so happy to see what was happening. They were thankful to God for what He is doing there. They were joyful for the two who were baptized. They seemed to feel an expectancy for what God would do next.
After the service, when I was greeting the people at the church door as they exited (yes, I did stand by the door this time), many of them told me how happy they were to see the baptisms. They seemed absolutely thrilled that this had happened. I was happy for them. I'm not sure what this will lead to or what God's plans are for this church, but I'm sure that on Sunday many more than two people were edified.
What happened reminded me of I Corinthians 14. In that chapter, the gathering of the church in Corinth is described. In chapter 14 alone, the word "edification" is used four times (more than any other chapter in the bible). The most important verse is probably verse 26. Paul writes, "How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification." (emphasis mine)
This past Sunday I fully realized that baptism is practiced both for those baptized and for the building up of the body.