In the last post I mentioned about baptism – that if you have not been baptized that you should inquire about that with the pastor of the local parish church you begin attending. Baptism is a very important part of faith in God. Baptism is practiced by every Christian group or denomination – at least I have never heard of one that doesn’t practice baptism. That in and of itself speaks of its importance.
The Bible speaks of two kinds of “baptism.” The first kind is water baptism, and the second is Spirit baptism, or baptism in or by Holy Spirit. The type I am addressing now is water baptism.
Baptism is important because the Bible points to it as being important. Jesus Himself told His disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Mt. 28:19, emphasis added) The Apostle Peter in his first sermon on the day of Pentecost (50 days after the Resurrection of Jesus) in response to the crowd’s question “What shall we do?” told them “Repent and be baptized every one of you…” (Acts 2:38, emphasis added)
I was once in a small group Bible study years ago in which there was a man who had a relative who claimed he did not need to be baptized – that he was saved by faith in Jesus, so his actions in the body were irrelevant. Well… not so much. What that man’s relative was doing was understanding faith as merely an intellectual acceptance of some information. Acting on that information, according to his thinking, would add nothing, so therefore nothing need be done. However that way of thinking does not mix with the Bible’s teaching.
Believing in Jesus – having faith in Jesus – will be seen by people by what we do, not merely by what we say. Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) Obedience is an expression of love, and love is what we feel and want to express for all that Jesus has done for us. The Apostle Paul writes, “We love because he [God] first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
Also, Peter went on in the verse quoted above to say, “…be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” It is through our response of faith in God that we come to water baptism, and there God does more for our benefit. He takes up residence within us by His Spirit, and it is His righteous presence within us that is the cleansing power to separate us from our sin. In the Bible’s words, we are forgiven. But if we don’t come to the waters of baptism, we are showing that we are not trusting God, trusting Jesus, and we are still wanting to do things “our way” instead of God’s way. That attitude is, in essence, the definition of sin. It is the thing that brought sin into God’s creation when Adam & Eve did things their way instead of God’s way.
Now, if you were baptized as an infant or young child, even if you don’t remember anything about your baptism, you do not need to be baptized again. You see, in baptism, God is the primary actor, not so much you or me – us. God does act in response to us in the baptism, but our action is not the main focus – God is. In the case of infant/young child’s baptism, the parents and God-parents come in their faith in God, bringing their child into the covenant community by faith. I’ll go more into this in a later post, but suffice it to say, if you were baptized as youngster, and now have come to a living faith in Jesus Christ, you do not need to be baptized again. Let just say this much more about it – for us to say baptism is needed again is to say that God did not do it right in the first place (since He is the primary actor in this drama of grace).
Notice how it is phrased in what Peter said, “…you will receive…” That is passive, not active. You do not “go get” but you just receive. Again, that shows that God is the primary actor here, not the one being baptized. So you can rest assured that God did it right the first time.
If you are willing, I’d love to receive a picture of you being baptized, or being accepted into the fellowship of the local congregation you join. Please email them to me at email@example.com.
More to come next blog. To God be the glory!