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Baptism Questions Answered
By Malcolm B Heap, Midnight Ministries
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Answers to commonly asked questions about water baptism
Q. Why should I be baptised?
A. Because it is a biblical command. Peter declared:
Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call (Acts 2:38,29 NIV).
Notice, however, that repentance must precede baptism, otherwise baptism is an empty ritual. But if you have come to see that you have lived contrary to God’s ways, and you acknowledge your sins and are turning away from sin, you should be baptised as an outward sign of your acceptance of Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and of your change. Baptism symbolises the death of your old selfish way of life, and your commitment to live according to God’s way from now on. God gives His Spirit to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32).
Further Reading: Why Be Baptised? Why Repent? Why Jesus? Click Here to Order
Q. When should I be baptised?
A. When you come to that point of recognition of your own sinfulness, and you want to change – sin no more (Jn 8:11).
Q. Who should baptise me?
A. Contrary to popular opinion, anyone can baptise you. Of course, you would normally want to be baptised by someone whom you consider spiritually more mature than you, maybe the one who led you to Christ. But if that’s not possible you can ask anyone to baptise you. God honours your decision and your heart-felt motive of repentance.
Q. Which church should I join after I am baptised?
A. You are not baptised into a church – meaning an organisation of men. You are baptised into Jesus’ body, into His Church, which is a spiritual ‘organism’. All those who have His Spirit living in them are part of this number (Rom 8:9-14).
So, you don’t have to join ‘a church’. You ARE the Church, along with all the others who are following Jesus in Spirit.
Further Reading: God’s Church – Whose Authority? Click Here to Order
Q. What name should I be baptised into?
A. There are various opinions on this. But Jesus said:
Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in [into] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (Matt 28:19,20, NIV).
Notice that the emphasis in all this is not on the ceremony but on obedience, which is something that begins in your heart. True worship is a spiritual thing, not merely physical (Jn 4:23,24). So, it is unimportant what words are used as you are baptised. It matters far more what you mean. Jesus was not promoting a spoken ‘formula’, but telling us that you are baptised into God, to receive His Spirit, made possible by His Son, Jesus. As you are baptised, realise that God is all of those things to you. He is your Father. He is the Son who walked this earth to make your salvation possible, and He is the Spirit who comes to live in you from now on. Make a home for Him within you, and live in obedience to Him, and He will be with you for ever, as long as you want Him.
Some people claim that you must be baptised in the name of Jesus because of what it says in Acts 2:38. What they fail to perceive in their legalistic ritualism, is that Peter was not advocating adopting a specific ritual of speaking Jesus’ name when you are baptised, as opposed to speaking the words "Father, Son and Holy Spirit". You don’t have to use any of that ritual. There is no prescribed ‘formula’ or ritual. The Catholic church has made a ritual out of those words, which Jesus never intended at all, when He said them. It is up to you or the person baptising you, what to pray.
What is important is to know that Jesus has saved you, that God is your Father and He loves you, and that He will live in you by His Holy Spirit. Any words you say when you are baptised can and should reflect that. But it is not a set ritual.
Q. Can a person be too young to be baptised?
A. Yes. Children may ask to be baptised because they have seen adults or their older siblings being baptised, and they want to follow suit. Baptism is not for children, but for adults. A decision is being made, one that affects your eternity. It is a decision that only mature adults can properly make. You are making a vow before God to obey Him for the rest of your life, even if it takes you to death as it did for Jesus.
However, I have seen 16-year-olds make such commitment, so there is no stipulated lower age limit.
Q. What about babies being baptised? Is that right?
A. Repentance must always precede baptism (Acts 2:38) for it to be valid. It’s pointless baptising babies. It doesn’t make them any different than they are. Jesus did not institute that custom. It’s a tradition instituted by a corrupt church when it veered away from the truth, and was used as a means to exert control over people, which is entirely wrong.
Q. What about sprinkling as a form of baptism?
A. Again, this is unscriptural. The proper form of baptism is complete immersion (Mark 1:10), because it depicts death and rising up out of a watery grave into newness of life.
Q. Can you be baptised for someone else?
A. No. Baptism symbolises a decision YOU have made before God about your life and what you will do from now on. You cannot be baptised for someone else, hoping that God will accept them and save them. They are responsible for their own decisions in life. They are accountable to God.
1 Corinthians 15:29 contains an obscure statement about being baptised for the dead. That was very probably a pagan custom to which Paul was referring. He was not arguing in favour of it. He merely referred to it to counter a false teaching at that time that claimed there is no further life beyond the grave. By using that in his reasoning, he was showing how ridiculous such a proposition is, that even the pagans don’t believe such rubbish. There most definitely IS life beyond the grave! Baptism partially depicts that, too.
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