Sunday, January 12, 2020

Must We Baptize?

Shortly after I came into this world nearly 56 years ago (tomorrow is my birthday), I was sprinkled as a baby at the Lutheran church my parents attended. It’s one thing to dedicate your children to the Lord. However, there are no examples of infant baptism in the Bible. Even Jesus was an adult when He was dunked in the Jordan River by John the Baptist.

Some Christians insist water baptism is necessary to be saved. One Scripture often quoted by them is 1 Peter 3:21, “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Many other verses such as Ephesians 2:8-9 make it clear salvation is not based on our works. The getting-wet part doesn’t save us but appealing to God for a good conscience. The thief on the cross couldn’t get water baptized when he cried out to Jesus but still received eternal life (Luke 23:40-43). 

Then there are Christians who argue if you lead someone to salvation, then you are responsible for baptizing them. The Book of Acts has examples of people being baptized immediately after getting saved. In spite of that, John 4:2 says, “…Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples.” 

Look at what the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1…

14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name.
15 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. 
16 Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.

Notice Paul said, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel…” As a street evangelist, my focus is sharing the Good News and leading people to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. When there’s time, I encourage newborn believers to get connected with a Bible-based church. Once they have done that, their pastor can provide them the opportunity to get baptized.

After getting born again at 27, I was confident of spending eternity in heaven despite not receiving a full emersion baptism until a few months later. The church I attended at that time only conducted baptisms during their annual summer picnic. In the meantime, I experienced much growth as a believer.

Getting baptized is an important part of the Christian life. The Lord has commanded us to do that as well as take communion. However, we do those things because we are saved, not to become saved.

“not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” 
- Titus 3:5

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