Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Adult Water Baptism

Prayer: Abba, thank you for all the good and great things that you are doing in the world. Yesterday myself and 20,000 of my worldly sisters (many with you currently) received the awful news that our college was closing. This is heartbreaking to so many of us. I pray that you grant me the wisdom to go down the path that you think is right. I feel the administration in the past several years has taken a route not glorified by you and in fact led by your greatest adversary. I ask you to lead me and open my eyes as to what my role should be in the battle to save this place that was my worldly home for so long. Please open my eyes to your wishes and your desires. For this morning, turn my eyes to the study of baptism. Please help me to see and reveal what you wish for me and others to know. In your heavenly and glorious name, Amen. 

It is still amazing to me how the Lord work. My daily devotionals landed me at the beginning of Matthews gospel today reading about John the Baptist. It sparked me to read what the other 3 gospels had to say and the research Baptism. It is so funny, because today my church is hosting a worship and baptism service for believing adults to participate in a full submersion voluntary water baptism. I have been wanting to go through a new baptism for a while and missed the last ones at church. I had been planning to go tonight and participate, so it is interesting that my studies landed me smack dab in the middle of a study of John the Baptist.

As a Catholic, I was baptized. I actually did not go through infant baptism as most Catholics do. My family wasn't actively going to church when I was born. I was finally baptized at  7 or maybe 8? I vaguely remember going through a class of sorts, but really my parents were the driving force. I also wanted to attend youth activities with my friends, so I wanted to be at the stage that they were. Typically Catholics practice infant baptism for the forgiveness of all future sin. They believe that you can not enter the kingdom of heaven without being baptized, so infants should be baptized at a very very young age to ensure salvation.
(There is so so much more to this and literally books and volumes have been written on this subject so I am severely dumbing it down here. I don't mean to minimize these beliefs; however, as I have dug deeper I am led to believe in a different form of baptism.)

As I have been going to a Bible teaching church I have begun digging deeper. Specifically when the church announced the upcoming water baptism I really wanted to understand why the church that I was attending believed in baptizing adult believers and actually refused to baptize infants. Instead, they practice Baby Dedications.

Baptism is discussed at the beginning of the gospels with John the Baptist. John the Baptist was a great believer in the up coming of Jesus Christ. As he baptized believers he continually emphasized the good news.
Matthew 3:11 - I indeed baptized you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Here John is specifically discussing the importance of baptism by water as well as with the Holy Spirit. An important thing to note in this passage is this: "I indeed baptized you with water unto repentance". Unto repentance. In infant can not experience or express repentance of sin. Are they sinners, yet because sin is passed from the parents and all people are sinners from birth; however, baptism needs to be for repentance, cleansing of the repentant sins.
Luke 3:3 - And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. 
Mark 1:4 - John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

So, we see that baptism is for people that are repentant of their sins. How can an infant repent their sins? Even if you get beyond that fact, the idea that baptism secures your spot in heaven is also not supported in the scripture. In the scripture of Act below, you will see that Peter is preaching and there are Jews who begin to believe and accept the Holy Spirit. After they have repented and accepted the Holy Spirit he commands them to be baptized, not before. You can not baptize someone who has not repented of their sins and are not voluntarily filled with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 10:44, 48 - While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word . . . And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. 
You can also see in the scripture of Luke below, that you ca be permitted in to heaven without being baptized. There are beliefs that you can not go to heaven without being baptized; however, you see here while Jesus is hanging on the cross. He is speaking with a thief that is also being crucified. The thief confesses with his mouth his belief and  Jesus assures him that he will be granted access to the kingdom of God. This man was never baptized, he died hours after he was saved, so how was he granted access to the Kingdom of God?
 Luke 23:40-43 - But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done noting wrong." Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom." And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
So I am saved. I have repented of my sins to the Lord. I have begun studying the Lord's Word. So I will enter the kingdom of heaven, right? Right! So, why get water baptized? If I don't believe that baptism is the key to heaven, if I don't believe that baptism will rid me of my sins (Jesus' blood did that), then why am I going to go be submerged in a pool of water at church tonight?

Water baptism is obedience to the Lord. The Lord still wants us to be baptized. Baptism is a way to outwardly respond to the Lord. Baptism is a reenactment of the baptism in the Holy Spirit the day that we were born-again, saved, and confessed our sins to the Lord. I think that this final passage I will share with you from Romans is a very interesting look also in to a full water submersion baptism verses the sprinkling of water.
Romans 6:4 - Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Wow. Looking at baptism in this way is really enlightening for me. I had never thought of it this way, but baptism is the recreation of Jesus' very real act of dying for our sins. We enter the water as sinners. The water represents death. We are completely submerged symbolizing our death as a sinner. We are thin brought out of the water in to a new life with Jesus Christ as the leader.

So if baptism is merely symbolic, is it required? Yes. The Lord commands the importance of baptism. While Jesus and the thief on the cross shows a great example of God's love and mercy, all able bodied believers should be, and should strive to be, baptized. Why? Because the Lord commands it. Is it a requirement to pray daily to reach the kingdom of heaven, No. Should you do it? Yes, because the Lord commands it and it help your to grow closer to the Father. 

1 comment:

  1. Love this post! We've been doing a study on baptism in Wednesday night services at my church, so this was very fitting. (: I was baptized a year or so ago, but had been saved for years before. Our church also does baby dedications but refuses to do baptisms for infants, and we also go through a couple days of prayer, and talk with our pastor about what we are doing. If he feels like we don't understand baptism or aren't truly ready (or saved at all.) baptism is put off.

    Whenever you get a chance, I would do some studying on baptism with fire. Very confusing, but interesting topic. The Bible mentions in several places that the Lord will baptize people with fire and the Holy Ghost, and it's something we just ended a study on. I started off confused as could be, but at the end I felt like I hadn't only gained more understanding for baptism, what it means/why we do it, but a better understanding on Christ Himself :)