What is baptism, and if I am a
Christian, should it apply to me? To find out
more, read on.....
Are you a
The fact that you
are are reading this means that you're interested
in baptism or thinking about being baptised.
Baptism is something for those who follow Jesus
so first you need to be sure are a Christian.
were to die today do you know for sure that you
would go to heaven?
Only God can make
you a Christian. Jesus has already done every
thing that is necessary for you to be saved. What
you have to do is respond to what He has done.
John 3.3 You must be born again. Put
another way, to become a Christian you have to
make a completely new start in your life. But
There are two
important steps in becoming a Christian:
repentance and faith. Without these two things,
no matter what your background is, you are not a
Christian according to the description that the
It means saying sorry to God for all the wrong
things (sin) we have done and failing to meet His
standards, and meaning it enough to do something
about it. It is not just remorse (being sorry
after you've been found out and knowing the
trouble you're in). It means saying to God "I'm
really sorry that I have lived my life my own
way, I want to live it your way". The word
repentance literally means "turning round"
turning from your old life to the new life found
in God. Becoming a Christian is about setting off
in a new direction. The first step in repentance/turning
is a change of mind in our thinking.
Who we think Jesus
Only when we have
a change or turn around in our thinking about
Jesus can we truly set off in this new direction.
This means putting our trust in Jesus to deal
with the wrong thincis in our lives. It means
inviting Him to fill your life and change us.
Faith needs to be genuine and personal. We need
to be able to say "I have come to know
Jesus because I
have asked Him into my life and to forgive me of
my sins". This is very important, for when
we do this God make us His children. You need to
know that He does not have grandchildren. Your
parents may be Christians but that does not make
you one. You may come to church each week but
that does not make you a Christian. Even being
baptised does not make you a Christian. Only a
personal friendship and relationship with Jesus
makes us Christians. You can't rely on the faith
of your parents, friend or the church it must be
But faith in what?
Trusting in Jesus and that what He did on the
cross 2000 years ago was enough to save you. It
means you are no longer thinking that you are
good enough by your good works to get to heaven.
Becoming a Christian
We can experience
the new life which Jesus gives by
that we need help (Romans 3.23)
- changing our
minds about who Jesus is (John 20.31)
- turning our
backs on everything we know is wrong (Acts
Jesus to put things right (1Peter 2.24)
Jesus to be in charge of our lives (John
you done this?
Has your answer to
the first question changed at all?
If this is still
unclear to you then read through the booklet
"Just Grace" and speak with your Minister or another Christian
friend that you trust.
When you made this
commitment to Jesus did you feel any different?
Some people have very emotional times others
don't. We should never expect our own conversion
story to be the same as someone else's. They may
have similarities but we are all different and
God treats us all individually. You are special
to God. Being a Christian is more about what we
know to be true about ourselves and the gospel of
Jesus and less about what we sometimes feel. This
is an important lesson to learn for we will all
go through times of difficulty, doubt or
suffering as well as time of joy and peace.
What have we
getting baptised, make sure that you are
- Being born
again involves repentance and faith based
on what Jesus has done.
- Becoming a
Christian is not primarily about feelings.
If you have genuinely given your life to
Jesus, you are a Christian, even if you
don't feel saved.
What is Believers'
What do we mean
by Believer's baptism? We are not necessarily
talking about adult baptism, but about the
baptism of those who are committed to following
Jesus and who want to be obedient by being
baptised. (if you are under eighteen, most
churches will want to get your parents agreement
before baptizing you.)
Baptism is for
those who have made a conscious decision to
accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour. We all have
different abilities in understanding theological
doctrine, so there is little stress on the
intellectual element of personal faith.
should baptism take?
We have seen that
the most important thing is that baptism is for
those who have made a clear decision to follow
Christ (Acts 18.8) A secondary issue is what form
it takes, that is, how it should be done
physically. There are three possible forms of
baptism in water:
- sprinkling (usually
on the forehead)
- effusion (pouring
water on the head and hands) and
Any of these forms
could legitimately be used for believer's baptism.
However the Bible clearly points to full
immersion as the normal form of baptism. There
are three reasons for taking this view.
immersion is the form which best
symbolizes the New Testaments teaching on
baptism. The visual imagery which it uses
implies immersion. The apostle Paul says We
were therefore buried with Him [Christ]
through baptism into death in order that,
just as Christ was raised from the dead
through the glory of the Father, we too
may live a new life. (Romans 6.4;
Colossians 2,12) Full immersion
symbolizes burial with Christ and rising
with Him far more vividly than any other
form. One of the ideas behind baptism is
washing or cleansing. John came baptising
in the desert region and preaching a
baptism of repentance for the forgiveness
of sins. (Mark 1.4) Baptism was linked
with cleansing and forgiveness, a washing
away of one's sins. It was to have a bath
with spiritual significance. This aspect
is also most appropriately seen in full
immersion best conforms to what we know
of New Testament practice. For example,
we have baptisms which John the Baptist
performed in the River Jordan (John 3.23).
At the Ethiopian eunach's baptism (Acts 8.38)
it says both Philip and the eunuch went
down into the water and Phill baptised
him. All the relevant NewTestament
passages suggest a large volume of water
- The Greek
word baptizo originally meant
"to plunge" or "to immerse
or drench". It was used with
reference to the dyeing of cloth, in
which the whole piece of cloth was
submerged in the dye.
What have we
baptism is for those who believe, for
people who are committed to following
- here are
several possible ways to be baptised with
water, but the Bible points to full
immersion as the normal form.
Why should we get
People often say
why they don't want to be baptised or why they
think they don't need to be baptised. They say
it's inconvenient; they're frightened of the
water; their parents weren't baptised; they don't
want to look foolish in front of the whole
church; they're nervous about speaking in public;
they think it's not necessary for someone who's
been a Christian for many years; and what would
it give them that they haven't already got?
However, none of
these reasons carry much weight when compared
with the reasons why we should be baptised.
First and most
important reason is that the New Testament
commands it. Go and make disciples ofall
nations, baptising them in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew
28.19). The apostle Peter says Repent and be
baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus
Christ so that your sins may be forgiven (Acts
2.38). If you believe that the Bible is God's Word,
you have no option but to take it seriously and
do what it says.
witness of the New Testament.
witness of the New Testament was that there was
no such thing as an unbaptised believer. Apart
from the thief who was crucified next to Jesus (who
for obvious reasons was not baptised) all
believers were. It was part and parcel of their
faith. The case of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8
is relevant here. He was reading Isaiah 53.7-8
and philip tells him what it means by sharing the
gospel of Jesus. The eunuch then says Look, here
is water. Why shouldn't I be baptired? The idea
of an un-baptised Christian would have been
unthinkable to the first-century church.
example of Jesus.
Jesus was the
perfect, sinless Son of God, so He more than
anybody else could say He didn't need to be -
baptised and yet He was (Matthew 3.13-17). If
even our Lord felt it necessary then it seems
presumptuous for us to assume that we don't need
it. Many today say things like "I don't need
to be baptised;
I've been a
Christian for a long time and baptism is just for
new Christians, why should I be baptised now?".
The point we need to see is with that kind of
thinking Jesus would certainly not have needed to
be baptised for He was sinless, yet He was
baptised. Surely we who are merely saved sinners
most certainly do need to be baptised.
So far the first
three reasons for being baptised have been
directly biblical. We will now look at two other
reasons which are more personal.
encounter with God.
Throughout the New
Testament baptism in water and baptism in the
Holy Spirit are linked. Jesus was baptised in the
Holy Spirit immediately after being baptised in
water by John. As soon as Jesus was baptised, He
went up out of the water. At that moment
heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God
descending like a dove and hyhting on Him. And a
voice from heaven said "This is my Son whom
I love; with Him I am well pleased"(Matthew
3.16-17). On the other hand the household of
Cornelius were baptised in the Spirit before
being baptised in water (Acts 10.44-48). There
are those who teach that the two baptisms are at
the same time others that they precede each other.
But the important thing is that
they are linked, an act of obedience such as
water baptism is linked with a spiritual
encounter with God. There are many people whose
lives have been transformed by baptism, whose
testimony is that they met God in the water.
When they are
considering getting baptised many will be
thinking "Yes, I do need more power in my
walk with God; I do need to be equipped to be the
person God wants me to be". In a sense this
is a selfish motive but at the same time it is a
biblical motive. It is a desire to know and
experience more of God.
For many years
those churches which practised believer's baptism
were guilty of being all form and no reality.
They didn't expect God to move in the baptismal
service, they played down the work of the Holy
Spirit. Thankfully, that sort of attitude is
increasingly a thing of the past. Today there is
widespread agreement that baptism is more than
simply a rite or symbol.
In many churches
the laying on of hands now accompanies baptism.
The leaders lay their hands on the person's head
and pray, "May God bless you and fill you
with His Holy Spirit as you are baptised",
or something like that. There is a definite
anticipation that God will work in the life of
the individual in his or her baptism.
If you are about
to be baptised, you need to be aware of what the
Bible says about the individual's encounter with
God in baptism, and you should have an
expectation that you will encounter the Holy
Spirit in your baptismal service. No one can
do the work of God until be has the Holy Spirit
and is endued with power. (G. Campbell Morgan)
This is not
selfish but more selfless. It is basically a
question of lordship and obedience. Who is in
charge of my life? If God is, then you will do
what He wants you to do. If you are going to
claim that Jesus will be my Lord, you cannot pick
and choose what He will be Lord of and what He
won't be Lord of. He is to be Lord of ALL of our
lives. Therefore since Jesus and the New
Testament command that I should be baptised, I
need to respond in obedience. The question of
obedience is of great importance today. We live
in a society which increasingly challenges
authority structure. We see it in schools and
families, we see it in the lawlessness of the
young and in older generations, in city dealers
and governments. Many people today behave as if
obeying the law is something which others have to
do, if they do obey it is only to avoid
punishment. Obedience is unfashionable, it goes
against the grain of modern culture which asserts
that our individuality matters more than anything
else. But Christians are meant to be different
from the rest of society. We are called to be
obedient and loyal to God. Baptism is a way of
getting our lives on the right footing - it is a
way of declaring that God is in charged and that
we are determined to follow him. The issue is not
whether the idea of baptism appeals to us, but
whether it is right You may have heard me preach
that we should not wait until we are inspired to
do what we know to be right. This can be applied
to Bible reading, prayer, witnessing, church
membership and participation, giving of our money
and others acts of service as well as baptism.