“And Peter said to them, “Repent and 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.” – Acts 2:38.
Being a Christian is a lot more than just attending church. Peter calls the first converts to Christianity to follow in the footsteps of Jesus in Baptism and repent of their rebellion against God. Many people around the world are attending church, praying before their meals and celebrating Christian holidays but they are living in an unrepentant state. Repentance is not only confession (Romans 10:9-10) but it is also a new set of priorities and behaviors that change overtime as we submit to the Spirit. Ephesians 4:22 calls us to “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt.” This transformation is the evidence of our true conversion.
Are people getting saved in our church? That needs to be the heart beat and question of members of every church, not just 1st Grace. The book of Acts narrates story after story of the Gospel being preached and proclaimed and people responding as a result of their efforts. Our churches today need to be facilitating a continuation of teaching and training but also conversion of new souls saved for Christ. Yes, there are seasons of spiritual drought but we should be seeing salvation in people of all ages as a result of our evangelism and witness in the community. If the power of Christ is working in a congregation, conversion is a crucial aspect of ministry that every church should be experiencing to a degree.
“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” – Matthew 28:19
Baptism then is a step of obedience in the life of a new believer who is wanting to follow the example of Christ. Not only do people need to repent but they also need to be baptized!!! I recently had a new believer come and tell me when we were talking about being baptized, “I’m not ready to be baptized yet and I can’t get my family to come so I am just going to wait.” I took some time to process the thought flow in that statement and I think there are a number of common misconceptions regarding baptism in the church. Here are a few fallacies about baptism that I see as present in Christian communities in America.
- Baptism is something I take my time to decide to do
My question to the confessing adult believer who says this, is “are you saved?” If the answer is yes, I believe the Bible is clear you should move for an immediate baptism. If you have truly decided to follow Christ and commit to a local body of believers, the act of obedience in baptism and commitment to a local church in church membership should follow almost simultaneously. When Philip converted the Eunuch, he baptized him immediately. When Paul believed and converted, Ananias baptized him immediately. “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” – Acts 22:16
2. Baptism is a family event
This is true on a church family level but not necessary on a blood family level. Did Matthew, Mark, Luke or John document Mary and Jesus’ brothers and sisters present at his baptism? What about when the 3,000 gave their life to Christ at Pentecost, did Peter say “quick call your families and lets baptize you when it’s convenient for everyone’s schedules.”……Nope. Can your family be there? Absolutely. Mine was. However, is it necessary? No and your personal obedience to Christ should not rest on others decisions and schedules. This is a personal issue of obedience.
The fact that a parent is making the decision for the child in and of itself defeats the purpose of the act of obedience in the individuals life. Every biblical narrative shows adults being baptized! Infant baptism only became normative in the early 4th century. If they are old enough to understand what it means to follow Christ, they confess him and become a member of the church, I would say they should be baptized. Otherwise, you should wait until the child professes Christ as their savior and understands what that means.
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” – Romans 6:3-4
Here is a good discussion between a Presbyterian Pastor and a Baptist Pastor that can give you some different perspective on the positions taken by various church traditions on baptism.