Being in my position, I’m often asked about baptism. What is baptism all about and what does it mean? Who should be baptized? At what age should my children be baptized? And, I was baptized as a child/infant, should I be re-baptized? For the purpose of this article, I want to attempt to answer the last question.
In order to help someone come to terms with being “re-baptized”, I encourage three questions. I will then follow up these questions with some biblical references for your own reading.
- Did the church I was baptized in teach and preach a message of “salvation by grace through faith” exclusively? Their ministry of baptism must be with the understanding that baptism (or any external works for that matter) cannot and does not save an individual.
- Ephesians 2:8-9- For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
- Romans 10:9-10- because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
- Titus 3:5- he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
This issue is fundamental. The Apostle Paul would call out and challenge those that would teach anything different. (That’s basically what the Book of Galatians is).
- Did the mode of baptism my church used match that which was practiced and encouraged in Scripture? (Baptism by immersion)
- Matthew 3:13-17- Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.
- Acts 8:34-39- And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.
- Romans 6:3-4- Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 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.
- Colossians 2:12- having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
Each of these Scriptures shed light on the mode of baptism. We see Jesus and John in the Jordan River, coming up out of the water. We see Philip and the eunuch going down into the water. And we hear the Apostle Paul as he unpacks the significance of the baptism event, a significance only demonstrated in baptism by immersion.
The beauty of baptism is in the image it portrays. It symbolizes Christ who was dead, buried and raised to new life. Our baptism symbolizes our being dead to sin, being buried, and being raised to live a new life. The imagery is spectacular!
- In my faith journey, did my baptism precede or follow what I consider to be my conversion experience? Biblically speaking, baptism always follows salvation. So if a person feels that their decision to trust Christ happened at age 25 and they were “baptized” at age 6, something’s out of kilter. Baptism should always follow conversion and not the other way around.
- Acts 2:41- So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
- Matthew 28:18-19- And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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,
- Acts 8:12-13- But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.
At the end of the day, only you can answer that question. It is important, however, to not get the “cart in front of the horse.” It seems that God ordained a specific order to be followed.
As you consider this subject of baptism, know that you are not alone. I have counseled and dealt with a number of adults that wrestled with this issue and had to come to grips with their own decisions or those of their parents when they were children. I recognize that it is a hard decision to make.
For one thing, we have to deal with tradition and then explain to parents and family/friends why the choice was made. Then, our pride comes into play as we come to terms with what we feel that we should do.
Baptism is a blessing to experience. It is commanded by our Lord and practiced by our Lord. It is the 1st step of obedience in one’s Christian life and should be valued as such.