Baptism: Answering the Why and the When

Depending on your background, you could have one of many different views about baptism. The word ‘Baptism’ can bring up many thoughts, emotions and opinions in our culture. Maybe your parents baptized you during your infancy to ensure you would go to heaven in case the worst should happen. Some of you were baptized during your preteen or early teen years as a rite of passage enabling you to become part of the church. Still, there is one more group of people that you might belong to...the group that has never experienced baptism of any sort. Have you ever wondered if you’ve missed out on anything? 
If you’ve ever had questions about baptism, then this information is for you! 

At Brookside Church, we believe that baptism should follow a person’s decision to come into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Therefore, a person has to be old enough to hear, understand and respond to the gospel message.
It is important to realize that baptism is not a substitute for, or equivalent to, the act of salvation. Salvation is an act of God’s grace. We obtain salvation through faith by believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that he was
crucified as payment for our sinfulness. God raised Christ from the dead on the third day. It is by God’s grace that we receive salvation and there is nothing we can do to earn it for ourselves.

Depending on your background, you might have some difficulty with the idea that baptism comes after a person’s declaration of faith rather than baptism during infancy. Rather than be offended or possibly overcome with an emotional reaction, take some time to go through the questions below. In the information that follows, you will be reading what the Bible has to say about baptism and the New Testament pattern of “belief-then- baptism” that becomes very clear in scripture.


QUESTION #1 WHO SHOULD GET BAPTIZED?


And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)

Peter replied, “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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.  (Acts 2:38-41 NIV)

Everyone has sinned. No one measures up to God’s glory. The free gift of God’s grace makes all of us right with him. Christ Jesus paid the price to set us free.  God gave him as a sacrifice to pay for sins. So he forgives the sins of those who have faith in his blood.
(Romans 3:23-25 NIRV)

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. (Ephesians 2:4-9 NLT)

Only those you have repented of their sin and have placed their faith in Jesus Christ death and resurrection for the forgivingness of their sins should be baptized. Answer the following questions to see if this is true for you:

  1. Do you understand that everyone has sinned and we cannot earn our way into God’s good favor?  Yes or No - If no, what question(s) do you have? 
  2. Do you understand that you can only be saved from sin and brought back to God by His favor (grace) as a result of Christ death and resurrection —something we don’t deserve?  Yes or No - If not, what question(s) do you have? 
  3. Do you accept that you have sinned in God’s eyes and Jesus Christ was crucified as payment for your sins and through His sacrifice you have been made right with God?  Yes or No - If not, what question(s) do you have?  


QUESTION #2 WHEN & WHY SHOULD YOU GET BAPTIZED?


And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)

In this passage of scripture, Jesus is speaking to disciples—both then and now—giving final instructions about what should happen between the time He ascends into heaven and returns again. What were Jesus’ instructions? 
Hopefully, you answered that Jesus commanded Christians to go make disciples, and then, Christians are instructed to baptize those disciples. Read the three verses below. What is the pattern that emerges when it comes to relationship between being saved and baptized? 
Baptism isn’t just a polite suggestion—Jesus commands it in Matthew 28:19-20. Therefore, if you say that you are a follower of Christ, then you should be baptized. Furthermore, the verses that you read seem to point to the pattern that there was only a small gap in time between coming to faith in Christ and the act of baptism. Therefore, once a person makes the decision to come to faith in Jesus Christ, the first thing a new Christian should do is be baptized! 

There are a lot of people who are planning to get baptized, but are delaying it for one reason or another. If Christ commands us to do something, are there any legitimate reasons for failing to immediately act on his commands? Therefore, the two words that answer the question, “When and why should you get baptized?” are immediately and obediently. One should get baptized as soon as possible after becoming a Christ follower and do it out of obedience to Christ. 

If you say you are a Christ-follower and have yet to be baptized, are you ready to obeying with Christ’s command to be baptized at the next opportunity?  Yes or No – If no, what reasons do you have for putting off baptism? 


QUESTION #3 WHAT IS BAPTISM?

  1. Baptism is a public declaration of your new life in Christ. It is declaring to the world that you associate with the message and God man, Jesus Christ.  (Galatians 3:26-27)
  2. Baptism is a personal declaration of your new life in Christ. No one else has made this decision for you to follow Jesus. You are personally associating with Jesus death and resurrection. (Romans 6:3-7)
  3. Baptism is an outward sign of an inward spiritual reality. Just as a wedding ring is an outward symbol of one being married. Similarly, water baptism is a symbol designed by God to identify a person as a disciple of Jesus Christ. 
  4. Baptism is not conditional a for salvation, but evidence of salvation. You do not need to be baptized to be saved from your sins, yet obedience to being baptized is evidence of your salvation in Christ alone.

A few frequently asked questions:


“What if I’m still not ready?” 
Sometimes, people are unwilling or reluctant to get baptized because there might be unfinished business in their hearts. It is important for you to evaluate whether or not any issues are hindering your desire to obey Christ’s command to be baptized. 
Is there anything on your heart or mind you want to address that might be getting in the way of your desire to be baptized? 

“What if I was baptized as an infant?” 
In the New Testament, faith always preceded baptism. Since a baby has no ability to make a decision to place his/her faith in Christ, infant baptism is not a Biblical mandate. The Bible teaches that children who are unable to comprehend the Gospel would go to heaven because of God's love and grace, not on the basis of a religious ritual like baptism. 
Since the purpose of baptism is to publicly profess your personal commitment to Christ, it is best if a child is mature enough to place his/her faith in Christ and understand the true meaning of baptism. 
For parents with infants and young children, Brookside Church provides a time when parents may dedicate their children to God. This dedication is a covenant by the parents to raise their child in the ways of the Lord until the child is old enough to make his or her own personal commitment. 

“If I was baptized as an infant, do I need to be baptized a second time?” 
It is recommended that you be baptized again if you have never been baptized by immersion since you became a follower of Jesus Christ. If you were baptized as an infant, believer's baptism doesn't devalue your prior experience, but simply reflects your desire to be obedient to God's Word and Christ's example.