Should I Get Baptized?
First comes belief, then baptism.
Believing what? “We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved” ().
Saved from what? Jesus came to this earth specifically to “save his people from their sins” ().
But what actually is sin? The Bible definition says, that “sin is the transgression of the law” ()—that law of Ten Commandments which explains morality ( ). Whenever we break that law, we are sinning. Everyone has sinned in some way or another, so everyone has things for which to repent. ( .) The Bible tells us about the filthiness and degradation of sin—not to leave us stuck in it, but to pull us out of it!
Conversion—or turning away from the natural, human tendency to sin—comes before baptism. In other words, baptism is for repentant, converted believers. On the day of Pentecost, when people asked: “Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized” ().
So, it all starts with repentance. But what does repentance really mean? “Repentance includes sorrow for sin and a turning away from it. We shall not renounce sin unless we see its sinfulness; until we turn away from it in heart, there will be no real change in the life” ().
How does this happen?
“As the sinner is convicted of sin, he is also attracted by the love and holiness of Christ; for Jesus is drawing him unto Himself. . . . Repentance is born in the heart by beholding the love of Christ, who gave His life to save the sinner. It is the love of God that softens the hardest hearts.”—.
So, according to these clear principles, there is no place for baptizing little children who are too young to understand what this all means. Neither is baptism for any unconverted persons who might be able to grasp the theory, but in daily life they refuse to submit to Jesus. Baptism is only for those who admit their specific sins, repent of them, and believe in Jesus to forgive, cleanse, and provide power to overcome. Only such people should be baptized.
In His conversation with Nicodemus, Christ was very clear: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. . . . Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (). Here He mentions:
1. Birth of the flesh (when you were born as a baby).
2. Birth of the Spirit (when you first decided to follow Jesus by an intelligent, conscious choice).
3. Birth of the water (baptism).
“As many as received [Jesus], to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (). Those who receive Jesus develop new aims—being drawn by His tremendous love, they now want to serve God instead of themselves. They desire to please Him above all else and they decide to trust Him with their future.
Many churches claiming to follow Christ do not accurately teach what the Bible says about baptism. For example, Catholicism teaches that when a child comes into this world, the baby is a pagan; however, when he (or she) is baptized as an infant, by the very act of baptism, somehow that child automatically becomes a Christian. They believe that the baptism itself had sudden power to transform a pagan into a Christian. This false teaching has affected millions of people around the globe.
In reality, however, baptism in itself has no power to change anyone. We change when we accept Christ as our Saviour and Lord, and we submit ourselves to the control of the Holy Spirit who transforms repentant sinners. Then we are born again, born of the Spirit. Now we are ready to be baptized—and not the other way around!
“Baptism does not make children Christians; neither does it convert them; it is but an outward sign, showing that they are sensible that they should be children of God by acknowledging that they believe in Jesus Christ as their Saviour and will henceforth live for Christ.”—. [Emphasis added.]
So, this outward sign symbolizes the inner experience of those who have consciously chosen to believe in Jesus Christ as their Saviour, repented of their sins, and fully intend to continue living for His glory.
“Christ has made baptism the sign of entrance to His spiritual kingdom. He has made this a positive condition with which all must comply who wish to be acknowledged as under the authority of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Before man can find a home in the church, before passing the threshold of God’s spiritual kingdom, he is to receive the impress of the divine name, ‘The Lord Our Righteousness’ ().”—Counsels to the Church, p. 295. [Emphasis added.] This means one already has an attitude that loves the Lord and is happily obeying Him.
To parents, the encouragement is given: “After faithful labor, if you are satisfied that your children understand the meaning of conversion and baptism, and are truly converted, let them be baptized” (Ibid., p. 297). [Emphasis supplied.] Conversion means turning away from wrong things and turning to the right way.
Ever since John the Baptist first began baptizing in the Jordan River, this rite has been for all kinds of people who willingly dedicate their lives to God: “Princes and rabbis, soldiers, publicans, and peasants came to hear the prophet [John, the Baptist]. For a time the solemn warning from God alarmed them. Many were brought to repentance, and received baptism” (). The invitation is for everyone who thus surrenders to the Lord.
So, the actual formula for conversion is:
REPENTANCE - To be softened, by Christ’s love, to turn away from sin.
FAITH - To believe in His power to forgive, purify, and strengthen.
“Repentance, faith, and baptism are the requisite steps in conversion.”—.
I want to be baptized—am I ready?
“The preparation for baptism is a matter that needs to be carefully considered. The new converts to the truth should be faithfully instructed in the plain ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ The Word of the Lord is to be read and explained to them point by point.
“All who enter upon the new life should understand, prior to their baptism, that the Lord requires the undivided affections. . . . The practicing of the truth is essential. The bearing of fruit testifies to the character of the tree. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. The line of demarcation will be plain and distinct between those who love God and keep His commandments and those who love Him not and disregard His precepts. There is need of a thorough conversion to the truth.”—Ibid., p. 308.
“The test of discipleship is not brought to bear as closely as it should be upon those who present themselves for baptism. It should be understood whether they are simply taking the name of Seventh-day Adventists, or whether they are taking their stand on the Lord’s side, to come out from the world and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing. Before baptism, there should be a thorough inquiry as to the experience of the candidates. . . .
“One of the points upon which those newly come to the faith will need instruction is the subject of dress. Let the new converts be faithfully dealt with. Are they vain in dress? Do they cherish pride of heart? The idolatry of dress is a moral disease. It must not be taken over into the new life. In most cases, submission to the gospel requirements will demand a decided change in the dress.”—Ibid., pp. 311, 312. This is just one example of visible fruit.
“We are buried with [Christ] by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (). “He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” ( ).
Are we really new creatures? If we are new creatures, we will live for Christ and not for ourselves. If not, let us go today to Christ, repent, receive from Him a new life, and be baptized (or rebaptized).
May the Lord give grace to be His children, born of the Spirit and of the water!