It’s not possible to answer all of the major questions about baptism in one message or in one blog post, but I wanted to use this post to tackle some of the more common questions that people ask me. Here are five of the top baptism questions that I hear.
1. Why does Connect practice baptism by immersion? What about the other forms of baptism?
Believe me, as a portable church, it would be much simpler if we performed baptisms by a method other than immersion! It would be so much easier to bring in a little cup of water rather than hauling a whole baptistry to our location!
But here’s why immersion is our exclusive practice: baptism by immersion is the ONLY form of water baptism found in the New Testament. The modes of sprinkling, pouring, etc. didn’t come along until much later.
The Greek word for baptism in the New Testament is baptidzo, which literally means “to dip, to plunge, to immerse.” And that is the word used to describe every single baptism we see in the New Testament, without exception. Every baptism in the New Testament church was done by immersion. The early church wouldn’t even recognize a baptism performed in any other way.
Now, to be clear, that doesn’t mean that we’re passing judgment on believers who have been baptized in some other fashion. Not at all. That’s not our job. The only thing we’re doing is following the Bible as closely as we can.
We’ve baptized a lot of people at Connect who had previously experienced other modes of baptism. We weren’t judging them at all. They simply wanted to be baptized by immersion since that is what they saw in Scripture. And if someone wants to take a next step to come into closer alignment with God’s Word, we will always say, “Yes!”
Baptism by immersion is our exclusive practice at Connect, not so we can judge others, but simply because it’s what we see in Scripture.
2. Do I have to get some stuff straightened out in my life before I am baptized?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this question. In fact, I just received an email with this question again this morning.
I understand why some people will tell a person that they have to fix some stuff in their life before they are baptized. It’s because they take sin seriously, and they think this person should, too. But while their intentions are probably good, they are simply wrong.
The requirement for baptism is faith in Jesus, period. In Acts 8, we read about the conversion of a man named Simon. In Acts 8:12, Luke writes, “Simon himself believed and was baptized.”
Simon heard the message of Jesus, believed it, and was baptized. He didn’t have to fix a bunch of stuff first. He didn’t have to straighten out a bunch of things in his life first. He simply believed, and that belief led to his baptism. (If you want evidence that everything was NOT fixed in his life, read a little further in Acts 8. The guy was still obviously a work in progress!)
To suggest that we have to fix ourselves before we can come to Christ and be baptized is an affront to the gospel. I can’t think of anything more offensive to Jesus than that. If we could actually fix ourselves, we wouldn’t need a Savior. It would mean that Jesus died for nothing!
But the fact is, we can’t fix ourselves. It is not a prerequisite for baptism. To suggest that someone has to fix things in their life before they are baptized is like suggesting that someone has to get clean before they take a bath. It makes no sense. It is the exact opposite of the gospel. We come to Christ just as we are, and then He begins to work in our lives. As Robert Capon said, “If the gospel is about anything, it is about a God who meets us where we are, not where we ought to be.”
3. Should I be baptized again?
This is a really common question that usually comes from one of two places. Either a person thinks they were baptized too young and they really didn’t understand the commitment they were making, or someone has strayed very far from Jesus and they want to be baptized again as a fresh start.
It is impossible to argue for or against rebaptism from Scripture, simply because Scripture says nothing about it. So it really comes down to dealing with it on a case-by-case basis.
In most instances, when someone expresses a desire to be baptized again, I would advise that they go ahead and do it. Not because I don’t believe they are saved or anything like that, but simply because I want them to live with a clear conscience toward God, which is one of the purposes of baptism (see 1 Peter 3:21). If a person’s conscience demands that they be baptized again, they should absolutely do it.
That’s what I did. I was baptized at a very young age in the Baptist church my family attended. I had no idea what kind of decision/commitment I was making. So, as an adult (and as someone who was already in ministry!), I decided to be baptized again. And I’ve never regretted that decision.
4. Why doesn’t Connect practice infant baptism?
The practice of infant baptism (pedobaptism) is not found anywhere in the Bible. The command for baptism was always given to people who believed in Jesus. Infants and young children simply don’t yet have the cognitive and emotional reasoning necessary to express faith in Christ. (Some people argue that baptism replaced the practice of circumcision in the Old Testament, thus it should be practiced with infants. But there is not a single Scripture that actually supports this claim.)
So, if faith is the prerequisite for baptism, at what age is a child ready to be baptized? I wrote a post a couple of years ago to address that question, and it’s one of the most-read posts on our blog. You can check out that post here.
5. Why is baptism such a big deal?
The Apostle Paul wrote, “We were therefore buried with him 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)
The beauty of baptism is our union with Christ. In baptism, we are united with Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus died FOR our sin, and in baptism, we die TO our sin. We are buried in water as Jesus was buried in a tomb. But that tomb was only borrowed, because Jesus rose to life again. And in baptism, we rise with Him to a brand new life! I’d say that’s a big deal!
To be clear, there is nothing magical about the water in baptism. With apologies to Carrie Underwood, there really is NOTHING in the water. Our baptistry is filled with good ol’ Clermont County tap water. But God uses that water to do something amazing. Baptism itself doesn’t save us. Only Jesus saves. Salvation is found in the death and resurrection of Jesus, period. But baptism is part of our response to what Jesus did for us. In baptism, we are united with Jesus in His death and resurrection.
Plus, Jesus Himself commanded us to be baptized. He said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16) If Jesus said baptism is a big deal, then it’s a big deal!
If this is your next step, don’t put it off any longer! Sign up today!
Mike Edmisten is Senior Pastor at Connect Christian Church, a portable church that meets on the eastside of Cincinnati at Withamsville-Tobasco Elementary near Ohio 125 and I-275. Join us at 10:30 a.m. this Sunday.