Sunday, December 9, 2007

(Guest Writer – Todd Inserra, FL) As an infant I can remember the cool water tickling my cheeks as I was baptized into the Christian family and professed faith. Actually…wait…I can’t remember it. Even though I was "baptized" as an infant, I clearly couldn’t profess my faith, let alone remember doing so! If an infant profession of faith isn’t an misnomer, then I’m not sure what is. Then again, I wasn’t actually “dunked” into water at that age either. If I had been dunked, I am not sure I would even be sitting to writing this.

I was raised a Methodist so, of course, I was sprinkled with water as an infant—what Methodists call “baptism.” As I grew up and became more involved in God’s Word, I realized that nowhere in Scripture does God command the baptizing of infants. (Please forgive me, John Wesley.) In fact, God commands only the baptizing of those who profess faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Obviously we can’t hit on all of what Scripture has to say about baptism, but a quick reading of Acts 8 and one will realize the references to Philip getting baptized (as well as many others) and that he “went down into the water” and when he was finished, he “came up out of the water.” In fact, the word for baptism itself is one of the most revealing things about this discussion.

But in addition to the Greek, one must note the symbolism of baptism. I remember being biblically baptized in a freezing cold, alligator-infested lake. I was standing there waiting to be dunked, hoping that I would get baptized before I either starting showing symptoms of hypothermia or became lunch meat for an alligator. By the grace of God I made it! Being immersed into the water and brought back up symbolizing Jesus’ death and resurrection, rising into a new life through Him, was such a wonderful experience. Buried and raised with Christ! I could barely remember that I was freezing. My lips were blue, my skin was cold, and my teeth were chattering, but all I could think of was being baptized into the name of our Triune God. What an experience!

Let me make one thing clear—baptism is not essential for salvation. To believe that it is contradicts Paul’s teaching of salvation by grace through faith in Ephesians 2:8 and elsewhere. Yet, we must also realize that baptism is required by God and commanded by his Son, Jesus (see Matthew 28:19). Baptism is not essential, but it is required.

I was only recently truly, Biblically baptized. I always figured it could wait and really wasn’t that important. I could not have been more wrong! What was done improperly and without memory during my infancy was repeated correctly as an adult and I will never forget it as long as I live.

Do you think adult baptism is important, necessary, essential or superfluous?

What was your baptism experience like?


j.w. parsons said...

this is a great piece on baptism. being sprinkled myself as a youngster the only recolection i have is pictures. this was real good. keep it up todd. baptism is an outward reflection of an inward commitment.

Anonymous said...

Good thinking. I used to think it didn't matter. I guess sometimes you have to experience the difference.

Todd: Is the church you go to now a "Baptist" church or what? Regarding miraculous gifts, do you think that since they are outward reflections of an inward dwelling that it is fair to refer to them as spirit "baptism?"


Todd said...

Thanks James, I appreciate it.

Brayden, the church that I go to right now is funded by the Southern Baptist Convention, so yes we are baptist, but it is not in our name. In regards to "spirit baptism," I think that in the New Testament conversion and water baptism are so linked together that we can call it spirit baptism in the sense that the writers probably did not see much of a seperation as it was probably close to impossible for the NT writers and apostles to find any Christians who had not been baptized. Of course, it is not the same in the sense of conversion. But Biblically speaking, it was very much interrelated. We all receive the Spirit the moment we put true saving faith in Christ (Gal 3:26 w/ 4:6; Rom 8:9-12), and we all are baptized into the body of Christ by the Spirit (1 Cor 12:13).

Amy G. said...

I once heard a decent comparison of Baptism and a wedding ring.

One wears a wedding band to communicate to the world that he is married, but not wearing a wedding band does not mean that the bond is broken. Likewise, we have the privilege of participating in the symbolic ceremony of baptism to show others our unabashed dedication to the Lord, but not doing so does not sever/invalidate our relationships with Christ.

I think this comparison is a bit lacking, though. Baptism is more than just a symbol of our faith; it is an act of obedience. Failing to do so is disobeying Christ's command. While we don't have to become baptized in order to be "born again," it is obviously important because Christ himself was baptized in order to "fulfill all righteousness" (Matt 3:15).

So, while I certainly believe that one can have a relationship from God apart from having been baptized, it is a crucial step for spiritual growth.