This Sunday at Praise & Worship we are celebrating the gift of Baptism! For many, this topic is a confusing one because various faith traditions have different views on what baptism is, what happens when we are baptized and why we should do it!
Rather than arguing about what is the right view on Baptism, we seek to present the primary difference between various beliefs so that you, the reader, can see why we confess the beliefs we hold and why others might have different views.
Baptism comes down one question: is it God's promise to me or is it my promise to God?
Answering this question unlocks the reasons why there are disagreements about certain practices found within different faith traditions. If a tradition holds that it is my promise to God, then it would be silly to baptize infants! For what infant can make promises? And if I'm making a promise to God, then there are such things as "water" baptism and then separate things as "spirit" baptism. Lastly, if I'm making a promise to God, doesn't that necessitate full immersion in the water?
If you grew up in a tradition like this, then you have been taught that only believers should be baptized. Large tanks of water (or trips to the river!) were used for baptism. So it could seem very strange to visit a church where a baby is being dipped in a bowl! It might even make you wonder: do these people read the Bible?
But if baptism is God's promise to me, something He does to me, then that changes everything about baptism. This view places the entire event of Baptism as when God is the mover and the individual is the recipient of His gift!
For example: If it is God's action rather than that of the individual, then the notion of an infant being baptized is conceivable. The idea of how much water is needed evaporates and the gift of the Holy Spirit would be given right then and right there!
If you grew up in this type of tradition, you might not even remember your baptism as a moment you can recall. And you might have seen baptisms done with only sprinklings of water or with lots of water down at the lake!
At Praise & Worship, there are three key Scriptures that impact our answering of this question:
1. Matthew 28:18-20 – Make disciples by baptizing and teaching.
Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
2. Acts 2:37-39 – The Gift and The Promise.
When the people heard [the story of Jesus], they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
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.”
3. Romans 6:3-5 – In baptism, we are united with Christ.
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
When we read these, we are convinced that Baptism is something God is doing to make disciples. "This promise is for you and your children..." from Acts is an explicit statement and the unity we receive in Christ's death and resurrection become a cherished promise we know we have because of what He did rather than a promise we try to fulfill.
But we know not everyone grew up with this thinking and we want to be sensitive to that! We want to honor all of God's people and walk together with you. We seek for this to be a source of unity, not frustration or conflict. So if you have questions or would like to discuss further, (or you would like to be baptized!!) contact us and let's sit down and discuss this in the love and joy of Jesus! He is the one who came to seek and save the lost! Praise be to His name!!