Have you ever considered that everyone in the world who is not baptized is not baptized for a reason? A few of the reasons someone might give are:
1. I do not believe there is a God. (This is a very good reason not to be baptized.)
2. I believe the Bible is true, but I know myself, and I could never live it.
3. There is someone I really dislike who is a Christadelphian, and I do not want to be one since they are.
4. I do not feel I know enough about the Bible to be baptized.
5. I know nothing about the Bible or Christianity.
In some cases, the reasons people give are excuses to cover up a secret reason that they may not be willing to personally acknowledge or discuss with others.
What this Resource Hopes to Accomplish
In this resource kit, we’d like to help you identify the real reason(s) why you are not baptized and help you remove any obstacles preventing you from responding to God’s invitation for you to be baptized.
1. Identify the reasons most often mentioned for why a person is not baptized.
2. Determine which of these reasons fits your situation.
3. Identify how you can remove the obstacles that are standing between you and baptism.
Once you have explored these steps, you can then decide how you will answer the question that Ananias directed to Saul of Tarsus when Saul was blinded on the road to Damascus: “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Acts 22:16 NKJV
1. Acts 10:1-6, 34-48 NKJV
There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!”
And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?”
So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.”
Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
“And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through
His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.
Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.
God did not give Moses the ten suggestions. They were commandments. God meant for Moses and the Israelites not to just know them, but also to obey them. This obligation applies to God’s command for us to be baptized. It is not a suggestion. In Acts 10, the angel of God commanded Cornelius to invite Peter to come and instruct his household about God’s requirements. Arguably, Cornelius was a good man before he was baptized. He feared God, gave away his money and prayed all the time. Something was still missing–baptism.
So it is with you, if you are not baptized. The command to Cornelius applies equally to you. Prayer and kindness to others are not enough. Peter commanded him to be baptized in the name of the Lord. This command also applies to you.
2. Mark 16:15-16 NKJV
And Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
Jesus teaches us about the importance of baptism both by his actions as well as his words. At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus demanded that John the Baptist baptize him, even though John at first resisted (see Matthew 3). Later the words of Mark 16 (above) were spoken by Jesus to his disciples before Jesus ascended into heaven. Notice that Jesus qualified who should be baptized: “He who believes.” Without believing in Jesus, baptism is just getting wet. We need to know and believe before we act. This need for understanding is why we do not baptize babies as many other churches do.
3. Romans 6 NKJV
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In this passage, Paul explains that in baptism we are symbolically buried, as Jesus was, and then rise from the water, as Jesus rose from the dead. The act of baptism is our identification with Christ Jesus in his death and his resurrection. When we are baptized, we are renouncing our former way of life of doing whatever we please and dedicating ourselves to serving God. As Paul explains it, we must no longer let sin reign in our mortal bodies because sin no longer has dominion over us. We are no longer slaves to sin, but are slaves to God. We are to live our lives in holiness with the hope of receiving eternal life, the gift of God to us through Christ Jesus.
Question 1: I don’t believe in God so why should I care about baptism?
If you do not believe in God, certainly you should not be baptized. It may be easy to say, “I don’t believe in God,” and many people do, believing that they are now off the hook and are free to do whatever they want. Is there any danger in saying, “There is no proof that there is a God; I just want to have fun.”? You may wish to consider carefully what the implications of not believing are.
Have you thought about how much faith it takes to believe that nothing plus nobody equals everything? It takes more faith to be an atheist than it does to believe in God because there is so much evidence to prove that all we see around us did not just happen by chance. For example, no one believes that if the wind happened to blow in the right direction, it could blow all the pieces of a chair together and a finished chair would suddenly appear. That would take more faith than it would to believe that someone made the pieces and assembled the chair. There is no such thing as a “self-made chair,” and the human body is so much more complicated than a simple chair. To think that the human body and the entire creation could just happen by chance takes a great leap of faith.
In addition, suppose there is a God and you choose to ignore Him? Down the road, you may realize you made a BIG mistake. For such an important decision you owe it to yourself to check it out carefully. Even people who live to have fun or believe that they are in control of their lives, realize that there are unhappy moments and unforeseen consequences to our present existence. You may bitterly regret throwing away the possibility of eternal life in a kingdom that is promised to be good –so good we will never again experience crying, pain or sorrow. (Since the Lord Jesus remembers his trials so that he might help us, I’d suspect the immortals in the kingdom will do the same.)
Question 2: I believe the Bible is true, but know I could never live a godly life, so why should I even be baptized and try?
To say that you could not live a life of perfect goodness is true. No one has ever perfectly lived the truth except the Lord Jesus. So if you think that you shouldn’t be baptized because you aren’t perfect, that’s just an excuse. Remember, God made you, and He did not make a mistake. You may make mistakes, but you are not a mistake. God calls imperfect people to salvation. The Lord knows we cannot live a perfect life, but He promises that if we will try, He will help us and also forgive us when we fail.
The least you can do is be thankful that He loved you enough to give His perfect son to overcome sin and death. You can also be encouraged by Christ’s example to overcome sin. Living the truth is certainly not easy, and no one ever does it perfectly. But God is willing to forgive you if only you will try. Yes, we will all fail along the way, but God will keep forgiving us if we seek Him.
Question 3. There is a Christadelphian who I (a) don’t like, (b) don’t respect, or (c) is a hypocrite. I don’t want to be like that person or be associated with something with which that person is associated, so why should I be baptized?
Do not judge the Christadelphian faith by those who are trying to live it. Since we are all imperfect, there certainly will be other Christadelphians and non-Christadelphians whose faults really annoy us. However, what would you have done if you had been there when the twelve apostles were with Jesus? Suppose you could see that one was a thief and was going to betray him, and another was going to curse and lie and deny that he even knew Jesus, and a third would refuse to believe that Jesus was alive again even though many others had seen him? Would you be justified in telling Jesus if that is the kind of people who associates with him, then you want no part in his glorious plan of salvation? Just because others are not living up to their high calling is no excuse for you. Remember, baptism is ultimately about your relationship with God, not your relationship with others.
Question 4. I think I should be baptized but I don’t know enough about the Bible.What should I do?
To say that you do not know enough about the Bible to be baptized could be a very valid (though hopefully temporary) reason not to be baptized. This is an easy obstacle to overcome. If you do not know enough now, you can learn what you need to know if you really want to. The Gospel message is really very simple, and Jesus even thanked His Heavenly Father saying, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” (Matthew 11:25 KJV) God is calling you. If you are hesitating to answer the call you need to ask yourself, why? If you really understand how wonderful the gift is that God wants to give you, you will do whatever it takes to say “yes” to the greatest offer ever made to mankind.
Question 5. If I’m honest with myself, I know I should be baptized, but I don’t want to because of __________ (fill in the blank). What should I do?
Are you willing to let your studies in school, your career, your non-believing friends or family, or some other concern prevent you from receiving eternal life and a place in the kingdom of God? You need to make sure that you are not making excuses for not obeying the simple request of our Lord to repent and be baptized to have your sins washed away.
Obeying the command to be baptized does not mean you stop living—you start living with hope and a higher purpose. You still need to care for your friends and family, study, and have a career, but they are now secondary to your higher calling. You will also want to share this wonderful hope with all your acquaintances so that they can receive it, as well. If you decide to wait until you are perfect, you will never be baptized because no one will ever be perfect until the Lord comes.
Think about the glorious reward being offered and understand that the Lord wants to help you do what is impossible for you to do without Him. Thank God for His love for you. Respond by saying “yes” to God, a God who wants to help you through every problem you will ever face in this mortal life, so that you can experience the eternal life He has promised. The offer is so great, how can anyone who understands it ever say “no”?
Listen to the answer that Jesus gave to Peter:
Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!”
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields–and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. (Mark 10:28-30 NIV)
This offer to bless you in this life with more than you could ever ask or imagine and then give you eternal life is so great that you should think, “This is for me. Help me, Lord.”
Notice Jesus did say “with persecutions.” The good news is that, once we belong to the Lord, then everything will work out for our ultimate good. Paul’s words of comfort are real, but notice to whom they apply: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:28 KJV) If you do not love God, if you reject the call of the Lord, then God does not promise that all things will work together for your good. It makes sense to be for God…remember, if God be for us who can be against us? NOBODY!
Since Jesus commanded us to be baptized it does not make much sense to ignore him. He said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15 NKJV ) If we love Jesus, we will try to keep his commandments, and one of his commands was to be baptized. How could we expect him to save us, if we do not love him enough to keep his commands? How could we expect him to save us, if we do not at least try to obey him?
The famous verse that nearly every Sunday school student knows is John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” NKJV
There are two groups of people in this verse. One group receives everlasting life. If we choose to ignore his command, we automatically fall into the other group. We need to remember that baptism alone is not a guarantee of salvation, but our obedience to his command to be baptized shows we have made a life-long commitment to love him and try to obey him.
When you choose not to be baptized, you choose not to serve God. Knowingly rejecting God’s way of life puts you on the road to death, a life without hope. The scriptures are full of warnings of the fate of the ungodly and what a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of God if you have not chosen to follow Him. Don’t put yourself there.
When we are baptized, Jesus then responds to our faithful act by accepting us as his brother or sister in Christ (which is what the name “Christadelphian” means). Christ promises us that neither he nor his Father will ever forsake us. It should be our love for our Lord that prompts us to obey his command to be baptized. Just going through the motions because someone else wants us to do it is not enough.
When Paul preached to King Agrippa, he almost convinced him. This is what the king said, ”Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You almost persuade me to become a Christian.’” (Acts 26:28 NKJV) Almost is not enough. If you are now thinking, “Maybe I should get baptized, but I need help,” you are thinking correctly! You do need help, and many of us want to help you.
Short-term Strategies and Immediate Assistance
Strategy 1. Identify who can help you, if you’d like to be baptized.
Is there someone you know who is baptized who would spend some time with you and answer your questions about baptism? It could be a family member who is baptized; it could be a baptized Christadelphian friend. Even if you live in the middle of the Sahara Dessert, you can still get help. Folks willing to help are as near as a phone call, an e-mail, a fax, or even right next door. There are hundreds of caring brothers and sisters who would love nothing more than to hear you say that you are considering the important step of baptism. If you are not aware of someone who can help you or do not know anyone in a Christadelphian ecclesia, please email email@example.com let us know that you’d like to learn more about baptism. We would be happy to find someone for you to talk to! There is no such thing as a self-made man or woman. We all need help from others, and if you make this a matter of prayer, the help you seek will be found. It may be as close to you as your own family, or it might be someone you have not yet met who is anxious to assist you in making the most important step in life you will ever make. Reach out and let it be known to those in your ecclesia, your CYC or firstname.lastname@example.org that you are searching for answers to help you make your own decision about baptism and help will come to you.
Strategy 2: Understand why you are not baptized and don’t let it be an excuse.
Remember there is a reason you are not baptized. In Section 1, you were asked to identify the reason(s) why you are not baptized and then determine how you can remove the obstacle(s) standing between you and baptism. Removing the obstacle(s) is not something you need to do on your own. There are many people who can help you if you’d like assistance. There are also parts of scripture, and many other articles, books and pamphlets that may help clear up any doubts you may have. Again, if you do not know anyone in a Christadelphian ecclesia who can help you, please email email@example.com and we will put you in contact with someone who can help you answer your questions about baptism.
If you do not believe in God, that is a good reason to not get baptized. However, I would like to challenge you with some comments about God’s existence. God exists whether or not you believe in Him. Refusing to believe He exists, will not make Him go away. You may think that because you’ve never seen God, He doesn’t exist. Remember, there are many things you have never seen that you accept as fact. For example, you may never have been to Moscow or Hong Kong, but to say that they do not exist because you have never seen them is foolish. No great harm comes from denying that Hong Kong or Moscow exist, but to deny the existence of God is eternally fatal. You can prove God’s existence to yourself by examining the proof in His Word, the Bible, and in the world around you. In addition, the scriptures show that God not only exists, but He is calling you. Do not ignore God’s call.
Strategy 3: Read God’s Word and Pray
God has told us through his servant Solomon not to bother to pray unless we are willing to read His Word: “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.” (Prov 28:9 NKJV) We learn that God wants us to read the Bible. Joshua was told to read and meditate on it day and night, and that he would prosper and be successful as a result. Without the Bible, we would not even know that baptism is essential. The Bible is God’s way of letting us know about Himself, his plans for our salvation, and the future of the world. We need to read it.
It is also important to know that God really does want to hear from us! We are told to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV) and that the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16 KJV) God hears the prayers of those who are unbaptized; remember Cornelius was not baptized when he prayed for help, and God answered his prayer by sending Peter to help him. If you pray to God and ask Him for help, God will respond to your prayer by sending someone to help you, too.
For Those Who Want to Learn More About Baptism
The Bible: Your Bible is your road map to the Kingdom. Open it and let it talk to you.
Other Suggested Reading:
There are many books—many free for the asking—which will furnish you with the simple Gospel message “that is able to make you wise unto salvation.” (2 Timothy 3:15 KJV) One such book that has stood the test of time was written by Bro. Robert Roberts over a hundred years ago:
Preparing for Baptism
There is also an abundance of literature on baptism and several good books and pamphlets you can read to help you prepare for baptism. Remember, you are not alone. If you want help, it is there –just take courage and ask. The first step needs to be yours, but if you really want someone to help you prepare for baptism, you will certainly receive it. Remember Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7:7 NKJV). It certainly is true that you will get the help you need to be baptized if you really want that help.
In Switzerland, there are signs at the beginning of mountain trails warning that no one should walk past the sign unless they are properly equipped with hiking boots and gear appropriate to the rough terrain ahead. There are no such signs on the way to the Kingdom, but God also wants you to be properly equipped for the journey ahead. Baptism is the first step at the beginning of that journey. It indicates that you are committed to making the journey. Remember what Ananias said to Saul, [whose name later was changed to Paul]; it is also being said to you: “And now why tarriest thou? Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16 KJV)
What kind of life can you expect if you make this choice? It will be better in every way because you will not be on your own. The challenges you face—and everyone faces challenges in life—will be easier because you have someone to share your burden. Jesus assures us, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 KJV)
Think of the purpose a yoke serves. Some might think that wearing a yoke means that we put this big heavy thing on our neck and that from then on we are burdened down with excess weight. Actually the opposite is true. The yoke is there to lighten the load, not add to it. If one animal finds it impossible to pull a load, the farmer gets another animal and yokes the two together, and together each of them can pull the load that neither could do alone. Jesus invites us to yoke up with him, and he will help us pull our load– a load that is too much for us to do alone. Being yoked to Jesus, we have his support. Without him, we are doomed to failure. Please do not turn down his gracious offer to help you with your load, for, as he said, “his yoke is easy and his burden is light.”Rejoice that Jesus is inviting you to accept his yoke. Accept it and be baptized, washing away your sins and committing your life to serving God.
Many have wanted to get baptized but struggle with two aspects of the baptismal process, namely the baptismal letter and the interview. In this section we will discuss both those topics together and hopefully make you feel more comfortable and prepared.
The Baptismal Letter
There is no direct scriptural verse saying that you must write a baptismal letter. Phew! However, much is said about the open declaration of your faith. An easy verse that comes to mind is Matthew 5: 14 to 16 that includes the words, “Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.”
The baptismal letter is an acknowledgement to those in your ecclesia that you have accepted the word of God and a request for the ecclesia to respond. You are willing to be an active participant in the ecclesia. Some letters are very personal and if so, you may ask that your request is not read publicly. My experience, after hearing countless letters is that nothing brings more joy and happiness to the members of an ecclesia. Consider sharing, for doing so will uplift their hearts.
The letter does not need to be worded using fancy phrases, old English, or other trappings. Put those things aside when you consider writing your letter. Faith is a simple and beautiful thing and baptism is more then anything an act of faith. In most ecclesias your letter should be given to the Recording Brother, you can be sure that they will understand the meaning of baptism so feel no pressure to use exact language in describing the act of baptism from a biblical or symbolic sense.
Here’s what a request may contain:
Here is an example:
Dear XYZ Ecclesia,
I request baptism in response to my faith in Jesus Christ and belief in the coming Kingdom of God.
The above would be sufficient and any brother in any ecclesia would be thrilled to receive such a request. You may find it helpful to elaborate more on your personal spiritual journey, what baptism means to you, your feelings about this step. For example a more elaborate letter is below:
My dear Verdugo Hills Ecclesia, Aunts, and Uncles:
Over the past 18 years as I’ve grown in the truth, I have slowly understood what response to the gospel and true faith requires. Recently, difficult times have made me realize that I must personally commit to Christ my life and strength. As a first step I request baptism into the saving name of Jesus Christ, that I may have forgiveness of sins.
For some people, the idea of being personally questioned about their faith is absolutely terrifying. Some questions that I’ve heard are:
What if I don’t know the answers?
What if I answer incorrectly and I sound foolish?
What if I know the answer but not all the supporting verses?
And of course there are other questions that you may have about the interview. Personally I’ve never liked the term interview at all. It makes it sound like a job where several applicants are tried out, but only one gets the position. That isn’t the way God works. It is His good pleasure to give you the Kingdom of God. He desires all to find salvation. Perhaps a better term for an interview is a confession. You will need to confess your faith to your brethren and sisters, and not only to them but to any who ask you why and what you believe.
The purpose of the interview to ensure that there is some commonality between brethren and sisters that fellowship together. You can imagine the chaos that would ensue if in fact there were no necessary common shared beliefs amongst brethren. We would either water down the truth to nothing, or we would tear each other apart. Probably there would be a bit of both. So it’s in everyone’s best interest to have this discussion before baptism.
The person giving the interview wants to know about your faith. Hopefully this faith excites you, and you are willing to open up and share. If you are shy your ‘interviewer’ may have to ask more specific questions. The interviewing brother wants nothing more than for you to be ready for baptism. If there are points simple to clarify, he will do so right then and there and approve the candidate for baptism. The overwhelming majority of interviews proceed along this route. On remote occasions the candidate for baptism truly does not understand the gospel faith. We are not speaking about the finer nuances of the atonement, rather they do not understand the Kingdom of God, the fact that Jesus is not God, or they think we sin because of a fallen-angel devil.
You may be reading this thinking, “That’s not a problem for me,” and that’s good. The point is not to expound but to explain your beliefs. Your ecclesia will want your baptism and they won’t hold it up for silly reasons. If major errors in understanding and believing the gospel do persist, the ecclesia should privately arrange for follow-up classes. The hope of the gospel can be learned and if you truly desire it, you won’t let temporary gaps in understanding stop you.
I highly suggest a pre-baptismal interview. This interview can be done with the brother or sister preparing you for baptism or another brother or sister of your choice. They will cover with you the doctrines of the true gospel. If there are any gaps, they will address them before you submit an ecclesial letter. This way you may avoid any anxiety related to not being fully prepared for the interview.
The best way to prepare for an interview is to have gone through a preparation course with a member of your ecclesia. Each ecclesia has their own style, but there are many excellent books that can help you and your teacher. Consider a book like “Preparing For Baptism” by the CSSS. Other good books include “The Trinity: True or False” and “Thine is the Kingdom.” Taken together they are an excellent guide to The things concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. And still others may prefer to go through their ecclesia’s Statement of Faith. The point is, make sure you’ve done your home work. You’d probably not take a final examination in University without a little study. I can’t imagine a Certified Public Accountant taking their exam without preparation. The same may apply for an Actuary or other certified profession. Of course the above are tests, whereas an interview for baptism is a confession. However, treat it with the seriousness that it deserves. Doing so, there is every reason to believe that God will bless your efforts and you will take on the saving name of Christ in baptism.
Baptism is a wonderful event. As your knowledge begins to increase in your pre-baptismal classes, you begin to get more excited. You look around on Sunday morning to all the brethren and sisters partaking of the memorial emblems, and you wish you too could participate. You’ve been thinking about your life recently and are making changes for the better. Your family is very pleased that you are going through the baptismal classes, and you really feel a sense of belonging as each week brings you closer and closer to your goal.
As you go through your pre-interview you’re excited to know that you have learnt so much. When you turn in your letter everyone comes up to you and gives you hugs and well wishes. All your friends in the meeting smile at you on Sunday and are so happy you’ll be entering the family of Christ. On your baptism day you feel so close to God. You’ve reached your goal and the whole day seems to be in preparation. At your baptism, many of the ecclesial family gather together including many of your friends from the surrounding area. The talk is addressed specifically to you. When you come out of the waters of baptism you feel relieved and renewed. The line-up for hugs afterward reaches 20 people deep and everyone is so happy for you… what could be better. You think you’ll stay this high forever.
But you don’t!
After baptism, many go through a phase I describe as the post baptismal blues. It is a time after your baptism when you realize that you still have the same weaknesses, the same sinful tendencies, and perhaps even the same bad lifestyle habits that you did before. Except now you aren’t building toward some great crescendo or progressing steadily towards a real spiritual goal. You are simply back to being you with a Bro or Sis tagged before your name. Also, it seems like you are getting a bit less attention then you did before. No longer are you getting weekly encouragement from the dear brother or sister that you were having classes with. You thought that once you got baptized things would change. But you find it doesn’t work that way. You can get slightly disheartened by this and you distance yourself a little from God.
The above is only an example, but a common one. Your life will be different than the example in various ways, but it helps illustrate what thousands of newly baptized have gone through before you.
So what do you do? The best way to deal with this is to understand what baptism truly is, not to have unreasonable expectations, and to have a plan before baptism that you continue to follow after baptism.
Point 1: The post-baptism blues are normal.In baptism, like other events (a wedding or graduation for example), there is a lot of emphasis on the event. You probably like building towards something and feeling week to week that you are making progress. But viewing baptism as a goal or an event is setting yourself up for the post-baptism blues. The kingdom is our goal and baptism is just an important step in reaching that goal. Jesus told us to “Seek first the Kingdom of God” not to seek first baptism. It is better to view baptism as the beginning of your walk rather then an end.
Point 2: Baptism does not change you! Through baptism you have remission of sins. But this does not mean sinful tendencies go away. Most get baptized because they realize they’re a sinner, not because they’ve figured out how to stop sinning.
Given the way habits form and are broken, if you attempt true repentance with your baptism you can be sure you’ll face big challenges to overcome. It is no coincidence that Jesus faced the trials in the wilderness directly after his baptism.
Paul is a good example to us when he says in Romans 7:18, “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” Baptism does not change your sinful inclinations. They will remain just as strong and perhaps get stronger in certain areas as you age. But baptism gives you the means to overcome. Thus Paul can write in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…”
Point 3: You still need to repent. Baptism is not repentance. It should be an act associated with repentance, but repentance happens often whereas baptism occurs once. Look at the following verse from Acts 2 where Peter has just declared the gospel to the Jews at Pentecost.
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let very one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” Acts 2:37,38
Peter says, Repent and be baptized meaning they are two separate through related things. For most of us, we spend our whole lives repenting. This means that you should seriously think about parts of your walk that you need to change before you are baptized. After baptism you will have the difficult work ahead of you of implementing those changes. This can be daunting but understanding that it is difficult helps.
Point 4: Make a plan. Write down the things you want to change and now plan on doing it. Give your plan to a friend or family member you trust and ask for their help. Set yourself up with goals that will allow you to be successful. As you go about trying to repent and make changes in your life, you will need someone spiritually older more then ever. After baptism you should have regular post-baptism classes to confirm the things you’ve learned, move on to more advanced subjects, to teach you how to do self study, and to keep you accountable in your walk. Simply ask the person preparing you for baptism if they wouldn’t mind continuing after your baptism. If they cannot, have them suggest someone who can.
In your plan be sure to include doing daily Bible reading, attending ecclesial functions, Sunday School, CYC, and other events where you can be with others who will help you with your walk. Rely on your friends and loved ones in the ecclesia to help you. Especially after baptism, attend events where you can be encouraged and stay focused. One of the reasons the ecclesia exists is for its members to help each other reach the Kingdom of God. So let your ecclesia help you. If you try to do it alone, or if you stop attending because you feel down the situation will get worse not better.
Thank you for reading what we believe is this important message about you becoming baptized. We would now like to “commend you to God and to the word of His grace which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified”