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May I humbly suggest that if we notice anything is not growing, we should check all the basics first. For example, if a plant is not growing we first check to see if it has been watered and it is getting the right amount of sunlight. Similarly, in the Bible we see certain basics laid out as the “first steps” in Christianity.

 

One of those first steps is baptism and yet it is widely misunderstood. This is why I am offering the story of my personal journey in this area. I realize this topic has become a hotly contested one and I am taking a chance by opening up about my own testimony. The last thing I want is to bring offence to anyone’s way of doing things but I hear the cry of many hearts who feel as though the power of God is missing in their lives, and God's power moves through our obedience, so let's start with the basics. 

Baptism is one of the basic first steps we are asked to take in our discipleship, yet it is often overlooked or shrouded in confusing traditions. Therefore, for the sake of those who are yearning for more and for the sake of those who desire clarity on this beautiful topic, perhaps you will find encouragement and understanding in my transparency...

 

 

Two Falsehoods

 

There are two commonly misunderstood ideas about baptism within the Christian churches. One is that there is no difference between sprinkling and emersion.

 

The second is that if you have been baptized once (even if it was a sprinkling as a baby), then it should never be done again.

 

These two misconceptions are holding back scores of beautiful God seekers from many different denominations! The Bible quiet easily explains both to us.

 

There is a difference between sprinkling and emersion. There is also great peace and joy found in walking out the truth God wants to teach us. Allow me to show you how God began to reveal some of these things to me.

 

 

My Journey to the Dunk- Learning the Difference

 

My husband and I were raised in two different churches that both practice baptism by sprinkling- the earlier the better. For the most part, this was a much anticipated ceremony and celebration for babies.

 

However, as we got reading through the Bible as adults, we both realized that the scriptures which referred to baptism seemed to really imply a submersion type of event. Hoping to make ourselves feel better, we began to look into original scripture text to see if it could be interpreted more than one way.  Yet, we found out that the command and the example given to us by Jesus was unmistakably an immersion event. Actually, one of the only other times the original word could be found in ancient writings was a recipe for pickling. For example: A cucumber is forever changed after being immersed (baptismo) in the right solution. When it comes out, it has turned into a pickle and can never go back.

 

The other thing we noticed is that the whole reason for baptism was because that individual was making a public declaration of their desire to be a disciple of Jesus. This is not a decision that anyone else can make for us.

 

Matter of fact, as we read through our Bibles, we realized that if we had never been taught by any church doctrine, we would have never even dreamed up the concept of infant baptism. It is not found anywhere in the Bible and impossible to do to an infant as Jesus taught us to do it. (According to scripture, it is essential that the person being baptized has made the choice to do so. Without the belief part, it is just swimming.) J

 

There is one story we found in Acts 10 and 11 where Cornelius and his whole household were baptized. We knew that some people believed this story included infants, but the Bible does not say that. We know from the position Cornelius held that he was very likely past child bearing years. And we know from scripture that for us to assume an infant was baptized that day is for us to declare scripture as contradicting itself, for the sake of our assumption.

 

We did find examples of baby dedication in the Bible and when we checked through the questions asked for most baby baptism ceremonies we found the questions to line up quite nicely with that, despite the misguiding title.

 

 

Now What?

 

Now we were in a predicament. We had a baby that we wanted to dedicate and we, as adults, wanted to be baptized. But the church we attended did not believe in either.

 

God heard the cry of our hearts and paved a way for both!

 

We were about to plan a ceremony for each but God gave us other wisdom, lest we cause division in the wonderful church we had attended for so long.

 

We met with our pastor and explained our hearts. We explained that we saw the questions he would publicly ask us as ideal questions for a baby dedication but in our eyes, our daughter would be free and encouraged to get baptized as an adult. He was a gracious man who understood and was still honored to pray over her with the church.

 

As for the part about getting us baptized by immersion, God paved the way for us at a conference we attended. That weekend was nothing short of miraculous in many ways, but to save time I will just give the basics: There was a pool in the hotel and we had the opportunity to have lunch with a wonderful pastor who was more than willing to help us with this request. Not planning on swimming that weekend, he met us at the pool and jumped in with his clothes on!

 

It was beautiful. Somehow it was just the three of us in the pool and I distinctly remembered feeling the presence of God as I came up out of the water. I felt like I did not want to move, lest I disturb it. I felt peace and excitement whirling inside me at the same time. God was pleased and I knew it. Now, I am usually the kind of girl that can’t resist playing in a pool once my hair is wet but that time I felt like I was standing in holy ground. It was amazing.

 

It was not too long after all that when God led us into another church through His perfect timing but it amazes me that he had already found a way for us to obey Him in baptism without causing a rift in the church we used to attend.

 

I have heard many testimonies of people feeling “different” after being baptized, or even noticing in the weeks following that it is easier to do things God’s way. There is a scriptural reason for this. Baptism is the first command Jesus gives us.  It is step one after choosing to be His disciple. He tells us that if we love him then we will obey him and it is when we take steps of obedience that grace is able to flow into our lives in greater measure, enabling us to do things His way. (John 14:23, Luke 6:46)

 

 

One Baptism?

 

I have heard many people mistakenly speak about Ephesians 4:5 (There is one baptism…) to mean that if someone was baptized as a baby they should never be baptized again. My heart aches for the deception they are trapped in. When that entire passage is read, it is clear to be addressing unity in the body of Christ. Even John the Baptist spoke of a second baptism (baptism in the Holy Ghost) while baptizing people in water. (Luke 3:16)

 

Besides, it is impossible to choose baptism for anyone else, even a baby. Therefore, if you were not the one choosing to believe and become a disciple of Jesus, it was not a baptism as Jesus commanded them. (Matthew 28:19) His immediate followers new this. The whole New Testament church acted on it.

 

 

Can You Be Saved Without Being Baptized?

 

The short answer for this is yes. But don’t stop reading there. There is definitely more to this question. I heard Leonard Terry speak on this recently and he summed it up beautifully so I will try to condense his words:

 

The word “saved” carries much more meaning (more angles to it) in the Greek than what we understand it to mean in the English language. Part of being “saved” is being “justified”. That is the part where Jesus exchanges our likeness for his. He makes this mind blowing trade in which we are set free because He paid the price for us. Once we accept his offer, our history of sin is wiped clean and God only sees holiness, like Jesus, so we can enter heaven. However, another crucial and amazing part of being “saved” is “sanctification”. This is a fancy word for the renewing process that takes place within a person after they become a Christian. It is a process of maturation, learning God’s ways, and being set free from our own sinful patterns.

 

The thief on the cross was not baptized but Jesus assured him that he was going to heaven. However, if that thief had lived for a few days, he would have begun a process of sanctification. In learning to be like Jesus, the early church would have eagerly told him about baptism as the way to publicly declare his faith. The early church understood baptism to be step one in following Jesus.

 

As with all conversations about faith, I believe it comes down to the fact that God knows our hearts. We know from Galatians 6:7 that we cannot pull the wool over God’s eyes. He knows how we have been taught, what we are really thinking, and how spiritually hungry we are. He knows us better than we know ourselves! Allow that thought to encourage your heart. But also allow that awareness to give him the place of Lordship He deserves in life.  

 

 

Why not?

 

Friends in Christ, if baptism is something you have not done yet, I challenge you to ask God for truth and read every verse you can find on it. Why hold back?

 

You see, this whole post is not as much about getting wet as it is about our journey of doing things God’s way. There is power in doing things Gods way. The example Jesus set for us really does work.

 

There is no power found in the water. The power is found in our willingness to do things God’s way.

 

We say, “Yes God, I will do this your way, not mine, and not anyone else’s. I trust that your instructions work.” And beauty unfolds…

 

 

 

If you have a story you would like to share about your baptism, please feel free to write it in the comments below!

 

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Posted by: Anna Wozniak
Posted on: 3/25/2015 at 8:57 AM
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Categories: Baptism | God in Everyday Life
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