Many people have questions about baptism. Should I be dipped, dunked, or dry-cleaned? Is baptism for babies, or people old enough to make that choice? Is it necessary for my salvation?
If you’re struggling with the question of whether to be baptized, look closely at the meaning behind it. Honestly ask yourself, “Is this just a man-made religious boundary marker, or a biblical truth that God is asking me to live by?”
To help you determine the answer, consider these common questions:
How should I be baptized?
While some churches sprinkle, baptism by being dunked was the undisputed church practice for the first 1,300 years of church history. In fact, no early denominational church leaders argued that point. The very word “baptism” means “to immerse” and that’s what the Bible records, so Grace Fellowship believes that if you’re physically able, you should get completely dunked. Sprinkling began later in church history due to water shortages, and also became the mode of baptism most practical for baptizing infants.
Should we baptize infants, or people mature enough to make the faith decision?
Some churches baptize infants. Some choose not to baptize infants. While Christians can debate this, we should never divide over it. Many current Grace attenders were baptized as babies. At Grace, we don’t baptize infants because every baptism recorded in the Bible occurred when someone was old enough to make a faith decision. Jesus blessed kids, but he didn’t baptize them.
But what if an unbaptized child dies?
Infant baptism didn’t become widely practiced until about 400 years after the birth of the Christian church, when Augustine developed the theology of “original sin.” In a nutshell, this idea means that when children are born, they are not only sinners, but God holds them accountable for their sins. So if an infant died, Augustine believed that God would hold that child separate from the Lord for all of eternity unless the child was saved (through the sacrament of Holy Baptism). Given that the infant mortality rate was high in those days, the practice of infant baptism caught on fast. Grace Fellowship holds to implied Bible teaching that there’s an age of understanding when people are mature enough to grasp a faith decision for themselves. Only God truly knows that age and it may differ for each child. If kids happen to pass before that time, we believe they’re going to heaven.
What does Grace Fellowship offer for parents who want to raise Christian children?
While infants can’t choose baptism, we do give parents an option for guiding their children in toward personally choosing a relationship with Christ. Parent-Child Dedication is a time of public and personal commitment where parents promise to raise their children with godly principles, so that one day when they are ready and understand, they will choose to accept Christ. Dates and registration info for upcoming Parent Child Dedications, click here.
If I was baptized as an infant in another church should I get baptized again?
Your infant baptism was certainly a very special moment for your family. But at Grace, infant baptism is similar to what we call “child dedication.” Once you personally come to an age where you can decide for yourself to follow Christ, believer’s baptism is the next step. Don’t be afraid to get re-baptized as an act of worship and obedience to Christ.
Does the water wash away my sins?
Whether it’s water in a lake or water in a tub, there’s nothing special about the water that is used for baptism. The Bible is clear that we are saved by God’s grace, not by baptism, not by our own works. Baptism is not salvation; Christ’s blood on the cross is really what washes away sins and pays our debt. It’s better to think of it like this: baptism is to salvation as a wedding ceremony is to a marriage. It’s an external declaration of an internal event.
Do you have to be baptized to be a Christ-follower?
It’s clearly established in the Bible that you become a Christian by accepting God’s free gift of grace. For example, the thief on the cross hanging beside Jesus was saved on the spot and was never baptized. While baptism is not what saves us, baptism is necessary in that Christ commands it. All genuine Christ-followers should want to obey Jesus by doing what he said, and by doing what he did. Even Jesus, the perfect Son of God, showed us the importance of baptism by being baptized himself.
What if I still believe it’s a technicality?
If you’re holding off on being baptized because you feel it is unnecessary, take some time to examine your motives and pray for God to help you grasp his heart on baptism. Ask yourself, “Why is it that I don’t want to be baptized? Am I willfully disobeying?” If you’re waiting for God to directly prompt you to be baptized, you need not wait any longer. He already makes that challenge to each Christ-follower by his Word.