“I thank God that I did not baptize any of you…” Say what? Can you believe this is in the Bible? Controversy about baptism popped up in the church and Paul had to be clear in 1 Corinthians 1:14 about the significance of the baptism, not the baptizer.
Baptism is such an important decision. Such an awesome experience. Such a humbling welcome into God’s family. Maybe you’ve noticed that one of the goals we have for every one of us around here is to generously extend hope to people by baptizing someone every year. But is baptizing someone as heavy-duty a pastoral responsibility as some seem to think? Are there rules God has put in place to make sure only certain people, in certain places, at certain times can baptize someone? Don’t I need to be on staff at a church? Does someone need to tell me it’s OK to baptize? Do I have to be ordained for it to stick? Does it have to happen during a service? In a church building? In holy water? Do I have to sit through a class? Should it be one week? Two? Ten? Will there be a test? Can I pass with a “C”?
So, WHO is authorized?
Jesus cast a wide net in His broad instruction to go into the world, teach, and baptize. The first person I baptized was the delivery guy who brought boxes to the back door at my retail store. I was a baptized believer, so I was not only authorized, but commanded to do this for my friend when he was ready to be baptized, express belief in Jesus as God’s Son and Savior, and follow Jesus with his life. Have you taken the plunge? If so, you’re authorized to go and baptize people.
Well, what about WHEN?
It’s important to make an informed decision about baptism, for sure. But there is a profound simplicity to the invitation Jesus makes in Scripture. Come if you’re weary. Come if you’re burdened. Believe He is who He says He is, and be saved. There might be a class, a Bible study or a video that helps someone make an informed decision… but there’s not a formula that says any of these are a requirement for baptism. Anything that sets up the conversation and answers the important questions about Jesus, who He is, what He did and why. Even if it’s just that...a simple, ordinary conversation.
Then WHAT do they need to know?
The pattern of salvation we discover in the Bible includes four steps: Belief, Confession, Repentance and Baptism. They need to know and believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for their sins. Then they should speak out that belief through verbally acknowledging their faith in Christ and their sin-problem that brings them to a place of realizing their need for a Savior. Repentance is simply turning from their helplessness to deal with their sin on their own and turning to God to receive the gracious forgiveness He offers through Jesus. Then they should move toward baptism, understanding it is not the water that saves them, but a tangible expression of identifying with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Learn even more at this LINK!
And WHERE can I baptize my friend?
Thankfully we have the awesome example of John baptizing in a river. And Jesus’ disciples doing the same. Then there’s Philip baptizing in whatever water happened to be closest to the road. Bathtubs, ponds, pools, cattle troughs, hot tubs, rivers, oceans, lakes and baptisteries, every one of these and more are prime locations for baptisms to happen.
HOW do you say that again?
Not sure what to say? There’s no exclusive verbal formula that makes a baptism “official”... The key ingredient is Jesus and acknowledging Him as God’s Son, Savior and Lord. You’ll often hear us say at Southland, “I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, my Lord, and my Savior,” and then we baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
So what NEXT?
If you’ve baptized someone, let us know - just email Cindy! We will be sure to follow up with them to give them tools and encouragement to take their next steps to follow Jesus.
What next? Are you someone who is considering baptism? Let’s talk about it! We want to help you make that decision and take that step.
Are you a friend of someone who is getting close to making that decision? By all means, be a part of this awesome, joy-filled commission from Jesus Himself. Pray for your friend. Talk with them. Help them dig into learning more. And dare to invite them to take the step to be baptized! You might find yourself with the honor of doing your first baptism! How cool would that be?
To talk further or learn more, give me a shout!