I asked you yesterday whether a person required to get adult-baptised if he/ she was baptised as a child.
This person is a strong woman of God and has been born again and professes her faith publicly. She has been baptised in the Holy Spirit and has also received the gift of tongues. She walks closely with God and her heart is set on doing God’s will, whatever the cost. I am actually marrying this amazing woman in 77 days.
We had a Spirit-led and healthy discussion on this issue last night. This is a summary of the discussion.
1. What we know
She understands what baptism is, that it is a public profession of your faith in Jesus Christ and that it is symbolic of the old-self being buried and a ‘new creation in Christ’ walking out of the water. She realises that it is not a prerequisite to enter heaven, and that the waters themselves don’t cleanse your sins away, but only the precious blood of Christ does.
2. Child baptism.
Why parents get their children baptised.
a) Parents, God-parents and family stand in the place of the child, mediating with God for the child and hold themselves responsible for the faith of the child. They promise to bring up the child in the knowledge and the love of God and vow to lead their children to Christ. If a child baptism service is anything like what was held at my church (St James’, Kashmere Gate) two sundays ago, I would totally agree with the theology and the words used as they ‘baptised’ the child. It was a very meaningful service.
b) Some families worry as to what would happen to the child if he/ she died before he/ she was old enough to make a decision on their own to be baptised and hence get their children baptised. But again, baptism doesn’t guarantee a heaven-ticket.
c) In old English church tradition, graveyard land was considered holy and only church members who were baptised were allowed to get buried there. So families would get their children and even infants baptised so that there would find place in the graveyard.
For these reasons, most children in the Anglican church have been baptised. (I may be totally wrong in point 2, and in the entire post in fact, please forgive my ignorance).
3. Jesus’ baptism.
Was Jesus required to be baptised? He was the sinless, Son of God. He was the spotless “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. Did He need taking away of sins? John was asking the people to repent and be baptised. Did Jesus need to repent? No! Even John was surprised that Jesus needed a baptism! “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you, so why are you coming to me?”
a) As I mentioned above, we get baptised as a public profession of who we are in Christ. Jesus need that announcement too. John annnounced it, “Behold the Lamb of God”. But there was a better announcement, the best announcement, a Voice that probably thundered in the area around the river Jordan, the Voice of God Himself declaring, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” This was perfect for Jesus the now take centre-stage and begin His ministry.
b) Jesus, had to enter the waters of baptism, the HOLY SON OF GOD, had to go into the dirty waters of Jordan, and be baptised by a man who looked like junglee aadmi. Jesus Himself said John was lower than the last person in the kingdom of heaven. This was probably a humbling experience for God. But as Phillipians 2:7 says, “He made himself nothing”. His baptism showed that He identified with sinners. His baptism symbolized the sinners’ baptism into the righteousness of Christ, dying with Him and rising free from sin and able to walk in the newness of life. His perfect righteousness would fulfill all the requirements of the Law for sinners who could never hope to do so on their own.
c) Jesus’ baptism was to “fulfill all righteousness.” I like the way NLT puts it: Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him. It was what God wanted.
d) Jesus’ coming into the world was to find a way for God to get back the ones He loved. He came to fulfill all that the law required so that we didn’t have to uphold the law or live by it. Jesus found many traditions and rituals obsolete. But His death after leading a sinless life made a way for us. We didnt have to follow all the strict rules and traditions anymore. The early church also realised this. They didn’t follow the temple regulations, Paul was against circumcision, all food was allowed….. But they held on to three basic institutions or sacraments or rituals (I don’t like this word). Baptism, The Lord’s Table and Holy Matrimony. Jesus was present at and blessed a wedding. He told us to take part in a common table remembering His death until He comes. And He was baptised.
e) Jesus approved of the baptism of John: an grown person who repents enters the waters symbolic of his/ her repentance. More importantly, The TRIUNE GOD approved it. Never was there a clear picture of the Holy Trinity than when THE SON stepped out of Jordan. God approves of the adult baptism.
4. What we understand a ‘re-baptism’ would be.
a) We love Christine’s parents. They got her baptised with all good intentions and as I mentioned for before, standing in her place, vowing to lead her to Christ. Its not that the first baptism does not count, which is why a re-baptism is necessary. We are NOT disrespecting their decision of getting her baptised as a child. No! They had taken responsibility of her faith and had her baptized. Now she as an adult takes responsibility of her own faith and publicly professes symbolically by entering the waters, if God leads her to do so.
b) The re-baptism would not be a ritual, if she is doing it. A ritual that needed to be checked off her list. Like I mentioned before it is symbolic. More like a renewal of a covenant that was made two decades ago. This time it is a conscious one.
c) (I love this point) Now that she’s a bride-to-be it would be more symbolic than ever. The baptism just before her wedding would signify a cleansing and washing, a kind of bath before her wedding ceremony. The best kind. The washing of her soul from all her past. A washing in the pure blood of the Lamb. And as she walks up the aisle, in pure white, she would be like the Bride of Christ John describes in the book of Revelation,
Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him.
For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself.
She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.
For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.
Until I read this section in Revelation, I never realised the white wedding dress was from the Bible. Christine would be a pure and holy bride, cleansed in the blood of the Lamb, dressed in white that would represent the righteous acts that God did in her life. This thought gives me tingles!
d) After her re-baptism (if God leads her to take the step) we are hoping for a fresh anointing of God’s Holy Spirit on Christine like at Jesus’ baptism. And that she (AND WE, as a newly married couple) would be renewed and given new strength to be able to sustain not just 40 days of temptation but 40 years of whatever the devil has planned for us.
This, Pastor, is in summary what I told her last night and what we discussed. I may have flawed theology and incomplete ideologies. Please correct me wherever I am wrong and add to wherever I am deficient.