Baptism, Pt. 3

Scripture: Matthew 28:19, John 3:5, Matthew 3:15
This is the third in series on the topic of baptism. We've learned what baptism represents and what mode the Bible teaches it is carried out. This talk continues to discuss the meaning of baptism by immersion. It also speaks about what age a child might be baptized.
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Announcer: It's time now for Bible Talk. Join our hosts Gary Gibbs and John Bradshaw, speakers for the Amazing Facts Ministry, as they now open the Bible and discuss themes that affect your life today. Stay tuned, because the next 15 minutes will deepen your understanding of God's Word.

John Bradshaw: Hi, friends and welcome again to Bible Talk. Where we talk about what the Bible has to say to us today. I'm John Bradshaw and with me, again, welcome Gary Gibbs.

Gary Gibbs: Hi, John. We have been discussing a very important topic in our latest programs on baptism.

John: Baptism is one of the most important subjects in the Bible, as we discussed last time. It is the expression that we have come to Christ, died to sin and been remade, resurrected to walk in the newness of life. If you've experienced that and that is the fundamental aspect of being saved and coming to Christ, then you want to demonstrate that in baptism. Very important.

Gary: Now, you've pointed out some very interesting things that I would imagine could be quite controversial, because you've pointed out that the Bible really depicts only one manner of baptism.

John: That's fair enough too. The Bible doesn't give you 12 different ways to Heaven. It doesn't say there are 10 different Sabbath Days, it doesn't say there are 15 different things that happen to a person when they die. Truth is truth. Right? There's going to be one way and that's true with baptism. Jesus didn't say "Do it any way you like." That wouldn't make sense because baptism is demonstrative of a spiritual experience. You see? If you start to monkey around with the symbol then you're really tinkering with the meaning of the experience of coming to Jesus and being saved.

Gary: So, the churches teach baptism by sprinkling, by pouring. You told a story of a church, where they put everybody out in the parking lot, brought the fire trucks in and hosed everybody down.

John: Oh, yeah.

Gary: They call that baptism. I don't read about fire trucks in the Bible.

John: No.

Gary: So, what is that manner of baptism that the Bible depicts?

John: Jesus, if you read what the Bible says and it's very clear, He was baptized by immersion. Whenever you read about someone in the Bible being baptized, they were baptized by immersion.

Gary: Now immersion meaning what?

John: Plunged under the water. I don't want to say plunged. We might get the wrong impression here.

Gary: Well, I've been in Africa and other places where they plunge them under. They grab you by the nape of your neck and they throw you under the water. You think you really are going to die.

John: Well, really [laughs] if you survive that then you're ready to live for Jesus.

Gary: You're pretty holy if you survive that.

John: A true symbol of baptism is burial. You lay a person back in the water, just like they're being buried, lower them gently, let the water cover them over. Then, after they've been under the water, just a moment is enough, raise them up out of the water, like they're being raised and resurrected from the dead, symbolizing that now they're going to walk in newness of life.

Gary: I know one man, John. He was a bad guy. I mean this guy was the sinner of all sinners. He said "Pastor, when you put me under, just hold me under a little bit longer, because I really want to bury that old man of sin."

John: OK.

Gary: But, he came up, he came up breathing.

John: I've seen that happen. When that happens, people watching on tend to get very nervous.

Gary: They think you're going to do that to them.

John: In fact, in one place, there was a group of people being baptized. The first one was held under for about 30 seconds.

Gary: Oh, I couldn't imagine holding my breath that long.

John: The second one said, "I don't think I want to be baptized anymore." But, he was convinced, by the pastor officiating, that he didn't need to go through that. That was a special and an unusual request.

Gary: OK. So, baptism then is by immersion, being placed all the way under the water just for a brief amount of time, coming up, representing that we're giving up the old life of sin. We're burying it. Now, we're going to walk according to Christ's way in newness of life.

John: Even the word baptize means to immerse, to plunge under, to bury. If you got to change the method, you got to change the word even, because that's what baptize means. It means to immerse or plunge under.

Gary: Now, I just said a moment ago, this is probably a controversial topic because not only do churches baptize in different manners, but they also baptize at different ages. When should a person be baptized? Because I know there are a whole lot of good Christians out there, John, who are listening to us right now, who are saying "Wait a minute. We don't baptize by immersion, because if we did that we would drown our kids. Because we baptize them when they are born."

John: Well, I'll tell you I was baptized, if that's the word you want to use, when I was about eight days old. But, according to what I read in the Bible, that's not really the best time or the appropriate time to be baptizing people by immersion.

Gary: But, wait a minute, John. Listen, we said in a previous program, baptism is important Mark 16:16 "He's baptized and believes shall be saved." You have this little baby, and you want your baby to be in Heaven. What if that baby dies before it's baptized? You have to baptize it. You can't dunk him under the water, because you'll drown the kid. So, you have to sprinkle him or pour water on him.

John: Wait a minute. Remember what baptism means. It means that you've come to Christ. It means that he saved you. It means that you're burying your sins. It means that you're being raised to walk in newness of life. Can an infant child enter into that experience? Is that even possible?

Gary: Not really. I guess they're going on the faith of the parents.

John: Oh, OK. Yeah. Well, that's another question all together, and we understand that a person is saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. That's your own personal faith. My daddy's faith can't save me. See. I've got to exercise faith in Jesus myself.

Gary: But, John, isn't there something that parents can do with their children right after they're born? Is there some sort of service or ceremony that they can do with their children?

John: Oh, yes. We really need to commend any parents that would bring their children to Jesus at a young age and say, "Jesus, bless my baby. Jesus, help me raise my child. Lord, save my children." That's a good thing. You've got to admire parents who care enough about their little babies that they would bring them to Jesus. Jesus' own parents did the same thing. They brought Jesus to the temple, where He was dedicated to the service of God.

Gary: We did that with our daughter, and I'm sure you did the same thing with your son.

John: Yes.

Gary: Took her to the church and we dedicated her to Christ. Now, we didn't pour water on her. We didn't sprinkle water, but we did dedicate her to God.

John: That's the right thing to do.

Gary: But, she doesn't know that at this stage. We will tell her about that as she grows older. What I'm hoping and praying and working for is, as she grows older, that she one day, now, will make her own expression of faith, and she will be baptized.

John: That's the right way to go and as you look at what the Bible says about the when of baptism, it becomes clear that that's appropriate. There are some criteria that a person really ought to meet before that person is baptized.

Gary: Now, who comes up with that criteria? Is it a church that does that, or the Pope? Who comes up with the criteria?

John: I've talked to people, good Christian people, now, who will say, "Look, if someone wants to be baptized, just baptize them." But that's not what the Bible says.

Gary: What does the Bible say?

John: Several things. Let's look at three points...

Gary: OK.

John: ...that ought to take place before someone is baptized. Firstly, in Matthew Chapter 28, in the Great Commission, Jesus said this. Let me read to you. He said in Verse 19, "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost." Now, before they're baptized, Jesus says they ought to be what?

Gary: They ought to be taught.

John: Sure, ought to be taught. Now, More than that, not just indoctrinated, not just something going on in their head, because when he says "Teach them, " a better translation would be, "Make disciples of them".

Gary: Then, in Acts 2 it says, once they're taught, that something happens in them. They repent. Don't they?

John: Absolutely right. That's something else that a person ought to do. You ought not be baptized unless you are Christ's disciple. Peter said, "Repent and be baptized." A person ought to turn away from their sins, before they're baptized. Then, thirdly, a person ought to truly accept Jesus as personal savior, before baptism. You read John Chapter 3, when Jesus was talking to Nicodemus. He said in John 3, about Verse three and on, "Except a man be born again." He says in Verse 5, "Born of water and the Spirit."

So, there are three things, Gary, a person ought to be taught, a person ought to repent. Really, instead of be taught, I should say a person really needs to be a disciple of Christ. They need to repent, and they truly need to accept Jesus as personal savior.

Now my little boy and your little girl certainly can't meet any of those criteria at their young age.

Gary: So, when they get older, though, they can do that.

John: When they get older, and they meet Jesus for themselves.

Gary: Is there a magical age, when that happens?

John: Well, no, there really isn't, and I've heard people try to come up with an age. But, children are different. Right? You'll meet some children who are very young, but, somehow, they're capable of having a true, real, dynamic relationship with Jesus. Some children are a little older. Somehow, they just don't get it, because of the way they're wired and the progress that they're making. You don't need to sweat. Listen, I'll be honest with you.

I remember specifically, one of my brothers, his wife had a baby, my father was just beside himself, because my brother hadn't had the baby christened.

Gary: Which would be baptized in your faith. Wouldn't it?

John: Sure, that's right. My dad was concerned that, if that baby died, that baby would go to Limbo: not heaven, not hell, but another place that he called Limbo. We know what Limbo means. It sort of means "nowhere". Right?

Gary: An intermediate state.

John: Yeah. The concern was that if the baby isn't christened or baptized, it can't be saved. We don't need to worry about that for our infants, for our little ones. Bring them to Jesus. Dedicate them. Then, they'll get to the age, where they're able to live for Jesus truly and have a real relationship. Someone said this: if your child is old enough to be lost, then your child is old enough to be saved. You probably know when that time is for your kids.

Gary: You really do. I'm so thankful that parents out there listening to us, who may have lost a child and were concerned that they had not been christened or baptized before they died. They don't have to worry about that. Their faith is in God. The Lord will honor the parents' faith for their child.

John: Yeah. That's absolutely right. There's something I want to go back to, because we talked about this, and I wonder if this question has come up in somebody's mind. We read about how John the Baptist was preaching that people should repent from their sins. So, Jesus comes along, and he's baptized. Now, let me ask you, Gary, does that mean that Jesus was a sinner, and he had to repent of his sins, and they needed to be washed away? He was baptized; that's what baptism means.

Gary: No, the Bible says that there was no sin found in Him.

John: So, what was this, that Jesus was going through? Was it a charade or an act or something meaningful?

Gary: Well, he says in Matthew 3, doesn't he, "Let us do it to fulfill all righteousness"? He was setting an example for all of us.

John: It would be appropriate. Wouldn't it? That Jesus would tread the path that He wants us to follow after Him?

Gary: I imagine He was being baptized for those who couldn't be baptized as well.

John: Yes, certainly. No doubt about it. I know that even though we'll talk about this subject of baptism once or twice more, we're not going to get through everything there is.

Gary: There's too much here, John.

John: Too much. Let's think of someone who wants to be baptized and says, "Well, maybe I need to go through some teaching. What should I do?" Let me recommend that you get on board with our Bible study course from Amazing Facts. You want to call our toll-free number and get what we're offering you today: "Buried and Forgotten by God." It goes with this subject. It'll lead you into a study of other subjects as well. Call our number. Get the study. You'll be blessed. [music] You don't want to miss it. There's more to study.

Gary, it's been good to be here today.

Gary: It has been, John. I hope that somebody out there listening, who hasn't been baptized will also call us. We can help them prepare for baptism. Can't we?

John: We sure can. You call and we'll put you in touch with the Word of God and that Word will lead you to Jesus. Be sure to join us again, next time, for more study here on Bible Talk. [music]

Announcer 2: If you'd like more information on what we've been studying today, we have a comprehensive Bible study guide we'd love to share with you. That's absolutely free. This study includes many of the texts we've just discussed, and expands on the subject, including information you'll want to know. To receive this free, informative Bible study guide, simply call, write, or email and ask for BT109: "Buried and Forgotten by God." The toll-free number is 866-BIBLE-SAYS. That's 866-242-5372. You can write to us at Bible Talk, P.O. Box 1058, Roseville, CA 95678, or email us at Bible Talk has been produced in association with Amazing Facts in the studios of Life Talk Radio.

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