by Barry Newton
The following is a true story.
The female voice on the phone had an unmistakable British accent from Africa. After a polite greeting, she cut to the heart of the matter. “I am interested in baptism. How do you baptize?”
In the past, others have called requesting information about “baptizing” their newly born infant. I thought I knew what was coming. I had no clue.
So I proceeded to offer a brief explanation that we immerse those who confess Christ and we are willing to baptize at anytime of the day. I anticipated this would sufficiently reveal that we are not in the business of immersing infants.
Her exclamation was amazing, but should not be totally unexpected. “That’s biblical. I have been a part of a denomination, but in studying my Bible I realize that my infant baptism is not what God wanted. I want to be baptized. I do not want to be a part of a denomination any more.”
So often I work with people who have undergone extreme mental gymnastic training to alter the New Testament’s simple and clear teaching on baptism. In my experience, to at least grant them the opportunity to scrape off those accumulated human traditions often requires providing them with tools capable of allowing them to consider reexamining salvation by faith, baptism and some taken-out-of-context proof-texts.
Tools can provide the opportunity to objectively reevaluate. But what it really comes down to is the heart. What does the person really value? Does a person cling to the security of one’s own inherited faith, the peace of mind which comes with swimming with a large school of fish or something like embracing the simple cohesive gospel message, even if it might not be popular?
This past Monday, Catherine commented during our Bible study about her personal journey, “For so long I had looked at these verses, but I never had eyes to see. Now I see.” It was her desire to be humble and obedient to God that had equipped her to perceive clearly.
A few minutes later, she confessed her belief in Christ and her desire to rely upon what his death has made possible. Then she was plunged beneath the water dying to an old life that God’s power might make her alive with Christ raising her up to a new life in him (Colossians 2:12-13; Romans 6:3-4; Acts 2:38).