Here is a letter I sent off earlier today to someone who is really seeking God right now. I thought it might prove helpful to others in a couple of ways and so I thought I would post it.
Here are some things to consider as you think about this decision. Baptism is not a destination, it is a part of the process of spiritual transformation that should come out of faith in God. When people are baptized it is out of a conviction that Jesus is Lord (that is master) and that they want to follow him and be part of God’s people. It is never something we do to please anyone but God. It is between you and God. Here are some scripture that are in the Bible that help us understand baptism better.
Matthew 3:13-17 – Jesus was baptized even though he didn’t have any sin. He did it to please God. We are similar to Jesus in that we are also baptized out of obedience to God but we are different because Jesus did not have any sin and we do. Baptism has a slightly different meaning for us than it had for Jesus.
Matthew 28:16-20 – This passage is after Jesus has been crucified and raised from the dead. He shows up again! He teaches the disciples and sends them off with these words. Part of the mission of the church is to baptize people into the Father, Son, and Spirit. He promises to be with us. With some of Jesus’ last words, he could have said, “Make sure you sing” or “Make sure you take the Lord’s Supper.” He could have said many things but he especially points out baptism. Why? Turn to Romans and we will do some digging to try to understand what they understood about baptism.
Romans 3:23 – We have all sinned/done things that we shouldn’t. We are all in the same boat in that we have all needed forgiveness at some point.
Ephesians 2:1-3 – This says the same thing – at one time we were all apart from God and needed to be reconciled (made right) with God. Notice he says that in that condition we are objects of wrath – we are people deserving punishment. What kind of punishment? See Romans 6:23 – the punishment that results from sin is ultimately death.
But look at the rest of Ephesians 2:4-10. Notice the words he uses – “God…made us alive.” “God raised us up.” “It is the gift of God.” How does God make us alive, raise us up, and give us a gift we don’t deserve? See Romans 6:1-4. Notice he uses some of the same language – that through baptism God raises us up to live a new life. This is a gift because we don’t deserve it. Some people want to call baptism a work and as you just read in Ephesians our salvation doesn’t come by works, only by grace. Baptism is not something we do but something God does to us. We don’t baptize ourselves but we submit to it and someone baptizes us. Through that, God starts to change us from the inside out. Read some more in Romans 6:4-7 – Paul is painting a picture of what happens when we are baptized. When you are lowered in the water, almost like being lowered into a grave, you are being united with Christ in his death. What kind of death? Paul says that the old self was crucified with Christ so that sin might no be a part of our lives any more. But even better than that, we aren’t left in the grave forever, we are also “united with him in his resurrection.” As we rise from the waters of baptism we are united with Christ in his resurrection from the dead just as he rose up from death and are a part of the kingdom of God. Our sins are washed away and we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
Paul also talks about this in Colossians 2:11-13, “In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins…”
This is pretty graphic language in using the word circumcision. He is saying that the circumcision done by God is not done to remove flesh but it is done spiritually by God through baptism that is removing something from our lives – it is removing sin and death. Through it God is giving us life.
Having said all of that, I would strongly encourage you to consider it. Starting a new life with ______ and with _______ you are really growing in so many ways. This is totally up to you but it seems to me that your faith in God is really beginning to show in ways that may not have been there when you were 12 and doing this in front of your parents. I am here to encourage you and be a resource and mentor for you in whatever way I can. We can discuss this more if you like. You are in my prayers.