The Christians who meet at the Gospel Hall in Ballingry are still coming down from a wonderful meeting last night at which two teenagers were baptised.
Perhaps some of you are surprised that it was teenagers who were being baptised rather than babies. At the meeting we were reminded that it was the Lord Jesus who said “Go … and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28v19). The One whom Christians seek to follow commissioned us to baptise ‘disciples’, that is, those who have made a conscious decision to follow Christ. We obviously are aware of what is practised by many but it is difficult to see how the words of the Lord Jesus can be understood to mean babies or to find a single example of the early christians baptising a baby.
The two young people were baptised by complete immersion in a large tank of water. Perhaps this too surprises you! You might be even more surprised to learn that there is almost universal agreement among Bible scholars, regardless of what they actually practice, that the verb ‘to baptise’ means ‘to make fully wet’ and that the early Christians baptised in exactly this way! Although they would generally agree that this was the original practice many teach that all that is important for us now is the symbol and that it is not vital to follow the original mode of baptism precisely. But this misses the beautiful symbol that baptism represents. In Romans 8 the Apostle Paul explains it in this way “do you not know that as many of us as were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom 8v3-4). The individual who has accepted the Lord Jesus as their Saviour is reckoned, so far as God is concerned, to have died with Christ. That is, the punishment for their sin has been dealt with in Him. Having died with Him it is then as if we have also risen with Him to walk a new kind of life. Baptism by immersion in water symbolises this death-burial-ressurection. That is why it is important that only disciples are baptised – there is no point in symbolically burying someone who has never ‘died’! And this is why it is so important that the original practice is maintained otherwise the picture is lost completely.
What about you? You may have been ‘baptised’ as a baby by having water sprinkled upon you, but can you honestly say that you made a conscious decision about that? Are you willing now to make a responsible choice before God to repent of your sin and to accept Christ as your Saviour? If you are then you could be the next candidate for baptism at Ballingry!