As a Church, we stress the importance of arriving at a personal faith in Christ Jesus as Saviour from sin and Lord of the life of each individual believer.
We then expect the believer to follow the example of Jesus by being baptised, and at the same time, or soon afterwards, to receive God’s gift of the Holy Spirit in an unmistakable manner.
Although the liberal use of water suggests that baptism is a ceremonial washing, indicating an inner cleansing, Scripture emphasises the act as being buried with or into Christ and rising with Him to a new life (Romans ch.6,v4 and Colossians ch.2, v12). It is also “the pledge of a good conscience towards God.” (1 Peter ch.3, v21).
Finding God’s Will
Coral: For a long time I believed that I was baptised. I had been Christened as a baby in the Church of England, by sprinkling, and did not know much about it. I was taken to Sunday School from about the age of three, and later was Confirmed when the Bishop came and laid hands on us. For some time I attended a Baptist Church and saw my first Baptism by immersion, but told myself – I have already been baptised.
A second problem was that I had also received the Holy Spirit, as described by Peter in the Acts of the Apostles chapter 2, verse 39. “Repent and be baptised…in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” With many other people,I had gone forward at a meeting in Scarborough, where hands were laid on me and I felt a pleasant, vibrating power beginning at the crown of my head and going right through me. I was told to have faith that I had received the Holy Spirit and that He would bless many others through me. Did not this indicate that God had accepted my infant baptism?
Looking again at Acts, this time at ch10 v34-48, “The Holy Spirit came upon all who heard the message (v44), and the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. That was the next hang-up blown away, baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit could happen in any order.
I had no memory of my baptism as a baby, I may even have slept through it. I kept looking in the Scriptures to help me make the right decisions, and found in Acts ch19. v1-6, Paul at Ephesus asks some disciples whether they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed. The surprising reply was that they had not even heard of the Holy Spirit when they had been baptised by John the Baptist.
Paul told them; “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. John told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus. On hearing this they were baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.”
Reading through the Scriptures, the disciples are very insistent that turning away from our old way of life (repentance) followed by baptism in water and receiving God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, all belong together.
My final hang-up was waiting to feel happy about it. Since we came to this church in 1994, I have been faced with Believer’s baptism and dreaded the embarrassment of the public ceremony. Then someone in the church one day described how he had also dreaded his baptism, so I accepted that I must be baptised, and now I feel happy about it! In fact, (looking into the pool), it looks quite inviting. I am here today because I want to please God and do His Will and that’s all that matters really, isn’t it? So here goes!
Knowing Christ Better
Betty: Thank you everyone for coming to this special occasion today; it is a great honour for me to have you all present as witnesses.
I am told that I was Christened originally in Salisbury cathedral when I was a baby, but I remember nothing about that. Since coming to this church regularly, however, I have got to know Jesus better, and had begun to think, wouldn’t it be wonderful to be baptised in our church – it’s my church as well – and feel that I was really part of this lovely Fellowship.
So that is how I came to decide to be baptised this morning. I hope all of you can relate to this brief account. When you are young you think nothing about faith in God, but as you get to know Christ better, you become more friendly and receptive of all that believing in Him involves, and feel more able to take this step which I am taking today.
Thank you again for being here with me.
For a long time we have had problems getting in and out of our baptismal pool because there were no permanent steps. The day before this baptism, with an infirm candidate, we were led to a set of swimming pool steps languishing in a barn, which when cleaned, fitted the purpose beautifully..
Praise the Lord !