Sunday, February 10, 2008

Motives for Baptism

"He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned'" (Mark 16:15-16, NIV).

"Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'" (Acts 2:38, NIV).

Last Thanksgiving, my 15-year old cousin came to me with a question that was troubling her. She is a member of a Church of Christ in one of Tulsa's suburbs. Her boyfriend had died about 2 weeks before Thanksgiving from a congenital heart problem. A few months before, he had been baptized at a Baptist summer camp. Her question was, "Is he okay? Will I see him in heaven?"

I sympathized with her. One of my friends died when she was just a few days short of her 16th birthday. She perished in a flood at the end of my sophomore year in high school. So I knew some of her feelings.

I let my cousin know that if her friend had been motivated in his baptism by faith in Jesus Christ and a change of heart about his sins and his need for God, she did not need to worry. He was at home with the Lord. It did not matter that he had been baptized by a group different than hers (and mine). He needed only faith in Jesus Christ and repentance in order to be baptized according to the Bible. He could have been baptized in an Assembly of God, a Baptist Church, a Bible Church, a Christian Church, a Church of Christ, a Church of God, a Community Church, etc. He could have been baptized by a military chaplain in Iraq or Afghanistan. He could have been baptized by a prison minister who visits the local jails and prisons. The important thing is that he had a faith and a repentance prompting him to follow Jesus in being baptized. The benefits flow from such motives, not from who does the baptizing.

If I have any readers who have not been baptized because of faith in Christ and a repentant heart, please consider the passages that I quoted at the beginning of this post. If I can help you with being baptized, please leave a comment with information about how I can help. I would like to help if I can.

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