This weekend in worship we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus. Baptism is intended by God to be a gift to anyone who would receive it by faith. Too often, Baptism has been a source of conflict and division among people of faith. I am certain it causes God much heartache that one of His most “proud” moments (His voice was audible for all to hear when the heavens opened and God bellowed, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.”), we turn into a weapon of division.

My hope in this “Corner” is to remind each of us that what God says is true so we can receive God’s gifts and bless one another. It is not my intent to give you more “ammunition” for your spiritual debates with family or friends from other churches.

Is Baptism “real” or “symbolic”? – We believe Baptism is not just an “outward sign of an inward belief,” but that by receiving Baptism in faith, God actually, literally in that moment, removes our sins, fills us with the Holy Spirit and adopts us as His children, just as He spoke those words of identity over Jesus at His Baptism. (Scriptures to study: Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, Galatians 3:26-27, Mark 16:16)

Does Baptism “guarantee” Heaven? Yes and no! Baptism guarantees Heaven because God promises to be with you and never leave you. If you turn to God, He will never turn His back on you! Many people reject Baptizing children because of the perception that it gives these people a “blank check” to sin. This is false. God teaches us that the faith given a baby needs to be nurtured and cared for or it could get “stolen away by sin.” (1 John 1:8-10, Matthew 13:22)

Does someone “need” to be Baptized? Baptism is the first gift God wants to give you. If someone says they believe in Jesus as their Savior and rejects Baptism, this is a problem. But it is faith that saves, not Baptism. Someone who has not had the opportunity to be Baptized is not condemned because of this. (Romans 10:17, Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 8:26-40)

How many and what type of Baptism is “right”? There is one God, one Lord and one Baptism! His instructions are to Baptize with water and in His name — nothing more, nothing less. Requiring anything more or less than this (age, immersion, special water, etc.) is an opinion of man, not a request from God. Anyone desiring to be Baptized a “second time” should realize the second Baptism is nothing more than a symbolic re-enactment of the first time God saved you through His precious promise. The individual and God’s Kingdom would be better served with the giving of a public testimony of how God is at work in you giving you this great desire. We call this testimony “Confirmation” (more on that later).