Today in Pt. 2, we will consider the comfort we receive when we Biblically see baptism as a work that God does in our lives. If you didn’t have a chance to read Pt. 1 you can find it here: Baptism Pt.1
So, let’s ask ourselves this question, is okay if someone wants to get baptized again?
That really depends ultimately on who is doing the work in baptism. If baptism is an oath, promise or commitment that I am making to God for myself our on behalf of my children then it is my promise I am making. Now some of us are really good at keeping our promises and some of us are not; we’re about as reliable as the weather in Cleveland!
But how good are any of us at keeping promises that will last for all of eternity? I’m not, not only am I not capable of that but I am not equipped to do that because my very being is not eternal in and of itself. So no I can’t do it. So I break my promise, even despite my best intentions. Do I get baptized again and again and again? If you’ve ever tried quitting a bad habit you know what that up and down is like, good times and bad times running at you like a roller coaster ride. If baptism is about me doing the work then there will never be any security or lasting hope found in the waters of baptism, only a roller coaster ride of emotions. Let us think about passages like this one from Titus 3:4-7.
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Titus reminds us that how God saves us is not through the intentions of our heart, our desires or even our love for Him, but according to His own mercy—not our good attitude. Now if baptism is something that God does for us that changes things a lot.
At it’s very heart is the question of how good is God at keeping eternal promises? Well…not only is he very good at keeping eternal promises but he perfectly keeps eternal promises because he is the only one who is both eternal and perfect. We can never say that about ourselves. If it is God who is making an eternal promise in baptism there are a few things you would expect:
1. It does not matter what the intentions of the heart are or even if the person can cognitively understand what is going on. Baptism does not depend upon the person receiving it for it to be valid, what matters is God who is doing the work in baptism.
2. This also means that the age of the person does not matter either, from tiny infant to dignified age and everything in-between, again God is doing the work here.
3. It also will mean that the method of baptizing is not as important as the how of Baptism. Let me explain. If I am baptized with a sprinkle, saliva from someone’s tongue, dousing, firehose or dunking doesn’t matter as much as what God requires for baptism to be valid, which is the water in whatever way it comes and God’s Command and Promise. Without the Command and Promise water given in any form is just water, but water given in any form with the Command and Promise of God is baptism. Just like Jesus came to us in both His humanity and as the Eternal Word in one person so too baptism comes to us in the water and the Eternal Word as well.
4. It will also mean that it does not matter who is doing the baptizing or the faith life of that person, a baptism done with the water and God’s command and promise is a promise that God is making not the person pouring on the water. Our responsibility is to conduct the baptism in the way God has commanded.
5. Finally, if we want to get re-baptized, for whatever reason, we are actually making a faith statement: that the first baptism didn’t take, I wasn’t emotionally ready for it, or I was an infant then but now I’ve decided for Jesus. But each one of those thoughts takes the work of baptism away form God and tries to place it in my hands instead. But we don’t want eternal promises in our hands, we can’t keep them, only God can do such a thing.
Thinking about this, what comfort and hope does this understanding of baptism convey to your Christian life?
(Tomorrow we will finish this series on Baptism asking the question “can someone reject baptism?”)