"Nothing more impressive than an intellectual and spiritual approach to seeking truth and a willingness to embrace it unconditionally."

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Urgency of Baptism: Why Tarriest Thou

Over the years that I have been in Pentecost I have witnessed thousands of people baptized in hundreds of churches. Much of this goes back to the days that I traveled with my father as kid growing up on the evangelistic field. I have seen all sorts of approaches and ideas concerning when to baptize someone. Please indulge me momentarily as I "immerse" myself in this issue.

There are some that are very quick to baptize people, while others are very hesitant to baptize people. I have seen pastors who have refused to baptize people for a while, even after they have repented and received the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

This is done for various reasons, but mostly because of certain outward standards that are not immediately in order. Sometimes a person would be made to wait until the following service because the baptistry was not prepared. This ought not ever be the case in an Apostolic church; we of all people out to have our baptismal tanks ready at all times.

Whatever the various reasons were, I have been amazed at times at the lack of urgency in baptizing people who have truly repented. Let me make it clear that I wholeheartedly believe that repentance is a prerequisite for baptism. I also wholeheartedly believe that the fact that God has filled a person with the Holy Ghost is the ultimate proof of repentance (Acts 5:32; 15:8-9), and therefore immediately qualifies them for baptism. Peter makes this very argument in defense of his baptism of the household of Cornelius.
"And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. 17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?" Acts 11:15-17 KJV
I like how the following commentaries put it:
Since God Himself has put them on a level with ourselves, by bestowing on them what the Lord Jesus pronounced the higher baptism of the Holy Ghost, would it not have been to withstand God if I had withheld from them the lower baptism of water, and kept aloof from them as still ‘unclean?’Jamieson, Fausset, Brown
"or hinder the baptism of these persons in water, whom God baptized with the Holy Ghost, and who believed in Christ Jesus: from whence it appears that the Spirit of God is a gift, which he bestows on whomsoever he pleases,...as on the apostles, so on Cornelius and his house: and hence they became qualified for the ordinance of baptism" John Gill
If their repentance has satisfied God's requirements to the point that He has baptized them with His Spirit, then their repentance ought to have satisfied our requirements to the point that we will baptize them in water. We should never place more requirements on water baptism than God places on Spirit baptism. According to Peter, to refuse water baptism to someone that God has given Spirit baptism is to "withstand God."

I want you to notice the kind of language that the book of Acts used in defining the urgency of the Baptism.
  • The same day-Acts 2:38-41
  • Here is water, what hinders me from being baptized-Acts 8:31
  • The same hour of the night and straightway-Acts16:27-33
  • When they heard-Acts 19:4-5
  • Why do you tarry? Arise and be baptized-Acts22:16
If Larry the Cable Guy was a preacher he would say to the person who had repented, concerning baptism, "Git 'Er Done!"

NOTE: This post was inspired by Pastor Pixler's sermon today.

3 comments:

  1. Great thoughts! I have never understood the hesitancy. I knew of one pastor who would make people conform to the standard or even sign a vow card before baptizing. This is ridiculous. As Paul said, why tarriest thou?

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  2. Thank you sir. I have a lot of respect for your views and appreciate your comments.

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  3. The only prerequisites for water baptism are repentance and belief. Apparently, repentance and belief go hand in hand-Mark 1:15

    If God fills them with His Spirit, why would we not baptize them? Can one receive the Holy Ghost without true repentance? I think not!

    According to Phillip, the only thing that would have come in the way of him baptizing the Eunuch when he asked what would hinder him from baptism was- "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest"

    On the Day of Pentecost, about 3000 souls were baptized. I doubt Peter and the rest of the Apostles had time to make sure all the men were clean shaven!

    As always, excellent article.

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