November 12, 2015

3 Good Reasons to be “Re-Baptized”

by Jordan Standridge

One of my favorite events that we get to experience in the church age is Baptism. To watch someone courageously declare the Lordship of Jesus in their life is an awesome blessing to witness. It is a declaration of freedom. It is the symbol of being dead to sin and alive to Christ. (Rom 6:11) It is the announcement that it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me (Gal 2:20). That’s why we believe in believer’s baptism. That is someone who knows the difference between good and evil and can declare their commitment to Christ.

Sometimes in our circles (those who do not believe baptism saves) we are tempted to minimize the importance of baptism, but it is of vast importance. Baptism is the way a person declares their commitment not only to Christ but to a local body of believers as well (Acts 2:41). This declaration of commitment is why churches require baptism before membership. I believe that for the sake of obedience to Jesus and for the sake of conscience we should take the practice of baptism seriously.  So, in light of the importance that Scripture places on baptism, here are three reasons which might lead a person to consider getting “re-baptized.”

You weren’t saved

The testimony of Scripture is that baptism is something that which follows salvation (Acts 2:41, Acts 8:12, Acts 8:35-36,i_said_i_wanted_to_hear_more_about_islam_540 Acts 9:18, Acts 10:44-48). It is interesting that the believers who had received John’s baptism are asked to be baptized again, this time into Christ (Acts 19:3-5). It is imperative that we be baptized once we have expressed faith in Jesus Christ. People can be saved as young children, it absolutely happens, but because of the easy-believism problem especially in the United States many have said “the prayer” as a kid but were not truly converted. Many of these people then proceeded to be baptized, only to realize years later that they were not truly born again and needed to still repent and put their trust in Christ. If this is you I would encourage you to obey Christ and be re-baptized. For my brothers and sisters who were baptized as infants, I would also encourage you to obey the Lord and be baptized after you believe, since no one is born born-again.

It wasn’t a biblical baptism

Scripture is also clear about the method and mode of believers baptism.  Jesus says in Matthew 28 that we funny-baby-catholic-baptismshould baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Say you were baptized in a One-ness Pentecostal Church, or in a Church of Christ that teaches salvation through baptism. Both churches, despite being cults, teach enough Bible to lead people to Christ. And both churches get baptism wrong. The first does not administer a Trinitarian baptism (because they err on the Trinity) the second teaches baptismal regeneration. Because of the clarity with which Scripture describes the practice of baptism, and because the practices of these churches run so counter to that description, I am convinced that these baptisms would be invalid since they were not administered in a biblical way. If you are a believer who has come from these traditions or if your conscience is bothering you, the safe move would be to be re-baptized or more accurately, be baptized for the first time. A secondary benefit of being re-baptized for a case like this, is that people in your Church will be encouraged and edified by your obedience and will gain a deeper understanding of the importance of baptism. Being baptized through sprinkling would also be an invalid baptism as the word baptize (Baptizo) in the Greek literally means immersion. So on top of the fact that you weren’t saved at the time of your sprinkling you also were not immersed.

Submission to leadership

Say you were baptized as an infant in the Presbyterian church, and despite my best efforts above, you are still immersionconvinced that paedobaptism is the more appropriate practice. But because there are no biblically sound Presbyterian churches around you, you attend the local Bible or Baptist church. Most of these churches require believers baptism (full immersion) for membership. Which is more important? To submit to the elders and become a member or to hold on to your paedobaptist beliefs? Most Baptist churches would withhold the Lord’s supper from someone who has not been baptized, and you definitely don’t want to have to pass the plate as it comes by.

Thankfully baptism is not what saves us. Salvation is an act of God where he takes our heart of stone and gives us a new heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26) So ultimately it’s a matter of conscience and obedience. There are many bad reasons to be re-baptized if you are considering being re-baptized I would sit down with your elders and talk through it with them and trust their leadership. We have to guard against the feeling that since baptism doesn’t save it loses importance and priority.

Jordan Standridge

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Jordan is a pastoral associate at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA, where he leads the college ministry. He is also the founder of The Foundry Bible Immersion. You can find his personal blog at surrender.us.
  • Alex

    Great post, Jordan. I just had a few questions about reason #3.
    – Why do you think it is appropriate for Christians to place a higher value on commitment to and inclusion in a local body of believers over their individually held beliefs on matters of Christian practice?

    – Do you have any particular passages of Scripture you would use to substantiate that assertion?

    – Why would mode and method of baptism fall into the category of “appropriate for personal submission to local church elders,” but something like the divinity of Christ not fall into that category? At what point is submission no longer the appropriate practice for individuals? Where do you draw the line?

    Thanks.

    • Jordan Standridge

      Hebrews 13:7 would say to trust your elders and submit to their authority, that’s why I ultimately point people to speak with their leadership in this matter. Of course if the leadership is calling us to do things that are contrary to the Gospel, we should not only decline but we should reconsider going to such a church, but if they are asking us to do something which they back up with scripture, then for the sake of unity and for the sake of obeying Hebrews 13:17 I would submit.

      Your thoughts?

  • tovlogos

    Thank you, Jordan — I appreciate your passion; however I summarily disagree. All I will say is, every time you see the word Baptism, which means “immersion” it does not refer to a physical water rite. Your quote of Ezekiel 36 (add verses 24-27) is God talking to the Jews which extends itself to John 3:5. Also, John 3:3 is what makes the “spiritual” awakening necessary to possess the New Life, without any ritual whatsoever. I have am convinced you are not altogether correct, with all due respect. Matthew 28:19 is about more than a ritual, and like all other passages is subject to be compared with Scripture to make full sense of it. There are many things Jesus said regarding “obedience”, which goes like water under the bridge. The millions of people who have been subject to that ritual didn’t seem to do a thing for the Church — more compromised that ever, as we approach 2 Thessalonians 2. God willing we both can still get to the kingdom with our differences.

    • Jordan Standridge

      Thanks for commenting, so just to clarify, you disagree that Christians should be baptized at all?

      • tovlogos

        No, I believe Christians must be baptized; but by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit indwelling, I believe, happens when someone sincerely believes in Jesus, as in Romans 10:9-19.
        It is very important to to realize exactly why Jesus was baptized in water — as a sign to John the Baptist (John 1:31-33); and the fulfill all righteousness — a righteousness that was recognizable to a Jew, for sure, based on the Levitical laws.
        I have heard so many rationalizations for why the Thief on the Cross, was not baptized and still made it to the kingdom. One person said, He must have been baptized at some time.
        The confusion takes place when people say it will not save you but you “must’ do it.
        Yet what we “must’ do is worship God in spirit, since He is spirit. (John 4:24); we must love one another; we must love God.
        So, If I set out to make the case, this is a sense of where I am headed. Thanks.
        Mark

        • Jane Hildebrand

          Mark, to your point, I also learned that among the numerous ceremonial cleansings required by the Law, the Jews required full immersion (Tevilah) in what they termed “living water” for converts to Judaism.

          I had never learned that before, so now it makes sense why Jesus invited them to receive this “living water” through new birth. You may have already known that, but if not, just a fun fact to pass onto you. 🙂

          • tovlogos

            Absolutely, Jane — there are numerous antidotes from old to new, which Jesus ‘slowly’ revealed to people as He prepped them to awaken to the New Covenant. And keeping mind, there was no New Testament when He started His ministry.
            Look at Matthew 8:4 — would He have said that to a Gentile? Of course not; and after a while He no longer said that even to the Jews. He made the great Transition, on the way the something much higher.
            He knew so well that if He did not approach Israel like a warrior David, He would have to be very convincing to a very shrewd lot of leaders. So He was very gradual.

    • Jason

      It’s true that a person does not become a member of the body of Christ through water baptism. However, the practice in the early church was one of a person publicly declaring their commitment to the Way.

      To me this whole discussion is similar to the head covering discussion over 1 Corinthians 11. It can be argued (persuasively) that women wearing head coverings today do nothing to demonstrate their submission to their husbands, as was the social convention of that time. Today, people would likely just assume you were a practicing Muslim.

      However, it’s troublesome that, as we’ve thrown out all these traditions that served as object lessons, we have also seen a decline in people even thinking of what they used to represent in a positive light.

      Israel was given a massive number of regulations and rituals. We know they had no value in themselves, but they were a reminder of what God had done and a symbol of what God would do so that the people would never forget his works or promises.

      I’m a person who’s not a huge fan of ritual and traditions, but I sometimes wonder if, in our attempt to prevent people from placing too much weight in the rituals, we sometimes remove practices that would have helped serve as a constant reminder for the next generation of exactly how we are different from the world.

  • robertetozier

    Cathedral of the Madeleine (Salt Lake City) official told me they believe in immersion, but not necessarily submersion, as we looked at their walk-in, ankle-deep baptismal. Of course there are other, more profound differences.

  • Lee

    Jordan, you reference Acts 2:41 as your first scripture used to substantiate the idea that baptism follows salvation. This would disregard verse 38 which clearly states that the purpose of baptism is for the forgiveness of sins – the very thing that separates us from God (Isaiah 59). Furthermore a pattern is set forth after the start of the church here where believers were called to repent and be baptized – even Paul was obedient to this. The scripture referenced in Romans 10 is written to Jewish Christians residing in Rome but who, after being converted, could struggle with Jesus Messianic status despite their original confession.
    In any case I’d encourage you to do a study on how we get “into” Christ, as it states in Galatians 3, Romans 6…and the list goes on. Another worthy reference is the early church father’s writings, specifically Tertullian of the Anti-nicene Fathers, Vol III.

  • Richard French

    If you are truly born again, you will know it.

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  • Corey Fleig

    In principle I agree with what was presented, but I do have some “philosophical” issues, primarily with #2.

    Is the manner of baptism efficacious? It sounds to me that Jordan is saying “yes.”
    That’s my impression. He’s saying the manner, the words, etc. all apply, and where something fails the “Biblical formula,” the baptism fails.

    If I understand it correctly, then it might be true for truly efficacious for things like confessing Christ as Lord – now that would be efficacious. In this case, words do matter.

    But baptism – I’m not so sure. Is anything about baptism efficacious? We always say at our church “Baptism does not save you.” If that’s true, then how correct or
    incorrect you perform the rite may possibly be moot.

    I think Jordan’s better answer is if your conscience is clear about it. I was baptized in a charismatic setting, even though I’m a committed cessationist and conservative evangelical. I also got baptized so young, but my point is, my mind
    is fully satisfied that I obeyed God and pleased Him, even knowing that the church
    I was baptized at isn’t my home church.

    My wife, on the other hand, was baptized at a cult church, even though the cult
    church – in this particular application – performed the baptism spot on. In other words, she was attending the cult church, the minister said all the right things,
    it was a trinitarian application (despite being a cult church), and yet, when she
    learned her old church was a cult church, her conscience was so bothered that
    she just had to re-examine everything.

    What’s the difference between her story and mine? All I’m asking is this: if someone being baptized hears the minister say, “In the name of Christ I do hereby
    baptize you” and sprinkles water over their head, what is YHWH’s response?

    • Jane Hildebrand

      That is a great question that I too have. My issue is that I became saved before ever attending a church, so I was truly unaware of baptism as a public declaration. But out of obedience to what I believed the Bible was saying regarding baptism, I asked my husband (then newly saved also) to baptize me in a Super 8 hotel pool. (That looks so much worse now that I see it in writing).

      Anyway, it appears that from a church perspective my baptism was not valid, although I know my heart was in the right place. So my question also is, what is God’s response?

    • Jordan Standridge

      I would say the Manner in which you are baptized matters but only as far as obedience to Christ is concerned. I wouldn’t use the word efficacious as it connotes in my mind at least some type of mystical occurrence in baptism, I would reject that as I believe it’s just a symbol, and a matter of obedience. I do think ultimately it comes down to conscience and in your case you concluded that your wife should be re-baptized and you shouldn’t. I would probably agree based on what you wrote here. But I would need more information before I could counsel someone. As a church leader I would take each situation case by case. I will stress the importance that it is not a salvific issue.

      • Archepoimen follower

        Jordan,
        Your points above, other than number 3, do not mean anything if indeed you believe baptism is just a symbol, and a matter of obedience! The mode, method or even means would not be relevant in this.
        Baptism is clearly much more than you recognize. It is the place we make contact with Christ’s death and resurrection, Romans 6. It is the place where our conscience crys out for forgiveness, 1 Peter. It is the place where we receive the Holy Spirit as a gift, Acts 2:38.
        Does baptism save? Of course not, Jesus’ faithfulness and our faith in Him is the source of our salvation yet, baptism is the place all of the Grace of our relationship with Christ is visualized.
        Is baptism essential, no, but it is necessary in f we are gonna walk fully in the newness of life !
        Tim

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