Forget all the debate and controversy about the act of baptism. Take out your Bible and let it answer your questions. For example:The person to be baptized must be a believer (Mark 16:16). The mode of baptism is by immersion (Acts 8:26-39. In baptism, you follow the example of Jesus and his command (Matthew 3:13-17; 28:19-20). Believers are required to repent before being baptized (Acts 3:19). Baptism is for the remission of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Baptism unites one with Christ (Romans 6:1-4). In baptism one ‘puts on Christ’ (Galatians 3:28). “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Too long have we allowed others to do our thinking. Open your bible and read the scriptures for yourself. There is no other higher authority or better way to arrive at the truth.
I was 23 years old and holding my first meeting in Alma, Georgia. After the service a lady told me she wanted to be baptized. There was a serious problem. Her husband informed her that he would “shoot the man that baptizes you!” She went on to say, “I will pray about it and see you at tomorrow evening service.” The lady’s husband was known in town to be a heavy drinker and one capable of carrying out the threat.
She was present the following night and mentioned that she was ready to begin her life with Jesus. The immersion (baptism) is like the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord (Romans 6:l-4). Her husband was waiting on the church porch while I was speaking. Those near him in the back, could hear him cursing as he paced back and forth. She came to the front at the conclusion of the preaching service and I asked her just one question, “Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God?” With rare courage she affirmed his strong belief while her husband stood in the open double doorway. Preparations were made, and I baptized her as her husband watched.
As she came up out of the water, her husband cursed, whirled away, slammed the door of his truck and scratched off leaving strips of rubber on the asphalt. There are times when it takes great courage to confess the sweet name of Jesus and follow his command. The greater the risk, the more wonderful the joy (Acts 8:39).
In the 50’s one of my preacher friends was a man named Rue Porter. He tells this true story in his book called “I REMEMBER”. Here it is, word for word.
“At Shell Knob, Missouri, I was preaching one miserably cold day. The thermometer registered ten below zero when we started to the meetinghouse. The ground was completely covered with sleet and ice and the crowd was rather small as a result of slick roads. I noted as I began to speak, a young mother with a tiny baby in her arms who had come in and was seated near the stove.
When the closing song was sung this young mother came forward and told me that she wanted to be baptized. I asked her “When?” She answered “Right now!” That started a murmur among the folk present. A few of them were not very well informed, I suppose, as they were heard to say, “It will kill her”, “it will make her sick”, or “she will die of pneumonia”.
Well, we went to the White River and Henry Applegate took a “crowbar” and walked out on the ice to where he thought the water would be of a proper depth for baptizing. He broke through the ice until a pit large enough had been broken through. He pulled a piece of ice up on top and measured it with a carpenter’s rule. It was eight inches thick. I slipped off into the water and two men took the woman by her arms and lifted her over the edge of the ice. I tucked her long coat about her feet as she was let down in the icy water, but she never so much as shivered! I baptized her and she was put into a car and taken back to a house where warm, dry clothing was provided.”
His true story reminded me of a mission trip we made to Russia (Ukraine) after the wall came down. Those who converted assembled at the edge of the “river of ice” (Kneper (pronounced “Neper” River) that ran though the heart of the city of Kremenchug. I was concerned about one old lady as she made her way out to deep water. My fears were soon forgotten when she her raise both arms and heard her shouts for joy as she came up out of the icy deep. One by one who turned from Atheism to Christ found the icy flow “just right” to be immersed. One replied, “O that ‘tomb’ was cold as Ice but I came forth a New Creature in Christ.”
You asked me one question, “Do you believe in Baptism?” Without hesitating my answer is “NO!!!”. I don’t believe in baptism, I believe in Jesus Christ who COMMANDS IT. I don’t believe in unleavened bread and grape juice on the “Lord’s Table”, I believe in his RESURRECTION. I have no faith in how thick the ice is or how cold the water. I’ll put my faith in Jesus Christ and follow his commands.