This Time My Baptism Is for Real
“I was present when I was baptized as an infant. But although present, I did not have any experience of it at that time. Now I feel it. Now it is real for me, so now I want to be baptized again. I want to undergo this baptism fully aware. People around me may say that my first baptism was the real one, but I disagree. Besides, the group where I find myself at home now are of the opinion that it is not a matter of being baptized again, for if I get baptized now it will be the only real baptism. Infant baptism does not count. It is unbiblical. I want to stay close to the Bible and that is why I now choose to be baptized as an adult, now that I truly believe and can testify to that.”
One often hears these arguments today. What do you think of that when you want to hold onto God’s Word?
Jesus Is Baptized
Sometimes you are suddenly confronted with an expression you did not expect. People who want to let themselves be baptized anew may come with the argument, “Jesus was baptized too! He was already circumcised and received baptism later. So I can let myself be baptized, even though I have already been baptized (where baptism has replaced circumcision).”
But these people forget or are ignorant of the fact that when the Lord Jesus was baptized, it was not the same as the Christian baptism that he instituted shortly before his ascension into heaven: “in the name of the Father, of the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
John did not yet know this formulation, and so he could not baptize people in this way. The baptism of John had a very different character. It was a baptism of repentance, which people had to undergo, anticipating the coming of Christ. It was a temporary baptism that has been replaced with the baptism Christ instituted, and therefore cannot be compared to Christian baptism. Matthew 28 comes after Matthew 3. It is similar to Jesus telling his disciples at first not to go to the Gentiles, and only later commands them to go into the world to make disciples of all nations.
Let us keep all things in their proper place in the Bible!
Whoever has been baptized is only baptized once. It is not something you can repeat!
You may ask yourself, “Why not?” Just as the Israelites could only be circumcised once, so you can only be baptized once. For what is happening at your baptism? The Name of the Triune God is connected to your name. You are baptized into the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This God writes his Name on your forehead. Whether this happens through sprinkling or immersion makes no difference, for both methods appear in the Bible.
In your baptism you receive a sign and seal of God’s covenant. Baptism directs you to the God of the covenant, once and forever. Just as you are only born once and you receive your name, so you can only be baptized once, and you bear the name pronounced at your baptism.
Perhaps you want to deny this name, but his name can never be erased from your forehead. Everywhere you go you carry this name. When you come into God’s judgment, you come to stand before him with this name. “What have you done with my Name?”
On Your Forehead
The Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is written on your forehead!
The devil knows it. And the world sees it.
Therefore, you can only come to places where everything is in harmony with a life with the Lord. When you come to a place where it would compete with the Name of God, then you cannot be there, You are baptized!
It labels your life. Either this, or you need to turn away from the God of your baptism, not wanting to have anything to do with Him. But even then the waters of the sea could not wash away your baptism. Jesus remarks that you will then be held doubly accountable. He warns: it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon in the Day of Judgment than for you!
It is for that reason that baptism corresponds to a life in accordance with that baptism, a life lived for the Father, for the Son, and for the Holy Spirit. When you are baptized you can and should pray every day: “Father, I want to be your child and live like a child of yours. Son of God, be my Saviour and wash away all my sins in your blood. Holy Spirit, give me a new heart, and live and work in me.” Whoever prays like this, will receive; whoever seeks such a God, will find Him.
A New Life
When you truly mean that (that is, living in accord with your baptism, living with the God of your baptism), there is another side to your being baptized. You are called to forsake the world, to fight against sin, to mortify your old nature, and to walk in a Godfearing, new life.
Having been baptized entails living altogether for the Lord. He was the First in your life. He is worthy to be served, your whole life long.
When you take your baptism seriously, then it is not in the first instance a matter of a good feeling, but a desire to walk before God in true love for him. You will understand and experience more and more that it is a lot more about who He is and about his will, than about what you at a certain moment of your life are feeling and want to experience.
The Holy Spirit gives a new heart and therefore new life, totally dedicated to serve the Lord.
That this also entails making a heartfelt confession is obvious. The Lord calls you to do it. It is not sufficient to sing along with others in church, “My heart is steadfast, O my God. Your mercy I will ever laud; your name I will in song extol.” Yes, that belongs as well. But what is important is to confess the Name of the Lord in your everyday life. “For whoever acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father, who is in heaven,” says the Lord Jesus.
This article was translated by Wim Kanis.