Recently I have received news that people planning to come to a service at Spurgeon have been unable to do so because of a higher priority event in their lives. In the case of a local preacher (Brethren) due to preach in the evening it was because his daughter was being baptised that Sunday and yesterday a church member called me to say they would not be able to attend this morning because they were going to Vazon Bay for a relative's baptism by total immersion in the sea - being carried out by an Anglican church on the Island.
A family baptism is a wonderful event and the right priority in each case, but why baptism? Isn't it just the religious ceremony for joining the a church and why the practice of "total immersion" isn't a "sprinkling" as a baby enough ?
Believers’ baptism is a central part of what it means to be a “Baptist” but is not limited to our "demonimation", as evidenced by our brethren and anglican brothers and sisters in Christ. It is also the scriptural pattern. The Bible teaches “believe / repent and be baptised” Acts 2v28. We therefore believe baptism follows a decision to follow Jesus and in our understanding of scripture that must be the person themselves not a relative or loved one, however well meaning a relative's wished maybe. We feel it also ties in with current thinking on personal rights and responsibilities.
In case we think we do not "need" baptism we should remember that Jesus was baptised, John 1. If it was a necessary act of obedience for Jesus the sinless son of God, how much more we who have so much to leave behind?
Baptism then speaks of more than just a joining of a church or denomination. It is an act of love and obedience to Christ. It is the means whereby God speaks of a burying of our old life without Christ and we rise to new life in Christ. Hence the 'total" immersion. In the early church baptism was "total" because that is what it meant to follow Christ. The life before Christ was left "as dead", rising up out of the water to a new life "in Christ" and "with Christ".
Baptism is part of the Christian experience and we pray God’s richest blessing on all being baptised at Vazon this morning and pray we will have more baptisms in the Island in the future.