Sunday, September 14, 2008

I <3 Baptisms

I love witnessing baptisms and hearing testimonies. Today I had a chance to see how baptisms are done by Chinese Christian Church Brisbane as four brothers and one sister took that step of obedience and were baptized in front of many family and friends this afternoon. It was really cool to hear how God revealed Himself to these people, how God changed their lives, what they had to go through in order to reach where they are today and to see that they have decided to follow Jesus all the days of their life! We were all there to celebrate and hopefully we can all help them to continue to run the race to win the prize and keep them on track! Congratz to all!

I was happy to see that CCCB encourages water baptism by immersion. Of the various forms that I've come across (sprinkling and pouring come to mind), immersion definitely seems symbolically more significant and I would recommend it. I remember talking to a pastor back home about the various forms and he was okay with other methods and gave me some biblical support for sprinkling and pouring from the old testament. He talked a bit about the meaning of the Greek "baptizo":

1) to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk)
2) to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one's self, bathe
3) to overwhelm

This past year my church did a baptismal ceremony at a community wave pool. We booked out pool at like 6:30am on a Sunday morning before it opened up to the public and did it there. Seeing a few girls from the young adult fellowship group get baptized in the ocean at camp was also awesome.

Is immersion necessary? I've come across a few churches that insist on water baptism by immersion and will often require people to be re-baptized if another method was previously used. I personally think immersion is best but not absolutely necessary. What if the person is confined to a wheelchair? Or what if they have a medical condition where they can't be place into water? Like perhaps if they are bedridden and immunocompromised and want to be baptized? I think using sprinkling or pouring in those cases are okay. Baptism itself is not a determinant of salvation (and baptism without true repentance is meaningless). It's supposed to symbolize doing away with, or washing away, our old sinful lives and having our new lives in Christ. Whether a person is baptized with a sprinkle of water, a swimming pool full of water, or dunked into an ocean does not change the fact that they are included into God's family. I think that this relational aspect is key and that methodology of baptism should not be a divisive or exclusion factor within the church!

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Blogger Sheridan said...

There is nothing like tying an important internal commitment to a visible action. I still remember mine vividly, one of the most important days ever!

4:15 PM  

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