by Clay Holland
I was nine years old when I decided that it was time for me to get baptized. I had been hanging around the church since birth and my parents had me involved in everything from RA’s to the hand bell choir. I remember my mom dragging me to the church with my older sister when she wanted to talk to the pastor about getting baptized. As soon as she was done, much to everyone’s surprise, I waltzed right on in to his office and said that I wanted to become a Christian, invite Jesus into my heart, and be baptized. Later, I was dunked, I dried myself off, my parents threw a party, and I was sealed for eternity, right?
But then in middle school I entered a rebellious stage in my life. It was at this point that I stopped going to church, starting getting angry with my parents, and really testing the waters of some serious sin. These small acts developed into serious sin issues that grew over the next few years. As I entered into high school it was apparent to me that I was not a Christian. As a matter of fact I was quite comfortable in claiming atheism for myself. Long story short, after a semester in college the Lord revealed to me that the life I had been living was empty and was leading to death. After hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ – that I was rescued from death and into life through Jesus’ death and resurrection – I experienced radical transformation.
Then I remember seeing multiple baptisms happen at Mercy Hill and wondering if I needed to get baptized again. After some research into what baptism actually means I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t that I needed to get re-baptized, it was that I needed to be baptized properly for the first time: baptized as a profession of genuine faith in what Christ had done on my behalf.
Baptism is an outward expression of inward change. Romans chapter 6 says that in baptism we are “baptized into the death of Christ, and just as Christ was raised from death we too might walk in newness of life.” After I made this proclamation through baptism at a young age was I walking in newness of life? No, I was not. In the book of Acts there are numerous counts of people coming to faith in Christ then immediately being baptized. The picture Luke draws for us in his writing of Acts is that baptism always follows genuine belief.
You may have been baptized at a young age like me or maybe even as an infant. Believer’s baptism is the expression of personal faith, and is a public profession whereby you identify with Christ’s death and resurrection. This obedient act that Christ commands of believers in his great commission (Matthew 22:18-22) comes after faith not before it. If you’ve never been baptized after you committed your life to following Jesus, I write this to encourage you to be baptized. Believer’s baptism is a joyful privilege that we as believers are called to. Don’t think of this as a shameful do-over; rather rejoice that Christ has laid down his life for you in order that you might inherit the kingdom. Profess this incredible news with your life and talk to one of our leaders about getting baptized.