And now, why are you delaying? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’ Acts 22:16 CSB
Hey guys, welcome back to PSALMS to God podcast! Today's episode is on why I’m not baptized or rather it’s on what I think of baptism—I don’t know, y’all, we're talking about baptism. We're talking about being born again and all of the things that go along with it.
Understanding Baptism (00:01:23)
So I started believing in God at a very, very young age; and when I think about the fact that I grew up predominantly in a Baptist Church, it is very surprising that I'm not baptized, because Baptists put a huge emphasis on baptism. The main problem I had growing up with baptism was that I didn't understand it. I knew that Jesus was baptized and I knew that it was something that people did, but outside of a tradition, I didn't understand how it fit into things. The main teaching that was prevalent, I guess in my family and the church that I grew up in, was that baptism represented the death and resurrection of Jesus. Now that's not wrong; it's true. It does represent the death and resurrection of Jesus, but as a child what I couldn't get over was the fact that people were getting baptized well before Jesus died. And a lot of these people didn't think Jesus was going to die. The disciples were confused. They did not actually think Jesus was going to die. They thought He was going to establish His kingdom right there in Israel, right then in their lifetime, that He was going to expel the Romans and they were going to live happily ever after. They were not following Him thinking, “oh, we’re going to follow You for a couple of years, and then You're going to get handed over to the Romans and they're going to crucify You.” Like, that's not what they thought was going to happen. So my question was always, like, something else has to be tied to this whole concept of baptism, because all of this was going on—in fact, John the Baptist was baptizing people before Jesus even started His ministry. So what I really wanted to understand as a child was how all of these things tied in.
There is super simple answers to these questions—like, number one: Messianic prophecy. All of these people were awaiting the Messiah; they may not have known it was Jesus, specifically, but they knew that the Messiah was supposed to come. And then, of course, all of this ties into the feasts and the sacrificial system that God laid out from The Exodus onward. These are things that Paul refers to as “the shadow of things to come.” They all pointed to Jesus, and Jesus fulfilled the requirements. This is why Jesus was crucified at Passover: He was the Passover Lamb, and that's why it's important that Passover and the resurrection—well Passover and the crucifixion—happen simultaneously, and then, you know, the resurrection happening a few days later. This is how everything plays out—it's all symbolic. It's all fulfillment a prophecy that’s all playing in to the Baptism. And that would have been a very simple answer for the people at the church to give to me, but they couldn't.
And when they couldn't answer my question, I didn't think they knew what they were talking about. So I wouldn't let them baptize me, because I felt like you should know what you're talking about and what you're doing if you're going to baptize me, and I should fully understand what it is that I'm committing to and what I am staying with this action. I've always been someone who wants to know what it is that I'm saying and what it means. I think think it’s a very deliberate action, and I saw it as something that was very serious, and not something to do just because everyone's doing it, not to do it just because that's what is expected, or that's with traditional, and that is what prevented me from getting baptized at the moment that I decided that Jesus was Who He said He was.
Benefits of Modern Day (00:05:36)
Fast forward into present-day and you know, I did my studying I started to understand more about what baptism is and how it plays out—and you know, actually, before I continue the story, before I start to get into where I am in the baptism journey, I actually want to stop and talk some more about what baptism is, because we live in a society and a time where we are blessed beyond our wildest imagination. Yeah there's a lot of stuff going on; it's crazy. Things could definitely be better. That’s, you know, the problem with living in a fallen world, there's always something to complain about, but in previous times... So, like, if we go back to the days of Moses, and we go back to the days of Jesus, there were a lot of people who could not read. Bibles were not just out for people to consume, or I guess at that time, the Old Testament was not just out for people to consume. It was written on scrolls kept by the scribes and the priests, and you had to go to them to get knowledge and to get the Word of God, unless God blessed you and came and talked to you directly. Moving into, you know, the Dark Ages, there were Bibles and there were texts, but they were only translated into Latin. So if you didn't speak Latin, you couldn't read it. Once again, there were only certain people who were actually afforded the privilege of an education to know how to read. Then of course you know they started translating Bibles into the common vernacular, and so people could read it if they could speak that language, but once again you still had to be able to read, you still had to have access to the book, and that struggle has been going on. You know, it went on for a long time. I mean obviously I am a descendant of slaves. My ancestors were not allowed to read, therefore, they would not have been able to read a Bible, even though it would have been available in English, They couldn't have bought a Bible either. All kinds of problems that would have existed with that…
But in today's society, not only do most people have the ability to read, we have audio books so it can be read to you. We have Google and we have Ctrl+F—Y'all, you could find anything with Ctrl+F—or Cmd+F, for my fellow Mac users out there. But you can go on Google and you can type in, you know, “verses about baptism,” and just find list of verses about baptism. You don't have to memorize the whole Bible, or you know, search through it on your own to find it, which is a blessing. We can get to information so much quicker that way, and we should definitely be taking advantage of that.
Some Verses on Baptism (00:08:41)
And so with that being said, I’ll get deeper into the story about baptism and where I am on my journey; there are actually two verses that I want to read about it. One is expanding on what baptism is and what it symbolizes, and the other one is going to set the tone for what I'm going to talk about in terms of why I've struggled with getting baptized, since I've understood what it means.
The first verse I want to read is in 1 Peter 3:18-22: “For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, in which he also went and made proclamation to the spirits in prison who in the past were disobedient, when God patiently waited in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared. In it a few—that is, eight people—were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you (not as the removal of dirt from the body, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.”
Now a second verse I want to read is in Matthew 28:17-20: “When they saw him, they worshiped, but some doubted. Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.””
So, the reason I wanted to point out these two verses is because they highlight some things that I think are very important in baptism. The first is that baptism is a pledge. It is a pledge of your allegiance to God. It is a declaration that you believe in the Most High, that you accept the gift of salvation that Jesus has given us through His crucifixion and resurrection, and it is a...I guess a sign of surrender to Him—that you are submitting to his kingdom and making Him King over your life. The second verse speaks on the fact that you are baptized in that authority, that you are baptized in the name of the Father. the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and that you are following the teachings of Jesus and of Christ. So basically you're following what's written in the word of God, the Bible.
The problem that I've had since I understand what baptism is and have been trying to get baptized is that I don't want to be baptized into a denomination. I don't believe in denominations. Denominations are man-made organizations and are operating off of man-made traditions. Yes, I understand why there are denominations. I understand why the church is fractured, and it has a lot to do with Satan playing with words and confusing interpretations, so we believe things that are different doctrinally. That is why you choose to go to different churches. And I fully understand that, and I'm not saying that that's not valid, but the fact of the matter is, when you profess to believe in God, you're you're pledging—like, I said it's a pledge of allegiance, and I don't want to pledge my allegiance to the Baptist Church or the Methodist Church or the Seventh Day Adventist Church or the Presbyterian Church. I want to pledge my allegiance to Christ. There is only one body of Christ! People say ”the church” a lot of times they mean the church with the little C, but I'm talking about “the Church” with a Capital C, and that is the body of Christ that's following the word of God. They're keeping the law and the testimony of Jesus Christ and that has nothing to do with any man made entity, and I'm not trying to be out here calling myself by these names of these denominations.
It's interesting. I’ve met people that are like “Yo, I'm a Lutheran.” So you followed the teachings of Martin Luther? I’mma need you to not follow the teachings of Martin Luther, I’mma need you to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Martin Luther may have been trying to follow Jesus Christ, but at the end of the day Martin Luther is just a man, and he could have messed up. He could have gotten an interpretation wrong, or He could have got some right. At the end of the day your standard still needs to be Jesus, not Luther. I've seen this a lot. I attend a Seventh-Day Adventist Church, and a lot of times people get up and are like, “I'm an Adventist. Adventists do this. We’re Adventists. This is how Adventists behave.” And I’m like, “No, you're an Adventist. I am a follower of Christ.” I don't follow Adventism, because Adventism is a man-made institution, and it can be right in some cases, and it can be wrong in some cases. I agree with a majority of what I've know that they teach—I don't know what all they teach, to be honest, because like I said, I’m not an Adventist. The things that I do know, most of them I agree with, that's why I attend your church, but if at any point I think that your beliefs differ from what is taught by the Bible, then I'm going with the Bible. I'm not going with you because I'm a follower of Christ not of Adventism.
You know, it's interesting because to me it's so obvious because you just look at what you're calling yourself, and it's not pointing back to Christ. When I first walked in, and people kept talking about adventism, I'm not going to lie I didn't know what advent meant. And I grew up in a church! So if I didn't know what advent meant, and I grew up in the church, I grew up a believer, I grew up studying the Word of God... I took a theology classes in college, and I still didn't know what this word meant, you cannot tell me if you go up to the average person on the side of the street who doesn't know anything about God, that they're going to connect the word advent to Jesus Christ. I'm just not, I'm not buying that, I'm sorry.
And so, the problem I’ve had, is that normally when you go to somebody, they are not really interested in the concept of baptizing you just in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; they're trying to make you a member of their church with a little C, but I'm not trying to be a member of your church with a little C. I’m trying to be a member of the Church with a Capital C. I'm not... I'm not interested in extracurricular activities, OK? This ain’t about building resumes. This is not about all this other stuff. I'm not trying to have citizenship in all these other kingdoms and all this stuff; I'm only trying to be in The Kingdom, OK? There's only one Kingdom, and that’s the kingdom I'm trying to get citizenship in.
Baptismal Differences (00:16:55)
I've had... I've noticed that... I mean, if you go to these different churches, even how you go about getting baptized is different, and it boggles my mind. So growing up in a Baptist church: at every service they have an altar call. They ask you if you want to be baptized; you go down and say “yes, I want to be baptized. I've been called to be baptized.” You talk to the preacher, they give you a date, you to show up, they dunk you in the water, you've been baptized. You are now a member of the Baptist Church.
Now, that being said, there's a lot lacking, because there is no spiritual mentorship, or guidance and discipleship, or anything. It's kind of just random. Like you just walk up and say “I want to be baptized,” then it's done, which is what happened to a lot of my family members who grew up in a Baptist Church. And so it doesn't necessarily promote spiritual growth. So when I talked to the preacher at the church I attend and now, I fully understood his point of view that you know, baptism; it's about rebirth it's about being born again. And so you know, as he was saying, like an ideal situation is not a baby coming into the world with no family, right? You want them to have a family. That's what the church is for; that's why you're supposed to be baptized into a body of believers, and then you're supposed to be nurtured by those believers. It’s not the intent that you get baptized and then just go off on your own.
Of course that's not what I'm asking, either. It's not that I don't want to be affiliated with other Christians, it's being affiliated with a man-made religion. But even then, the way they do baptism is that when you express an interest in being baptized, they have a baptismal class and you have to attend this class. And in this class, they go over these fundamental beliefs of their denomination, which then, when you agree to be baptized you're basically affirming that you agree with those fundamental beliefs, and at that point, I feel like you're not being baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, you're being baptized in the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and all of these fundamental beliefs that belong to this man-made entity. You're pledging your allegiance to this doctrine.
And to be honest, I don't agree with all of the fundamental beliefs that they put before me. I didn't attend the class, either. I read the verses, and I read the pamphlet, and I read the booklet. And you know, there are parts of it that I'm like, “Yeah, I totally fully agree with that.” I didn't need to read the book to understand that or to believe that, but then there were parts that I was like, “Yeah, nope. I don't agree with that.” And then there were parts that I was like, “I don't know.” If you know anything about Seventh-day Adventists, you know that they think that Ellen White was a prophet, I've never read any of her writings. I don't know. I’ve heard some interesting things about her; there are some people who would definitely contest the fact that she's a prophet. I can't tell you one way or the other, but I'm really trying to study the Word of God. I'm trying to be solid on what The Word says, so I don't really have time to go off and be reading her writings, because at this point, I just want to be more solid, like I said, in The Word. And anything that is brought up outside of that has to be measured against The Word, and if I'm not solid in The Word, I can't tell you if she's a prophet or not, because I got to be solid with the Bible first. So I don't really have time to read about her to determine whether I agree or disagree. So I'm not about to commit to that to be baptized, obviously, and I don't think I should have to.
Even here, when they're baptizing people in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, they're not asking to affirm that Moses was who Moses was, that Moses was a prophet or that he was a prolific person in the grand scheme of things. They're asking “Do you believe that Jesus is the son of God, that he died on the cross to save you from your sins?” Now that being said, in order for these people to have affirm that, you have to come to the agreement that you know, what Moses wrote was from God, and that the prophecies that Isaiah outlined, and that these other people outlined were true, because they point to the Messiah. So all of that goes hand-in-hand, however, all of that is contained within the Bible, so in order to get baptized you really don't need to affirm anyone that comes after the Bible. In fact you shouldn't be affirming anyone that comes after the Bible, because what you should be affirming is that the Bible is the core of your belief, and anything that contradicts it is not of God. If you’re going with what's there, then sure maybe you are a prophet. You know, but that's not contingent upon me being baptized, if that makes any sense.
And so really the way I felt about it is that this is not the biblical way of baptism. I just want somebody to dunk me in the water and say “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” and I want it to be a profession of my allegiance to Christ and to God, the kingdom of God, and that I am committing to studying the Word of God, and allowing the Holy Spirit to teach me what I'm supposed to know. And that I'm committing to following whatever the Holy Spirit leads me to. So like I said, “the Church.” I don't really care about all of this man made extraness, and all of this stuff that's tradition and whatever the case may be. So that's really been the holdup of why I have not been baptized since I've come to the understanding of what it means to be baptized, and since I've accepted that explanation. But I do feel like I've been baptized of the Holy Spirit, because I have already committed to God and I have already surrendered to God.
Closing Thoughts and Prayer Request (00:23:57)
It’s not like I'm over here thinking like, “Well, I don’t know what I believe or if I believe.” Like that's not the case. And I do believe in baptism, and I do believe that we should be baptized, that we should be following the example that Christ set forth for us. For me it's just a matter of when and where, and finding somebody that understands what I'm saying when I say I want to be baptized into thee Church, and not some random church or a church. And that's basically where I am.
So for my prayer warriors out there that listen in, please pray for me and for the people surrounding me, you know, that the Holy Spirit will make a way, and that me and the pastor that I’ve been talking to come to some sort of agreement, and that you know I can finally take that step. Because I do think that once the Holy Spirit convicts you of something then you are obligated to carry it out in the manner that the Holy Spirit asks of you. And I feel like the conviction that the Holy Spirit has put on my heart is there for a reason. If it didn't matter then you know, I probably would have been baptized a year ago. It would have happened and I wouldn't have thought twice about it, but there is a conviction there, that it should be done the right way, and that conviction has been there for a while, and so I want to carry it out the way the Spirit has it planned to be carried out. And you know, for a while I felt some type of way about it. I felt like “Oh, maybe something's wrong with me. Maybe I'm confused. Maybe the devil is at work here,” but when I actually looked back at my own story, and I looked at Jesus' story. I realized that I think—no I know, that it's going exactly the way God planned it to. It parallels! I mean Jesus went to the Temple to learn when he was 12; I was about 12 when I came into the understanding of what I believed. But Jesus didn’t get baptized until he was 30; and I'm 30. So, we'll see. I'm just going to follow where the Holy Spirit leads, so stay tuned in. Like I said keep praying for me!
Thank you guys for tuning in. I hope this episode was a blessing. If you are also thinking about being baptized or you're not sure what you believe, I definitely encourage you to reach out to other believers, to read the word for yourself— like I said we live in a blessed generation where knowledge is at the tip of our fingertips, so I definitely encourage you to make the time to spend with God in the Word to try to get closer and to try to understand what it is you believe in. I will be praying for you, and you should pray for yourself that God would show you what direction he has for you, and I hope that you will also pursue citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven. So not only will I see you in the afterlife, but I will hopefully see you in the next episode. Thank you guys once again for tuning in. Don't forget to subscribe, like, follow on Instagram, whatever makes you happiest. You can find a transcript of this specific episode at www.psalmstogod.com/bornagain. See you next time.
References and Footnotes
- Hebrews 8:5; 10:1
- Clearly I was having trouble spiting my words out here.
- You’re right, I didn’t need as much as I read for context, but that’s what I saw first as I was recording, so I just went with it
- I don’t know why I worded this like this
- Revelation 12:17
- Of course the Ethiopian they met in Acts 8 definitely went off on his own after baptism so….
- I ended up getting baptized on April 7, 2019 by the same pastor I spoke about in this episode. I was honest about where I stood and what I believed and he decided to still perform the baptism 🙂