Posted by: austend | Sunday, October 21, 2007

Baptists & Baptism

An acquaintance of mine was baptized this weekend in an Orange County church. Any other week that would have meant less to me. This week, however, I read Spurgeon’s Autobiography Vol I which contains one chapter recalling his own baptism. To Spurgeon, his baptism was not just one of those things that the Christian “must” do. For him, it meant much more. You see, his family was Dissenters from the Established Church of England (Anglican). But his grandfather and his father, both pastors, continued to baptize infants in the traditional style. Charles, though, as a young man of fifteen-years-old read the New Testament and came to the accurate conclusion that Scriptural baptism was for believers only. Under this conviction (mind you at fifteen-years-old) he determined to be baptized as a Baptist (those who believe in believer’s baptism). So the ordinance of baptism meant much for Spurgeon.

 

“Baptism is the mark of distinction between the Church and the world. It very beautifully sets forth the death of the baptized person to the world. Professedly, he is no longer of the world; he is buried to it, and he rises again to a new life. In the immersion of a believer, there seems to me to be a wondrous setting forth of the burial of the Christian to all the world in the burial of Jesus Christ….I became a Baptist through the reading of the New Testament….

“I can never forget May 3, 1850….I was up early, to have a couple of hours for quiet prayer and dedication to God. Then I had some eight miles to walk, to reach the spot where I was to be immersed….We [Mr. Cantlow and CHS] went together to the Ferry for the Isleham friends [the Baptist church “sponsoring” this] had not degenerated to indoor immersion in a bath made by the art of man, but used the ampler baptistery of the flowing river….The wind blew down the river with a cutting blast, as my turn came to wade into the flood, but after I had walked a few steps, and noted the people on the ferry-boat, and in boats, and on either shore, I felt as if Heaven, and earth, and hell, might all gaze upon me, for I was not ashamed, there and then, to own myself as follower of the Lamb….That open stream, the crowded banks, and the solemn plunge, have never faded from my mind, but have often operated as a spur to duty, and a seal of consecration.” (Pages 147-150)

I am Baptistic, unashamedly. My spiritual ancestors believed the Scriptures and suffered persecution and even died for their belief in Baptistic principles, including believers’ baptism. I have a rich heritage in them. This is why believers’ baptism is so beautiful to me. Those who practiced it stood behind the Bible. I endeavor to keep their legacy.

 

“The particular doctrine adhered to by Baptists is that they acknowledge no authority unless it comes from the Word of God.” (Page 152)

So the baptismal service this weekend was quite meaningful. Over sixty people were baptized in the space of an hour. The baptismal was made of an inflatable pool set inside the building, and shortly after the service the pool was drained through a hose out the door into the street gutter. That was a little amusing. A few husbands and wives were baptized together as well as a father and son. It was quite precious.

I personally don’t remember my own baptism at about 7 years old. I exceedingly regret this. Although I don’t remember the actual act, nor at the time, I am sure, did I realize the full implications of what I was doing, I, by the grace of God, have stayed the course thus far in keeping with that testimony I then gave—that I believe in Christ alone for salvation. I am still a believer in Jesus Christ, and, by His grace, will remain so until my dying breath when my faith becomes sight. I now think I will wait to let my kids be baptized until they are high school or college age so that they will remember it and will understand the significance of what they are proclaiming in front of God’s people. I will forever rejoice with those who come to know the Lord and follow His command in baptism, especially now that I reminded of the preciousness of baptism.

Have you been baptized? If you are a believer, you should be. That’s what the Lord commanded. If you don’t know the Savior yet, baptism means nothing to you for salvation. Salvation is free. Just believe in Christ’s death and resurrection for you. If you are saved, do you remember your baptism? Are you still walking with Christ as when you gave that testimony? Today’s not too late to turn back from your waywardness and walk with Him again if you aren’t.

Source: Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. C.H. Spurgeon Autobiography Volume 1: The Early Years 1834-1859. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2005. {Here}

Get it here online! It’s chapter 11 “A Good Confession.”

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