The Bible Answers Short Questions From Our Readers
Plain Truth Staff
"I was baptized at age 11 by a minister of a large denomination, but I didn't understand the true meaning of repentance until I began studying my Bible and hearing your broadcasts. Should I be baptized again?"
This is a vital question to many of you. Baptism is an important step in your spiritual life and it must be done properly — at the right time and in the right way — after true repentance! Unfortunately, many people have not been properly immersed. Here's how you can know if you have been properly baptized. The key to this whole problem was given by the Apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost when he said, "REPENT, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). Notice that repentance COMES FIRST! Baptism is second — AFTER repentance! You repent of SIN. And what is the Bible definition of sin? "... Sin IS the transgression of the law" (I John 3:4). That is the Bible definition of sin — breaking God's Law! To be really converted, you must REPENT of breaking God's Law and believe that Jesus Christ paid the penalty of sin in your stead and is your personal Saviour. Jesus said: "... Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY word of God" (Luke 4:4). You must repent of disobeying God's Law — His Word — His RULE over your life. This must come first. Then you need to be baptized by a complete immersion as an outward sign of your willingness to completely BURY your old self — and literally give your very life to God and to Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, High Priest, and Master. But frankly, most people attending the churches of this world and having been "baptized" by them never really knew WHAT to repent of! This is especially true of young teen-agers. They didn't know WHAT sin really is. At the time of early youth, most young people sincerely intend to "do better" or to "follow their church." But since they have not been taught what sin actually is they completely fail to realize how ROTTEN and SINFUL they have really been in God's sight. They are usually only sorry for having disobeyed their conscience or their church. They don't really REPENT! They aren't broken up about the wretched state of their lives and their own human VANITY and selfishness which expresses itself constantly in all of us. If you are wondering about your baptism, ask yourself WHY you were baptized in the first place. Were you baptized simply because many of the members of your family were baptized, and you felt looked down upon, or had that "left out" feeling? Did you stand in the water and go through the ordinance of baptism simply to "join" the group with whom you had been fellowshipping? Were you baptized because you temporarily thought it was the "right thing to do?" Such people don't immediately begin to study and UNDERSTAND the Bible. They just continue to go along with the customs, the ways and the traditions of their friends and of this world. Their lives are not actually CHANGED. They don't come to personally KNOW GOD! Such people have NOT TRULY REPENTED and their baptism was probably not valid! Their's was only a ritualistic "dunking" in the water. If you were baptized for ANY of these reasons — YOUR BAPTISM WAS PROBABLY NOT A VALID BAPTISM, because your motives were not right! You need to really repent and be baptized into Christ by a true servant of God in order to receive the Holy Spirit and be added to the body of Christ — the true Church (I Cor. 12:13). Some of you may still have doubts about whether you are properly baptized. You need to be sure!