Many things converge in order to receive Jesus Christ. The gospel awakens us to possibilities beyond imagining. Influences of family and friends have a bearing on our conscience. Perhaps there is confrontation by someone who loved us enough to risk rejection. Finally, our spirit has to wrestle with the flesh. We may come to a point where we are sorry for our sins and earnestly desire a new life. Yet, this is not enough. Sincere belief in the Gospel brings us to the door, but we need to cross the threshold. Jesus said, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9) We have to choose between our own manner of self-justification and entering the door: “My parents had me sprinkled when I was a baby.” “I asked Jesus to come into my heart.” “I’ve tried to live a good life.” Yet, it is the Lord who waits. It is for us to enter. For me, the biggest struggle had to do with the good intentions of my mother versus what was plainly written in the Bible. My method of confrontation was something like; “The Bible will show a way around this.” So I studied to justify being sprinkled as a baby. I studied to justify the manner of religion I barely practiced. I believed these things had to be good because they came from someone who was good to me. The deepest issue was the baptism. It is where the rubber meets the road. Infant sprinkling, was it necessary? Sprinkling was my defining moment of identity; a forehead made wet for consecration to God. Was it a valid product of parental religion and love, or the sincere activity of misguided souls? The alternative was immersion. I thought to myself; “Is that really what the Bible teaches? Or, is it the teaching of some zealot trying to make me after his image?” The more I read, the more I could not escape baptism being a burial.
Rom. 6:4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Col. 2:11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses. . .
I came to see the meaning of the word ‘baptism’ is immersion. It became apparent; I needed to be immersed according to the commandment of God. I needed to obey out of faith and repentance. This was unlike infancy, where there is no need for repentance and no awareness for faith.
Every honest seeker wants to be fulfilled in the image of God. We are surrounded with a chorus of sincere voices, some saying one thing, some saying another. There are also voices of those who want you to be a credit to their name. But what does the Bible say? Our conclusion is what we present before God.
Conclusions are always finalized in the body. One may think, “I have Jesus in my heart.” How many times do we have to convince ourselves before it becomes true? One may say, “I believe Jesus is the Christ.” That’s good, but if that is all, it is only lip service. One may pray and confess; “In the repentance of my heart and yearning for the Lord, such a feeling came over me.” But what we have to present from our own resources really doesn’t matter. It is the will of the Lord that matters. Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16) This is why baptism is “the answer of a good conscience toward God.” (IPet.3:21) The entry into salvation isn’t answered by what we have to say about ourselves, it is answered by the demonstration of faith, our submission to the will of God. The spirit may be willing, but the body must also engage according to the will of the Lord. This enables us to enter.