In this post I want us to think about the final way we point to the gospel in the way we baptise people and that’s WHEN we baptize them.
The examples the book of Acts gives is of people getting baptised very soon after becoming Christians.
In Acts 2, Peter says “Repent and be baptised” and those who accepted His message were baptised that day.
In Acts 8:36 when the man from Ethiopia heard Jesus preached to Him, his immediate response was “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptised?”
The Philippian jailer in Acts 16:31: ”then immediately he and all his family were baptised.”
But nowadays it is more common for there to be a period of time between someone becoming Christian and them being baptised. Are we doing something wrong?
Here are a few comments to make about this:
Firstly, by waiting, we are not saying that the person is not a Christian. In delaying baptism we need to be careful that we don’t cause people to doubt the genuineness of their faith.
Secondly, if we believe that only believers should be baptised, then it is important that we make sure that to the best of our knowledge the person wanting to be baptised is a believer. As Jesus’ parable of the sower shows this can take time.
Thirdly, in the case of children and young people, we can’t put an age at which they can be baptised. Things such as maturity, understanding of its significance, the parents view (especially with unbelieving parents) are all factors to be considered.
But on this it is interesting to note that Spurgeon who was known for preaching and practicing the important of leading children to conversion waited to baptise his own sons who had been Christians for years until they were 18.
Then fourthly, delaying baptism can be a way of focusing people on the gospel because again it makes it clear the need to repent before being baptised.
We can point people to the gospel by when we baptise Christians.