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I would like to be baptised but I'm being told to do a course. I don't see doing a baptism course in my Bible. Should we do a course?
Thank you for contacting us with your sincere question. You are right in thinking that baptism was intended to follow closely on conversion, as a commitment by faith to living a new life in Christ and a public statement of your faith to the world. It may therefore seem strange that churches require people to wait and do a short course on baptism.
"And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptised and wash away your sins, calling on his name." (Acts 22:16)
However, a church leader is also right in wanting to ensure that those people who are baptised understand the commitment that they are making. In the New Testament, the apostles were travelling preachers who might not be with the converts for long. For example, Philip (one of the seven deacons) baptised the Ethiopian immediately because they were about to part and he might never see him again (Acts 8:26-40). The same urgency does not exist, as a rule, in our modern churches.
Of course, when we attend a church, we commit ourselves to the law of love.
"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35)
This means that we are willing to serve others and submit to leaders, even when we do not fully agree with what they are saying (as long as what they ask is not in direct, sinful contradiction to the Bible, like murder, lying, adultery, etc). There are a thousand ways in which other people can annoy and irritate, yet we find and we have to choose to be gracious and remember that we are all fallible human beings, doing our best together. In fact, it is the friction that stimulates us to grow in grace, love and understanding. We know that we have succeeded in loving and forgiving when we can meet those who have annoyed us without resentment or thinking negative thoughts of others.
"Whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:27)
It is possible that your answer is two-fold. First, realise that though baptism is wholly Biblical, it is symbolic of something that has happened on the inside by faith - that a person has repented of their sins and by faith received Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. He has given the Holy Spirit to live inside them as the guarantee of their your inheritance in Christ and now they are focused on worshipping Him and living for Him. They have the reality of the experience, even though they have not yet gone through the symbolic act.
The Lord Jesus Christ said to His disciples, just before He was killed,
"I have a baptism to be baptised with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!" (Luke 12:50)
Jesus had already been baptised in water. The baptism He spoke of was His crucifixion and burial. He would be immersed in doing the will of God against great opposition and great cost. He knew that spiritual achievement was more important than anything else. So too can we be wholly committed to achieving the will of God, battling in prayer and faith and paying the price for spiritual progress, in imitation of Christ. That's the most important baptism, though water baptism is definitely important, too.
Secondly, if you have any questions or concerns regarding any topic you should speak to your church pastor. Remember to be humble and respectful but truthful. Make an appointment to talk to him, so that he can give you his full attention, and ask them questions about baptism and why they require a person to do a course. He is much more likely to respond positively if he knows that you are humbly seeking to serve the Lord and love His people. He is responsible for the care and welfare of your soul. He is meant to lead and shepherd you.
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrews 13:17)
God loves you tenderly and wants the very best for you and you can trust Him to work out His will in your life. If your heart is to be baptised and you have not yet done so, then He will not hold it against you that you have not yet done so. On the contrary, He will use this experience to teach you, discipline you and draw you closer to His heart of love. So thank Him for it!
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
I do hope this general answer to your question goes some way to helping you find peace in this situation. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: www.lookingforGod.com
Please use our Interactive Answer Matrix and feel free to ask another question. Our helpful staff are praying for you and waiting to try and answer to you from the Bible, and will be delighted to tell you more about Jesus Christ the Lord, the Saviour of the world. www.lookingforgod.com/your-questions
Here are some more Bible Verses for your further consideration:
- "Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16)
- For in one Spirit we were all baptised into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:13)
*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
*If anything in this answer affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline
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