Baptising Individuals to Baptising Households (by Karen Gan-Tay)
We ended 2020 with a BIG SPLASH! #waterbaptism
God is good! A few days ago, another family of 4 just got water baptised. We celebrate the story of repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation and God's beautiful handiwork in another family's life.
When my husband and I left the institutionalism of "Church-ianity" ("Church-ianity" focuses on DOING church as a form of religiosity, as a program, activity, a Sunday event; rather than BEING the Church, the Body of Christ in an organic expression wherever we, His disciples, are in relationship with God in authentic communities and bringing the Kingdom of God to the world around us) towards the end of 2011. We found ourselves going through a "detox" from church culture and found ourselves expressing God's Kingdom culture more.
By 2013, we had started focusing on making disciples in an organic way, finding persons of peace wherever we are in daily life, discipling pre-believers into God's kingdom, starting house church communities and baptising new disciples, teaching them to obey Christ and to do the same. It was then that we felt strongly that the call goes beyond baptising individuals to baptising households.
The gospel of the kingdom goes beyond affecting just individuals to entire households ("oikos" in Greek). Acts 16 describes the Philippian jailer and his whole household being water baptised after he got saved! In other words, this is how the gospel of the kingdom works: it affects entire families or Oikos, which includes the community in those days eg. men servants, maid servants, relatives living within the same community, farmhands, other employees.
31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” 32 And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. 33 Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. 34 He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God.
In our day and age, our "Oikos" is usually our immediate nuclear family. In some countries, this would include domestic helpers, or nannies whom we consider part of the family. Our oikos could also be our school mates or colleagues.
This time round, Jason and I didn't do the baptising. All we did was to encourage and celebrate the obedience of those we mentor and empower as they teach others to walk in faith and obedience to our Lord!
Afterall, Jesus' mission given to His disciples in Matt 28:18-20 extends to all disciples of Christ and includes baptising new disciples in water (this being a command we should teach others to obey as well!).
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Baptising Someone You Discipled into the Kingdom
Today, after knowing and reading the Bible, teaching and preaching the words of Jesus, and His kingdom, I do everything so differently - more biblical I would dare say. If someone has a touch from God and has heard the message, is repentant from their sinful ways, and would like to follow Christ into His death and also resurrection, I would explain water baptism in 5 minutes and ask them if they would like to be water baptised. The choice should never be ours as the baptiser/church/leadership to make. The choice should lie with the one who desires to follow Jesus! And honestly, how long does it really take to explain Matt 28:18-20, Rom 6, and Matt 3, some verses in Acts 2, especially if a person is already confessing his sins and repenting in godly sorrow in front of you?
Sins might be washed and cleansed when we confess them but no one is "perfect" when they come out of the waters of baptism. It is only the start of a journey not an end point. If water baptism is the end point, no one on this earth will ever be ready to be water baptised. It is an invitation to die to self, sin and the sinful nature and to walk in the newness of life, overcoming sin and becoming crucified in your old sinful nature with Christ.
What's With the Baptiser?
Now the baptiser issue. Why does a baptiser have to be an ordained leader in a position within the church systems? Did Jesus give that as the criteria? How many of you have been baptised by a pastor who has fallen into sin? How many of you have been baptised by a preacher who was caught in an affair? How many of you even know much about the life of the one who baptised you? Is the baptiser mutually accountable to you for his life? Just because someone wears a robe or a collar, does that mean he is more qualified to baptise? If that's the case, it might be closer to the bible if we all wore camel's hair and leather girdles, not forgetting you need to eat locusts and wild honey, like John the Baptist. Is the baptiser in water important?
We make much about the baptiser when the baptiser is only a sinful human being who is in need of as much cleansing as you do, and who knows maybe more. When Jesus said, "Go, make disciples, and baptise.", it is clear that if you make a disciple of Jesus out of someone, then you have a right to baptise them.
About Water Baptism
Water baptism is a command of Christ to anyone who wants to follow Him and who repents from sins. It is not a feel-good ritual or a feel-holy sacrament. It is a command clearly given by Jesus Christ when He gave a mission to His disciples. As recorded in Matt 28:19-20, this is one of the tasks we are to do when we make disciples of Christ.
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
- Matt 28:18-20 (NLT)
In the book of Acts of the Apostles, you see the believers obeying this command Christ gave them. They started baptising those who chose to follow the Way of Christ, and those who believed on the name of Jesus, His message of the Good News of the Kingdom of God, and His death and resurrection as the way to salvation and eternal life. They were being baptised into the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, and had taken on a new life, and a new spiritual DNA/seed and nature. The old is passed away, and the new had come for these ones (2 Cor 5:17).
Why Can't I Be Baptised?
In many instances recorded in the book of Acts of converts and new followers, many were baptised in water on the same day or that very hour, and the act of believing was in conjunction with baptism in water:
1) 3000 who believed when Peter preached (Acts 2:41): "Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them"
2) The Ethiopian eunuch being baptised in water in the desert (Acts 8:36): "Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”
3) Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9) - his baptism happened 3 days later after his encounter with the Lord, because God needed to heal his blindness. Immediately after scales fell off his eyes, he was baptised in water. In Acts 22:16 - Paul recounting his encounter with Christ and his water baptism: "And now, why do you delay? Rise and be baptized, and by calling upon His name, wash away your sins."
4) Cornelius, a Roman officer and his household whom Peter preached to and who were baptised in the Holy Spirit as he preached (Acts 10:47): “Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?"
5) Lydia and her household (Acts 16).
6) The Jailer at Philippi and his household. (Acts 16:31-33): "They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” 32 And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. 33 Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized."
7) Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, with all his household, and many of the Corinthians (Acts 18:8)
In fact in several instances, it was not just the person who believed and repented that was baptised, but he or she together with their whole household, which in those days included servants and maidservants and many of their relatives living together under one roof as a community, unlike the nuclear household we are accustomed to in our day.
Even in the middle of the desert, water baptism can happen! Philip met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch (Acts 8), and baptised him in water in the desert. In Acts 8:36, the Ethiopian eunuch asked "Look there is water! Why can't I be baptised?". The eunuch commanded the carriage to stop and they came down from it. And Philip baptised him that moment!
You don't have to wait for the baptism pool to be open. You don't have to wait for the pastor in the church to be available. The question of someone truly born again should be like that of the Ethiopian eunuch: "Why can't I be baptised?" or "What hinders me from being baptized now?”
When was the last time you discipled someone and walked a person through life with the help of the Holy Spirit and empowered that person to go disciple another for Jesus? Have you ever baptised anyone you discipled?
You don't need permission from anyone else to do it.
If you are a disciple of Christ, YES you can baptise another in water. Jesus has already given you the permission. In fact He has commanded you and I to do so.
We can baptise and be baptised wherever there is water and repentant hearts! Even at an oasis in the middle of desert.
Over 70% of the earth's surface is water, we have no excuse to say we cannot find water to immerse someone in. In fact running water flows into many of our bath tubs, and we even have swimming pools in our homes or estate. Help someone take that first step to cutting ties with his or her sinful past and to live a new life in Christ!
This command to be baptised and to water baptise others who want to be disciples of Jesus is not a hard one to follow.
If that person is repentant and confesses his/her sins, and genuinely wants to follow Jesus, then that person is qualified to be baptised!
What does it mean to repent? It simply means a change of mind, turning away from sin and turning towards God.
“John came baptising in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem went out to him were all baptised by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins” (Mark 1:4-5)
Don't let fear of men rule you. Instead fear God and keep His commandments!
You don't need permission from anyone else to do it.
Don't Let FEAR Rule You, Pastors and Leaders!
The biggest question on a pastor's and leader's mind is "WHAT IF?"
"WHAT IF they form a cult, or the new believers follow the wrong leader?" (Who knows if you are the right one in the first place others should follow? Only God knows the end of a matter.)
"WHAT IF they don't know how to baptise and do it wrong?"
WHAT IF they start a new church? (HOORAY! you have more church planters for the kingdom!)
What if...what if..what if... There is no end to WHAT IFs! Don't go down that slippery slope.
WHAT IF = FEAR. Don't let fear rule you either way - whether to let someone or to be baptised. Fear is never a part of God's equation. Most leaders in their positions lead and rule out of fear. This is not to be so of God's kingdom and His church.
Fear of losing members, fear of losing control of members, fear of giving others control, fear of "wrong teachings", fear of heresies (i.e. this is the BIGGEST fear amongst church leaders, pastors) , fear of members losing their way, fear of failure etc. If you start on the premise of fear, there is no end. And you have fallen straight into the devil's game.He knows how to use fear to control.
In fact, the very premise of the church systems we see today amongst churches and denominations is a "what-if-fear-based" system. Jesus never came to create a system of hierarchy for the fear of failing. He has not given us a spirit of fear! He has empowered us by His Holy Spirit! He has given us faith to trust in Him.
The systems of fear are falling. Only those who fear God and keep His commands will stand at the end of the day. That is man's ALL.
So fear not, and fear God. Let God do what you cannot do - He is the Guardian of our lives, of His church and the Great Shepherd of His sheep. He bled and died for HIS church. The church is not yours to guard in fear of it becoming wrong. There are probably 101 things wrong about the church you are a part of anyway, and we cannot be more right.
The church of Jesus Christ is HIS. He is building His church, not you. He knows how to protect His Bride. False teachers and prophets and apostles will go out from the church in the last days. They are part of God's plan from the beginning and there is no point FEARING it will happen. It WILL happen and is happening.
Let God do His job and us to obey the things He has commanded us to do. Don't take God's place and do His job. You are NOT GOD.
Instead of trying to attain to any title or position you can have in a FEAR-BASED MAN-MADE SYSTEM so you can start baptising another, how about simply be a disciple by obeying Christ, and make disciples who obey Christ. There is no need to be hung up over titles and clamour for positions amongst mere men. We are all sinners. No one is more qualified than the other if we are all living as Christ's disciples.
What matters the most is when our obedience and submission is first to our King Jesus and His kingdom purposes. FEAR GOD and keep His commandments, for that is your all.
The wisest human king who once lived says:
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil."
Ecc 12:13-14 (NKJV)
I pray that you will be free to follow and obey Jesus in all that He had commanded!
Group of Author/s
Karen Gan-Tay - Daughter and lover of God. Disciple of Jesus. Ambassador of the Kingdom of God. Wife. Mother.