No Second-Hand Obedience

I became a Christian in March of 1985. When that happened, the ‘fire’ fell from heaven, and landed in right in the middle of my heart. I was an on-fire, born-again, Bible-thumping, sin-stomping, devil-crushing, Christian. Praise the Lord, I was a new creature! “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Hell was mad. I was about to destroy all of my Led Zeppelin cassettes, return stolen goods, make restitution, write letters of apology, and become an obedient soldier of Christ. Life indeed had changed — and it all happened from the inside out!

Before that eventful day in 1985, I had already planned to take a trip to Europe during the summer, so that I followed through on that plan — only it turned into an ‘expedition for the Lord’ as it were, rather than simply being something ‘nice to do’. In other words, God went with me as I travelled — he ‘did’ things. One of those ‘things’ that he did occurred in Bath, England, where I encountered this very fine man preaching on the street. I could not help but listen to him, for the preaching of the gospel was music to my ears, which produced a soothing peace and delightful sense of awe, as I stood there listening to someone talking favorably about the One whom I had come to put my trust in.

At the end of this man’s discourse, we talked. Oddly enough, he asked me, “Have you been baptized yet?” I said, “No, I haven’t,” realizing that this was the Lord’s command given in such places as Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 10:48, and a number of other passages that make it clear that God expects those who believe to be baptized (note that full immersion is the ONLY method indicated in Scripture, and was Jesus’s method, and we are to follow what Jesus did, as opposed to what man says we should do — you may want to think about that if you have NOT been baptized yet by full immersion. I believe that God expects you to ‘take the leap’ and is waiting for you to do that.).

In my Spirit, I knew that it was more than ‘coincidence’ that got me talking with that man that day. It was the Lord himself. The Lord had directed me to talk with that man, and through that man’s words, the Lord gave me a message: “You have become a believer, that is fine. The next step is you need to get baptized.” From that moment forward, all I could think about was getting baptized. It was not long before I was on a plane headed back to Canada where I was eventually baptized in January of 1986. Praise the Lord, I obeyed the Lord!

The opportunity to be baptized the ‘right way’ at the ‘right time’ (by full immersion after becoming a believer, rather than by sprinkling before I was a believer) gave me the opportunity to witness for the Lord in many a great way that I would not have been able to otherwise. I would like to share that with you, in the hopes that if you have not, as of yet, been baptized by full immersion AFTER having become a believer in Christ, then you will be persuaded by this testimony to do so. I am assuming that you really are a committed believer, and desire to see the Lord glorified in your life to the full extent possible. If this is not true, then, of course, this is not for you (but you can enjoy reading this, anyway, and perhaps the Lord will inspire you through it to become a more committed follower of the Lord Jesus Christ).

First, at my place of work, where I was always looking for a way to ‘reach out’ and ‘tell someone’ about my great Lord and Savior, since the baptism was planned for a certain date which was ‘sometime in the future’, I had the opportunity, and the time, to be able to share the fact that it would be happening with my colleagues — Christian and non-Christian alike. It was the perfect opportunity to be able to reach out to them. I would say something like, “George, I am getting baptized in two weeks at my church, and I would like to invite you to come. Would you be able to come? I think you’d really enjoy it.” Stunned, George would almost fall off of his seat, wondering what all this was about. Getting baptized at the age of 23? (As I was back then.)

George’s eyes were opened. Even if George did not decide to come, he had something to think about apart from the weather and last night’s baseball game. God could use that to speak to him about his own eternal state and where he was headed when he died. By inviting people to my baptism, I found out that one of my work mates (a kind, older, woman who needed much encouragement) was a Christian. She and I started praying together after that early in the mornings at work, before work got under way. I eventually witnessed to almost the whole company (about 350 people or so), giving Bibles and tracts away, in the span of about one and a half years before leaving to study at seminary. I don’t doubt that those prayers had a lot to do with it.

Second, with regards to my own immediate family (I was not married at the time), I was able to invite them, as well, to attend the baptismal service to be held in a few weeks time. I invited my relatives and some came, and some did not. One of the ones that came was my father, who had to travel about 80 miles to get there. That’s a 160-mile round trip … in one day. I had a chance to publicly share my testimony from the pulpit before the baptismal service, and we went out to a coffee shop afterwards. My dad and I talked about spiritual issues after that for about 15 years, and eventually, a few months before he died of Lou Gehrig’s disease, he penned this confession and wrote “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy upon me.” This is quite a confession — particularly since the Lord showed me in a dream at about the same time as I got baptized that my father would not die before he confessed Jesus Christ as His Lord!

As a result of what happened — both the dream but more particularly my father’s confession (and another dream still), I know my dad is in heaven as I write these words. The Bible says in Acts 2:21, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Apart from this, about three to five hundred people watched on as I was baptized, and heard my testimony from the pulpit.

Prior to this baptism, I had been ‘baptized’ (as they call it) by sprinkling, by a minister of the United Church of Canada, in St-Lambert, Quebec, on October 21, 1962 (I was four months old at the time). My mother was the ‘key’ person who was instrumental in making this happen, for she was always the churchgoer, not my father (he preferred that I stay home and do work on Sundays rather than going to Sunday school). Needless to say, I was certainly not the person who was instrumental in making this baptism happen. I suppose that the reasons for which my mother wanted us baptized was that it was considered the right thing to do. However, what is odd is that, ever since I became a follower of Christ in 1985, my mother has firmly resisted my message! Ouch!

May I take it a step further (for those of you who have not been baptized by full immersion SINCE becoming a believer). The implications of all of this are that the reasons you were baptized when you were younger may have NOTHING to do with the reasons why Christ wants you baptized. And I would urge you strongly to think about that. Do you KNOW what was in the heart of both the minister as well as the ones who had you baptized? Are you SURE that it was congruent with (equal to) the reasons why Christ wants you baptized?

I entitled this article, “No Second-Hand Obedience”. I did that, because I firmly believe that there is no substitute for obeying the Lord yourself in this area of “post-conversion, full-immersion,” baptism. Your parents’ obedience, or the ministers’ obedience, if you want to call it that, is not the same thing as your own obedience. That was what they wanted to do. No one is condemning them for that. But have you PERSONALLY obeyed the command to be baptized? That is the question. And I wonder, in light of all of the exceptional benefits of being re-baptized and properly-baptized the second time around, why you would not want to do that. I have tried my best to provide a convincing (and entirely true) argument as to why you SHOULD seriously think about the idea of getting baptized by full immersion, after believing, if you have not done so already. Nevertheless, in the end, the decision, is, of course, entirely yours. I believe the Lord will indeed be please if you will follow through with this important step. After all, it’s a commandment. It’s given to those who believe, and not to the parents.

I leave you to think about these things. From a theological standpoint, the argument is overwhelmingly in favor of getting baptized by full immersion after becoming a believer, as opposed to any other method before becoming a believer. You may read about that, if you wish, in my five part series, entitled, “Have you been baptized?”, available from this website. May God richly bless you as you do.

Edited: Dec 21, 2012