To Dunk or Not to Dunk: Does Someone Really Need to be Re-baptized?

One of the best parts about being a pastor is having the privilege of baptizing a person.   It is such a beautiful illustration of what God in Christ has done for the believer.  I had the blessing of growing up in a Christian home and going to church no less than 3 times a week for most of my life.  During this time I noticed a trend.   Many people have some type of encounter with God (thinking they were saved) as a child, and have a public baptism.  However, later in life they come to a fuller understanding about salvation and realize that they were never truly saved as a child; then they repent and become a believer as a youth or adult.  This story is not just a common one, but it is a personal one as well.  It was true for me.  I thought I was saved at the age of 7 only to come to find out that I was actually 21 before the Lord truly saved me.  So the question that I, and so many others, struggle(d) with is, “Do I need to be re-baptized since true salvation came after my first baptism?”

Baptism is a tricky subject among different Christian groups.  I will not get into the differences in this post, but would like to suggest a few thoughts on the subject from a “believer’s baptisms” perspective.  Ultimately, I believe a person should be baptized after their conversion, even if a person had made some type of confession when they were younger.  If a person was “baptized” before conversion, I believe that to be no more than a public bath . . . since that is not biblical baptism.

A Rightful Order:

God has declared that all of his children are to be baptized.  Since this is so, I believe that it is important that we do it in the order that scripture prescribes.  Every example in Scripture puts the act of baptism after conversion (sorry, extreme paedobaptists friends).  Even the Philippian jailer and his family were baptized after conversion.   God is a God of order.  God is also a precise God.   While in no way does the act of baptism save you, it is still something that is important to do and something that God even commands us to do.  The order, as seen in scripture, is first conversion and then water baptism.  The right order is important.

A Rightful Obedience:

Matthew 28:19-20 is a very well known passage.  It says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  The Lord has commanded that everyone who has professed faith in Him is to be baptized.  Baptism should be one of the first steps in obedience for a new believer.  The Ethiopian eunuch certainly understood this in Acts 8:36 when he asked, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”  There are circumstances that sometimes make baptism after conversion more difficult, but the point is that in obedience to the Lord’s command, a person should be baptized.  For the baptism to be the most biblical, this means post conversion.

A Rightful Celebration:     

One of the most beautiful parts of baptism is that it identifies you with the bride of Christ.  It marks you as a member of the church.  In all honestly, this happens at the moment of conversion.  However, baptism (from a believer’s baptism stand point) is a public display of your salvation (Romans 6:5).  It marks you as a child of God and a member of the church universal.  It is a way to show your public commitment to the Lord and His church.  When done right, it is a celebration where the church welcomes a new brother or sister in Christ to the family.  There is no specific proof text for this but I believe that if a person does not get baptized after their conversion, they miss out on a wonderful celebration . . . a once-in-a-lifetime type of celebration.

There are varying opinions on the subject of the mode of baptism, the time of baptism, and even the purpose of baptism.  Those are all things to consider when studying scripture.  Nevertheless, the issue of “re-baptism” is not often discussed.  It seems to me that if we want to do things in an orderly manner and to do it the way scripture seems to describe, baptism should come after a person’s genuine conversion.   It took me 10 years to finally come to the conclusion that I needed to get the order right.  Was I saved 10 years prior upon the confessions of my sins and placing my faith in the Lord?  Absolutely! But, it was not until I went under that water and came up again that I felt the issue of my baptism was finally settled.

If you have a story similar to mine, and millions of others, you may be asking yourself “Do I need to be re-baptized?”  That is something that you will have to decide through prayer, but maybe this post will help you make the rightful decision.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B Burrell

Divorce and Remarriage: A Biblical Response.

In recent months I have seen what the horrors of a divorce look like.  I have seen friends, family, and church members walk through something that the Lord says He HATES.  Since seeing the aftermath that comes from it, I now see not just the theological reason for God’s hatred of it, but the practical reason as well.  Divorce is permitted by God for a few different reasons, but just because it is permitted does not always mean it is best.

As a pastor (currently a student pastor), I feel like we need to be sure to always point others to what scripture has to say instead of what our heart may say about a matter (see Jeremiah 17:9).  Below I have attached a short essay on the issue of divorce and remarriage.   I do not take lightly the fact that in this paper I stand on opposite grounds on some matters as some of my most respected theological giants.  Nevertheless, I am convinced that this is the most biblical approach to the issue of divorce and remarriage that I can see.  There are those who will disagree (while others will agree) with my stated position, but my desire is to bring into light what God has said about this issue and to offer hope for those who have divorced (weather you were the offending or offended party).  Why is there hope, you may ask.  There is hope because Jesus is our defender, but also our forgiver.   Protection can be found in Him.  Forgiveness, as well, can be found in Him.

Here (Divorce Essay) is a short exposition on the issue of divorce and remarriage that I hope you will find helpful in trying to maneuver your way through such a sticky topic that has so many implications.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

Gentlemen, Have You Washed Your Wife Lately . . . Spiritually Speaking

I was recently talking with a friend of mine about the husband and wife roles and relationship.  In passing, he made the statement: “I wash my wife in the word.”  I thought that was an interesting choice of words, until I was reading Ephesians 5 (a chapter that I have read many times) and saw it in its beautiful context.  Ephesians 5 is probably the best selection of scripture on the role of wives and husbands in marriage.  Most of you likely know that husbands are to love their wives as Christ does His church.  Most of you are also likely aware, as the complementarian view so greatly articulates, that husbands are the heads of the home and wives are to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord ( Eph 5:22).  It is interesting to see that Paul uses twice as many words telling husbands to love their wives as he does for a wife to submit to her husband.  If we take the picture of Christ and the church we can see that a husband should be willing to sacrifice everything for her.  He should make her well-being of utmost importance.  He should treat her as he does his own body.  This is what Christ did for the church, thus, this is what a man should do for his wife.  But what of “Washing her by the water through the word” (Eph 5:26)?  The reason you do this is to make her holy.  This is what Christ did for the church, and this is what we need to do for her to help her along in her own personal sanctification.  Can she grow alone (apart from her husband)?  Yes!  But, it is a privilege and responsibility of the husband to do this for his bride.  So, just what does it look like to wash your wife in the word?

Washing Her By Reading Scripture With Her

            We should be reading scripture together.  This can simply be during a formal family worship setting, or in a more private time that you both have together.   Many make the mistake and think that family worship ends when your children leave the home.  However, as the spiritual leader of your home, men, you need to make sure that you are leading the way in reading scripture together.  You can read through scripture together.  You can pick a topic and study it together.  The point is that you pour scripture into your wife.  Scripture guides us.  It convicts us.  It shows us how to love.  It shows us what to love.  It shows us how to be more like Christ.  We do not just want our children to act and look like Jesus, do we?  That is not the sole purpose of reading scripture in the home.  We should want our wives (and ourselves) to be as conformed to His image as possible, as well.  One way of doing this is by reading and absorbing God’s word.  Husbands . . . read!

Washing Her By Praying Scripture With Her

            Have you ever prayed through scripture?  It is something that I was taught to do by one of my professors, Donald Whitney.   It is of great benefit.   Basically, it is simply taking the scripture that you have read, applying to your life and praying it back to God.  It is a beautiful and beneficial way to pray.  We are commanded to pray (I Thessalonians 5:17, James 5:16).  What better person is there to pray for and with than the person that you are supposed to love more than any other on earth?  If you don’t already pray with your spouse, then this is the first place to start.  Learn to pray with each other regularly.  However, when you read scripture together, find time to pray through it once you have finished.  You may be amazed at how often the Lord providentially reveals a need that is going on in your life as you read through and pray through scripture.  She will be blessed, and the Lord will be honored.   Husbands . . . pray!

Washing Her By Giving Scripture To Her

            Joshua 1:8 says, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”  Each Monday morning my family gathers before I leave for the office to read, sing, and pray God’s word.  After we read though a chapter of the Bible, I try to pick out a verse from that chapter we read that I think will encourage my wife for that week.  I write it on an index card and put it on the refrigerator.  I think it is important to always have the Lord’s word in front of us.   This is also a way to let my wife know that I care for her by giving her something as precious as God‘s word.  This is just one example of how I try to apply this principle for my wife.  For you it may be sending your wife a daily text with a verse that reminds you of her.  It may be highlighting something in her Bible for her to read.  It does not matter how you do it, but simply that you do it.  Husbands . . . give!

Gentlemen, have you given your wife a bath lately?  I must admit, this is something that I have been greatly convicted of lately.  I want to wash my wife with the water of the Word.  I want to help make her holy, as Christ made the church holy.  It is my duty, but it is also my privilege.  I am grateful that my friend shared that little phrase with me that day.  So guys, if you are not washing her, you might want to run some water and get a towel.  Husbands . . . read.  Husbands . . . pray.  Husbands . . . give, and enjoy while doing it.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell