Shortly after trusting in Christ as a high school teenager, I endeavored to find a church to attend. I knew but very little about the Christian faith, but I knew Christians attended church. I also knew Christians were baptized. At the time I had no convictions regarding mode of baptism or regarding infant baptism as opposed to believer’s baptism. I knew simply that I had never been baptized, and as a Christian I should be and therefore wanted to be.
My search took me to several churches of various denominations. In my immaturity and inexperience I was dismayed to discover that there were churches that did not believe in the Christian fundamentals such as a literal heaven and hell or the necessity of individual repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. I asked one clergyman if he thought Jesus’ death was necessary for people to be saved and go to heaven. He told me, “No. Jesus died to set a good example.” While I did not know much, I did know that “Christ suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” (I Pet. 3:18)
One church I attended for a few weeks with a friend was a Baptist church. Here, I concluded, was my opportunity to be baptized. What a strange, confused young man the clergy from my home town must have thought me to be! When I asked the minister of this church to baptize me, he told me that in six months there would be a communicant’s class and afterward I might be baptized and join the church. I had no idea what a communicant was. I told him I was not interested joining his church since I was not convinced his church believed the Bible. I had been born again and just wanted him to baptize me. Thankfully, I was informed by him that would not be possible.
In God’s providence, I ventured into another Baptist church just a few weeks later. Here I was pleased and relieved to find the gospel faithfully and fervently preached. I enquired about baptism. I was directed to a deacon named Peter Decker who asked about my salvation. After hearing me explain how I came to know Jesus as my Savior, he told me that I should and could be baptized – and soon. I was thrilled!
I do not recall the exact date I was baptized. It was a Sunday evening service and it was winter. My wet hair, which was quite long at the time, froze hard in the cold air before I returned home. The church, like many Baptist churches, had a large baptismal tank at the front of the auditorium. There I was immersed by the pastor, Charles Whitfield, after confessing aloud my faith in Christ.
The prince of preachers, C.H. Spurgeon, was baptized at the same age I was, fifteen. His description of his thoughts while being baptized mirrors my own. “I felt as if heaven and earth and hell might all gaze upon me, for I was not ashamed, there and then, to own myself a follower of the Lamb.” I remember the great happiness and deep satisfaction I experienced in obeying the Scripture and publicly identifying myself in such a tangible way with Jesus my Lord.
In Acts 8:36, a governmental official from Ethiopia, upon hearing the good news that Jesus died as a substitute for his sin, asked Philip the evangelist, “What would hinder me from being baptized?” Philip told him, “If you believe with your heart, you may.” The chariot in which the two were riding was stopped. They went down together into a nearby body of water, and there the new eager Christian was baptized.
For a time I was hindered from being baptized. But, thank God, the hindrances were removed. Now the memory of my baptism always brings me joy. If you have trusted in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and you love Him and want to honor Him, what would hinder you from being baptized?