Should I Get Baptized Again?

Should I Get Baptized Again?

This question arises occasionally, especially when a Christian desires to get serious with God and draw closer to Him. This type of Christian may have had an infant baptism where he had no choice in the matter. Now he wants to choose to be baptized. Or the believer may have had a sprinkled baptism and now he wants to be immersed.

Perhaps, the Christian was baptized as a child and the memory is faint. Maybe the Christian didn’t understand what baptism was about at the time and now they have a better understanding and it would mean so much more to them.

Perhaps they were under some pressure to get baptized by their friends or family, now they love Jesus and want to voluntarily submit to baptism as an act of dedication.

Sometimes, after a person is baptized, they fall into a life of sin and abandoned Christ. Now they have repented and want to start their Christian life over.

The reasons for the question vary with individuals. Those of us who are confident in our baptism, look upon these individuals with curiosity. We don’t fully understand why they are doing this. It is kind of like watching people renewing their wedding vows. They are not any more married than when they first said their vows, but they have a reason for doing it. It means something dear to them. And maybe it means something to God as well.

With that thought, let us look at what baptism means to God and to the believer.

Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

The basis for baptism is the authority of Jesus. Jesus had the authority from God, the Father, to send His disciples out into the world. He told them to go and make more disciples and they were commanded to baptize those disciples.

Therefore, the act of water baptism (being immersed in water in response to receiving salvation) is a very important first step in the Christian life.

Matt 3:13-17 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

We see the Lord Jesus, Himself, coming to John the Baptist for baptism in order to "fulfill all righteousness." He then established baptism as an eternal ordinance for His church, calling every believer to follow in His footsteps.

Jesus identified Himself with us. In baptism, Christ asks us to identify with Him! If Jesus, who did not need to be baptized for the remission of sin, submitted to baptism to obey the Father and fulfill all righteousness, then shouldn’t we be obedient to Him and submit to baptism? We surely are in need of any benefit we can receive from it.

Most Westerners take baptism for granted, but for many in the world, baptism requires immense courage to identify with Jesus Christ. In Communist, Hindu, and Muslim countries, Christian baptism ensures persecution, hardship, rejection from family and community, imprisonment, and sometimes death.

Ephesians 4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Baptism not only identifies us with Christ, it identifies us with all believers throughout the world. When we believe, confess our sin, repent, and are baptized, we become part of the Body of Christ, because Christ through the Holy Spirit takes residence in us. We are in Him and He is in us.

1 Cor 12:13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-- whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-- and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

Baptism represents a spiritual rebirth, which is necessary to enter the Kingdom of God.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.

Water baptism is, in essence, a funeral. It is an act of faith in which we testify, both to God and to the world that the person we were before is dead and buried, and we are raised, born again, as a new creation in Christ. This is beautifully illustrated by:

Rom 6:1-14 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

Baptism does not mark the end of a journey, it’s the start of a race of faith and obedience to Christ! We have become sons of God and now we live for Jesus Christ.

Gal 3:26-27 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Baptism is our identification with Christ, who broke the hold sin had on us. Baptism is an illustration of that spiritual event, death to sin, and resurrection unto a new life.
Baptism is a dedication to live and walk by the Holy Spirit. That does not mean we are perfect. We will always struggle with temptation. However, we now have power not to follow our sin nature any longer. We have a new master, Jesus. We are to live our lives as “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Living in Christ is not continuing our worldly way of living. Living in Christ is living so that sin is not the ruler of our lives. We are to live our lives as sacrifices to God. We are to make ourselves instruments of righteousness – people though whom the righteousness of Christ can flow.

Salvation brings us eternal life, Jesus in us, a life that never ends! Therefore, we are spiritually “Eternal” beings. The condition of our spiritual life continues on after our physical life ends, because Jesus is the resurrection and the Life. We have an ETERNAL existence with Him.

Mark 16:16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Notice, Jesus’ very call to believe on Him includes a call to be baptized after you believe. We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, not by baptism, but Jesus’ first command to a new believer is to be baptized, because it is necessary to put the old life to death and be raised with a new life, just like Christ. It was not something to be delayed or put off. Let’s look at some of the conversions in the Book of Acts.

Acts 2:38-41 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off —for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

When the people were convicted by Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost, they wanted to know what to do. The first thing he instructs them to do is "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. We see that they "accepted his message, and were baptized...."  In other words, they believed the Gospel that Jesus is the Christ who died for their sin, they repented of their sin, and they were baptized for the forgiveness or remission of those sins (that is, the consequences of those sins were lessened—we don’t spend eternity in Hell for committing them).

Acts 8:26-40 This is the account of Phillip leading the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ. As they finish their discussion in Isaiah that pointed to Jesus, the eunuch believed in Jesus. Then they come to a body of water and the eunuch enthusiastically asks, "What is hindering me from being baptized?" to which Phillip replies "If you believe with all your heart, you may," and Philip promptly baptizes him.

The first thing Ananias told the apostle Paul to do after his conversion was to be baptized. Acts 22:16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.'

Acts 10:44-48, While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

On this occasion, the people heard the Gospel, believed it, and were filled with the Holy Spirit before water baptism. Nevertheless, baptism was still considered necessary to fulfill all righteousness, put the old life to death, and identify them with Christ.

There are a number of other instances we could look at as well:

Acts16:14-15 Lydia and her whole household;

Acts 16:33 Paul and Silas’ jailer and his household;

Acts 18:8, Cripus and his entire household).

In each of these cases, there was the sense of urgency attached to baptism. These people all responded to Jesus in simple faith. However, they didn’t consider their faith as complete until they had obeyed God by being baptized. Keep in mind that faith without works (corresponding actions) is dead (James 2:17.) A genuine faith produces an obedient heart. Water baptism is to be our first act of obedience. Genuine saving faith desires to follow Jesus in baptism.

1 John 2:3-6 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

Believers who do not follow Jesus in water baptism will be weak and struggle with guilt over their past sins. If we fail in our first act of following Him, we will lack the power of the Holy Spirit to walk obediently in other things. If you struggle with guilt over your past, it may be because you haven’t yet given the person you once were a proper burial!

2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

When we receive God’s saving grace, Jesus calls us to be baptized to identify with Him in a way that makes it real to us. The person we were before is dead forever, and we are raised with Jesus as a totally new creation. Baptism helps us remember that and gives us power to live it.

Consequently, we have absolutely nothing to lose, and everything to gain by following Jesus in water baptism. Ultimately, it all goes back to Jesus’ statement in John 14:15. "If you love me, you will obey what I command."

Baptism is a simple, but profound act of obedience that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. If you have not yet taken this step, I strongly encourage you to do so as soon as possible.

Now, back to the question we started with, “Should I be baptized again?” There are no scriptures indicating people were baptized again because the Biblical accounts of water baptism are about new believers coming to Christ. There are also no scriptures speaking against a second water baptism. The answer to this question is simply a personal one. Did your first baptism mean anything to you? If so, you can rest in faith that it meant something to God, too. No one else can tell you the answer. You must obey the Holy Spirit and we encourage you to do so. No one can judge you for your obedience to God.

Of course, there is no point in being baptized without first believing and embracing the reality that it represents. Without this faith, baptism is simply getting wet—nothing else happens. You must believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and be willing to publicly profess your belief. You must confess to God that you are a sinner and repent of living that way anymore. Then you are ready to submit to baptism, which is putting that old life to death, so you may be raised to live an eternal life in the power of the Holy Spirit, who takes residence in you.

Are you ready for that?