I have, of recent, the unwavering conviction to be baptized again. The conviction came about while doing some self-examination and personal bible study, provoked by a deep-seated desire to draw closer to the Lord. Though I possessed this desire for intimacy with God, my efforts toward this end seemed fruitless. I went in prayer and study and came out with this, my conviction to be baptized.
My conviction was triggered by a revelation in scripture about the disciple’s response to his being saved. I believe that baptism is the Believer’s first act of obedience to his ‘new’ Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ. All through the New Testament baptism follows after repentance. We read in Acts 2:38 “And Peter said unto them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you…’” You see, although I was baptized when I was fifteen years old, it was a not a repentant soul who was being baptized neither was it “…the answer of a good conscience toward God…” – 1 Peter 3:21. I got baptized because I wanted to escape hell and make it into heaven. I thought if I repeated the words my pastor said and got dipped in water then I would inherit eternal bliss. It sounded like good deal to me. But there was no repentance from sin, no regard for Jesus and respect of the Gospel. And this work did not same me. I was not a disciple of Jesus Christ. I did not have a relationship with Him. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9.
I subsequently came to saving faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. As for when exactly, I cannot say. But as I am now, I love Jesus Christ: I have accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. I believe that I am His and He is mine. And this is where my conviction comes into play. The question that follows is, ‘have I been baptized since I’ve believed?’ Well, the indisputable answer is ‘no.’ The question which produces debatable responses, though, is ‘do I need to be baptized [again]?’
I consulted with my pastor and shared my conviction to be baptized. He gave consideration and advised carefully. His position is that when I was baptized God put his seal/mark on me. And this begun God’s outpouring of grace toward me which ultimately saw me coming to faith. He spoke how God had taken me along this journey of salvation which began at my baptism (however uninspired the circumstance). I was accepted into God’s community, he explained, into the nurture of God. I believe it was his sincere council. I was just having a challenge accepting it due to a want for scriptural support and, more so, for the abundance of scripture which supported a contrary council. And there was still the matter of my personal conviction (which I believe was from the Lord).
Ex opere operato is a latin term used by the Roman Catholics which means “by the work worked.” In baptism (especially infant baptism) it describes a conference of God’s grace through the performance of the sacrament. I’ve read that it is also a school of thought held by many liturgical churches. Could the grace supposedly conferred upon the baptized by God then save or lead one, even in some part, to salvation? I believe no at all without his faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). In exercise of the ex opera operato it is held that faith must be involved; faith held by the minister performing the sacrament and the congregation/witnesses. But being baptized as with repentance is a directive. It demands the individual’s willful compliance. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” – Mark 16:16. Scripture never mentions baptism without repentance. Moreover scripture always places repentance as preceding baptism; it is not happen-stance. Baptism is the Believer’s obedient response to the ordinance instituted by his Lord and Savior. As faith without works is dead (ref. James 2:17) and we are saved by grace through faith (ref. Ephesians 2:8) so must one’s repentance follow with baptism.
The question then must be asked, ‘has my repentance been followed by baptism?’ It has not. My faith walk is not (in this regard) in keeping with the ordinance of the Lord. But “…it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness…” (ref. Matthew 3:14). My conviction came about from my desire to draw closer to the Lord. I asked Him for help and He answered by impressing my heart with the conviction to be baptized. In following this conviction I will be in good company too. For example, the ‘prince of preachers,’ Charles Spurgeon was baptized a second time after which he is recorded as saying “…baptism loosed my tongue and from that day has never been quiet.” I have tested this conviction against the Word of God and it remains. I am resolved. I will be baptized.