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Introduction

Baptism is, simply, a ceremony which involves the use of water to admit or welcome someone into the Christian religion.

What Baptism Involves

  1. Much water (Jn. 3:23, Acts 8:36-39).
  2. Immersion or burial in water (Rom. 6:4).
    • Not sprinkling or pouring of water
    • Not waving of cloth or flag
    • Not jumping over fire
  3. Raising up from water (Col. 2:12).

Significance Of Baptism

  • Baptism signifies being buried with Jesus Christ into death and being raised up from dead as it was with Christ.
  • It signifies washing away one’s sin and imbibing a new life (being born again) (Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, Col. 2:12, Rom. 6:4-5).
  • Putting on Christ (Gal. 3:27).

Eligibility For Baptism

For one to qualify to be baptized, he has to fulfill the following:

  • Hear the word of God (Rom. 10:17, Acts 2:14).
  • Receive the word (Acts 2:41).
  • Believe in Christ and accept him as the son of God and Saviour (Mark 16:15-16, Acts 8:12-13).
  • Be convicted of his sins (Acts 2:37).
  • Repent (Acts 2:38).
  • Be fully mature (Physical maturity – by age, and mental maturity).

 

Among the qualifications considered, maturity appears to attract the greatest concern in this lesson. This is because of series of opinions and controversies often generated when under-aged children come up to be baptized; a growing development in the church these days. In this circumstance, the following positions have been examined and discussed extensively at various quarters with elders, preachers and teachers in order to guide decision on the matter.

Position (i)

Baptism requires being convicted of one’s sins and showing repentances thereof. It involves living a new life in Christ (born again), having been washed of his sins; and not going back to the old life style.

Position (ii)

For one to fulfill position (i), he is expected to have:

  • Mental maturity/stability.
  • Ability to discriminate between good and evil.
  • Ability to take independent decisions without undue external influence.

Position (iii)

Certain categories of persons cannot guarantee the three qualities listed under position (ii) so they are NOT qualified (NOT Eligible) for baptism.Such categories include:

  1. a) Physically under-aged persons:
    • Babies
    • Infants
    • Early adolescents (about 15 years and below)Adolescents fall within the age bracket of 12 to 19 years.
  1. b) Mentally under-developed/immature persons

Psychologically physically under-aged persons are not mentally mature because mental maturity, in a normal person, is directly (positively) related to physical maturity.

(c)        Mentally imbalanced/insane persons

In consideration of positions (i), (ii) and (iii) it is clear that babies, infants, adolescents in their early stage, the mentally immature and mentally imbalanced/insane persons are NOT ELIGIBLE for BAPTISM.

In summary, positions (1), (11) and (111) clearly show that baptism requires physical maturity (by age) and mental maturity/stability

Biblical Examples To Show That Baptism Presupposes Maturity

Although the Bible does not give direct command on the age limit for baptism, the following examples are convincing that one should, among others, be physically mature and, by implication, mentally mature to qualify for baptism.

 

Biblical Examples To Show That Baptism Presupposes Maturity

(i) Jesus Christ was thirty years old when he was baptized (Lk. 3:23): He    was physically and mentally mature.

(ii) Saul (Paul) was fully mature and conscious of good and evil when he was baptized on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians (Acts 9:1, 2, 17, 18)

(iii) Ethiopian Eunuch was physically and mentally mature when he was baptized by Philip

(Acts 8:27, 37, 38).

 

Points To Note

(i)         Baptism washes away our sins and gives us a new life in Christ so it is not good to go back to sin after baptism. Care should therefore be      taken to ascertain who qualifies for baptism.

(ii)        Babies, infants and early adolescents are not qualified for baptism   because they do not know what is evil. Even when they know, they hardly discriminate between evil and good. After baptism, they easily go back to wrong-doing, as a way of life, and cannot withstand simple temptations.

(iii)       Mentally immature and mentally unstable/insane persons are not eligible for baptism. When one is mentally mature/stable, he is capable of abstract and logical thinking, can discern evil and good, can consciously oppose vices and follow virtues, and cannot easily be tossed about.

Finally, it is important to watch out and control under-age baptism which appears to be a new development in many congregations of the Lord’s Church. Failure to check-mate this trend will be detrimental to the spiritual growth of the Church.

An Indoor Lecture For The Month Of April, 2015
By Brother (Dr.) E. J. Effiong (Elder)