I recently wrote about the decline of the sinner’s prayer in denominational circles and how baptism is starting to grow in popularity in its place. While it’s exciting to see baptism on the rise, it doesn’t mean much if baptism isn’t understood in a biblical sense. Unfortunately it seems that an unbiblical view of baptism is still fairly common in the denominational world, and one piece of proof is the practice of “Baptism Sundays.”
What is a Baptism Sunday? It’s the practice in which churches have a large group baptism on a designated Sunday from time to time. All of those who are “saved” between each Baptism Sunday are added to the list to be baptized on the church’s next scheduled day of baptisms. For example, one church I read about was situated close enough to the ocean that they would schedule a beach trip day where the baptisms would take place before a time of church fellowship and celebration.
Search the Scriptures and you won’t see anything of the sort. Giving baptism some “in between” kind of importance where it’s emphasized as a big part of church life but isn’t considered essential doesn’t reflect what the Bible says. Let’s look at two biblical reasons why Baptism Sundays are unscriptural.
There are no biblical examples of people delaying their baptism.
The 3,000 on Pentecost in Acts 2 were baptized “that day.” The Ethiopian Eunuch of Acts 8 was baptized on the side of the road as they stopped the chariot mid-journey because he spotted the water. In Acts 16 we read of Paul and Silas preaching to the Philippian jailer and his entire household, leading them to be baptized in the middle of the night. In Acts 19, when Paul encountered those who had been baptized under John’s baptism and hadn’t received the Holy Spirit, he taught the truth to them about Jesus’ baptism. What did they do when they heard that truth? They were baptized. You won’t find a single example of a person putting off their baptism until a later date, or even a later hour.
Baptism is not something you do after you’re saved.
The reason why churches save up baptisms for a particular day is because they don’t see baptism as part of salvation, but something you do after you’re saved. They sometimes use the phrase “an outward sign of an inward grace” to describe baptism, saying that the salvation has already occurred within and baptism is simply what we do to publicly show that we’ve been saved. But, much like Baptism Sunday, you won’t find that concept in the Bible, either.
Consider the descriptions associated with baptism in the Bible. Baptism was the answer to the question “What shall we do?” after the crowd was convicted of their sin in killing Jesus (Acts 2:38). It is how we call on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16). It is the point at which you are united with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection to a new life (Romans 6:3-4, Colossians 2:12). It is how we “put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). It is our saving appeal to God for a clear conscience (1 Peter 3:21). Why would a person wait weeks or even months to do any of those things? It’s impossible to read the Bible (without a modern, denominational bias) and come to the conclusion that baptism is a symbolic act that we can live without as Christians for any period of time.
Once a person knows what they need to do to be saved, there isn’t a single good reason in the world not to do it. I know there are those who want to wait until certain family members are present, or until Sunday so the church family can be there for it, but we have to consider what we’re really doing when we put off baptism. Say it’s 9 pm on a Thursday night and the truth hits you. You need to be saved from your sins and live your life with Jesus as your Lord. Why would you want to walk around with those sins separating you from God for two more full days?
If you know the truth and yet still haven’t been baptized, do it today. If your church makes people wait to be baptized, I hope you’ll consider the fact that they’re preventing people from doing what the early Christians did and what the Bible commands. The day a person is baptized into Christ is the most important day of his or her life. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you need to put it off.
By Jack Wilkie