As I was participating in the burial of my dear mother Mama Reggie Molokwu in the third week of April 2013, I had the good pleasure of partaking in the water baptism of another dear mother in the family. My desire to have her baptised biblically and the issues it raised in certain persons called for this short treatise on the necessity of water baptism for every Christian. Biblical Christianity requires all converts to be baptised FORTHWITH after their new birth so that they can attain the zenith - here on earth and in heaven - ordained by God for them. The winning Christian is a baptised saint. However, many churches and sects 'baptise'their adherents in ways far removed from Bible intentions, standards, recommendations and practice. The importance of water baptism as underlined below mandates that this commencement journey in God's kingdom must be gotten right in the first instance! It's hoped that those who may have been 'baptised' otherwise by the wrong persons in the wrong places and for the wrong reasons should seek the help of the Holy Spirit to make the necessary corrections as soon as possible.

To be born again or to be converted is a most necessary spiritual rebirth for anyone who desires to know and see the true God and dwell with Him in heavenly eternity. Only those who genuinely believe in and exemplify Jesus Christ the Son of the living God as Lord and Saviour in their lives {those who are born again} shall be saved. The new birth is available to everyone that truly and totally repents of sin and takes measures to forsake continual, purposeful sinning because a Christian is not a sinner and a sinner cannot be a Christian - ROM. 10:1-13. The born again child of Jehovah God will escaped the torment of hell fire - JN. 3:1-21. Salvation is only possible in the name of the Lord Jesus - PSA. 27:1, LK. 2:30, ACTS 4:12. All other names smuggled in as co-redeemers by any church or sect is deliberate falsehood, wickedness and strange news to the Holy Scriptures. Such a gospel is ordained by demons, is unapproved by the Holy Ghost and constitute a great affront to the God of the Holy Bible. When we hear of former criminals, idol worshippers, prostitutes, occultists, gangsters, armed robbers, atheists, communists, terrorists, religionists and people who walked in self righteousness {LIKE MYSELF}turn to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and are transformed, this is the GOOD NEWS!Salvation is to turn away from sin and the world and to be delivered from all that separates a sinner from God. This new birth re-unites the fresh saint with God his Maker. It is a sign that her sins are washed away and that Jesus has taken her to be His own. Salvation is by faith, solely by the grace of God and not by any man's works - JERE. 31:3-14, ACTS 16: 16-34, EPH. 2:1-10, GAL. 2:15-21.No man genuinely saved boasts of his own strength. Holiness is the true template of genuine and lasting salvation - 1 PET. 1:13-23.

After salvation comes the rite of identification with the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ through water baptism. It's identifying with God's family - the church. In water baptism, the new saint publicly announces to the world: 'I am not ashamed to be a part of God's family' - MT. 28:19. It enables the new Christian to scripturally and legally participate in the fellowship of God's eternal family. New believers must go through it - 2 COR. 5:17-19, ACTS 16:16-34.Baptism declares your faith, shares Christ's burial and resurrection, symbolises your death to your old life and announces your new life in Christ. It's a physical picture of a spiritual truth - 1 COR. 12:13. Water baptism is a visible reminder of an inward commitment. It's an immediate act of initiation of a new believer into God's family, not something that you or any church should put off till it's convenient or till you are spiritually mature! The only biblical condition is that you believe - ACTS 8:12-13, 35-38. And if you are truly born again, then please get baptised in the right place soonest.

In the biblical New Testament church, people were baptised as soon as they believed. For example; 3,000 saints at Pentecost were baptised with water the same day they accepted Christ Jesus as their Lord and Saviour -ACTS 2:41.And elsewhere, an Ethiopian leader was baptised by water on the spot when he was converted - ACTS 8:38.Again, Paul and Silas baptised a Philippian jailer and his family by water at midnight after they believed in the lordship of Jesus Christ - ACTS 16:37.Indeed, there was no record of any delayed water baptism in the New Testament church of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, many living churches today require extensive 'believer's classes!' But in the beginning, it was not so! Like divorce, the hardness of men's heart {unknowingly towards new converts!} among some other worldliness brought this unbiblical teaching into the church of the living God. Friend, please abide with the rules and regulations of where you worship concerning delayed water baptism if other conditions are right. However, I will be glad to be of help if you are confused over this matter. Biblically, water baptism must be by complete immersion in water whether in a river, a pond, in the sea, by the ocean, in a well, robber dingy or a tank. It is a necessary spiritual symbol of identification with the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. In very extreme cases, it can be done in unusual places in faith, but it must still be by total immersion. For example, a high born Pakistani woman and wife of the rabid Muslim country's one time Foreign Minister baptised herself in a bath tub because of the rarity of openly practicing brethren and official hostility and intolerance shown to Christians and Christianity in her country. She later wrote her testimony in a marvellous book called I DARED TO CALL HIM FATHER!If you are truly born again, I bless and thank God that you know Him and call Him your heavenly Father. Halleluyah!

Now, let us summarise. Firstly, it was God the Father Himself Who commanded water baptism in the New Testament era of our Lord Jesus Christ - JN. 1: 33. Secondly, water baptism is a sign of genuine repentance of one's sinful past - MT. 3:1-12.Thirdly, it is a sign of spiritual rebirth or conversion to the way of salvation that Jesus secured for fallen man on the cross of Calvary - MT. 28:16-20.Fourthly, it is a sign of identifying with the body of Christ - the church - by publicly submitting to this ritual through the leading of the church - ACTS 8:26-39.The church is permitted by God to baptise converts - JN. 4:1. Fifthly, water baptism is to be done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ only - ACTS 2:38.Any other name brought in deconstructs and nullifies it. Sixthly, it must be safely done by total immersion in a body of water. John the son of Zechariah and a forerunner of Jesus Christ who preached the message of repentance in preparing the way for the Messiah was surnamed the Baptist because he identified and practiced this important spiritual ritual in the River Jordan publicly - LK. 1:26, 3:1-20. The Lord Jesus Himself submitted to water baptism by John the Baptist in the River Jordan - MK. 1:9-10. If John the Baptist baptised the Lord Jesus by total immersion in River Jordan, then no man has the right to 'baptise'you by sprinkling water on your head only! Please rectify this deception if it occurred in your walk with the Lord earlier. Remember this one time iconic advert: 'If it's not Panadol, it cannot be like Panadol!'So if it's not biblical water baptism, it cannot be true water baptism! Seventhly, the baptism of John was designed to reveal the Lord Jesus to Israel and to the body of Christ - JN. 1:30.In like manner, the water baptism of a new saint reveals him to the church of the living God which is Christ's body. The Israelites got God's approval of the ministry of the Lord Jesus at His water baptism - MK. 1:11. And the Lord Jesus also baptised people - JN. 3:22, 26.

Friends, the grace of the living Jesus be with you all, amen.

Historian, freelance journalist and writer, Pastor JOSEPH EMEKA ANUMBOR is the author of THE INTERCOURSE OF TROUBLED THOUGHTS, a critically acclaimed discourse on homosexuality published by Author House Inc., Indiana, USA.

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Articles by Emeka Anumbor