Frequently Asked Questions
Before considering baptism for such a person, we must first consider whether it is possible for a person to get right with God at the last minute. This depends on the persons heart (their true attitude toward God). Since God knows the state of everyones heart, He will make the right decision. It probably hinges on whether the person neglected getting right with God from ignorance or because they did not want to give up their favorite sins. The Bible tells us about these people, who fall into one of two categories:
The first categoryseeking God.
The second categoryignoring God.
For these reasons, we know that some eleventh hour conversions of people may be successful. This then brings us to our question regarding baptism by immersion. Although the Bible is silent regarding eleventh hour baptisms, it would be consistent with Gods character as revealed in the Bible to give grace to those people who had been seeking Him, but discovered the truth too late to be baptized correctly. However, we do not know this. Therefore, we strongly urge everyone to get right with God while they have the chance to do so in a way that leaves no doubt, since none of us knows when our personal timeline will end.
For more information, you will find the message Why You Need To Know That The Clock Is Ticking very helpful. You can go to that RealAudio teaching by clicking on this sentence.
Isnt it true that you must be baptized in Jesus Name?
This is such an interesting topic, we constructed a separate page to address it.
Although there may be rare exceptions, anyone baptized into a cult or by someone who is a member of a cult (and many cults mimic Christian baptism), is not saved and still needs to get right with God. The reason is that a cult baptism is not really accepting the Jesus Christ of the Bible as their Lord and Saviorthe whole purpose of the baptism. See our Getting Right With God page for the details.
If a person was baptized by a pastor of a Christian church that followed the Bible, the baptism is valid. Just because the pastor sinned later has no bearing on your salvation. The salvation comes from God through acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior and does not rely at all on the character or goodness of the person who did the baptizing . . . or any other person here on Earth.
We chose the wording we did because many people are taught one of two incorrect views of baptism. These two views are:
The first belief is not correct, because the Bible never teaches it. That is the reason that we wrote Baptism alone does not save. (Notice the word alone.)
Since the Bible always couples baptism with salvation, the second belief is not right either. (It is not wrong, it is just not complete.) We discuss the thief on the cross, the primary defense of the second belief, later on this page.
Since neither of these two views is correct according to the Bible, we are left with the Bibles model. We have that on our Getting Right With God page.
Godparents, godfathers, and godmothers are not mentioned in the Bible, so you do not need them to be baptized.
The concept of being saved by faith only actually came as a reactionary response from the leaders of the Reformation (Martin Luther, John Huss, etc.) against Catholic church teachings such as penance, confession to a priest, and indulgences (as stepping stones toward getting right with God). This concept has found a home in modern times through the electronic church (Christian television broadcasts) which can not baptize people through their TVs! That is one reason we recommend attending a real church. See our Why would I want to go to church? page for more information.
The thief was still under the Old Testament law. In the Old Testament, people were saved through faith, primarily faith toward the coming Messiah, with circumcision being the sign of the covenant. That is, people before Jesus looked forward to Him and people after Jesus look back to Him. To learn more about getting right with God today, click here.
John the Baptists primary mission was to be the link or bridge between the Old Testament (covenant) and the New. That is, John was part of the series of events that brought the long awaited Messiah on the scene. The prediction of his appearance is given in Isaiah 40:3, and confirmed by Jesus in Matthew 17:11-13. As such, John did not baptize people for salvation. It was a baptism of repentance (Mark 1:4). You might consider Johns baptism a replacement for wearing sackcloth as a sign of repentance for being sinful. See 2 Kings 19:1-4 for a good analogy. In that passage, the people knew that they were about to be destroyed, and knew it would take divine intervention to save them. They also knew that they were too sinful to be worthy of being given such a miracle by God. The sackcloth (like Johns baptism) was an outward sign to God that the people knew how bad they were, hoping that God would honor their correct view of themselves and answer their prayer to be saved (which He did).
Although baptism ended up being part of the way used to get right with God, Johns baptism was not enough by itself. Notice that Acts chapter 19, verses 1-7 records people that had been baptized by John, who later had to be re-baptized to get right with God.
The verse referred to (Matthew 28:19) says: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (NKJV).
This verse reveals two things relevant to this question. First, the eleven disciples Jesus is talking with are told to make other disciples, which are always adults. After all, how capable of teaching someone everything about Christ (or answering questions like these) is the average 8 year old?
The second thing this passage reveals has to do with how the Jews felt about the rest of the world. The Jews always believed that they were the only chosen people (which was true enough until the time Jesus arrived). They never believed that the Gentiles (non-Jews) could be savedeven after John the Baptist told them that God could make children of Abraham (chosen people) out of stones (Matthew 3:7-10). That is, if God could make a stone into a saved person He could make a Gentile into a saved person. Later, Jesus told His 100% Jewish audience to make disciples of all nations. It is clear that they still did not understand that Gentiles were included in the phrase all nations. Here is how we know:
In Acts 10:44-48 the Holy Spirit descended on some Gentiles, who were then baptized by Peter and some other believers who came with him. In the next verses (Acts 11:1-18), we learn that the (Christian) Jews were angry that Peter and the others baptized Gentiles. It wasnt until they learned that God gave the Gentiles the Holy Spirit (in a way that it could actually be observed) that they believed that God was allowing Gentiles to go to heaven.
Therefore, the focus of this verse is on making disciples and reaching out to Gentiles as well as Jews. Coupled with the remarks about a persons age on our baptism page, it is safe to say that this passage does not refer to baptizing small children.
Copyright © 1998-2001 by Clarifying Christianity (SM).
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
All information contained in Clarifying Christianity is a resource for questions dealing with Christian issues. It is not to be taken as Christian counseling. Seek a qualified Christian counselor for help with all such issues. If you choose to work with a Christian counselor, it is your responsibility to ask pertinent questions before you begin, to assure yourself of their qualities and abilities.1596