Came across this story while researching baptism and wanted to share it.
Roman Jenks will never forget his baptism. In 1991, he was on the USS Guam, a battleship which was positioned off the coast of Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm. They waited for Saddam Hussein to make his move.
Roman was led to Christ by a chaplain assigned to the huge vessel. Baptism was a problem, however. The chaplain received permission to use as baptisteries the steel coffins which were stored in the hold of the ship. The crew rolled the coffins on deck, filled them full of icy sea water, and dozens of men were baptized.
“Talk about death to sin! Baptism in a coffin says it well. I wonder what Saddam thought?”
– from Private Roman Jenks, U.S. Marines, 1994
I will try to explain the what, when, where, and how about the ordinance of baptism as viewed from a biblical perspective.
Romans 6:3-4 NIV 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Colossians 2:12 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
These passages show that water baptism is a Christian ceremony that symbolizes the beginning of the spiritual life. Baptism is for all who have made a decision to be a follower of Jesus Christ. The ceremony is performed as a full body immersion, leaning back and coming forward out of the water. This action is publically declaring an identification with Jesus in His death and resurrection. for that is what made a new life in Him possible. In other words baptism illustrates a new life as a Christian. Baptism can be likened to a wedding ring, it is an outward symbol of an inward commitment.
A common misconception is that baptism is for the forgiveness of sin. Without a doubt the Bible makes it clear that baptism comes after repentance. To that point, Jesus was also baptized not as a reformed sinner but to give us an example to follow. The following verses are evidence that baptism follows repentance;
Matthew 3:7-8 NIV 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. John the Baptist refused to baptize the Pharisees and Sadducees until they had shown through their actions that they had already repented.
Mark 16:16 (NIV) 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. These are the words of Jesus. First believe, so as to be saved from condemnation, and then be baptized.
Acts 2:38 (NIV) 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins….. This verse can seem counter to the point, however, the problem more lies in translation. “For the forgiveness of sin” in the Greek construction would properly read “because of the forgiveness of sin”.
Another common view is that baptism is performed through sprinkling of water. That tradition came along some three hundred years after the bible was written. Every baptism in the scriptures was performed by immersion. The word baptize actually comes from the Greek word baptizw (baptizo) which means to immerse. It was used in ancient non-Christian literature to mean “plunge”, “sink into”, “drench”, “overwhelm”.
It is also abundantly clear that those who profess Jesus as savior should not feel the need to wait before being baptized.
Acts 2:41 Those who believed were baptized….that day
Acts 8:35-38 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. 36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.
The best reason to receive baptism is because Christ commanded it. Matthew 28:19-20 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
It is altogether easy to apply special merit to rituals in religion. Once that occurs it is an easy step to sacramentalism, which is the belief that special grace is given to anyone who participates in certain rituals. Sacramental churches hold a belief that a person receives grace through performing a task even if the person has no active faith. Biblical Christianity is neither ritualistic or sacramental. In the New Testament of the Bible two ordinances are prescribed. One is water baptism and the other is communion also known as the Lord’s supper. Guess what next weeks blog is about. These two ceremonies, which the Lord instituted and commanded, are to be understood as occasions of memorial. There is no power to save a persons soul in the mechanical performance of these acts; the blessing one may receive is a matter of the heart.
Rev. Burt Schwab