Requirements for Baptism

You might be interested in a letter which I wrote to a young Chinese person who wants to be baptized and asked what she should do next.

Dear Jane,

I am very happy to hear this. I am not sure what you have done already, but here are some general principles:

You need to know something about God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

You need to know God's Law, summarized in the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, and other places, like Ephesians 4:1 - 6:9.

You need to know that you are a sinner, deserving God's wrath and eternal punishment; to be sorry for your sins; to want God to forgive you and change you and save you from Hell.

You need to trust in Jesus as God's Son, who died in your place, taking the punishment you deserve; and who rose again, so that we can be sure that his sacrifice for us was accepted by god.

You need to trust that Christ is Lord; to be willing to follow his example and obey his teachings, relying on the power of the Holy Spirit.

You need to have a sense that God has forgiven you; has given you faith; has come in to your heart by the Holy Spirit. You need to believe that you can go to God, crying, “Abba! Father!” and that he will receive you with love and mercy.

You need to understand that baptism represents dying with Christ and rising with him, putting off the old way of life and putting on the new way of life, all by faith in Christ alone.

Baptism also represents becoming a member of the Body of Christ, which is made up of all who have been born again through repentance, faith, and the work of the Holy Spirit. To be baptized means that you are eager to be an active member of a Christian congregation, giving your time, abilities, and money (one-tenth, if possible) for the growth of the fellowship.

You need to delight in God’s Word, with a hunger to read it daily, and in prayer as a way to communicate with God. If you don’t like to read the Bible, then you probably don’t yet have the Holy Spirit within you. You don’t have to understand everything – no one does! – but you do need to hunger and thirst for God’s truth as given to us in the Scriptures.

If you lack any of these conditions, then wait to be baptized, but seek God's face; read the Bible; and ask for God to change you.

Take any questions you have to your elders, your pastor, or to me (or all of us!). Don't rush, but do be earnest in your search for conversion. God will come to you in his time. Perhaps he already has. In that case, be sure that you understand that baptism means that you are willing to follow Jesus, even unto death.

That would include, for example, obeying him even if others make fun of you; not dating or marrying a non-Christian; etc.

But the MAIN THING is to seek to know God as the most important goal in life; to trust in the righteousness of Christ given to you by faith, not in your own goodness or good behavior or church attendance, etc.

You may show all this to your parents; any of you may ask me any questions you have.

Blessings upon you,
Uncle Wright