DANGEROUS MISCONCEPTION ~ Precious C Philip
Nancy grew up in a Christian home. She was baptized as a baby in her family's church. So she grew up believing she is a Christian. At the age of 23, she heard the teaching that you have to be born again by the Holy Spirit to enter the kingdom of Heaven. However, because she had been baptized as a baby, she thought being baptized as a baby is the same as being born again.
This made her believe she is born again and she will go to heaven the day she dies. Nancy however, was not living according to the Word of God - though she goes to church every Sunday, serves in church, reads the Bible and prays. But she lives in disobedience to the Word of God and is very selective of the commandments of God she chooses to obey.
The commands of God in the Bible that her culture and the society sort of agrees with, she obeys, but the commands of God that her culture and society does not agree with, like: no sex before marriage, no drinking of alcohol, clubbing and wild parties, no sleeping around with married men, no cohabitation before marriage, no provocative/seductive dressing, no watching of pornography and masturbation..., she discards and blends in with her culture.
Nancy had a friend, Maureen. Maureen is a born again Christian. She had often tried to preach the true gospel of Jesus to Nancy, but Nancy had always resisted, stating that she is already a child of God. So, Maureen would always pray to God for the salvation of the soul of her friend Nancy; asking God to grant her genuine salvation and give her new birth. God answered Maureen's heartfelt consistent and tireless prayers for her friend Nancy.
Nancy had a vision one afternoon while taking a nap. In the vision, she saw herself in hell fire, weeping, wailing and gnashing her teeth in pain and great sorrow. In the vision, she learnt she went to hell because she was not born again by the Holy Spirit. It was explained to her that infant baptism or adult baptism is not the same as being born again by the Holy Spirit. Being baptized as an infant does not automatically make one a child of God; one can even be baptized as an adult and not be a born again child of God.
Nancy woke up shivering; gripped with fear and shame, she burst out in tears, realizing where she would have wind up if she had died before the revelation. She called on Jesus for salvation and surrendered her life totally to Jesus. She later called her friend Maureen to pray for her and give her further guidance and counsel on living the new life she has received from Christ.
Why did I tell this story? There are a lot of Christians today, like Nancy, who think they're going to heaven because they have been water baptized. There are others who believe that they're born again because they were water baptized as infants. Hmm! What a dangerous misconception! These beliefs have no basis in the Word of God; it does not agree one bit with the teachings of the Holy Bible.
Being water baptized is not being born again. You can be water baptized without being born again (even though it is not scriptural to baptize someone who has not first believed in Jesus and is converted). I was water baptized as an adult before I got born again. After I got born again and began reading the Bible, I understood it was a mere ceremony recognized by men but not recognized by God, because I had not first been born again by the Holy Spirit.
Many churches practice infant baptism and some even baptize adults who have not truly been born again.
But, when we thoroughly examine and study the Scripture carefully, we'll find that water baptism recognized by God and approved in the Bible is the one that comes after an adult or a child (not a baby) who has reached the age of accountability, has accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord (that is, born again). Any other form of baptism done before someone surrenders their life to Jesus is mere ceremony, which is not recognized in heaven by God.
These scriptures below confirms and authenticates what I've just said:
_Mark 16:16: "Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned." This scripture reveals that you must first believe in the gospel, afterwards, you'll then be baptized.
_Mark 1:5: "All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River." Here we see John the Baptist baptizing the people after they had confessed their sins. Confession of sins (signifying repentance and faith in Jesus to be saved) precedes water baptism.
_Acts 2:38: "Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Apostle Peter commands the people here to first of all repent of their sins and turn to God, followed by water baptism, for the forgiveness of their sins, and they'll receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
_Acts 16:30-33: "He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized." We also observe here that Paul and Silas first led the jailer and his household to Jesus - to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior, then they proceeded to baptize all of them in water.
Please take note that all the people addressed in these aforementioned scriptures were adults and not infants/babies. So, confession and repentance of sins comes before water baptism (Mark 16:16, Mark 1:5, Acts 2:38, Acts 16:25-34). Any water baptism done before repentance of sins is not in agreement with the teachings of the Bible, thus a mere ceremonial/religious act.
You must first acknowledge your sins, confess and repent of them before you're baptized in water and in the Holy Ghost. That is the biblical order. Even Jesus our Master, Lord, and Savior, was not baptized as an infant. He was baptized as an adult. He observed the order. Even if you were baptized as a baby, today that you have known the truth, repent of your sins, believe in Jesus and go to your church and ask to be baptized in water to fulfill the requirements of Scripture.