Genuine repentance leads us to unconditionally surrender our will to God. Once we come to that point, the next step is to be baptised.
Water baptism is one of Christianity’s most ancient practices and has deep symbolic meaning. Baptism shows we accept the shed blood of Christ for our sins and pictures the death of our former life in the baptismal grave. While rising out of the baptismal water—symbolizes our new Spirit-led life. It is a profound, life-changing event.
In Romans 6 Paul refers to baptism as a summons to “walk in newness of life.” It is an outward sign of an inward change of heart and mind. Through repentance and baptism, we receive forgiveness and should no longer feel condemned for our past sins. It is a literal transfer of ownership. Our lives now belong to God and we make a commitment to God, as Jesus did, “Not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).
Jesus regarded the ceremony of baptism to be so important He commissioned His Church to go all over the world baptising disciples who believe the gospel message. “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, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Baptism represents a serious, life-altering commitment and is only appropriate for those mature enough to understand the importance of their decision. Nowhere can we find a single example of an infant or child being baptised in the Bible.
When we repent—with faith in God and in Christ’s sacrifice in payment for our sins—and are baptised, we receive two gifts. One is forgiveness of our sins and secondly, we receive the promised gift of God’s Spirit. This comes through the ceremony, following baptism, of the laying on of hands by one or more of God’s faithful elders for the purpose of representing God in the giving of His Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-17).
Since the days of the apostles, the laying on of hands after baptism has signified the actual moment of the receiving of the Holy Spirit and the setting apart of a convert as a child of God. This practice is mentioned in Acts 8:17; Acts 19:6 and 2 Timothy 1:6.
The United Church of God has ministers in most parts of the world who are trained to counsel with and baptise those who turn to God in true repentance. If you feel God is calling you and you would like to counsel with one of God’s ministers, then please contact us and we will put you in touch with our ministerial representative nearest you.
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