The matter of when you should get baptised or what the criteria is for baptism is very clear in Scripture. Just go back to Acts chapter 8 and the story of Philip and the eunuch. The eunuch sees water and he asks Philip: “What hinders me from being baptised?” And Philip says, “If you believe with all your heart, you may be baptised.”
If you look at the story of Cornelius, you know when Peter spoke the gospel to Cornelius and his household, you know, it says that Peter said, “Who can forbid water that these may be baptised who have received the Holy Spirit?”
So, receiving the Holy Spirit is something that happens at the time of salvation. So it’s again, you know, if you are saved, you meet the criteria for being baptised.
If you are saved, you meet the criteria for being baptised
And then if you look at the story of the Philippian jailor later on in Acts, you know, it says that Paul and Silas, they spoke the gospel to him and his household, and they believed and they were all immediately baptised. So, Scripture really doesn’t give any condition for being baptised other than that you have been saved, that you have fully trusted in what Christ has done for you for your salvation.
The death of Christ and His finished work on the cross of Calvary has paid the penalty for your sins and, if you believe that, that is the only Scriptural basis and condition for baptism.
The people in the early church, the people who, on the first day of Pentecost — it says 3,000 of them were baptised and added to the church that day. So, we don’t find any Scriptural basis as such per se for waiting for an extended period of time.
Now having said that, you know, in practicality, there might be cases where elders may want to wait, just to observe and see if, you know, if people are indeed saved, because again the way we know that somebody is saved is really by the fruits in their life, by seeing the change in their lives. “By their fruits, you shall know them”, right? So, certainly, there is some precedence for that or there is some justification for a certain period of observation and waiting, but Scripture doesn’t really require that as such; it doesn’t specify a time period. I think it’s something that is in the judgment of the elders of the church as to whether a person is truly saved. And once they’re convinced that someone is saved, there’s really no Scriptural reason for hindering them from being baptised.
(Video courtesy: Philip Prabhakaran)
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