When is it the right time to be baptised? How do you know if you are ready to be baptised? These are questions that occupy the minds of many people who are considering baptism. The answers will surprise you. For example, for some people, baptism is about our commitment to Christ, or about us receiving Jesus into our lives, or about our personal faith and repentance.
The truth is that baptism is not primarily about what we do, but about what God has done. Baptism is primarily about God’s commitment to us, NOT our commitment to him. It is about Jesus receiving us into HIS LIFE, NOT about us receiving him into OUR LIVES. It is about Jesus’ faith and repentance on our behalf and in our place, not about our personal faith and repentance. “While we were still sinners, Jesus died for us” (Romans 5:8 NIV). In our salvation, it is God who takes the first step, not us. Baptism is not our first step to God, it is our response to God’s first step towards us. It is not about us saying YES to God. God said Yes to us, and baptism is our AMEN to God’s YES. (2 Corinthians 1:20)
Do you know that Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist? Do you think Jesus needed to commit his life to God? Did he need to receive God into his life? Did he need to repent and have personal faith in God? Of course not! Jesus did not need to repent. He had no sin of his own. Why then was he baptised? He was baptised for us, on our behalf, and in our place. When we get baptised, we are participating in Jesus’ baptism. His baptism becomes ours, his repentance becomes ours, his commitment to God becomes ours.
There is only ONE baptism, that is, the baptism of Jesus. All other baptisms are a participation in that one baptism. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, ONE baptism” (Ephesians 4:4-5). That is what it means to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ.
In 2009 my manager was invited to speak at a conference in Cairo, Egypt. Unfortunately, my manager could not go, and she asked me to go in her name and in her place. I travelled business class, stayed in a 5-star hotel, and addressed a conference attended by international experts. I was participating and sharing in the profile of my manager. I was treated like a VIP. I was there in her name.
When we get baptised, we participate and share in the baptism of Jesus. What belonged to Jesus becomes ours, and what belonged to us becomes his. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
So, when is one ready for baptism? How does one know if they are ready for baptism? The short answer is that you don’t need to cross the theological “T’s” and dot the spiritual “I’s” to be ready. Jesus has already crossed the theological “T”, and dotted the spiritual “I” for you. The question you should be asking is: “What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” (Acts 8:36). That was the question of one of the first African believers, an Ethiopian Minister of Finance. And the answer is: Nothing stands in your way.
“I am not ready for baptism.” Really?