What prevents Me from Being Baptized?
I had the opportunity recently to participate in a baptism. Charles Andrews, who preaches at the Osprey congregation, asked if I could help to baptize a man he had been studying with. The reason he needed help, the man to be baptized had some special needs and that the baptistery at their building could not accommodate.
While working out all the details to get this done were somewhat complicated, that all pales in comparison to the efforts made by the man being baptized, Gerard. You see, Gerard is 76 years old, wears braces on his legs due to a condition of brittle bones, and moves around in a wheelchair. He travels with the help of public transportation. He has to call and schedule his trips ahead of time and it costs him several dollars each trip. Once he arrived at Charles’ home, he had to remove his leg braces and change clothes. With the help of 4 others, including Charles’ two sons Aaron and Adam, also both preachers, we were able to bury this fine gentleman in the waters of baptism. Afterward, he had to change clothes again, put his leg braces back on and lace them up, and get back into the transport van.
So much can be learned from this wonderful experience. First, I can’t help but see God’s hand in all this. There were many moving parts that had to all come together for this to take place. But everything went so very smoothly. Rom. 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” What a beautiful example! All things did indeed work together for good. And God’s purpose is “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4).
Second, I am reminded of Philip and his encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8. After Philip taught him about Jesus, the Ethiopian obviously came to the same realization as Gerard-that he needed to be baptized. We know that from verse 36, where he asks of Philip, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” The only thing lacking was the confession of his belief in Jesus Christ being the Son of God. Similarly, Gerard had only to make that same confession and he could be baptized. All the other details associated with his baptism were not preventing him. When someone realizes their need to be baptized, we must understand that only their confession stands between them and the water. Time, place, special circumstance-these are not factors that should inhibit anyone from being baptized. Acts 16:31-33 reminds us of the immediacy, “They [Peter and Silas] said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household” (emphasis added).
Lastly, I was struck with the character of Gerard. At 76, he was still willing to read God’s word and learn from it. He realized that God has commanded that if a person wants to be saved, he must repent of his sins and be baptized (Acts 2:38). It took a lot of planning and many obstacles had to be overcome. But Gerard’s resolve was evident. It is never too late for any one of us to obey God; even if it means that our knowledge has been lacking for so many years, causing our faith to be incomplete. 2 Pet. 3:9, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”