This is the question I have recently received from a reader of the portal.Let’s see what God teaches us in the Holy Scriptures.
When they received the preaching of the Gospel
The Pentecost day, when the Holy Spirit descended on earth and the Church was born, the Apostle Peter preached the Gospel to a large crowd of people.The Scripture says about this event:
So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41)(NASB)
When they believed the Gospel
The inhabitants of Samaria were baptized when they believed the preaching of Philip.
But when they believed Philip reaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. (Acts 8:12)
When he believed with all his heart
After he preached the Gospel in Samaria, the Spirit of God sent Philip to preach to a Ethiopian eunuch, who returned from Jerusalem. After he preached him about the Lord Jesus, the Bible says that:
As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. (Acts 8:36-38)(NASB)
On the same day
When the Apostle Peter preached to those gathered in the house of Cornelius the centurion, all those who received the preaching were baptized. So, when the apostle Paul came to the city of Philippi preached to pious women gathered to pray near a river. Doctor Luke, the author of the book of Acts was a witness to this event and writes this:
A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. (Acts 16:14-15)(NASB)
Also in Philippi, after God delivered the diabolic slave through the apostle Paul, her master started a large uprising against the Apostle, so he was sent to prison together with Silas. Around midnight God delivered them in a miraculous way, and the jailer, when he saw the open doors, wanted to take his life away, but Paul stopped him.
And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They 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. (Acts 16:29-33)(NASB)
In all these cases we had to do with people who were fully aware of their repentance and choice they have made. The apostles baptized almost everyone on the same day or very soon.So, it my seem that there was always so and something does not fit with how things are in churches today.Not really.
Apostle Paul has not baptized in a hurry
When he found out about the big problems of the church from Corinth, Paul wrote them:
For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one would say you were baptized in my name. Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. (1 Corinthians 1:11-17)(NASB)
Of those written by Paul it is clear that many in Corinth were baptized by others but him and they were not fully aware of the essence of their baptism, since someone has dared to say that he was baptized in the name of the one who officiated his baptism and not in the name of Jesus.It means here that Paul didn’t hurry to officiate the baptism of those who were repented and he did it only when he was fully convinced that they realize the essence of baptism and have sufficient knowledge from the Holy Scriptures. This thing is practiced today in some churches, and is very correct and biblical.Moreover, in the church of the first centuries were established courses of baptism just for those who repented, and only after studying this course they were baptized.
Why do some people who consider themselves repented put off their baptism?
Because they have not believed with all their heart. Baptism is the first commandment left for each man to do after entering the covenant with God and if someone fails at this first commandment, can not stand upright to others and so he shows people and himself or herself that there was no new birth in his or her life. Such cases are not even mentioned on the pages of the New Testament, but conversely, people came and insisted to be baptized.The jailer was very aware of the price that he had to pay and the problems that he could have the next day, but he and his family wanted to be baptized that very night.
A divine commandment
Baptism is not a human invention or practice of a confession, but is the commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ, who said:
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16)(NASB)
So, how long should a new repented person wait until baptism?
The day of repentance or as soon as possible to go to a local church where he or she wants to become a member and to tell the pastor about his or her will to be baptized.Then, to ask the pastor to register him/her at the course about baptism and to fix the date of the baptism.
Translated by Felicia Rotaru