Baptism -
A Powerful Testimony

by Birgit Barandica Eichberger, November 2006

It is so sad to see people and even whole denominations fight over the issue of Baptism. As to my view this only shows how close the devil gets to where the Holy Spirit is at work. Unfortunately. Even among us Christian brothers and sisters. Like so very often, the enemy manages to get people listen to him without even noticing it. The effect is seperation, shism, in families and churches over all kinds of different issues, also baptism.

One side denies faith to the other, while the other side calls the first one being "of the devil". Just yesterday, I heard of yet another case - people I even know personally. That hurts. And made me write this article.

Sometime ago, I heard of another case while attending a seminar. A young woman told me of how she and her husband became saved and are attending a Biblical, Christ-centered church since then, where they also got baptized. Their first child got blessed there. The husband's family is strictly catholic and fell out with them. They, on their part, try to maintain contact if any possible. Shortly ago though, it had come to a bad explosion, when the young woman lost her second child. Of course, she and her husband suffered a lot because of it. Yet with Jesus's help they got over it.

Yet instead of grieving together with this young family (afterall, it was their grandchild, too) or caring in a loving way for them, these grandparents now reproach this young family saying this is God's punishment for them for having abandoned the Catholic Church and committing the sin of rebaptizing. It seems like a curse....

Unfortunately, this inhuman behavior is not only to be found among Catholics but also among others who preach infant baptism. Especially in this subject, many people don't obey Jesus' commandment not to judge others. Some people don't seem to take the Apostle's teaching into consideration anymore which says that all knowledge is in part, yet they seem to be thinking, my knowledge is the right one. All good manners seem to be forgotten then and judgement of others begins, which doesn't bring glory to our good Lord and Savior at all. Even those who have the knowledge of faith baptism do wrong; many have behaved arrogantly toward those who don't have this knowledge. So both sides have turned against Biblical teachings that say to be tolerant toward the convictions of fellow believers as we all will one day be accountable before our maker (Romans 14:1-12).

In the meantime, also I became convinced of faith baptism. In the study you will find some Biblical statements on this subject. But first, I'd like to tell you about what made me change my conviction. I do hope and pray that my testimony will help understand how carefully and even affectionately God approaches this subject. Shouldn't this make all of us see to treat our neighbor much more nicely when it comes to conviction differences? I know from experience how easy it can be to treat others arrogantly after gaining new knowledge. And this is then where Jesus' teaching sets in: meaning not to treat others arrogantly.

I was born into a Lutheran family, thus baptized a baby. Since my early years, I was a searching person and so with about 13 or 14 years, I changed to the Catholic church. For at my own Lutheran church there was nothing that made whatever sense to me - nothing that would have brought me close to Jesus. This Catholic church made me attend courses for a children's ministry and later made me a leader (although I was no official Catholic), which also made me get acquainted with their church teachings. Mass and all corresponding rituals appealed to me and so I gave eight years of my life to that church. The priest even allowed me taking the holy comminion, although this usually is forbidden to non-catholics. Some of the few people who knew that I was a Lutheran said that I seemed more Catholic to them than the Catholics themselves!

Despite being totally convinced of the Catholic religion back then, and despite even having talks with the priest because of it, it never came to an official conversion. It would have meant to get re-baptized, (regulation of the Catholic church). Inside myself, I felt held back, like with a red traffic light, I simply had no peace over it, the mere thought of it made me feel bad.

Today I know it was God Himself keeping me from it, because there simply is no "lutheran" baptism, no "catholic" baptism, no whatever else baptism, there is only one baptism: the baptism by faith in Jesus Christ. I didn't have a clue on that back then, so I wouldn't have believed in any reasonable argument, either. This is why God talked to me that way and it indeed prevented me from that step (please understand the difference - here, it was not about a baby being baptized without its own conscent - with me it would have been a voluntary thing). Only much later, when I fully grasped the meaning of baptism, I got baptized. Not re-baptized, but baptized by faith.

When after a long and hard search I finally found Jesus and accepted Him into my life, I often came across the topic "baptism". However, I was never prepared for this. I can't tell you why I was ever so convinced of my infant baptism, because there simply was no plausible reason in favor of it, apart from tradition: it has always been like this, so why should it change? This, however, is no real reason at all...

The mere thought of it made my stomach ache. Yet in His loving way as it is His own, God made this subject cross my way many times: in Christian books that I loved reading, all of a sudden there was a subject change and they talked about baptism. Preachings with a completely different subject, all of a sudden had "baptism" in it. Christian conversations all of a sudden turned into the baptism direction... And everytime, God made me hear things that were important for my understanding.

With the effect that those stomach aches disappeared! I realized the subject getting closer to me, I began to grasp faith baptism more and more and at some point I asked to God to take away what hindered me to do this step of obedience. For this is it about - a step of obedience toward God! Baptism itself is not necessary for salvation. Which means that even not being baptized you will go to heaven. For the only thing that will definitely keep you from going to heaven is when you consciously decide against Jesus, not accepting what He did for you on the cross! Read Jesus, the Way and The Bridge.

Mark 16,15-16 says very clearly, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned". And Matthew 28,19 is the same as clear, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...."

Both verses are very clear in that faith is first, then follows baptism. Actually it even starts before that, because both verses say, "go...". So someone will have to start out for others to hear. "Consequently," says Romans 10:17, "faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." You are baptized by virtue of your faith. The other way around it won't be possible: no-one can have faith because of their infant baptism.

If you go on developing this thought logically, then I think it is clear that only an independently thinking person can come to faith. For they will first have to consciously listen to what is being told. And then they will have to ponder what they have heard in order to decide whether or not they want to follow. A baby is not at all able to do what I have written here in italics and underlined. Every now and then there might be an eight-year-old child able to grasp what baptism is about. But usually, it's teenagers or adults, because they are the ones who can think independently. Babies and young kids can be blessed in a ceremony - not baptized.

Since all this clutter because of baptism did not exist back then (infant baptism was introduced only in the 2nd or even 3rd century), there had never been the necessity of such discussions. This is why people back then simply got baptized without any criticism on it, shortly after coming to faith. Sometimes it was even a very spontaneous reaction to their new faith in Jesus that happened only minutes before and when the possibility for baptism through immersion was available.

Unfortunately, this is another thing that often is not being considered; the original language of the New Testament is Koiné-Greek, which is a form of the ancient Greek spoken in the whole Mediterranian area back then. It was the language spoken and understood by almost everybody, similar to English nowadays. Well, and in this original language of the New Testament, baptism is always called "baptizo", meaning "to immerse". Even the judaistic baptism, practized by John the Baptist and undergone by Jesus Himself, is called "tabal" in the Old Testament (2 Kings 5:14, see Bible Study), also meaning "to immerse". It would not at all be logical, if the original Greek of the New Testament would not go together with the original Hebrew of the Old Testament, would it?

Well, back to my own testimony. Step by step, God made me come closer to the topic "baptism". In February of the year 2000, I began working as secretary in my former church; eight years after my commitment to Jesus. We had several pastors as it was a relatively big church. The pastor who did the lessons on baptism and baptism itself, one day came up to me asking whether I'd be interested in attending his next lesson on baptism. Oh sure, I said, as in the meantime, I had learned so much about this subject that I was prepared for such a course. However, there were still many questions on my heart and so these classes would be just ideal. I only had a problem with the immersion, since I was paniking each time someone was only spilling water over my head, let alone dive under water completely.

I did not really dare telling him this; I thought he'd be laughing at me. Yet his reaction was totally different; he seriously looked at me saying, "Oh boy, this is truly a severe problem. Please, tell me more about it." He then put questions and I answered. Then he asked me to give him some time as he wanted to pray about it.

That same evening, our church deacon drove me home, asking whether there is something he should pray about as he noted me so pensative. I knew at once that I was to tell him all about my concerns around baptism. Immediately he began praying and, strange to say, he mentioned many things my pastor was saying a few hours ago! Also he was concerned about my ear problem anad asked God for healing.

We said good bye and I went upstairs to my appartment. All at once I had it totally clear: "I do want to get baptized!" A huge joy flooded through me and a big impatience grew inside of me to finally be able to "jump into the water"!

First thing next morning, I registered for this course which was due to begin the following friday evening, going through all saturday. It was so intense and informative that there was no question left open to me and my decision was made that I was going to get baptized along with five other people a week after the course.

It was such a wonderful experience! Unintentionally, I even made people laugh; as to the habits of that church, every candidate for baptism was to stand on the stairhead, while the pastor, who was already in the water, told the baptism reading and prayed. So while I was standing there, supposed to listen, I automatically took a step down as if I couldn't wait for it to happen! My pastor interrupted himself saying, "Just wait some more, let me first finish praying!" The second time, "No, not yet - wait!" And the third time, "Patience, girl, you'll be under water sooner than you think!" Everybody died laughing!

My pastor to my left and a helper to my right.

Well, when at long last it happened, I didn't even feel one bit! No panik - nothing suchlike! I only knew that I was really under water because of the water running down my face afterwards! And my son was taking photos proving I was really baptized under water!!!

The moment they pulled me up again!

Later on it became clear to me that it was satan who managed to keep me from faith baptism during so many years... When he got aware of me coming closer to knowledge, he simply changed tactics using my fear of water to hinder me from getting baptized. Do you understand what I'm saying here, the enemy is trying EVERYTHING to keep us from doing what Jesus has commanded us to do. And if that means using people to fight one another.... So get aware!

More than we will ever get aware of, satan hates people finding their way to Jesus. Baptism is the most powerful testimony of a complete commitment.

Ephesians 6 says it very clearly that we are not fighting against people but against powers and authorities of the dark world, meaning the spiritual realms that are the same as real as is heaven. Why don't we begin and take the Bible serious?! For also this is a tactic of Satan: to mock and make fun out of himself so that people don't believe his existence or at least don't take it too serious. And again, he has won a battle. Do we really want to give him the whole ground for his pleasure???

Ammendment: You have just learned that I was not always convinced of faith baptism. Like so many other dear people, also I was infant baptized. Praise God not everybody is reacting as bad as those grandparents I mentioned above. Yet there are still a lot of people deeply concerned when it comes to faith baptism. It also happened to me back then. During so many years. Without any real biblical reason. Yet why should we get baptized at all if not for biblical reasons? Just because it is such a nice tradition? No, this wouldn't make any sense for so many fights between people because of it. For me it is very clear: it is the enemy trying to hinder us! First in our thoughts and then by sowing hard and drastic fights between us brothers and sisters in Christ.

I am very thankful to God that in my case it was not as bad. Just the contrary. When it became acute to me, I was attending a church that, based on own bad experiences, treated this subject a very smooth and reasonable way. Nobody urged me or others in getting baptized. Had they done so, I guess I would have stopped going there. I even might have had problems in faith because of it. But here I was given time to develop peacefully. And God had the possibility to work on me without people intervening like it so often happens. And now, I am indeed baptized to His glory!

Click here to take a Bible Study on baptism. Read it and pray about it. If you have already entrusted your life to Jesus, but are not yet faith baptized, then do it as soon as it is possible to you. It will be a very big blessing for you if you follow Jesus' example and instruction!

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