Do I Need to Get Baptized - Answers to Difficult Questions Asked in Sport, Rec & Fitness Outreach Ministry
This is the second in a series of Difficult Questions Encountered by SR&F Outreach Ministers
2. Do I Need to Get Baptized
Another question SR&F Outreach Ministers are often asked has to do with being baptized. This of course raises one of the more controversial theological debates The Church has ever faced. In fact, the issue of baptism has been a major cause for the creation of a number of denominational splits.
Once again, I encourage you to talk with your Lead Pastor about your specific congregational and denominational stance on this, but be assured that all Christian traditions hold a very high view of Baptism and greatly encourage (if not require) each Christian to be Baptized. I believe the bible is clear that Baptism is not an absolute requirement for salvation, but it is the expected norm for all Disciples of Jesus. This can be seen in both the words and life of Jesus.
Jesus personally sought out baptism (Matthew 3.13-17) and yet when he promised the thief on the cross eternal life He demonstrated baptism was not required for salvation and eternal life (Luke 23.39-43). So, it follows that there is a major distinctive difference between baptism being required and it being the normative recommendation.
Relevance of Baptism for SR&F Outreach Ministry
Pertaining to baptism the major relevance for SR&F Outreach Ministers has to do with how it enhances and empowers the “making of Disciples.” In specific, Baptism is a most important step in “making Disciples” because it entails making a public confession of faith. (Consult chapter 5 of my book “The Fundamentals of Sports Outreach” for a full explanation and understanding of the “5B’s” of Sports Outreach and the relevance of baptism)
It’s one thing to “raise a hand” at a league-ending evangelistic outreach event or even privately pray a prayer with a league director or coach; it’s quite another to get up in front of a congregation and publically proclaim Jesus to be Lord and Savior. The emphasis here lies in the public confession as being a vital step in the “making of Disciples.” What Baptism looks like exactly, differs between denominations both in timing (infant / adult) and in its mode (immersion / sprinkling / pouring / or even not using water).
Whereas, some faith traditions baptize infants, others baptize upon a profession of faith and conversion. However, while the specific outward modes differ, the agreed upon central belief has to do with making a public declaration. Both traditions understand the significant importance of a public declaration for infants (baptism or dedication); and both require a later public declaration for new converts. For those who baptize infants, the public demonstration is often called: Confirmation. Conversely, those who dedicate infants reserve baptism for those that are later converted.
So, you're sitting in the post-game devotional room and are stunned by the question raised by your teammate: "Should I be Baptized?" After you recover from your surprise, how do you answer him? Here's a few questions to ask and steps to follow....
Beyond all of this, I'd recommend putting the following verses on to a file on your phone entitled: Answers to Difficult Questions
Key Verses – Do I Need To Be Baptized
Matthew 28:19, 20 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
Acts 16:31, 33 “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.”
This is an excerpt from Dr. Linville's book to be released in late 2019 or early 2020 entitled: The Saving of Sports Outreach: The Soteriology of Sports Outreach - The 4th book in the Sports Outreach Institutes Series.
Dr. Linville's books can be purchased through the CSRM website - https://csrm.z2systems.com/np/clients/csrm/giftstore.jsp
Dr. Greg Linville
CSRM's Director of Resource Development