Okay, so maybe your girls aren’t asking that specific question. But, maybe they are beginning to ask questions about what it would look like for them to be baptized. They are looking to you, as their leader, mom, or mentor, to calm their fears often associated with baptism and to confidently point them to Scripture about why they should get baptized.
Before we get started, I think it’s always important to stop and remember that we cannot control the outcome of our girls’ decisions. We can’t convict them in any direction when it comes to being baptized. And we shouldn’t WANT to do that, because that’s the job of the Holy Spirit. Even though it’s really tempting to push someone to make a decision for baptism, we must recognize that our position is only to provide a safe place for our girls to ask questions and to simply help them navigate the importance of baptism.
Depending on your student’s religious background or knowledge of God’s Word, they will have numerous reasons for needing to know why they should get baptized. Here are 3 of the most common reasons and questions I’ve seen in my years of student ministry:
Reason 1—She is unsure of what salvation is, so she asks “Do I need to be baptized to be saved?”
The easiest (and still accurate) response to that question, “You don’t need to be baptized to be saved, but you do need to be saved to be baptized.” However, it would be tragic to leave her with just that answer, because this question reveals her heart’s desperate need to know and understand salvation. This is the Lord handing you the perfect opportunity to walk her through the gospel (see Eph. 2; Rom. 6; 10).
According to Romans 10:9-10, our justification happens when we believe with our hearts in the saving power of Jesus and confess with our mouths He is Lord. Many people use 1 Peter 3:21 as a reference to why baptism has saving powers. First Peter 3:21 literally says, “Baptism…now saves you.” But you can’t stop at the beginning of the verse! The rest goes on to say, “(not as the removal of dirt from the body, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” There is nothing magical or saving about baptismal waters, but it is completely symbolic of salvation as revealed in Romans 6:3-4.
Reason 2—She is unsure of why baptism is necessary, so she asks, “Why does everyone make such a big deal about baptism?”
This question usually means they have seen other people getting baptized and have seen it celebrated in the church. I have heard way too many leaders respond to this kind of question with something like, “Because we love Jesus and we’re just telling everyone that!” While it is true that baptism reveals someone’s love for Jesus to the world, it is so much more than that. As discussed with Reason 1, baptism is the symbol of salvation—someone has chosen to follow Jesus and they have been cleansed from their sins! But if baptism doesn’t save you, why even bother?
Baptism is necessary out of our obedience to Christ, because it is a command given directly from Him! One of the major parts of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20) given by Jesus to His followers is baptism. Through baptism, we proclaim to the world what Christ has done for us through salvation. When we don’t follow in baptism after salvation, we are living in disobedience to Him. So yes, baptism is both necessary and a cause for celebration!
Reason 3—She is unsure of what to do, so she asks, “Should I get baptized again?”
I was baptized as both an 8-year-old and 15-year-old, so I could say a lot about getting baptized again. But let’s first address that there is no place in Scripture that addresses the act of “re-baptism.” The only kind of baptism that is talked about in God’s Word is the act of being baptized directly following salvation. For me, I was 8 when I was first baptized following a prayer I prayed at Vacation Bible School. But it was when I was 14 that I realized that I had never acknowledged my need for Jesus as Savior or confessed Him as Lord. That was when I was truly saved and why I chose to be baptized again—because my first baptism had not come after salvation.
You cannot answer this question for your girls, but you can help guide them to understand that baptism is only required once after salvation. I’d recommend asking her, “Why do you think you need to be baptized again?” It could be that the first time they were baptized wasn’t out of obedience to Christ, but rather it was in pleasing their parents or youth pastor. They may also be asking this question because they haven’t been living for Christ and want to get back on track.
Here’s the deal: Your girls don’t need to get baptized again to get back on track with following Christ. They need to repent. Open God’s Word and show them 1 John 1:5-10. Emphasize that as long as we live on this earth, we will need God’s light to drive out any darkness that finds a way into our hearts. But we can be confident that He will be faithful to forgive if we simply confess our sins to Him.
I know there are many more reasons your girls will wrestle with baptism, but my hope is that the reasons we addressed here will serve as a foundation for any conversation that you may encounter in the future.