“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
Since moving to Florida over twenty years ago, I’ve repeatedly encountered people who take great exception to Southern Baptist’s insistence upon believer’s baptism for church membership. It seems like I’ve been asked the following question a million times: “Why do I have to be re-baptized to join your church?”
With people from so many different parts of our country and world, as well as from so many different religious and denominational backgrounds, the Sunshine State is anything but the Bible Belt. Whereas most Southerners understand why Southern Baptists are so persnickety about baptism, Floridians, who for the most part are not Southerners, find it difficult to understand.
Over the years, some folks have actually perceived our church’s insistence upon their re-baptism as spiritual uppityness. They’ve concluded that our church is spiritually conceited. The truth, however, is that we are spiritually cautious, wanting to assure ourselves that all who come into our church family are true followers of Christ.
Why should our church take anyone’s profession of faith seriously if they refuse to do the first thing Christ commands us to do; namely, to be properly baptized. What kind of church member will someone prove to be who balks at the very first step in the Christian life? If they won’t even provide us with minimal proof of their profession—obedience to Christ’s command to be baptized—how can we not consider their profession of faith in Christ to be somewhat suspect? Truly, no one with such a suspect profession of faith should be permitted into the fellowship of a local body of baptized believers.
For a church to accept the profession of an unbaptized believer is tantamount to a court dismissing a case against a defendant simply upon the defendant’s plea of innocence. Whereas the court assumes the truthfulness of the defendant’s plea without the proof of an alibi, evidence or testimony, the church assumes the genuineness of the believer’s profession without the proof of baptism.