Question:

Let me start off by thanking you for all that you do in the name of Jesus Christ. A few weeks ago I had prayed to God asking for guidance in finding the true church to which I can become a part of so that I may further my understanding of the gospel. I firmly believe our Lord has led me to you.

My question involves baptism, and from your answers I understand that baptism is an important step to salvation, needs to be done in the presence of others, be of full immersion in water, and requires you to confess your sins. What I'm confused about is specifically who can baptize? Can it be a non-believer, chaplain, priest or does it have to be by someone who is already properly baptized and of strong Christian faith? Does the person conducting the baptism have to say any words to the baptizee? After being cleansed in the water I pray to God, proclaim my faith in him and Jesus Christ, and then confess my sins to the baptizer? Do I make a list of sins to confess, and do I be specific about what the happened during the sin?


Answer:

I am glad to hear of your interest in being obedient to our God. First, I would like you to read:

You basically have the right idea, but you missed an important point. Confession is not a confession of sin, but a confession of the deity of Jesus Christ. "But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" -- that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation" (Romans 10:8-10).

Confession of sin does play a role in a Christian's life, but it is a confession between you and God. See: How detailed does a confession of sin have to be?

What God teaches is that when we realize that we have done wrong, we sorrow over our failure. "For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (II Corinthians 7:10-11). That sorrow causes us to change our behavior (repent) and that repentance is seen in our new behavior.

In order to gain forgiveness for sin, God teaches that we must admit our wrongs to Him. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). The confession of sin is to God and not some earthly man. That is because it is God whom we offended, thus only God can release (forgive) us of our debt due to our sin. Christians do not have a mediator between themselves and God. Every Christian is a priest and has the right to approach God directly. "You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (I Peter 2:5).

There is mention of confessing faults to each other. "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16). But once again, there is no mention of going to a special person because all Christians are priests. The purpose of telling fellow Christians of our sins is to ask them to pray for us and with us as we seek God's forgiveness. We can see this when Simon's sin was pointed out to him. He asked Peter, "Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me" (Acts 8:24). This is something any Christian is to do this for any other Christian.

In regards to who can do a baptism, see: Is it important that the person doing a baptism be a Christian?

Regarding what is to be said at a baptism, see: What is the proper thing to say as you are baptizing someone?