by Ivan (Meng Cheng) Tan, (2006, MDiv)
I do. I do. I do.
These are answers to the three questions we ask all candidates at our baptism and confirmation services. This marks the climax of the spiritual journey of many people at Wesley Methodist Church, Singapore (WMC). Each candidate goes through 10 weeks of instruction and small group interaction to prepare themselves to renounce evil, accept God’s freedom and power, and profess faith in Christ. WMC is the oldest Methodist Church in Singapore, and was planted in 1885 by Methodist missionary, Dr James M Thoburn from Ohio, USA. Every weekend more than 4,000 people attend one of WMC’s ten worship services.
Baptism & Membership Classes (BMC)
WMC conducts three BMC every year. The second class for 2013 is drawing to a close. There are 44 youths and adults, and eight infants and children for baptism, and 60 youths and adults for confirmation. The youngest is an infant of one year, and the most senior is 68. What has been most encouraging is the diversity of the class. In addition to Singaporeans, we have Malaysians and Indonesians, a Thai, a Vietnamese, a Japanese, a Filipino, and an Iranian in the class. We are privileged to have prepared four hearing impaired candidates, one special needs candidate and several families for baptism. A family baptism takes place when more than one member of a family is baptized. Christ has truly opened His church to people of all ages, races, and nations!
Many of the candidates are new Christians—one of them gave her life to Christ during the class! The three questions we ask at the services are of great spiritual significance to them. Hence we brief candidates on the questions and advise them to reflect on the questions. And we strongly encourage them to invite family members and friends to witness their baptism and confirmation, even if their guests do not believe in the Lord. We believe the sacrament of baptism can be a means by which God’s prevenient grace can lead guests to a saving knowledge of Christ. Below are some reflections on the spiritual significance of the three questions.
(The United Methodist Hymnal 34, Paragraph 4)
Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the powers of this world, and repent of your sin?
The first question is particularly important to candidates come from religious backgrounds where they worshiped various idols or gods. Some may have been dedicated to a particular deity, or have used charms or other religious objects connected to the deity. We strongly advise candidates to reflect on their past, and be very intentional in renouncing these idols or gods, and destroy or give up such charms or religious objects. The challenge we give is for them to be thoughtful and heartfelt in their renunciation, rejection, and repentance.
Do you accept the freedom and power that God gives you to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?
This question is of great import to those who renounce their previous idols or gods. Because of the new birth, the Holy Spirit gives them freedom from and power over evil, injustice and oppression, including any demonic oppression associated with the idols and gods they had renounced. For the One who is in them is greater than the one who is in the world. When a family turns to Christ, we offer to do a house cleansing service where we remove the family’s household gods, pray for the Lord to cleanse the house of those deities, and place a cross at a prominent place in the house as a sign of the Lordship of Christ over that household.
Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the church which Christ opened to people of all ages, nations, and races?
The final question prompts candidates to publicly profess their faith and allegiance to the Christ together with the church. While we recognize this is done before the church, and their family members and friends, we also believe their renunciation and profession is a witness to the angels of heaven and the spiritual forces which have been renounced.
I do. I do. I do.
In a few days’ time on a Thursday night, the pews over the baptismal pool in our church sanctuary will be moved aside, the lid of pool taken off, and the pool filled with water for the Service of Holy Baptism. Then in the following weekend, the pool will be drained, the lid replaced and the pews returned to their places for the Confirmation Services. The candidates would have given their response to the three questions with a resounding, “I do. I do. I do.” To the glory of God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! Thanks be to God!