Can A Person Be Baptised Even Though He/She Doesn’t Quite Believe?

Let me begin my saying who this essay is NOT being aimed at. It is not aimed at those of you who are about to get baptised, who on the whole possess a sincere faith in Jesus Christ, but due to immaturity, may still struggle in certain aspects of your faith.

Rather, this essay is aimed at those of you who do not possess a genuine faith in Jesus Christ, but are planning to get baptised due to ulterior motives.

The ulterior motives include the wish to get baptised to impress your believing boyfriend or girlfriend.  Or perhaps you think it is “cool” to be labelled as a Christian (even though you don’t believe in Jesus Christ). Or perhaps your friends or relatives have been nagging you to become a Christian and you wish to get them off your back.

Whatever the reasons, if you do not possess an ounce of faith in Jesus Christ, you must refrain from getting baptised.

Some people may view baptism as nothing more than like an act in a movie, but what they don’t realise is that the act has indeed serious spiritual implications.

In particular, baptism is an emblem of death and burial, as Romans 6:3-4 below (with emphasis mine) explains:

3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Please read that again (and slowly), paying particular attention to the following two words:  death and burial.

Not that I wish to alarm you unnecessarily, but one’s involvement with spiritual emblems do indeed open the doors to consequences in one’s life, be they positive or negative.

For instance, in 1 Corinthians 11,  we find that believers who partook of the Holy Communion (the emblem of the body and blood of Jesus Christ) in an unworthy manner came under God’s judgment (verse 29), and led to their sickness or even death (verse 30).

A real-life example of someone who had perhaps take baptism too lightly was the late Dr Richard Teo.

In a speech in 2011, Dr Teo admitted: “I was baptised 20 years ago, but it was because it was fashionable to be a Christian then. All my friends were becoming Christians then [and] I wanted to be baptised, so that when I filled in a form, I could put there “Christian” – [it] feels good!”

“In truth, I never had a bible; I don’t know what the bible is all about.”

“I went to church for a while; after some time, I got tired.”

Indeed, although Dr Teo had been baptised, and therefore, was in principle supposed to be dead to the world and living a new life in Christ (Romans 6:3-4), perhaps due to the lack of proper guidance in church, Dr Teo found himself, over time, increasingly drawn to the things of the world.

By the time he was in his 30s, Dr Teo achieved almost everything that most Singaporeans can only aspire to — wealth measured in millions of dollars, a thriving business and membership in high society. (Read about his story in my previous blog)

However, his life came crashing down when he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

The good thing, though, was that his sickness led him back to God.

Dr Teo would also later come to the understanding that his sickness was God’s way of disciplining him.

Eventually, Dr Teo did not recover from lung cancer and died at the age of 40 years. His inspiring testimony of God’s dealing with him can be watched in the Youtube link below.

That said, baptism is a sacred and serious event in one’s life. It represents the death to one’s former life and the intention to live a new life in Christ (Romans 6:3-4)

Personally, I wish that every person on this planet would find faith in Jesus Christ, repent and be baptised (Acts 2:38). But it would be naive to think that everyone alive would be willing to say ‘no’ to the world and its pleasures, and to give up one’s former life.

The Lord Jesus Christ told those who wanted to follow Him to count the cost to being His disciple (Luke 14:25-34), and this is exactly what those who are planning to get baptised need to be aware that they are getting themsleves into.

If God is Good, Why Do Some Christians Suffer from Terminal Cancer — The True Testimony of the Late Singaporean Aesthetics Doctor, Dr Richard Teo Keng Seng

God is good. But some might scoff, “If God is good, why do some Christians suffer from terminal cancer?”

There are no easy answers to this question, and if you are a believer who does suffer from terminal cancer, you might take some comfort from the true story of the late Dr Richard Teo Keng Seng.

Dr Teo had everything that most Singaporeans could aspire to by the time he was in his 30s — wealth measured in millions of dollars, a thriving aesthetics practice, and sports cars, including a Ferrari 430.

“I’m a typical product of today’s society,” said Dr Teo in a speech in November 2011.

“From young, I’ve always been under the influence and impression that to be happy is to be successful. And to be successful, is to be wealthy. So I led my life according to this motto.”

Despite being born into a poor family, Dr Teo excelled in his studies and was accepted in medical school.

In medical school, he chose the quick way to big bucks — by switching from opthalmology to aesthetics.

The move paid handsomely for him, and in the first year, his cosmetic surgery clinic ‘was raking in millions’.

Dr Teo’s newly-made wealth opened the door to high-society life. He loved dinning at Michelin-rated restaurants and rubbing shoulders with celebrities.

Dr Teo also loved life in the fast lane and, at the pinnacle of his life, owned sports cars like the Honda S2000, Subaru WRX, Nissan GTR and a Ferrari 430

On how he would spend his weekends, Dr Teo said, “Typically, I’d have car club gatherings. I’d take out my track car and go up to Sepang in Malaysia for car racing. It was my life.”

Dr Teo had no time for God although he had been baptised many years earlier. When his friends experienced a personal revival, they advised Dr Teo to return to church with them, but their advice fell on stony ground.

“In my arrogance, I told them, “You know what? You go tell your pastor to change his sermon to 2pm and I will consider coming to church,” said Dr Teo.

In his arrogance, Dr Teo also uttered the following statement to his friends, “If God really wanted me to come back to church, He will give me a sign.”

It was a statement which he later said he would live to rue, because by the end of 3 weeks, he would — without first being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer — find himself back in church.

Said Dr Teo, “My whole world just turned upside down. I couldn’t accept it. I have a hundred relatives on both sides — my mom’s and my dad’s — and not a single one has cancer. To my mind, I have good genes, I’m not supposed to be having this! Some of my relatives are heavy chain smokers. Why am I having lung cancer? I was in denial.”

Dr Teo also fell into deep depression. He searched for answers. There weren’t any… until he heard an “inner voice”.

Said Dr Teo, “There I was lying on the operating table, staring blankly at the ceiling in a cold, quiet operating theatre. Suddenly, I heard an inner voice; it was not coming from the outside; it was inside. This small inner voice was one that I had never felt before. And it said very specifically: “This has to happen to you, at your prime, because it’s the only way you can understand.””

“I said, “Woah, where did that come from?” You know, when you speak to yourself, you’d say [something like] ‘what time should I leave this place?’ [or] ‘where shall I have dinner after this?’. You’d speak from a first person point of view…whereas the voice that came spoke as a third party. It said, “This has to happen to YOU, at YOUR prime, because this is the only way YOU can understand.” At that time, my emotions just overflowed and I broke down and cried alone there.”

Dr Teo did later understand why the ‘small inner voice’ had told him that this was the ‘only way’ he could be made to understand. Explained Dr Teo, “I was just so full of myself that there was no other way I could have turned back to God.”

God continued speaking to him.

Said Dr Teo, “I was in bed one afternoon, struggling and asking God, “Why? Why do I have to go through this suffering? Why do I have to endure this hardship, this struggle? Why me?”

“As I fell asleep, in my dreamy state, a vision came and said ‘Hebrews 12:7-8’.”

“Now, mind you, at this time, I had not read the bible [and] had no clue what’s Hebrews. I don’t even know how many chapters there are. Totally clueless.”

“But it (the vision) said ‘Hebrews 12:7-8’, very specifically.”

“I didn’t think too much of it [and] continued sleeping. After I woke up, and I said [to myself], “What’s there to lose? I’d check it out.” Danny (Dr Teo’s close friend, who had previously advised him to return to church) had bought me a bible; it’s still quite new… So I flipped to the Old Testament. Hebrews to me sounds like something ancient, so it should be in the Old Testament right? So I flipped through the Old Testament. No Hebrews there. I was so disappointed.”

“Then I said, “Maybe [it’s in the] New Testament; let’s have a look!”. WOW — New Testament; there’s Hebrew’s!! [And turning to] Hebrews 12:7-8, it said, “Endure hardship as discipline as God is treating you as His children.””

“I said, “WAH!! Where did that come from?” I was getting goose pimples all over my body. I said, “This can’t be, right?” I mean, what’s the chance of somebody who has never read the bible to have a vision of a chapter [and] a specific verse that answers my question directly?”

“So at that point, I was sold [and] said [to God], “YOU WIN! YOU WIN!!””

“From that day onwards, I started believing in my God. And the last time I heard that inner voice was [at] the end of April. And that inner voice — same thing, in the afternoon, as I was sleeping. In a dreamy state, I just heard Him say, “Help others in hardship.””

“It was more like a command, rather than a statement. And that’s when I embarked on this journey [of] helping others in hardship.”

Dr Teo obeyed the command up to the day of his death.  He reached out to numerous individuals, including single mothers, insurance agents, medical students, cancer patients and church members.

Mrs Teo, Dr Teo’s wife, told The New Paper, “He wanted to inspire those facing hardships, that life has more to offer than to be filled with hatred and emptiness”.

Dr Teo was adamant in getting his message across even as he lay sick and dying. According to Mrs Teo, a day before her husband died, his laptop was filled with new sets of photos to be shown to his audience. He had also been working on a new speech.

Dr Teo’s inspiring testimony of God’s dealing with him can be watched in the Youtube link below.

Dr Richard Teo

Dr Richard Teo’s story was featured in the 28 October 2012 edition of The New Paper.

Self-made Millionaire at 30; Dead at 40; In the End, His Wordly Success and Wealth Meant Nothing — The True Story of the Late Singaporean Aesthetics Doctor, Dr Richard Teo Keng Seng

Dr Richard Teo Keng Seng had everything that most Singaporeans could aspire to by the time he was in his 30s — wealth measured in millions of dollars, a thriving aesthetics practice, and sports cars, including a Ferrari 430.

“I’m a typical product of today’s society,” said Dr Teo in a speech in November 2011.

“From young, I’ve always been under the influence and impression that to be happy is to be successful. And to be successful, is to be wealthy. So I led my life according to this motto.”

Despite being born into a poor family, Dr Teo excelled in his studies and was accepted in medical school.

In medical school, he chose the quick way to big bucks — by switching from opthalmology to aesthetics.

The move paid handsomely for him, and in the first year, his cosmetic surgery clinic ‘was raking in millions’.

Dr Teo’s newly-made wealth opened the door to high-society life. He loved dinning at Michelin-rated restaurants and rubbing shoulders with celebrities.

Dr Teo also loved life in the fast lane and, at the pinnacle of his life, owned sports cars like the Honda S2000, Subaru WRX, Nissan GTR and a Ferrari 430

On how he would spend his weekends, Dr Teo said, “Typically, I’d have car club gatherings. I’d take out my track car and go up to Sepang in Malaysia for car racing. It was my life.”

Dr Teo’s cars became symbols of his success, but in the end, after he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, they meant nothing to him.

“Chinese new year… I would drive my Ferrari, show off to my relatives, show off to my friends, do my rounds, and then you thought that was true joy?” reflected Dr Teo during a talk to dental students.

“In truth, what you have done is just to elicit envy, jealous and even hatred. In my death bed, I found my joy whatsoever in whatever objects I had — my Ferrari, thinking of the land I was going to buy to build my bungalow, having a successful business.”

It was towards the end of his life that Dr Teo found the meaning of true joy.

“What really brought me joy in the last ten months was interaction with people, my loved ones, friends, people who genuinely care about me, they laugh and cry with me, and they are able to identify the pain and suffering I was going through. That brought joy to me, happiness,” he said, in a speech given to an undergraduate medical class before passing away in October 2012.

Dr Teo’s speech can be watched in the Youtube link below.

Dr Richard Teo

Dr Richard Teo’s story was featured in the 28 October 2012 edition of The New Paper. His story serves as a great warning against wholeheartedly pursuing after wordly wealth.