Adoniram Judson, pioneer missionary to Burma, was not afraid to, and it changed his view and cost him dearly. I encourage, yes, challenge you—do not think you hold to a biblical mode of baptism that is not believer’s baptism by immersion, unless you can read this missionary’s reasoned study and refute it by God’s Word. If you do hold to believer’s baptism by immersion, do not think that the mode and timing of baptism is a matter of non-importance if Christ commanded us to do it! Judson’s story and sermon will strengthen your understanding.
Judson, originally a Congregational missionary holding to paedobaptism (infant baptism), took time to study the issue on his and Ann’s sea voyage to India. One account follows:
On the five months’ sea voyage Adoniram gave himself to an in-depth study of baptism. He was prompted by the question of what procedure he would employ with converts. He was also concerned as to how he would defend paedobaptism when he was with the British Baptist missionaries at Serampore [William Carey and others]. Adoniram read everything he could find on both sides of the subject. Ann [his wife] resolutely declared that nothing would change her views. She used every argument she could to dissuade Adoniram from changing his position. But eventually she came to the Baptist position herself. This was seismic in its outcome. It spelled the end of all their support…. In a letter to a friend, William Carey wrote, “since their arrival in Bengal brother and sister Judson have been baptized. Judson preached the best sermon upon baptism that I have ever heard on the subject, which we intend to print.” (in Adoniram Judson and the Missionary Call by Erroll Hulse, p. 14)
That sermon was published as “A Sermon on Christian Baptism.” A version is available to read on Google Books here and it will take you less than an hour to read it. If my challenge to you to read it above was not enough, I leave you with the words of Judson himself from his sermon’s conclusion:
To believe in Christ is necessary to salvation ; and to be baptized [as a believer by immersion as he has argued] is the instituted method of professing our belief. It is, therefore, not only an infinitely important question to all men, whether they believe in Christ; but it is also a very important question to all Christians, whether they have been baptized. If you love Christ, you cannot consider this question unimportant. You will be desirous of discovering the will of him whom you love, and of testifying your love, by joyfully obeying. (93)
If, when your mind adverts to this question, you fear the consequences of an examination, and dread those sacrifices, which a discovery that you have been mistaken may enforce on your conscience; or if you feel the influence of long established sentiments, and imagine, that the subject is too dark and intricate for your investigation; look to the Son of God, who hesitated not to make the greatest sacrifices, and to endure the most painful sufferings for you; and look up to the Father of lights, to send the Holy Spirit according to the promise of his Son, to guide you into all truth. Especially, my brethren, diligently use the means of discovering the truth. Put yourselves in the way of evidence. Indulge free examination. Though the sun shines with perfect clearness, you will never see that light which others enjoy, if you confine yourselves in a cavern, which the beams of the sun cannot penetrate. Be assured that there is sufficient evidence on this subject, if you seek to discover it. But if your love for truth is not sufficiently strong to make you willing to labor for the discovery of evidence, God will probably leave you to be contented with error. (93-94)