Why should I be baptized?
“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Romans 6:4-5
Every Christian should have a clear understanding of water baptism because it portrays a beautiful picture of the transformation that occurs when we trust Christ. Ideally, this understanding takes place early in the Christian life, but many Christians never comprehend baptism and struggle year after year with unanswered questions.
What is a Christian?
Before we look specifically at baptism, let’s take a brief look at the question, “What is a Christian?” Simply stated, a Christian is one who is certain that, through faith, he has received eternal life through Jesus Christ. The Bible is very clear that salvation and eternal life are gifts received through no merit or effort of our own.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).
Ephesians 2:8 points to a faith and trust that involves much more than merely giving intellectual assent to the fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The Bible is clear that Christians can be certain of their relationship with Jesus Christ and that eternal life is found in nothing or in no one else but Him.
A Christian, then, is someone who is trusting in Christ alone to receive the free gift of eternal life that God offers to everyone who believes.
What does water baptism indicate?
Water baptism confirms that one has already received/asked Jesus Christ into their hearts. It also indicates and illustrates other very important truths.
Water Baptism indicates ownership
Jesus himself commanded the church to baptize those who become His followers. “…in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). The phrase can be more accurately translated “baptizing them into the Name,” indicating that the baptized person is closely bound to and actually becomes the property of the one into whose Name he is baptized. It was clearly understood by those who were baptized in the early days of the church that God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) was their owner.
Remember, it is not water baptism that completes this transaction for ownership. This transaction took place because Jesus died for us on the cross, paying the penalty for our sins and we then accepted his sacrifice as God’s provision for our sin. However, when we take the step of water baptism and are baptized “in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” we are taking a step affirming that God is our owner and that we are His purchased possessions.
You are not your own, for you have been bought with a price …” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Water baptism indicates obedience
Water baptism is also an act of obedience to Jesus Christ. The church leadership is being obedient in doing what He asked us to do; namely, to baptize those who become His followers. The individual being baptized is also expressing obedience to follow through with what the Lord has commanded.
In the book of Acts, we have several examples of those who repented and were converted and took this step of water baptism as a step of obedience. In Peter’s message on the day of Pentecost we read:
“So then, those who received His Word were baptized” (Acts 2:41).
As you continue to yield yourself to the good plan of our loving Lord, there will be many other steps of obedience He will ask you to take, and water baptism is but one preliminary act of obedience.
Water baptism indicates cleansing
God’s Word is explicitly clear that it is only the blood of Christ that can cleanse one from sin.
“… the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
In fact, there is no forgiveness at all apart from the shedding of His blood.
The water used in baptism has no power at all as a cleansing agent, but it does provide us with a symbol of the cleansing power of Christ’s blood shed for us on the cross. Water baptism is a picture of the fact that you have been forgiven and cleansed through Jesus’ death on the cross.
Water baptism indicates identification
Being immersed in water is a reminder that when we turn in faith to Christ we desire to be immersed in and identified with Him. Philippians 3:10 is a beautiful expression of this immersion.
“… that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death …” (Philippians 3:10).
Water Baptism Indicates Intention
Finally, water baptism is a step affirming our intention to continue to “walk in the newness of life in Christ” (Romans 6:5), which is clearly God’s intent for us. He is the One who has enabled us to repent and to turn from our sins to Christ, and He is the One who will continue to provide us with all that we need to continue our new way of life. Water baptism gives us a beautiful opportunity to declare our intention to follow in our Father’s footsteps.
Throughout the history of the church, new believers have declared their intention to follow Christ under a variety of circumstances. During the early days of the church, new believers often were baptized in the presence of unbelievers knowing they might suffer persecution for their act of devotion. Now, new believers are often baptized in the presence of others who will rejoice with them and encourage them in their walk with Christ.
How should I be baptized?
While water baptism is but a sign or symbol, as we have seen, baptism by immersion seems to be most consistent with Scripture. It also provides us with a vivid picture of our identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. For these reasons, in our fellowship at Grace Community, we baptize by immersion.
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