We are so glad that you have decided to follow Jesus. If you are new to church or faith in God, baptism might seem like an odd practice. But there is something very significant, very powerful, and extremely personal to baptism.
WHAT IS BAPTISM?
Baptism is a visible symbol of invisible grace. Baptism pictures Christ’s death and resurrection and our participation in His death and resurrection through the union to Him in faith. As we enter into the water, we are reminded that Christ was crucified and raised from the dead and that we too have died to the old self in order to live for Christ.
WHO SHOULD BE BAPTIZED?
Baptism is only intended for the individual who has received the saving benefits of Christ’s atoning work and become His disciple.
We practice what is called “believer’s” baptism, which means we only baptize those who believe and confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Reading through Acts, we find baptism explicitly related to repentance, receiving the Word, believing and receiving the Holy Spirit. There is no explicit evidence to suggest that nonbelievers were baptized.
So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about 3,000 souls. Acts 2:41
But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Acts 8:12
It’s for individuals who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior, who have (individually and personally) repented (turned away) from their sins and their old life, and surrendered that life to Him. It doesn’t earn or secure your salvation. It’s simply an evidence of it (your new life in Christ).
WHY SHOULD A BELIEVER BE BAPTIZED?
If baptism is not essential for salvation, why get baptized?
Reasons a true believer should be baptized:
Obedience [to the commands of Christ] Identification [evidence that a person is a disciple of Christ] Follow [the example of Christ] Symbolism [a picture of this new life in Christ]
OBEDIENCE [to the commands of Christ] An immediate next step of obedience. It may not be necessary for salvation, but it is necessary for obedience.
Baptizing them…in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. – Matthew 28:19
It was a command by Jesus. The idea of complete obedience is consistent and prominent throughout Scripture. There is also blessing that flows from obedience. We see numerous times in Scripture that God says, “it’s great that you have heard my Word, but you will be blessed if you obey”. There is the blessing of God’s favor that comes with all obedience, as well as the joy that comes through public declaration (profession) of one’s faith. Physical [water]baptism is a clear sign of our obedience to God.
IDENTIFICATION [evidence that a person is a disciple of Christ] Examples of Baptism as Identification:
Wedding Ring – identifies us with our spouse.
Adoption – when children are adopted, they receive a new last name and are then [permanently] identified with their new family.
Once the people received the word… – Acts 2:38 & 41
Once they accepted it and repented of their sin (their old way of life), they stepped forward to identify themselves with this new way of life. It became a badge of identification and a new association with Jesus as the Messiah.
FOLLOW [the example of Christ] The Gospels – record of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan River.
SYMBOLISM [a picture of this new life in Christ] Baptism serves as a picture (symbol) of the new life that we now have in Christ (and the means to attain it).
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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”. – Romans 6:3-6
“Having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.” – Colossians 2:12-13
Buried with Christ in His death (old life). Raised with Christ is His resurrection (new life). It is a symbol of our new life in Him. It is a picture of going down into the grave and being buried. Coming up out of the water is then a picture of being raised with Christ to new life.