In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus commands his followers to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” Baptism is the means by which followers of Christ are identified.
In passages such as Acts 2:41, Acts 8:12 and Acts 10:47-48 it is evident that Baptism follows an individual’s decision to trust Christ alone for salvation. The New Testament records the Baptisms of adult believers only. Baptism was never intended to provide salvation for an individual, but rather to publicly identify a person with Christ. In Romans 6:1-11, the apostle Paul explains how the immersion mode of Baptism identifies the believer with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Going under the water represents Christ’s death and coming out of the water illustrates His resurrection.
You do not have to be baptized to have Christ in your heart any more than you must exchange rings to be pronounced man and wife. But if the inner commitment to trust Christ alone for salvation has been made, then the outward symbol of Baptism should be as valued and as visible as the gold ring on a spouses finger.
Scriptural Teaching on Baptism (Summary)
- Baptism is an act of obedience to the command of Christ, fulfilled by individuals who have submitted themselves to His leadership in their lives.
- Baptism is a ‘next step’ in following Jesus once a decision has been made to turn from sin and embrace the leadership and forgiveness of Jesus.
- Baptism symbolizes the spiritual cleansing through divine forgiveness and the newness of life experienced by believers by virtue of their identification with Christ in His death and resurrection.
- Baptism provides an opportunity for believers to make a formal profession of their faith before the church family. Going public is an important element of identifying with Jesus. (Romans 1:16)
- As a biblical rite of initiation into the body of Christ, Baptism of believers is often considered a prerequisite for joining the membership of the church.
Baptism as an ‘Outward Expression’
Baptism does not save us – Jesus saves us! Baptism is an outward expression of an inward reality. The water that we baptize people with is normal tap water, but what makes the act sacred is that it is done in a loving and obedient response to the crucified Christ.
Who Can Be Baptized?
Once a person admits that he or she is a sinner and turns to Christ for salvation, the Bible says that a person should proclaim the life change that has occurred: the watching world needs to know. Baptism has always stood as a public testimony for people who have moved from being an unbeliever to being a follower of Jesus.
Believers are those who have realized that their sin has separated them from God. They have given up all efforts to reach God through good works or religious activity. They have concluded that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for their sins is the only thing that can bridge the gap between them and God. A believer is someone who has decided to trust Christ alone for his or her salvation.
If you have come to this point in your spiritual journey, then you are ready to be baptized. Just as a bride and groom tell of their love for one another through the symbol of rings, you should also want to show the world, through Baptism, of your union with Christ. Let the miracle that has happened in you show through the sacrament He ordained for you.
The Ethiopian asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the Ethiopian said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?”… Then they went into the water and Philip baptized him. Acts 8:34-38
Other Passages for Consideration
- Jesus was baptized – Matthew 3:13-16
- There is only one baptism – Ephesians 4:4-5
- Symbolic of the death and resurrection of Christ – Romans 6:3-5
Do you want to be baptized?
1 Modified from Willow Creek Community Church and their communication related to Baptism.