Baptism, a much contested subject within the church. What is it, at what age should it be done, what about infant baptism, how should it be done? There are many questions about this subject.
As you read this series please realize that what I am saying is based on what the bible says, and I will provide bible verse references. This is meant to be informative and thought provoking, I am trying to be as honest and forthright as I know how here without falling into overt speculation, nor am I looking to argue or offend anyone. Still, this is my teaching on the matter of baptism, and I certainly can’t claim to have all the answers. This is my interpretation from what I have studied in the bible. With this in mind, lets proceed.
Just what exactly is baptism anyway? What does it signify when one is baptized? When we are baptized, it is a public affirmation of our faith in God. Or even better than that, through baptism we are identified with the triune God.
Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Through baptism, (often referred to as the believers baptism) we are expressing our willingness to be forever more associated with God. We claim Jesus as our Lord and Savior not in private, but before other witnesses. Water baptism is the outward sign of what is happening on the inside. We are being made spiritually new, we are reborn, not by the baptism itself but by what has transpired spiritually between ourselves and Christ, of which the water and the baptism are symbols (1 Peter 3:21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also–not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ).
So if baptism does not really accomplish anything really meaningful, then why do it?
As outlined above, it is a symbol of what we believe, what or more appropriately Who we have committed to. Water baptism is also a step of obedience. Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 9:18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized.
Acts 8:12, Acts 8:36-38 Acts 16:15
The above verses all clearly show that we are to be baptized. Obedience is very important to God and so should be to us as well. Keep in mind that Jesus Himself was baptized, if Jesus was baptized, we need to be as well, (Matthew 3:16-17 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”)
There are many theories as to why Jesus was baptized, and I’m not going to here delve into that. What I do see as of utmost importance here is this; Jesus says to follow Him, the Apostle Paul said to follow (Paul) as he followed Christ. Following in this instance means to emulate, to do as they are doing. As Christ was baptized, Paul was baptized…so we need to be baptized.
Baptism as referred to in 1 Peter 3:21 is a symbol of what has occurred. Baptism does not save us; the resurrection of Jesus Christ saves us, as we believe in Him and His finished work. Baptism is a symbol, an important one, but nonetheless a symbol. It signifies our proposed intent, which is to be committed to God, to let Him take first place in our lives, to obey God and His calling on our lives. To commit to living a life defined not by sin, but by the absence of constant sin in our lives. Therefore obeying God and what His Word says about baptism is very important. It is one of our first opportunities to obey what we are called by God to do.
Next time we will look at what exactly Baptism is.