In 1978, when I was nine years old, I was baptized at the First Baptist Church of Columbia, South Carolina. Then I “reaffirmed” my baptism in 2017 by being baptized in the Jordan River in Israel.
I can remember both experiences vividly — the feel of the water, the emotion, the community of celebration around me.
There’s nothing like being baptized. There’s no experience like walking into the water as a symbol of your faith in Jesus, going under as an act of “death” to self, and emerging to share in Jesus’ life anew.
That’s why I’m so passionate to invite other people into the baptismal waters. Baptism is the outward sign of an inward change in a person who has placed their trust in Jesus. I can’t save people — Jesus does that. I just have the joy of helping them make their big, public, outward profession of faith in the form of baptism.
The Bible records how many people put their faith in Jesus and were baptized on the day of Pentecost. Acts 2:41 tells us, “Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day — about 3,000 in all” (NLT).
Can you imagine the joy of that day? We get a little taste of that joy every time we baptize one or more people.
That’s what we look forward to with an outdoor baptism this Sunday at 3:30. We will be baptizing in the Tennessee River at Volunteer Landing near the Treaty of the Holston Park.
A young man named Alex who recently made a profession of faith will be baptized.
If you’d like to join us as a witness, you can park your car at the end of Volunteer Landing to the east of Calhoun’s. From there you’ll take a short walk to the Treaty of the Holston Park and look to the right to a little wooden deck where we will gather.
But this also may be your opportunity to step into the waters of baptism for the first time.
Who Should Be Baptized?
Every person who has made the decision to believe in Christ should be baptized. When Paul writes to the believers in Rome, he assumes that all of them have been baptized (Romans 6). The one requirement for baptism is belief in Christ.
“Those who accepted his message were baptized” (Acts 2:41, NIV).
Later in the book of Acts, after Philip shared the gospel, the scripture says, “But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12, NIV).
We believe in baptizing adults, but also children who are old enough to understand what it means. Both adults and children should be baptized when they make a personal declaration of belief.
What is the Meaning and Significance of Baptism?
But what does the act of baptism mean?
1) Baptism represents a transformation from death to life.
Baptism is a symbol of Christ’s burial and resurrection. Our entrance into the water during baptism identifies us with Christ’s death on the cross, His burial in the tomb and His resurrection from the dead.
“Going under the water was a burial of your old life; coming up out of it was a resurrection, God raising you from the dead as he did Christ. When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive – right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross” (Colossians 2:12-14, MSG).
2) Baptism means a brand-new life as a follower of Jesus.
It is a symbol of your new life as a Christian. We bury the “old life” and we rise to walk in a “new life”. Baptism is like a wedding ring: an outward symbol of the commitment you made in your heart, a commitment that has to be followed through and lived out on a daily basis.
3) Baptism indicates a life that is blessed by God.
In baptism, the believer has the triune name of the triune God placed upon them: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The name of the Lord Jesus Christ is the name of the Godhead (one God in three persons). The Gospels tell us to baptize believers “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19, NIV).
Baptism confirms our place “in Christ” and affirms the blessings of the Father on us as his children.
4) Baptism signals that you have become part of a new family.
Baptism also connects us to the “body of Christ” – his people on the earth. In baptism, there is a real sense of being joined with other believers, not just participating in an individual act of our own spiritual journey.
“For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13, NIV).
Your Call to be Baptized
If you haven’t already taken the step into the baptismal waters, what prevents you?
After the apostle Philip shared the gospel with the eunuch from Ethiopia, the man exclaimed, “Look, here is water! What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” (Acts 8:36, NIV).
What keeps you from being baptized? If you believe, why don’t you step out to be baptized in his name?
You may be prevented from a lack of belief. Or you may be afraid of what your friends or family will think about your decisions, or you may not be willing to change your life and repent of your sins.
Maybe you’re wondering if the reward of following Christ is worth the cost.
Maybe you’re waiting for a more convenient time, which will probably never come.
The question is the same. What prevents you from being baptized?
When Peter preached in Acts 2 and the people accepted the message, they asked, “What should we do?” And Peter responded, “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 2:38, NIV).
Join us Sunday for a celebration of Alex’s faith in Jesus Christ. Consider your own baptism. Remember your baptism with joy, or join us to step in the waters for the first time. You can email me at [email protected] to express your desire to be baptized this Sunday.