Why Be Baptized?
By Pastor Brent McDougal
I can remember my baptism like it was yesterday. I was nine years old and accepted Jesus as my Savior during a Vacation Bible School. I understood what it meant that I needed forgiveness for my sins, and felt strongly that God’s love was real. I believed in Jesus, and I accepted Him for “salvation.”
The word salvation is related to the word salve, which speaks to healing, wholeness, and peace. In the New Testament, the word “salvation” or “saved” comes from the Greek word sozo, which refers to rescuing or delivering from danger. It is used when talking about physical deliverance (Matt. 8:25; Matt. 14:30), healing (Matt. 9:21-22; Mark 5:23), and release from spiritual oppression.
To be baptized is to demonstrate that you have trusted Jesus for salvation and that you intend to devote your life to Him from that time forward.
It signals that you are trusting Jesus with all of the consequences of your sinfulness — your mistakes, brokenness, negativity, judgmental attitude, worry, and fear.
It means that you are accepting a wholly and healed life in Him!
But here’s what it doesn’t mean: that you have everything figured out.
Salvation is immediate when you trust in Christ, but the life of following Christ is one of dynamic discovery, continual surrender, and growing in holiness.
When someone is baptized, they may not have all the answers. But they know enough and have experienced enough of God’s love to put their trust in the one big answer.
Maybe you have thought about getting baptized but have too many questions still unanswered.
To help you know more about this significant step, we’ve created this page on our website to help you understand what baptism is about and whether God is calling you to be baptized.
If you’re thinking about becoming baptized, I urge you to take a look and pray about whether this step is right for you. After reading the information on the webpage, you can signal your intention to be baptized.
WHY SHOULD YOU CONSIDER GETTING BAPTIZED?
1) Baptism indicates your decision to follow Christ.
In order to understand the reason for being immersed in a water baptism, it’s important to carefully consider what the Bible says about it: Jesus himself was baptized. He was not a sinner — he never made a mistake or disappointed God — yet he humbled himself in obedience to identify with us and give us an example to follow.
“At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan River. The moment He came out of the water, He saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit descending like a dove. Along with the Spirit, a voice could be heard: ‘You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life’” (Mark 1:9, MSG).
2) Baptism is an act of obedience.
Water baptism is an act of faith and obedience to the commands of Christ. “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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV).
3) Baptism is a public declaration of your faith.
Baptism declares that you are a follower of Jesus Christ. It is a public confession of your faith in, and commitment to, Jesus Christ.
It is the next step after salvation through repentance and faith and is an important foundation for Christian life. “Then he said, ‘Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the message of God’s good news to one and all. Whoever believes and is baptized is saved; whoever refuses to believe is damned’” (Mark 16:16, MSG).
WHAT IS THE MEANING AND SIGNIFICANCE OF BAPTISM?
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” – God’s people on 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).
HOW ARE PEOPLE TO BE BAPTIZED?
The word “baptize” comes from the Greek word bautizo which means “to immerse or dip under water.”
“As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water” (Matthew 3:16, NIV).
“Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water…”(Acts 8:38-39, NIV).
Some traditions practice infant baptism or symbolize baptism through “sprinkling” with water, not immersion. Because of the above listed verses, we believe that baptism happens by immersion.
WHO SHOULD BE BAPTIZED?
Every person who has made the decision to believe in Christ. 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).
“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.
WHEN ARE WE TO BE BAPTIZED?
As soon as a person decides to believe in Christ, that person can be, and is encouraged, to be baptized.
“Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about 3000 were added to their number that day” (Acts 2:41, NIV).
“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 eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him” (Acts 8:35-39, NIV).
To talk to a pastor about your decision to be baptized or to learn more, email Vanessa Moore, Ministry Assistant ( [email protected]) or call the church office at 865-546-9661.