Baptism — It Matters!

Posted: September 17, 2011 in Baptism, Church, Discipleship, Evangelism, Pastoral Ministry
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I am dedicating “the journey” today to the subject of baptism with the hope that you answer the Holy Spirit’s call on your life for salvation and be baptized. Baptism touches a very emotional subject. Most people – regardless of whether they are Christ-followers or not, and whether they are Baptists or not – have an opinion about baptism. Baptism is a personal subject.

If you came from a church that practiced infant baptism, please do not stop reading. Please consider what I have to offer. You may have concluded that since baptism isn’t really essential for salvation, to you ask, “Why do Baptists make such a big deal about it?” Perhaps you consider yourself to be “spiritually baptized” so you have determined that you do not need baptism since immersion does not constitute salvation. You may have been baptized as a child; however, as an infant you could not have understood salvation. Perhaps you are no longer connected to your former church that practiced baptism in another way, but your parents had you baptized by a priest or a pastor and you don’t want to consider that that practice may have been wrong.

The Bible actually says quite a bit about baptism. Jesus was baptized. He told his disciples to make more disciples and to baptize them. (See also Romans 6 and Colossians 2.) The Greek word used in the New Testament, “baptisma,” was not translated but that has been transliterated as “baptism.” The word was used consistently before its use in the New Testament to describe something that has been immersed in water or liquid. Here’s the point: the word original word meaning “to baptize” had no religious or spiritual significance prior to its usage in the New Testament. Rather, it had a common everyday use. It meant to dip, to dunk, or immerse something under water or liquid. Furthermore, there’s no evidence anywhere in the New Testament that anyone ever sprinkled and called it a baptism.

Let summarize the practice of baptism in the New Testament. First, when a person turned to Christ in faith, he or she was baptized. The baptism followed conversion to Christ. Baptism is in obedience to the command of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20).

Second, baptism in the New Testament marks the believer as a follower of Jesus Christ. It is an outward sign of an inward commitment and life change. However, I want to be clear that being baptized does not or will not save anyone. We receive salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Third, baptism identifies the believer with Christ, both in His death and in His resurrection (Romans 6:1-4). When I studies this passage many years ago prior to my own baptism, it gave me the clearest possible picture of the significance of baptism. The mode of baptism pictures the death and resurrection of Christ as the believer is buried under the water and raised from the water. Therefore, through Christ’s work in our lives, we “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

I would welcome the opportunity to talk with you about baptism. I encourage you to take seriously the demands of Christ for salvation and baptism and that you will follow Him for all of your life. You’ll be glad you did.

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