The Importance Of Baptism
Everyone views their baptism as something wonderful and special. Regardless of the religious traditions we grew up in, strong feelings are tied to that time when we were baptized. However, for many, there are questions about this important act. So, let’s take a fresh look at this ordinance of the New Testament church.
What Baptism Is Not
Baptism is not a means to salvation. That is to say, baptism by any mode, or form, does not make one a Christian. It does not produce salvation. It is not regenerative in consequence. No saving grace is dispensed through the act of baptism.
For a person to become a Christian, he/she must turn to Jesus and Jesus alone. A person must recognize that he/she is a sinner in need of forgiveness, and that Jesus is the only way for forgiveness to come.
John 1:12 says, “Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” NIV
Romans 10:13 says, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” NIV
Acts 10:43 says, “All the prophets testify about Him that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.” NIV
Notice that in none of these verses, or any other in the New Testament, does it say that baptism is part of the salvation equation. Only when we confess our sins, put our faith in Jesus, receive Him into our lives, and commit ourselves to Him do we become a Christian.
First Things First
Before you read on, ask yourself the question: “Have I personally accepted Jesus into my life?” You may have been baptized as an infant, child, or even as an adult. And while that may hold a special place in your life, a more important issue is: “Have I personally accepted Jesus?” Settle that first, then get baptized.
Baptism By Immersion
The mode, or form, of baptism comes up often. What if I was sprinkled? Do I have to be immersed? The answer comes to us from right out of the Bible.
The word “baptize” and its various forms is a transliteration of the Greek word “baptizo.” The English equivalent is “to dip, plunge, or immerse.” W. F. Arndt and T. W. Gingrich in their Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament give the following definition for “baptizo”: “dip, immerse.”
In the New Testament, every time the word “baptizo” is used, it has this meaning only. When Mark says that Jesus “was baptized of John in the Jordan,” it was immersion. In Acts, when Philip baptized the Ethiopian, it was immersion. Again, every time the word “baptizo” is used, it means immersion.
Significantly, Arndt and Gingrich also state that even in non-Christian literature, “baptizo” means “to plunge, sink, drench, or overwhelm.”
A Beautiful Symbol
Baptism — rather than a means to our salvation — is a beautiful symbol of our faith in Jesus. It is a symbolic proclamation that we have already identified with Christ. This symbolism makes three very important statements:
- It is our affirmation of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Colossians 2:12 says, “Having been buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him through your faith in the power of God, who raised Him from the dead.”
- It is our declaration that when we accepted Jesus, we died to sin and self and the old way of life, and were born again to a new life in Christ. Romans 6:4 says, “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Going under the baptismal waters symbolizes death and burial to self and sin; coming up out of the water symbolizes beginning a new life in Christ.
- It is our expectation that just as Christ was raised from the dead, we too, one day, will experience resurrection. Romans 6:5 says, “If we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.”
What If I Was Baptized As An Infant?
While we are respectful of other traditions, at First Redeemer Church, we believe the Biblical form for baptism is immersion, which is preceded by a personal decision to accept Jesus. Baptism at infancy might better be viewed as a wonderful dedication service involving parents, children and the church.
What About Baptism And Church Membership At First Redeemer Church?
If you have accepted Jesus into your life and have been baptized by immersion, we joyfully receive you as a member. If you have accepted Jesus into your life, but have not been baptized by immersion, and are willing to do so, we joyfully receive you as a member.