More than likely, when you talked to one of our pastors, they probably told you that now that you are a Christian, the first thing you should do is be baptized. Let's talk about baptism today. Why does Jesus want us to get baptized, and why is it so important?
Let's start by looking at the day that Jesus was baptized.
Matthew chapter 3 says, "Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter Him, saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?" 15 Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented. 16 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." Matthew 3:13-17
Jesus walked about 80 miles from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized. John did not want to baptize Jesus because John's baptism symbolized a person repenting of their sin and turning to God. John knew that Jesus had never sinned, so he didn't see any reason for Jesus to be baptized, but Jesus got baptized anyway. Why did He do that?
Jesus' baptism was an expression of His solidarity with us in our plight with sin. It was Jesus' way of saying, "I am in this with you, and I am not going to ask you to do something that I am not willing to do."
When a person gets baptized, it is their way of acknowledging in public that Jesus paid the price for their sins. When we get baptized, we are expressing our love and commitment to the One who paid in full the price for our sins.
The number one reason people put off their baptism is that they are afraid that if they get baptized, they won't live up to their commitment to Christ. Some people think they have to get their act together before they get baptized.
Baptism isn't about us having our life all together. The whole purpose of baptism is to admit that we don't have our life together. That is why we prayed and asked Jesus to come into our life. We acknowledged that we need His help to live the life that we always have wanted to live.
Baptism is acknowledging that we are great sinners, but Jesus is a great Savior. Every one of us is a work in progress, and if we put off our baptism until we have our act together, you and I would never get baptized.
We don't get baptized to say, look at me, look at what I did, but we get baptized to say, look at what Jesus did for someone like me.
Whenever there is a discussion about baptism, inevitably, there are several questions that come up. For example:
Why do we baptize by immersion? Why don't we sprinkle people? Why do we dunk people under the water?
In the New Testament, every baptism was by immersion. Let me show you what I mean.
John 3:23-24: Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were constantly coming to be baptized.
There was plenty of water. The Revised Standard Version says there was much water.
When Phillip is baptized in Acts 8:38-39, the Bible says, "And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water,"
Here we see the Ethiopian eunuch going down into the water and then coming up out of the water.
How was Jesus baptized? Mark 1:9-10 (NIV) 9 At that time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 As Jesus was coming up out of the water…
Jesus came up out of the water. This is significant. Let me tell you why. Baptism symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. When you go under the water, you are identifying with the death of Jesus because you can't breathe underwater. When you come up out of the water, you are identifying with the resurrection of Jesus. When you are under the water, you are dying to your old way of life, and when you come up out of the water, it represents your new life with Jesus.
Romans 6:4-5 says, 4 We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
The word "baptize" in Greek is "baptizo," which means "to dip under."
For the first 1,300 years of Christianity, the only form of baptism that was practiced was baptism by immersion. Sprinkling started because there were areas where people were getting baptized where water was minimal. Today we don't have that problem.
Another question we get is, "do I need to be baptized again because I was baptized as a baby?"
In some church traditions, they teach that a baby needs to be baptized because if the baby dies without being baptized, that baby will go to hell.
To begin with, there is no place in the New Testament where a baby is baptized. Every single time a person gets baptized, they have first decided for themselves to place Jesus as the leader and forgiver of their life, and then after doing so, they are baptized. There is not one verse in the Bible where a person is baptized first, and then, later on, they asked Jesus into their life.
Maybe you were baptized as a baby. This ceremony was intended to be a covenant between your parents and God on behalf of the child. They were using that baptism to dedicate you to the Lord. They wanted you to love God and to follow him. There is nothing wrong with dedicating your child to the Lord. But that baptism is not the same baptism we find in the Bible.
Every time a person is baptized in the Bible, the person being baptized has decided for themselves to follow Christ and be baptized. Biblical baptism is a decision you make for God. It is not a decision that someone else makes for you.
Let me say that again. In the New Testament, the only people who were baptized were those who understood for themselves that their sin separated them from God. They understood for themselves the price that was paid so that they might be forgiven. And each person made their own decision to be baptized.
In Matthew 19, the Bible tells us that Jesus loved the little children. He blessed the little children, but He never baptized a little child. Nor did He ever instruct a child to be baptized. Every baptism that occurred in the Bible was when someone was old enough to make their own decision to be baptized.
Here is another question we get. Do I have to be baptized to be a Christian?
The answer is no. When Jesus was crucified, He was crucified between two thieves. One of the thieves asked Jesus to remember him when he came into His kingdom, and Jesus turned to that thief on the cross after he repented of his sin and said, "Today you will be with me in paradise." Jesus didn't say, "Guys, we need to stop the crucifixion for this poor guy and get him baptized because if we don't, he can't go to heaven."
You don't have to be baptized to go to heaven because baptism doesn't save you. Ephesians 2:8-9,
"It is by grace you have been saved, through faith plus infant baptism," NO. "Plus going to church," No! "Plus getting baptized by immersion." No. It doesn't say that does it. The Bible says,
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith. That's it. Not from yourselves; it is the gift of God. Not by works, so no one can boast.
Now, when people ask, "do I have to be baptized?" I get the feeling they are looking for a way to get out of it, and I wonder how that makes Jesus feel.
I have a ring on my finger. It's a wedding ring. It is an outward symbol of my commitment I made to my wife. My wife wants me to wear this ring all the time to show my love for her. What would she think if I told her I didn't want to wear it? What do you think she would think if I tried to figure out any way I could, to not have to wear this ring? Can you imagine me looking her in the eye and saying, "Listen, I love you, but I don't see any reason why we have to let everyone else know it? I mean, our commitment is just between the two of us."
How do you think that would go over? Probably about the same way it goes over in heaven.
It's like we look up into the heavens, and we say, "Look, Jesus. I know You suffered for me. I know You died an agonizing death on the cross for me. I understand that You clearly command me to be baptized as a way of declaring my love and devotion to You, but I think I'll take a pass. When it comes to the first thing You asked me to do; I think I will disobey You."
Does that attitude show full devotion to God, or something else?
One more question. When should a person be baptized?
Acts 2:41 says, "Those who accepted His message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day."
There is no reason to put it off. If you wait until you feel worthy or good enough, or you are simply waiting for the perfect time, you will never follow through on what Jesus has commanded you to do.
I have been a Pastor for a long time, and I have never heard someone in the back room when we are getting ready to baptize them say, "wow, I'm so glad I waited ten years after I asked Christ in my life to do this." The opposite is what I always hear. They always say, "I wish I wouldn't have waited. Every time I saw someone get baptized, I felt the Holy Spirit telling me that I needed to do this. I'm glad I finally did."
Why not schedule your baptism today? There is a link on this page. All you have to do is click on the link and schedule your baptism, and when you get baptized, try to get as many of your family and friends there to celebrate this occasion with you.
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