What is the significance of baptism?
Have you ever thought about getting baptised but have too many questions still unanswered? In this article we would love to help you understand a little bit more about this significant next step in your journey of following Jesus.
Why should I consider getting baptised?
In order to understand the reason for being water baptised, it is important to carefully consider what the Bible says about it: Jesus himself was baptised. He was not a sinner, yet he humbled himself in obedience to identify with us and give us an example to follow.
“At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:9-11
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
A public declaration:
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.
“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.“ Mark 16:15-16
What is the meaning and significance of baptism?
Baptism is an ancient Christian practice that Jesus gave to the church (Matthew 28:18-20), and what has
been traditionally been called a “sacrament” (sign).
It is assumed in the NT that every Christian is baptised (Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12). In other words, there is no such thing as an unbaptised Christian. In terms of what it was, it was a rite or ceremony that was the Christian initiation moment into their new life with God and his people. It was a sign of their new life in Jesus, united to him in his death and resurrection and part of his body, the church.
A move 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.
“having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:12-14
A brand-new life:
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, it is the 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.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come! The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
“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.” Romans 6:4
Baptism does not make you a believer; it shows that you already are one! Baptism does not “save” you; only your faith in Christ does that.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
A blessed life:
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 baptise believers “into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19
Baptism confirms our position “in Christ” and affirms the blessings of the Father on us as his children.
A new family:
Baptism also connects us to the “body of Christ” – his people in 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.
“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-13
How are we to be baptised?
As per the example of Jesus – by being immersed in water. The word “baptise” comes from the Greek word “baptise” which means “to immerse or dip under water”.
The Bible hints that this was the case of the person being baptized. We read of Jesus coming “up out of the water” at his baptism (Matthew 3:16) as well as Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:38-39). John records that Baptisms were happening in a certain area precisely because water was plentiful (John 3:23).
Now, what is most important is the subject of baptism, more than the mode. In the case of health issues etc, the pouring of water upon an individual is perfectly acceptable. The default of mode of practice however is by full immersion, symbolising our dying and rising with Christ.
Who should be baptised?
Whilst respecting the practice and theology of other churches within the true universal church, we believe
the scriptures are clear as to who should be baptised. We practice what is called “Credobaptism”. Credo is
a Greek verb which means “I believe”. It indicates that those getting baptised have already, by the grace of
God, been brought to repentance and faith in Jesus. We believe in baptising children when they are old enough to understand what it means and make a personal declaration of belief.
We believe the practice of the church in the book of Acts (and even beginning with John’s preparatory baptism), is that only believers were baptised:
- In Acts 2:38, the call to repentance comes before the baptism. Even “the promise for your children” (v39) is, in context, “the promise of forgiveness of sins through repentance and faith”
- In Acts 8:12, those that are baptised had personally responded to the message. The same is true in all baptism passages, including the so-called “household baptisms”. In every occasion, a profession of faith had been demonstrated prior to the baptism (Acts 8:34-36; 10:47-48; 16:14-15, 32-33; 19:3- 5)
Those that have personally responded to the message of Jesus in repentance and faith are the ones who should get baptised. Does that include you?
When are we to be baptised?
Believers in the New Testament were baptised the same day. As soon as a person decides to believe in Christ, he can be, and is encouraged to be baptised.
“Those who accepted his message were baptised.” Acts 2:41
“Then Philip began with that very passage of scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. As they travelled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptised?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptised him.” Acts 8:35-39
We have a baptismal service coming up in the next few weeks, use the form below to register your interest to get Baptised or to find out more!