This Sunday is Easter. There is no bigger celebration for the Christian family. It is on this day of course that we pay special attention to the fact that Jesus resurrected from the grave thus defeating Satan, sin, death, and Hell. The good news of the gospel is that those who believe in this finished work are participants in this victory with Christ and his people. One specific way we get to celebrate this is by baptizing new believers.
This post is for those of you wondering if you too should be baptized.
What is baptism?
The simplest way to define baptism is this: Baptism is a public way for a new Christian to say, “I’m with Jesus.”
Here’s a little lengthier and robust definition: "Baptism is a church’s act of affirming and portraying a believer’s union with Christ by immersing him or her in water, and a believer’s act of publicly committing him or herself to Christ and his people, thereby uniting a believer to the church and marking off him or her from the world.”*
Why get baptized?
With a definition of what baptism is, the next question is, “why to get baptized?” This is a good question and an important one. There are some religions that teach that baptism is necessary for salvation. I'll address this more specifically in a bit, but for now, I’ll just say that we wholeheartedly disagree with this. The only necessary work for salvation is the work of Christ. It is our response to his finished work by faith and repentance that saves us.
However, though we believe baptism isn’t necessary for your salvation, we believe it is essential to your faith.
So why get baptized?
First, Jesus said to. This is the clearest reason for getting baptized. If Jesus says to do something, his followers should do it. This is seen most clearly in what we know as the Great Commission. Jesus said, "“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20; emphasis mine). Simply put, baptism is an essential part of what it means to be a disciple and a disciple-maker.
Second, we see the disciples of Jesus obeying Jesus’ command through the book of Acts. After Peter preaches his Pentecost sermon, the crowd responds. The gospel message cut deep into their hearts, and they wanted to know what to do. Peter said, “Repent and be baptized every single one of you for the forgiveness of your sins.” A few chapters later, a disciple named Philip is given the opportunity to share the gospel with an Ethiopian man. After hearing and believing the gospel the man replies, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him” (Acts 8:36-39)
We see in these texts that baptism wasn’t an option for disciples of Jesus. In fact, there is no such thing as an unbaptized disciple of Jesus in Scripture.
What does baptism do?**
Baptism is often looked at as some sort of “super-spiritual” or “magical” act. But it isn’t. The physical act of baptism is simply being dunked under water, but this act has great significance.
First, baptism is a public confession, and public confessions strengthen your faith. Baptism can be a little intimidating. You’re standing before a crowd of people, professing before them that you believe in Jesus’ finished work and that your life is wholeheartedly his for the rest of your days. That’s a big deal and a big commitment. But this is one of the most faith strengthening and affirming things a Christian can do.
Second, baptism is an opportunity for evangelism. When you get baptized, it’s possible that people who don’t know Jesus are watching. In this case, baptism acts as a visual portrayal of what has taken place in a new believer. When you go under the water and are brought back up, you are visually displaying for people what Christ has done on the cross, and also what Christ has done in you. Specifically, you’re publicly displaying that your sins are washed away because of your faith in Christ.
Third, baptism confirms your new identity and commitment as a follower of Christ. By getting baptized you’re saying that you belong to Jesus, and by belonging to Jesus, you belong to his people too. Baptism is a public way of proclaiming that your life has been made new, and you’re going to live it in connection with your new family, the church.
Does baptism save me?
This question was addressed briefly above, but I want to be clear in saying that baptism is not a work that saves you. It is not baptism that guarantees your place in God’s kingdom. Only the finished work of Jesus does that.
How do we baptize?
In Taproot, we practice baptism by immersion. This means we set up a portable tank of water and fully immerse the person being baptized under that water.
Who should get baptized?
If you’re a Christian and you haven’t been baptized, then you should get baptized. You may only be a few minutes, days, or weeks old in your faith, but you should get baptized. You may also be someone who's been a Christian for 20 years who, for whatever reason, has never been baptized. You too should get baptized.
Baptism is for all people who believe that God has saved them by grace alone through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone, and have never been baptized.
It is a joy and privilege to celebrate new life in God’s family. We hope you’ll join us in the celebration this Sunday.
If you have any question at all, please click on the link to email us and we’ll get back to you ASAP.
Christ is all!
*This quote is taken from the booklet Understanding Baptism, by Bobby Jamieson.
**These points are my own paraphrase of sections taken from Understanding Baptism.