Baptism: what is it?
“Baptism is the initial step of a faithful heart.” - Max Lucado
I knew in my heart I needed to be baptized, but I just could not get up from the church chair. I felt glued to my seat.
I was in only High School at the time and did not know a soul in that massive worship center. I had just started attending the church two weeks prior. I was a little nervous to say the least.
The pastor was doing an invitation for baptism, a long invitation. Person after person accepted the invitation and were being baptized. I knew I should have been one of them.
I sat there anxious and full of conviction when he said: “If there is anyone else who feels like they need to follow through in believer’s baptism, these are the last few moments we will wait.” I felt like he was talking directly to me.
It was my cue and I knew it. I got up from my seat, walked to the altar, was met by a pastor and promptly baptized in front of the whole church. It was impulsive and incredible. I was only a teenager and I didn’t even tell my mom, who missed that Sunday, that I was doing it - not recommended.
But, I pondered before my baptism and throughout the pastor’s invitation: what is baptism and do I really need to do it?
Spiritually speaking, baptism is a public profession of an inward confession.
In simpler terms, it is publicly declaring that one is a follower of Jesus Christ and showcasing they are not ashamed of their faith in Him.
Think about it this way: If your initial conversion experience to Christianity is joining the team, then baptism is putting on the jersey. It is showing everyone around you that you play for God's team and live in accordance to what He calls you towards. Pretty cool stuff I'd say.
Practically speaking, baptism involves a pastor or fellow Christian dunking someone under water in the presence of others. The word "baptism" comes from the greek word "baptizo", which literally means to "dip or immerse."
As far as who needs to be baptized, any person who considers themselves a Christian should be baptized. Scripture commands it over and over again (Acts 22:16, Acts 2:41). There is no reason given in scripture that a believer should not be baptized.
Here are some other things to note about baptism:
1. Baptism is a representation of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. When we are baptized, we start off by standing in the water unsubmerged (duh). This represents us being alive in our sins and shortcomings - without Christ.
Then, we are submerged underwater. This symbolizes us being dead to sin. It also points back to Christ's death on the cross.
Lastly, we are brought above the water, showing that we are now alive in Christ. No longer are we dead in our mistakes, but resurrected by Grace to live a new life. In the same way, Christ resurrected from the grave after three days.
2. Baptism does not save you. Baptism is not the reason you go to Heaven, God's saving grace through Christ's work on the cross is. Once you have embraced that grace and made Christ Lord of your life, you are going to Heaven - baptized or not.
That does not mean we forgo baptism though, because...
3. Baptism is very important and should not be bypassed. Aside from scripture commanding us to be baptized (Acts 10:48), which is a big deal, there are practical implications for it as well. Baptism, if followed through with, acts as a launching pad for your faith. It sets you up to do even more acts of obedience for the glory of God.
On the other hand, if someone decides they are not willing to follow through with baptism and puts it off, that usually is a sign that they may not be willing to follow through on other opportunities of obedience as well. That's a position no believer wants to be in.
4. Biblical Baptism happens AFTER salvation. Throughout scripture and especially in the verses already cited, baptism takes place after someone has become a Christian. It is not as a baby or a toddler, as is popular in other denominations.
The idea of baptizing a young child in hopes that they grow up to be a person who loves the Lord is great, but it is not biblical baptism. It is proper for the child to go through baptism again once they have made the conscious decision to make Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior.
With all of that said, if you are reading this post and thinking, "I need to be baptized." Don't delay! If you need help figuring out the details of how to get it done, shoot me a message and I'd love to help you figure it out.
If you know someone who needs to be baptized, send this post to them. Don't allow them to miss out on the incredible opportunity that is publicly professing their faith in Christ. It is an empowering and God - honoring experience that no believer should put off.