What is baptism? Is it really important? Does baptism ensure my passage to heaven? I was already baptized as an infant; isn't that enough?

Baptism is the demonstration of one placing their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. It shows that the individual has trusted in Jesus and believes that He died, was buried, and rose again in victory over death. Those who believe in Jesus are called to follow Him in believer's baptism.

Now to answer the first question; "What is baptism?" It is the water immersion of a believing individual that symbolizes his unity with Jesus Christ. The believer identifies with the suffering of Jesus through the act of baptism. Romans 6:3-5 teaches us that we were baptized into Jesus Christ in His death, buried with him, and raised up from the deadness of our sin.

Romans 6:6 further explains that our old sinful nature is "crucified with him." Just like when Jesus died, baptism shows our death to sin and our old ways through immersion by water. When we are raised up from the water, we are raised up in newness of life; we have a new life in Him. Our "old self" is buried and is now dead to us. Simply put: it is an outward demonstration of an inward belief in Jesus' work of redemption through the cross. His death brought us salvation; His pain brought us new life; His wounds secured a place for us in Heaven for all eternity; His resurrection guarantees our eternal hope. Therefore, baptism is the public expression of our salvation through faith in Him and our unity with Him. We are united in Him to learn from Him, act like Him, serve others like He did, and to facilitate His purposes of bringing sinners to God the Father.

Child Baptism +

Baptism is not sprinkling with water. Jewish customs included many ritual types of washing, but baptism is a one-time event where an individual is overwhelmed by water. He is submerged in it and then lifted up from it. It is the symbolic act of a person's conversion from his old life into a new life whereby he publicly announces that Jesus Christ has washed away his sins. Immersion shows that not just our hands or our feet are washed; not just our head is sprinkled; but our whole being is purified by our Savior's redemption. We are no longer polluted by sin, but are cleansed by God's saving grace.

Furthermore, the word "baptize" comes from the Greek verb, "baptizo." The earliest occurrences of the word were in reference to dyeing cloth where the fabric absorbs the characteristic of the dye. The fabric and the dye become one color. Similarly, it was used of ships that sunk and were "submerged." Certainly, in both cases, the object is completely covered. It also means to wash or bathe with water by dipping or submerging; a fitting picture of being cleansed from sin. Lastly, it means to be overwhelmed, buried, or covered. We often say we are "overwhelmed" with work, or stress, or debt. The meaning is the same; we are buried under something.

Another point to consider is, there is no evidence in the Bible to support infant baptism. Believers must make the choice to follow Jesus' command to be baptized. Infants are unable to make such choices. The Bible shows that everyone who was baptized was an adult. Such is the case of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:35-38 where the gospel of Jesus Christ was preached to him, he believed, and then he was baptized. It was the Ethiopian man who asked the question, "What prevents me from being baptized?" (Acts 8:36).

Do I need to be baptized to be saved?

We must realize that baptism is not a replacement for salvation. Baptism is the next step a believer takes after his conversion to symbolize his relationship to Jesus Christ. This is why it is often called "believer's baptism." Salvation is placing one's trust in the redemptive work of Jesus, whereas baptism is an act of obedience to Him.

Also, Scripture does not teach a works-based salvation. If baptism was required for salvation, then Jesus would have died for nothing. The apostle Paul confirms this saying, "I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly" (Galatians 2:21). The thief who died along with Jesus only asked to be remembered in His kingdom. Jesus answered Him saying, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43). The thief was never baptized because he died soon afterward, but he died trusting in the salvation of Jesus Christ. Baptism is not necessary for salvation as illustrated by the thief; however, it does represent our obedience to Him. Our obedience shows our love for Him as 2 John 1:6 states, "And this is love, that we walk after his commandments."

Since there is so much speculation and confusion surrounding salvation and baptism, it is important to learn the difference between the two. It is the responsibility of Christians to tell those who do not have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ the truth about Him. Acts 4:12 tells us, "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." Jesus is the only One who can save us because He is our salvation. Baptism does not secure our salvation; it is a testimony of it as we follow Jesus' example as was demonstrated in Matthew 3:13-15.

Child Christening +

Child christening and child baptisms are ceremonial expressions of parents dedicating their children to God. Often it expresses their desire for the salvation of the child; however, these rituals do not save them. At some point the child must decide for himself to trust the Son of God for eternal life. A parent cannot make this choice for the child.

Parents should properly train their children in the gospel according to Scripture and not offer false illusions, or assume children will learn these principles through the church. The fact that so much misinformation exists on salvation and baptism should be a wake up call for Christians to take action and start learning, teaching, and leading others in bringing them into the heavenly Kingdom of God through our Savior, Jesus Christ. Certainly, we as Believers have much work to do. It is time to assess our own spiritual awareness regarding baptism and ask ourselves, “Have we obediently followed the biblical directive of baptism?” As Christians, God’s word is demonstrated through what we say and do. May we make believer’s baptism a priority in our own life, and allow it to be used as a forum for our public testimony.

Are you saved? Are you baptized?

Baptism Study

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